WALLA WALLA -- Three Walla Walla High School graduates who have distinguished themselves in their lives and careers were celebrated Tuesday during the annual Graduates of Distinction reception.
Established in 1999, the Graduates of Distinction program recognizes the achievements of Walla Walla Public Schools alumni.
This year's recipients were John Folsom, class of 1962; Dr. Jill Largent, class of 1968; and Megan Ferguson Clubb, class of 1974.
Folsom was unable to attend the ceremony. His award was accepted on his behalf by nominator Judy Chamberlain Holloway.
Superintendent Mick Miller began the reception by describing the awards as the highest honor given to past graduates by the district.
Graduates of Distinction are nominated by community members. A selection committee then chooses the top candidates from those nominations.
Recipients are asked to name a teacher or staff member who positively affected impacted them during their years in the district.
Folsom, who lives in Tacoma, worked as an accountant and then as an attorney after earning a business degree.
He retired from the company Brown & Brown Insurance in 2006.
Beyond work, Folsom dedicated himself to serving, and earned the nickname "Mr. Tacoma" for extensive community service and outreach.
As a student in Walla Walla schools, Folsom earned the nickname "Speedy" for his commitment to sports, clubs and classes.
The nickname was included with his name in the 1962 class yearbook, a copy of which was on display during the reception.
Folsom listed Russell Larsen, music instructor, and Don Cramer, a teacher and coach, as figuring prominently in his life.
Largent graduated from Wa-Hi as valedictorian of her class, a National Merit Scholar and straight-A student.
She studied medicine, and specialized in pediatricts and the study of children's kidney disorders at Albany Medical Center in New York and Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsilvania.
Largent's inspirational staff member, Bill Bieloh, was also one of her nominators.
Bieloh said that when he was asked to consider nominating someone for the award, Largent was the first student to pop into his mind.
Largent thanked the district for a quality education.
"Wa-Hi and the whole education system gave me a really excellent foundation," she said.
Clubb is the current CEO of Walla Walla-based Baker Boyer Bank and a board member of the Federal Reserve in San Francisco.
She graduated Wa-Hi in 1974 and went on to Whitman College, then the Sloan School of Management at MIT.
She spent eight years working in the San Francisco area before returning to her hometown of Walla Walla in 1989.
Clubb's middle school Spanish and English teacher, Ruth Hanson, was listed as the most influential teacher in her life.
Hanson spoke warmly about her former student.
"Our friendship has never done anything but continue to grow," she said.
Clubb credited Hanson with encouraging her to accept an invitation to visit Central and South America as an eighth-grader.
Clubb said the month-long trip changed her life, and she would likely not have gone without her teacher's support.
Before receiving her award, Clubb presented Hanson with a bouquet of flowers.
Maria Gonzalez can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8317