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Students spell success

Desiree Sanchez, Michelle Hong and Anna Olavario walk into the luncheon with members of the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce. They were several of the more than 30 Oak Harbor High School students who visited members May 15 at a chamber luncheon.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Desiree Sanchez, Michelle Hong and Anna Olavario walk into the luncheon with members of the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce. They were several of the more than 30 Oak Harbor High School students who visited members May 15 at a chamber luncheon.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Chamber hears of their exploits

There were more than 30 new faces at the monthly Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce luncheon May 15.

It did not represent a big boost in chamber membership. Rather, a large, diverse group of students from Oak Harbor High School were there to offer a fresh look of the achievements make at Oak Harbor High School.

Superintendent Rick Schulte brought an entourage of students as part of his annual “State of the Schools” address to the chamber membership.

Rather than lament over budget problems, he spent most of his time highlighting student accomplishments over the past four years, which was his way of showcasing the long-term successes at the high school.

In the past four years, there have been nine students who have been named National Merit Finalists. Oak Harbor High School students have earned the Washington Award for Vocational Excellence scholarships for the past four years.

Oak Harbor High School has sent nine students to the military academies in recent years and nine students have also earned ROTC scholarships.

Schulte highlighted the school’s NJROTC program, which is “one of the most highly decorated programs in the United States.” He added that the program has earned academic distinction awards for seven of the past eight years. The marksmanship team placed third in nationals in 2006 and has qualified for regionals for the past four years.

Academically, approximately 200 students receive academic letters each year and students are awarded approximately $2 million worth of scholarships each year.

The culinary team won its state competition in 2006 and 2008 and the auto program has sent students to the state finals for the past four years. The DECA program members have earned individual state championships over the past three years.

In the arts, students have submitted ceramics to national shows in recent years and the band program earned a superior rating during state festivals.

Schulte described the cheerleading program as a dynasty. “It’s astonishing that a place like Oak Harbor can have that kind of success in a national competition,” he said.

He also pointed out John Hu’s accomplishments in swimming, the post season appearances of the volleyball team and Josh Martinez’s second-place finish at the state wrestling tournament.

The students who attended the luncheon enjoyed a free meal while visiting with local business leaders.

Student successes come at a time when the school district is dealing with continual budget shortfalls. Officials have to make $2 million worth of cuts this spring and that trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

“The next four years are going to be a challenge,” Schulte said. Enrollment is continuing to decline while costs are continuing to increase.

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