Dunsmuir High gym was packed for grads

Richard DuPertuis
Chris Stromsness presents graduating senior Matt Norton with a Samuelson scholarship in the amount of $1,000. Board member Stromsness distributed a dozen such awards on behalf of the Dunsmuir Scholarship Fund, totaling $12,250 for the night. Another $6,150 went to DHS alumni to help with college expenses.

Superintendent Len Foreman turned to face the Class of 2010. “I love my job because I get to see the best and brightest of the next generation every day,” he declared proudly. “While I have concerns for our future as a nation, I am not concerned that there will be no one willing to help solve our country’s ills.”

So began the Dunsmuir High School graduation ceremony Friday night. Foreman spoke from a podium before a crowd that filled the school gym to capacity – every seat taken, the bleachers packed, people standing along the walls. His brief welcome finished with a quote from anthropologist Margaret Mead: “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it is the only group that ever has.”

Standing in two rows on a raised platform behind the podium, 20 class seniors, draped in black robes and wearing traditional square caps, gazed into the vast audience of family members, friends and fellow citizens gathered to honor them. None of them seemed to notice a reserved space nearby, where sat the small group of thoughtful people who had come to bestow them with awards and scholarships.

The first such honor was the dual Kevin Young Award, one given to a male student and one to a female student in recognition of athletic achievement over a period of all four high school years. These awards went to L.T. Hisey and class salutatorian Jamie Kirch. Well-accomplished in scholastics as well, Kirch returned to the podium repeatedly during the ceremony to accept recognitions from the Dunsmuir Scholarship Fund, Siskiyou Medical Group, and Dunsmuir Garden Club.

Kirch and Hisey also received the Zach Swan Scholarships, emotionally presented by Emma Swan. Zach, a former honor student and beloved Dunsmuir High School coach, passed away recently, so these two class members were surprised with an award few knew existed. This made Kirch and Hisey the first-ever recipients of the Zach Swan Scholarship.

Next came the McConnell Foundation award, given to Anna Van Ert. Third in her class, Van Ert was no stranger to special recognition throughout her years in high school. In addition to excelling at volleyball, basketball and track, she was chosen to attend the Hugh O'Brien Leadership Conference as a sophomore, won the Tiger Award for physics as a junior and served as ASB president this year.

Tri-Counties Bank presented a scholarship to Matt Norton, a prominent school athlete who scored highly in football, basketball and track. Knights of Columbus gave a scholarship to Zach Shirley. Dunsmuir Lions Club awarded a scholarship to Amber Walsh. Cody Buckley enjoyed a hometown advantage from Lakehead, as he received awards from Lakehead Commercial Developers,  Lakehead Seniors, and Lakehead Lions, who also presented a scholarship to Kalii Correa.

The Ron Dolf Scholarship gave four awards, going to Van Ert, Walsh, Jordan Van Wilgen and BreeAnna Wallace. The Imagine America/Universal Technical Institute awarded a scholarship to Blake Iskra. Two Learning for Life scholarships went to Van Wilgen and Katie Robbins. Cash for College awarded a scholarship to Rose Spagnolo. The DHS Ladies Scholarship went to Walsh and Van Wilgen. Bank of America gave certificates and plaques to Correa, Buckley, Norton, Kirch, Van Ert, Van Wilgen and class valedictorian Jenifer Hope.

Hope received the first of a dozen awards from the Dunsmuir Scholarship Fund, an organization that distributed bequeathed monies from the estates of past Dunsmuir benefactors bearing names such as Trapnell, Spencer, Ellis, Stewart, Wendell, Harrison, Samuel, and Coon, as well as the Dunsmuir Rotary Club. The remaining Dunsmuir Fund scholarships went to Kirch, Hisey, Norton, Shirley, Walsh, Van Ert, Van Wilgen, Wallace, Robbins, Nathan Gonzales and Alex Marlatt. Additionally, the Dunsmuir Scholarship Fund presented awards to eleven DHS alumni to help with college expenses.

Valedictorian Hope also took the biggest award of the evening. The Ford Foundation bestowed her with a scholarship that will pay 90% of all tuition, boarding, food and educational supplies. She plans to apply all of her awards to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo beginning this fall.

A special Certificate of Appreciation from the school went to volunteer Lisa Kirch. Referring to countless hours serving Dunsmuir High School, superintendent Foreman credited her as a formidable fund raiser in her role of athletic booster. She also transformed a poorly-attended dessert social into the profitable annual Sports Banquet BBQ. Her son Erin was graduated from DHS last year, and she was aunt of Jamie Kirch.

In her speech, salutatorian Jamie Kirch embraced her class as family. Citing their shared laughter and tears, boos and cheers, she vowed she would never forget any one of them. Looking to what comes next she said, “As we move on through our lives, of course, we are always going to have highs and lows, but we know that we will always have the help of our family and friends.”

Superintendent Foreman pointed out to the audience cords draped around Kirch's neck, and the necks of half of her classmates. He explained that there were blue cords and gold cords, awarded to students meeting strict criteria of the National Honor Society, which factored in GPA, voluntary contribution to community, leadership and character. He also told the crowd that the only one of the 20 grads who wore both blue and gold cords that night was salutatorian Kirch.

Valedictorian Hope took college classes at COS during her high school days, and while carrying these two class loads she still excelled in sports. Hope was ready for graduation six months before her peers, and because of the college courses her GPA came in at a high school equivalent of 4.15.

Hope was the last to speak before diplomas were handed out. Basing her short speech on a well-known graduation quote from the book “Oh, the Places You'll Go” by Dr. Seuss, she said to the Class of 2010, “This is the time in our lives where momentum is pushing us forward and we decide which direction we take ourselves.”

Dunsmuir High School valedictorian Jenifer Hope addresses the Class of 2010. Basing her message on a quote by Dr. Seuss, the top honor student exhorted her class to dream big, push forward and to make the next chapter of their lives one they will look back upon and smile.