Masons again honor student achievement, in Parkrose

See which students attending Parkrose School District middle and elementary schools were honored for their academic and social excellence in 2012 …

Friends and family await the start of the “2012 Parkrose Lodge #179 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons” Outstanding Student Awards.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As has been their tradition for more than a decade, “Parkrose Lodge #179 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons” again honored outstanding students in Parkrose School District elementary and middle schools on April 11.

“Masons strongly emphasize the importance of education, and supporting the youth in today’s community,” explained the Lodge’s Worshipful Master Jim Akers. “Throughout history, education continues to be a ‘great equalizer’ in society. Regardless of their background, those students value education can do well.”

To encourage both good student citizenship and scholarship, Akers said, they present these annual awards. “A boy and girl from each school are honored, and their names are engraved on a permanent plaque that is displayed at their school.”

Parkrose Middle School

Honored Parkrose Middle School students, their families, and Masonic Lodge officials Junior Warden, Ombe Ya Makano, and Worshipful Master Jim Akers, gather for a group photo.

Presenting Parkrose Middle School Outstanding Student Mayrangela Cervantes.

Parkrose Middle School teacher Aron Wagner presented the evening’s first awardee, Mayrangela Cervantes.

An art and creative writing project starts the year, Wagner said.  Mayrangela wrote about how her name is a combination of her mother’s and grandmother’s names, and how she loves her name – that she “gets to carry around something from the people I love best”.

Wagner continued, “I appreciate how Mayrangela treats her little sister with respect – and stays after school to help younger students and other AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) students.

“She’s a leader in my class.  In the mock Congressional Hearing class, not only did she give a powerful performance, she worked with others to get their presentations together.  She also worked after school – not just in her group but in other groups, and even in other classes, to help them to get their presentations ready.

“And, she helps students feel happy to accept themselves,” Wagner went on. “She’s never one to make others feel dumb. She’s not snooty about her intelligence or drive, and she is full of humor. She’s smart, and knows how to have fun.”

Wagner concluded, “Mayrangela is a vital part of her basketball team; has volunteered as a translator for ‘Parent Night’; and spoke eloquently to the School Board about how the AVID program was helping her get college ready. From all the staff at Parkrose who are lucky enough to have you in our classes, Mayrangela, I say how happy I am to present this award to you.”

Presenting Parkrose Middle School Outstanding Student Kevin Dang.

Parkrose Middle School instructor Carrie Younglund told about their male honoree, Kevin Dang.

“Kevin leads by example, and would help anyone,” Younglund said, “whether a student or staff member. He’s in the National Junior Honor Society, and is the director and editor of our school’s ‘daily video’.

“He is dedicated to a job well done. He spends 1½ to two hours, four days a week, preparing the daily video bulletin, running a camera, setting lighting, directing actors, preparing shooting schedules, determining content, and doing the editing, effects, music and credits.”

Younglund said that Dang is very hard-working, and is an innovative student.

“He is always on task, and always positive. Kevin brings new and interesting ideas to whatever topic he might be studying. His writing skills are far beyond expectations.

“I’m proud to be presenting this award to Kevin,” Younglund concluded, “and I know he has an incredible future in front of him.”

Russell Academy of Academic Achievement

Russell Academy of Academic Achievement awardees and teachers gather for a group photo.

Presenting Russell Academy of Academic Achievement Outstanding Student Emily Miller.

Russell Academy of Academic Achievement teacher Jane O’Brien talked said why Emily Miller was one of two students to be named for their school’s award.

“Emily is graceful, insightful; she’s delightful,” O’Brien smiled. “Someday I expect to see some poetry written and published by her. She is going to be the ‘next Maja Angelou’. She has a good turn of phrase, and a good way with words.

“Math is not her favorite subject, but Emily never lets it go,” continued O’Brien, “and continues to work hard at it.

“There are so many things I appreciate about Emily.

“Her peers always want to be in her group; wanting to partner with her. They always ask her to give them feedback for their work, and look to her for leadership all the time.

“I am hoping that she’s one of those students that will come back and visit me, and let me know what she’s doing in her future,” O’Brien said.

Presenting Russell Academy of Academic Achievement Outstanding Student Jackson Montani.

Russell Academy student Jackson Montani was the subject of teacher Rosalind Curry’s praise.

