Masons honor outstanding students

Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Kenai Masonic Lodge No. 11 hosted the 36th annual Masonic Outstanding Student awards banquet April 24 in the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School.

The awards honor a single outstanding student in the top grade level at each public school in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

The following are biographies and pictures of the students as submitted by the schools.


Rainy Reilly

Rainy Reilly

Nikiski Middle-Senior High School

Rainy Reilly is the daughter of Patrick and Kelly Reilly of Nikiski. She has three siblings, Shiloh, Josh and Bo. She grew up surrounded by grandparents, cousins, rope swings, tree forts and a trampoline. Rainy was home-schooled for a couple years in elementary school. She is known for her beautiful smile and magnetic personality. She loves sports, dance, chemistry and physics. She plans to pursue a degree in dental hygiene at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Samantha Moeller

Redoubt Elementary School

Samantha Moeller attended Redoubt Elementary for half of second grade, then from fourth through sixth grade.

Her favorite subjects are writing and reading, though she also enjoys drawing. Her favorite books are fantasy and some modern realistic fiction.

When she isn't in the classroom, she enjoys hanging out with friends, biking and talking about "pretty much anything that comes to mind." She says her friends often remark at her ability to be friends with everyone.

Nyssa Baechler

Homer Middle School

I have known Nyssa since kindergarten. We all grew up and are now in the eighth grade. Through these long years, a great percentage of the class has looked up to her and her academic ability. Not only does she strive in school but socially she is everyone's friend. Not only has Nyssa received the Masonic Outstanding Student award for the top student this year, she has created a trend of achievements through the years.

Nyssa keeps herself involved with many extra curricular activities and not only keeps her mind focused but is constantly exercising herself. She branches out from school, making music a part of her life, as well as sports and hobbies. You may be wondering how she stays at the top of her class as well as the top of all the sports and hobbies she involves herself with. Throughout the years that I have known her, I have wondered the same thing. And I'm sure we're not the only ones.

Nyssa is one of the greatest role models in our school, so if you happen to see her on the street, congratulate her on being our eighth-grade Masonic Outstanding Student.

Written by friend Mallory Hines

Rachel Romans

Nikiski Elementary School

Rachel Romans is a sixth-grader at Nikiski Elementary School. She is the daughter of Denise and Ward Romans and has one younger sister, Brittney. Rachel has attended Nikiski Elementary School from kindergarten to sixth grade. She is active, with her family, in church activities and community service projects. She also enjoys sports and has explored soccer, volleyball and basketball through the Boys and Girls Club teams and with the North Peninsula recreation programs. Her athletic skills are noticed by her peers, as well as her coaches. In addition, she hones her musical talents as a violinist.

Rachel participated in Nikiski Elementary's first Math Counts team. She has volunteered to help in the library and has been a member of Battle of the Books teams.

She has been active in school music programs and helped with groups of younger students in the spring musical "Bugz." She also has worked as an office aide and as Safety Seal.

Rachel exemplifies excellence in academics and is a positive influence on her classmates and others in the school.

Trevor Olsen

Seward Elementary School

Quiet leader.

Gifted academic.

Respected role model.

Competitive athlete.

Trevor Olsen's young life has been a rich and rewarding one.

Trevor is the youngest of three children born to Linda Rae and Eric Olsen.

With the exception of the six months his family spent traveling the United States, he has lived in Seward his whole life.

Trevor's many interests include all kinds of sports, reading, traveling and spending time with his family.

He has maintained a 4.0 grade point average for the past three years and participated in schoolwide spelling bees, Mind of the Mazes, Future Problem Solving, Math Counts and Quest.

He also has served on the student council for two years.

He also has played basketball and baseball, taken tap dance lessons and participated in community competitions.

Chelsea Hardcastle

Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School

Chelsea Hardcastle is this year's Masonic Outstanding Student at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School in Soldotna.

She has been a student at K-Beach since kindergarten.

The staff at K-Beach has watched her grow up and work hard to become the fine student and exemplary citizen that she is today.

Chelsea is very conscientious about her academics, as well as her actions in and out of the classroom.

She is a "silent leader" among her peers through her interests and great choices.

Chelsea is involved in basketball and soccer through the school program and the Boys and Girls Club.

She volunteers in her community and is active with her church youth group. Her parents are Diya and Jay McGee of Soldotna and Duke Hardcastle of Texas.

Gabe Murray

Soldotna Elementary School

Gabe Murray has attended Soldotna Elementary School for the past seven years and proven to be a person who has exceptional character.

He enjoys being involved in community and school functions. He is an active member of his church youth group, participates in volunteer work through the church and plays organized sports. He is a member of the Soldotna Elementary mediation team, sings in the school choir and continues to strive academically in the classroom.

When asking teachers what they thought of Gabe, they said that he is trustworthy, a hard worker, intelligent and a role model for other students. Gabe's classmates said he is a person they always could turn to for help socially and academically. He tries to be fair and doesn't judge. They said they are proud to have him as a friend.

Taylor Moore

Aurora Borealis Charter School

Taylor Moore, an eighth-grade student at Aurora Borealis Charter School, was selected as the school's Masonic Outstanding Student for 2003. Taylor was chosen because of her exemplary character. She sets high standards for herself and is a model young person others can "tailor" themselves after.

