By CATHY MOUNCE, Register Staff Writer
The top ten percent of Gainesville High School’s class of 2013 was honored by the Gainesville Independent School District (GISD) Education Foundation Board (EFB) at the annual ‘Shining Stars Gala’ on Monday evening. Not only were the 14 students honored as ‘Distinguished Scholars’ for their own over all achievements but each student recognized a “Distinguished Educator” who had made an impression on each of them.
The Gainesville ISD Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization made up of volunteers consisting of a board of directors which includes business, community and education leaders. The foundation works to benefit GISD students and teachers by supporting activities not funded by tax dollars.
“We are here tonight to not only honor our students and teachers for 2013 but to thank the community for the support our schools receive,” Marcello Gomes, president of the foundation said in his welcome,
In his address to the students, teachers and parents attending the event, GISD superintendent Jeffrey Brasher said, “We congratulate not only the students and teachers that are being honored tonight but also for the parents who have set a positive example for the achievements of their children. They are here tonight because of you.”
After dinner, each student spoke of what their “Distinguished Educator” had meant to them.
Link Ferch talked about retired teacher Cindy Stride saying, “Mrs. Stride pushed me to write above and beyond what I thought I could but she also acted as a friend to me and others. She made me a better writer and a better individual.” Playing hockey next year and earning a degree in Criminal Investigation are his goals.
“Coach Henegar, you will always have a special place in my heart,” said Sarah Gerken of GISD physical education teacher Karla Henegar. Interdisciplinary studies at Texan Woman’s University (TWU) are in her future plans.
Future finance major Conner Markle spoke of retired GISD teacher Ann Hamilton.
“ Mrs. Hamilton made an impact on me, a lot of other seniors and Gainesville High School,” Markle said.
“He has prepared me for college level material and has made me more confident in calculus,” said future pharmacy student Hyungju Yoon of his GHS math teacher Nathan Clarady.
Retired Edison Elementary teacher Donna Hadlock played an important part in Karly Rhodes life for the past twelve years.
“She taught me in first grade that I would come across stumbling blocks that would cause me to fall, but to get back on my feet with grace no matter how big the bruise may be,” Rhodes said. Rhodes plans to attend Oklahoma Baptist University.
Distinguished scholar Eric Tran plans to become a cardiologist and credits physics teacher Jerry Bruton for teaching him the value of hard work and dedication.
“I feel that I am now a more mature, responsible person and scholar,” Tran said.
“I named my car Martha,” said Haley Bell Schumacher as she spoke of GHS geography teacher Martha Liddell. “She has been a great teacher and friend and I hope one day I can impact someone’s life just as she did to me.” Haley plans to become a teacher.
“Mr. Jacob Hines inspired me to always push myself and achieve more. When I first came to GHS I was shy and knew very few people. He broke me out of my shell and gave me self-confidence,” said Hunter Goldsworthy who is set to study biology at Texas A&M University. His future plans include medical school.
“Mr. Lopez, you’ve encouraged and inspired me more than you know and for that, I thank you.” said Maddie Merrifield of GHS tennis coach Jon Lopez.
Merrifield plans to attend TWU’s nursing school and hopes to specialize in infant care.
Kasandra Galvan also plans to attend TWU’s nursing school and one day become an optometrist.
“When I first moved to Gainesville, I did not know how to speak English. Learning the language was complicated, but Mrs. Cabral encouraged me and taught me to never give up,” Galvan said of Chalmers Elementary teacher Juanita Cabral.
Speaking of Rhonda Schofield, a third grade teacher at Chalmers Elementary, Alondra Perez said, “Mrs. Schofield not only taught me what the district wanted us to know, but she made a permanent impression on me for being an amazing teacher that I will remember my whole life.”
Perez plans to become an immigration attorney.
“Throughout high school, no other teacher has influenced me like Mr. John Kintz. I probably would have grown into an old curmudgeon if he had not set me on the right path,” said Madison Bruce who plans to become a forensic pathologist or a coroner. “In the wise words of Mr. Kintz, ‘Be safe or be reckless, your choice.’”
‘Thanks Ms. McCuistion,” said Grayson Gregory of GHS agriculture teacher Shannon McCuistion,” Gregory said. “Her energetic and encouraging attitude has played a monumental role in my education and future plans.” He plans to major in agricultural education with emphasis on clean electricity.
Gina Winters plans to get her fine arts degree at the University of North Texas and credits her GHS Art teacher Brenda Rice as the most influential teacher in her life.
“She gave me the freedom to explore my creative side and provided the necessary tools to express myself,” Winters said.
The Foundation’s mission creed states, “The mission of the Gainesville ISD Education Foundation is to generate and distribute resources to the Gainesville Independent School District to enrich, maintain, and expand programs needed to meet the district’s stated mission of excellence in education. The Foundation will achieve its mission by directing resources toward the following goals: Encourage all students to work to their highest potential; Support staff for innovative effort; Recognize staff for exemplary teaching; Inspire parents and community to participate with the school district in enriching education.”
Foundation volunteer and former teacher Leslie Nichols said the annual Shining Stars Gala highlights the achievements of both students and teachers.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to do this each year not only for these outstanding graduates but also for the great teachers who have encouraged their students to become our ‘Shining Stars,” Nichols said.