Kari Alexander to be front and center for a day as Grand Marshal

Kari Alexander (right), the Tonasket Founder's Day Grand Marshal, will ride in Saturday's parade with husband  Matt in one of Lee Orr's antique cars.
Kari Alexander (right), the Tonasket Founder’s Day Grand Marshal, will ride in Saturday’s parade with husband Matt in one of Lee Orr’s antique cars. Kelly Denison/submitted photo

TONASKET – It seems to be a recurring theme that some of Tonasket’s most honored citizens are also the people that least like to be at the center of attention. Kari Alexander, the 2014 Tonasket Founders Day Grand Marshal, fits that mold perfectly. Alexander admits to be a bit taken aback at being named Grand Marshal, meaning she will be riding in the parade waving at the crowd with her husband Matt, rather than behind the scenes organizing the parade, which is what she’s done the past four years. “I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it,” Alexander says. “Bertha Wandler is going to be doing the parade management on Saturday; otherwise I’ve been doing it behind the scenes.” Since the Alexanders, including daughters Emma and Sara (now in sixth and fourth grades, respectively) moved to Tonasket from the Los Angeles area in 2005, Kari has been a diligent behind-the-scenes worker that has been a driving force behind a lot of what have become Tonasket staples. Her most current projects involve arranging and funding the annual visits by the Missoula Children’s Theater, which annually build elaborate productions in days-long visits using Tonasket School District students. She’s also one of the coaches for the Tonasket Elementary School’s Math is Cool teams, a fourth and fifth grade academic competition that this year both qualified for the state finals in just their second year of existence. “I’ve kind of settled into doing Missoula Children’s Theater year round,” she says, “and I’m loving the Math is Cool right now. At various times over the past eight-plus years, she’s served as president of the Tonasket Cooperative Pre-school, served as Tonasket Chamber of Commerce Secretary, Vice President and President (“I went to the wrong meeting,” she jokes); worked for a couple of years with Americorps; served as the Tonasket PTO President; and through the PTO arranged the fourth grade classes’ annual Salmon Festival trip. Somewhere in there, she’s also found time to work her “real” job as a paraprofessional at Tonasket Elementary School while working toward her Masters Degree in Education. “By this time next year, I’ll be a certified teacher,” she says. Kari Alexander says her family moved here after enjoying the area while visiting her grandfather, who was raised in Tonasket. Once they arrived, she realized that the best way to ensure that some of the things she enjoyed about the big city would happen here in Tonasket would be to take them on herself. “If I wanted things for the kids, I needed to be someone to step up and do it,” she says. “In L.A. things just kind of happen whether you’re there or not. In a small town, if you want something to happen you kind of have to step up and do it.” And sometimes when you do that, you end up publicly honored and recognized for your efforts, like it or not.