Friday, March 16, 2018

Billie (Grudzien) Hooker - Class of 1998

WELCOME TO BENZIE COUNTY CENTRAL SCHOOLS FEATURED FRIDAY ALUMNI.  Today we would like to recognize Billie (Grudzien) Hooker, Benzie Central alumni class of 1998.
Billie shared that the late Mr. John Gehring was the reason she discovered and became enamored with the Biological Sciences; citing that his strange enthusiasm for life was contagious.  She made mention of her first Biology course at Grand Valley State University being a junior level Genetics course and that she was fully prepared due to the amazing foundation that Mr. Gehring provided.
She too, gave mention of the late Ms. Priscilla Belden as being instrumental in driving her to present herself in a professional manner, and to express herself in the most precise fashion.  She commented that Ms. Belden was a stickler for grammar, and that to this day, she still appreciated her influence in her daily life.
Billie graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor’s degree and has taken graduate courses in Cell/Molecular Biotechnology there as well.
Billie married her high school sweetheart, Jo Hooker, also a fellow 1998 Benzie Central graduate.  Together, they have two children; Ember (8) and Elliot (5) and a dog; an American Eskimo named Weezie.
Billie enjoys swimming, traveling, visiting the Benzie County area (they hope to purchase property in the area again soon), and painting rocks for the Kindness Rocks Project.  She organizes her work’s donation of more than 100 toys/games for needy children each Christmas.
If Billie could give one word of general advice, to students and adults alike, it is this, “I have never been ‘cool’, but I’ve always been happy.  Life will align with your outlook, so stay positive.”
Billie is currently a forensic scientist with the Michigan State Police in the Biology/DNA unit.  She is an expert in biological fluid identification and DNA analysis.  She processes evidence that is associated with a crime and assists law enforcement agencies across the state with their investigations.  Billie has qualified as an expert in her field, and has testified in court as such on 50 plus different occasions in many Michigan counties.  Billie was instrumental in developing Michigan’s sexual assault kit screening procedure.  She has also taught several courses in evidence collection and preservation, provided training for law enforcement agencies, attorneys, sexual assault nurse examiners, evidence technicians and students both in college and in high school.  Billie added to her accolades, as she is also a member of the Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists. 
Billie was also kind enough to lend some career advice.  “When you are thinking of breaking into a field, whether it be a trade or specific degree program, make sure you take a look at current job listings.  They will lay out what qualifications you are expected to have before you are able to apply for that position.  It may not always be what you expect.”
Billie, contrary, we think you ARE #OneBENZIE cool.  What an amazing path you’ve chose and we are proud and thankful for your expertise.  Continued success to you and your family always. 
Yes, you guessed it…Mrs. Crossman says like, love and share!

Billie Hooker
Forensic Scientist
Forensic Science Division
Michigan State Police        

Friday, March 9, 2018

Kristi (Sneary) Bush - Class of 1990

WELCOME TO BENZIE COUNTY CENTRAL SCHOOLS FEATURED FRIDAY ALUMNI.  Today, we would like to recognize class of 1990 graduate, Kristi (Sneary) Bush.
Kristi moved to Benzie County in the fall of 1987. She had attended a small Baptist Academy before then, so Benzie felt HUGE! Right away, Kristi was eager to get involved and meet other people, so she joined cheerleading. This would become Kristi's favorite activity at Benzie, and she cheered for football and basketball all four years. During her high school years, Kristi also played Powder Puff football, took baseball stats, was class Vice President for two years and class President for one year, was a member of National Honor Society for two years and NHS Vice President for one year, was a member of Business Professionals of America, and was active with Float, Prom and Senior Trip Committees. Kristi also participated in the Business Office Technology program and earned the Outstanding Regional Technical Education Student in 1990.  If there was something going on at school, Kristi wanted to be there! 

Kristi also worked a number of jobs during her high school and college years at the following local businesses: Birch Tree Inn, Dairy Dream, The Game Room, The Hungry Tummy (Beulah and Frankfort), the City of Frankfort City Clerk's office, Crystal Mountain and Crystal Downs. 

