Local Events

Whitney High School commencement Friday

Whitney High School will hold 2017 commencement ceremonies for 116 seniors Friday, May 26, at 7 p.m. at the new Wildcat Stadium.

This year’s top two graduates are valedictorian Callie Elizabeth Ferguson, daughter of Sammie and A.J. Ferguson of Whitney, and salutatorian Leslie Verde, daughter of Ignacio and Sandra Verde of Whitney.

Ferguson is graduating at the top of her class with a grade-point average (GPA) of 102.4375. She plans to attend Texas Tech University and major in geoscience.

The valedictorian said that she has always enjoyed the outdoors and the earth as a whole.

“My brother, Cooper Ferguson, is a petroleum engineer, and I hope to one day work with him and search for oil and gas deposits that are capable of commercial extraction,” she said.

“I would love to study the earth’s past, present and future, and with this major, I can hopefully create a lasting impact on the environment,” she added.

Throughout high school, Ferguson has been active in band, National Honor Society, Hill County Paw Pals, Recycling Club, German Club, Student Council, athletics and the Open Range Cowboy Church.

In band, she was drum major for the 2016-2017 year and also first lieutenant and on the unloading crew for the 2014-2015 school year.

The valedictorian has earned many awards and honors throughout her high school career.

Her freshman honors include outstanding student in pre-AP biology.

Sophomore honors included outstanding student awards in pre-AP English II, German II, pre-AP United States history and pre-AP chemistry; outstanding achievement in athletics, fifth-place UIL state German model; United States Achievement Academy recognition and National Social Studies Award.

In her junior year, Ferguson earned second place in state UIL for German scrapbook and the perfect attendance award.

Senior year honors include Division 1 UIL marching band rating, band sweetheart, band leadership award, band booster scholarship, HILCO scholarship, Order of the Eastern Star scholarship and Whitney Elementary scholarship.

The valedictorian said that her most important piece of advice to next year’s seniors is to make time for what matters most to them.

“Time is so precious, and your senior year truly does fly by,” she said. “Start looking and applying to colleges; even if you are not sure you would like to attend that college, still apply!”

She added: “Take your classes seriously and do not just blow it off because it is your last year in high school. Senior year will be the most stressful and expensive year of school by far, so find something you love to help you de-stress and save your money.”

Ferguson said that as she reflects on her school years, she would like to thank her family, friends and pets.

“Honestly, without these people (and dogs), I do not think I would be where I am today,” she said. “Life is hard at times, and this is only the beginning. Being a part of Whitney High School has been great, but I cannot wait to start this new chapter in my life!”

Leslie Verde, this year’s salutatorian, finished the year with a GPA of 102.0202. She will major in biology with an emphasis in pre-med at the University of Texas at Austin and pursue a career in the medical field.

In high school, her activities have included UIL competitions in policy debate, congressional debate, informative extemporaneous speaking, persuasive extemporaneous speaking and social studies; German Club; Student Council; National Honor Society; Poetry Slam; Prom Committee; Recycling Club, German Folk Dancing, Youth Congress, freshman class president and one-act play.

She has earned many awards and honors in high school, including: third place state German folk dancing team, fourth place district cross-examination debate, first place regional German Level II skit and Level II poetry reading, first place UIL district social studies team (regional qualifier), voted “Most Likely to Succeed”, outstanding pre-AP chemistry student, outstanding German II student, two-time first place district cross-examination debate (state qualifier), district cross-examination top speaker award, second place policy debate team at Grandview Academic Tournament, fourth place regional congressional debate, Lake Whitney Chamber of Commerce “Young Citizen of the Year,” one-act play advancing play, fifth place regional German Level III skit, third place state German Level III skit, state German Level III best actress award, outstanding German III student, fourth place state German Level IV play, first place regional German Level IV play, fourth place policy debate team at Midway Fallfest Tournament, fourth place policy debate team at Godley Speech and Debate Tournament, second place policy debate team at Centennial Academic Tournament.

Verde encourages incoming seniors to prioritize and enjoy their senior year.

“Senior year is a huge ongoing speeding blur,” Verde said. “I feel it most important for you to make the most of your time.”

She added, “Whatever you feel that makes the most of your time varies from person to person; however, whatever it may be, make certain that it pleases you and brings pride and a sense of accomplishment to yourself and those you care for.”

The salutatorian encouraged next year’s class to stand up for what they believe in, even if it means standing alone.

“Maintain meaningful friendships and relationships, and do yourself a favor and distance yourself from toxic people and friends,” she said. “Most importantly, be honest and follow your instincts.”

Other 2017 honor graduates include:

  • Skyelar Marie Robinson, GPA 99.3348, daughter of Ruby and the late Don Robinson of Whitney, plans to attend Texas Woman’s University and study nursing
  • Katlyn Ann Tarr, GPA 99.2188, daughter of Maria White of Whitney, plans to attend University of North Texas at Denton to study psychology and political science before pursuing a law degree
  • Kimberlee Dawn Daniel, GPA 99.1406, daughter of Keith and Amber Wilkerson of Whitney and Corey Daniel of Fort Worth, plans to study chemistry at the University of North Texas and become a pharmaceutical chemist
  • Jacob Bryan Button, GPA 98.9271, son of Donnie and Melanie Button of Whitney, plans to attend Oklahoma Christian University
  • Jessica Nicole Watson, GPA 98.8170, daughter of Phillip and Janyce Watson of Whitney, plans to attend Texas A&M University to study business management
  • Alyssa Brean Barnett, GPA 101.7946, daughter of Julie Barnett and stepdad Dennis Rurak of Whitney and Randy Barnett of Iredell, plans to attend Texas Tech University and major in biology and pursue a career as a pediatrician
  • Gracie Klaire Daniels, GPA 101.3656, daughter of Brad and Tammie Daniels of Whitney, plans to attend Hill College and then transfer to Texas Tech University to study animal science pre-med and then earn a doctorate degree in pharmaceuticals
  • Casey LouAnn Childs, GPA 101.0156, daughter of Doug and Tammy Childs of Whitney, plans to attend Texas A&M University and major in mechanical or electrical engineering
  • Kendra Breanne Elder, GPA 99.7893, daughter of Vince and Meghan Elder of Whitney, plans to attend Texas A&M University to study agriculture communications
  • Jasmine Lea Heard, GPA 99.7269, daughter of William and Jennifer Heard of Whitney, plans to attend Texas A&M University and become a pediatric nurse

Operation Greater Love color run scheduled for Saturday

Operation Greater Love of Whitney will hold its third annual 5k color run/walk Saturday, May 27.

Registration and packet pickup will be held from 8 a.m. until 8:45 a.m. at Whitney Elementary School.

A kids’ fun run for ages eight and under is beginning at 9 a.m.

At 9:15 a.m., the 5k color run/walk will begin.

Registration is $20 for the kids’ fun run and $30 for the 5k color run/walk.

Entry forms are available online at http://www.raceit.com or at Bobby’s Burgers in Whitney.

A toy drive for children is also being held. Those participating in the events are asked to bring an unwrapped toy if possible.

For more information about the color run or signing up, contact Mandy Auten at 254-479-1178 or burtmn5@gmail.com.

Freedom Fest scheduled downtown

The first annual Lake Whitney Freedom Fest will be held Thursday, May 25, through Saturday, May 27, in downtown Whitney.

Events begin Thursday, May 25, with a parade beginning at 6:30 p.m. to honor senior graduates and veterans.

On Friday, May 26, vendors will be open downtown at noon, and a chili cook-off will be held. At 6 p.m., a free street dance will be held downtown.

Saturday, May 27, activities will begin at 9 a.m. and include a car show, vendors, entertainment, a “42” tournament and auction.

For more information, call Debbie at 254-694-1173.

World War II veteran to be honored

A special Memorial Day celebration will be held to honor World War II veteran E.S. “Dugan” Dorman for his service at Fairview Baptist Church in Clifton Sunday, May 28.

The service will begin at 11 a.m. at the church, which is located at 806 CR 3530 in Clifton.

Dorman, now 93, is a deacon of the church.

“On Memorial day we remember those who gave their lives for this country,” said Pastor Jim Dickson. “This year, we will also honor those who sacrificed to give us the freedom we enjoy today.”

Alton Leushner, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2148 in Waco, will present Dorman with a commemorative plaque.

It reads in part “…for his outstanding service while assigned to the 485th Group, 55th Wing, 15th Air Force at Venosa, Italy, as a nose gunner on a Consolidated B-24 Heavy Bomber during World War II.”

Others in attendance will include: Rusty Knox, Church of Christ deacon in Lampasas; David Snipes, minister of music at Lebanon United Methodist Church in Aquilla; VFW Post 2148 Color Guard; Garland Lively, historian and former Vietnam helicopter pilot; Rease Craven, student at McLennan Community College; and Pat Mosley and Alitia Lively with the VFW Auxiliary.

Dickson will bring the morning sermon entitled “God is my Co-Pilot.”

Invited special guests include Will Lowrance, former mayor of Hillsboro and chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission; Nancy Kelsey, member of Bell County Historical Commission; and others.

The public is invited. County Road 3530 intersects Highway 56 about halfway between Laguna Park and Valley Mills.

Sales tax holiday this weekend

Texas families can save on the purchase of certain water- and energy-efficient products during the state’s Water-Efficient Products and ENERGY STAR® sales tax holidays. Both take place Saturday, May 27, through Monday, May 29.

This is the second year for the Water-Efficient Products Sales Tax Holiday. Products that display a WaterSense® label or logo can be purchased tax-free for personal or business use.

The sales tax holiday also applies to water-conserving products used or planted for conserving or retaining groundwater, recharging water tables or decreasing ambient air temperature to limit water evaporation.

During the ENERGY STAR Sales Tax Holiday, many energy-efficient products that display the ENERGY STAR logo can be purchased tax-free.

Visit the comptroller’s website at https://comptroller.texas.gov for more sales tax holiday details.

Blum athletics golf tournament now signing up teams

The first annual Blum athletics golf tournament will be held Saturday, June 3, at Lake Whitney Golf Club.

Entry fee for the four-man scramble is $300 per team or $75 per individual.

Events and activities include closest to the pin, longest drive hole, betting hole, door prizes, putting contest, ball drop, a live auction and hole-in-one wins.

Check-in will begin at 7 a.m. with a shotgun start at 8 a.m.

Registration includes lunch provided by Hilco Electric Cooperative, Inc., a sausage wrap and drink, 18 holes with cart and a goodie bag.

Tournament prizes (based on 30 teams) include: first place – $1,500, second place – $900, third place – $600, fourth place – $300, last place – $300.

For more information or to register, email chris.langston@blumisd.net or call 254-205-8116.