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January 2024

George Ayoub

Class of 1968
Alumni Liaison

Volume 9 | Number 1

Welcome to Rise, the voice of Grand Island Senior High alumni and friends. We show up every other month in over 9,000 in-boxes bringing you news, views, and memories of GISH. Rise is a publication of the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation.

This is Issue #1 of our ninth year of publishing the only consistent connection for alumni and friends of Grand Island Senior High. That makes this iteration 49 of Rise. We are happy you’re a subscriber and hope you continue to read the comings and goings of Islander alums across the globe.

Here’s some of what you will find inside this issue: Our “At the Top'' story details the return of the Hall of Honor inductions and ceremony as three new members join HOH. (This would be a good time for me to say, yes, I am humbled and honored to be part of that trio.) Three Legendary Educators will also be part of the festivities scheduled for March 12, at the Legends & Legacies event.

In her “Making Your Mark” piece, Grand Island Public Schools Foundation Executive Director, Kari Hooker-Leep, discusses what the Hall of Honor and Legendary Educator awards mean to her as a GISH alum. Avery Rogers catches us up on what’s happening at Senior High, including a new cell phone policy, in her “On the Island'' article.

Mike Monk's “Distant Mirror” column takes us back to bingo nights at the Grand Island Eagles Club. Wandering Writer Sarah Kuta goes inside a museum devoted to shipwrecks and explains some of what Gordon Lightfoot sang in “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” My column piggybacks on Avery’s piece with two memories at the corner of school and technology.

We have a letter in the (e)Mailbag as well as In Memoriam, Reunion gatherings, and the lives and times of Islanders everywhere in Class Notes.

We also have this Editor's Note: Annual Giving Coordinator and Rise keeper and caretaker is moving on from the Foundation. We said goodbye to Maggie McDermott in December, knowing how much she'll be missed, especially by the Rise family.

Keep in touch, Islanders. And remember: Keep pushing on.

  • At the Top

    George details the return of the Hall of Honor and Legendary Educator inductions at the Legends & Legacies event.

  • (e) Mail Bag

    An (e)Mail Bag correspondent writes about a former Islander science teacher's art museum.

  • Making Your Mark

    Kari Hooker-Leep discusses what the Hall of Honor and Legendary Educator awards mean to her as a GISH alum.

  • Shining Bright Since 2005

    Bianca Ayala talks about her New Year's Resolutions.

  • On the Island

    Avery Rogers catches us up on what’s happening at Senior High, including a new cell phone policy.

  • I've Been Thinking

    George shares two memories at the corner of school and technology.

  • Distant Mirror

    Mike Monk takes us back to bingo nights at the Grand Island Eagles Club.

  • A Wandering Writer's World

    Sarah Kuta goes inside a museum devoted to shipwrecks and explains some of what Gordan Lightfoot sang in “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

  • Class Reunion Updates

    Class gatherings in Islander Nation.

  • In Memoriam

    Remembering Islanders who have recently passed.

  • Class Notes

    The latest happenings in the lives of GIPS alums.

At the Top

Hall of Honor, Legendary Educator Inductions Return after Six Years.

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation will be inducting three alumni into its Hall of Honor on March 12, 2024, at its Legends & Legacies event, the first induction class since 2017. Also being inducted at that time will be three Legendary Educators.

The Foundation will also be unveiling the new interactive Hall of Honor kiosk that day at Senior High in the foyer. Legends & Legacies will take place that evening, a time to celebrate the new inductees and their accomplishments.

The new Hall of Honor inductees include George Ayoub, Class of 1968, Dr. Thomas Meedel, Class of 1967 and Steve Hornady, Class of 1968. The 2024 Legendary Educators being honored are Yvette Engelhaupt, Kermit McCue and Don VanderHamm.

For tickets to attend Legends & Legacies on March 12, 2024 at Riverside Golf Club and more information, please go to this link.

