Parkrose Masons give awards to top students

Find out who took the honors – and see their photos, along with their school’s staff – at an event to which we look forward every year …

Family and friends of Parkrose School District’s lower school award winners patiently await the start of the 2011 Awards Ceremony.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As they have for many years, Parkrose Lodge #179 of Free and Accepted Masons bestowed awards upon the top boy and girl students who are “graduating” from Parkrose Middle School, and from the district’s elementary schools.

With a broad smile, Patrick Pierce, Worshipful Master of the lodge, welcomed the honored students, family and friends to the March 20 “Outstanding Student Award” ceremony.

Patrick Pierce, Worshipful Master of Parkrose Lodge #179 of Free and Accepted Masons, opens the 2011 Parkrose Student Awards program.

Pierce said that the Masonic order values education. “The one thing that is the great equalizer among all peoples is education. Developing good learning skills, and becoming a lifelong learner, help individuals, regardless of their background, to be successful in life.”

In addition to the presenting certificates to each student, Pierce pointed out that each school has a perpetual plaque, on which these student names are inscribed each year.

Parkrose Middle School

Aron Wagner, eighth grade language arts teacher at Parkrose Middle School, talks about her nominee, Timmy Nguyen.

Timmy Nguyen

“Timmy is smart, popular, and always does his best,” his teacher, Aron Wagner, began. “There are lots of smart kids at Parkrose Middle School; some of them can get a little smug, but not Timmy.

“I have a lot of kids who do their best. But some of them are in it ‘just for the grade’, not actual excellence; that’s not Timmy. Timmy is a combination of smart, humble, popular, and accepting – earning A’s, but not just for ‘the grade’.

“Others say he’s kind; he always smiles; he stays after school multiple days,in order to make sure his work is exemplary.  He was our Lord Montagu in our school play; he participates in track, and is called a leader in the National Junior Honors Society.

“Timmy, please stand, as we honor you with our applause.”

Parkrose Middle School eighth grade social studies teacher Stephanie Murdock tells why she nominated Jade Bradford for their school’s highest student honor.

Jade Bradford

Teacher Stephanie Murdock revealed that her nominee, Jade Bradford, is the “voice of the School”. “Each morning over the intercom, her golden tones welcome 800 students to class, reminding them of club meetings, sports meetings, and of course appropriate behavior. She can make a joke just by changing the tone of her voice. School announcements can be tedious and boring, but students want to hear what Jade makes of them.

“Jade is a confident young woman who opens newcomers to her world.  She is open to other interests and ideas.

“She is involved: A basketball player, track athlete; she was Mrs. Capulet in the school play, and has volunteered to be the master of ceremonies for this year’s school talent show.  Jade helps make Parkrose Middle School a wonderful place to be.

“And as she goes into the world, her confidence, curiosity, and appreciation of those around her will make the world a better place.

Flanked by Michael Cassidy, past Worshipful Master of Parkrose Masonic Lodge, and Patrick Pierce, Parkrose Middle School students Timmy Nguyen and Jade Bradford stand before their teachers as they accept their awards.

Sacramento Elementary School

Sacramento Elementary School teacher Jerry Landreth and Principal Stevie Blakeley listen, as teacher Sherry Brown tells about her award nominee.

Marilyn Medina

Sherry Brown, fourth and fifth grade teacher, told those assembled, “Marilyn has grown from a quiet, shy student into a confident and courageous learner.  No matter the task, or who she’s been assigned to work with, Marilyn applies herself to the situation with an ‘I can’ attitude. In her soft-spoken way, she encourages her learning team to stay focused, work hard, and finish well.

“I’m not sure she understands the leadership role she plays.

“When we looked for a student who has a positive attitude, works well with others, is academically strong, and practices high citizenship behavior, Marilyn’s name rose to the top every single time. She is truly deserving of this recognition.

“I know she’ll continue to be a strong learner throughout her school career, and will accomplish amazing things.”

Danny Nguyen

Jerry Landreth, who teaches 4th and 5th grade, proclaimed, “Honoring Danny N-g-u-y-e-n! I spell it, correctly, because he is the spelling champion at our school, and placed highly in the City of Portland spelling bee.

“He has the heart of a champion; he works consistently hard in every area. He works hard on interesting and boring assignments alike, with a passion.

“If I ask a group to discuss something, Danny will lead the discussion without asking or prompting, he just wants to make sure the job gets done right. Silently or emphatically – making sure the work is done well. And, he’s not afraid to work with ‘mixed ability’ students.

“Danny models appropriate behaviors, and he’s caring, compassionate, and he genuinely cares about other kids. He writes with authority, and has the brain of a champion. Danny will continue to be a great student, I am sure. I can see him as the first design engineer, with a heart, who is a gifted communicator.

Standing with Parkrose Mason and school officials, Sacramento Elementary School students Marilyn Medina and Danny Nguyen accept their awards.

Prescott Elementary School

A speechless Stephanie Tyler (she had laryngitis) listens, while another teacher at Prescott Elementary School, Renee Leury-Duckworth, tells about the student Stephanie nominated to receive a Parkrose Masons Educational Award.

