Sunday, October 8, 2017

Philomath High School names 2017-18 homecoming queen

Philomath High School named the new homecoming queen during halftime at Friday night’s Warrior football game.

Five homecoming princesses walked in front spectators at the stadium anticipating the results of who the student body voted as their 2017-18 homecoming queen. Each princess wore a gown and crown. Just after 8 p.m. on Oct. 6, Sarah Buddingh, senior, was announced as queen.

“I feel very honored,” Buddingh said. “It’s a very special experience.”

Princesses were selected by their peers during two rounds of voting. First round voting named nominees within each class. The top five from each class and six from the senior class were then voted on again. High votes from each class become nominees for queen.

When asked why she thought she had won, Buddingh’s best friend, Hailey Davis, who stood next to Buddingh after her win, quickly answered.

“Because everybody loves her,” said Davis. “And she’s also the student body president so everybody knows her.”

Buddingh added that her win made her proud because her mom, Connie Buddingh, was also the senior homecoming queen when she attended PHS.

Another princess, Ashlynn Wulk, sophomore, also shared the title of homecoming princess with her mom, Shannon Smith.

“My mom was very proud because she was a princess in high school,” said Wulk. “And my dad was surprised because I’m so quiet.”

Wulk believed she was nominated because of her involvement with basketball and the number of friends she has on the team. She plays wing position.

Upon hearing Buddingh named as queen, Wulk and the other princesses—freshman Danielle Beck, junior Jamie Chambers, and senior Mariam Coskey—gracefully congratulated Buddingh.

Buddingh has been on the student government cabinet the past two years but this is her first as president. Because of her duties on the cabinet, she was also involved in organizing homecoming week festivities which began on Monday, Oct. 2.

The week included theme days such as Mega Action Monday, Cartoons Tuesday, Western Wednesday, and The Classics on Thursday. Friday was Fear the Tribe day, a time for Warriors to get pumped up for the evening’s football game against North Marion. Friday morning also included the homecoming parade.

On Wednesday, the underclassmen claimed victory over the upperclassmen during the Powder Puff football game. A bonfire for students and their families followed the game on Wednesday evening.

Saturday night ended the week’s festivities with the semi-formal homecoming dance.

Overall, Buddingh was happy with the turnout and participation of homecoming week.

“Involvement has been incredible with all the activities planned,” she said. “I’ve been really impressed with the student body and cabinet.”

Buddingh plans to attend Eastern Oregon University after graduation. She wants to study anthropology and sociology in hopes to become a youth counselor. She will return to next year’s homecoming game to crown the new queen.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Lilly's Lope for Hope, fundraiser for suicide education

Photo courtesy of the Stagner family.
On Saturday, Oct. 14, Lilly’s Lope for Hope, an annual fundraiser, will take place. This year’s 5k run and 1k walk will happen just shy of four years after the PHS freshman, Lilly Stagner, committed suicide at the age of 14.

Organized by Paula May, aunt of Stagner, all proceeds will be donated to Lilly’s Grant for Guidance. Funds are used to further suicide education and counseling assistance for children within the Philomath School District.

The shock of Stagner’s suicide opened May’s eyes to a need in the community which led to the creation of the Lope fund.

“After she died,” said May. “I decided what I saw as one of the biggest problems was when someone needed to get into counseling to see somebody there were a lot of hoops, and the wait time could be up to six months out.”

“What I had initially wanted was the money to go towards counseling needs so that someone could get in right away, no matter the cost or whether they were in an insurance group,” she said.

But after the first year, May found that the bulk of the grant money was not being used. She then decided to partner with the middle and high schools.

“Each year Philomath has Inspired Day, which is devoted to giving a message of hope or story of overcoming odds for the kids,” said May. “There is a speaker that comes and we have paid for the speaker over the past two years with the Lope money.”

After Stagner's death, May also realized that children don’t always know how to tell adults about a friend they think is at risk of suicide.

“None of us adults knew about it,” May said. ”But after the fact, we found out that she had been telling friends about it."

The topic of suicide is hard to discuss, but May believes it is necessary in order to prevent more suicides. She has dedicated much of her time getting involved in prevention education and overseeing Lilly’s Grant for Guidance.

Over the past two years, Lope money has also contributed to the middle school’s HERO Challenge. The challenge confronts issues of bullying in schools. Students learn to prevent and overcome bullying, to build and enhance personal skills, and to create friendships and alliances to help prevent bullying.

Most recently, May and the Lope fund have collaborated with Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis. Good Samaritan will pay for up to 500 people in the community to take suicide prevention classes called QPR, an acronym that stands for question, persuade, refer. QPR courses are built from evidence-based, peer-reviewed studies and qualify for Continuing Education credits.

May hopes children in the community will attend QPR classes to gain prevention knowledge and the confidence to tell an adult if they know of an at-risk peer.

This year’s Lope fundraiser will begin 10 a.m. at the Philomath City Park. Pets are welcome on a leash. Parking is available in the middle and high school parking lots. Figeros Pizza in Philomath will provide free pizza after the day’s activities.

