MCEF president Darlene Nelson, left, presented $1000 scholarships to each of these seniors: left to right front row, Katy Zuniga, Kallie Graves, Taylor Waite, Kinlee Clark. Back row, Mecedes Murguia, Kitana Lopez, Maddie Mitchell, Karen Ramirez, Monserrat Martinez, Chelsy Goldtooth, Neecie Thompson, Shandon Stiner, Jackie Hughes, Dillan Fuqua, and Dakota Munford. Not pictured, Madison Cheney.

Virgin Valley High School seniors, parents and well-wishers gathered May 15 for the Annual Senior Awards banquet. This was an evening when seniors saw tangible rewards for their hard work and dedication to their schoolwork.

Accolades in all courses of study were awarded and thousands of dollars in scholarships were distributed to help VVHS seniors defray the high cost of their future higher education.

Principal Cliff Hughes and many others complimented this Class of 2018 as one of the finest groups of young people to have walked the halls of VVHS. Maury Quinn, in awarding certificates of recognition to student Honor Society members, noted those students personified the four pillars of National Honor Society: scholarship, service, leadership, and character.

VVHS is fortunate to have a number of longtime scholarship donors who have repeatedly provided financial support to its graduates. Many of those individuals and groups were on hand to congratulate winners as Vice Principal Jayden Wilson announced their names.

Mesquite Community Education Foundation is a relative newcomer to the organizations that helps raise funds for VVHS students. MCEF initiated its fundraising last year, aiming to help very good students who most need financial support to take the step toward trade school or college.

The nonprofit group provides a secure local fund for members of the community to contribute any size donation toward scholarships to be awarded to applicants in the graduating class each year. In its first year, MCEF raised $8,000 through events and donations, and the group awarded $1,000 scholarships to eight 2017 graduating seniors.

In 2018, MCEF raised its sights to double its fundraising success. Under the leadership of Darlene Nelson, a volunteer mentor at VVHS, the 501c3 nonprofit group achieved that goal. Enthusiastic support of the VVHS students who participated in two fundraising events and generous support of local businesses and residents made that goal a reality.

Sixteen members in the Class of 2018 were each awarded $1,000 at the Tuesday ceremony. A ripple of excitement and a loud round of applause broke out as Nelson announced the winners.

They include: Kinlee Clark, Chelsey Goldtooth, Jackie Hughes, Karen Ramirez, Neecie Thompson, Madison Cheney, Dillan Fuqua, Kitana Lopez, Maddie Mitchell, Dakota Munford, Shandon Stiner, Taylor Waite, Kallie Graves, Monserrat Martinez, Mercedes Murguia, and Katy Zuniga.

These seniors envision success as nurses, teachers, engineers, software developers, performing and visual artists, musicians, and other highly skilled professionals. But more importantly, they each intend to be contributing members and leaders in their community.

Mesquite can look forward to great things from these outstanding seniors and all of their classmates who graduate from VVHS on May 25.