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Guest Column

Bonnie Dunbar...astronaut, teacher, mentor

I loved the recent inspirational column in the Daily Sun News, written by Holly Adiele about Bonnie Dunbar

Bonnie, a native of Outlook, a student of public education, supported by reading material from public library, motivated to excel with parental support, broadened experiences from county extension 4-H programs, and mentored by teachers and coaches.

I remember a dedicated educational support team when I matriculated through the public schools...Marge and Don Anderson, Hazel and Dick Jacobsen, Roselle and Chevy Chase, Leila Ludwig, Catherine Mannick, George Blum...dedicated to their profession and always ready to support and encourage students who set ambitious goals. Others followed...Holly Adiele, Kathy Mears, Barbara Quigley, Sally and John Saras, Kieth Miller, Barbara and Gene Merz, Jean and Jack Middleton, Eva and Clyde Henry, Jim Ide, Gary Lund, Gordon Kezele...this list goes one and on, and at every generation new names are added.

One only need look at the Wall Of Fame at Sunnyside High School. There are ambassadors, commanders of United States military branches, people who have excelled in business and medicine, people who somehow caught the "inspiration star" and rode it to the top...people who were mentored.

Of course, most inspiration starts at home; then parents entrust their children to the educational system. Teachers become mentors not knowing what they say or do will inspire an "achiever." Teachers give of their time, talent and personal treasure to broaden experiences for every student - from pre-kindergarten thru college. They bring to their classroom countless hours of preparation to make classes interesting and broadening.

A few years ago Erica Barrom brought her fourth graders to Snipes Cabin to "re-chink" the log cabin; what was the lesson? History - the students learned that Snipes was a cattle king and his foreman, Ren Ferrell, who lived in the cabin, was not so different from cowboys of today; architecture - logs/mud/clay can make a shelter; community service - the cabin was full of lost "chinking" and not a representation of its warmth and shelter; the Sunnyside Museum benefited immeasurably.

The other day I met a high school honors student who remembered the experience as one he will hold dear forever.

We are fortunate in Sunnyside to have a public school board who works hard at meeting educational goals in this community; we are fortunate to have two private schools whose boards are dedicated to provide exceptional curricula for students as well. The "Bonnie Dunbar" memorial is a silent memorial to all professional educators who mold the clay of academia.

Back to Bonnie Dunbar - who knew when Bonnie was four years old that she would be what she is today! This is not unlike all parents of four-year-olds...Bonnie was raised appreciating responsibility. She is the oldest of her sibling (our little Mother); she imitated her Mother and Father in "getting the job done" on a homesteader's cattle ranch (our little helper); she believed her parents when they told her that "education" was something that no one could take away from you and that it was the key to success; she became part of the great youth organization of 4-H and learned the responsibility of "growing, showing, and selling"; all through school she participated in sports, cheerleading and extracurricular activities; she had a love for math and sciences; she attended college on scholarships; she was attentive to interesting opportunities and she took chances to advance.

Bonnie's success is truly the story of opportunities available to students today. Practically every time she returns home, she goes to schools to talk to students about the importance of reading, mathematics, science, athletics, extracurricular activities. She many times is with science teachers Joyce Stark and Terri Ziegler at the high school visiting with students and encouraging their science projects.

Bonnie with fondness remembers her roots; she embraces her heritage; she cares about the world in which we live; she is optimistic about our future and the coming generation who will define it.

Does Sunnyside have a hero? It does! This is the reason for the Bonnie Dunbar statue! It will be unveiled on July 16th at Fifth Street and Franklin Avenue. EVERYONE is invited to share in this celebration!

- Bill Flower is a native of the

Lower Yakima Valley and is a

member of Sunnyside's Bronze Committee.

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