Dunsmuir crowd takes the heat for graduating seniors

Richard DuPertuis
Just before handing him a diploma, Dunsmuir High School board member Jimmy Palmer gives a congratulatory handshake to graduating senior Cody Hagedon during ceremonies in the gym Friday. In all, 21 proceeded to the floor to accept their diploma, and sets the stage for the next acts in their lives.  See more photos at Photo by Richard DuPertuis

Dunsmuir shined Friday evening. Glistening sheens of sweat, at least 400 parents, family members and friends packed into the Dunsmuir High School gym to honor the graduating Class of 2013.

With outside temperatures hovering in the mid-90s, a shoulder-to-shoulder congregation, filling the seats and bleachers and overflowing into lines of people who stood along the walls, heard praises heaped upon 21 departing Tigers.

They endured the heat to cheer the presentations of diplomas, thrill to the hurling of the mortar caps, and spent a few more minutes in the sweltering gym to pose for photos backdropped by graduation decor.

They had much to be proud for, as Superintendent Len Foreman announced, the Class of 2013 earned high grades.

“I’d like to first mention – ranking third – our Historian, with a GPA of 4.0, Mason Mekeel,” Foreman said to prolonged applause.

“Next we have a Salutatorian with a GPA of 4.10 – please pay attention to that zero – Orion McRee. And next, our Valedictorian – graduating with a grade point average of 4.12 – Jessica Hatten.”

Hatten’s speech explored the origins of a small-town student body. “I have lived in Dunsmuir my entire life and have been with these classmates forever,” she said. “We started out as a group of seven in Tiny Tots with Teacher Diane. We moved on to Dunsmuir Elementary School and grew into Wildcats, and together we arrived at Dunsmuir High School and became Tigers.”

An accomplished athlete, Hatten reflected on her school’s sports accomplishments. “Our volleyball team beat Tulelake, a goal that has not been seen in 29 years, to earn first place in the Evergreen League. Our football team beat Redding Christian to bring home the first-ever section championship to Dunsmuir High School.”

Alluding to her father’s service in Afghanistan, she said, “I know from personal experience how much we share in each other’s lives. When my dad was gone last year, my mom and I were never without help. Everywhere we turned, there were people from this school and this community to help us out.

“I would like to thank them. Without their support I would not be who I am today.”

Foreman told the graduates they can’t earn their way to being happy. “You'll never purchase fulfillment,” he said. “The pursuit of stuff and position will eventually leave you empty. If you want to be great, find someone who needs you and help them – no charge or strings attached.”

Scholarships and awards

Ten presenters bestowed thousands of dollars in scholarships on select seniors. Valedictorian Hatten took the Tiger’s share, seven scholarships totaling over $5,000, including the largest amount given, $2,000 from the Reva Coon Fund of the Dunsmuir Scholarship Fund.

The Darrell Adamson Fund gave her $1,000; the Marine Corps League, the Ladies for the Elks, the Cabrillo Civic Club, and the Ron Dolf Scholarship Fund each contributed $500 to her further education. She also won a Scholarship/Athlete Award for $250.

Salutatorian McRee was awarded $2,000 from Cash for College.

Historian Mekeel took the third $2,000 award, from the John W. and Charlotta Samuelson Fund of the Dunsmuir Scholarship Fund. He also received $500 from the Ladies of the Elks.

Hatten and Mekeel both won the Kevin Young Award, a plaque honoring the memory of a beloved former student at Dunsmuir High who didn’t live to see age 20.

Jessica Nelson received a heartfelt award of $1,000 by the Kelly Moravec Academic Encouragement Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on supporting students to further their education beyond high school while facing health challenges.

As she presented the award, Rebekah Moravec hand-signed the honor for Nelson.

Tri Counties Bank gave $500 to Kendall Clark. Student Body President Jeff Rhoades received $350 from Upward Bound. Siskiyou Arts Museum presented its first scholarship, $200, to Marki Stibi. Cash for College bestowed $1,000 on Ciera Bartoo, and College Options gave her a certificate for education expense assistance that could amount to thousands more.

Cash for College also gave James Adams $200.

The College of the Siskiyous Foundation scholarships went to Kendall Clark, $1,000, and to Ciera Bartoo, $500.

The Dunsmuir Scholarship Fund, comprised of 11 sub-funds, announced the distribution of its largest amount of scholarships in its 32-year history, a total of over $18,000. Its General Fund awarded three students: Shastina Simpson and James Adams, $500 each, and Kalia Kaili, $250.

From other DSF Funds, the George Harrison Fund gave Bartoo $1,250; The Dunsmuir Rotary Club Fund gave Rhoades $1,000, the Lawrence and Barbara Stewart Fund gave Justin DeClusin $1,000; the Charles and Elizabeth Wendell Fund gave Sierra Slinger $1,000; the Rose Ellis Fund gave Clark $750; and the William Petty Fund gave Nelson $750.

Siskiyou Medical Group gave $500 to Rhoades; Adams and DeClusin each received $500 from the Barbara Cross Learning for Life Scholarship; Siskiyou Motorcycle School contributed $500 to Clark; the Shasta/McCloud Committee for the US Forest Service gave $500 to Cody Hagedon; and the Ron Dolf Scholarship Fund gave $250 each to Nelson and Clark.

The Dunsmuir Garden Club contributed $250 to Clark, and the DHS Ladies Scholarship, for the amount of $350, went to DeClusin.