“Compassionate, caring, self-directed, self-confident, eager, natural, pleasant – if you look at a dictionary, you’ll find a picture of Jackson and by each of those words,” Curry said.

“What makes Jackson really stand out as remarkable student, and all-around great person, is the fact that he has never wavered from his ‘true being’. He stands for honesty, truth, and justice for all – Jackson is an ‘equal opportunity wonder kid’.

“He knows about perseverance, too. When he takes on a task that may prove a bit challenging, he will stay the course until he’s conquered the problem. That innate aptitude of his demonstrates his determination to achieve excellence.

Last year Jackson served as his classroom’s Student Council Representative, added Curry. “This position is only given to the student who is proven to be a leader.  It means he’s well spoken, and is well able to present school information to his class – keeping them informed and involved in school and community service events.”

Turning to the student himself, Curry concluded, “Jackson, always remember to believe in yourself, and you will continue to succeed, at every turn of your life’s path.”

Prescott Elementary School

Prescott Elementary School’s principal, staff, and honored students, smile at the award presentation.

Prescott Elementary School Principal Michael Lopes attended the awards ceremony again this year, saying, “I’m proud of all our students – and especially these two here today. They’re part of student leadership in our school, and are wonderful role models for our students.”

Presenting Prescott Elementary School Outstanding Student Damian Heide.

Prescott Elementary student Damian Heide was praised by teacher Julie Ugarte, who began her remarks, “I’ve been teaching at Prescott for 15 years. This means I’ve been there since before Damian was born!

“I’ve had the privilege of being placed in Damian’s life for two years; he came as a new student to our school, in fourth grade.”

The teachers at Prescott and fourth and fifth grade combine classes in their fourth and fifth year, Ugarte explained, “Which means I’d be his teacher for two years. Little did I know at that time how lucky I would be. Damian was fairly shy and reserved at first – watching, inquiring about school, and classroom rules. And he was learning to make new friends.

“As time went on, he became more comfortable in his surroundings, and this is when I really got to know Damian,” Ugarte continued.

“However, I’m not the only one who thinks Damian is pretty amazing.  I sent out an e-mail asking other teachers who have come into contact with Damien to describe him in one word. Their responses: compassionate, courteous, positive, genuine, helpful, considerate, respective, thoughtful, well mannered, responsible, sweet, and humorous.

“He can be trusted to give his best effort in anything and everything he is asked to do.

“Lastly let’s salute the people whomade Damian the person he is today; his family. At ‘parent teacher conferences’ with his family – that means his mom and stepdad, his stepmom and his dad and his grandma – they all attend every conference. They are an amazing family; five people who are investing their time and energy into one very special boy.

“Damian, I’m so proud of you, and of all you done and all you’ve accomplished,” Ugarte concluded. “I know, throughout your life, you’re working on a strong foundation for yourself; and you’ll continue to do so.”

Presenting Prescott Elementary School Outstanding Student Annie Vong.

Chris Gifford, another teacher at Prescott Elementary School, said everyone had agreed that Annie Vong was the “obvious choice” for the school’s other award.

“Annie is a good friend to many of the classmates and teachers at Prescott Elementary. She is compassionate and kind to everyone she meets. And she is always the first to offer her fellow classmates help – and, on many occasions, she has volunteered to stay in at recess to help students in her classroom.

“And Annie is also an amazing artist,” added Gifford. “I know someday I’ll read about her in a magazine or newspaper because of her artistic abilities. She has decorated our classroom with many amazing and beautiful drawings. She also excels at her studies, and gives 100% at whatever task she is asked to take on.

“She’s the first to complement, and last to complain. If you took a survey in our school about Annie, you’d hear countless stories from teachers and students about how Annie’s empathy, generosity, and friendliness has affected their lives.

“It truly has been a pleasure teaching her for the last two years,” Gifford said. “It is also an honor to be here tonight to celebrate this award. I know Annie will do amazing marvelous things in her life.”

Sacramento Elementary School

This happy group represents Sacramento Elementary School – including Principal Stevie Blakely (in the red coat), who also announced her retirement at the awards event.

Our friend at Sacramento Elementary School of many years, Principal Stevie Blakely, addressed the audience: “This is my 10th event here at the Parkrose Masonic awards, and this is my last year at Sacramento.

“I can’t think of any better way of celebrating my last year as principal than honoring these two amazingly wonderful students here tonight.”

