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It’s been a rough year for Fresno State alumna Kimberly Rocca, whose event-planning business has taken a beating from the pandemic. But Rocca’s spirits improved tremendously in October when she learned she was one of 80 volunteers selected from among 8,000 applicants to help decorate the White House for Christmas.

Nancy Price

School Zone

On Thanksgiving Day Rocca flew from Fresno to Washington, D.C., where her team of eight — including her mother — worked nonstop over three days decorating the five rooms assigned to them: the Library, the Vermeil Room, the Diplomat Room, the Doctor’s Office, and the China Room. This year’s theme is “America the Beautiful.”

Rocca said her favorite room to decorate was the China Room, where all the china dinnerware from each presidential administration is stored.

“My mom and I were the ones who got to decorate the tree for that room, which was set up like a kitchen, with a vintage fridge and gingerbread cookies and so it was all very nostalgic,” Rocca said in a news release from Fresno State. “The chair in that room in front of the fireplace was actually Franklin D. Roosevelt’s chair, and that’s where he would read to his grandchildren ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.’

“It really makes you appreciate our American history and those who have come before us.”

After graduating from Fresno State in 2013 with a degree in recreation administration with an option in special events and tourism, Rocca opened her event-planning business, Kimberly Joy Events + Design.

Here’s a Video Tour of the Decorated White House

Holiday Treats from Fresno Teachers Union

The Fresno Teachers Association is giving a big boost to the holiday gift-giving season with a $1,000 donation to Poverello House and presents for a Fresno Unified family and FTA members.

The union is holding a contest for one Fresno Unified family to get a ride in a sanitized limo on Fresno’s historic Christmas Tree Lane on Wednesday evening. Limo for You will provide the service and will follow all COVID-19 guidelines.

The deadline to apply is 11 a.m. Wednesday, and the winner will be announced at noon.

In addition. there will be a raffle of gift cards for local stores and restaurants that’s open to FTA members.

You’ll find the entry form here.

Random Kudos

A bunch of congratulations are in order to:

Madera Unified School District, which increased its graduation rate from 89.5% to 92.3%, as calculated by the California Department of Education — the highest in the district’s history. Madera South led the way with a graduation rate of 97.4%, the second-highest in Madera County.

Fresno Pacific University, a winner in the California University and College Ballot Bowl for having a high percentage of students registered to vote. Fresno Pacific, representing the named the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, had 113 students registered. The other winners were UC Riverside, Chico State, and Riverside City College. The Ballot Bowl was presented by the California Students Vote Project and was designed to encourage voter registration.

Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro announced two appointments to boards that are important to the university’s mission of empowering future leaders. Rod Higgins, an NBA executive and former Fresno State basketball standout, was appointed to the Foundation Board of Governors effective Oct. 29, while organic farmer and artist Nikiko Masumoto was appointed to the University Advisory Board effective Jan. 1.

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