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Thousands of dollars in scholarships awarded to seniors
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Taking home the most prestigious honor from the Escalon High School Senior Awards Night was Hannah Wampler, center, this year’s recipient of the Wendell Eliason Memorial Award. The award was presented by Eliason’s great niece Rae, left, and nephew Brian, at right. Marg Jackson/The Times

The evening program for Escalon High School’s graduating Class of 2024 on May 22 saw multiple awards and scholarships presented, with several new scholarships among them.

Serving as Master of Ceremonies was Senior Class President Destiny Reyes, who spent quite a bit of time going back and forth from the podium, introducing presenters and having her photo taken as an award winner. Officers for the graduating class were recognized to begin the evening, including Reyes, Vice President Samantha ‘Sammy’ Lang, Secretary Janesa Aldasoro and Representative Ashley Titsworth. Senior class advisors this year are Elizabeth Baldwin, Jennifer James, Erika Olsen and Kelli Rissetto.

Thanks were also given to the ASB officers, President Makenzie Mendes, Vice President Katelyn Kjellberg, Secretary Zoey Baracosa, Treasurer Ashley Titsworth and the DSBA team of Mendes, Baracosa, Cali Granis and Titsworth. At the conclusion of the roughly two-and-a-half-hour program, coordinator Karen Nunes was given a round of applause for her efforts in putting the program together and making sure students had ample opportunities to apply for the numerous scholarships available to them.

The various scholarship and memorial awards were each given by one or more presenters, providing some background on the honor prior to presenting it. Some awards were given to a single senior, others had multiple recipients.

In all, more than $123,000 in scholarship awards were presented.

Among the new scholarships for this year’s class were American Crane Rental, the Greg Cupit Memorial, Gomes & Phillips Scholarship, the Escalon Masonic Lodge and scholarships from the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society, along with one from Roman Junk Removal & Property Care, which was offered by a pair of EHS alum from just a few years ago.

Recognized as Salutatorian for the Class of 2024 was Alyssa Ball and receiving the “Boss” Award as the Valedictorian was Shehab Algaheim.

Taking home what is considered by many to be the highest honor – the Wendell Eliason Memorial Scholarship – was Hannah Wampler, a recipient of multiple awards during the evening.

Presenters Brian Eliason and his daughter Rae, the nephew and great niece of Wendell Eliason, noted that the award is one voted on by the EHS faculty, staff and students. It is given to the senior recognized as a leader and the one who is “willing to go above and beyond” as Eliason did. He gave his life in service to his country in Vietnam, a helicopter pilot who died while flying a rescue transport mission, coming under enemy fire.

The award has been presented in his honor since 1965.

“I don’t think there are enough words to describe this senior year; I mean from start to finish, it has just been such an amazing experience,” Wampler said in trying to summarize her final year of high school, culminating with the Eliason award. “I don’t even know how to put it into words how grateful I am and honored to get involved in all these different programs and become a leader in them and, you know, make my name well known around this school. I don’t ask for any of it (recognition) but I’m very grateful and I can’t thank this community enough.”

She plans to start her collegiate career at Modesto Junior College after graduating from EHS, then transfer to a four-year school. She anticipates pursuing a career in the ag field.

“I plan to just enjoy every opportunity,” Wampler said, offering thanks to all those that have made her time at EHS memorable. “It’s been a great experience and the gift of life just keeps on giving.”

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Escalon Unified School District Superintendent Ricardo Chavez is shown with the three Superintendent’s Scholarship recipients for the Class of 2024, from left, Makenzie Mendes, Hannah Wampler and Faith Reyes. Marg Jackson/The Times