The event will feature a silent auction. Bidding will open at 9:30 a.m. and close at noon. Items donated came from various businesses and private residents. Donations include quilts, hair care products, massage certificates, a Yeti cooler, dinner certificates, photography packages, and artwork.

Several pieces of artwork were created by Stagner’s friends, many of which shared her love for art. Participants in the run will receive a t-shirt with artwork of Lilly’s on it.

As part of the event’s tradition, there will be a balloon ceremony where people can write messages to those they’ve lost and send them up.

“At the funeral we did that,” said May, “ And we’ve wanted to recreate that every year.”

To register visit Registration is $30 in advance and $35 the day of the event. Registration of four or more will get 20 percent off using the promo code BETHEHOPE.

Philomath: Nectar Creek's facility nears completion

Photo courtesy Nectar Creek

On the west end of town, Nectar Creek’s construction nears completion. The 7,500-square-foot production facility will include a taproom and restaurant. The build is a massive upgrade to their current 8-foot by 8-foot tasting room in Corvallis.

Founded in 2012 by brothers Nick and Phillip Lorenz, Nectar Creek combines a passion for beekeeping, agriculture, and brewing to make handcrafted session meads, a drink created by the fermentation of honey.

The grand opening of their Philomath location is expected this year. An official date has not been set. While the original plan was for October, that is unlikely.

“It’s the nature of such a large development—there’s always something that comes up,” said Nick.

Nectar Creek’s new facility will offer several options not offered at their Corvallis location. While current visitors can sample products, fill growlers, and buy cases, there are no tables or food. That will change when they settle into their new facility.

“We won’t have a full menu but will serve lunch and dinner,” said Nick. “We’ll have a big smoker on our patio that features fresh smoked meat that will accompany our food.”

There will also be an appetizer menu including meat and cheese plates for those seeking a small bite while sipping local brews.

In their new taproom, with a honeycomb theme, Nectar Creek will have 24 options.

“We’ll not only be offering our mead but also a selection of beer, cider, and a little bit of wine,” said Nick. “We’re also going to create our own honey soda to have non-alcoholic offerings.”

Their honey soda is exclusive to their new location and for taproom visitors only.

On the sales floor, local honey-related products will be available for purchase. Among those products will be Old Blue Raw Honey, a Philomath-based business that has collaborated with Nectar Creek in the past.

All of Nectar Creek’s brews are made with raw honey from farms in the Willamette Valley. One of those vendors, Corvallis-based Queen Bee Honey, is where Phillip worked for seven years before the brothers created Nectar Creek.

“We are excited to work with local agriculture as much as we can,” said Nick. “We grew up in local agriculture, and part of the foundation that inspired us to start Nectar Creek was that connection with local agriculture.”

Due to added space and services in the new facility, Nectar Creek will hire bartenders, cooks, and servers as the move-in date gets closer. Applications will be accepted only after public job postings have been placed.

For their grand opening, they plan to celebrate the occasion with live music and a few surprises.

“We’ll offer a selection of products we’re going to pull out of our cellar that we’ve been storing and aging especially for our opening that you won’t be able to find anywhere else,” said Nick.

They hope to continue to showcase live music on a regular basis.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Gone but not forgotten

Over the summer I had the chance to write some articles for the Philomath Express while the editor was on vacation. One of those stories led me to Philomath Middle School. I had not been to the school in over 20 years.

I was to meet the source for my assignment in the gym. As I entered the school from the side parking lot, the doors seemed smaller. The hallway seemed smaller. Everything seemed smaller. Or maybe I was just bigger.

I walked past where my old locker was and remembered the collage of clippings from Seventeen Magazine I had taped to the inside of the door. Most of which were probably of Home Improvement’s Jonathan Taylor Thomas. He was so dreamy to my 11-year-old self.

Painted in the hallway I saw a familiar drawing; a muscular Indian, hands in the air, a painted face. It looked to me like the art of Daniel Bain. I remembered when our class voted on it. We chose that drawing to be the one for the cover of our yearbook. A smile came to my face as I remembered him, and how he left us too soon.

When I made my way to the gym I realized how, like me, it too had grown up. It had new, fancy bleachers that replaced the old, clunky wooden ones. I recalled how loud those wooden bleachers were when they were pushed back into place against the wall. The new ones now retreat in near silence at the push of a button.

As I continued on the day’s assignment, I headed towards the music room. I spent a lot of time in that room with Mrs. Crocker as I learned to play the trumpet. I saw the back row in which I sat, often in second chair. I thought about my friend, Rachael, who always seemed to land in that coveted first chair seat.

As I continued around the hallways, the library prompted me to remember the day of the OJ Simpson verdict. On that day we gathered in the library, rows of seats set out where tables usually stood, projection screen pulled down. We watched with the rest of the nation as the “guilty” or “not guilty” decision was made. When we heard it, I remember seeing the faces of our teachers who stood among us. They looked shocked. I was shocked. Many of us were.

Down the hall from the library was my fifth-grade homeroom. I used to get “hall passes” to the bathroom, but, really, I wanted to walk by the neighboring classroom where a cute boy was. I would slow down as I passed the open door and pretend I didn’t mean to catch his eye. I chuckled as I recalled this because that same boy is now my boyfriend. This month marks our four-year anniversary.

