travel-scholarship-buttonOur Stars

Academic Achievement Team & Stellar Students

2017 Awards Ceremony Held at Sequoia Center

The 2017 Rising Stars Academic Achievement Team was honored at an event at the Sequoia Center in April.

The 10th annual Academic Achievement Team dinner honored 19 exceptional seniors with an average GPA of 4.22. They are effective communicators and role models who overcame adversities, founded community organizations, preserved the environment, taken a multitude of college courses, excelled in art and athletics, and hold family most important.

In honor of Program Coordinator Paulette Gilliam’s retirement after 28 years of service to HCOE, two students were selected to receive the Inspirational Award, Melanie Black of Fortuna High School, and Nani Villa of Eureka High School. The students received additional scholarships and were recognized as “demonstrating selfless concern for those in need and striving to positively affect the lives of others with compassion,” stated then County Superintendent Garry T. Eagles, Ph.D.

The event culminated with the naming of two Stellar Students, Raya Mahony of South Fork High School, and Kate McLeod of Arcata High School. The Stellar Students were selected by a panel of community members in recognition of their exceptional accomplishments and potential to make a significant impact in the future. This marks the 4th consecutive year that Arcata High has had a Stellar Student.

Click here for a list of this amazing team!



Sequoia Center at Capacity for 5th Annual Award Ceremony

The 2017 Seal of Biliteracy honorees received their medals at a ceremony at Sequoia Center in Eureka.

The 2017 Speaker for the Seal of Biliteracy event was Paola Rodriguez Hidalgo, Ph.D., HSU Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Nearly 130 seniors, the largest group ever, from eight Humboldt County high schools received medals in this year’s Seal of Biliteracy ceremony, attended by over 400 supporters. The students achieved proficiency in 10 various languages, including four students proficient in three languages and several exchange students.

Three recipients shared their personal experiences, NPA’s India Allen, Arcata High’s Sequoia Liming-Madrone, and Fortuna High’s Dalya Olea. Keynote Speaker was Paola Rodriguez Hidalgo, Ph.D., HSU Professor of Physics and Astronomy.

Click here for a list of Seal recipients!



First Fortuna Kids’ Salsa Recipe Competition is a Huge Hit!


The Fortuna Apple Harvest Festival included a fun, new feature this year: the Kids’ Salsa Recipe Competition! For the first time in its 7-year history, the event, usually held only in Arcata, added a second location. On October 1, eight teams from Eel River Valley schools partnered with exceptional area chefs to create delicious salsas for judging and public tasting/voting at Strongs Creek Plaza.

Participating teams included:

  • River’s Edge’s Gregory McChristian for Loleta Elementary
  • Hydesville Food Service’s Tina Anaya for Hydesville Elementary
  • Dorris & Daughter Catering’s Jeanne Dorris & Angi Caudill for Fortuna Middle School
  • Eel River Brewing’s Dave Bourne for Ambrosini Elementary
  • Nourish Bistro Catering’s Jenna Long for Cuddeback School
  • Double D Steak’s Jeff Dunker for South Fortuna Elementary
  • Miguel’s Miguel Paz for Toddy Thomas Middle School
  • Katrina & Karen Parlato for Eagle Prairie Elementary

South Fortuna Elementary earned the coveted new Golden Apple Award, in conjunction with the Festival, for its use of apples in the most unique and flavorful way. People’s Choice was awarded to Cuddeback and Kids’ Choice to Ambrosini. Click here for a complete list of award recipients and here for the eight delicious recipes. Thank you to our list of esteemed judges for their support and to the Eel River community for welcoming us!

Arcata Storm Not a Factor in Young Chefs’ Achievements


For the 7th consecutive year, the Kids’ Salsa Recipe Competition was held in Arcata, featuring 10 teams of 3rd – 6th graders from local schools. In light of the weather, for the first time the competition was moved to Plaza Grill’s View Room, where salsas were judged by experts in various related culinary fields and tasted and voted on by the public. Abruzzi Catering/Plaza Grill provided the space at no cost.

After public tasting and voting, an awards ceremony was held, culminating with the announcements of the exciting People’s Choice and Kids’ Choice, both earned by Freshwater School, and the Most Marketable salsa. The latter, judged by Cal Ferris of Humboldt Hot Sauce, recognized the team from Alice Birney and Chef Tony Piazza of Eureka City Schools Food Service for their “Alice B’s Local Salsa.”

