Lebanon still has warm spot in Hall of Fame honorees’ hearts

Carol Dinges may have said it best when she spoke about how school staffers can point out a student in high school who they know will go on to do great things, but other times there are some “nice kids” that end up surprising them and totally changing the world.

Dinges, a board member on the Lebanon School Foundation, emceed the fifth annual Bud & Dorothy Page LHS Hall of Fame April 8, and touched on a subject that seemed to be an underlying theme in the lives of the five Lebanon High School graduates who were inducted at the event this year.

Each alumnus either expressed how influences great and small while growing up in Lebanon had changed their world, or how they are changing the world in great and small ways, themselves.

Sponsored by the Lebanon School Foundation, the Hall of Fame honors Lebanon High School alumni who have achieved a success that inspires students and promotes Lebanon pride.

The foundation was formed about 20 years ago to help Lebanon’s students find success in life, said Dave McFetrich, foundation board member. Not only does it provide scholarships to graduating high school students, it also helps fund programs that provide for students in need, and purchases items for classroom enhancement programs.

“Having a good education helps them achieve that success,” McFetrich said.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Scot Noss

Sgt. 1st Class Scot R. Noss, Class of 1996, was honored for his humanitarian service.

Jim Phillips, Noss’ one-time coach and a family friend, introduced Noss to the audience.

Ryan Noss, Scot’s brother, accepted the award on his behalf.

Phillips said Scot Noss grew up always wearing fatigues and playing army because he knew he wanted to be an Army Ranger.

Though he was a “tremendous competitor,” Noss also had a soft side, Phillips recalled.

“I remember Scot as a little boy,” he said. “He loved animals and babies. He loved his sister a great deal.”

Phillips said another coach, Bo Yates, told him that while most students are drawn to something in coaches, it was not so much that way with Noss.

“Scot had the most pure spirit of anyone I ever coached,” Yates told Phillips. “I was drawn to him rather than him drawn to me.”

Following graduation, Noss joined Youth with A Mission, serving in China and Hong Kong, and then went on to an Army career, spending the next 11 years as an Army  Ranger, serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Noss served eight deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and earned several awards, including the Hostage Rescue Award from the FBI, Order of Saint Maurice Award, Bronze Star, and Meritorious Service medal.

A helicopter crash in Afghanistan forced Noss to retire in 2007 due to traumatic brain and other injuries.

Ryan Noss shared memories about growing up with Scot in Lebanon.

They would play in the backyard with the neighborhood kids, have pine cone fights, play army, dig tunnels, and play football, Ryan said.

“It was a great place to grow up, and it was a community that supported that,” he said.

Ryan thanked the community, and also recognized Scot’s wife, RyAnne, who, he said, is a “phenomenal woman” in Scot’s life.

Dr. Heather Miller

Dr. Heather Crockett-Washington Miller, Class of 1996, was honored for her contribution to science and medicine.

Named one of the top “40 under 40” dentists in the United States last year, Miller serves as director of dental services for Equitas Health in Ohio, a not-for-profit healthcare system that provides dental care to patients regardless of their ability to pay.

In addition to providing free care to homeless veterans and serving on medical missions, Miller has done a little dancing on the side.

While growing up in Lebanon, Miller participated on dance team and was a cheerleader. She enjoyed dancing so much that she started a dance team at Whitman College and was an NFL cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I’m not the most outgoing person, but when it comes to dance, it all comes out,” she said.

Today, Miller stays connected to her dancing days by participating as a Science Cheerleader, an organization made up of former NFL cheerleaders who have careers in science.

“Science cheerleaders were formed to get rid of those stereotypes about cheerleaders,” Miller said. “We serve as mentors for young girls to get them to choose careers in science, technology, engineering, math and healthcare.”

Miller attributed much of her success to her experiences in Lebanon.

“You may have heard the proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ and really, truly, a lot of people in this room are a part of my village,” she said.

Teachers introduced her to sports and the healthcare field, while her parents instilled in her a heart of service, she said.

“I’ve been a Whitman missionary, an Ohio State Buckeye, I’ve been a Yale Bulldog and a Cincinnati Bengal, but I’ll always be a Warrior at heart,” Miller said.

The former Strawberry Queen remembered a question she was asked when she was on the Strawberry Court: What advice would she give freshmen entering high school? Her answer, she said, still rings true for her today.

“Get involved, and give back to your community,” she said.

In closing, Miller shared a little more advice that is dear to her heart: Use a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to brush every morning and evening, floss daily, visit your dentist regularly, and alert your dentist to oral sores lasting longer than two weeks.

Business Executive Sarah Cariaga

Sarah Jolley Cariaga, Class of 1995, was honored for her work in the field of business. Cariaga started her career in retail while growing up in Lebanon by picking blackberries and selling them to her neighbors. Today, she is the vice president of merchandising for Nike’s global retail division.

