Lincoln, Centerville, Hagerstown schools part of program

A few high-achieving seniors from several area high schools — and an educator of their choice — are honored each spring. 

The Indiana Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition program recognizes students and teachers for excellence, integrity and commitment.

This year’s ISTAR banquet took place March 8 at Connersville High School. 

And, in an unusual occurrence, two of one school’s three featured seniors happen to be siblings. Twins Ben and Anna Schweitzer are both being recognized for Centerville Senior High School. 

However, they are not the first twins to both be recognized. For instance, Centerville’s Matt and Brett Stoughton both won in 2013.

Centerville, Lincoln and Hagerstown participate in ISTAR, as well as Tri, Connersville, Union County, Franklin County and Rushville. 

Here are highlights from the biographies received for each honoree.

Lincoln students

Zach Bates’ parents are Mark and Lisa Bates. His activities include Business Professionals of America (four-time state and two-time national qualifier), archery, baseball, student government, National Honor Society and LHS’ first robotics team. He also has held two jobs during high school, one as a server and the other as a tech intern at LHS’ technology department.

Mallory Burns’ parents are Tashua Cole and Travis Burns. She is involved in volleyball, softball, Business Professionals of America, Future Farmers of America (treasurer), National Honor Society and a manager for Lincoln Golden Eagle Industries. During FFA, she has competed in quiz bowl, parliamentary procedures, dairy judging and district volleyball. Burns has qualified for BPA’s state and national leadership conference the past two years.

Gavin Newton’s parents are Clint and Beth Newton. His activities include cross country and track, student government, Business Professionals of America, National Honor Society and National Technical Honors Society. Newton attends Whitewater Career Center’s graphic design program. His business, Running’s Racing Designs LLC, specializes in motor sports design for real race cars, logos, 3D renders, photography and other products. For 2023, RRD designs will run on a large group of cars in all 3 ARCA Menards Series (East, West, Main) and a Craftsman Truck series vehicle. Gavin plans to attend Ball State University for Graphic Arts Management.

Lincoln teachers

Beth Bowman has been the choir director at LMHS for 21 years and is a graduate of Georgetown College. She enjoys choral conducting, directing the LHS Drama Club, playing the piano, conducting the community choir, and working all types of puzzles. Bowman is a former ISTAR recipient. 

Greg Seidner has taught physics and biology at Lincoln for the last 35 years. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degree from Ball State University. Seidner has also coached the varsity volleyball team at Lincoln High School for the past 33 years. Seidner enjoys going to church and life group with his family.

Ron Puckett is in his second year of teaching business at LHS, his alma mater, and also has been the boys and girls varsity cross country coach for 16 years. Puckett previously worked for 23 years in various roles within business and industry. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Indiana. 

Centerville students

Ben Schweitzer is the son of Steven and Jill Schweitzer. He has been involved in choirs, dance, theater, Eastern Indiana Model Legislature, Student Government, National Honor Society, French Club, Cedar Grove Church of the Brethren and ISSMA Vocal Solo and Ensemble Contest. Schweitzer has worked as a server at Friends Fellowship Community and volunteered as a teacher’s aide. He plans to study law and public policy at IU Bloomington, then attend law school before pursuing a career in government.

Anna Schweitzer was home-schooled until coming to Centerville Schools in seventh grade. She has participated in jazz choir, Solo and Ensemble Contest, All-State Honor Choir, soccer, Model Legislature, Student Government, Drama Club, National Honor Society, dance, and Richmond Civic Theatre. She is taking a gap year to volunteer with Brethren Volunteer Service in an underserved U.S. community and then pursue athletic training at IU Bloomington.

Drake Shadle is the son of Laurie and Austin Shadle. He has played soccer and served as team captain. Other activities include Boy Scouts, FCA, academic team, National Honor Society, Model Legislature, band, chess club, church and youth group. He currently interns at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and is working on his Eagle Scout project. He plans to attend Purdue University to study political science, aiming to become an attorney.

