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‘Mom’ ranks first in new exhibit

First Friday exhibit features high schoolers’ ‘Our Heroes’ art project

August 31, 2005

When it came to choosing a hero, the Inspiration Circle at Hood River Valley High School focused largely on family members.

And “Mom” ranked first among the 25 girls — and their mentors — for the “Our Heroes” art project.

“I picked my mom because she’s really supportive and strong. She survived a serious car accident and worked her way through college with no help. Plus, she’s really loving,” said Tia Wymore, 17.

The Soroptimist Club is hosting the group’s exhibit during First Friday outside The Next Door, Inc. along Second Street. The art will then be displayed for two additional weeks at the Soul Cafe in the Oak Street Mall. During First Friday, citizens will be provided with writing space on the exhibit board to pen a recollection of their own hero.

“A lot of our work will be bilingual because we’re a multi-cultural community and we want people to celebrate that,” said Toby Kuykendall, prevention services coordinator from The Next Door, Inc.

Kuykendall, who oversees the Inspiration Circle, said the artwork is the cumulation of this summer’s focus on cultural diversity. The design work follows a June trip by the group to the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, Calif. The girls raised $8,000 for that learning opportunity, including a $1,000 donation from the Soroptimists and two smaller grants from the Lions Club and Booster Club.

“This was a powerful experience for the girls and they are sharing that experience with the community by developing their own exhibit,” said Kuykendall.

Following their visit to the museum, the Inspiration Circle was encouraged to select a special person to feature in their creations. An ideal individual was described as someone who had struggled to overcome odds in their life to reach a goal.

Rosa Trejo, 18, decided to honor her entire family, including her parents, two sisters and a brother.

“Everyone has helped me so much, they’ve all been a role model to me and have done things that I admire,” she said.

But the selection of a family member for a hero didn’t just extend to students. Joella Dethman, a chaperon for the California trip, also decided to craft an heirloom piece that honored her mother.

She spent hours selecting items for the project that would aptly represent the life of Naomi Frisbie, 84. Her choices included newspaper clippings that featured her parent, samples of the crossword puzzles she loves and buttons from varied sewing projects. A window in the center of the collage was draped with fur from an otter that had been trapped decades ago by her grandfather for his daughter’s stoll. Dethman views her artwork as a keepsake that can give her mother joy for years to come.

“If you knew my mother you’d know why I picked her, she’s really quite spectacular,” said Dethman, the director of the Hood River County Commission on Children and Families.

The Inspiration Circle was founded nine years ago as a young woman’s organization at the high school. Membership has increased every year since the first 12 girls began meeting. Today, Kuykendall said there are 60 members who have committed to learning positive life and leadership skills that can be shared with the community through outreach projects.

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