Well Deserved: Finally, Bill Van Valkenburg will be honored 2012.04.04

Written by David Green.

Nearly three dozen Morenci graduates have been honored in the past decade through the Morenci Education Association’s Distinguish Alumni Award program. Many stellar careers and life stories have been told when honoring these graduates.

Many more successful grads will be honored in the future. Some of them have not yet been been nominated for the honor; others have moved away and lost contact with their home town.

In one specific case, a potential and deserving nominee refuses the honor. That will come to an end this year when Bill Van Valkenburg takes the stage—not as the emcee of the annual award ceremony—but as a distinguished graduate.

Without Bill, the Distinguished Alumni award would not exist. Without Bill, the Morenci Education Foundation would not exist. The scholarships totaling more than $100,000 would never have been awarded to graduating seniors. Tens of thousands of dollars in mini-grants would never have aided Morenci teachers.

This isn’t the first year that Bill Van Valkenburg was suggested as the recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award, but finally, it is the first year that he allowed the nomination to go through.

Bill’s efforts at creating the foundation and helping it grow—not to mention his long-time role as a local pastor and the other roles he’s filled over the years—make him a well-deserved recipient of the foundation’s award.

Along with three other graduates, Bill will be honored at the annual dinner April 14. Buy a ticket and help thank Bill for his efforts.

  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.soccer.balls
    BEVY OF BALLS—Stair District Library Summer Reading Program VolunTeens, including Libby Rorick, back left and Ty Kruse, back right, threw a dozen inflatable soccer balls into the crowd during a reading of “Sergio Saves the Game.” The sports-themed program continues on Wednesdays through July 27.

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