travel-scholarship-buttonOur Stars

Academic Achievement Team & Stellar Students

2016 Academic Achievement Dinner held at Sequoia Center

The 2016 Rising Stars Academic Achievement Team was honored at an event at the Sequoia Center in April.

The 21 high school seniors selected by school administrators as members of the 9th Academic Achievement Team averaged a 4.25 GPA and more than proved to be exceptional. They started taking college courses at age 14, traveled 2 hours to school, received community service honors from President Obama, were first generation college-bound, sang at Carnegie Hall, performed clarinet in Amsterdam, founded their own non-profit, initiated a successful business, were a competitive roller derby athlete, and the remarkable list went on.

stellarwinners-2015An awards dinner in April was held for the first time at our new Sequoia Conference Center as the Foundation welcomed team members, their families, and school representatives and awarded a total of $7,000 in scholarships. The event concluded with the naming of the two Stellar Students who each received an additional $200 in scholarships and special plaques: Gillian Borges of Fortuna High School and Canyon Robins of Arcata High School. This marks the third consecutive year that Arcata High has had a Stellar Student.

Click here for a list of this amazing team!



Seal of Biliteracy Awarded to Largest Group Ever

The 2015 Seal of Biliteracy honorees received their medals at a ceremony at Sequoia Center in Eureka.

The California Seal of Biliteracy program celebrated its 4th anniversary in May, featuring 92 high school seniors from seven local schools speaking eight different languages. These included for the first time Academy of the Redwoods and Mattole Valley Charter. This year, eight students achieved proficiency in three languages.

The awards ceremony included personal reflections from four recipients: Shivani Patel of Eureka High, Matteo Mazzella and Hannia Sánchez-Madriz of McKinleyville High, and Liam Achterberg-Muñoz of NPA. Live music was provided by students and teachers from NPA, and catering by the Arcata High HROP Culinary Class.

Click here for a list of Seal recipients!


Culinary AllSTARS

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!



INNOVATE! Winners Awarded $12,000

The finalists in the 2015 INNOVATE! Business Challenge received their checks at the finale event at the Sequoia Center in May.

From a pool of 100 high school student entries, six finalists presenting five original concepts competed in the 4th annual INNOVATE! Business Idea Challenge Finale, resulting in a total of $12,000 being distributed in cash awards from the Foundation as well as local media services. Grand prize winner was Alejandro Ramirez, a freshman at Fortuna High, who developed a successful clothing company, IMPRYM, and won $2,500 from Rising Stars plus $1,200 in media services. The runner-ups received the following prize packages:

Blaine Bryant
Fortuna High School, Bryant Welding
$2,125 cash, $700 media

Henry Wotherspoon
Eureka High School, Fly By
$1,650 cash, $700 media

Enrique Lopez
Ferndale High School, Enrique Lopez Photography
$1,000 cash, $700 media

Patsy Fraga & Jack Ruby
Arcata High School, Carnaval Bakery
$1,000 cash

Gifted and Talented Education

750 Students Attend 35th GATE Academy

gate-academy-ourstarsThis year’s GATE Academy was attended by hundreds of students in 4th – 8th grades, representing 30 schools from Redway to Crescent City, who “flocked” (as Channel 3 News put it) to HSU’s campus on January 8. Participants attended one or two enrichment classes from a selection of 60 taught by community experts. Choices for 4th – 5th graders ranged from “The Great Lego Car Race” to “Marshmallow Challenge” to “Exciting World of Musical Theater”. Students in 6th – 8th grades had such varied topics as “Motorized Mobiles”, “Juggle til You Drop”, and “Finding King Tut” in which to participate. In addition to classes, students and their school coordinators were treated to a special performance by the Hoopa Regalia Brush Dancers. Parents could attend a presentation by local expert and author Carmela Wenger who focused on “Balancing All Activities That Gifted Children Want to Do”, among other related topics.



County Winners Head to State History Day in Rocklin


With a National History Day theme of “Exploration, Encounter and Exchange” and over $10,000 in support from the Foundation, 64 County History Day champions competed in Rocklin with hundreds of top history students from around California.

This year’s students had a record-setting showing, with 14 receiving awards, including a State Champion in the 4th-5th grade division:

Industrial Technology

Industrial Technology Fair Celebrates 30 years

Ferndale High senior Lee O’Reilly won the Gary Roberts Best of Show trophy for this gun cabinet.

