Gerry Keesling’s voice was full of emotion as he helped honor four of Northeastern High School’s fall sports teams at the Nov. 29 school board meeting.

“I’ve been involved in athletics for 42 years,” Keesling said, with an audible tremor. “It’s not often that you have a group like this year.”

He called forward coaches for the boys tennis team, volleyball team, cross country teams and cheer squad and had them introduce team members and talk about their seasons.

As he introduced tennis coach Matt Haynes, he noted that the team had no coach until just before the season. He called Haynes, a former coach who was vacationing, and asked if he would take the team. Haynes agreed and, 58 days later, the team won a sectional championship.

“There was so much talent on that team,” Haynes said. “They just needed focus.”

Players included Carson Abney, Aiden Brinker, Connor Burk, Hayden Chalfant, Brady Geis, Peter Hicks, Canyon Johnting, Elijah Pearson, Greyson Pennington, Landon Scarrette, Matthew Truitt, John Wallace and Kaiden White.

The cheer squad, coached by Chelsea Wine, placed third at the state contest in only the second time competing there. Squad members included Alaina Moore, Addison Pennington-Louiza, Leah Nicholson, Delanee Goodwin, Karlee Haager, Payton Gross, Brailey Day, Joslyn Brown, Eden Quinn, Aubrie Irvine, Kinzi Gibbons, Chloe Abney-Brotz, Mylee Kelsey, Gracie York and Claire Larsh.

The varsity volleyball team won the TEC and sectional championships. Coached by Matt Fisher and volunteer assistant Sydni Retter, team members were Emma Neeley, Addyson Kircher, Adi Bry, Lilly Null, Olivia Null, Kate Benjamin, Emma Bledsoe-Ryan, Gracie Summers, Izzy Markward, Addisen Mastriano, Reese Dumford, Adylan Capps and Grace Stockton.

The boys cross country team coached by Tyler Hostetler and assistant Erick Noland won the TEC title for the fourth consecutive year. Boys who qualified for regionals included Brandt Benjamin, Lucas Chamness, Nolan Drake, Dalton Justice, Nic Markward, Bryston McFarland and Logan Smith. Other members of the team included Kaiden Castillo, Cooper Cline, Zach Kiracofe, Teddy Nelson and Kobe Williams. Of the five girls coached by Megan Moreland in cross country, two — Gracie Green and Heather Crull — qualified for regionals.

Superintendent Matthew Hicks said he remembered Keesling saying during his employment interview that his goal would be to bring the TEC full year all-sports championship to Northeastern. He’s off to a good start this year, Hicks noted. Keesling plans to retire at the end of the current school year.

The board also honored students of the month: Payton Huskisson, Early Learning Center; Grayden Powell,; Northeastern Elementary School; Blake Hardy and Vance Hardy, Northeastern Middle School; and Cam Fetta, Northeastern High School. 

In business during the meeting, Hicks received the board’s approval to apply for a grant to pay for most of two more electric school buses. In 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded Northeastern a $2.37 million grant to buy six electric buses. Delivery of the first is expected in about a month. A second round of the Clean School Bus grant program will accept applications in early 2024. If Northeastern gets two more buses, half their fleet will be electric.

Hicks also announced that enough donations have been received to cover the cost for restoring the Knight mural on the high school gym wall.

He also announced that Williamsburg Lions Club has donated another $1,000 to the schools and Turner and Shepherd Insurance of Centerville donated $500 to pay for renting a facility for the Winterfest dance. The Richmond-Indiana chapter, National Daughters of the American Revolution, presented “A Time to Honor,” a book of veterans’ stories of the Vietnam conflict, to the NHS library.

The board approved the following personnel changes.

Extracurricular assignments: Kimberly Miller, NHS assistant band director, NMS band director; Geneva Price, NMS choral director; Nancy Munoz, NMS GSA; Meghan Scales and Carrie Mitchell, NMS student council; Brittani Reno, NMS yearbook; Kelli Kircher, NMS Robotics Club; Mark Bevins, NMS Spell Bowl; Al Avery, Mark Bevins, Andrea Cole, Sara Williams, NMS Academic coaches; Geneva Price, NMS/NHS Bible as Literature Club; Meghan Scales, NMS Jr. Honor Society; Megan Scales, NMS Academic coach; Matt Haynes, NHS girls tennis; Drew Noland, NHS girls tennis volunteer coach.

Position changes: Kaelyn Prater, from full-time to part-time special ed teaching assistant; Andrea Cole, from math Academic coach to Drama Club coach.

Hires: Shayla Barley, NMS full-time special ed teaching assistant; Hannah Cole, NES full-time sub and bus; Tashia Clark, NMS part-time teaching assistant; Kylie Morningstar, NELC part-time teaching assistant.

Departures: Brenda Hollinger, custodian (retirement); Ashley Creech, NHS permanent sub; Tashia Clark, NMS part-time teaching assistant.

The school board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20, in the student services building, 7295 N. U.S. 27, Fountain City. The public may attend.

DAR gives school a book

Daughters of the American Revolution Richmond, Indiana chapter presented a book, “A Time to Honor,” to Northeastern High School on Nov. 29.

It is a 50th anniversary collection of stories of Vietnam veterans published by the DAR. Presenting the book to Northeastern High School Principal John Markward, left, is Nora Hammond, the chapter’s recording secretary. Photo by Bob Hansen

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A version of this article appeared in the December 6 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Bob Hansen is a reporter for the Western Wayne News.