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.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
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • 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.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • 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.
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    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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