Cariaga’s career track introduced her to living overseas while working as general manager of Nike’s Asian market, and vice president and general manager of Nike Europe. Her current position allowed her to return to Oregon to work at Nike’s world headquarters.

Throughout her career, Cariaga has taken her cousin, Lindsey Pruett, under her wing. Pruett now also works at Nike, and introduced her mentor to the audience.

“She is a very easy role model to have,” Pruett said. “She lives her life to the fullest and always strives to be the best. Whether you’re a cousin, niece, friend or coworker, you want Sarah on your team.”

Despite having lived around the world and holding several prestigious positions, she’s a small-town girl at heart, Pruett added.

Cariaga, also a former Strawberry Queen, who crowned Miller at her inauguration, told the audience she learned how to work hard from her family.

“You cannot be a Bellinger or Alley and not have an incredible work ethic,” Cariaga said. “It’s just the way we were raised.”

She also gave a shout out to many other influences in her life while growing up in Lebanon, including the Boys and Girls Club, the Strawberrians, teachers, and community members.

“They wanted you to achieve, and they wanted you to be successful,” Cariaga said. “They were rooting for you, and it was really incredible. I think that tradition continues.”

The small-town, big-business girl gave one final admission of pride in her hometown.

“I’m super proud of where I’m from. I’m super proud of what I experienced while I was here, and every time I come back here.”

Author Lisa Schroeder

Lisa Beavens Schroeder, Class of 1985, was honored for her creative success in arts and entertainment. Two of her former teachers, Cathy Phillips and Patsy Smith, introduced the writer of children’s and young adult literature to the audience.

Phillips recalled Schroeder as a student who had a strong sense of right and wrong. It is a characteristic that is evident in her novels, she said.

Smith recalled her as a creative, determined and passionate woman.

“Lisa inspires her readers by developing universal themes like friendship, love, compassion and healing,” Smith said. “Therefore we honor Lisa tonight because she gives her readers hope.”

Schroeder expressed gratitude to her teachers who helped shape her while she grew up.

“Every time one of them took the time to give me encouragement, big or small, it mattered; it made a difference in how I saw myself,” she said.

Today, when she visits students, she tells them the voice of doubt and fear is easiest to listen to because it’s so loud and convincing. While they have to learn how to manage those voices, they also need people to surround and encourage them, Schroeder said.

“So for those of you who take the time when you have your hands full with a million other things to give encouragement to a student, when you see a glimpse of something promising, thank you,” she said.

Schroeder has had 18 novels published through Scholastic and other top publishers. Her titles have been on the Oregon Book Award finalists list in the young-adult category, and have been selected for state reading lists, as well as American Library Association and International Reading Association “best books” lists.

“Stories have an incredible power to shape us and teach us,” she said. “Stories give us empathy. Stories allow us to walk in other peoples’ shoes, to feel what it’s like to be someone else in a way nothing else really does.”

When Schroeder talked about her life in Lebanon, she recounted a time when the Vorderstrasse family let her live with them so she could finish high school after her mom moved to Salem. She credits the family’s “gift of kindness” as an example that helped shape her into who she is now.

“This is a wonderful community with a lot of kind people,” she said.

In closing, Schroeder read an excerpt from her novel, “The Bridge From Me to You.” She said it is the book that probably has more of her and her experiences than her other books.

“In a way, it is a love letter to this town, this community that helped turn me into the woman I am today.”

Andy McClouskey

Andy McClouskey, Class of 1977, was honored for his success in athletics. He graduated from Lebanon Union High School as Oregon’s third-highest scoring basketball player in then-AAA history.

He went on to play with the Oregon State University Orange Express before embarking on a career as a college basketball coach. He now serves as assistant coach for Pacific University’s men’s and women’s basketball programs.

His high school coach, Dean Step, and former teammate, Dave Winters, introduced McClouskey to the audience.

Step recalled McClouskey as a fantastic basketball player and free throw shooter. A particular memory he enjoyed was the morning when McClouskey was practicing a string of 100 free throws before classes began. McClouskey had to skip the first couple of classes because he ended up making 422 shots without a miss.

Winters joked about McClouskey’s ability to talk a lot, and noted his stints as a basketball coach at several colleges.

“I don’t know what that says about him,” he joked.

While grateful for the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, McClouskey noted there are many “Hall of Famers” in his life who deserve the honor more than him.

Coach Step, for example, taught him lessons that he passes on to other kids today, such as refraining from using the word “can’t.”

Lebanon has had a legacy of great coaches come through its schools, McClouskey said. It’s also had a legacy of community support. Through wins and losses, the community was there supporting the players.

“The points, the wins, the great times I don’t remember; but I do remember the community coming together,” he said.

Based on his experiences growing up in Lebanon, McClouskey encouraged coaches, teachers and mentors to not be afraid to demand excellence. Parents, he said, should encourage their kids both academically and athletically, and siblings should be a great example.

“If you’re a friend or neighbor, take what you do seriously, because just unexpectedly a Hall of Famer might be paying attention.”