The Calimesa Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual scholarship tea and luncheon awards on May 9, at the Yucaipa Valley Golf Club. Rainy weather prevented the event from being held outdoors in the rose garden, though participants still enjoyed lunch in an elegant garden-like setting, seated at tables decorated with rose bouquets and drinking from teaware painted with quaint floral designs. Selected graduating high school seniors and Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership winners were recognized at the event.
“It’s one of my favorite things to do, the scholarship tea,” said Donna Lotz, past president of the Calimesa Chamber. “We’re grateful for the chance to award these talented young people.” Lotz began the ceremony with a benediction, followed by a moment of silence for Jim Hyatt, longtime city council member in Calimesa who recently passed away in April.
The prestigious H.O.B.Y. award was granted to Kalize Pittman of Beaumont and Matthew Fogel of Yucaipa. The award, founded in 1958 by the Hollywood actor Hugh O’Brian, is granted to one sophomore chosen by the high school of all students in that school’s sophomore class. Students awarded with the $1,000 graduating senior college scholarships were Trenton Luther of Yucaipa, Morgan Garcia of Calimesa, and Cemira Thurmond of Beaumont.
Barbara Alejandre, Chief Intergovernmental Relations Officer for San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, gave the keynote address. Along with congratulating the students for their achievement, she advised them to adhere to their values in a rapidly changing society.
“Students really know what they want; they stand for what they believe in,” said Alejandre. “It’s a different world … and it’s not our future, it’s their future.”
Alejandre warned the students that college is a different world, too, and they need to stay true to who they are when people inevitably challenge their beliefs. She also mentioned the importance of kindness, especially toward other students who might be struggling with major financial challenges and even homelessness.
“In today’s society there is so much negativity, but I have hope this generation will turn it around,” she said. “You’re really pushing the envelope for us adults. Finish what you start, but finish because you want to, not because someone tells you to. Pursue your dreams, not someone else’s. What legacy do you want to leave?”
The Calimesa Breakfast Lions Club representatives presented the students with certificates honoring their academic achievement.
Following Alejandre’s address, President of the Calimesa Chamber Wynona Duvall gave closing remarks, including a message to the graduating seniors.
Duvall’s practical advice for beginning adult life included finding a mentor, registering to vote, attending city council meetings, achieving financial literacy, and being cautious about the use of social media and information shared online.
“It never goes away,” Duvall said.
Scholarship award winners were applauded for their outstanding achievements.