Lost River Tradition Solutes “Honored Citizens”

High school’s 28th annual holiday luncheon attracts more than 80 guests

Aggie Smalley has been attending Lost River Junior-Senior High School’s annual Honored Citizens’ Luncheon for more than 15 years. “I always come,” she said as she recounted the names of her grandchildren who attended Lost River.

Lost River Principal Jamie Ongman visits with guests Ed Parnell and Dave Hill during Lost River Junior-Senior High School’s 28th annual Honored Citizens’ Luncheon.

Diane Ongman is only on her third year as a guest, but the retired Lost River teacher is among those responsible for the start of the holiday event 28 years ago. “It’s so neat to come back and see the tradition and see the kids,” she said. “I now have grandkids here.” (And her son, Jamie Ongman, is the school’s principal).

Guests Carlene Halousek and Ron Ames are served lunch by a Lost River leadership student Priscilla Cobian during Lost River Junior-Senior High School’s 28th annual Honored Citizens’ Luncheon.

Ongman and Smalley were among more than 80 senior guests who filled the school’s cafeteria Thursday for the annual event hosted by the school’s leadership (ASB) students. The honored senior guests – who live throughout Klamath County — all have ties to Lost River Junior-Senior High School and the Merrill and Malin areas.

The event started in the early 1990s when now-retired teacher Dennis Ross was a student leadership advisor. It has continued without interruption, and today Jen Johnson’s leadership students carry on the tradition. Current Lost
River ASB president Colton Wright said a lot of time goes into the event, which is paid for by ASB fundraisers. It costs about $800 for meals and event preparation.

“It’s worth it. It’s not very often we get to have the older generation come here,” Wright said. “I like talking to them. I like seeing the smiles. The connection back to the school is huge, and they love it.”

Virginia Rajnus accepts a poinsettia from Santa Claus (Lost River student Michael Baker Bair) Thursday during Lost River Junior-Senior High School’s 28th annual Honored Citizens’ Luncheon.

Lost River leadership students served food and drinks. Entertainment was provided by Lost River Spanish teacher Valli Lonner, who played the flute, and Malin and Merrill sixth-grade classes, who sang Christmas carols. The meal included turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, rolls, and pumpkin pie with whipped topping. Lost River leadership student Michael Bair, a senior, dressed as Santa Claus.

Guests viewed a slideshow featuring photos of past luncheons as they ate pumpkin pie. Afterward the centerpieces – poinsettias – were raffled off to the guests.

“It’s fun. It’s tradition,” Johnson said. “The guests love it. The kids love it.”

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