by Gretchen Orr
WALSENBURG- In the words of 2011 John Mall Valedictorian Michael Pacheco, “it’s over, we made it … in spite of the administrative changes, budget cuts and the untimely death of a classmate…” In his closing remarks to his classmates and the large crowd of proud parents and family, Pacheco quoted the inimitable Hogwarts school headmaster Albus Dumbledore, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times if we only remember to turn on the light. ”
There was indeed much happiness and light as students received their diplomas and were recognized for winning numerous scholarships and awards for their achievments.
On behalf of the Mall family, Carolyn Newman announced the winner of the annual John S. Mall scholarship. John Mall, for whom the school is named, was a long time superintendent of schools in Walsenburg. Although a man of modest means, he managed to put his seven children, plus six nieces and nephews through college. Not long before he died, he wrote a $1000 check to help deserving, oriented students go to college. His family is pleased to carry on this legacy, and awarded this year’s $1000 scholarship to Stuart Pino based on his participation in community events including the Alzheimers Walk, and his exemplary involvement in class and sports.
Coach Mike Glidden presented two scholarships to bullrider extraordinaire Garrett G-Man Norby- $500 from the Colorado High School Rodeo Association, and a “full ride” Hill College Athletic Scholarship.
Bill and Lori Cordova thanked the community for the generous donations and support of the Derek James Cordova Spirit Scholarship. This year’s recipients were salutatorian Melissa Mestas for $500, Charles Whitehead for $500 and Tiffany Trujillo for $1000.
Sher Clouse presented for the Candy Cocco Memorial Scholarship and Twin Peaks Rodders. Established 25 years ago, and funded through La Veta Oktoberfest events, it honors county seniors who have tremendous records of volunteer service to community organizations. This year’s $1000 award went to Charles Whitehead, and $500 was awarded to Melissa Mestas.
Deb Striegel presented the Marva Jean Jackson Scholarship on behalf of the Spanish Peaks Healthcare Foundation. The award is presented to encourage rural communities to develop and support health care students in returning to their communities. Melissa Mestas won this year’s $1000 award.
Suellen Levy awarded Michael Pacheco with $300 from the Huerfano Winds to applaud and support him in his chosen musical career.
The $1000 La Plaza de los Leones scholarship was awarded to JMHS student Brian Aguirre by Diego Bobian.
Counselor Maria de la Cruz then took the podium to announce the remaining scholarships and awards earned by JMHS seniors. Michael Pacheco received four additional awards to study music at CSU Pueblo: The Voss Cramer Scholarship, Veronika String Quartet Scholarship, the Hugh Rawlings Scholarship and the President’s Leadership Program Scholarship.
Melissa Mestas was awarded the CU Green and Gold Scholarship, renewable from $2500 annually up to full tuition.
Megan Meadows will attend Colorado State University on a CSU Alliance Scholarship, renewable from $2500 up to full tuition and fees.
The Cuchara Chapel presented a $1000 scholarships to Charles Whitehead.
Trinidad State Junior College awarded two renewable scholarships worth half of annual tuition and fees- the Princess Scholarship to Tiffany Trujillo, and the Upward Bound award to Tony Estrada.
San Isabel Electric awarded a $1000 scholarship to both JMHS valedictorian Michael Pacheco and Melissa Mestas, salutatorian.
The Grgich Family Scholarship was presented in honor of Pete and Rose Grgich who lived in, and were very proud of this area. This year’s $1000 award went to Jeremiah Hill.
In addition to the scholarships, Denae Eccher and Melissa Mestas were given recognition awards for successfully completing the rigorous Emergency Medical Technician program.
The Alfred Owens awards recognize scholar athletes. Contenders for the award must have a 3.0 or higher GPA and participate in high school sports. This year, Melissa Mestas and Garrett Norby were recognized for their accomplishments.
Wins over 20 awards at the annual Colorado Press Association convention, including General Excellence for the second year in a row World Journal Staff Report