Taylor, daughter of Lee and Pam Moore of Nikiski, was born in Soldotna in 1989. She attended Nikiski Elementary School, then entered Aurora Borealis in the fifth grade. Taylor enjoys participating in drama, dance, music, church activities and sports. She is a three-time borough champion in forensics, regional winner in Reflections, AWANA Timothy Award winner, State Bible Drill winner and President's National Fitness award winner. She also scored cum laude on the high school National Latin Exam.

Megon Marie Coon

Kenai Central High School

Megon will attend the University of Alaska Anchorage next fall and major in elementary education. Megon also is fluent in Spanish and would to like to use her language skills to combine teaching and travel. Central to Megon's life is her music. She is a member of the KCHS concert choir and has performed solos and ensembles all her high school years. She sang for all-state choir three years and all-northwest one year. She is the oldest daughter of Brenda Stoops and Scott Coon.

Samantha Penner

Soldotna High School

Samantha Penner was born in Soldotna and has lived in the Sterling area her entire life. Her parents are Mike and Denise Penner. She has one younger sister, Annie.

Penner attended Sterling Elementary, Soldotna Middle and Soldotna High schools. She played basketball through her junior year and played on the SoHi soccer team in her senior year. She loves to snowboard, snowmachine and run. In the fall, she will attend Western Washington University. She has not yet chosen a major, but is interested in the health field. This summer she plans to work at Suzie's Cafe and play soccer.

* Penner also is the school's Masonic Outstanding Student of the Year.

Tasha Mallet

Sterling Elementary School

Tasha Mallet is a sixth-grader at Sterling Elementary School. She is a leader in the classroom, as well as a straight A student who is a model for others who need to be shown the way to succeed.

She has helped out in the classroom throughout the year, particularly when a substitute teacher is in charge. Her teacher, David McCard, said whenever something needs to be done in the classroom, he calls on Tasha without hesitation, confident the task will be done swiftly and efficiently.

Tasha also is a member of the student council, sets up the snack bar and library for Falcon Fun Nights and participates in band and intramural sports.

Alexandra West

Soldotna Middle School

Alex West has the external trappings of a Masonic Outstanding Student.

She maintains a 4.0 grade point average, is involved in basketball, volleyball and track, volunteers at church and school, is on the SMS Academic Pentathlon team and is an attorney for the Kenai Peninsula Youth Court.

However, it is Alex's internal trappings that truly make her stand out.

Her love for her family, the care she takes with her friends, the fact that any team Alex is on becomes strong that any group Alex works with gets along better each of these is central to who Alex is.

Put simply, Alex brightens lives.

Nick Oliveira

Susan B. English School

When I was 4 years old, my family and I moved to Seldovia. The only school I have attended is Susan B. English School. In those years, my classmates and I have grown in friendship. We have participated in many sports together, including track, wrestling and basketball. In participating in these sports, we have done a lot of traveling and have several fun memories of these trips. As I get ready to go to college and leave my family, classmates and teachers behind, I feel lucky to have been able to experience all the good memories that come with living in a small community. I also am looking forward to next fall in Hanover, Ind., where I will be going to college and playing basketball. My hope is to come back to Alaska and raise a family here.

Ryan Staab

Skyview High School

Ryan Staab is the son of Faith Walton and brother to Melisa Knight and Jodi Staab. He is active in all areas of the school. He is a three-year varsity starter for football, where he received all-conference and all-state titles and was elected most valuable player. He also is a member of the student council, where he has served for two years. He is the vice president of National Honor Society and president of Interact. Ryan has competed on the mock trial team for two years and was lead attorney this year. Ryan would like to thank all of his teachers for making his high school years great.

Jesse Doyle Carlson

Tustumena Elementary School

I am the fourth of six children born to Bill and Christine Carlson. I have strived to keep up with my three older siblings, who excelled in athletics, music and academics. My oldest brother, Jared, received the Masonic award at Tustumena eight years ago. I hope my younger siblings are successful as well.

I have participated in both the spelling and geography bees, and I was fortunate enough to win both. I have been able to participate in Battle of the Books each year. Getting involved and having competition in school makes things fun.

Kasey Shupp

Homer High School

I have lived in Homer all my life. Throughout my childhood, I was interested in mountain biking and computers. Today, I still hold my enthusiasm for computers and also have developed an interest in pottery. I have a job after school working in the computer department of the city of Homer. I always have been good at math and sciences, so engineering is the perfect field of study for me. This fall, I will study aeronautical engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Dusty Ward

Kenai Middle School

Dusty Ward, an eighth-grader at Kenai Middle School, has maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average during his three years at the school. He is taking high school geometry and is in the high school concert band. The son of Walt and Colleen Ward, he also is a servant who set up and cleaned up for all the school activity nights during the 2002-03 school year. He exhibits the school's highlighted character traits respect, responsibility, caring, fairness, trustworthiness and citizenship in his academics, as well as extracurricular activities. He is the captain of the borough-championship soccer team, a starter for the basketball team and captain and individual champion of the borough-championship wrestling team.

Wiley Bennett

North Star Elementary School

Wiley Bennett is a focused and creative sixth-grader at North Star Elementary School. He is respected by his peers.

Although he's quite modest about his abilities, Wiley provides excellent leadership to his fellow classmates.

His strengths include art, athletics, science, engineering, math and writing.

A profile and photo of Chapman Elementary School's selected student, Erika Klaar, was unavailable, as were photos of Dusty Ward, Wiley Bennet and Kasey Shupp.

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