Full biographies of the three Hall of Honor inductees and previous winners can be found here. Full biographies of Legendary Educators and previous winners can be found here. All new inductee biographies will be available by February 1, 2024.

(e)Mail Bag

Former Islander Science Teacher Opens Art Museum

The Bone Creek Museum sign

It is my privilege and honor to be able to give back in a small way to one of my (and many others') most influential GISH teachers, R. Allen Covault, by being part of a project to bring one of his dreams to reality.

After retirement Allen moved back to his family home in David City, where he (yes, the most confirmed bachelor ever) married, and he and his wife founded the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art. As far as we know, this is the only art museum in the world focused entirely on art related to farming, ranching, and rural lifestyle. I have had the joy of continuing my relationship with him over these many years, and for several years have been a member of the museum board of directors.

It is fitting, as he is the person who got this guy who spent his career in engineering to also enjoy and appreciate art. Bone Creek is beginning a new and exciting phase, as we have begun renovation of a 1917 building in David City to be the new home of the museum, which will expand our current 2,000 square feet of space to 22,000. Construction work began in late October, after several years of fundraising efforts. We expect to move into our new space by the end of 2024. In the meantime, the museum remains open in its current location. We would encourage you to come and visit. You can find more information at


Jim Hanna
Class of 1965

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Making Your Mark

New Year Perfect Time to Honor Alumni, Educators

Kari Hooker-Leep

Class of 1983
Executive Director
GIPS Foundation

January seems to be the time to hear “New Year, New You” everywhere. Everyone starts the New Year with high self-expectations, hopes and dreams. We are driven to write down goals and share them with others. The reality is, how long do we keep these goals? Do our dreams become realities? Do we suddenly lower our own expectations so that they can be reached? The reality is you don’t need a new you. Take a look at individuals who don’t start anew yearly. Look at those who used each day to become the best they could be and see them as your guiding light.  

Do you know anyone who didn’t have a setback at one point, or several points, in life? No, because they don’t exist. Do you know someone whom you looked at and admired and said, “That person is who I want to emulate”? Those individuals do exist. People that are my guiding light reside in Grand Island and graduated from or taught at Grand Island Senior High.

As a GIPS student and GISH graduate, I have been fortunate to have met some of the most amazing and inspirational people. I want you to think back to your school days. Did you have a teacher who made a significant difference in your life? Did you have a classmate or a possible alumni that you know who made a significant and lasting contribution to the betterment of society? Coming in March of 2024, you will have the opportunity to not only learn of these iconic GISH alumni, but you will have the opportunity to come and celebrate them.

The GIPS Foundation is going to honor three new Hall of Honor inductees and three new Legendary Educators at the 2024 Legends & Legacies. This begins with an unveiling of the new interactive Hall of Honor kiosk at the GISH foyer, followed by an evening of celebration at the Legends & Legacies event. I know this all sounds exciting, but what you really want to know is who these astonishing individuals are. The 2024 Hall of Honor inductees are: George Ayoub ’68, Dr. Thomas Meedel ’67 and Steve Hornady ’68. The 2024 Legendary Educators are: Yvette Engelhaupt, Kermit McCue and Don VanderHamm. All six of these inductees possess what it takes to inspire others to reach for the stars, set high expectations of themselves and exceed their goals.

The Foundation invites you to save the date of March 12, 2024, to come and celebrate with us at Legends & Legacies. You can purchase your tickets and find additional information here or email for additional information. You can find more information about the previously honored 71 Hall of Honor inductees here or the nine individuals who have been honored as Legendary Educators here.


If you're going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can't be erased.  - Maya Angelou

Shining Bright Since 2005

2024 New Year Resolutions

Bianca Ayala

Class of 2005

Happy 2024 everyone! This year is going to be a great year, and I am excited about my new chapter as the principal of Gates Elementary. The new role has me wanting to find a daily balance for a successful year.

Here are the 10 resolutions I plan to achieve for a successful 2024 year!

