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Dear Friends,

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and I was very fortunate to spend some time with some of our Valley’s teachers and students. These teachers go above and beyond to prepare our children for the rigors of life, and work hard every day to provide students with the highest-quality education possible and to put them in a position for success. Our children really are our future, and, when they succeed, America succeeds. So I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the educators across our Valley and to highlight some events I attended last week in our district.

Students Heading to US Service Academies

We in the Valley understand the value of education and the virtue of service to one’s country. This year, five students from our district earned the chance to further their education while serving their country through appointments to our nation’s military academies. These students include Ryan Benz and Jacob Foss from Merced, Constance McMichaels from Fresno, and Addyson Smith and Autumn Gonzales from Madera. In addition to demonstrating exceptional academic and leadership skills, each student had to be chosen for a congressional nomination by the Academy Selection Committee for our district, which is a panel comprised of community leaders from Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties. These are truly exceptional individuals.

While in the Valley last week, I had the privilege of attending a luncheon celebration to recognize Constance’s acceptance to West Point. Constance is the first female from Fresno High to be accepted to West Point, and I was deeply impressed by her maturity and leadership skills. I look forward to following her career and the careers of all of these outstanding young individuals as they continue in their respective service branches.

Rep. Costa celebrates Constance McMichaels’ acceptance into West Point

Annual Congressional Art Competition

Since 1982, students from around the country have participated in the Congressional Art Competition. The competition involves students from each congressional district submitting artwork, and the winning piece from each district is placed in the Cannon Tunnel in the U.S. Capitol building. This year 47 students from 10 schools around California’s 16th Congressional District submitted original works of art for consideration. The artwork submitted this year was outstanding. Each of these young artists showed tremendous talent and creativity, and I was proud to announce Daniela Ornelas from Atwater High School as this year’s winner at our May 8thawards ceremony. I look forward to welcoming Daniela to the U.S. Capitol for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and congressional reception later in June.

Congressman Costa stands with Congressional Art Competition winner Daniela Omelas

Yosemite High School Student Garden Opening

Last week, I also had the opportunity to visit Yosemite High School for a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating their new, student-built garden area. The project was a great collaborative effort between students at Yosemite High School, UC Merced, and Fresno State, and it includes a green house, raised garden, bee pollinator, and butterfly sanctuary. Students spoke about the various parts of the garden project, sharing how each was built, how each works, and how each contributes to the sustainability of the garden. It is essential that we support our students and teachers in these important projects, and I was honored to be invited to the ceremony.

It is always a pleasure to interact with our Valley’s students and teachers, and I am grateful for the opportunity to speak with them about their passions, endeavors, and ideas for advancing education. Please know that I will continue to do all I can in Congress to help improve educational opportunities for all children in our Valley and across the country.

Thank you for taking the time to read this e-newsletter. Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding this or any federal issue of your concern. To stay up-to-date on the work I am doing in Congress, please visit my website at and sign up for my e-newsletter here.


Jim Costa
Member of Congress