Despite the 2020 St. Paul Rodeo's cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rodeo did not waver in its commitment to the young people of the town it calls home.
For the 48th consecutive year, the rodeo awarded a pair of $4,000 scholarships to St. Paul residents who excelled in and out of the classroom.
This year's recipients were 2019 graduate Zach Brentano and 2020 graduate Isabela Hockett.
Brentano is entering his second year of studies at Oregon State University, where he is a math major. He played four years of varsity basketball and football at SPHS and his involvement in other extracurriculars was extensive. A release by the rodeo lists DECA, FBLA, FFA, Virtue First and Key Club as activities Brentano was involved in.
"Math has always come naturally to him," the release said of Brentano. "He remembers, as a youngster, sitting in the back of the car while traveling, multiplying the numbers on road signs. By third grade, he could multiply two-digit numbers in his head. As a preschooler, he would sit with his sister as she did her kindergarten homework and do the math with her."
Brentano hopes to someday work for either the Portland Trail Blazers as an analyst or with a college football team. His connection to the rodeo goes back decades to his childhood and he volunteered at various points at the St. Paul Parish chicken barbecue stand by serving soda, making strawberry shortcake and working the cash register. He also was a parking lot attendant at the rodeo.
"It's an identity for the town, something that is super cool," Brentano said of the rodeo. "I get to claim to be from St. Paul, and people really want to come and experience the rodeo."
Hockett was an active participant in extracurriculars during her time at SPHS as well. She was involved with DECA, the Associated Student Body, Health Occupations Club, FFA, choir and Virtue First. She also served as a team manager for the cross country and track teams.
Volunteer work at Providence Newberg Medical Center as well as the Woodburn Relay for Life highlighted Hockett's time in high school. She also volunteered with the rodeo extensively, working concessions and in parking lots.
"After suffering three concussions her eighth grade year she struggled to regain her focus with schoolwork," the release said of Hockett. "Those struggles helped define her career path; she will attend Boise (Idaho) State University and major in a health-related field with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian. Maintaining a healthy diet was instrumental in her recovery from the concussions."
Hockett said in the release that she loves the rodeo and its traditions.
"It's a special time," she said in the release. "It's in a beautiful place, with so many people cheering, having fun and laughing. It's a great time, definitely my favorite time of the year."
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