Centerville teachers

Kathleen Anderson has directed junior high and senior high choirs at Centerville-Abington Schools for 29 years, where she also has taught piano, electronic music, theory, appreciation and general music. Extracurricular duties include coaching students for vocal solo and ensemble contests, Circle the State with Song festivals, honor and all-state choirs, and directing vocal music for musicals. She serves as pianist, vocalist and bell choir director at Richmond’s First Presbyterian Church. She earned a bachelor’s degree in choral music education at Manchester University.

Matt Osborne graduated from Winchester High School (1988), and earned a bachelor’s degree (biology, 1992) and master’s degree (education, 1994) from Ball State University. He began teaching in 1994 and joined Centerville in 1996. He teaches biology, environmental science, anatomy and physiology. Osborne was Centerville’s Teacher of the Year in 2002. He coached track for 20 years, and retired from coaching in 2013. He was named Ball State’s Track Coach of the Year in 2004.

Roderic Rinehart graduated from Hagerstown in 1995. After studying computer engineering at Purdue University for one year, he graduated from Indiana University (Bloomington) with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a high school teaching license in U.S. history, world history, psychology and sociology. He earned an elementary license from IU East in 2010 and a gifted teaching endorsement from Ball State in 2012. He has taught at Centerville-Abington Elementary since 2011. Extracurricular activities include science fair coordinator, Spell Bowl coach, and Fitness Club co-director. 

Hagerstown student

Note: Hagerstown is represented by one student this year.

Delaney Oliger is the daughter of Chris and Amy Oliger. She is a four-sport athlete, participating in cross country, basketball, cheerleading, and track and field. She has been a part of FFA, National Honors Society, Student Government Association, Prevention Using Student Help Club, and 4-H. She has been Academic All-Conference all four years and has won multiple trophies within her sports.

Hagerstown educator

Julie Drake has been teaching math for 42 years. She attended Shelbyville High School and Ball State University, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education with junior high math endorsement. Drake has been a former varsity volleyball coach, cheer coach, eighth grade class sponsor, and part of Nettle Creek Classroom Teachers Association. 

Tri students

Annabelle Searcy is the daughter of Erik and Rhonda Searcy. She lives in Lewisville and is a senior at Tri Junior-Senior High School. She has played basketball for the past four years, and has been a captain of the team for two years. She has run and thrown in track for four years. Annabelle also played volleyball for two years and managed football for two years. She is the president of TASC and has been a member for five years. Annabelle is a two year member and the current Reporter of Tri’s FFA Chapter. She has also participated in Business Professionals of America for three years, VOICE for four years, and National Honor Society for three years. Her hobbies include reading, painting, going for runs, and spending time with friends and family. Annabelle plans to attend the University of Missouri to obtain a master’s in agriculture education and a minor in plant science. She hopes to teach in a small rural school to benefit their agriculture program and become an influential FFA adviser.

Kinadee Flynn is the daughter of Jeremy and Rebecca Flynn. She lives in New Castle and is a senior at Tri Junior-Senior High School. She has tried cheerleading, drama club, swimming, track and cross country. She took an American Sign Language class for three years and has been in the National Honor Society for two years. She also has attended New Castle Career Center in the education program for two years. She is the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter president and an ambassador for her class. She is currently enrolled in early college at Ivy Tech. She is an A honor roll student. Her hobbies include spending time with friends and family, trying new things, traveling and engaging with young children. She plans on attending the University of Alabama for a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education while working as a teacher’s aide. She hopes to make an impact on the children she works with as well as the school.

