Nine graduating students from Lewis County high schools gathered in the pavilion at Riverside Golf Course Tuesday evening — with each of them walking away with a $1,000 scholarship.
It was Title Guaranty’s third annual High School Hero Banquet, an evening meant to honor ten top area students (one wasn’t in attendance, although still received his scholarship) who excelled in classroom and community endeavors through their high school careers.
Meri Hamre, manager of Title Guaranty, said this year they received about three times as many nominations for area students than in years past. Many of those nominations came from local businesses. Community involvement, Hamre said, is one of the cornerstones in which the nomination committee made its decisions.
Each month, over a 10-month span in 2018 and early 2019, Title Guaranty would select a student to be named that month’s “hero.” The student’s photo and some information about their plans for the future, their volunteerism and their school involvement were posted on social media. Each student got some time broadcasting on KITI/Live 95.
“We love it, because it represents kids who are outstanding in their classrooms, they’re really killing it with their grades. Even though they might not be a 4.0 student, that doesn’t matter to us. We want to see the dedication to their schoolwork,” said Hamre, adding that schoolwork combined with community involvement is the combination they look for when selecting each student.
The students honored Tuesday evening were: Kaleb Rashoff from White Pass High School — September; Danika Jensen from Centralia High School — October; Alli Justice from Pe Ell High School — November; Jaycee Kaech from Mossyrock High School — December; Ali McMahan from W.F. West High School — January; Austen Apperson from Adna High School — February; Gabby Brockway from Mossyrock High School — March; Julia Davis from Toledo High School — April; Estefano Arceo-Hansen from Toledo High School — May; and Ada Williams from Napavine High School — June.
During Tuesday’s event, Hamre called each of the graduates to the stage, where she read portions of their nomination forms sent to Title Guarantee by either local businesspeople or school staff. She talked of their plans for the future, then had each student address the crowd briefly, saying who they brought with them to the ceremony and something memorable about their last year of school.
Some of the students, she pointed out, had been nominated multiple times. One of those students was Apperson, who was nominated by four different staff members in the Adna School District. Apperson plans to attend Boise State University.
One of his nomination forms read, “He is the most intrinsically motivated student athlete I’ve ever been around.”
“I was really proud of how myself along with my friends were able to kind of slow down and take it all in and enjoy the last few months we all had in a high school setting together,” said Apperson.
Another student honored Tuesday, McMahan, spoke of a particularly grueling senior year.
McMahan graduated with both her high school diploma and her associates of arts degree from Centralia College. She also placed within the 90th percentile on her SATs. She plans to attend the University of Washington to study nursing.
McMahan, during her brief address to the audience, spoke of how much work it took to fit into her schedule all the necessary work from both educational institutions.
“I just think that we have amazing kids in our community, and they deserve to be blessed, they deserve to be honored and they deserve to be recognized,” said Hamre.