1.    Give myself more compliments                       6.    Be more present in the moment

2.    30-minutes of exercise daily                            7.    Capture more pictures

3.    Connect with a new person                                8.    Travel to a new location

4.    Help someone achieve a task                            9.    Learn to cook family recipes

5.    Write a letter to my future self                         10.  Be willing to ask for help

It can be a challenge to achieve all resolutions, but it can also be rewarding to achieve them, which will make you want to achieve more. I hope you all consider achieving resolutions to better yourself. Happy New Year & I hope your resolutions are fulfilled.

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On the Island

Big Changes Coming to GISH Second Semester and Beyond

Avery Rogers

Class of 2024
Student Correspondent

Happy Holidays, readers of Rise. The past semester at GISH has been a very eventful one. It’s difficult to believe that the year is already halfway through. With all of the activities and excitement, the year has been flying by. I’m here to bring you a recap of what has been going on at GISH during the last couple of months.

The athletics programs at Grand Island Senior High have been going very strong so far this year. Both the football and volleyball teams made it to State. This was the volleyball team’s first state appearance in 10 years, and they ended their season with an impressive 26 wins and were District A5 Champions. The football team also had an outstanding season, making it all the way to the second round of the State Playoffs. Longtime head football coach Jeff Tomlin announced his retirement at the end of the season, capping off a successful career leading the Islander program.

Boy’s cross country also made an appearance at State, alongside the qualifying girls. Sophomore Katie Lofing was also a state qualifier for the girl’s golf team. More recently, basketball, wrestling, powerlifting and swimming have all started back up again for the winter season. I look forward to seeing what these talented Islanders will accomplish in the new year.


Grand Island Senior High’s arts programs have also been going strong. Ten students attended the Nebraska Music Education Association All-State Conference for both band and choir. GISH also presented their annual fall musical, “Beauty and the Beast.” The musical was a big hit, bringing in crowds of all ages. Grand Island Senior High’s band, orchestra and choirs have also been busy during the holiday season, hosting several concerts to help get people into the spirit. Even though the holidays are over, that doesn’t mean a break for these students. After the break, the speech and show choir seasons begin, leaving these students occupied for the next couple of months. The GISH theater department also held auditions for the play “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” prior to the break, and practices will resume once students return to school.

Midterm Graduation

Students have been working tirelessly throughout other areas of the school as well. State Student Council was held at GISH this year. Over 600 students attended, and they participated in activities such as yoga, self-defense, feeding goats and meeting with a therapy pony. The National Honor Society Red Cross Committee also organized a blood drive in November. GISH currently holds the record for the largest number of donations in a single day. Finally, midterm graduation was held on December 14. Sixty students achieved their goal of graduating early, and 54 were able to walk and receive their diplomas. The others also graduated but chose to walk and receive their diplomas in May.

As we head into the next semester, some big changes are being made at Grand Island Senior High. For starters, a new phone policy will be in place during the coming semester. Students will no longer be allowed to use phones in the school building between 8:05 AM and 3:30 PM. Students' phones can be confiscated by administrators and will have to be picked up by a parent or guardian after the school day is over. Teachers will also now have pouches in classrooms where students can keep their phones during instruction. The new policy will be a big change for students, but it will hopefully help diminish lack of concentration in class and conflicts between students.

There were also some big changes announced for the next school year. In addition to Coach Tomlin’s announcement, Principal Mr. Jeff Gilbertson and Activities Director Mrs. Cindy Wells announced that they will retire together at the end of this year. Both have been strong leaders at GISH for many years and have done so much work for the betterment of our school. We are sad to see them go but wish them all the best for their retirement.

It was also announced that the Academy and Pathway system will have a big redesign in the upcoming school year. The Education, Law, and Public Safety Academy is being removed from the Academy system. Pathways such as Law and Public Safety, Counseling and Mental Health, Agribusiness, Aviation, and others will no longer be offered. Sophomores and Juniors who are currently enrolled in the eliminated pathways will have the opportunity to finish them out through a capstone course. They will also have the opportunity to switch to a new pathway if they so choose.

