BASS LAKE — On the shore of Bass Lake with perfect weather, 87 people gathered Monday night to honor the Yosemite High School Class of 2018 Valedictorians.
The 32nd annual Paul and Martha Pitman Awards Banquet was held on the Gazebo Deck at The Pines Resort to recognize 23 outstanding students in the YHS graduating Class of 2018. The Pitman scholars gathered on Tuesday, May 8, with parents, friends, family, teachers, administrators and community in attendance.
The 23 Pitman Scholars for the Class of 2018 are, alphabetically, Katherine Bayt, Ariana Bhalla, Tiffany Cacy, Brittany Collier, Katrina Conklin, Hannah Hurtado, Benjamin Johnson, Nikki Johnson, Lily Kuykendall, Rachel Loveland, Olivia Mattos, Rachel Mattos, Sarah Meeks, Kendall Miller, Kelsey Montalto, Emilie Neff, Benjamin Negley, David O’Brien, Isaac Rumohr, Madilyn Sloas, Zachery Thach, Dana Vind, and Lauren Wharton.
Sierra Tel’s Laura Norman led the evening, which included a delicious dinner buffet by Ducey’s, with cake and cupcakes by Sweet Dreams Cakery. Angelo Pizelo spoke, remembering the Pitmans. Yosemite High School Principal Regina Carr presented awards along with administrators, teachers, and coaches.
“After a delicious meal prepared by The Pines Resort, ten teachers and Faculty members ‘roasted’ the best and brightest Yosemite has to offer. There were tears and lots of laughs and those of us who didn’t know the students prior to the event were thoroughly impressed with their credentials and what a stellar class of graduates they are,” Laura recounts.
“Every year I host many many events and the Pitman Awards Banquet is my favorite. Honoring these scholars for their hard work and accomplishments is such a privilege and I appreciate Sierra Tel encouraging me to continue this 32 year tradition.”
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.
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.
Congratuations, Pitman Scholars.