Eureka Natural Foods not only provided the tortilla chips for tasting at the event, it produced and sold Alice B’s Local Salsa in November and December, with $500 in proceeds benefitting the Rising Stars Foundation and future salsa recipe competitions.

Click here for the list of teams!



INNOVATE! Finale Highlights Five Business Concepts

The finalists in the 2017 INNOVATE! Business Challenge received their checks at the finale event at the Sequoia Center in May.

The Foundation awarded over $8,000 in prize money and $1,750 in media services from BiCoastal Media and Eureka Broadcasting to five high school students from an original pool of 100:

Jessica Smith
Arcata High School, Acorn Goddess Poison Oak Tonic
$2,500 cash, $750 media

Henry Wotherspoon
Eureka High School, FlyBy Carbon Compass Frame
$2,500 cash, $500 media

Justin Stemach
Eureka High School, 3-D Cycle
$1,600 cash, $500 media

Robin Zhao
St. Bernard’s Academy, Jeju’s Korean BBQ
$750 cash

Brody Van Vleck
Eureka High School, Brody’s Goat Organics
$750 cash

Judges included Greg Bowen, Business Solutions Manager at Umpqua Bank; Victoria Bennington, Market Manager for Bicoastal Media; Mary Keene, Founder of Cypress Grove Chevre; Steve O’Meara, owner of Kokatat; and Tom Tellez, owner of Wallace & Hinz. The event’s keynote speaker was Cara Knostman of Lotus Mountain Screen Printing in Fortuna.

Gifted and Talented Education


Hundreds Attend Academy at HSU

Local 4th – 8th graders converged throughout campus to enjoy an array of enrichment classes including “Little Bits Maker Challenge”, “Native American Practices”, “The Art of Flower Arranging”, “Getting Artsy with Algebra”, “DNA of a Strawberry”, and “Hip-Hop: The Art of Rhyme”.

In addition to classes, attendees enjoyed a performance by Southern Humboldt’s “Madd Jazz” chorus. Parents of GATE students had the opportunity to attend a presentation by California Association of the Gifted representative Dr. Barbara Branch, who traveled from the Sacramento area to give a presentation on the subject of “Motivation – Missing in Action”. A video of the presentation can be found at



State History Day Champions Named

The 2017 Humboldt County History Day Participants


Of the 75 County Champions who advanced to State History Day, a total of 27 – the largest number ever – earned recognition (last year’s number was 14), including State Champions Gavin Brooks and Conner Johnson, 8th graders from Zane Middle School, for their project titled, “Sun & STAX: Record Labels That Defied Segregation and Created Integrated Classics” ( Brooks and Johnson were the first State Champs from Humboldt County in several years and traveled to the University of Maryland to compete at National History Day in June. The Foundation coordinated with local individuals and businesses to raise funds for the boys’ trip.

Please click here for a list of all Humboldt students who received recognition at State History Day.

Industrial Technology

First Ever Showcase of Excellence

Top honors, the Gary Roberts Best of Show trophy, went to Cameron Lourenco, a senior at Eureka High and student of Dave Stevens, for his kayak.

Roughly 80 student projects in wood, drafting, metal, and machinery were judged by industry experts who traveled to 7 local high schools to view the work and interview the students. At an evening ceremony with families and school representatives, students displayed their projects, and trophies and scholarships were awarded to 25 students. Participating schools and teachers included:

  • Arcata High – Lex Rohn, Jason Sidell
  • Eureka High – Kyle Shamp, Dave Stevens
  • Ferndale High – Jim Smith
  • Fortuna High – Brett Roslosnik
  • McKinleyville High – Dave Enos, Sean Curry
  • Six Rivers Charter High – Lex Rohn
  • South Fork High – Kenny Ingalls

Top honors, the Gary Roberts Best of Show trophy, went to Cameron Lourenco, a senior at Eureka High and student of Dave Stevens, for his kayak.

Click here for a complete list of trophy winners.


