Cheyeanne Diaz accepts her scholarship from the alumni association from Sandra Arias and Mackenzie Hodges.
Cheyeanne Diaz accepts her scholarship from the alumni association from Sandra Arias and Mackenzie Hodges.
It was a labor of love. On Tuesday, June 1, Coeur Rochester sponsored the first-ever awards night for Pershing County’s graduating scholars. Principal Jonathan Reynolds and counselor Matthew Schottel hosted. 

Julie Myers catered a meal that had people going back for seconds and thirds. 

Corinne Nelsen from Wizards Flower Magic made 17 centerpieces, one for each table of award recipients and their families. Dixie McKay sang and played the organ, setting the mood for the evening. 

The county commissioners donated the venue. Eva Matuszyk’s leadership students bused the tables with cheerful efficiency. 

Over a dozen local donors gave scholarships, most for $500 to $1,500. The school board raised the money by donating part of their stipends. Others, like the Lovelock Street Fever Car Club, gave the proceeds of their shows. Already, they’re all planning for next year.

The donors granted the awards based on academic merit, letters of recommendation and good citizenship, including volunteerism. Altogether, the students earned over $55,000 in scholarship money with packages of up to several thousand dollars.

The scholarships 

Principal Reynolds awarded $1,000 scholarships to each of the high school’s three valedictorians – Connie Kersnowski, Jordan Gentry and Tim Fecht. In addition, he gave Kersnowski the first annual principal’s award for embodying the characteristics he values in students, including a growth mindset and “always trying to do the right thing.” 

Representatives from the Lovelock Volunteer Fire Department (LVFD) awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Logan Oberman.

Humboldt Lodge #27 gave $1,500 Masonic scholarships to Fecht and Kersnowski. The Lovelock Lions Club recognized Kersnowski and Dalton McNeff with $1,500 scholarships. 

The PCHS Alumni Association gave awards to Fecht, Gentry, Kersnowski, McNeff, Hannah Stairwalt, Cheyeanne Diaz and Blake Barter. 

“You guys made it in a crazy year,” said Mackenzie Hodges. “You should be so proud.”

Dianne Cerini represented the Lovelock Street Fever Car Club, awarding scholarships to Augustin Lopez and Oberman. 

Rochelle DeSoto is the vice-chair of the Lovelock Paiute Tribe. She gave Darrell Denkers Native Youth scholarships to Stairwalt and Albert Happy ($750 each).

Business teacher Lucy Peters started a new tradition. She gave two Family Consumer Science (FCS) scholarships. The $100 awards went to McNeff and Julia Steele for understanding the importance of daily work. 

Javier Pimentel Jr. earned a $2,000 scholarship from EP/US Silica.

Cindy Plummer gave the Mary Ryan family scholarship to Conner Helton. Ryan taught music at the high school for 26 years. Plummer teared up as she presented the award in memory of her friend and colleague. 

“This is the ninth time we’re giving this scholarship,” she said. “I’m privileged to award it on behalf of Mary Ryan’s family.”

The Pershing County Chukars gave $1,000 awards to Flores and McNeff.

Frankie Graham, of Coeur Rochester, gave $1000 scholarships to Diaz, Aimee Carpenter, Kersnowski, Stairwalt, Gentry, Fecht and Oberman.

Michael Mancebo of American Legion Post # 6 gave the Sean Ward Memorial Scholarship to Jordan Gentry. For the school board, he gave $500 scholarships to Josie Crim and Stairwalt. Kersnowski, Fecht and Gentry each received $1,000 awards. 

Stairwalt and Carpenter received the Flossie Redd award for students pursuing degrees in social work.  The $1,000 Robert Z. Hawkins award went to Jesse Gonzalez. Flores and Kersnowski took home Mustang Memorial Awards.

The PCHS chapter of FFA awarded $500 scholarships to Oberman, Fecht, Barter and Flores. 

Fecht earned a Thomas Stoker award for $1,000. Carpenter took home the $1,000 Jack Bobbitt award.

In 1994, Nevada miners established one of the state’s most competitive awards - the Great Basin Maintenance Training Cooperative Scholarship. The $5,000 grant and paid internship went to Daniel Reitz.

Fecht, McNeff, Gentry and Crim also received grants from their post-secondary schools. They each stood as the principal described their awards from East Oregon University (Fecht), the College of Idaho (McNeff), the University of Utah (Gentry) and Great Basin College in Elko (Crim).

The principal invited each student to take their centerpiece home as a gift to their families. Board member and longtime teacher Cindy Plummer summed up the sentiments of many people in the room. “You’re all my kids and always will be,” she told the students.