Editor’s note: Find a copy of this article with photos of honored students and teachers in our March 7 print edition.
By Millicent Martin Emery
Twenty-four area high school seniors and their teachers are among those receiving special recognition at the annual I-STAR banquet.
The 33rd annual program, called Indiana Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition, honors eastern Indiana students and teachers for excellence, integrity and commitment.
School districts participating in the multi-county effort include Centerville, Connersville, Franklin County, Hagerstown, Lincoln, Rushville, Tri and Union County.
Each school honors three students, who in turn honor a K-12 teacher who the student feels made the most outstanding contribution to his or her development.
Hagerstown Jr.-Sr. High School played host to the March 1 banquet at Willie and Red’s in Hagerstown.
Each senior in the top 10 percent of their class along with an optional “at large selection,” if a member school wishes to do so, is invited to complete an application. The application form is based upon academics and activities.
A committee of adults, predominately teachers, from each school select three applicants.
Each student will be presented a plaque by his or her principal, and the student, in turn, presents a plaque to the teacher and discuss their selection of the teacher. Organizers say the student presentations have been a highlight of the program.
I-STAR all started when a forum for exchanging ideas was developed in 1984 by networking high schools together through principal participation. I-STAR came from the interaction and ideas generated.
JAMIE BUHL is the daughter of Julie and Randy Buhl. While attending Lincoln she has been involved in tennis (All State Honorable Mention), volleyball, basketball, Business Professionals of America (national qualifier), Student Council, Key Club, Spanish Club, and Academic Team. During high school, she has worked at the Golay Center, Main Street Sweets, and Buhl’s Green Thumb Landscaping. Jamie plans on attending Indiana State University or Ball State University to study dietetics.
HANNAH HALL is the daughter of Jason and Pam Hall. While attending Lincoln, she has been involved in basketball, volleyball (Academic All-State), softball, BPA (4-year state qualifier), Key Club, NHS, and Lincoln Teens. Hannah plans on attending Wilmington College to study athletic training.
SETH MORRIS is the son of Sandra Lambert and Shane Morris. While attending Lincoln, Seth has been involved in tennis (Academic All-State), basketball, baseball (team captain), track (Academic All-State), BPA (2-time national champion in Excel), Spanish Club, Student Council, Math & Science Academic Teams, NHS and the Robotics Club. He also has been active in several community activities. Seth plans on attending Purdue University or Ohio State to study engineering.
JULIE BUHL has been teaching for 28 years: 9 years at Maplewood Elementary and 19 years at Western Wayne Elementary. She graduated from Lincoln High School in 1985, received her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Ball State in 1989 and her Masters in Education in 1994. Buhl is married to Randy and they have three children, Patrick, Libby, and Jamie.
JOHN ENGLE is a graduate of Warsaw High School. He received his Bachelor of Science in Education from Indiana University and his Master’s in Education from Purdue University. Mr. Engle taught math and coached football and basketball at Tippecanoe School Corporation and served as assistant principal at Twin Lakes School and Western Boone Schools. He has been at Western Wayne Schools for 19 years as middle school principal and assistant principal of Lincoln Middle/High School. In 2015, he received the Western Wayne Citizen of the Year Award. Mr. Engle and his wife, Amy, have been married for 33 years and are the parents of Purdue graduates Jake and Katie.
BONITA KLEIN graduated from Manchester College and has been teaching business education for 26 years: 15 years at Lincoln and 11 years at Edinburgh. She is the Business Professionals of America (BPA) sponsor; several of her students have achieved honors at the district, state, and national level. She also has served as senior class sponsor and is currently freshman class sponsor. Mrs. Klein and her husband, Brian, have three children: MacKenzie, Trey, and Bryce.
