Spartan Spectator -60 Years Strong: A Honored Forks’ Tradition

By Eram’e Tost and

Kendall Marshall

Forks community members Cheri Dahlgren and JoMarie Miller actively participate in the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Auction, in which Cheri has been on the committee since 1991 and JoMarie since 1994. Both have worked hard to maintain the annual scholarship auction, continuing the 60 year tradition.

Kendall Marshall and I being seniors at Forks High School, makes it our year to participate in the auction. In our latest interview, we sat down with Cheri and JoMarie at the Dahlgren Logging office, gaining insight on what roles committee members play, the committee’s importance to them as fellow Forks High graduates, and what they hope to see accomplished at the 2024 auction.

The auction has been running for 60 years, dating back to 1964. Starting off as the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Fund, a benefit dinner for Dr. Bob Henry turned into an honored Forks’ tradition, impacting hundreds of Forks students. As of now, the auction is a “basic formula” that relies heavily on the senior class to reach out and collect donations, while the committee is “always there to help, whether it is to help collect donations or actually in the auction,” JoMarie states.

One of the reasons the auction is a success is thanks to the QVSA Committee, a panel of seven community members, and “homebase” for the auction. Current committee members “pick each senior coordinator and set an April deadline for the scholarship notebooks,” Cheri says. In order to receive scholarship funds, each senior must fill out a scholarship notebook while also participating in the two-day live auction. The QVSA committee “handles the funding for the auction while also reviewing each notebook.” Starting as a husband-and-wife panel, the committee eventually moved to community members, creating diversity among the panel. The committee is “looking to bring on younger community members such as David Hurn, who was brought on a few years ago,” Cheri mentions.

Most committee members are fellow Forks graduates, making it especially important to them to keep the tradition alive. “It is a huge honor to keep a small-town tradition running for so long. I want students to return later in their lives to be on the committee,” JoMarie says.

As the years move on, the auction has “changed with the times. There used to be a lot of paperwork in preparation, checks used to only be accepted, and now Venmo and much more have been introduced,” JoMarie remarks. Throughout the years when challenges were thrown, the auction continued to thrive even in the face of a pandemic. “When Covid hit, we went online for the first time, and we all wore face masks and still managed to raise lots of money for the senior class,” Cheri comments.

Every March, when the auction approaches, there is always a goal to collect more donations and raise more money than the previous year. Reaching the milestone of 60 years, Cheri notes that “making it this far, I hope that the tradition continues and lives to see the 100th year.”

This auction is exclusive to Forks and is a “social event for the community. All money raised goes directly to the students,” JoMarie states. The Forks community is extremely supportive of the auction, the founding family is continuously attending the auction. The committee is “extremely proud” of the work the students put into this auction.

The Quillayute Valley Scholarship Auction will be held the weekend of March 16th (9am-9pm) and 17th (10am-8pm) at Forks High School.