All in all, I would say that the past semester has been full of many accomplishments and new advancements. All areas of the school have been extremely successful, and I can’t wait to see what our talented and hardworking students will do next. Although there are some major changes coming, I have faith that students and staff will adapt and continue to thrive. I can’t wait to see what 2024 will bring for Grand Island Senior High.

I've Been Thinking

Technology Keeps -- and Kept -- Me Informed

George Ayoub

Class of 1968
Alumni Liaison

If you have read Avery Rogers’ “On the Island” piece in this edition of Rise (Pro tip: you should), you already know that Grand Island Senior High, joining a number of other high schools across the nation, is banning students’ cell phone use in its building.

I’ll leave it to those smarter than I, a sizable group indeed, to argue the merits of such a policy. I will, however, offer a couple of shiny pennies worth: As part of an adjunct college faculty, I often find myself competing with YouTube, Tik-Tok and Instagram for my students’ attention. Why they want to watch videos or chat with their friends rather than listen to me wax on about the merits of rhetorical devices in their essays beats the bejesus out of me. Go figure.

The cell phone prohibition did trigger two memories for me, times when technology intersected with pedagogy in the bygone past … a “distant mirror” as my friend Mike Monk would say.

Walter Cronkite announcing the death of President Kenney, Nov. 22, 1963.

Photo courtesy George Ayoub.

The first was Nov. 22, 1963, in Mr. Bob Wissel’s history class at Walnut Jr. High School on Elm Street. Not that the “all-call” intercom system was new to any of us Eighth Graders, nor was it on the leading edge of 60’s technology. For well over a year we’d heard daily announcements through the boxes on Walnut’s wall, often set above the teacher’s desk. Sometimes, a student was called to the office, a request that usually set off murmurs and snickers, sure that someone was caught at some sort of deviousness.

The Nov. 22 announcement, however, was life-changing and came not from the principal or the school secretary or one of the counselors. This news was just that: Real news. Real bad news.

The intercom cracked and popped, and a muffled voice, obviously too far from the microphone to hear it clearly, intoned “Attention!” What followed was several seconds of scratchy AM radio and a frantic voice saying, “The president has been shot. The president has been shot.” Aside from the horror and fear of that realization, which for me and others with whom I have shared this memory, didn’t really set in until later, I found it weird and rather unsettling that the outside, the real world, was suddenly in our classroom, a place no longer insulated from war and death and, now, assassination. I know I’m not alone when I tell you that for my remaining school years, the click of the all-call was often an unwelcome sound.

A vintage transistor radio with earpiece.

Photo courtesy George Ayoub

We’d hear some minutes later, through the same intercom, that President Kennedy had died, proof that the real, sometimes scary world had indeed made its way inside the school.

My other memory is far less gloomy. This reminiscence had to do with the intersection of the technology of the time, the transistor radio, and the traditional fall classic: the World Series.

Transistor radios, like phones and iPods and the like of today, were miniature versions of technology on which we were raised. Just as my iPhone today is a computer in my pocket, the transistor radio was the hi-fi cabinet in our living room or the am radio the size of a breadbasket in our kitchen in my pocket then. Plus, on some models, you could attach an earpiece so surreptitious listening was available.

That made catching the 1964 World Series during school possible and a necessity because all the games were played in the afternoon. Borrowing a transistor radio, I was able to listen to a few innings of several games where my beloved New York Yankees were playing the St. Louis Cardinals. For me, such was a feat heretofore unknown in my junior high experience.

Alas, my team lost the World Series that fall to the Cards, but technology had triumphed. And -- to sweeten the deal -- no teacher or principal caught me listening.

