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401 Meeker St Delta CO 81416 970.874.4421
Nora Dransfield
Tess Gore
Derek Holt
Helene Sharer-Meneley
Jaden Miller
Slater Podgorny

Cherry Days royalty to be crowned July 4

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Coronation of royalty for the 72nd Cherry Days festival will be held July 4 at 12:15 p.m., at the Howard Berkman Stage in Paonia Town Park.

The king and queen will each receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Cherry Days Committee. Other royalty nominees will each receive a check for $100.

Candidates for Cherry Days queen are:

Nora Dransfield

Nora, the daughter of Tim and Lisa Dransfield, plans to study elementary education at the University of Northern Colorado.

"For as long as I remember my actions and personality have been essentially shaped through my intense passion for working with children," she wrote in her scholarship application. Her desire to teach was reinforced when she volunteered as an elementary aide. She said working with Paonia Elementary first and second graders taught her dedication, persistence, patience, initiative, leadership, organization, self-discipline and much more.

"These qualities are exactly what the town of Paonia is all about," she said. She vows to come back to the "beautiful" town of Paonia, to be part of the community and foster the minds of the future generation.

"As I return to the warm and benevolent community I was lucky enough to be raised in, I only hope I can follow in the footsteps of each and every teacher that has taught me for the past 12 years and hopefully keep the legacy of love, generosity and friendship the town of Paonia has preserved.

During high school, Nora volunteered with the Kids Pasta Project, Jamaica Outreach, Girls on the Run, and at the BMW rally. She was consistently named to the honor roll while also participating in cross-country, track and field, and the Delta County swim team.

PHS teacher Kreszenze Kossler-Allen said it's remarkable that a high school student with an incredibly challenging and academic load of her own takes the time to help elementary school kids learn their foundational skills, and she accomplishes this task with compassion and patience.

Helene Sharer-Meneley

Helene is the daughter of Donald Meneley and Sara Sharer and has lived in Paonia her entire life.

"This community has raised me with the value that helping others brings purpose to one's life," she wrote in her scholarship application. "I should represent the town of Paonia during Cherry Days because this town has shaped who I am and I have tried to give back to it as much as it has given to me."

Lene plans to attend Fort Lewis College's School of Engineering and become a computer engineer. Her career goal is to either start or work for a nonprofit organization, using computer programming to focus on the unmet needs of disadvantaged communities.

PHS teacher Kreszenze Kossler-Allen commented on Lene's outstanding capacities and consistently positive attitude. As co-president of the Student Council, she led her class in organizing and executiving a number of projects, demonstrating her strengths in people skills, organization, consistency, management and follow-through.

"I've seen her manage difficult student and adult situations like a professional, a young lady dealing with complex circumstances in a manner that demonstrates maturity and patience beyond her teenage years," Kossler-Allen said. "Lene's positive attitude and aptitude for finishing whatever she starts are unique characteristics that both reinforce her strong character and help her lead others in an effective way."

Lene was co-founder of Girls Who Code, a club for Paonia High School students. She also mentored two girls from the Class of 2022, and participated in Kids' Pasta Project, high school swim team and Jamaica Outreach. During the summers she worked as a lifeguard and taught swim lessons.

Tess Gore

Tess, the daughter of Yancy and More Gore of Crawford, will attend Laramie County Community College in the fall. She plans to pursue a career in nursing, eventually using her degree to help better the local community.

Being selected Cherry Days queen would be a great honor, she said, because she's been attending Cherry Days since she was 3 years of age and has participated in the parade since 2006. "When I was younger, I became inspired to try out for Delta County Fair and Rodeo royalty because of Cherry Days royalty," she said in her application. "Finally being able to represent Paonia is what I have looked forward to doing since I was young and being able to ride through the parade representing the town of Paonia would be a memorable experience."

Tess has been involved in her parents' livestock operation from a young age, so the agricultural community is vitally important to her. She has accumulated extensive knowledge in livestock production, marketing, judging and other aspects of the industry.