Michael Lopes, Principal at of Prescott Elementary School, started off his segment by saying, “I thank the Masonic members for doing this for our kids. It’s always a pleasure to be here. It was a really hard choice; but two of our students rose to the top. And, we had a long list of fifth-grade students who do an outstanding job.”

Victoria Ebert

Because teacher Stephanie Tyler was suffering from laryngitis, Prescott Elementary Teacher Renee Leury-Duckworth spoke about both students being honored.

“When asked to nominate a student, Vicki rose to the top of the list,” Leury-Duckworth began. “What makes her such an outstanding individual extends far beyond the walls of the classroom, and into the lives of the people who know her.

“Vicki has a sparkling personality that attracts people young and old. She cares about her friends need; yet, doesn’t care about what others may think about her.  She’s one of the most mature problem-solvers in her classroom. At Prescott, she is recognized as someone who can be trusted.

“In the classroom she is a teacher’s absolute delight! Whether it be geometry, researching the brain, or learning a fairy tale, she puts forth her best effort. She likes to read, and is a talented and gifted author.

“Vicki is a natural leader, a great citizen, and a natural student who influences the lives of students at Prescott.”

Leif McDowell

Turning to her own nominee, Leury-Duckworth continued, “Introducing Mr. Leif McDowell. He stood out as the obvious choice, for his outstanding work as a student. And, as the compassionate and thoughtful person that he is. Academically, Leif has grown as an avid reader, refining his taste for great literature.

“I’ve seen him grow to be a gentle leader of his classmates, encouraging them to think deeper about world issues. Not afraid to take risks, he charges forward academically. His sense of humor is his most charming quality; it will to make anyone laugh at any time.  He’s not afraid to take risks to bring laughter to the heart of his classmates.

“Classmates look to him for support, understanding and, most important, friendship.

“This year he has been a junior coach, helping to set a great example of respectful behavior during our recess times. His dedication to making our world a better place only leads me to imagine where he will take his future.”

Presenting the 2011 Outstanding Student Award winners from Prescott Elementary School, Leif McDowell and Victoria Ebert.

Russell Academy of Academic Achievement

Russell Academy of Academic Achievement teachers Dana Curtis and Rachel Stevens listen, while Principal Debbie Ebert introduces her school’s portion of the program.

Sinclair Ashley

Russell Academy’s Rachel Stevens said, of her nominee, “Sinclair is a student who models all these qualities of our school model, ‘Be safe, be kind, be a learner’.

As an example, Stevens told how Sinclair stood up against other students in the playground on behalf a learning-disabled student.

“One thing I’ve noticed about Sinclair: People gravitate toward her. She tries to make all feel included. I’ve always appreciated her enthusiasm for learning.

“Always enthusiastic about about we’re doing in class, Sinclair is being honored with this award.”

Russell Martin

“Russell is student who sees the big picture, and shows kindness,” said teacher Dana Curtis.  “In the computer lab, he does research instead of playing computer games.  Russell uses independent reading time to study vocabulary words, rather than just reading books on computer.  He uses his time wisely, to be well-prepared.

“He also takes an interest in the world around him. He recycles batteries that are used in our devices, and also the plastic clamshells that come to school from birthday celebrations. And, he collects donations for our community service projects with great gusto.

“In the classroom community, Russell makes a difference by offering himself to classmates without a second thought.  He’s always volunteering for extra responsibilities – like safety patrol, student council, recess buddies.

“All these verbs: Helping, giving, practicing, collecting, volunteering, offering, and studying add up to the consistent actions that I see every day, and which indicate how Russell Martin stands out as an honored student of Russell Academy.”

Here are your award winners from Russell Academy: Russell Martin and Sinclair Ashley.

Shaver Elementary School

Mayra Contreras and Vinicio Gonzalez stand in front of the Shaver Elementary School representative, teacher Neil Kavanagh, as they show off their awards.

Vinicio Gonzalez

The sole representative of Shaver Elementary School at the award ceremony, fifth grade teacher Neil Kavanagh, first told why Vinicio Gonzalez had been selected as the school’s award recipient.

“Vineicio comes into my classroom with a smile on his face. First time I saw him he was kind of shy, but there was a big smile. He owned me.

“When he hasn’t done his best, Vineicio is visibly disappointed in himself. Put him in any group, he’ll be little shy at first – then he blends in. He doesn’t take over; but he makes sure that everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing, to ensure the group is successful.

“He doesn’t tell others what to do, but he models good behavior.  It’s a mellow leadership quality that grabs you.”

Mayra Contreras

Kavanagh continued, “Mayra has a quiet, mysterious smile on her face. She’s got the greatest sense of humor. And, she is brilliant.

“She is mature beyond her years – like a woman, trapped in a girl’s body, who is really mature.

“Academically, once she starts working on it, she owns it. When somebody shows her once how do something, she does it. Mayra is truly deserving of this award.”

Past Master of Parkrose Masonic Lodge James S. Akers, and member John D. Stewart, Jr., serve cake to the celebrants.

Thus ended the 2011 Outstanding Student Award ceremony. Honored students, and their families and friends, were invited to a punch-and-cake reception in the lodge before heading out into the evening.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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