Katherine Wallace, principal of Maple High School, is the eighth nominee for the 2019 Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.
Maple High School, located at 4010 Jupiter Ave. in Vandenberg Village, is a continuation high school for students “whose educational needs aren’t met in a traditional high school program,” according to Lompoc Unified School District. The principal of such a school probably requires a person of unusual character and background, according to the peace prize committee.
Meet “Katy” Wallace. The daughter of a woman who fostered 50 children, Wallace was raised hearing over and over that “every kid deserves a chance to succeed and move forward.”
This year, she is guiding the education of approximately 150 “kids” who at some point dropped out of traditional high schools. She is instrumental in giving those “kids” that chance to succeed.
Three academic pathways — business management, ornamental horticulture and GRID, a program to develop solar energy expertise — are available to Maple students. Students in Maple Makers, a department of the business management program, make custom T-shirts and lapel buttons. Wallace enthusiastically reported that they recently received their biggest order yet — an order of 100 shirts for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
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“She works very hard to ensure her students receive an education and graduate,” Wallace’s nominator reported. “Katy encourages students to try hard, take risks and meet goals. Once a month she rewards students that have met their goals and takes them to lunch, yoga and other activities where they feel special.”
Wallace has her students speak at City Council meetings and various board meetings about things affecting their lives. She encourages empowerment, community service, entrepreneurship and thinking outside the box. Many of the students have no family to advocate for them; she does that.
As a board member of the Youth Leadership Lompoc Valley and FUTURES, a safe place to go to get job skills, Wallace is, according to her nominator, “a huge community supporter and actively advocates for the Lompoc community her students are growing up in. She is a role model and a mentor to her students and a source of encouragement for them.”
Wallace's Peace Prize nomination was preceded by those of immigration counselor Guadalupe Perez; restaurant owner Jose Trejo; Yasmin Dawson, who spurred a Sept. 20 community march and vigil; AAUW coordinator Pam Buchanan; 8-year-old philanthropist Boss Brockett; pastor Eric De La Cruz; and Yuri Gomez and her classmates, known collectively as Lompoc Youth Connections.
The annual Peace Prize ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. Jan. 26, 2020, at the Valley of the Flowers United Church of Christ, 3346 Constellation Road.