Top volunteers honored at Golden Acorn Awards

April 5, 2011

By Laura Geggel

For every strong school, there are strong volunteers who organize cultural fairs, chaperone field trips, coordinate family fun nights, photocopy assignments and hold bank days for student deposits.

The Issaquah PTSA Council awarded 73 volunteers from 23 schools with Golden Acorn Awards at the 2011 Recognizing Our All-Stars reception March 29.

Boy Scout Troop Pack 636 started the function with a flag salute, and Issaquah PTSA Council President Janine Kotan welcomed the crowd.

The ceremony had a sports theme, with presenters dressed in their favorite sports garb and giving speeches about how volunteers had wowed their fans and hit home runs for their schools.

Jennifer Good, a parent volunteer at Challenger Elementary School, said she began volunteering to meet people and promote education. She organized an ice cream social at the beginning of the year, while Ruth Steck, another parent volunteer, regularly snaps photos of students for the Challenger yearbook.

Both women said they appreciated the Golden Acorn Awards, though, “You don’t do it to be recognized,” Good said.

Third-grade Discovery Elementary School teacher Tasha Kirby received an award for her work advocating that students get civically involved in their community. She encourages her students to attend public meetings. Her third-graders entered the Disney’s Planet Challenge and are creating action plans about how to save the environment.

“I’ve had students present to the City Council,” Kirby said. “They get so excited and I think it shows them they can have an impact.”

Pine Lake Middle School parent Diane Laucius, another Golden Acorn recipient, said her proudest moment happened at Discovery. When she learned that the fifth-grade camp program would be discontinued, she joined other parents and rallied for the cause.

Though the camp is not being held this year, she still felt empowered by her advocacy, she said.

The Golden Acorn Award is given to PTA and PTSA members who excel in their duties, such as organizing or helping with student activities.

The winners are honored in two ways. First, a $65 contribution to the Washington State PTA Financial Grant Program fund for higher education is made in the recipient’s name. Second, the recipients receive a Golden Acorn Award pin.

More than 44,000 Golden Acorn Awards have been awarded statewide since the program’s inception.

Golden Acorn Awards honorees

Outstanding Advocates: Alison Merywether, Leigh Stokes, Leslie Warrick

Issaquah Council PTSA Outstanding Service Award: Janine Kotan

PTSA Council Golden Acorn: Rajeev Goel

High schools

  • Issaquah – Karin Allen, Dianne Bugge, Lisa Gaan, Mark Vahn,
  • Skyline – Sara Blessington, Caroline Brown

Middle schools

  • Beaver Lake – Judy Babb, Kim Fancher, Deb Smith
  • Issaquah – Camille Vaska
  • Maywood – Diane Bliesner, Robbi Hollister, Carolyn LaValley, Kim Sherman
  • Pacific Cascade – Stacy Heller, Donna McLeod, Audrey Winslow
  • Pine Lake – Stephanie Benz, Diane Laucius, Karin Plastina, Katie Reeves

Elementary schools

  • Apollo – Tammy Filer, Carrie Koperski
  • Briarwood – Leslie Kahler, Barbara Potts
  • Cascade Ridge – Jaycee Cooper, Monica Futty, Rajeev Goel, Chrisann Penz, Diana Verrue
  • Challenger – Elizabeth Bania, Jennifer Good, Ruth Steck
  • Clark – Kassandra Mitchell, Tracy Silva
  • Cougar Ridge – Mary Adkins, Blyth Claeys, Sally Feldman, Jennifer Goldberg
  • Creekside – Jackie Firth, Ina Ghangurde, Kavitha Kumar
  • Discovery – Chelsea Dziedzic, Lynn Hickman, Tasha Kirby, Shannon Ptacek
  • Endeavour – Sarah Fulford, Dawn Heiberg, Stacy O’Daffer, Julie Spieker
  • Grand Ridge – Nancy Castonguay, Theora Dalupan, Leslie Warrick, Kristen Wisdom
  • Issaquah Valley – Dan Chernin, Colleen Gurkin, Ana Inman, Kerri Jensen
  • Maple Hills – Molly Caskey, Kim George
  • Newcastle – Staci Schnell, Kim Sherman, Lisa Vold
  • Sunny Hills – Dia Biswas, Connie Fortier, Jennifer Murai, Martha Swallow
  • Sunset – Barb Dolliver, Deena Eastern, Wendy Redding, Heidi Stenzel, Patti Thieme

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

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