Farewell, Class of 2018
Graduation ceremonies were held on June 1. The festivities began with the baccalaureate service at 6:30. Pastor Kevin Birky of Mulberry Tree Ministries stepped away from the microphone to intimately address the graduates. The theme of his message was about going the distance. He mentioned that the strength of your foundation determines how fow you can go, much like a house. Pastor Birky cautioned graduates to keep their identity and where they came from in mind when making choices in the future.
He said, “You are uniquely you. You are wonderfully made by God.”
Birky concluded his message with a note he’s kept in his pocket for the last thirty years that reads, “Don’t forget who you are. Love, Grandma.” His words were simple, yet powerful as the graduates are looking forward to their future.
While the class lined the halls getting ready to process in, audience members watched the senior slideshow which showcased baby pictures and senior pictures side by side. The video wrapped up with a walk down memory lane, complete with pictures from elementary, middle, and high school.
The classic “Pomp and Circumstance” tune began playing, and with that the Class of 2018 walked two-by-two down the aisle of the gym for the long-anticipated moment. Introductions were given by Assistant Principal, Chris Gabriel, as he welcomed the graduates, their families, and friends to the special evening.
Salutatorian Sadie Leatherman addressed her class, reminiscing about the talent that each class member possesses. She shared fond memories of her friends and how each individual made the class whole.
Next on the agenda was the yearbook dedication to Mr. Tim Schwartz. Each year, the class votes on a teacher or staff member they feel they’re closest to and most deserving of the dedication. Schwartz put smiles on all of the graduates’ faces by ending his thank you speech with his classic catchphrase: “See ya bye!”
The senior choir sang “Country Roads,” a very appropriate song for anyone living in Kouts. More singing followed after the induction to the alumni wall of fame with the Alma Mater.
Valedictorian Jay Heinold was then introduced and built on Leatherman’s earlier address by listing many of the class’s accomplishments. He spoke of breaking sports records, spell bowl championship wins, and PCC awards. Heinold also thanked retired teacher, Miss Wendy Wagner, who impacted many students in the Class of 2018, as they were her last class before retiring.
Amongst the crowd was a special visitor, the bus driver from the senior trip. In March, the class took the annual trip to Washington D.C. On their way home, their charter bus was involved in a head-on collision with a car travelling the wrong direction on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Thanks to the driver’s quick thinking, no one was seriously injured. The entire gymnasium stood to applaud and thank him.
After Superintendent Dr. Gardin’s address, the moment came to walk across the stage and receive diplomas. As each student was handed their diploma, a card was read aloud with their plans for the future and favorite memories.
With the turn of a tassle, the Class of 2018 said their final goodbyes to Kouts High School.
Mrs. Thurner: The Final Math Class
Mrs. Pam Thurner is currently enjoying the first days of her retirement. Graduating high school at age 16, she became a lab tech. When her sister started college to become a math teacher, Thurner decided that was a sign she was supposed to go to college, as well. She earned her bachelor's and master’s degrees in chemistry education with a focus in math from Indiana University Northwest in Gary.
As an early-career teacher, Thurner first taught geometry and physics at Hobart for a maternity leave. She then taught chemistry at Lowell for six years before settling down for the past 28 years at Kouts, where she is affectionately known by her students as the “Thurminator.”
Thurner said, “The best feeling is when students do something they think they can’t. It’s the day-to-day stuff I’m going to miss.”
Her focus has always been on doing what’s best for student learning.
Admittedly not always the most patient person, Thurner has gained this trait over the years and does whatever she can to teach students responsibility and to have faith in themselves.
With 35 years of math and science education under her belt, Thurner has earned her future years of retirement. She is looking forward to traveling, especially on her upcoming European vacation with her husband, dabbling with photography, and visiting her family in Florida.
Kouts is bidding farewell to two other teachers this year: Ms. Connie Clinton (middle school physical education) and Mrs. Evelyn Ames (high school math and science). Kouts wishes these three ladies the very best in retirement!
Cameron Cooper: Your New Writer
This is my final article as a #1Student writer, and I am excited to pass the role to upcoming junior, Cameron Cooper. She has always had an interest in writing. She accredits her increased passion for writing to English teacher, Mrs. Carol Flanigan.
According to Cooper, “Mrs. Flanigan helped move me beyond my limits as a writer.”
In addition to writing, Cooper also enjoys arts-related activities. She branched out this year and joined Drama Club, where she played the narrator in the recent production of Snow White. She is also a Kouts Singer, takes piano lessons, plays the guitar, and dabbles in roller derby.
While not performing or practicing her music, Cooper can be found volunteering outdoors. She also enjoys going to concerts with friends and reading.
Kouts holds a special place in Cooper’s heart. As a life-long resident, she said, “Kouts to me means family. I would not have had the opportunity to meet such amazing people if it had not been for living in a small town, and I thank my friends and family for all of the opportunities that I am presented with.”
Cooper’s mother is a registered nurse, and her father worked as a detective for 15 years. Together, they have shaped her plans for the future. Cooper is currently interested in neuropsychiatry, the study of mental illnesses and how the connect to the nervous system.
Her excitement for writing and for all things Kouts will make her an excellent student writer, and I wish her the very best.