The Prairie City Boys Basketball team put another trophy on their shelf last month as the Oregon School Activities Association awarded them Les Schwab Tires “Team of the Month.”
Each month throughout the school year, Les Schwab and the OSAA recognizes a varsity team and presents them with a trophy and a donation of $100 to the team’s program.
The team is selected based on performance, dedication in the classroom and service to the community.
This year’s boys basketball team, who took sixth in the state in their fourth consecutive appearance, will go down as some of the greatest players in the High Desert Basketball League, but what they do off the court in their community is just as significant.
“Our kids are very active in FFA and hold several jobs as well during school,” Prairie City School District Superintendent Casey Hallgarth said.
Hallgarth said senior Cole Deiter raised money for the basketball program by organizing a three-on-three basketball tournament.
Hallgarth said Opie McDaniel made several decorative tables and boards using different types and colors of epoxy for the Prairie City FFA Banquet.
Kaden Madden, said Halgarth, used a computer-controlled cutting machine to make large-scale metal signs for families and businesses in the area.
Lucas McKinley and Carson McKay, who both earned Oregon FFA’s Agricultural Proficiency Award, have built businesses in the area in addition to busy school and sports schedules.
McKinley, a fencing contractor, and McKay, a licensed auctioneer, have developed, applied and achieved success in their respective fields.
McKinley, this year’s FFA State Star in Agribusiness, said he recently registered his business as a Limited Liability Corporation and has two employees. He said he has always been an entrepreneur.
“I started mowing lawns when I was 13 years old, and right after I started, I was mowing 25 lawns a week,” he said.
McKinley said what drew him to owning his own business was the freedom to set his own schedule and make his own decisions.
He said, as an employer, he wants his workers to want to work and take initiative while they are on the job.
“I want them to think for themselves,” he said.
Mckinley and McKay, longtime friends who have grown up together, have partnered on fencing jobs in the past. McKinley said he would like McKay to work with him as he grows the business.
McKay said he found his calling when he was introduced to auctioneering in FFA.
Mckay, along with friend and aspiring auctioneer Cinch Anderson, a senior at Grant Union High School, made the trek to the Midwest for an intense two-week crash course to hone their craft.
McKay said the course covered everything from developing an auction chant to voice control, care and effectiveness.
Mckay, 16 years old when he earned his auctioneers license, said he has freelanced for the last two years, working both charity events, like the CASA St. Patricks Day Dinner at the Elks Lodge and livestock auctions in and around Grant County.
“I love what I do, so I don’t mind doing it for free,” McKay said.
As the state slowly eases back into normal day-to-day life, McKay said he has not led an auction in over a month and that two that he had lined up were forced to cancel.
In the meantime, he said it looks like auctions are going online.
Mckay said he is not upset about the abrupt end to his high school career. Like other seniors with passing grades across the state, March 13 was the last day of his high school career.
McKinley said, except for shop class, where he and other students fixed four wheelers and built go-carts, he is ready to move on with his life as well.
“I’ll miss seeing everyone all the time out in the shop,” McKinley said.
For McKay, it is the FFA livestock auctions, with friends and family in the audience, that he misses the most and where he has the most fun.
“It is always so much fun, McKay said. “I know everyone, and we are all close.”