Monday, July 26, 2021


Distinguished students at Pierce honored

Pierce High School introduced their most accomplished students on May 13 at their annual Distinguished Dozen banquet. The top Juniors and Seniors were honored while up-and-coming sophomores were on hand to serve banquet attendees tri-tip and chicken from Rocco’s.

George Green, who has taught agricultural sciences at Pierce for 32 years, said honoring the highest achieving students at a dinner has been a long-standing tradition in Colusa County that originated with former Superintendent of Schools Kay Spurgeon. 

“There’s been one in every school in the county,” Green said. 

Also included in the dinner were teachers selected by the seniors which had the most influence on them. 

The distinguished seniors were:

Zachariah Wilson Dafoe

Dafoe, the son of Thomas and Rebecca Dafoe, participated in FFA and was on the Farm Power Tech Team. He played football all four years of high school, ran track and field, played golf for two years. He plans on attending Texas Tech University, majoring in computer science. Dafoe asked John Allen to be his guest of honor.

Darleny Lizbeth Corona

Corona is the daughter of Francisco and Maria Corona. She was on the honor roll all four years of high school and will be co-valedictorian. She was in Script P and AG Leadership, and served as Executive ASB treasurer and reporter for FFA. She was an intern for the California Latino Capitol Association Foundation and was part of the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project. She plans on attending the University of Michigan, majoring in mathematics. Her teacher of influence was Troy Gelerman. 

Katherine Ann Corona 

Corona, the daughter of Merced and Lupe Corona, will be salutatorian. She served as Executive Associated Student Body president and class secretary. Corona was active in volleyball, basketball, and track. She plans on attending Sierra College and follow in her mother’s footsteps, becoming a teacher for PJUSD. She asked Patty Gonzalez to be her guest of honor. 

Emma Marie Doherty

Doherty is the daughter of Michael and Amy Doherty. She will be co-valedictorian. She is a FFA state degree holder and a member of 4-H. She is Junior Fair Board president and Associated Student Body Executive secretary. She plans on attending Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo, majoring in viticulture and enology. She chose Erin Sweet to be her guest of honor. 

Cody Michael Stafford 

Stafford, the son of Jeff and Adrienne Stafford, was a secretary and treasurer for FBLA and placed third and forth in marketing and entrepreneurship competitive events. He was part of the Honor Society and was Pierce District Regional Occupational Program Student of the Year. He plans on attending Woodland Community College before transferring to a University of California school, majoring in computer science. His teacher of influence was Carol Keiser. 

Kylie Renee Stephens 

Stephens is the daughter of Scott and Delora Stephens. She was in FFA all four years of high school. She was also active in wrestling and softball. Stephens plans to attend the University of California in Davis, majoring in sociology. She asked Luke Vanlaningham to be her guest of honor.

The Distinguished juniors were:

Aiden Charter 

Charter, the son of Halbert and Amy Charter, was active in football, track and FFA. He was also a mentor for American Education Services students. 

Abigail Mendoza 

Mendoza is the daughter of Horacio and Nicole Mendoza. She was active in volleyball, basketball, softball, FFA and Dynamix. She also served as the Junior Class treasurer and worked for the Arbuckle Parks and Recreation District. 

Grace Alonso 

Alonzo is the daughter of Matt and Ariel Alonso. He was active in volleyball, softball, basketball, FFA and Dynamix. She held the position of Class President during her Freshman and Sophomore years. Alonso has worked at Shady Creek as a counselor and at the Arbuckle Parks and Recreation District. 

 Emma Hofhenke 

Hofhenke is the daughter of Jaon and Merry Hofhenke. She was active in the school band, Sacramento Youth Symphony, and the Yolo Community Band. She performed at Carnegie Hall twice and competed in the State Solo Competition. Hofhenke has held the position of Northern California Honor Bands 1st clarinet, Northern Section Honor Band principle clarinet and Pit Orchestra principle clarinet. She participated in FFA, 4-H, FBLA. She was 4-H vice president, principle clarinet for the Sacramento Youth Symphony and principal Clarinet for the school band. 

Crystal Medina 

Medina, the daughter of Antonio and Angelina Medina, was active in FFA, FBLA, Arbuckle FFA secretary, junior class co-president, FFA Superior Region vice president, FFA North Valley Section president, and Superior Region president.

Emily Ehrke 

Ehrke is the duaghter of David and Jody Ehrke. She was active in volleyball, basketball, softball and Dynamix Club. She served as  freshman class secretary, junior class co-president and as a member of the Colusa County Junior Fair board. 

Alejandra Centro 

Centro is the son of Junior Guzman and Blanca Olmedo. He is chapter president of FBLA, and serves on FFA Field Day Committee. He is involved in the agricultural communications team, Spanish Honor Society, Pierce Academic Honor Society and Astronomy Club. Centro serves as the treasurer for Public Relations Club, is junior class Secretary, and is the audio visual manager for Cathedral de Fe Church. He is also a FBLA Sections marketing and entrepreneurship competitor. 

Saffa Yafai 

Yafai is the daughter of Mohamed Yafai and Yassmin Alushmali. She is active in writing club, music, choir and FBLA. She is a member of the Spanish Honors Society, Pierce Academic Society, pianist for the school and choir, Pumpkin Festival liaison, and FFA Field Day kitchen assistant. 

While the dinner honored top juniors and seniors, staff at Pierce said they have been keeping an eye on sophomores Elizabeth “Betsy” Meyers, Hudson Bair, Jacob “Jack” Marsh, Kyle Howell, Sierra Murphy and Luke Voohees, all as likely candidates to be considered as Pierce’s elite graduates in 2021.

Delora Stephens was not surprised by the honor bestowed on her daughter, a top senior. 

“She works really hard,” said Stephens, whose daughter started high school in a neighboring county. “She went to Pioneer High School and it’s just been such a nice transition; just the small town feel. She’s made a good transition and all the kids have been so wonderful and she’s just been able to focus on her studies and doing really well.”

Stephens brought along her distinguished half dozen, including the youngest, Scotty, who dressed up in his suit for the affair. Youngest daughter Maddie, 10, felt inspired by her sister.

“I feel like my sister earned this award because she is a great sister to all of us – even if she is our older sister- but she keeps on her grades and all that stuff and she never gives up if she has to do something hard, she always does it.” 

Maddi also intends to follow in her sister’s footsteps by pursuing softball and wrestling. ■

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