When asked about some of her favorite high school memories, Kristi mentioned biology with Mr. Gehring ("J.G."), working the candy counter at lunch, pep assemblies, dances, and attending sporting events (especially football games). She was also honored to serve as the 1989 Homecoming Queen and the 1989 National Salmon Festival Queen. Her favorite memory, however, was the Senior Trip to Florida and The Bahamas. Kristi graduated 6th in her class in 1990 and attended Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI. There, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education with an English major (thank you, Mr. Kik!) and a biology minor in 1994. 

In the fall of 1994, Kristi took a job teaching high school English in Shepherd, MI. She also coached cheerleading for two years and worked with the Pep Club and Student Improvement Team for several years. In 1995, Kristi met fellow teacher Doug Bush, and they were married in 1996. Their first child, Alex, was born in 1998, and their second child, Adrianna, was born in 2000. In 2001, Kristi earned a Masters Degree in Library Science and Media Technology. She also began an exciting career in online education with Michigan Virtual School at this time. With them, Kristi developed and taught online classes, trained incoming teachers and mentored local students at Shepherd High School who were enrolled in online classes. In 2006, Kristi went from teaching high school English to serving as the Shepherd Public Schools District Media Specialist. In 2014, Kristi returned to her true passion--teaching in the classroom. She currently teaches middles school computers and English Language Arts at Shepherd Middle School. 

Outside of work, Kristi is happiest when she is traveling with her family. She has visited 48 states and 28 countries and islands. Benzie County is second only to the Caribbean in her favorite places to be! She and her husband currently own a small cabin not far from Crystal Mountain. She says there is no place like Benzie County and Crystal Lake in the summertime and has a tradition of spending every 4th of July with her parents who now live in Frankfort. 

Kristi is currently looking forward to her daughter's high school graduation this year, a family cruise this summer, and her son Alex's wedding in 2019. 

Kristi says that Benzie Central High School provided a variety of opportunities that opened the doors for many exciting life adventures and a meaningful, fulfilling career. She is grateful to all of her teachers, coaches, administrators and friends for four unforgettable years at BCHS! She encourages current and future students to take advantage of all that their high school years have to offer and to appreciate living in one of the most beautiful places in the world! According to Kristi, "Every direction that you turn, there is beauty... beautiful water, sandy beaches, rolling hills, and unspoiled forests. Plus, in a smaller school, you can be involved in a variety of activities that will prepare you to embrace the many options that life has to offer. Never take any of that for granted!"
Kristi...we are in fact #OneBENZIE proud of all of your accomplishments.  We wish continued success to you and your family.  You know how Mrs. Crossman, love and share!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Rachael Waterson Duncan Pharm.D - Class of 2005

Today, we would like to recognize, Class of 2005 alumni, Rachael Waterson Duncan, Pharm.D. Rachael graduated from Benzie Central High School in 2005. With her father, Mr. Waterson, as her favorite high school chemistry teacher leading her to an interest in the sciences, she thought that pharmacy might be a good fit. She attended Ohio Northern University where she graduated in 2011 with a Doctorate of Pharmacy. Following graduation, she completed a PGY1 residency in Pharmacy Practice and PGY2 residency in Adult Critical Care at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC. There, she met her now husband Charlie, who is also in the medical field. After residency training, she moved to Colorado where she still resides in Denver.
Rachael currently works as a Clinical Pharmacist in the Emergency Department and Critical Care Unit at Swedish Medical Center, a Level 1 Trauma Center in the Denver metro area. At Swedish she has led several initiatives to advance patient care, most recently reduction of the use of opioids in the Emergency Department. She was also instrumental in writing the recently published "Colorado American College of Emergency Physicians 2017 Opioid Prescribing & Treatment Guidelines" and led efforts in the multi-center statewide Colorado Opioid Safety Pilot, which showed that implementation of the guidelines led to a 36% decrease in opioid use in Colorado Emergency Departments. Outside of work, she chairs a nonprofit organization called Emergency Medical Minute, which provides free online medical education and holds quarterly live educational events.…
In her free time, she enjoys mountain biking, rock climbing, and traveling in the camper van with her husband and 2 adorable puppies. Advice that Rachael would give to the next generation of Benzie graduates, "Dream big - there are no limits to what you can accomplish. Go after the next opportunity and make it into your passion - don't wait for your dream to find you." She also echoes that growing up in Benzie County was an incredible opportunity to be part of a close knit community; ties that she still maintains and values today. "Benzie County and Benzie Central High School made me into the woman I am today - THANK YOU!"
Rachael...we could not be more #OneBENZIE proud of your accomplishments, the rewarding work you do each day, and the difference you are making in the lives of many. You absolutely can bank on how Mrs. Crossman feels...continue to like, love and share our amazing alumni as we continue to support all of their ongoing endeavors.