Stella Houchins is the daughter of Mark and Stephanie Houchins. She lives in Spiceland and is a senior at Tri Junior-Senior High School. She has been involved in FFA for three years, serving as both chapter president and district officer. She is also president of her school’s National Honor Society chapter. She has participated in Business Professionals of America for two years, student government for one year, VOICE for four years, and varsity track for three years. She is honored to be first in her class and the recipient of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship for Henry County. She stays active in her community by attending her church, regularly volunteering at her local humane society and tutoring elementary students. She enjoys reading, taking walks with her dog and spending time with her family. Stella will attend Purdue University to major in animal science with a concentration in pre-vet. She then plans to attend veterinary school and provide large and small animal veterinary services to her community.

Tri educators

Justin Kuhn was born in Virginia and grew up in a military family. His family settled in Indiana in 2004, a year before his father’s retirement from the U.S. Navy. Justin graduated from New Palestine High School in 2010 and went on to graduate from Indiana University in 2014. He earned his master’s in social studies education through WGU in 2019. Tri High is the first school at which Mr. Kuhn has taught, and he is currently in his fourth year as a Titan. Mr. Kuhn teaches world history, government, economics, sociology, and advanced government. He is Tri High’s social studies department chair, senior class sponsor, and is the first-year coach of the high school social studies academic team. Justin is married to his beautiful bride of 5 years, Kylie, and they have two sons: Desmond, who is 2, and Andrew, who is 7 months old. When he’s not teaching, Mr. Kuhn enjoys reading, video games, playing with his children and watching Arsenal compete in England’s Premier League.

Originally from Frankton, Indiana, Lisa Hansen grew up on her family’s farm in rural Madison County. She is a graduate of Ball State University with a degree in elementary education and minor in reading instruction. Hansen has taught for 32 years with the first five at Centerville-Abington Schools before coming to the South Henry School Corporation, where she has taught since 1995. Hansen started at South Henry as the Title 1 Reading Coordinator & Teacher and later moved to become a first grade classroom teacher. She has remained at Tri Elementary for the last 22 years. In 2019, Hansen completed training at the Indiana Dyslexia Institute to become a certified dyslexia instructor. She currently serves as the dyslexia specialist at South Henry School Corporation. Hansen is married to her husband, Chris, and together they will celebrate their 30th anniversary this March. They reside in Greenfield with their son. Mrs. Hansen enjoys reading, especially at the beach, eating out, spending time with family and watching Colts football.

Carlee Pickering is a 2014 graduate from Purdue University with a degree in Agriculture Education and began teaching at Oak Hill High School. After moving to Henry County, she began teaching at Union County High School for 3 years prior to joining South Henry. During her time as an agriculture educator, she has served many professional roles; she was a district director for Indiana Agriculture Educators Association and has served as an administrator for a social media platform helping over 11,000 agriculture teachers. She serves as a teacher ambassador for the National FFA Organization and is now one of eight mentor ambassadors nationwide. She has been active in our Classroom Teachers Association and serves as the chief negotiator for teachers; she is the adviser for the Tri High FFA chapter, which consists of 45 members and is driven to provide experiences that are student led. Carlee and her husband, David, recently welcomed their daughter, Sutton, and reside in Henry County where they operate their family farm and enjoy their summers rodeoing.

Connersville students

Lily Burroughs is the daughter of Travis and Sarah Burroughs. She serves as the president of National Honor Society and French Club. She is also a member of the French Honor Society, the fine arts academic team, the social studies academic team, and the CHS Today broadcast team. Lily is a member of Early College High School, completing her associate degree in accounting with over eighty college credits. She was also selected as a Lilly Scholarship finalist. Outside of school, Lily is employed as a keyholder at Label Shopper. She enjoys volunteering with various community endeavors such as LifeStream, Gleaners, the Salvation Army and the Whitewater Valley Railroad. She has a planned summer internship at Kemper’s CPA Group in order to begin her career in the business world. Lily plans to attend Indiana State University to pursue a degree in accounting, hoping to become a licensed CPA.

