News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Gratitude for Sisters community spirit

When our high school team was told in April that we would not be returning to school for the rest of the year, our hearts sank for the seniors. There were literally tears from a number of us. This lasted for about two days, and then we began to rally. We had ideas of how to celebrate our graduates coming from everywhere, and we put together a core team of Lynne Fendall, Jillian Frankl, and Mel Petterson to collect ideas for a few weeks.

These three were the heart, soul, and energy of graduation.

While we were collecting ideas for graduation, a two-person team, Lynne Fendall and Mel Peterson purchased “Class of 2020” signs from the Grad Night Party fundraising account and delivered them like a covert Navy SEAL team to each senior home.

That same week VAST Church and June’s Asian Kitchen provided lunch for our entire district. The following week was teacher appreciation week. Since we had great feedback with the senior signs, we thought that the teachers would appreciate something similar. One problem, no funds. Lynne Fendall, having a “can-do” attitude, reached out to the community. Within 24 hours, our community rallied and donated enough money for us to purchase signs and help us pay for lunch for the teachers.

I still remember her giving us updates on an hourly basis of how many people were donating. Our community is amazing! A team including Jillian Frankl, Tim Roth and Lynne Fendall went to work again delivering signs to the teachers’ homes.

Things really started moving for graduation when Roger Dwight and the Rodeo Board offered to help with graduation. They said they would provide parking attendants, build steps and provide us with a stage, while Matt Cyrus donated his white trailer for us to use as a backdrop to the stage. Jerry Kaping and WellHouse Church connected us with Terry Cowen of New Life Radio, 104.9 who then said they would pay for our air time. We now had a place, a stage, and sound.

The next big piece was getting a video screen. This almost paused the production because of the cost. Lynne found Mark Stenied of Northwest Video Wall out of Seattle. This gentleman really helped us out with his knowledge, efficiency, and cost. When we secured the screen, it was game on!

I remember feeling so overwhelmed by all the technical questions. Enter Brad Tisdel. Within a few days of having an understanding of what we needed him to do, he connected with all the key production players, acquired Ethan Singer from Nexus Productions for sound, and calmed our anxiety. There is no way we could have pulled off graduation without Brad Tisdel.

We connected with Sam Pyke from Hill Shadow Pictures to organize the videos as well as produce the Senior Song along with Rick Johnson. Samra Spear rallied the valedictorians. Tyler Cranor, Dan Schmidt, and Cole Seymour produced the introductory video of the staff. Susie Seaney collected all the senior pictures and baby pictures to create the senior slideshow. Susie also took an unexpected roll of acting liaison with Citizens4Community (C4C).

About two weeks from graduation Amy Burgstahler and Olivia Bertagna from C4C reached out and said they wanted to honor the graduates by purchasing an individual banner for each of the graduates. I remember thinking, “how cool, but how can we take on another initiative?” The answer was: “Ya live in Sisters, just ask for help.” So Susie Seaney connected with Olivia and Amy and another gift for the graduates was in the works.

I’m still amazed at the support to make graduation special and memorable.

C & C Nursery was bringing in truckloads of plants and trees to spruce up the stage. Three Sisters Floral donated flowers for each graduate. The Rodeo Queens, Mikaela Kollermaier and Riann Cornett, carried our Outlaw banner and our national flag.

I remember standing next to Brad Tisdel on graduation night, feeling this event may have been a little bigger than graduation. I felt like this was something our community wanted to make happen to feel some hope, some love, some joy. And we truly did it together. I love Sisters and I am so very grateful for your caring generosity.


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