Top Students Excel Throughout the State


Supported by a $2,500 Well Fargo donation, the Foundation provided over $6,000 in travel scholarships to exceptional students who earned the opportunity through auditions to perform at regional and state honor choirs, bands, and orchestras:

Arcata High: Jack Angles, Olivia Gerving, Philip Throssel , and Jason Tuermer-Lee
Eureka High: Madison Sylvia
Fortuna High: Andrew Merrill and Itzelt Rios

Congrats to these students’ teachers as well: Cassie Moulton (Arcata), Charles Young (Eureka), and Sarah McClimon (Fortuna).

And for the first time in several years, the All County Music Festival was held at Arcata High School, featuring hundreds of top music students from throughout Humboldt and Del Norte counties. Guest conductors included HSU’s Dr. Rachel Samet, formerly of University of Hawaii and Bucknell University; Audrey McCombs, a tuba player who has performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; and Laura Arrington, a 4-time soprano soloist with Eureka Symphony and 2016’s Outstanding Music Educator of the Year.


Young Scientists Receive State Honors

Humboldt County's honorees selected for the State Science Fair.

In addition to the 125 awards given out at the Humboldt County Science Fair, 19 students were selected to compete at the 66th annual California State Science Fair in Los Angeles, in which 927 students competed from 400 schools representing 814 projects:

  • Rebecca Barnett, 6th grade, McKinleyville Middle
  • Raven Alvarez, 6th grade, Jacoby Creek
  • Beck Pedersen, 6th grade, Jacoby Creek
  • Anneli Macdonald, 7th grade, Jacoby Creek
  • Mathilde Macdonald, 7th grade, Jacoby Creek
  • Zoe Osborn, 7th grade, NPA Middle
  • Calvin Sway, 7th grade, Jacoby Creek
  • Amara Kelley, 7th grade, Pacific Union
  • Samantha Gaiera, 7th grade, Sunny Brae Middle
  • Mina Abbassi, 8th grade, Jacoby Creek
  • Eva Weller, 8th grade, Pacific Union
  • Gwendolyn Shernock, 8th grade, South Bay Charter
  • Zoie Andre, 8th grade, Sunny Brae Middle
  • Madisen Berube, 8th grade, Sunny Brae Middle
  • Remy Campbell, 8th grade, Jacoby Creek
  • Rachel Meyer/Jazzy White, 8th grade, Pacific Union
  • Meiwan Gottschalk, 8th grade, Freshwater Charter
  • Perrin Turney, 11th grade, Six Rivers Charter High

Students earning recognition at the State Fair include:

3rd Place
Eva Weller, 8th grade, Pacific Union School, Behavioral & Social Sciences
What Influences Early Teens’ View of Climate Change in Humboldt County, California?

Zoe Osborn, 7th grade, Northcoast Preparatory Academy, Computational Systems & Analysis
What Organisms Other than Ideonella sakaiensis Have the Ability to Digest and Degrade PET? A Bioinformatics Project

Honorable Mention
Zoie Andre, 8th grade, Sunny Brae Middle School, Environmental Engineering
Living Shorelines to Mitigate Seal Level Rise

Perrin Turney, 11th grade, Six Rivers Charter High School, Microbiology
Effects of Climate Change (Increase in Temperature, Salinity and Pollutants) on Freshwater Microorganism Mortality Rates

Rachel Meyer & Jazzy White, 8th grade, Pacific Union School, Toxicology
Marinas: Toxic or Safe?

Click here for a list of county winners!



Four County Champs Named

This year’s County Spelling Bee drew an audience of 100 supporters who watched intently as 17 regional champions—9 at the elementary school level (4th – 6th grades) and 8 at the junior high school level (7th – 9th grades) —carefully responded to words posed by the Bee’s Spelling Master, Brian Papstein, Owner/General Manager of Eureka Broadcasting. In the elementary division, students spelled 105 words including “eczema” and “malign”, before the contest advanced to Tie-Breaker rounds, with three students remaining, including Aurora Pitts, a 4th grader from Alder Grove Charter School. After a record 7 tie-breaking words, ultimately two Co-Champions were determined: Isaac Young, a 6th grader from Cutten Elementary, and John Gerving, a 6th grader from Jacoby Creek School.

After junior high students spelled 32 words, including “belligerent” and “maudlin”, Lea Eider, an 8th grader at McKinleyville Middle School, and Kai Hansen, a 7th grader at Sunny Brae Middle School, were named Co-Champions, with runner-up Merlin Newcomb, an 8th grader from Alder Grove Charter School.