She is only the second person to have held the titles of fair junior princess, princess and queen. She has been in 4-H since 2008 and before then was involved in the Clover Buds. Through 4-H, she has held numerous leadership positions. During her first three years of high school she was also involved with FFA and had the opportunity to travel and compete in several areas. She helps out with the June Classic Jackpot, at the cattlemen's banquet and at the National Western Stock Show. In addition she has been heavily involved in school and community service projects.

"She has proven that she's capable of juggling an intensive academic calendar, while serving her community in a number of opportunities," said PHS principal Randal Palmer.

Derek Holt

Derek Holt, son of Don and Dee Holt, has his sights set on the University of Utah. He became interested in the basics of business at a young age, and plans to pursue a degree in marketing/finance following a two-year mission trip for his church.

Holt is a lifelong resident of Paonia; his family has been part of the community for generations. His great-grandfather was the founder of Don's Market, which remains in the family.

Holt is a proud member of the state champion football and baseball teams, but is even prouder to have served the community as a cadet in the Paonia Fire Department. "Whether it's a false alarm fire at 3 a.m. or a controlled burn that got out of hand, I have been there and helping alongside some of the greatest guys I know," he said. "Yeah, I've had many athletic achievements like winning state in football and baseball, and have also done well in school, but nothing beats the two years I have had keeping my community safe and being there for them as much as I could."

At school, Holt was senior class treasurer and a member of the Paonia Swing Choir. He was named to honor choirs and in 2016 had the lead role in the school musical.

"He excels at every endeavor because he has drive and a strong work ethic, never giving up," said Michael Jensen, STEM teacher. Holt was a teacher's aide in his engineering class.

"Although Derek's success in projects are varied in math, science and technology, it is his work in learning the 3D printer and teaching others how to use it, that is the most admirable of his skills and attitude," Jensen said.

Jensen noted that Holt is a "tinkerer" who always has a project underway using discarded technology and gadgets.

Jaden Miller

Jaden Miller, the son of Christa Coats and Nate Miller, will attend Trinidad State Junior College to study gunsmithing. In addition to learning how to build, fix and manufacture guns, he anticipates gaining knowledge of shooting techniques.

He says he takes a great deal of pride in his small town roots, and has always been willing to help out in whatever way he could. He has shoveled snow for the elderly, helped whitewash P hill, and participated in the Christmas food drive.

At school, he participated in football, wrestling and baseball.

During the summers he's been employed by the Stirrup Bar Ranch in Crawford. Over the course of three years, his responsibilities have included fixing barbed wire fence, moving cows, using shop equipment, welding and operating large machines such as tractors, skid steers, semis and dump trucks.

Slater Podgorny

Slater is looking forward to the new people, new ideas and new places he will experience when he begins college this fall. Although he has not decided on a major, Slater knows that he wants to enter a field that will allow him to work for the benefit of others. Teaching is especially appealing, he says, because he would be able to see his students develop into the people that institute change in the world.

"Similarly, sports psychology would allow me to remain close to the sports I love while also helping people through difficulties," he said. "Finally, both international affairs and political science would allow me to benefit others on the national and international level."

The son of Moni Slater, he served as student body president at PHS for the past two years. "Holding this position has made me realize that everything I do is a direct reflection of Paonia," he said. "With that being said, whether I am wearing Paonia across my chest or not, I have done my best to act in a manner that best reflects the incredible culture of Paonia. Being a representative for the town of Paonia is something I would be proud to do not only at Cherry Days but also for the rest of my life."

Slater was an enthusiastic participant in all aspects of student life at PHS, language arts teacher Kreszenze Kossler-Allen noted. "Clearly stretched in all directions as student leader, AP student and athlete, Slater still volunteers wherever he can," she added, noting his contributions to Pink Night 2017.

"Slater's character is consistently strong, his academic future is unmatched, and I can not think of a person with more potential in his future," she concluded in her letter of recommendation.

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Cherry Days, Paonia
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