District's outstanding students win recognition

Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2000

For 33 years, the Kenai Masonic Lodge No. 11 F & AM has recognized outstanding students in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

This year the annual ceremony was held April 20 at Kenai Central High School's Little Theater.

"There is no one way to sum up in a snapshot or synopsis the accomplishments of each young man and woman that was honored and it would be an injustice to them," writes Nate Esteban, chair of the 2000 Masonic school awards.

"But, the best way I can describe all of them is that they are all well-balanced, well-rounded individuals, who excel at practically every endeavor. What impressed me most was their humility and modesty and how they are known for cheerfully assisting others and rarely bringing attention to themselves for their own achievements," he continues.

This year's winners include:

Hilary Mengel

Aurora Borealis Charter


Hilary is an eighth-grader in Suzanne Phillips' class. She lives in Soldotna and enjoys basketball, hiking and cross country skiing. She is active in community service through church missions (including travel to the Dominican Republic) and scouting. Her school praised her as an outstanding student and youth role model, who sets high goals for herself yet is always smiling. Her parents are Scott and Patty Mengel.

Jessica Lettis

Chapman Elementary


Jessica is in the eighth grade. She has been active in basketball, volleyball, choir, Battle of the Books, forensics and several school plays. During the summer she has been involved in productions at Pier One Theatre in Homer. She also enjoys shopping, reading and collecting giraffe memorabilia. Her parents are Mike and Sandy Lettis of Anchor Point.

Elizabeth Standifer

E. L. Bartlett School

Elizabeth has been class president, leader of her school's Native drumming group and involved in many activities, including Native Youth Olympics and working at the Boys and Girls Club. Her teachers describe her as a strong student, a good role model for village youth and a determined young lady. She plans to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage; her goal is to pursue a career in teaching in Tyonek. Her parents are Ernest and Jane Standifer.

Amy Velsko

Homer Middle School

Amy was born in Homer but spent much of her childhood in remote areas and Nome. She returned to Homer three years ago and is now finishing eighth grade. She is a top student and involved in choir and swimming. Her teachers praise her attitude, kindness, leadership, dedication and academic achievement. She enjoys halibut fishing and community service, including volunteering as a water monitor for Cook Inlet Keeper. Her parents are Peter and Elaine Velsko.

Liana Purugganan

Kalifornsky Beach Elementary

Liana is a sixth-grader in Shae Hollandsworth's class. She plays the clarinet in the band and is an accomplished pianist. She holds a brown belt in karate and won a first place in her first judo tournament. She studies Russian in her spare time and has won awards in Future Problem Solving and Mind Amazes academic competitions. Her teacher praised her love of learning, her positive attitude and encouragement to others. Her parents are Ray and Barbara Purugganan.

William Ernest Barrett

Kenai Alternative School

Ernest lives in Nikiski. His school named him the outstanding student because of his reliability, helpfulness and great sense of humor. He is kind and considerate, liked and respected by all types of people and has shown remarkable personal growth during his two years at the school, said Principal Teacher Dennis Dunn. Ernest plans to attend trade school and study auto mechanics. His parents are Jenny and Kevin Barrett.

Andy Banas

Kenai Middle School

Andy enjoys the outdoor aspects of living in Alaska. He runs skiffs on Kachemak Bay, mountain bikes, serves as a deckhand on halibut charters and telemark skis. In school, Andy is known for his writing and his understanding of history. He was chosen to represent KMS at the wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier while in Washington, D.C., during spring break. Andy is also borough champion in cross-country skiing and first chair trombone in both band and jazz band. His parents are Chris and Gigi Banas.

Willie Mullins

Nikiski Elementary School

Willie is in the sixth grade in Terry Durrant's class. He was chosen the outstanding student because he strives for excellence, is honest and hardworking and is respectful of others. He is kind to other students, looks out for his younger sisters at school and is trustworthy. His teachers say he is a joy to have in the classroom. His parents are Jack and Barbara Dominick.

Tatiana Butler

North Star Elementary School

Tatiana is a sixth-grader in David Martian's class. A talented artist, she won first place awards for painting and photography in the PTA Reflections contest. A gifted writer, she has scored among the top one percent of students on the analytic writing assessment. Recently her team won the national championship in the News Bowl 2000 current events competition. Her teacher described her as a leader whose behavior sets an example for others. Her mother is Debbie Boyle.

Becky Utrup

Redoubt Elementary School

Becky is a sixth-grader in Chuck Chavkas class and has been at Redoubt since kindergarten. She went to international competition for Future Problem Solving last year in Michigan and has won forensics awards for two years running. She is a talented pianist, plays clarinet in the band and raises pet rats. She stands out as a quiet leader who stars academically, gets along with others and actively participates in school activities, her teacher said. Her parents are Robert and Terry Utrup.

Jordan Houghton

Seward High School

Jordan, a senior, has made a name for himself on the cross-country skiing, cross country running and track teams. He has served on the student council and been named student of the month. He also has been active in the National Honor Society, Sea Explorers, Battle of Books, Close-Up and the Letterpersons Club. Jordan has licensed a game he designed to a company that will distribute it nationally. He has been accepted to the honors program at Montana State University. His parents are Richard and Sandra Houghton.

Heather Sinclair

Soldotna Elementary School

Heather is a sixth-grader who earns top grades and whose many activities include soccer, band, choir, drama and conflict management.

Outside school, she plays hockey and is learning Spanish. She had a role in this winters acclaimed production of Fiddler on the Roof. Teachers describe her as one of the most polite and well-mannered students at her school, with poise, confidence and leadership.

Her dream is to someday work for NASA. Her parents are Jack Sinclair and Diana Thomas.

Amy Shoemaker

Soldotna Middle School

Amy is an eighth-grader in the Warrior Core Team. She is a straight-A student involved in jazz band, symphonic band, cross country skiing and drama. Her projects included collecting books to send to less-privileged countries and writing a grant to fund a science exposition. Her school describes her as an ideal role model. She plans to attend Soldotna High School.

She lives in Ridgeway; her parents are Susan and David Shoemaker.

SammiJo Kelly

Sterling Elementary School

SammiJo is a sixth-grader in Tracey Withrows class. She is a ballet dancer and plays flute in the school band. She plays basketball and football. This year she competed in forensics and the spelling bee, plus won a Presidential Award for Academic Excellence. At home, she enjoys raising birds with her mother. Her teacher praised SammiJos positive attitude, maturity and leadership. Her parents are Mike and Larissa Kelly.

Katie Mills

Tustumena Elementary School

Katie is a sixth-grader who excels and serves as a quiet leader to her peers. She has earned presidential awards for fitness and academics, and has a straight-A average.

Her diverse activities including commercial fishing, soccer, gymnastics, karate, swimming, roller hockey, band and art. She represented the school in the Elks Hoop Shoot contest and has been on winning teams in basketball and the Battle of the Books. She has won medals for figure skating and raised funds for charity through the St. Judes math-a-thon. Her parents are John and Pauline Mills.

Joshua Anderson

Hope School

Josh is a junior. His school chose him as outstanding student for his academic achievement, dramatic skills and continual community spirit.

He excels in taking on a challenge, whether it be in an unfamiliar school subject, playing the female lead in a school play or demonstrating patience while interacting with younger students. His parents are Larry and Susan Anderson.

Subscribe to Peninsula Clarion

Trending this week:


© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us