Madras High School Alumni Honored


(Photos above (L-R): Dallas Stovall, Erin Olson, Juanita (Wickham) Kurtin, Ken Smith, Margie (McBride) Lehrman, Tom Norton Sr.)

JCSD hosts Second Annual Distinguished Alumni Event During Homecoming Week

Jefferson County School District students, teachers, staff, and community members will gather to honor six distinguished alumni from Madras High School during Homecoming Week on Friday, September 29. Upon arrival, the honorees will be paired with student leaders who will escort them and their families throughout the day’s activities:

9:45–10:45am                      Breakfast                                                         Madras Performing Arts Center
11am–12pm                      Student assembly                                               MHS Gym
12:15–12:45pm                   Reception with MHS staff                                MHS Library
12:45pm                               Panel interview with alumni                            MHS Library
5:4pm5                                 Pre-Homecoming game “Tailgaiter”            MHS Performing Arts Center
7pm                                        First Quarter alumni recognition                    MHS Athletic Field (Homecoming football game)

“This is our second year to welcome and honor Madras High School alumni who have made tremendous contributions to our world.” said MHS Co-Principal HD Weddel. “We are proud to have graduated these remarkable individuals. Their accomplishments have made our communities and the world a better place.”

Honorees include:

Margaret McBride Lehrman (MHS ’62)
Margaret McBride Lehrman discovered journalism as a reporter for the MHS White Buffalo, under E. Howard Hillis. After obtaining a BA (English) at University of onOreg, and a Peace Corps stint, she received an MS from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. In 1979, she joined NBC News, becoming a producer of the TODAY Show and Washington Deputy Bureau Chief under Tim Russert. As “point-person” for NBC’s coverage of major breaking news (including Desert Storm and 9-11), her steady skill as a world-class producer won her two national news “Emmys.”  Margie Lehrman’s remarkable career—from White Buffalo to NBC News — illustrates the possibilities open to today’s determined MHS graduates.

Tom Norton Sr. (1940-2007; MHS ’58)
Tom Norton grew up on a family ranch near Ashwood Oregon, attended Cal Poly/San Luis Obispo, and traveled the rodeo circuit as a team roper— all on his way to developing one of the premier cattle buying and transporting businesses in the West. Hard work (“how you spend the first 15 minutes of each day is key” was his byword). Honesty, dependability and community service were the pillars that served to mark his productive life and career. Serving as a director of School District 509J for twelve years, he was a proud and devoted White Buffalo.

Erin Olson (MHS ’82)
Erin Olson earned a BA in Economics from Stanford University, an MS in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University, and a JD with Honors from University of Connecticut School of Law. After ten years as a state and federal prosecutor, she developed a private practice representing crime victims in civil and criminal cases, with notable trial and appellate work on behalf of victims of child abuse and elder abuse. In 2009, she co-founded the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center to provide free legal representation and advocacy to victims of crime. She is the 2012 recipient of the National Crime Victim Institute’s Legal Advocacy Award.

Ken Smith (MHS ’54)
When Ken Smith was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs in 1981, he attained the highest national office of any Central Oregonian, ever.  Raised on a Warm Springs ranch by his grandparents, he earned a BS from University of Oregon, and served as General Manager for the Confederated Tribes from 1971 to 1981. After his Federal term, he returned home to become CEO of the Tribes, and until his retirement in 1995, led the way toward economic independence and sustainability. During his tenure, the Tribes launched the Museum at Warm Springs and early childhood and health centers. His honors are many and prestigious; his legacy of effective leadership for the native people of Central Oregon and the Northwest is enduring.

Juanita (Wickham) Kurtin, PhD (MHS ’92)
Juanita (Wickham) Kurtin grew up in Madras, earned a BS in Chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1996, and a PhD in Physical Chemistry in 2001 from the University of California/Berkeley, where she studied with quantum dot pioneer Dr. Armand Paul Alivisatos. After jobs with Intel and SpectraWatt, a solar-cell company, she became co-founder and chief technical officer of Pacific Light Technologies, a leader in the development and application of quantum dot technology, which opens up revolutionary possibilities for LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and other optical applications. Dr. Kurtin’s work puts her at the cutting edge of the new field of optical nanotechnology.

Dallas Stovall (MHS ’75)
Dallas Stovall worked his way through Southern Oregon University with summer jobs at Warm Springs Plywood. Since 1995, as President/CEO of Bright Wood Corporation, he has guided it through difficult times to its current national position as a leading supplier of high-quality precision wood components for windows, doors, and other millwork products. Bright Wood has two facilities Oregon, as well as in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Otautau, New Zealand. Through his steady leadership, the company has been a major, stable employer in Jefferson County and Central Oregon. He and his wife Susan of 38 years, have been community mainstays through their generous support of various charitable causes.

According to Weddel, the annual event has two important goals.

“We want to celebrate these remarkable leaders and their accomplishments while inspiring our current MHS students. These alumni who graduated from our local education system have made a tremendous impact both locally and worldwide. They are role models who exemplify the power of education and perseverance,” said Weddel.

Jefferson County School District 509-J serves the communities of Madras, Warm Springs Reservation, Metolius and Antelope with seven schools (one primary, one intermediate, two elementary, one K-8, one middle, one high school, and one Career and Technical High School), 2,900 students grades K-12 and 400 staff members. The district is proudly among the most culturally diverse in Oregon with equal populations of Native America, Hispanic, and Caucasian students.


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