The Lodge honors Outstanding Youth of the community.
Elks Lodge #2444 was the scene of a tribute to Saddleback Valley area youngsters excelling in academics, sports, and scouting. ER Dave McLeod welcomed the recipients, their families and area dignitaries.
Attendees were treated to a hot dog and hamburger dinner before the program began. Boy Scout Troop #603 presented the colors. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Lodge Chaplain Greg Morgan led the prayer and ER McLeod introduced PER Pat Martino who acted as master of ceremonies for the evening. MC Pat spoke of the many charitable activities the Lodge participates in within the Saddleback Valley community. He then introduced Mission Viejo Mayor pro-tem Wendy Bucknum who congratulated the recipients and read a proclamation from the City of Mission Viejo recognizing the Elks and declaring the week as Elks National Youth Week. Laguna Hills Mayor Barbara Kogerman spoke next and complimented the Elks for their involvement in the community and congratulated the students and their parents for their commitment to excellence.
PERs Irene Romero and Charlie Hart presented awards to essay contest winners from the Saddleback Valley and Capistrano Valley School Districts. They were: Isabela Nowak (Grade 6) Delago Elementary School, Ashlee Zych (Grade 5) Foothill Ranch Elementary, and Shae Barrera (Grade 5) Rancho Canada Elementary. Winners in Division 2 Grades 7 & 8: Robyn Weber (Grade 8) and Madison Goetz (Grade 8) both of La Paz Intermediate School. Special Teacher’s Commendations were awarded the teachers of the honored students. Elks National Hoop-Shoot awards were announced by Youth Activities Chairman Daniel Hernandez. Present to receive his award was Orange Coast District Hoop Shoot first place Winner 13 year old Ethan Brown, of Mission Viejo.
Elks Scholarship Committee Chairman John Dellos presented awards to Elks Scholarship winners. They were: Samantha Wieske - El Toro High School, Tiare Chen-Wong - Tesoro High School, Arash Nassirinia - Aliso Niguel High School, Mihir Nilkanth - Mission Viejo High School, and David Bao - Santa Margarita Catholic High School. MC Martino reminded the younger students in attendance to make certain they apply for Elks scholarships when they become high school seniors, as the Elks give out over three million dollars ($3,000,000) to worthy recipients nationally each year.
CHEA Public Relations Chairman Andy Costello introduced Boy Scouts Brandon Lassalle, and Will Hauscarriague. The two young men recently attained the rank of Eagle Scout. Presenting the award certificates, Costello reminded the highly honored scouts that along with the great honor of Eagle Scout comes the great lifetime responsibility of being good will ambassadors for Scouting. Girl Scout Leader Leora Beck introduced Troop 2608 Girl Scout Gold Award recipients Kamela Kadri, and Valerie Sierakowski. The two awarded Girl Scouts spoke of their scouting projects.
In closing the meeting ER McLeod said, “As Elks, we are not only proud of these young scholars, scouts and athletes, but we also recognize the hard work and dedication of the parents who support and encourage their children to excel.” Addressing the students McLeod added, “You have shown that you don’t ever need to settle for mediocrity. I charge you to dare to be the best at whatever you do.”
Publicity, Andy Costello,
Photos, Mike Klinger