Top students

·3 min read

May 25—MOSES LAKE — Rebecca Noftle said her son Carter has always had a thing for numbers.

"He's that kid. When he was in preschool when I was tucking him into bed, and he goes, 'Mom, when you close your eyes, do you think about numbers?'" Rebecca said. "He always did. He was fascinated with math."

That fascination has led Carter, a student at Royal High School, to look forward to educational opportunities.

"I plan on going to (Brigham Young University) to study," said Carter. "I'm not sure what I want to do yet, but I know it's going to be related to computer science or engineering or something like that."

Noftle stood with his family in Boeing's main hangar at the Grant County International Airport along with six other high school seniors from across Eastern Washington as part of Boeing's STEM Signing Day event to honor math and science students across the country in much the same way high school athletes are now honored when they sign letters of intent to play college sports.

"It's mostly about celebrating their accomplishments," said Gina Breukelman, a senior manager for Boeing Global Engagement.

While none of the seven students attending will receive scholarships, Breukelman said they each got a company swag bag, will be paired with Boeing employees as part of the company's mentorship program and possibly be eligible for future internships with the Everett-based aerospace giant as their college careers progress.

Joining Noftle were Dahlia Al Hayyawi from Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, Aurora Beplate of Mead Senior High School in Spokane, Caleb Craddock of Okanogan High School, Martiza Gomez of Bridgeport High School, Adelia Ramirez of Kiona-Benton City High School, and Alexis Sanchez-Escobar of Tonasket High School. Breukelman said students applied for the program and were selected on the basis of their academic achievement as well as the diversity of their education and career aspirations — everything from computer science to molecular biology to auto mechanics.

Joining the students and a host of Boeing officials were Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, Rep. Alex Ybarra, R-Quincy, Sen. Nikki Torres, R-Pasco, and Sen. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle, who handed out the certificates each student signed.

According to Valdis Martinsons, director of Moses Lake operations for Boeing, honoring these students is one way the company looks to secure its future.

"I wanted to pass on how critical it is that Boeing supports these kinds of programs around the country because you are our future right now," Martinsons said. "We want to invest in our future ... to make sure Boeing is here for another 100 years."

"Science, technology, engineering and math," said Tom Willingham, the workforce education coordinator at Big Bend Community College. "Technology doesn't exist without science, engineering and math. It takes all four to make things work."

Dent, a rancher and a pilot in addition to being a member of the state legislature, encouraged each student to follow their dreams, whatever those dreams might be.

"Do what you love. Because if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. It will be just a dream. My life has been a dream. I get to do what I love to do, and it's been a dream," Dent said. "So I encourage you to do the same thing. And congratulations."

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at