Welcome to the

 Benzie County Central Schools 

Weekly Featured Alumni Blog 



District wide, there are a lot of great things going on...
However, what happens once our alumni leave the nest?
It's simple..they're doing amazing things and we are striving to share the news with you.

Starting Friday, March 9th..our Featured Friday Alumni will come to you in the form of a blog;  your Weekly Featured Alumni Blog.

Our staff, students, parents, friends, and community members have been very receptive to this alumni addition and are waiting in anticipation for...who's next?

Sit back and enjoy and let this be yet just another reason you look forward to Friday's.

Have a great weekend, and of course...GO HUSKIES! 

Catina Crossman

Friday, February 23, 2018

Adam Herringa - Class of 1994

WELCOME TO BENZIE COUNTY CENTRAL SCHOOLS FEATURED FRIDAY ALUMNI. Today, we would like to recognize class of 1994 Alumni, Adam Herringa.

Adam grew up in the village of Lake Ann and spent countless hours roaming the outdoors around his home and many summers as a teenager hauling canoes at Riverside Canoe Livery. As a student at Benzie Central Adam, participated in numerous activities such as Cross Country, Track and Field, Student Council, National Honor Society, Theater, Band and one ill-advised year of Freshman Football. Following his graduation in 1994, Adam attended James Madison College at Michigan State University where, having always been interested in government, he studied political theory and became active in student government, led a student ambassador program, was a member of the MSU Athletic Council alongside professors and coaches, and received the Outstanding Senior Award. While at MSU, Adam met his future wife, Rebecca Clore.

Not ready to give up on formal education, Adam pursued a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at American University in Washington, DC. He and his future wife moved to Washington, DC, in 1998 and found a place to live right on Capitol Hill.

Following graduation, Adam was selected to be part of the first ever “Capital City Fellows” program which is a program developed by the City of Washington, DC, to expose young professionals to a variety of disciplines involved in operating a City as large and complex as the nation’s capital. During the fellowship, Adam worked for the Office of the City Administrator, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Department of Transportation and, eventually, accepted a job offer from the Department of Public Works to serve as the department’s analyst.

Living and working in Washington, DC, was a tremendous experience but as time went on, both Adam and his wife began hearing the call to move back to Michigan. In 2004, Rebecca moved back to Michigan and Adam, despite not having a job, shortly followed. Fortunately, unemployment did not last long and Adam was hired as the Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Portage, MI. Adam served in this role for a short time before being promoted to Deputy City Clerk and then to City Clerk, the position he currently holds. Although technically the City Clerk, Adam fills a variety of roles for the City of Portage such as serving as a mentor to youth in the community, leading customer service enhancement efforts, assisting in employee wellness programs and staffing the emergency operations center.

