Phs Graduate Now Playing College Soccer


At Payson High School, Kendra Valasek was well known for her exploits in track and field, especially the long jump. She also was one of the school's first girl pole vaulters at a time when the 3A conference finally included the event as an official part of a track and field meet.

Kendra graduated with the class of 1998 and has gone on to attend Doane College in Crete, Neb.

A recent fall media guide from Doane reveals that Kendra is now plying her wares in women's soccer. She's listed as a 5-foot, 6-inch forward on the Tigers soccer team. She's the only Arizona athlete on the squad.

Kendra's parents, Gary and Janet, moved from Payson several years ago and now live in San Angelo, Texas.

Cooka's run to Florida

Nancy Berg would like nothing better than to see one of Payson's finest senior athletes have the opportunity to compete in the National Senior Olympics in Orlando, Florida later this month.

Tom Cooka, a longtime Rim country long distance runner, qualified for the Senior Olympics at a qualifier held in Tucson earlier this year.

A trip to Orlando is an expensive proposition for anyone, as it will be for Cooka who is a retired Santa Fe railroad employee from Winslow.

According to Berg, Founders Bank of Payson has generously agreed to sponsor a portion of the cost involved in the travel and 11-day stay in Orlando, but more help is needed.

Berg is asking for more support from local residents.

"I would like to appeal to the residents of the Town of Payson to contribute whatever you can so our town will be represented by this fine athlete and friend," she said.

Contributions can be mailed or hand-delivered to the local Founders Bank at 104 E. Highway 260, Payson, AZ. All checks should be made to the "Tom Cooka Senior Olympic Account."

Credit For Kids

If you haven't thrown your support behind the Credit for Kids tax credit program,. there is still plenty of time to do so.

Last year, our community donated $113,779, which is more per capita than some of the larger school districts in the Valley and Tucson.

A proposal for the use of funds in the Payson School District includes awarding $5,000 to the elementary schools for after-school programs in math, reading and physical fitness.

The Payson Center for Success would receive money for extra-curricular career explorations and the middle school funds for after-school academic enrichment and intramurals.

Both the high school and middle school will spend their funds on fine arts activities.

Also, a district-wide stadium project is in the works that is a continuation of last year's goals. The plan is to complete full-scale bleachers across the south side of the football field and install an all-weather track.

When making your donation, you may designate where you'd like your money spent.

Credit For Kids supporters are quick to point out that the program does not cost you anything. It allows a $200 state tax credit for any household. Using Form 322, you take the amount as a credit to get full dollar-for-dollar value against your tax liability.

The program dates back to 1997 when the state legislature passed a bill that allowed an individual to deduct as a tax credit fees paid to school for extracurricular activities.

Simply written, you can chose where your $200 goes -- to our schools to directly benefit the kids or the state Department of Revenue.

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