BASS LAKE — The mama-razzi and the paparazzi were out in full force for a time-honored tradition, taking pictures of the 18 students who are deemed Pitman Award recipients for Yosemite High School’s graduating class of 2017.
Click on images to enlarge. Photos by Virginia Lazar.
The 31st annual Paul and Martha Pitman Awards Banquet was held on the Gazebo Deck at the Pines resort in the students’ honor on May 1, with parents, friends, family, teachers, administrators and community in attendance.
The sounds of laughter and happy-teary sniffles filled the evening air as the sun set behind Bass Lake, while the big group was treated to an introduction of these students and their many accomplishments.
The 18 Pitman Scholars aka valedictorians for the Class of 2017 are, alphabetically, Riley Ashton, Jericolouis Garcellano, Brandon Healey, Emilie Jones, Elise Keeler, Audrey Kenison, Thomas Lazar, Isabel McGoldrick, Lucinda Montoya, Evan Morton, Laura Pearson, Trevor Peter, Lauren Peterson, Mathew Roberts, Georgina Royce, Jennifer Springer, Katie Thompson, and Alexander Williams.
Sierra Tel’s Laura Norman led the evening, which included a delicious dinner by Ducey’s, with cake and cupcakes by Sweet Dreams Cakery. The students were alternately lauded and roasted by the school’s administrators, teachers, and coaches.
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.
Meanwhile, back on the deck at the Pines, relief was a palpable emotion throughout the dinner. The last months, or even years, have been filled with hard work, struggle and a degree of uncertainty as the path toward college was navigated by kids and parents alike. As of May 1, most students have made their choices and plans for the future and the Pitman Banquet was a chance for people to mingle, reflect and look forward joyfully, as well. It is a delightful tradition that will be long-remembered by all.
Congratuations, Pitman Scholars.