While he enjoys his profession, Adam values balancing family, fun, service and work. A belief that life should not be lived nor valued based on job alone, Adam volunteers in his community and is currently the Chairperson of the Kalamazoo County Substance Abuse Task Force, has been active in his church and, most recently, became a certified Master Gardener and volunteers at a local community garden. Health and wellness is also important, at least that’s what he tells himself when the alarm goes off way too early in the morning and he heads out to Crossfit AZO! Time for himself matters as well. Going on an annual guys-only backpacking adventure, playing rec league softball or simply having lunch with friends has helped Adam to recharge and maintain the balance he seeks.

Most important to Adam, is being a husband and father. Teaching, mentoring, guiding and caring for his two daughters, Madeline (age 11) and Lillian (age 8) has brought Adam much joy and, yes, the best kind of challenges! Whether coaching girls’ softball, taking the family to visit his mom in Lake Ann, playing with princesses, preparing a meal, looking at the stars or going on a hike, he strives to enjoy all of these moments with his wife and daughters.

Adam believes that Benzie Central is truly a special place and community. The fabric of the community is strong, teachers are passionate about what they do, and no matter how far you may wander you are always welcome back.

Adam, we could not be more #OneBENZIE proud. Thank you for sharing your journey thus far and continued success and happiness for you and your family. You guessed it, you know how Mrs. Crossman feels, like, love and share!