I’ll be watching the success of GISH’s new cell phone policy, both because I’m wondering if I should be considering it in my college classes and if I should simply keep my World Series experience with the transistor radio to myself.

A Distant Mirror

Friday Night at The Eagles Club in 1959

Mike Monk

Class of 1967
Rise Contributor

As we gaze into the Distant Mirror today, we see a lively Friday night at the Grand Island Eagles Club in 1959. I was ten years old. In the 1950s and 1960s, Grand Island had numerous clubs, including the Lions Club, the Elks Club, the Liederkranz, the Platt Duetsche, the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis Club, the Riverside Golf Club, the Saddle Club, and the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Photo courtesy of

While some of these clubs required a bit of money, like Riverside, many of these clubs were composed of the normal Grand Island working-class folks. You did not have to be rich to be part of a real organization. My grandparents, Ray and Doris Dubbs, were proud members of the Eagles Club, located just off Third Street at 213 North Sycamore Street. My grandfather, Ray, was a section foreman for the Union Pacific Railroad. It was hard, grueling work repairing railroad tracks. It paid a decent wage, but not the kind of wage on which you would get rich. 

While the Eagles Club had a Christmas program and hosted other events, Friday night was a special night for our family since this was bingo night at the Eagles. My grandmother, Doris, loved bingo with the same passion she loved the horse races. As my niece, Erika, recently noted, in our family, you were never too young to learn to gamble. 

Each Friday, my grandfather and grandmother would load up the car with me, my sister Pat, my cousin Randy and my Aunt Cindy, and we would go to the Eagles Club. This was a big part of my grandparents’ social life. My grandfather would watch the Friday Night Fights, play shuffleboard, hang out at the bar and talk with friends. 

My grandmother, often with my mother, Ramona, and my aunt, Jerrene, would converse with various friends, and, most importantly, would play bingo. While you had to be 18 years old, I think, to play bingo, we kids would often sit with Grandma and watch her play. Upon occasion, she would designate one of her four bingo cards as being for one of us kids, and we would surreptitiously play the card for her.  

Upon arrival, the bingo players would purchase one or two, or even three or four, cardboard bingo cards. The cards had a little plastic covering to slide over your square when that number was called. The caller would pull a ball from the machine and shout out the number and column: “B-9.” There was a table up front piled with additional cardboard cards. Between games, players could stroll up to the table and exchange cards to get one that had more “luck.” For the final game of the night players had to purchase a separate paper card they could write on. In this final game, which provided the largest payout of the night, a player had to fill the entire card for a bingo. 

Bingo balls in the cage

There was high drama when my Grandma would bingo. I can still see her thrust her hand in the air, beaming like crazy, and holler out “BINGO.” She was excited, and with good reason. She could win $10 or $20 with a single bingo, a nice sum in those days. But the pride of winning was her greatest thrill. There were, of course, nights when she did not win. Virtually every such night she would suspect foul play: “Mike, did you see that Hazel Jones won again! I know she is close friends with the guy pulling the numbers. I just wonder if this is fixed!” My logic told me that it was highly unlikely that any fix was in, but my grandmother was convinced things could be amiss. 

When not watching my grandmother play, we kids would play the pinball machines, have a coke at the bar or even play shuffleboard with our grandfather. The Eagles Club was a fun house of sorts for all ages. One night, when I wanted to be older, I pretended my coke was liquor and that I was drinking at the bar. 

When I got old enough to play my own card, coming home from college, I enjoyed the action, too. But though I played probably over 20 games, I never once was able to holler “BINGO.” Frustrating it was, but still fun.

Fifty years later, when I was 60, my wife, Janet, and I began to take some cruises on Crystal Cruise ships with our friends Mary and Barry Lazarus. On these ships, there were bingo games about every other day of the cruise. Mary loved bingo almost as much as my grandma did, and we always played. On the cruise ship, however, Mary, Janet, Barry and I always seemed to have great luck. One day, out of eight games played, one of our group of four people won five of the eight games. And yes, there were those among the other 25 or so players who thought our good fortune was more than luck. Some things never change.

