EAC holds 126th commencement ceremony
By Todd Haynie
Thatcher, AZ—John Mickelson Stadium was once again filled with families and friends gathered for Eastern Arizona College's 126th annual commencement exercises held the evening of May 8. The graduating class at the event was the largest in the history of Eastern Arizona College with 548 candidates for graduation.
In addition to the traditional portions of the event, the audience heard comments from a number of individuals, including a welcome from EAC President Mark Bryce and remarks from the president of EAC's Alumni Association, George Lord, who welcomed EAC's newest alumni into the College's Alumni Association.
The guest speaker for the evening was Dr. David Lunt. Also taking the podium to speak was class representative, Ashley McBride, and faculty representative, Patricia Jordahl.
Ashley Nadine McBride, daughter of Bryan and Nadine McBride, was raised in Central, Arizona. She enjoys playing basketball, softball, traveling with her family, being outdoors, and walking her alpacas on Mount Graham. She graduated from Thatcher High School in 2014, and graduated tonight with an Associate Degree in General Studies. In just three short weeks, Ashley will leave to serve an 18 month church mission in Salem, Oregon. After she returns, she plans to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where she hopes to pursue a degree in math or chemistry.
Patricia A. Jordahl, EAC's Fine Arts Division Chair, earned her undergraduate degree from Luther College and her master's degree from Western New Mexico University. During her teaching career, spanning over 40 years, she has taught music and theatre classes to students from pre-school age through adults. She has been a member of the EAC Fine Arts faculty for the past 22 years and has served as Fine Arts Division Chair for the past seven years. During those years she has enjoyed seeing her students learn, grow, and spread their wings as they move on from EAC to further their education or enter the work force. She maintains contact with many of those students and, in the past several years, has had the joy of hiring some of those former students for full-time positions in the Fine Arts Division.
The guest speaker for the evening is former EAC choir director, Dr. David Lunt. Lunt is a native Arizonan, born and raised on a ranch in the Duncan valley. He was actively involved in sports, music and leadership at Duncan High School, where he served as student body president, graduating third in his class.
During his successful tenure of 21 years at Eastern, the vocal music department more than tripled in size, involving nearly 300 singers in seven vocal ensembles.
Lunt earned both Bachelor of Science in Education and Master of Music Education degrees at Northern Arizona University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Arizona. He has taught all levels of public education and has loved "Dreaming the Dream" with literally thousands of students during his charismatic teaching career of 38 years.
In the past few years, Lunt has served extensively as regional music governor, NAU Music Camp faculty, F.A.M.E. Music Festivals clinician, guest director, adjudicator, choral clinician, soloist, studio musician and arranger, piano technician, motivational speaker, district music supervisor, music department chair, fine arts division chairman, and music consultant. He is also past president of the Arizona Choral Director's Association and president of the Arizona Music Educators Association, which governs all music activities in the state of Arizona.
He has been honored with Prescott High School's "Teacher of the Year" and "Most Outstanding Faculty," EAC's "Man of the Year Outstanding Service Award" and "Teacher of the Year," NAU and U of A's "Distinguished Alumni," and is listed numerous times in Who's Who Among America's Teachers, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Education, Cambridge Who's Who Among Executives and Professionals, and twice chosen as Honorary Life Member of the National PTA for outstanding dedication and service to youth. He has recently been awarded the prestigious AMEA "Music Educator of the Year," the highest award given in music in the state of Arizona.
Most recently, Lunt and his wife, Judy, returned from a church service mission at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii. Their eight children all attended Eastern, and six of their 40 grandchildren have so far followed that great tradition.
A reception in honor of the graduates followed the ceremony at the Gila Hanks Pavilion on the grounds of the stadium.