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.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
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    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
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    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
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    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
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    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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