Over 300 students from seven high schools throughout the county participated in the annual Gary Roberts Industrial Technology Fair as a featured part of the 2nd “Best of Humboldt” Youth Expo at Redwood Acres. Judged by nine industry experts from Almquist Lumber, Fortuna Ironworks, SHN Engineers & Geologists, and others, Rising Stars awarded 25 trophies, including the coveted Best of Show, won by Ferndale High senior Lee O’Reilly, a student of retiring longtime instructor Michael Baggot, for his gun cabinet. Student work for sale included boomerangs from McKinleyville High, cutting boards from McKinleyville Middle, and metal décor from South Fork High.

Click here for a complete list of trophy winners.


Music Students Excel Throughout the State


The longest standing Rising Stars event, this year’s All County Music Festival marked its 61st anniversary. The evening featured over 350 student performers representing 30 local middle and high schools, and guest conductors came from such prestigious music programs as Sonoma State, Springfield (OR) Community Concert Band, and ArMack Orchestra.

The Foundation also awarded thousands of dollars in travel scholarships to exceptional musicians.

Coastal Region Honor Choir/Palo Alto – Humboldt County was well represented by six outstanding students: Eureka High’s Cory McCubbrey and Nina Egbert, Fortuna High’s Drew Merrill and Katie Puckett, and Arcata High’s Adriana Halligan and Olivia Hoffman, who performed as part of the Choir in November. The students were selected as part of only 238 in a region that stretches from Crescent City to San Luis Obispo.


National Honors Choral Performance Series/Carnegie Hall – The Foundation also very proudly supported Cory McCubbrey’s participation in this prestigious event as one of only 750 students selected from a field of 18,000 nominated. Performers had the privilege of learning from renowned conductor Dr. Jeffrey Ames and represented all 50 states as well as various countries. Cory was invited to audition after performing at the California All State Honor Choir in 2015.

All-State Honor Choir/San Jose – Four local students earned the esteemed honor of participating in this statewide ensemble in February: Arcata High’s Adriana Halligan and Olivia Hoffman and Eureka High’s Cory McCubbrey and Nina Egbert.


Young Scientists Celebrate Science Fair #33

Humboldt County's honorees at the State Science Fair in Los Angeles.

The 2016 Doris Niles County Science Fair at HSU featured nearly 400 projects in a variety of categories. At the Awards Ceremony, over 100 medals and trophies were awarded, and 18 outstanding projects were selected to compete at the State Science Fair in Los Angeles in May, funded by the Foundation and area Rotaries and organizations. The competition featured 940 top science students, and Humboldt County students had an excellent showing:

First Place: Erin Lamphear, 8th grade, Jacoby Creek School, Environmental Science
"A Spatial and Temporal Comparison of Sound Levels in a Rural and Urban Interface"
Erin was also chosen from all junior high competitors to represent the Junior Division and speak at the State Board of Directors’ Luncheon about her experiences in her three consecutive years of participating.

Honorable Mention: Perrin Turney, 10th grade, Six Rivers Charter High School, Toxicology
“Effects of Inhibiting and Enhancing Water Pollutants on Microorganism Mortality at the Arcata Marsh”

Honorable Mention: Eva Weller, 7th grade, Pacific Union School, Zoology
“The Effects of Disc Golf on Plethodontidae Salamanders”

Click here for a list of county winners!



Spelling Bee Champs Earn State Honors

The 33rd annual County Spelling Bee featured 10 elementary students who spelled 101 words (75 last year), including “picayunish” and “fructiferous”, before the contest advanced to the Tie-Breaker rounds, which are written. Two Co-Champions, both 6th graders, were ultimately named: Sunny Brae’s Sierra Baldwin and Jacoby Creek’s Kai Hansen, who moved on to compete with 60 top spellers at State in Stockton. Kai earned recognition as one of seven State Finalists, receiving a trophy.

Eight regional champions competed in the county’s junior high contest, spelling 53 words (25 last year), including “pneumonectomy” and “ptarmigan”, until two 8th graders were named Co-Champions: McKinleyville Middle’s Sofia Potter and Fieldbrook’s Skaidra Pulley. At the State Bee in San Rafael, 50 junior high students from 26 counties competed, with Sofia earning 4th place honors.

Click here for a list of regional champions!