The real beauty of those Friday nights in 1959 was that they were both family and community gatherings. No one was sitting at home texting people or surfing the net. Rather, people were mixing with friends, making new friends, telling stories and catching up on local news and gossip. These gatherings gave people a real sense of belonging and a chance to converse, laugh, argue and engage with real people. I hope there are clubs, bars or restaurants in 2024 that provide this same chance to connect. I suspect, however, they are a bit different than the wholesome tone and charm of the Eagles Club of 1959.  

My grandparents loved those evenings, and so did we kids who got to share the time with them. I treasure those fond memories, and I am always up for a game of bingo.

A Wandering Writer's World

Exploring the Nation’s Maritime History at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

Sarah Kuta

Class of 2008
Rise Contributor

I was in my late 20s the first time I heard Gordon Lightfoot’s haunting 1976 ballad “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” But ever since my Michigan-born partner, Russell, introduced me to the song a few years ago, I’ve become fascinated with shipwrecks, particularly those in the Great Lakes.

Sarah stands in front of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Kuta. Sarah stands in front of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

If you’re not familiar with “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” I highly recommend giving it a listen. The song tells the true story of a catastrophic shipwreck in Lake Michigan that took place on Nov. 10, 1975. Much of what happened that night remains a mystery, but we do know that stormy weather contributed to the ship’s sinking. The entire crew of 29 men died in the tragic accident.

The Edmund Fitzgerald may be the most famous Great Lakes shipwreck, but it’s far from the only one. In total, marine archaeologists estimate 6,000 ships have wrecked in the Great Lakes, causing more than 30,000 deaths.

Shipwrecks are a somber topic, for sure, but one that I find worthy of further exploration. They’re a portal for contemplating the history of transportation, industry, weather, geography, technology, human innovation and other themes. When I think about historic shipwrecks—and especially while listening to “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”—I find myself imagining what it would feel like to be on board a vessel sailing through a storm. They help me empathize and connect more deeply with the past.

Last summer, we planned a road trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with the express purpose of visiting the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. And it was well worth the long drive from Colorado.

The museum has on display the bronze bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald .

Photo courtesy of Sarah Kuta. The museum has on display the bronze bell from the
Edmund Fitzgerald.

The museum sits on the southeastern shore of Lake Superior near the very tip of Whitefish Point, a triangular piece of land that juts out into the water. Open from May to October, the facility is located on the grounds of the Whitefish Point Light Station, which has been illuminating these choppy waters since 1849. It’s the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior.

Whitefish Point—and the surrounding Whitefish Bay—looms large in shipwreck history. It’s part of an infamous, 80-mile span of coastline that's been dubbed “Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast” because roughly 200 ships have met their demise here. One of those ships was the Edmund Fitzgerald, which rests on the lake floor roughly 17 miles from the museum.

Proximity to the wreckage aside, the museum also has in its collection the Edmund Fitzgerald’s 200-pound bronze bell, which divers recovered (with permission) from the vessel in 1995. Outside, just steps from the water, a bronze, maple leaf-shaped memorial pays homage to the 29 crew members who lost their lives in the wreck.

The museum also tells the stories of many other Great Lakes wrecks, which often resulted from bad visibility, primitive communication systems and faulty onboard equipment. Unable to see through dense fog, ships regularly crashed into each other as they ferried iron ore, supplies and people across the massive, inland bodies of water. Boilers sometimes exploded, and waves and wind often capsized vessels or pushed them ashore.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Kuta. The museum is located at Whitefish Point, not far from where many ships have wrecked.

Passengers and crew members had little hope of surviving, and many drowned or died of exposure. And though local community members did what they could to rescue survivors, they were typically no match for the elements. (Eventually, in the 1870s, the federal government created the U.S. Life Saving Service, the precursor to the U.S. Coast Guard, which dramatically reduced the number of shipwreck deaths—by an estimated 87.5 percent, according to the museum.)

