Education group to present awards
Arizona Daily Star 

May 8, 2007

By George B. Sánchez

Tucson, Arizona | Published:

A few civic-minded community members will be lauded for their contributions at the Metropolitan Education Commission's 17th annual Crystal Apple Awards on Wednesday.

This year's honorees, said June Webb-Vignery, executive director of the commission, are models of leadership in different ways.

The list runs the gamut from Gov. Janet Napolitano and civil-rights pioneer Henry "Hank" Oyama to a junior at Sunnyside High School and the owners of an independent coffee shop on the Southeast Side.

Of Oyama, Webb-Vignery said, "He's such a treasure."

In 2003, the Tucson Unified School District named its newest elementary school after Oyama, who helped to establish bilingual education in Arizona and fought the state's miscegenation law.

In 1959, a judge ruled that it was unconstitutional to not allow Oyama and his first wife, Mary Ann Jordan, to marry because he was Japanese-Mexican and she Anglo.

When asked if he realized then what he was doing when he challenged the law, Oyama, now 80, said: "Not really. We weren't looking for causes. We just wanted to marry."

The Crystal Apple's youngest winner, 17-year-old Chantal Tellez Koestel of Sunnyside High, was selected by a panel of teenage peers, Webb-Vignery said.

Committed to her schoolwork, as exemplified by her Advanced Placement and honors courses, Koestel also works after school at Apollo Middle School to help support her parents' family of eight.

"It pretty much goes to family stuff," she says about her earnings. "Whatever's needed."

Javalina's Coffee & Friends, 9136 E. Valencia Road, will receive a Crystal Apple for its involvement with the Vail School District, including hiring students and offering a space for student performances.

"We'd like to see a lot of small business do that," Webb-Vignery said.

Other honorees include Arizona Teacher of the Year Kristin Bourguet, Charles Oldham and BHP Copper Inc..

The ceremony will be held at the Doubletree Hotel at Reid Park, 445 S. Alvernon Way, at 11:30 a.m.

● Contact reporter George B. Sánchez at 573-4195 or at