Opinion

An awe-inspiring group of people

Last week I had the pleasure of assisting the Wildcat Inspiration Network at Mount Si High School with its annual art show. In addition, as vice president of the alumni association, I stuck around and listened to the presentation of distinguished alumni awards, and wow, was it ever impressive.

But first, I have to say there are some very talented students at Mount Si. I have helped judge the photo portion of the showcase for the past four years, and each year the level of creativity, professionalism and presentation gets better. This year it was difficult to pick the top three and then the grand-prize winners, but after several hours of scanning the works of art, fellow photographer Jeff Goble and I selected the ribbon recipients. But to those who didn't win, I must say you are extremely talented and it was a great honor to be able to judge your work.

In addition to the impressions of the art showcase were the overwhelming impressions of this year's distinguished alumni recipients.

First on the list was Jack Kelly, class of 1948. Jack was instrumental in the development of water propulsion for Boeing Co. when it was building hydrofoils. Jack is also a recognized historian for Fall City. Unfortunately for Jack, he had to live across the street from my brother and I during our high-school years ... sorry, Jack. Jack's message that stuck with me was regarding his work ethic. He said you get paid for eight hours but you get promoted for the rest. That's a strong message when thinking about careers, advancement and what it takes these days to get recognized.

Then there was Curtis Cleven, class of 1952. Curtis pointed out during his acceptance remarks that his career didn't exist when he graduated. He has worked with NASA since its inception on numerous space projects, all of which boggle the average mind. So basically, yes, Mount Si produced a rocket scientist. His message to students was that they don't have to necessarily pick from careers that are currently available. It's true, a new career could emerge at any time, and with the past 20 years of technological change, that is more true than ever.

Then there was a man who is hard to describe in writing, Fritz Ribary. I feel very fortunate to know Fritz, and have the pleasure of interacting with him on a regular basis through the Chamber, Youth Hub and numerous other events with which he is involved. This man's career is impressive, and when you think of people who have shaped our community for the better, he easily surpasses many others. But modesty is also one of his virtues, and it was evident that all the trumpeting of his accomplishments should have been overshadowed for his love for Hub and the children of our Valley.

Fritz attributed much of his success to the teachers at Mount Si. He stated that when you are 17 or 18 and know it all, you don't take time to thank teachers. So he offered thanks to those teachers who shaped his educational experience and those still shaping students today.

Hugh Grew was another distinguished alumni from Mount Si, class of 1971. Grew couldn't attend the event, but his sister and mother accepted the award for him. Grew is in television and even has Emmy Awards to prove his success. Think about it, a person from Mount Si has a couple of Emmy Awards sitting in his home. He couldn't attend because he was working on the Country Music Awards, which aired last week. His message, told by his sister, was that anything is possible.

Joy to the world. OK, maybe that's overdoing it, but how about Joy to the Valley. Joy Hoffman-Baunsgard was the fifth recipient of the distinguished alumni award. Joy is one of those graduates who stuck around the Valley. Her photography has captured precious moments for families from all over, and her graduation photography is some of the best in the country. Joy has given her time to numerous activities and credits her teachers for her success, stating they encouraged her to do what she wanted, no matter what it was.

Finally there was Mike Peck Jr., whose resume reads like that of a fictional action hero. Peck graduated in 1989, and in those 13 short years since graduation he has done everything from flying Cobra gun ships to forming SWAT teams. It was evident that in these current times a person like Mike Peck Jr., a Mount Si graduate, has the skills and talent to keep our country safe. Unfortunately, he could not attend the event, but promised to pick up his award in July.

I would hope the message here is that our school system has put out some fine graduates, and I would expect that future distinguished alumni will carry on the tradition of awe-inspiring accomplishments and involvement. Congratulations to all those selected.

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