Friday, February 16, 2018

Michael Bair - Class of 1992

WELCOME TO BENZIE COUNTY CENTRAL SCHOOLS FEATURED FRIDAY ALUMNI. Today we would like to recognize, Class of 1992 alumni, Michael Bair.
Michael lived in Benzie County his entire childhood, attending Crystal Lake Elementary and then Benzie High School as part of the class of ’92. He was lucky enough to have a friend recruit him for Saturday football in 5th grade; he had teachers who pushed him ahead in math; and he had parents who thought his love of Legos would mean he’d like engineering. They were right! BCHS offered so much – Mr. John Gehring’s biology, especially those weekend trainings they did with recombinant DNA technology, were unheard of at the time in high schools, and Mr. Will Lynch’s Calculus and Physics, well, Michael feels he really couldn’t have been better trained for those AP tests and jumping off to college. He states, “I owe an incredible debt of gratitude to my teachers (not to mention the administrators). How did they put up with us? I remember during the ‘great days in physics’ competitions, my team’s goal was to either win or cause as much chaos as possible – or, if possible, do both. So many great memories – friends, sports, student council, NHS, Key Club.”
By the time Michael left Benzie, he felt like he had been taught to think for myself and to speak up. When he interviewed for NAVY ROTC, after a group interview with 5 other candidates, the recruiter pulled him aside and said the entire interview had been about assessing leadership. They gave him a scholarship, and he received one from the Air Force as well, but in the end he didn’t take either thinking (hoping?) that maybe he could pay for college on my own.
He went to the University of Michigan for Electrical Engineering. When he left Benzie, he had no idea if he was a liberal or conservative or really what any of that meant. During orientation he remembers being in an exercise with other students when they were asked questions such as “if you went to a party where you didn’t know anyone and everyone there was a different color/race, would you be ‘comfortable’ or ‘uncomfortable’, and vote by where you stand in the room”. And there he was, the only person who was close to the ‘uncomfortable’ wall when every other student was crammed as close to the comfortable wall as they could get, and the leaders were looking at him like he was crazy. They asked him why he would be uncomfortable and he looked at all those other students and said “you go to a party where you know nobody at all and you are perfectly comfortable?” It was an early example of splitting from the group and questioning consensus that has since served him well in his life and career.
Those first college calculus, physics, chemistry, and biology classes were hard, and yet Michael remembers thinking that he had been pretty well prepared for it. And all those study sessions he had in high school made the transition to group projects in engineering much easier than it could have been. There were times when he didn’t think he’d make it, like when he had to take a second job during his sophomore year because he simply didn’t have the money to eat (so he worked at a campus restaurant… problem solved!). Then there were times, like taking his first computer engineering class, when a bell went off in his head and he realized ‘this is what I was meant to do’. That’s a great feeling.
In his 3rd year he was interviewing for an internship with Nortel in Raleigh, NC, with about 100 other students vying for 30-40 jobs. He remembers getting so tired near the end of the day that his outspokenness showed through again. Talking to an interviewer that he particularly liked, he pointed around to the other students interviewing elsewhere around the room and said “look, I don’t know most of what you are talking about, but the truth is, neither do the rest of these guys either regardless of how they try to impress you. I guarantee you though I can learn faster than they can”. Michael got that job and spent 8 months down there working on speech-activated dialing. The job was a blast, North Carolina was a blast. Good times.
Later in college he interned with Motorola in Phoenix, AZ. Again, the city was awesome, the job was fun, but mainly he learned something new about himself: He loved the outdoors –hiking in the desert, mountain climbing, etc. Funny that he had to go 2000 miles away to learn that!
Michael graduated Summa Cum Laude in Electrical Engineering, and was all set to go get a master’s degree when he made a completely random and life changing decision. He had interviewed with a number of companies – tech was hiring like crazy then – so he got to fly all over the country to visit them. He wasn’t really interested in taking an immediate job, but he did want to find out about them and see how he could do. But one of them stuck in his head – an interview with a team in Oregon that worked for Intel. They were building CPUs, and in fact were the team that had just put out the ‘Pentium Pro’, the big microprocessor on the market back then. There was something about the team, and something about the setting of Portland – big city sitting right by the mountains, thick with forests, and near the ocean, that had him hooked. Michael decided to drop getting the master’s degree and dive in to work. He didn’t realize it until later, but his start time couldn’t have been more perfect – He got in on the early days of a big new project and was able to make a name for himself early on. The project resulted in the Pentium 4.
He also spent those first few years hiking and climbing mountains in the Northwest, Alaska, Patagonia, and New Zealand. He got to see a lot of good territory, but as much as he loved it, he had to ease back on the heavy climbing due to consistently getting bad elevation sickness. The stuff he saw though… geez. A storm coming off Denali and pummeling them in their camp on Muldrow Glacier in Alaska. Standing on the edge of the southern ice cap in Patagonia as the wind picked up stones off the nearby ground and hurled them at them. Helping a couple hikers who got hurt in Argentina hike out of the wilderness after a bad storm, and almost losing them in a river crossing that went bad. Diving into a glacial lake. Those things stick with him!
Michael met Sue briefly at U of M and then they re-met in Oregon. Their first date was a friend’s party, their second date was a week-long hiking trip in Glacier MT with a bunch of friends. They got married in ’99 back in Ann Arbor. They bought a fixer-upper on 6 acres out in the foothills of Oregon’s coastal mountains and spent years and years rebuilding it. Come to think of it, he says….we still are! They have 4 kids now: Sabina (13), Max (10), Nate (8), and Alistair (5). Michael love teaching them – Sue and Michael joke that sometimes she’s the bad cop and he’s the mean cop, and sometimes their roles reverse… but there is never a ‘good’ cop!
He’s done a bit of volunteering in the community including a 15-year stint helping young children to read as part of Oregon’s SMART program. Sue helps run the soccer program in their town and he has coached youth soccer and baseball, which is pretty funny since he says he knew exactly zero about either. At work, alongside his day job of developing microprocessors, he teaches leadership classes and mentor engineers around the globe. Along with all of that, he still gets to play ice hockey weekly, a passion of his for years and years. Michael says, “I have a lot to be thankful for.”
Michel looks back fondly at his time in high school. A piece of advice Michael would like to share, is this..”Most of the important decisions that will have the biggest effect on your life are made while you are ages 13-17 – you make a lot of choices about your priorities, where you are going to put effort, what type of friends you want to have, and how you are going to conduct your life. Do whatever you can to keep as many doors open as possible!”
Michael extends his heartfelt thanks to the BC schools staff, then and now!

Wow, wow, wow Michael….we are in fact #OneBENZIE proud. Thank you for sharing your amazing journey thus. Best wishes to you and your family, always. Yep, you guessed it. Mrs. Crossman says, like, love and share this!