Fortunately, technology has advanced since the late 1800s and early 1900s, which means today’s sailors are much safer (though wrecks still can—and do—occur). But our understanding of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes is constantly evolving. Every year, researchers find or identify the previously undiscovered remains of historic vessels. The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, which runs the museum, has a sophisticated underwater research vessel called the R.V. David Boyd, which maritime archaeologists have been using to systematically map thousands of miles of lakebed. Using a technology called side-scan sonar, they search for unusual shapes that, upon closer inspection, sometimes turn out to be century-old wrecks. I’ve been lucky to cover many of these discoveries for Smithsonian magazine, including the 131-year-old S.S. Atlanta, the 100-year-old Huronton and the 120-year-old Barge 129.

Visiting the museum last year only further fueled my interest in shipwrecks, and I often find myself going down internet rabbit holes in search of historical accounts of new-to-me sinkings. I hope to learn even more—and pay my respects to those who died in the Edmund Fitzgerald—by someday visiting the Mariners' Church of Detroit, which Lightfoot sang about as the “maritime sailors’ cathedral.”

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Alumni Reunions

Kari Price

Alumni Coordinator

Planning a class reunion?

We can help get you started! 
Contact us for your class list and send us information about your reunion.
We will post it to our website.

NOTE: Reunion information in this newsletter is current as of the publication date. To see Reunion updates and additions go to our Alumni Reunions page.




  • 1956

    The Class of 1956 wishes to extend an invitation to fellow classmates to join them at their monthly gathering. They meet on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Ramada Midtown at 6:00 pm.

  • Decades of the 60's
    Decades of the 60's

    The Decades of the 60’s breakfast continues to be held the second Saturday of each month at Tommy’s, 8:30 a.m. This is a great opportunity to reconnect over a cup of coffee and/or breakfast. We would love to have you join us!

  • 1960

    The Class of 1960 has resumed their gathering at Tommy’s Restaurant the first Wednesday of each month at 11 a.m. Local suggested COVID safety measures will be assessed on a monthly basis. Send your email address to Donna Weaver Smith for monthly communications at:

  • 1966

    The class of ‘66 meets for lunch the third Wednesday of each month at the Platt Duetsche, 12 noon. Please join us!

  • 1979

    The class of 1979 will hold their 45th class reunion on August 23rd and 24th, 2024.
    Casual gathering on August 23rd, 5:30-12:00, at Platt-Duetsche.
    Dinner Buffet on August 24th, 5:30-12:00, at Riverside Golf Club.
    Cost (covers both nights): $50 per individual, $90 per couple. Pay by check to 1979 Reunion Account, Sheryl Knuth, 822 Pleasant View Dr., Grand Island, NE, 68801. Or pay by Venmo to @Sheryl-Knuth-1
    RSVP by June 1, 2024
    Please note the Nebraska State Fair is scheduled for August 24-September 2, 2024. Hotel options can be found at

Update Your Alumni Contact Information 


Click the button below to update your contact information with the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Updating your information will ensure you receive class reunion mailings, emails, and updates from us. Let us know if you have a new email, address, phone number, or name.


In Memoriam

November and December memorial list of GISH Alumni

William "Bill" Ehrsam, Class of 1958, died October 15, 2022 in Saratoga, CA at the age of 81.

George "Bob" Siggins, Class of 1956, died September 22, 2023 at the age of 85.

Lois (Lemburg) Drake, Class of 1958, died October 12, 2023 in Waverly, TN at the age of 83.

Karen (Ellis) Alcorn, Class of 1962, died October 26, 2023 in Lincoln, NE at the age of 80.

Pat (Vavak) Shafer, Class of 1965, died November 7, 2023 in St. Libory, NE at the age of 76.

Rosalie (Nicholas) Shriner, Class of 1957, died November 10, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 85.

