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Celebrating
Congratulations to our
Elk of the Month
for June 2017

Dennis Boelts

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Congratulations go to our 2016
Award Winners :

Elk of the Year
Stephanie Bongartz

Citizen of the Year
Laura Lumley

Officer of the Year
Mike Long


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Past Exalted Rulers
Past Elks of the Year

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Events > 2017 Events > Youth Appreciation

Youth Appreciation

Elks Recognize Youth of Our Community

Text and Photos by Mike Klinger

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt. BPOE Grand Exalted Ruler, Michael F. Zellen, has proclaimed that May 1 – 7 to be Elks National Youth Week and the Mission Viejo / Saddleback Valley Elks #2444 took the lead with Youth Appreciation Night on May 2.

Exalted Ruler, Mike Long, opened the meeting welcoming everyone and stated, “Tonight, we recognize the many Exceptional Young People from our Community.  We recognize the contributions of their Teachers, Family and Friends that have assisted these Exceptional Young People with their achievements.  We will recognize high achievement from various disciplines, including essay writing skills, scholarship, sports, and scouting”.







(above left) Exalted Ruler Mike Long (L) and Master of Ceremonies Pat Martino PER introduce Mission Viejo Mayor Wendy Bucknum. (above right) ER Mike Long talks Elks Hoop Shoot with winner Ethan Brown and his father.

After the Presentation of the Flags, Pledge of Allegiance and Opening Prayer by Lodge Chaplain, Lane Keran, Youth Appreciation Night Master of Ceremonies, Pat Martino PER, started off the evening introducing Mission Viejo Mayor, Wendy Bucknum. The Mayor then handed ER Mike Long and PER Pat Martino a City Proclamation opening May 1 -7 as Elks National Youth Week.


(above) Elks Scouts Chairman,Thom Spratt,introduces the Arrow of Light award winners


(L to R) Kathie Martin, Principal Melinda Heights Elementary School, Lori Bolich, Teacher, Todd & Celine Hales, Parents, Graham Hales, Essay Contest Winner, 6th Grade, Irene Romero, PER, Essay Contest Chairperson, Charles T. Hart, PER, Essay Assistant


With the lodge room full-to-capacity, the award presentations were ready to begin. Americanism Chairperson, Irene Romero PER and Assistant Charles T. Hart PER presented Americanism Essay Certificates of Recognition to Grade 5 Winners Jesse James and Anthony Dileo, then Grade 6 Winner Graham Hales. Grade 8 Winner was Mirielle Smith from Los Alisos Intermediate School who is also the winner of State of California Competition. Mirielle read her Essay, What it Means to Vote, and received a standing ovation from the crowd. 


(above L to R) Todd & Celine Hales, Parents, Graham Hales, Essay Contest Winner 6th Grade, Jesse James, Father, Jesse James, Essay Contest Winner, 5th Grade, Charles T. Hart, PER, Essay Assistant, Stephen Smith, Father, Mirielle Smith, Essay Contest Winner, 8th Grade and Elks State of California Essay Contest Winner, Rochelle, Mother, Irene Romero, PER, Lodge Essay Contest Chairperson.


Elks Hoop Shoot Winners (L to R) Preston Vaughn (11 years old), Jake Woodall (12), Nicole Dizon (10) and Ethan Brown (13)

Here are the other wonderful youth of our community that received Certificates of Recognition:

Semifinalist for Elks National Foundation Most Valuable Scholarship Program: Shalin Shan (will attend Stanford University) and Balyke Tatman (will attend USC). Scholarship Chairman - John Lee.

Elks National Hoop Shoot Winners: Nicole Dizon (10 years old), Ethan Brown (13), Jake Woodall (12) and Preston Vaughan (11). Orange Coast District First Place Winners: Nicole Dizon and Ethan Brown. Presented by Elks Hoop Shoot Chairman – Dan Hernandez.

Cub Scout Arrow of Light Award Winners: Blake Acharjee , Aiden Briggs, Caden Corner, Christian Datwyler, Gabriel Elizarraras , Ryan Fritz, Dylan Kalaie , William Pang and Ethan Mourer. Pack 603 Cub Scout of the Year – Gabriel Elizarraras, Troop 603 Boy Scout of the Year – Lucas Perez and Pack 603 Scout Leader of the Year – Chris Antenesse. A special award, Scouting Award of Excellence, was presented to Ms. Christine Fritz for her tireless efforts supporting her troop. Presented by Elks Boy Scout Chairman – Thom Spratt.

Youth Appreciation Night came to a close as ER Mike Long thanked all for attending the special event, to our cooking crew who server hamburgers and hot dogs to all kids and their families and to everyone else who worked behind the scenes so diligently to make this annual event a success.