JOLIE RUSZNAK is the daughter of Jodie and Jason Rusznak. She has been an active participant and leader in the FCA, Eastern Indiana Model Legislature as Speaker of the House, Peer Tutoring, National Honor Society, track and field, Girl Scouts, and S.A.D.D. Jolie has been part of the swimming and diving team for four years, serving as captain this past season. Her years in the concert band and jazz ensemble led her to choose band director Charles Roesch as her I-STAR educator. He encourages Jolie in all aspects of her life, always pushing her to reach her full potential as a musician, athlete, student, and person. Roesch inspires not only Jolie, but all students at CHS to strive for excellence and to chase their dreams with full force. Jolie will attend Indiana State University in the fall, where she will major in nursing and participate on the diving team.
ANTONIO “NICO” WANKERL is the son of Dr. Christopher and Judy Neher. Nico has been involved with varsity football, swimming, and track for four years, as well as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Youth as Resources, Vocal Jazz Choir, National Honor Society, Student Council, Drama Club, and various volunteer roles in the community. He has also attended the Purdue Leadership Camp, The Congress of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, and has interned at Reid Health. Nico has chosen to recognize Shelley Newman for the I-STAR award on account of her constant commitment to educate her students far beyond the traditional coursework. Her class, while challenging, teaches students to be better critics, deeper thinkers, and motivated writers. Nico will always be grateful for the lessons that she has taught him as he enters college at Duke University for aeronautical engineering.
NOLAN WITTE is the son of Paul and Kelly Witte. He is a four-year member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Students Against Destructive Decisions and the tennis and baseball teams, serving as captain for each. Nolan has also been a Peer Helper for two years and serves as president of National Honor Society. He volunteers at the Circle U Help Center, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Centerville Community Fest. He chose Damon Anderson as his I-STAR teacher because he pushes all of his students to excel both inside and outside of the classroom. “Mr. Anderson creates a positive atmosphere each and every day, and serves as a role model to myself and many of his other students.” Nolan is currently undecided on a particular university or a major, but he does have his decision narrowed down to two options: Purdue University, majoring in actuarial science, or Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.
CHARLES ROESCH graduated in 1991 from Rockledge High School in Florida. He received his Bachelor of Music Education in instrumental music from Stetson University and his Master’s of Education from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2008. Roesch has been the band director at Centerville Senior High the past 15 years and is a past I-STAR recipient in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2015, and 2016. He is a member of the Indiana Music Educators Association, Indiana State School Music Association, Indiana Bandmasters Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and serves as vice-president of the Central Indiana Track Show Association. Roesch enjoys teaching valuable life skills through the study of instrumental music. He is committed to fostering the musical, intellectual, and personal growth of every student. Roesch is married to Erin and has two sons: Samuel and Caleb.
DAMON ANDERSON is a 1991 graduate of Lancaster High School in Lancaster, Ohio. He received his Bachelor of Science from Purdue University in mathematics education in 1996, his minor in physics from Ball State University in 1998, and his Masters of Mathematics Education from Ball State University in 2006. Anderson began his teaching career at Centerville Senior High School in 1996 and is a past I-STAR recipient in 2000, 2001, 2006, 2012, and 2017. He was Centerville’s head boy’s golf coach for 5 years, junior high golf coach for 3 years, and has been the head girls’ golf coach since 1999. Mr. Anderson has been the Centerville Education Association’s Chief Negotiator since 2010. He is married to Kathleen and has one son, Benjamin.
SHELLEY NEWMAN is a graduate of Centerville High School. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in secondary English and journalism from Ball State University in 1995 and her teaching certificate from the University of Central Arkansas in 1997. In 2010, she received her Master’s Degree in English from the University of Indianapolis. Newman currently teaches AP Literature and Composition, Honors English, English Composition (Ivy Tech dual credit course), and English 11. She believes “high expectations equal high quality education; students are capable of rising to any challenge or expectation set for them.” She is married to Chris Newman and has two sons, Ryan and Sean, and one step-son, Cody.