When done with the day’s assignment, I left through the same doors in which I had come. I looked up again at Dan’s drawing, saying goodbye to an old friend. With thoughts of life and death and all the unknown in between, I remembered another Brave no longer with us. As I drove past the front of the school, where the buses line up at the end of the day, I saw the tree planted for Nicole Gee. It stands today as another memory of someone gone too soon.

After my visit to the middle school, my trip down memory lane continued. I was added to the Facebook group “Mr. Mortlock’s Battle with Cancer.” The group of 2,049 people began to share fond memories of the school’s seventh-grade science teacher. I imagine on the days that he could Mr. Mortlock read some of them.

I can’t help but think of what a wonderful gift the Mortlock family gave him—the gift of a forum where people could share the impact he made on their lives. I should only hope something so meaningful can happen to us all—to leave this world knowing we had changed it, if only in the small portion of it that we call home.

As I think about Dan’s drawing on the wall and Nicole’s tree in the lawn, I wonder if it’s time to add another tribute to the school’s grounds. Post after post in Mr. Mortlock’s group proved that his PIADIAMCBLASFAA lessons stuck with us all, even though many of us forgot how to spell it. To me, a mural of this phrase somewhere in the school seems to be the perfect reminder of another person gone but not forgotten in our community.

Friday, September 1, 2017

When day become night

Moment of totality, Aug. 21, 2017, Philomath, Ore.
No matter what the experts said, I had no idea what to expect the morning of Aug. 21. I took my seat at a friend’s house off Alsea Hwy at 9 a.m. We sat in the open air, surrounded by grassy fields in a yard filled with flower beds, ornamental bushes, and fruit trees. Perched on the hillside, we had a direct view of the sun. 

Nature was loud. Birds chirped, chickens clucked, cows mooed, dogs barked. Cars sped by. Life was as usual. And then it was not.

The moment the sun began to black out, as if Mother Nature had taken a bite out of a cookie, my imagination began to swirl. Questions I’d never pondered cluttered my mind: What would our world be like with no sun? Would we even be able to survive? Which plants or animals would disappear first? 

As the moon’s shadow blocked more of the sun, we felt the temperature drop. It was then I realized how even the smallest portions of the sun radiate such immense amounts of heat. 

Halfway to totality, shadows from the leaves of the many plants around us began to cast mini moons everywhere. We scattered like kids chasing fireflies, catching thumbnail moons in our hands, bewildered by the phenomena. Our skin turned the color of tangerines and gold, a sun-kissed glow I’d never seen before. 

Our ISO glasses allowed us to see what we normally could not: We saw the sun’s pulse, we saw its rays, we saw the motion of its fire. Its edges looked like melting wax, a burning rim spitting its heat downward. With my new eyes, I realized, each day as we go about our business, the sun shines and we miss the magic of its reign, the dance of its light. 

Just before totality, the only traffic left on the road were semi-trucks. They remained on schedule, it appeared, but I wondered if that was the driver’s choice. Humans put so much emphasis on time and duty. We put value on minutes and tasks, and yet, this event was something most will never see again. Was it not important enough to take a break, pause your duty, and see the value of this time?

As the last sliver of sun shone, the crickets sang the song of night. The birds returned to their nests. Grasshoppers jumped back to wherever they came from. Bees disappeared. Perhaps the creatures were confused, or perhaps they were paying attention to instincts humans often fail to recognize. 

Then, day became night. 

The sky turned a deep blue twilight, as if the depths of the ocean had suddenly been placed on top of us. For that minute and 15 seconds, stars sparkled in the day-night sky. Jupiter showed itself. The crickets ended their song. The breeze stopped. The world was at a stand-still. 

In the busiest times of the daythose when there is sunlightwe are accustomed to sound. Sirens, horns, voices, wildlife. In the moment of totality, silence had never been so silent. Not a car was on the road. Those truckers must have taken that break after all. 

I sat in my chair, jaw-dropped, transported to a world I’d never been to. I stared at a different sun, a different sky, hearing the different sound of nothingness. 

In that moment, I realized that everything is relative to what we know. And in that moment of totality I knew nothing about anything. Yet a feeling of serenity consumed me. I could not speak, and that was fine, I had no words to describe how I felt. I knew I didn’t want to miss the moment. I wanted to capture its essence. I wanted to experience a world different from our reality.

As the sun reappeared, those mini moon shadows returned, but they were reversed. The sun revealed itself from the opposite side of where Mother Nature had first taken her bite from the cookie. I didn’t expect reversed shadows, but then again, I had no expectations at all. 

For the second time that day, birds came out of their nests. Dogs barked. The temperature rose. Cars returned. The sun became whole. Life became normal again on a day that was anything but.

Experiencing the total eclipse was one of my life’s monumental moments. A time I felt so small that I wanted to howl at the moon like a wild animal. A time that was invaluable and worth stopping for. Because when this life is over, we only have our memories; moments like the morning of Aug. 21.