For the 54th year, members of the Woodlake community gathered to honor their fellow citizens. This year’s awards ceremony and dinner was held Friday, March 4, at the Woodlake Memorial Building.
The event was sponsored by Kiwanis of Woodlake with assistance from the Woodlake Lions Club, Woodlake Police Department, Woodlake Unified School District, Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce, Woodlake Rotary Club, as well as many other community members who made up the selection committee and assisted in myriad other ways.
While the presentations center around the Man of the Year, Woman of the Year, and Youth of the Year, there are also many other categories that are used to best honor those who are working to make a difference in the community and those around them.
This year’s honorees are (from left to right in photo above):
Mike Flores Jr.: Youth Mentor of the Year
Accepting the award for the honoree was his father, Mike Flores Sr. (in photo). Mikey was honored for his many years of service to Woodlake youth, including his work at Castle Rock Elementary School, as coach of Woodlake Bengals youth football, and his participation with the Cal Ripken baseball teams.
If you talk to Mikey, he may sound familiar. He announces Woodlake High’s home football games as well as other sports games as his time allows.
Mikey is an alumnus of Woodlake High School.
Deanna Diaz: Youth of the Year
This award is presented each year to an outstanding female and male student at WHS. Deanna is active in several campus organizations, has been a cheerleader and a youth coach, all while overcoming some personal obstacles.
Christopher Garcia: Youth of the Year
Christopher is an honor student and athlete who participates in multiple sports while also being involved in several campus clubs and activities. His community service commitment to his hometown is also exemplary.
Jessica Reynoso: Youth of the Year
Two females were selected for this year’s Youth of the Year honor. Jessica is an active and beneficial Key Club member who, this school year, is serving as its president. She received the highest honor in citizenship possible, the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Good Citizenship Award, and is dedicated to several community service projects.
Oral E. Micham, Inc.: Business of the Year
A resident of Woodlake since 1956, Oral “Ed” Micham has worked in construction since 1962 and been a general building contractor since 1972, specializing in schools and other commercial and industrial construction projects.
Dee Rochin: Woman of the Year
Dee is the librarian at Castle Rock Elementary School and also works for the Woodlake Memorial District. Her volunteer work includes serving as president of the Woodlake High School Foundation, as WHS cheer coach, and on the We Are Woodlake committee that is planning a gala celebration in the fall to commemorate Woodlake High School’s centennial year and the City of Woodlake’s 75th anniversary.
Drew Sorensen: Educator of the Year
Drew has been superintendent of Woodlake Unified School District since 2012. He previously served as El Diamante High School’s first principal and, preceding that, he was principal of Woodlake High. He is the current president of Woodlake Rotary and serves on the WHS Foundation board and the We Are Woodlake committee.
Tony Casares: Spirit of Woodlake
Tony has served in several capacities at Woodlake High School and is currently the director of the educational options program for WUSD. He has volunteered around town for such events as the Run for Hunger, July 3rd Blast, and Toys for Joy.
Adrian Ornelas: Recycler of the Year
Adrian, in his official capacity as public works supervisor for the City of Woodlake, helped the municipality achieve a 75 percent diversion rate with California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), helping residents use less, recycle more, and take resource conservation to the next level.
To put this statistic into perspective, California leads the nation with a 65 percent diversion rate of all materials, so Woodlake is above average due to Adrian’s efforts and that of his department.
Woodlake Lions Club: Organization of the Year
Matt Albright (in photo), the club’s president, accepted the award on behalf of the philanthropic group that has served the Woodlake community for more than six decades.
Jose Palomo: Man of the Year
Jose was raised in Woodlake, graduated from WHS, and then returned to teach at the high school. He has coached the boys’ soccer team for more than 15 years, bringing home several league and valley championship titles. He is currently the athletic director for all Woodlake schools.
Not pictured: Marie Wilcox: Lifetime Achievement Award
Marie was the subject of a New York Times article and video as she is the last fluent speaker of the Wukchumni Yokuts tribe and created an audio dictionary to forever preserve her native language.