KEAYRA HAMBY is the daughter of Brandon Hamby and Tina Lee-Hamby. She lives in New Castle and is a senior at Tri Jr.-Sr. High School. Since seventh grade, she has managed track and been in choir. Keayra has been in National Honor Society for two years and the English and Fine Arts academic teams for two years. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and drawing. She has participated in many community service activities, such as creating a fundraiser for hurricane victims, participating in a walk for a cure for diabetes, and helping her school with concessions and decorating. Keayra plans to attend college to major in psychology and sign language interpretation, hoping one day to apply her knowledge in these areas to help people.
ALYSSA NUZZI is the daughter of James and Paula Nuzzi. She lives in Shirley and is a senior at Tri Jr..-.Sr. High School. Alyssa has played tennis for four years, managed wrestling four years and managed boys’ tennis for a year. She has also been on the debate team for a year, a member of National Honor Society for two years, and in National Scholar of High School Scholars for one year. Her hobbies include staying active in sports, reading, playing piano, and volunteering for community service. Alyssa has also participated in Day of Caring, Spiceland Freedom Days, and volunteering at the hospital. She plans to attend IU Bloomington to major in neuroscience. Alyssa hopes to one day become a neurologist, working with kids who have autism and other mental disabilities.
LUCY STROUD is the daughter of Doug Stroud and Bellina Firth. She lives in Spiceland and is a senior at Tri Jr..-.Sr. High School. Lucy has been in varsity cheerleading for 4 years and is captain this year. She also ran track for 2 years, on the speech team for 4 years and is a 2-year member of National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society and National Society of High School Scholars. Outside of school Lucy works as a CNA at Heritage House of New Castle. She enjoys running, reading and spending time with friends and family. Her community service activities include: Day of Caring, Elementary Cheer Camps, Hurricane Relief, Kids R Golden and blood drives. Lucy plans to attend IU Bloomington to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, hoping to eventually work in surgery.
CAROL KEITH graduated from Ball State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in music and a Master of Arts degree also in music. Since the fall of 1983, she has taught at Tri Jr..-.Sr. High School. Mrs. Keith currently teaches K-5 general music and junior high and high school choir. She was chosen Optimist Teacher of the Year in 1996-1997 and Optimist Employee of the Year in 2006-2007. She is married to Eugene Keith, a commercial machinery consultant; they have 3 daughters.
DUKE FALCK graduated from Ball State University in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in social studies education and completed his Masters in the spring of 1995 with a degree in social sciences. He has taught at Tri Jr..-.Sr. High School since the fall of 1991. Currently, Mr. Falck teaches U.S. History, Geography and History of the World, Advanced U.S. History, and Topics in History and is the high school boys’ varsity tennis coach and the high school varsity co-softball coach. Additionally he has coached the boys and girls varsity golf teams and was the varsity baseball coach. Falck is married to Carrie Falck. They have two children: Kirsten (a freshman at IUPUI) and Kyle (a sophomore at Tri High.)
LAURA CARNES graduated from Indiana University East with a Bachelor of Science in Education in 2005 and a Master’s of Science in Education from IUPUI in 2010. She currently teaches senior and dual credit Speech, English and Composition at Tri. Mrs. Carnes is the Tri High yearbook and newspaper advisor and the middle and high school speech team coach. She is passionate about all things related to language arts and has 13 years of teaching experience. This is her third year teaching at Tri and she enjoys the close, family like environment and the close-knit community support. She is married to Jeremy Carnes; they reside in New Castle with their two daughters and one son.
Some compliments for honored teachers include:
“… constant commitment to educate her students far beyond the traditional coursework,” “… pushing all students to reach their full potential as a musician, athlete, student, and person.”
“… genuine passion and enthusiasm for teaching.”
“… devotion and caring character toward students.”
“… ability to recognize that every student has potential.”
“… inspire students to expect more from their peers, teachers, community and especially themselves.”
“… creates a positive atmosphere each and every day.”