Seven alums of Vancouver and Fort Vancouver high schools were inducted into the Fort Vancouver inaugural class of Distinguished Alumni.
The inductees were selected by current and former Fort students, current and former staff members and parents. The inaugural class includes:
- Dale Beacock (’48), veteran, music teacher, Beacock Music founder and conductor
- Jolene (Bishoprick) Unsoeld (’49), former state and U.S. representative, advocate for environmental reform and government transparency and accomplished mountaineer
- Tom and Kathy (Propstra) Mears (’59), business leaders (Tom is the CEO of Burgerville); philanthropists; and generous supporters of the city of Vancouver, Vancouver Public Schools and the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools
- Beau and Rose (Carmocan) Sem (’92), Groove Nation owners and youth mentors
- HD Weddel (’75), longtime Oregon educator, coach and chaplain
On Sept. 23, 2016, these and several more alums returned to the school. The honorees were presented at the homecoming assembly by another Fort alum: Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt (’89). At the assembly, members of Trappers4Trappers, the alumni organization that initiated the Distinguished Alumni designation, presented the school with a check for $5,876 on behalf of the classes of 1966 and 1976 and other alumni donors.
After the assembly, the honorees reminisced during a panel discussion with current students. Many recalled Fort’s lasting effect on their personal lives.
During his first hip-hop show, held at the school, Beau Sem faltered on the landing of a backflip. “I wasn’t hurt, but my ego was,” he said. Still, he managed to catch the eye of his now-wife, Rose.
Fort also had personal significance for the Mearses. After a few breakups, they were assigned to be lab partners their junior year. Said Tom, “When I saw her across the Bunsen burner, it was all chemistry. I came to the conclusion that this was the girl that I wanted to marry.” Fifty-three years later, they’re still together.
HD Weddel found his future career path when he was in high school. “The teachers had a real impact on my life,” he said. “I thought maybe I could do the same.”
And the Distinguished Alumni, whose portraits will hang near the school’s main entrance, will have the power to do just that: inspire future outstanding alums.
Said senior Brooke McKay, who plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, “It was really great to see them come in. It made me have more pride in my school.”
Top photo, top row, from left: Dale Beacock (’48) and his son, Russ, who represented him; Jolene (Bishoprick) Unsoeld (’49); and Unsoled’s sister, Kareen Messerschmidt, who accepted the award on her behalf. Middle row: Tom and Kathy (Propstra) Mears (’59) and HD Weddel (’75). Bottom row: Rose (Carmocan) and Beau Sem (’92) and Weddel accepting his plaque.