2014-06-16T00:00:00Z 2014-06-16T17:10:27Z Achievers The Billings Gazette
June 16, 2014 12:00 am


The Junior League of Billings, Inc. announced their Board of Directors for the 2014-2015 League year. The leadership team includes Susan McCormick, president; Allison Murphine, president elect; Maggie Vralsted, treasurer; Kary Thome, executive secretary; Connie Begger, event council leader; Laura Simonsen, community council leader; Amber Goulet, membership council leader; Tonya Bush, parliamentarian; Megan Clancy-Loveridge, nominating chair; and Jeanette Eklund, sustaining leader.

The Junior League of Billings, Inc. also honored Allison Murphine and Karen Norsworthy as the “Volunteers of the Year” at their year-end meeting in May. They were selected because of their endless volunteer hours with the Junior League of Billings and because of their dedication, attitude, outstanding volunteerism in both League and community activities and inspiration to others.

Montana Audubon presented awards to area volunteers and leaders at their recent annual meeting and festival held in Bozeman June 6-8. Carol Ward, of Billings, won the Educator of the Year Award. Ward serves as a teacher naturalist for the Audubon Education Center in Billings, where she has taught over 10,000 students since 2005. Her enthusiasm for the natural world is absolutely infectious, and she has inspiringly taught many students, co-workers, and peers about the ecology of the Yellowstone River basin. For more information about these awards, this annual festival and Audubon’s conservation and education efforts, visit

In the schools

Jake Yakawich, of Billings, has been named an All-American Scholar, which offers recognition to superior students who excel in academics. Only scholars selected by a school instructor, counselor or other qualified sponsor are accepted. Yakawich is a student at Billings Central Catholic High.

Katelyn Sweeney, of Billings, has graduated with an associate in science degree form Cottey College in Nevada, Mo.

The Big Sky State Games has selected a local student, Michael Buster, of Laurel, as one of the recipients of the 2014 Big Sky State Games Character Counts Scholarship. The high school junior, who won a $500 scholarship, will be recognized at the 29th Annual Big Sky State Games opening ceremonies event on July 18. Winners were chosen based on their character, community involvement and participation in sports. Buster brought his track and field skills to the Big Sky State Games field in 2010, 2011, and 2012. He also participated in basketball in 2011. For the past three years he has received Academic All State recognition for football, track and basketball. Buster is a member of the National Honor Society and the Society of Torch and Laurel. A very notable honor includes being a recipient of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Sciences Award of Excellence in 2014. He won AMP Athlete of the Year in 2014, the Iron Man Award in the 2013 football season and the All Conference Running Back and Outside Line Backer in the 2013 football season. Currently Buster volunteers at St. Vincent Healthcare in the Patient Services Department.

151 high school junior girls from all over Montana attended the 66th Annual Montana American Legion Auxiliary Girls State at Carroll College in Helena had firsthand experience in learning how local and state government works by campaigning for the many top state positions. They then “shadowed” Montana’s elected state officials. Two Girls Nation senators were elected to go to Washington D.C. in July to participate with representatives from others states and present their bills. Other delegates took part in the judicial system by participating in a District and Appellant mock court trials; sat in the State House and Senate Chambers and had workshops on the correct use of credit, Internet safety and higher education options.

Local students elected as officials include: Attorney General Valerie Wilson (Billings Senior); on the Public Service Commission Gabriella Dispain (Billings Skyview); Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Beverly Sitton (Billing West) and MacKenzie LaCasse (Laurel).

Delegates to the Montana America Legion Boys State at Carroll College in Helena include: Thomas Ulrich, Thomas Pankratz, Colby Robinson, Jacob Frank, Kylen Laber, Jesse Byorth and Zach Schermerhorn, all from Billings Central High; Beau Linnell, Dylan Bodvig, Joseph Knee, Zach Sukin, Aaron Going and Daniel Alme, all from Billings West High, and Nate Tranel from Billings Skyview High.

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded student Emmy Awards for excellence in broadcast journalism. The Northwest Chapter, which represents television professionals in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, held its 51st annual Emmy ceremony at the Hilton Conference Center Saturday, June 7, in Seatac, Wash. University of Montana-Missoula student Lauren Robinson of Billings was on a team that won the arts and entertainment Emmy for a feature on a stage play involving puppets. The story told of the physical challenges faced by actors in the play “Avenue Q,” using the puppets as their primary means of expression.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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