Presenting Sacramento Elementary School Outstanding Student Jakob Davis.

Sacramento Elementary School student Jakob Davis’ honors were presented by teacher Sherri Brown.

Addressing his parents, Brown began, “I thank you so much for sharing Jakob with me for the last two years. He’s a young man with so much motivation and eagerness to learn.  He consistently gives a 100% effort in everything that he does in class. This ranges from building a ‘space shuttle’ that can successfully protect a ‘raw egg astronaut’ – to learning how to calculate the volume of a triangular prism.

“One thing we all love about him is Jakob’s positive attitude,” Brown continued. “No matter what we’re working on, you can ‘see the wheels turning in his head’ as he processes and calculates what he’s learning. He is most definitely a self-directed learner.

“Jakob is also a model citizen at Sacramento School. He is well-liked by his peers, and highly respected by the adults. I see in him honesty and conviction; he’s quiet but ready to speak up on important issues. He’s a strong leader and writer, and has a love of learning.”

Brown concluded with an acrostic poem:

J is for the joyful attitude he brings to learning;
A is for the active learning that he does every day;
K is for being kindhearted – especially when he’s helping a lost kindergartener find his dad;
O is for being over excited, and making fun comments as he learns; and
B is for having no boundaries about what he can learn.

Presenting Sacramento Elementary School Outstanding Student Kayley King.

Sacramento Elementary instructor Julie Klasnic told about the school’s girl honoree, Kayley King.

“Kayley is the daughter of two Parkrose teachers, Doug and Angie King. I guess you could say I’ve known about Kayley since before she was born! She is a triplet. Her brother Greg and sister Emily could not be here tonight; they’re wonderful and amazing kids too.

“Kayley is a very intelligent and enthusiastic learner,” Klasnic went on. “She loves to read. She understands everything she reads, and it is impossible to distract her when she’s involved with a book she truly loves.

“Writing is another talent of Kayley’s. Whether she’s writing about wanting to be a WNBA player, visiting Virginia Beach, or the ‘Adventures of Mike the Monkey’ and ‘Todd the Toad’ – her stories are well-written and full of personality. She’s particularly bright in math – ready for advanced work while others are doing the basics.

“She is engaged in whatever she is learning in science, history, or playing an instrument, and music.  She has real curiosity about everything.”

Klasnic paused, and added, “Kayley is also a fantastic athlete; she’s played on a tournament basketball team. One day she may indeed play in the WNBA. She’s also lead pitcher  for the school softball team, pitching at 47.8 mph.

“More importantly, Kayley is a beautiful human being, humble about her talents.  She volunteers to help others whenever the opportunity arises.  If she sees a classmate needing help with their homework or completing a task, she jumps in without being asked.”

Shaver Elementary School

Here are the students and faculty representing Shaver Elementary School.

Presenting Shaver Elementary School Outstanding Student Kien Le.

At the awards, Shaver Elementary School’s honored boy student, Kien Le, was introduced by teacher Donna Newcomb.

“How can it be that I had Kien two years ago when he was in second grade – and now that he is in fifth grade?” quizzed Newcomb. “It’s because he skipped a grade!

“Kien has also excelled as an athlete and a student leader. He’s done a great job.

“Kien represented us on our chess team,” Newcomb added. “He keeps me on toes, to provide challenges in all areas: reading, writing, and mathematics.

“It’s such a pleasure to be here to speak about him. I can hardly wait to see what happens in Kien’s life, in the next few years.”

Presenting Shaver Elementary School Outstanding Student Leticia Garcia-Jacuinde.

The last student to be honored was Shaver Elementary’s Leticia Garcia-Jacuinde

Her teacher, Greg Nakashima, said, “Leticia an outstanding student. In fact, she is the model student.

“And, she has life skills: Responsibility, respect, sense of humor, flexibility, time management – you name it; this is her,” Nakashima reported.

“Leticia works so hard. Her effort and her determination and motivation will help her be whatever she wants to be, when she grows up.

“Leticia is so motivated to succeed. Talk about a pleasure to have a student in your class – Leticia isn’t one of the ‘those squirrely little rascals’. I can depend on her to the appropriate, listening.”

Parkrose Masons John Tucker and Wes Walters prepare to serve cake to top off the celebration.

And there you have it – great students from Parkrose schools.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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