Parkrose Masons honor young scholars

Find out which Parkrose School District elementary and middle school students were chosen for these annual honors …

Michael Cassidy, Worshipful Master of Parkrose Masonic Lodge #179, welcomes students, parents, and teachers to their annual Parkrose Educational Awards program.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Started back in 1993, the Parkrose Masonic Lodge #179 has again held its “Parkrose Educational Awards” program, honoring outstanding students from Parkrose School District elementary and middle schools.

“For the past 17 years, we’ve honored two students from each school,” is how the presiding officer of the lodge, Worshipful Master Michael Cassidy, described the program on April 21. “They’ve been selected by their teachers and principals for the academic excellence.”

In addition to receiving a framed certificate, each of the honored student’s names is engraved on a plaque, to be displayed in their respective schools.

Says education brings equality
Asked why the Parkrose Masonic Lodge holds the annual event, Cassidy explained, “We have two main tenets, liberty and equality. Hundreds of years ago, Masonic brothers gathered together and decided that education would be a key to gaining equality. Back then, the biggest difference between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ – was the ability to read and write. That’s why we support public education.”

Shaver Elementary School

Surrounded by family and teachers, Parkrose Educational Awards winners from Shaver Elementary School are (front, left) Charlie Doan and Nina Nguyen.

Honoring Charlie Doan
His 5th Grade teacher, Peri Bauers said of the first young student to be awarded,

“I’m happy to say that this decision was an easy one. Charlie Doan was the only choice.

“Charlie’s a bright, nice, unassuming boy who does his best in all of his efforts. This honor emphasizes academic ability, for which Charlie certainly qualifies; he’s an excellent student all areas, and has passed all of his State of Oregon tests in reading and math and science. In addition, he goes to Vietnamese school every Sunday.  Basically he goes to school six out of seven days every week.

“As important as is his academic prowess, there’s more: He also excels in life skills. He is a boy who treats all others with respect. I don’t believe that I’ve heard him complain or say anything negative about anyone. He is well liked and respected by all of his peers.”

Honoring Nina Nguyen
Sebastian Danileski stood in for teacher Andrew Robinson, reading about Shaver’s outstanding girl student.

“In spite of the fact that I have several outstanding students in my room, deciding on just one student proved to be relatively easy. Nina Nguyen is academically gifted, emotionally mature, polite without being meek, and possesses a great sense of humor.

“She is the type of student is so good at what she does, and does it so quietly and and efficiently, day in and day out, it is easy for others to take her for granted. Tonight is an opportunity for everyone to fully appreciate her amazing consistency, high level of consistency, and all-around winning personality.

“She wants to become a doctor – not just a doctor, but a great doctor.

“Without a doubt in my mind, whatever she does, she will be great at it. As the kids like to say, ‘you rock’.”

Sacramento Elementary School

Being cheered by their teachers and family members, Parkrose Educational Awards winners (front, left) Ian Day and Annelise Phelps students from Sacramento Elementary School accept their awards. Sacramento’s Principal Stevie Blakely stands behind Ian; Worshipful Master Michael Cassidy holds the permanent plaque that returns to the school.

Honoring Ian Day
Teacher Jenny Grove had this to say about the young man they selected to be honored.

“Ian Day is an outstanding boy – the fact he’s being honored with this award comes as a shock to no one at our school.

“I’ve known his family for four years, having taught him in both fourth and fifth grade. I thank the Day family for their open communication and support of their children’s education.

“Ian is a great example of a child who makes himself successful. Ian has passed his state tests in reading, math, and science. Even though he passed the tests early on in the year, he didn’t get lazy. Instead, Ian continues to try hard, and to better himself and learn more.

“Ian has a likable personality which enables him to work with any and all students.  And, he performs well in sports. No wonder everyone wants Ian on their team at recess, or during physical education!

Honoring Annelise Phelps
About this exceptional student, her teacher, Melissa Alexander, said:

“I’ve been privileged to have Annelise Phelps in my class for the last two years. I’ve watched her grow – not only as a student, but also as a person. Annalise is kind, helpful, and bright. Although one of the younger students in the class, she is mature beyond her years. She takes her education very seriously, having succeeded on all three state tests this year, and she continues to do well.

“She also has an appreciation for the fun things, like hanging out with friends at recess. She wears a chicken costume on dress-up days.  Her name frequently is mentioned when students are looking to gather a group, because they know she will jump in with both feet and contribute, and respect other students’ opinions, talents, and skills.

“While Annalise is not the most outspoken person in class, she is a leader. If she sees a problem or sees something that needs to be done, she does it. She’s approached me several times with ideas on how we could make things better in the classroom.

“Without a doubt, Annalise will go on to make a positive difference in the world.”

Russell Academy

Presenting Nestor Perez and Elizabeth Simkovic – honored students from Russell Academy.

Honoring Nestor Perez and Elizabeth Simkovic
Instead of reading from a prepared script, the fifth-grade Russell Academy teacher who nominated his school’s two honorees – Chris McMurray – shared a story about his own educational experience.

