Rainier Education Foundation Honors 2017 Seniors

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Rainier High School’s top students were recently treated by the Rainier Lions to a limousine ride and a dinner out to honor their academic achievements. Nicole Francis, Taylor Holmes, Jordan Golphenee, Jesse Nubbe, Elijah Maddox and Devyn Davis rode in high style to the Tahoma Valley Bar & Grill.

This week, as they do each year, seniors and their families gathered for a night of celebration and scholarship awards before graduation. On Tuesday night, $202,000 was distributed to a class with fewer than 60 students. It was a great night for the Top 6 and other seniors who took time to work in and for the community, do well in their studies, pass state assessment tests and make time to fill out scholarship paperwork on top of it all.

RHS Principal John Beckman told those gathered he has been with the senior class since they were in sixth grade and they are the nicest, most talented group he’s worked with.

Valedictorian Jess Nubbe was awarded $20,000 from the JZ Knight Humanities Foundation and his mother joined him at the podium where she was given a bouquet of flowers.

In a statement from Knight, “I affirm my support to Jesse whose dreams of greater education as a foundational training will enable him the gift of his mind and skills for humanity’s future benefit.”

While it was a celebration of academic success, the night was also a touching reminder of how fragile life can be. Former Rainier student Kyle Lozier presented the Sgt. Justin Norton Memorial Scholarship to 10 Rainier students. She spoke about the last time she saw Justin Norton while he was in the U.S. Army and preparing to go to the Middle East. At the time, she said, he discussed with his family what should happen if he didn’t return. He wanted to give Rainier students scholarships to encourage them to go after their dreams. He died in 2006. Each of the students received $650 in his name.

Rainier Education Foundation, itself a recipient of $50,000 from the JZ Knight Foundation, doled out $30,000 in new and renewing scholarships. Traci Carly explained the nonbiased process and how students receive money once, but can also apply for additional money for each successive year they stay in school, up to four years. REF also offers $15,000 grants to staff for projects not covered in the school budget.

The first alumni scholarship ever given, in the name of Harold Aschenbrenner, was awarded to Nubbe and Holmes for $550 each. Nubbe also received the 2017 RHS Science Scholar award. Citizenship awards were given to Cassie Yeagley and Davis, while Devan Stancil and Francis received the Student Athlete awards.  Lacee Largen received an attendance award, but she wasn’t there to receive it.

Rainier Lions awarded Nubbe and Davis the Becky Walton scholarship, and Nubbe also received the Puget Sound Association Phi Beta Kappa Book Award for outstanding academic achievement. Also chosen for outstanding academic achievement, as well as leadership, Golphenee received The Wellesley College Book Award.

Four students received white stoles to wear at graduation signifying membership in the National Honor Society.

Students also received recognition for passing the state exams and for completion of Career and Technical Education credits. Other scholarships were presented from or on behalf of the Yelm Eagles, South Puget Sound Rotary, Olympia Master Builders, Stiebrs Farm, the Klein family¸ Washington State Council of County and City Employees, Dan R. Montgomery, Emmett E. Stewart, Tex Martin, Aschenbrenner and Miller (founders of Rainier Education Foundation) and Altrusa.

Once all the college scholarships are tabulated and other late awards are reported, the Rainier Seniors will have brought in much more.

“We usually wind up with $300,000 to $400,000,” said Kristin Robinson, the school’s counselor.

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