Henry "Ercel" Schoel, Class of 1948, died November 14, 2023 in Lincoln, NE at the age of 94.

Joan (Ditter) Schleicher, Class of 1965, died November 15, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 76.

Brennan Villatoro, Class of 2022, died November 16, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 18.

Edna (Heiberg) Shelton, Class of 1949, died November 17, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 92.

Raymond Ramirez, Class of 2009, died November 18, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 32.

Stephen Gaines, Class of 1954, died November 23, 2023 in Lincoln, NE at the age of 87.

Craig Dietrich, Class of 1960, died November 25, 2023 in Lincoln, NE at the age of 81.

Larry Knuth, Class of 1958, died November 27, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 82.

Jason Cornelius, Class of 1994, died November 29, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 47.

Kenneth Kuehner, Class of 1956, died November 30, 2023 in Marquette, NE at the age of 84.

Jesse Rivera, Class of 1977, died December 1, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 64.

Sherri (Romine) Watson, Class of 1972, died December 1, 2023 in Phillips, NE at the age of 69.

Jack Lillibridge, Class of 1966, died December 1, 2023 in Central City, NE at the age of 75.

Richard Simpson, Class of 1949, died December 1, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 92.

Tina (Powell) Gill, Class of 1991, died December 3, 2023 in Brighton CO at the age of 50.

Janice (Leonard) Derner, Class of 1971, died December 5, 2023 in St. Paul, NE at the age of 70.

Wilbur Johnson, Class of 1955, died December 5, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 88.

Lorraine (Lorenzen) Tagge, Class of 1952, died December 5, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 89.

Marilyn (Pollard) Condon, Class of 1949, died December 5, 2023 in Salt Lake City, UT at the age of 92.

Norbert Matousek, Class of 1950, died December 10, 2023 in Lincoln, NE at the age of 91.

Alfred Anderson Jr., Class of 1973, died December 12, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 69.

Suzanne (Schultz) Paulsen, Class of 1952, died December 13, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 89.

Melvin Kutschkau, Class of 1951, died December 16, 2023 in Central City, NE at the age of 90.

Jonathan Hoeser, Class of 2013, died December 18, 2023 at the age of 29.

Nick Peterson, Class of 1992, died December 18, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 52.

Donna (Lee) Talich, Class of 1966, died December 21, 2023 in Lincoln, NE at the age of 75.

Russel Anderson, Class of 1952, died December 21, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 90.

Patricia Schneider, Class of 1952, died December 22, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 89.

Steven Kelsey, Class of 1981, died December 23, 2023 in Rockville at the age of 60.

Glenda (Leetch) Kahler, Class of 1976, died December 23, 2023 at the age of 65.

Karen (Engel) Schwieger, Class of 1962, died December 29, 2023 in Osage City, KS at the age of 79.

Alvera (Wagner) Cone, Class of 1949, died December 30, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 92.

To report an alumni death since December 2023, please send an email with the first name, last name, class year and maiden name if applicable to

Class Notes

Rise wants to help you celebrate your successes with other Grand Island Senior High alumni and friends. “Class Notes” is the place to highlight a birth, an anniversary, a promotion, a college degree, an award, or other notable personal accomplishments and triumphs. Tell us about that new business. That perfect baby … or grandbaby. That Masters degree you earned after years of hard work. That recognition from your company, your cohorts, your community.


  • 1958

    Anne (Wilson) Burkholder won the Distinguished Nebraskan award in February 2022. The award was bestowed by Gov. Ricketts at the state capitol.

  • 2022

    More than just achievement — it's about something bigger.
    Sage McCallum (GISH Class of 2022), Sophomore & Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, joins the "The GIPS Cast" to share her story of blazing new trails. Along the way, she salutes teachers who changed her life, speaks to her commitment to service, and vision for the future of life in the Navy after college.
    Because it takes a village to help you reach your goals.

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