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Oase taks oath of office for Ripon Unified board
pic stewart-1a
Larry Stewart retired after 17 years of service on the Ripon Unified school board. At Monday’s meeting, Superintendent Louise Nan, as a special recognition, presented Stewart with an old wooden chair taken from surplus, attached with a dedication plaque. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
RIPON – Christopher “Kit” Oase took his place on the Ripon Unified school board on Monday.

He did so by hitting the floor running.

“I have some big shoes to fill,” said Oase, referring to filling the seat once occupied by long-time board member and friend, Larry Stewart.

Oase, who is a retired educator – he was a teacher and administrator, working in the Elk Grove and Escalon school districts along with the Stanislaus County Office of Education during his career spanning 35 years  – helped run Stewart’s school board re-election campaign in the past.

“I’ve known Larry for years and I know that he always came prepared (to the school board meetings),” said Oase, who was also appointed board clerk during the reorganization part of the monthly session.

He’s been a resident of Ripon for 25 years. Like his predecessor, Oase came into his first board meeting with a firm understanding of the items on the agenda.

Stewart served on the school board for 17 years. He was also the outgoing board president. One of his last duties was administering the oath of office to Oase, Donna Parks, and Ernest Tyhurst, who, like Oase, ran unopposed in the Nov. 2 election.

Park was chosen vice president. She and Tyhurst are both starting their second term on the board.

Stewart, meanwhile, was first elected to the post back in November 1993. As the senior board member, he was recently recognized by the California School Board Association for his longtime service, according to Superintendent Louise Nan.

“Our gratitude (for Stewart) is without measure,” she said.

He was presented with a permanent board chair attached with a dedication plaque made possible by board funds.

Nan discovered the old wooden chair stored away in the district surplus area.

Trustee Mike Fisher, who took Stewart’s place as board president, also honored his colleague.

“(Larry Stewart) was truly a dedicated board member,” he said.

Stewart, in addition, had friends and family in attendance for his swan song – included was former district superintendent Leo Zuber – and is looking forward to his free time.

“I’ll be busy,” he said. “I have my 11 grandchildren to share my time.”