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BY JORGE BARRIENTOS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Nearly every day, Michael Sizemore catches a glimpse of the mysterious shiny ring that he keeps on his dresser -- a 1979 Bakersfield College graduation ring in near mint-condition.
He hopes to get it to its rightful owner. But for now, it's with Sizemore -- in Kansas City.
"Whoever had it took care of it. It's in great shape," Sizemore said. "It matters to me to get their ring back."
For months, college officials have been working with Sizemore to help track down that person, whoever it may be. From the ring they've developed a few clues: it's from 1979; the student studied business; and the letters "JC" are engraved in it. It's assumed those are initials.
But how did a BC class ring from 1979 get to Kansas City?
Sizemore's uncle, a truck driver from Missouri, found the ring at the Flying J Travel Plaza in Bakersfield some time in the last several months. He later gave it to his brother, Sizemore's father, who then gave it to Sizemore.
Sizemore got in touch with people at the Bakersfield College Alumni Association, who then asked BC employees for help -- to search records for students with initials "JC" graduating in or around 1979, and who may have studied business.
"It's in beautiful condition. Obviously someone really loved this ring," said Amber Chiang, BC's marketing director. "We're just hoping to find who it belongs to."
Nine potential candidates popped up in BC's records. BC crossed off two because they were women -- the ring is believed to be a man's.
The Californian also joined the hunt by digging through public records in search of people on BC's short list. A reporter left messages for several contenders, but heard back from just two.
"No, I would have been too old ... No, wait, I would have been graduating that year," James Curran of Bakersfield said when asked if he was missing a BC ring from 1979. "Either way, I never bought a class ring."
Another possibility, Jesse Cruz, also said it's not his.
That left five potential owners from BC's list. They are: Jimmy Ray Canaday, John C. Carpenter Jr., Joel Coffee, James Albert Collins and Jonathon Dee Cooney. All graduated from BC in 1979.
Sizemore, who grew up just outside Ridgecrest, knows what it's like to lose a class ring. He lost his in the mid-80s, but someone found it and returned it.
He's tried to do his part: searching the web for any clues, and finally getting in touch with BC officials.
"Something like that is important to someone," Sizemore said. "It's a part of history and shows where you've been."
He put the ring in a box, and placed it on his dresser. When he looks at it, he said, he thinks what the person's reaction might be once the ring is returned.
"I'm sure by now they've written it off, saying it's never coming back," he said.
If you know to whom the ring belongs, contact Chiang at 395-4256 or email@example.com.