BLACKFOOT – Students at Independence High School were surprised by visitors on Thursday morning. Hustle and bustle filled the gymnasium as members of Idaho State University's staff made their way to the stage.
Annie Harrison along with her boss, as she refers to him, Scott Stephens addressed the student body. Stephens asked by a show of hands how many students participated in the construction combine in March. Hands reached for the stars as Stephens began explaining that these students helped build sheds for disabled veterans and took a hands-on approach to their futures. Before announcing the names of the students and asking them to join him on the stage, Stephens asked if any of those who participated have received job offers for the construction field. David Rich, a senior at Independence, spoke up saying that he has heard form one of the contractors, and plans to try to start working once summer break arrives. Stephens urged him to contact them sooner than later, expressing that Rich should make his intentions clear.
Stephens and Harrison then had David Rich, Tyler Roth, Zachary Jensen, and Jorge Castaneda join them on stage and presented these young men with certificates for completing the construction combine. Each of the students performed exemplarily according to Stephens and Harrison.
Dr. Cathleen Tarp followed with recognizing Independence High School teacher Josh Torngren for his work in instructing IHS's Medical Spanish course. "Josh goes above and beyond," Tarp stated. The course is a dual enrollment course, where the students from IHS that complete the class will not only receive two high school credits, will be eligible for up to 18 college credits, which amounts to over a full semester, free of charge. Tarp continued expressing that dual enrollment programs like Medical Spanish can only succeed with great teachers. After Tarp presents Torngren with a certificate of appreciation, Torngren asked his students to join him on the stage. Cielo Reyes, Talia Del Val Mejia, Jasmin Martinez, Brenda Botello, Dayana Medellin, Gabby Bobadilla, Melody Rojas, and Janet Bobadilla filed up the steps of the stage joining Torngren and Tarp. The students taking this class are on the path to working in the medical field performing roles such as interpreters. After the ceremony, Torngren expressed that most of students are only Juniors, and will continue to work toward their futures.
Not to be out-done, Kandi Turley-Ames along with Noah Mendenhall came with a game of sorts. Turley-Ames explained that two students at Independence are to be awarded with Roads Scholarships from ISU for $2,000 each. Turley-Ames continued to explain that Roads Scholarships are a recognition for Idaho's best and greatest students.
Turley-Ames asked all the seniors to take a step forward as the first part of game. Next, she asked the students if they can guess which of their classmates she is describing. Turley-Ames begins reading their scholarship essay the student had to write for consideration for the Road Scholarship, which expressed that the specific student wants to be a math teacher and their experience as a student has helped them find their dream career. Students threw out guesses, and their suspicions were confirmed when Adrianna Solis was announced as one of the winners of the Roads Scholarships. When Solis took to the stage, Mendenhall presented her with an ISU backpack, a certificate for being awarded the scholarship, and balloons.
Not to leave the other winner feeling alone, Turley-Ames started with a new series of questions. She began with reading that this student has a desire to become a social worker. Following this line, students jumped to the same conclusion, "It's Tosha." Bingo. Tosha Christenson received the second Road Scholarship from ISU and received congratulations from her fellow students as well as the staff from IHS.
Turley-Ames wasn't finished here though. She challenged the two winners to carry their balloons all day long, and asked the rest of the student body to help enforce it.
Along with those members of ISU in attendance, were a few parents and a former teacher for Independence, Holly Kartchner, were there to congratulate the students. Others were invited, but unfortunately were not in attendance.