McMurray told how, in his “beginning sculpture” class, the instructor told class members to find a piece of rock and start filing on it. “Many of the students, including myself, were frustrated by the vague instructions. Finally, the instructor told us that we needed to pay attention to our rock – it was the rock that would eventually communicate to us what it was intended to be – as we continued to file on it.”

“Nestor Perez and Elizabeth Simkovic were selected by the staff at Russell Academy.  They are recognized not only by the faculty, but by the other students as well.

“They are recognized as leaders – for leading by example. They take initiative and are very responsible.  Yes, they’ve passed their tests. But more, they’re reading well into the high school reading level, and showing comprehension at a high level.

“This is a testament that they are, in fact, accomplishing their skills and ‘filing their rock’. It has been an opportunity for me to have worked with these two young people. They have, in fact, ‘shaved and polished my rock’, hopefully, as much as they’ve been enabled to polish their own.

Prescott Elementary School

Showing off their engraved, framed certificates are Larisa Gaynaliy and Steve Mendoza – this year’s Parkrose Educational Awards honorees from Prescott Elementary School. They’re joined by their Principal, Michael Lopes (back left), and by family members.

Honoring Larisa Gaynaliy
Stephanie McCain wrote about the student she selected:

“When asked to name an outstanding fifth-grader, Larisa Gaynaliy was at the top of my list.

“My first impression of her was that she is a great kid, but really quiet. After getting to know her, I recognized that she has a great deal to offer. Observing her in both academic and social situations, I’ve seen that this student’s influence extends outside the classroom and into the lives of the people who know her, including her family and her peers.

“Larisa has a sparkling personality that attracts people young and old.  She cares about her friends. She stands up for what she knows is true. She’s recognized as somebody who can be trusted.”

Honoring Steve Mendoza
Holding his son while he talked, Prescott Elementary teacher Dan Patterson talked about his selection this year.

“I’m so happy to get to choose Steve. I’ve had the privilege of teaching him two times – both in third grade and now in fifth grade.

“Wonderful kids like these don’t just pop up in a Petri dish. Kids from strong families, like Steve’s, really help them do well. So, in addition to recognize Steve, I want to honor his family as well.

“He is action-oriented and solves problems. He’s shown leadership, and gets along with everybody. We have our share of ‘interesting personalities’ at the school; Steve manages to get along with everyone.

“In two years, he’s had so few problems, it’s kind of remarkable. He’s fun-loving, as anyone could see, as he plays on the soccer and football fields.

“Steve is a bilingual student who will continue to do well in school, and life.”

Parkrose Middle School

Honored this year – and heading to Parkrose High School next school year – are Sage Krening and Marena Helgerson. Their Principal, Molly Davies (just to the right of Sage, in back), is on hand to congratulate the students, along with their families.

Honoring Sage Krening
His home room teacher, Michelle Vance, wrote about her soon-to-be-high-schooler with these words:

“When the school year started, I heard from the other teachers, ‘So you have Sage Krening in your class this year?  You are so lucky; he’s such a good kid.’  He is!  He’s not without a voice and participates in groups. His written work and his extracurricular activities show me that he has many talents.

“This poem reveals his creativity: ‘I am from music, for rock bands and classical music. I am from guitars and drums and saxophones, too. I am from songwriter and composing and hours in my room playing my music. I am from shooting and editing from video editing software. I am from acting with my sister.’

“Sage, working with his technology teacher and friends, has created such films as ‘Parkrose Middle School Tour Secret tunnels and rooms edition’, ‘ABC Gum’, and his favorite, ‘Cloneer 9000’. He has created his own special kind of music, still awaiting an audience.

“His other teachers shared their observations about Sage: He works with enthusiasm; he’s a willing worker, who cares about his community, motivated to succeed, and does the best job possible.

“Sage knows what is right and what it takes to be successful.  It may seem like simple praise, but it is deep and full of meaning.”

Honoring Marena Helgerson
Teacher Ann Stinson shared her feelings about this honoree:

“Marena Helgerson works hard, plays hard, and has a great sense of humor.

“She is an empathetic middle school student.  Marena was early supporter of the Parkrose Middle School program called ‘Sparrow’ – for children facing medical crises. She still consistently brings badges are showing her volunteer hours.

“At school, she notices when a student is alone, and becomes that student’s best friend. With her by your side, you know everyone will join in and show kindness.  She plays soccer and softball.

“She’s been a member of the Junior Honors Society during her middle school years. And, she’s been active in theater, being in the school plays each year.

“Part of her poem assignment says it all: ‘I’m from a family that loves me, and friends by the hundreds, from a dream to be famous, and the reason I love being me’.”

Past Worshipful Master of the lodge, James Akers, serves cake for the participants after the award ceremony.

To learn more about the Parkrose Masonic Lodge # 179 at 4812 Northeast 102nd Avenue, give them a call at (503) 253-8870, or see their page on Facebook.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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