The Scottsdale Unified School District uses a coin program to recognize students, staff and schools that have gone above and beyond during the school year.

Scottsdale Unified School District has released a 125th-anniversary coin as part of its Excellence Recognition Coin program. Now in its second year, the program is the brainchild of SUSD Public Information and Marketing Officer Amy Bolton.

Bolton comes from a military family and has worked as a public information officer for police departments, so the idea of creating a commemorative coin for the district was a no-brainer for her.

“I think this program is a perfect way to blend recognition of service, being student-focused, and then really putting something out into the community that is going to last,” Bolton said. 

Bolton said she’s earned many coins herself over the years for working in support of the military. “I thought, well, why not bring that to SUSD? It’s such a great tradition,” Bolton said. 

“We use the coins to recognize excellence in students, teachers, staff and sometimes our community partners,” Bolton said.

“When we first rolled out the program, our principals were so excited, calling it one of the best morale boosters the district has had in years. Some principals immediately ran out and wanted more so we actually had to reorder.” 

In anticipation of how well this program was received in 2019, Bolton doubled the order quantity for 2021 so they could recognize even more examples of excellence in SUSD students, teachers and staff.

For students to receive a coin, principals must recommend someone at the district’s monthly meetings. In September, three Arcadia High School students received a coin for being National Merit Scholarship semifinalists [see story on p.4]. 

“It’s the best of the best in the district,” Bolton said. She hopes the program will also recognize up-and-coming students. 

“One of my goals is for the coin to be awarded to students who might be ‘on the edge.’ I’m hoping that our principals and our leaders at the district might recognize someone in need and might use the coin to push them positively,” Bolton said. 

Coins have been used in the military to recognize excellence for nearly a century. Over the decades, this tradition was adopted by other public service agencies. 

“If you’re familiar with police departments, military branches, public safety, these agencies use coins to recognize service,” Bolton said. 

One side of the 125th-anniversary coin features a five-point gold star that symbolizes the unity of the district’s “learning communities” (Arcadia, Coronado, Saguaro, Chaparral and Desert Mountain). On the other side is a state flag in the shape of Arizona displaying “125 Years” in a heart. 

“We are very thoughtful about the design because we know that these are tokens of appreciation that people are going to have for decades to come,” Bolton said.