Etcetera - 4/2/13


Not only is Walla Walla Community College seeded among the Top 5 community colleges nationwide, but its postsecondary agriculture students won national awards at competition in Louisville, Ky., said Melissa Harrison, interim director for marketing, media and graphics. “It’s been a fabulous week at WWCC,” she enthused.

Eight Walla Walla Community College students spent March 18-21 at the National Postsecondary Agriculture Conference and came away with eight national titles.

Originally from Chelan, Wash., WWCC Ag Tech Club President and award winner Sammi Jo Cool said there were more than 750 contestants at the “phenomenal conference.”

“It was great being able to represent our college and meet and build connections with other contestants from across the nation.”

Sammi Jo earned second place in livestock production employment interview.

Winners also included Tucker Cool, with first places in agribusiness sales employment interview, prepared speaking, impromptu speaking and agricultural sales specialist categories; Eliana Bolt, third in impromptu speaking and agricultural sales specialist; and Erin Greene, third in animal systems career progress.

They were accompanied by WWCC instructors Matt Williams and Debbie Frazier.

Matt said they were not only proud of their students’ accomplishments, “but also of the students’ great enthusiasm for the agriculture industry. They represented WWCC very well at the national level.”

“These students were exceptional representatives of our school and agriculture program,” Debbie said.

“With some of these students being only freshman this year, it will be exciting to see what amazing things they will achieve next year,” Melissa said.

Through its seventh annual Teddy Bear Tea and Doll Show Feb. 23, members of the Walla Walla Columbia Retired School Employees Association met their fundraising goals, said member Deanna “Dee” Aichele.

The event funds two $1,000 scholarships for prospective educators.

In addition, raffle drawing winners Walt Gobel and Carol Guay each received a teddy bear, handmade by WWCRSEA members Jackie Ormsby or Claudia Ford.

Those who attended the tea at St. Francis Parish Hall could browse at a store filled with bears, bear-themed quilts, aprons and other items. There was also a silent auction, coloring and story corners for the children, an alpaca display, bears created by local artists and a photographer who offered souvenir pictures.

“Carl and Eileen Depping’s display is special each year,” Dee said. A 4-foot-tall bear in their exhibit this time held a large fish despite its position near a “No Fishing” sign. Small handmade animals completed the exhibit. And Carl is beginning to plan what they’ll show in 2014.

The five-course tea offered tea, a fruit tray, various tea sandwiches, cookies and chocolates, and each place setting was accented by a mint-flavored candy bear.

According to Dee, plans are already in the works for the 2014 show on Feb. 22 in St. Francis Parish Hall. “Thank you to all who supported us this year,” she said.

Whitman College’s Whitman Magazine turned the spotlight on Walla Walla High School Class of 1962 alumna Carol Minnick Santa and husband John Santa, both members of Whitman’s Class of 1966.

Whitman Office of Communications writer Edward Weinman wrote about the couple in a March article, “Home on the Range.”

The Santas parlayed their psychology training into a therapeutic boarding establishment for troubled teens. They founded Montana Academy on a ranch near Marion, Mont., which they bought with Dr. John McKinnon and Rosemary McKinnon, MSW. They mortgaged their homes and started the school to take treatment away from expensive hospital overheads and managed-care intrusions into a clinical decision-making forum, according to their website. The 16-year-old academy “provides expert psychiatric, psychological and academic help in an out-of-home ranch setting for teenagers who could not be helped at home.”

Carol, a track star at Wa-Hi, and John seemed to meet up as first and second in line for lunch at Whitman, because they both were fast.

They matured while in college and caused a bit of a scandal in their junior year by eloping to a justice of the peace in Idaho. “Whitman is a supportive community,” John said in the magazine interview. “Whitman gave us a foundation where we developed and gained confidence in our abilities, both as students and scholars. Whitman gives you a sense of yourself.”

“It was at Whitman where I learned that I was smart,” Walla Walla native Carol added. “I learned how to be a leader. I also gained confidence in myself as a scholar and Whitman whetted my appetite to become a lifelong learner.”

She feels training she received at Whitman prepared her to earn a Ph.D. in education from Temple University later on.

The Santas majored in psychology, became professors, practicing psychologists and high school teachers, and now run the academy.

In the academy’s early days, students lived in tents. The 500-acre ranch now sports a boarding school with kids from around the world in its ranks. The 85 staff members — teachers, outdoor leaders, therapists and counselors — more than outnumber the students. A challenging prep school curriculum is part of the formula.

“The kids that attend our school are incredibly bright,” Carol said.

“They have all this intelligence but have a difficult time fitting in with society and all its pressures.” Students “find the space to literally unplug from the media world in a safe environment.”

In this sheltered place, clinical treatment, therapy and access to the ambitious academic program benefit many of the youths who come in suffering from such conditions as ADHD, depression, substance abuse or anxiety.

“What we have come to learn is that most of the problems adolescents face are misunderstood by conventional psychology,” John told Edward.

“John and Carol said that Montana Academy creates a holistic environment with a culture and a nurturing, structured community where kids learn by doing,” Edward wrote.

“It’s very much like Whitman,” John said.

About 75 percent of the students depart free of medication, they said. Most students reside there for up to two years, experiencing calm, structure and recreation with therapy, “and we find their symptoms disappear pretty quickly,” John said.

The Santas estimate that 95 percent their students go to college, including six academy graduates who are enrolled at Whitman these days.

“Whitman provides students with a rich background of knowledge to become better citizens. The liberal arts education helps kids spread their wings,” Carol said.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at or 526-8313.


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