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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View This Issue
S ERVING THE S ILVERTON A REA S INCE 1880
50 C ENTS
V OL . 135, N O . 18
A U NIQUE E DITION OF THE S TATESMAN J OURNAL
W EDNESDAY , A PRIL 20, 2016
MOLLY J. SMITH/STATESMAN JOURNAL
Silverton High School's Sarah Potter competes at a district meet for Oregon High School Equestrian Teams at the State Fairgrounds on Sunday.
Equestrian team looks for state honors
BY CHRISTENA BROOKS
SPECIAL TO THE APPEAL TRIBUNE
Back-to-back state champions, Silverton High
School’s equestrian drill team is seeking gold again at
the state meet in Redmond next month.
The regular equestrian season ended for Silverton
at its last district meet in Salem on April 8-10. With a
934-point score from the judges, the Foxes’ premier
drill team won the meet and the North Valley District.
Now it’s off to state May 12-15 for a shot at a third-in-a-
row state title.
Three seniors – Elsie Guenther, Angeline Starrs
and Nicole Kuenzi – have been on the drill team during
its two-year Oregon reign, and they hope to find vic-
tory one last time before graduating.
“We are telling ourselves, ‘Go big or go home,’ be-
cause we’re going home anyway,” said Starrs.
Rounding out Silverton’s six-plus drill team are
senior Hannah Brunkal, junior Brienne Hook and
sophomore Hannah Zurbrugg. Senior Sarah Potter is
Six-plus drill is arguably high school equestrian’s
most popular event, as groups of riders on horseback
– as many as 16, in some cases – perform complex rou-
tines to music. Their scores are based on ability, spac-
ing, coordination, originality, difficulty, speed, horse-
manship and other factors.
This year, the Foxes’ drill team is performing to an
orchestral remix, with riders guiding their steeds
through an eye-popping 5-minute routine. Watching
the horses weave among one another – sometimes at
high speed – is akin to watching the Blue Angels fly in
Silverton High School's Ella Kaufmann tends to her horse
Meadow in between events at at a district meet on Sunday.
“This is not ponies and ribbons,” said parent Jackie
“It’s collisions and falls,” added Starrs.
“Drill is definitely the scariest thing because there
are six minds out there,” said Hook. “And then there
are six horses with totally different minds.”
Now that the six-month equestrian season is end-
ing, Silverton’s riders – especially the seniors – are
feeling a little nostalgic. Many have pictures of their
horses on the phones or in their lockers. Each will tell
you that riding is an act of complete trust between
horse and rider.
This year, they’ve helped each other learn new
events and deal with injuries. They’ve adapted, over-
come and often won. Most of all, they’ve put in untold
hours of work.
“This is what my life will be like when I have a job –
I have to get up, go to school and then go to the barn
every day,” said Hook. “Sometime I joke about just
taking my mattress down to the barn and living
Because they don’t practice at school – rather at
home, the Salem Saddle Club and Abiqua Country Es-
tates – much of their toil goes unnoticed. In fact, the
drill team’s 2014 and 2015 trophies haven’t made it into
the high school’s trophy case because there’s never
been an official moment of recognition to hand them
over, they said.
OHSET, which stands for Oregon High School
Equestrian Teams, began in 1993. Throughout the
state, high school teams operate as clubs, costing rid-
ers several hundred dollars in fees each season. That
doesn’t include the cost of owning or leasing a horse.
For Silverton’s girls and their parents, the time and
money commitments are worth it.
“All of a sudden, you have to take care of something
other than yourself,” explained Holly Kuenzi. “Be-
fore OHSET, my horse was just a pasture horse. Now I
have a goal with him I actually have to achieve.”
“OHSET has some really great long-term effects,”
said Gary King, a coach. “There’s a lot of responsibil-
ity that comes into play. The girls have to learn how to
adapt, to listen and to learn.”
“Silverton has had a great many years in OHSET,”
added coach Sue Rush. “This season, we have a well-
rounded team. We had an athlete in every class.”
See EQUESTRIAN, Page 3A
Victor Point snags $1.2M
in seismic-upgrade funding
For the second time just under a year and a half, Sil-
ver Falls School District can pencil a significant boost
for its facilities into its financing ledger.
The district learned April 8 that rural Victor Point
Elementary School was among the schools included as
seismic-improvement grant recipients this year. It
stands to receive $1,167,400 in this round of grants.
“We are thrilled and excited for this amazing oppor-
tunity for our kids, parents, community, and staff,” said
Victor Point Principal Jamie McCarty.
It is one of a handful of schools in the east Willamette
Valley to get a grant. Santiam High School in Mill City
received nearly $1.5 million to retrofit its gymnasium.
Cascade School District received $1,484,200 for Tur-
ner Elementary School improvements, and Jefferson
Elementary School was awarded just more than $1 mil-
The grants were secured through Business Oregon’s
Infrastructure Finance Authority and entailed the first
of two phases for awarding 2015-17 funds allocated
through the Oregon Legislature.
Earlier in 2013, the legislature approved $30 million
for seismic projects with the funding split between
schools and emergency services. In December 2014,
roughly $15 million was awarded to 13 schools state-
wide, including Silver Falls District’s Butte Creek and
Scotts Mills elementary schools.
Total awards during this recent phase of the 2015-17
funds eclipsed $50 million; the next application round
begins July 1, 2016, and includes $125 million for schools
and $30 million for emergency services buildings.
Business Oregon noted that eligible applicants in-
clude public K-12 school districts, community colleges,
education service districts and universities. For emer-
gency services facilities, the emphasis is on first re-
sponder buildings. Those include hospital buildings
with acute inpatient care facilities, fire stations, police
stations, sheriff’s offices, 911 centers and emergency
JUSTIN MUCH/STAYTON MAIL
Victor Point Elementary School is among the schools awarded
See GRANTS, Page 3A
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