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Santa Maria Elks Honor Longtime Community Volunteer, Top Students

Diane Alleman-Stevens named Citizen of the Year; Student of the Year awards go to Honor Fisher of Orcutt Academy High School and Julie Laggren of St. Joseph High School


A woman whose community service spanned the gamut was given the Santa Maria Elks Citizen of the Year Award on Wednesday night during a banquet that also recognized top students.

Diane Alleman-Stevens was named Elks Citizen of the Year during the annual dinner at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge.

Alleman-Stevens has volunteered for the Santa Maria Police Department, Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and Altrusa International of Santa Maria, according to Elks Past Exalted Ruler Karen Feldpouch.

“She seems to be everywhere in the community,” Feldpouch said.

Alleman-Stevens spent 12 years volunteering hundreds of hours with the Police Department. 

She also completed the first Leadership Santa Maria Valley class, and remained active in the organization supporting other leadership participants.

The top Citizen of Year Award goes to a candidate who inspires people to be a better person, neighbor and citizen, Feldpouch said.

“You so deserve this,” Feldpouch told Alleman-Stevens.

Diane Alleman-Stevens accepts a proclamation from Past Exalted Ruler Karen Feldpouch after being named Elks Citizen of the Year during a Wednesday night banquet. Click to view larger
Diane Alleman-Stevens accepts a proclamation from Past Exalted Ruler Karen Feldpouch after being named Elks Citizen of the Year during a Wednesday night banquet. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The award recipient also is a past first lady for the Elks Lodge since her husband Larry Stevens previously served as exalted ruler.

Alleman-Stevens said she first came to Santa Maria in 1961, before moving overseas, only to return to the city in 1978.

“I love this community,” she said. “I became involved with different organizations when I first got here. … I feel if the community is good to you, then you be good to the community.”

The Elks also recognized high school seniors and presented two of them with Student of the Year Awards: Honor Fisher, from Orcutt Academy High School, and Julia Laggren, from St. Joseph High School.

Before that, the Elks celebrated those who earned Students of Month recognition this school year, who were among nearly 90 applicants for the 14 awards. 

“We set a record this year,” said Andy Licoscos, who led the Elks Student of the Month Committee. “It was really impressive."

In addition to Fisher and Laggren, student award winners included Erika Tuttobene, Derek Sportsman, Stephen Lees, Elizabeth Kwong, Andres Mendoza, Anika Graack, Joshua Hughes, all from Orcutt Academy High School; Mariana De Leon Dominguez of Santa Maria High School; Erik Ruiz, Olivia Mariko Lopez and Andrew Eisner of Pioneer Valley High, and Kiera Van Patten, who attends Righetti Hgh.

Elks National Foundation Scholarship winners announced Wednesday were Dominque Aranda and Erik Ruiz, both students at Pioneer Valley, in first place, followed by Analiese Ramirez,  Pioneer Valley, and Derek Sportsman, Orcutt Academy, in second place, and Rebekah Avila, Orcutt Academy, and Andrew Eisner, Pioneer Valley, in third place. 

Those scholarships ranged from $1,750 to $1,250. 

“(Pioneer Valley High School) dominated these awards this year,” said Jerry Walsh, a retired educator who has spent 45 years serving as the lodge’s Elk National Foundation Scholarship Committee chairman.

Walsh also announced the Santa Maria lodge’s first-ever winner at the national level.

Zoi Urban of Righetti High School will receive a $50,000 scholarship from the national Elks, Walsh said.

For the second time, the Santa Maria Elks ensured two students from Delta High School received scholarships with funds raised by the lodge’s past exalted rulers, Licoscos said. 

Those scholarships this year went to Delta’s Vanessa Alcala Montejano and Izek Valle. 

 Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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