The 41st Annual Yosemite High School Community Awards, 180 of them totaling nearly $116,000, were presented to 67 seniors Monday at the school’s Performing Arts Center.
Prior to the award presentations, Oakhurst dentist and YHS Scholarship Foundation President Bob Brosi told the students and audience that everyone needs to be thankful to the community, both past and present, for their continued generosity.
“All the students receiving awards tonight need to understand that in many cases, these awards are given in memory of loved ones whose futures were cut short,” Brosi said. “In other cases, raising money for these awards is the only reason some of these community groups and organizations exist. So, no matter how large or small, honor those who give these awards to further yourself in the years to come.”
The majority of Mountain Area organizations and businesses presented multiple awards. The two Oakhurst Rotary clubs (Sierra Noon and Sierra Sunrise) combined to present 10 $1,000 awards, and the El Capitan Education Foundation presented nine $500 awards to students who will attend Oakhurst Community College.
The Bass Lake Lions Club presented seven awards, and six were handed out by both the teachers and staff at Oak Creek Intermediate School, and Our Lady of the Sierra Women’s Guild.
Sierra Tel gave five $1,000 awards as did the Billy Vukovich III Memorial. Sierra Tel has been giving scholarships to students in the Mountain Area for more than 45 years.
The teachers and staff at Coarsegold Elementary School, the Gerald A. Smith Memorial, and Ladies of the Lake each presented four community awards.
Retired Oak Creek Intermediate teacher Linda Cudd presented one $1,000, and two $500 awards in memory of her late husband, Buddy, who was the first classified employee hired by the district, and for whom the school cafetorium is named.
Three community awards each were given by Caring on Higher Ground (founded by the late Debbie Millar), Eric and Virginia Seger Memorial, Golden Hills Dental, Grant Mercantile Agency, Jeremy Carter Memorial, the Pines Civic Council (Tom Thomas Memorial), Sierra Lions Club of Oakhurst, Soroptimist International of the Sierras, Swortzel Trust, Wilma Ely Memorial and the Yosemite Gateway Branch of the Fresno Association of Realtors.
Additional memorial awards were presented in memory of Barbara Banich, Eakin Peirsol, Ibrahim Kabbani, Travis Myers, Jimmy Phillips, and Frank Logar.
The Barry Bartlett $1,000 Service Award was awarded for the fourth year to honor the years Bartlett has devoted to Yosemite High. As one of the original counselors at the school, he helped establish the Yosemite High School Scholarship Foundation and still serves on its board. He and his wife, Carolyn, worked for many years advocating for students as home and hospital teachers, retiring just last year. The winner of the award was Kendra Tapia.
Athletics were represented with two $250 awards from Yosemite Youth Basketball Association, two from Sierra Meadows Men’s Golf Club, one from Yosemite Badger Youth Football and Cheer, one from Yosemite Football Boosters, and one from River Creek Golf Course.
Tenaya Lodge presented two $1,000 hospitality awards to Katie Thompson and Noah West.
The cash awards from Mountain Area clubs, businesses and individual memorial funds ranged from $100 to $4,000. Many Mountain Area clubs and organization hold fundraising events year-long specifically for Yosemite High Community Awards.
Jeanne Ratchford, who has coordinated the program for 12 years, said the event is successful due to the support of so many people joining together to encourage Yosemite High students in furthering their education.
“Our community cares about its youth,” Ratchford said. “This community faithfully takes care of its own. In many ways, the students at Yosemite High School have more opportunities than those at schools in large metropolis areas because of the generosity of the citizens and businesses in our community.”
The awards program started during the school’s first graduation ceremony in 1977, with six awards totaling about $4,500.
Commencement ceremonies for the Yosemite class of 2017 will be held at 7:30 p.m. on June 8 at Badger Stadium.