Kerstin Ellis is the daughter of Dennis and Adena Ellis. She has played volleyball for four years, tennis for four years, basketball for two years and bowling for two years. She has been awarded Academic All-Conference in five athletic seasons, Spartan Scholar Athlete for three years, Academic All-State Gold Award, and All-Conference Player in volleyball last fall. She is a member of Early College High School, National Honor Society, and National Technical Honor Society. She volunteers at local church events and Connersville Parks Department holiday events. She enjoys coaching and encouraging aspiring athletes. She is currently employed by the Sportsman Store and Trophy Shop. She will be attending Indiana University East to continue her tennis career and major in biology.

Eden Judd is the daughter of Rob and Carolyn Judd. She will complete her Liberal Arts pathway through Early College High School. She has been a member of the varsity girls soccer team for four years while serving as captain for one year. She has also participated in Spartanettes and Class Council for four years, choir for four years, and National Honor Society for two years. Eden was also selected as a Lilly Scholarship finalist this past semester. Outside of school, she actively participates in Girl Scouts and her youth group at Alquina Church. This fall, Eden will be attending an IU campus to study human life sciences with plans to become an occupational therapist.

Connersville educators

Paula Shouse began her teaching career while involved in a graduate program that culminated in teaching a section of elementary composition on the IU East campus; after one day as an instructor, she knew teaching would offer her a satisfying and challenging career. After earning an Indiana University BA in English and completing the Professional Experience Program that revealed her definite desire to dedicate her professional life to teaching and learning, she earned an MAT from Earlham College. She has served at CHS for 15 years as an English teacher. She teaches English 9, Creative Writing, and W:131 Reading, Writing and Inquiry through IU as an ECHS dual-credit adjunct instructor and serves as an adviser to the ECHS freshman cohort and English department co-chair. Mrs. Shouse resides in Richmond with her husband, Ted. They are blessed with two children, Cody and Chelsea, a daughter-in-law, Misti, and two precious granddaughters, Ember and Elora.

Janice Rose is a retired elementary teacher from Fayette County School Corporation. She was blessed to have served her entire teaching career of 33 and a half years at Everton Elementary School. She received both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Ball State University. During her years at Everton, she taught students at various grade levels starting in sixth grade and ending her career in kindergarten. While teaching, Rose was known for assisting many children in various ways, such as taking kids for haircuts, after-school tutoring sessions, providing transportation for school carnivals and school programs, taking great field trips, Christmas caroling, and end of year programs. Rose has a daughter, Chelsea Lee. She now also has two grandchildren, Savannah and Paxton, whom she enjoys immensely. She loves spending time with family and friends, traveling, playing games and helping others. Receiving this recognition from her former student, Kerstin, is one of her most honored achievements and she is very humbled.

Anita George came to Connersville to teach at Temple Christian School after graduating from Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. She met her husband, Mark, while teaching there. While raising their four children, Katie, Adam, Jacob, and Joel, she took some time off from teaching at school and focused on preparing their children for school. She worked as an instructional assistant at Maplewood Elementary School while her children attended there. Then she returned to Christian education for the next sixteen years teaching at Temple Christian, Victory Christian, and Faith Christian. After retiring in 2017, she has continued working with children tutoring and volunteering. She also volunteers at a local food pantry and helps serve meals at the Salvation Army. Some of her other interests are reading, sewing and Bible study. Anita and Mark, a retired Fayette County teacher, enjoy visiting their children and 10 grandchildren.

ISTAR teachers with local connections

Some of this year’s ISTAR teachers earned college degrees in Wayne County, previously taught in local schools, or grew up in surrounding communities.

Connersville’s Paula Shouse lives in Richmond and earned her Master of Arts in teaching from Earlham College.

Union County’s Daniel Taylor graduated from IU East, and Franklin County’s Cindy Andrews graduated from Randolph Southern High School and IU East.

Tri’s Lisa Hansen previously taught at Centerville-Abington.

Share this:

A version of this article appeared in the March 15 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.