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2019 Pitman Award recipients, photo by Dan Rule courtesy Sierra Tel

33rd Annual Pitman Awards Celebrate 30 YHS Valedictorians

BASS LAKE — Whether they’re heading out of town or staying close to the foothills, the 30 valedictorians of the Yosemite High School Class of 2019 are ready to pursue their passions. Their paths were further defined and celebrated on the Gazebo Deck at The Pines Resort on Tuesday, May 7 at the 33rd annual Paul and Martha Pitman Awards Banquet hosted by Sierra Tel.

High school went by so fast. I am thankful for Yosemite High School being such a welcoming and spirited campus with a close sense of community. Thank you to all the teachers who supported me throughout high school. — Linnea Leinaui

From Fresno to Berkeley and Chico, to Arizona, Utah and Minnesota and beyond, including community colleges, universities and a seminary, these young people will study to be ordained, or to be teachers, doctors and nurses, mechanical engineers, or medical researchers, among other opportunities.

I am genuinely so happy to have grown up in Oakhurst and made the connections that I did. Every teacher has shaped the way I view the path that lays ahead of me and I am unbelievably grateful for every teacher I have had. — Isabella Peter

They will learn more about stem cells than we ever knew, embrace philosophy, delve into the study of psychiatry and explore their own spirituality. They will set out to conquer the world and they will all, without omission, remember the night of their Pitman Banquet with a fondness that’s difficult to understand as they perch on the precipice of the future. Their parents will remember, too.

Yosemite High School provides an environment that balances the importance of education and the importance of improving one’s self. I recognize now that every experience I have had in the last four years is one of a kind. Like the people I am surrounded by at school and at home, I am committed to living a life of self improvement and showing compassion to others. — Sophia McGoldrick

On the shore of Bass Lake with perfect weather, 125 people including parents, friends, family, teachers, administrators and community members gathered to recognize the outstanding students. It’s a big group this year! While there are 30 valedictorians, two were unable to attend the awards.

The 30 Pitman Scholars for the Class of 2019 are, alphabetically, Tehya Abrahams, Monique Ades, Macy Bazzar, Joseph Bunnell, Andrew Chevalier, Henry Curley, Trinity Curtis, Lillian Dickmeyer, Joseph Dudley, Chloe Duke, Eden Hussey, Jordyn Jackson, Natalie Lawrence, Linnea Leinau, Addison McCully, Sophia McGoldrick, Tyler Morgan, Emily Nowka, Ryan O’Meara, Amber Persson, Isabella Peter, Leslie Ramirez, Brandi Sneed, Kaylie Sullivan, Paige Szabadi, Jasmine Tanoury, Sayda Taylor, Kyla Thomas, Amanda Truelove and Abigail Williams.

I have learned to be resilient, I have learned to make some of my greatest weaknesses into my biggest strengths. Over the four years I have learned to appreciate what has been given to me, because I am truly blessed to live in the area that I live in and to have the friends that I have. — Ryan O’Meara

Sierra Tel’s Laura Norman led the evening, which included an invocation by Angelo Pizelo and a delicious dinner buffet by Ducey’s, with cake by Sweet Dreams Cakery.

Norman appreciates that the celebration of the students’ hard work, and the faculty sharing thoughts and anecdotes about each scholar, is a wonderful evening to remember. She also loves the dinner and cake!

“It is my favorite event that I do every year,” she says. “The main theme that came through loud and clear is the Class of 2019 is collectively filled with kind and respectful people. They were repeatedly characterized as thoughtful, hardworking, able to balance school/work/sports/social without complaint, extremely responsible, and a few were even called geniuses.”

Most importantly, we have to be kind to one another. If every citizen is kind to each other, the world would be hate free. Being kind regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, etc. and committing random acts of kindness can transform someone’s day and instill love and joy in their heart. — Henry Curley

Yosemite High School Principal Regina Carr presented awards along with administrators, teachers, and coaches. This is the last time Ms. Carr will have this opportunity, as she will be moving when the school year ends and Dr. Stephanie Osowski will be the next principal at Yosemite High School. The Pitman Awards are one of those uplifting events that leave you feeling like anything is possible in the future, so it’s a great way to mark the occasion and Ms. Carr will be missed next year. New Yosemite Unified district superintendent Glen Billington was present to graciously assist the principal in presenting awards.

Who would’ve thought creating half-thought-out skits with friends or improv could help me become a happier and more fulfilled person? I have made many connections and friends I will cherish in the upcoming years. I am thankful for the pleasant experience and all the joy involved. — Amber Persson

Sierra Tel printed a program that contains reflections by the award winners, including a “remember when,” along with a reminder of the impact of Paul and Martha Pitman on the area in general, and Yosemite High specifically.

The Pitmans were both educators in their 70s who retired in Oakhurst, but not for long, as they became involved with the effort to build the high school at a critical time in the project’s development. Martha Pitman was chair of the Citizen Committee and Paul Pitman was the education counselor for the five mountain elementary school districts. Dr. Pitman was appointed acting Superintendent for YHS through February, 1974.

The Pitmans were instrumental in moving the process along, creating a high school out of not much, at first. “Every time they suffered a defeat or setback,” reads the program, “Paul and Martha would take off for Sacramento. There they consulted with the State Department of Education, the Educational Codes, and the Legislature.”

They solicited clubs and service organizations, kept the community informed, and eventually secured a new district composed of students from the Oakhurst, Coarsegold, Raymond Knowles, Wasuma, and Bass Lake schools. In March of 1974 a majority of voters approved a combined loan and bond of $5,200,000 to make the dream of Yosemite High School a reality. The school opened its doors to around 450 students in September of 1976. On June 13, 1986, the YHS library was dedicated to Paul and Martha Pitman, and the banquet now remembers these early advocates for education every year.

Not only do the teachers at this school want the best for me and my classmates they build strong connections with the students which only makes it harder to say goodbye when time comes. — Chloe Duke

The last months and years, have been filled with hard work, struggle and a degree of uncertainty as the path toward the looming future was navigated by youth and families, alike. As of May, many students have made their choices and plans and the Pitman Banquet is a chance for people to mingle, reflect and look forward with joy and appreciation. It is a delightful tradition that will be long-remembered by all.

Everything from expanding my passion for academics, to teaching me how to be less socially awkward, I find myself lucky to have gotten on this roller coaster we call high school we all the people here tonight. YHS and the class of 2019 will forever hold a special place in my heart. Always bleed badger blue! — Natalie Lawrence

Congratuations, Pitman Scholars.

Yosemite High School is part of the Yosemite Unified School District

2019 PITMAN REFLECTIONS Program

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