Skip to main content


May 2019

Volume 4 | Number 3

Welcome to Rise

Welcome to the May 2019 edition of Rise Grand Island the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Rise is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 4, Number 3, the third edition of Rise this calendar year, our fourth year as the official publication for alums of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

We really enjoy hearing from those of you who find Rise in your in-box every other month. Give us a shout, especially if you or a GISH alum you know has done something new, newsy, or newsworthy. You can reach us at

Before we begin, a shout out for Giving Tuesday, the nationwide movement marked this and every holiday season in an effort to give thanks and then to give. See the Giving Tuesday ad in this issue.

Our At the Top lead story features Ryan Murphy and Guy Busick, from the Class of 1994. The pair, who have been writing for film and television in Hollywood for over two decades, have a major motion picture hitting the big screen in August.

Foundation Executive Director Traci Skalberg, writes about the results of Go Big Give, the community’s once-a-year push to raise money and in doing so, make Grand Island a better place to live and … more specifically … advance the work of the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation.

Leigh Lillibridge’s Grand Legacy Update keeps us apprised as the new West stadium is taking shape across the street from GISH.

Our Class Reunion Update lets you know who is going to party and when, in case your class is on deck or maybe you just want to crash another class’s soiree and see a few old friends.

Our Distant Mirror correspondent, Mike Monk, Class of 1967, recalls two incidents nearly 40 years apart, but, when considered together, says plenty about the state of schools and how they impart discipline and help students.

Pardon the recycling, but my I’ve Been Thinking column draws heavily on a newspaper column I wrote in 2014 that ran in the (Grand Island) Independent and the Omaha World-Herald. It’s some unsolicited advice for graduates, this being the season and all.

As usual we’ll see what songs were popular on the radio, what movies were wooing us on the big screen, what novels we were reading, and what television shows kept us from our homework each decade during May.

Finally, as we do every issue, we honor those Islanders who passed away the last couple months in our In Memoriam section.

We hope you find this Rise to your liking
Remember Islanders: Keep pushing on. 

George Ayoub, Class of 1968
Editor, Rise Grand Island

Grand Legacy Update

Thank you to those who supported Our Grand Legacy Memorial Stadium Campaign during Go Big Give. With your help, we raised $18,014 in support of the stadium project. Thank you so much for your gift!

We have raised $14,330,055 towards our goal. Our expanded goal is $17,000,000 which includes an additional structure and the renovation and preservation of our beloved East stadium and all work at West stadium. Our preliminary goal is $15,300,000, which includes all work at West stadium and renovation and preservation of East stadium. This historic project is a very heavy lift, and it relies on all of us pulling together. If you would like to learn more about the Preliminary vs. Expanded Projects, you can visit our website at: GI Memorial Stadium.

If you haven’t had a chance to drive past Memorial Stadium lately, the construction at West stadium is really coming along nicely. Despite the horrible weather the construction crew has had to endure, they are still on pace with our timeline.    

Our goal is to have the seating completed by fall so that fans can sit in the stadium at the first home football game. The underside of West stadium will not be completed by fall, so other arrangements will be made to provide concessions and restrooms for fans.

The facility is going to be fabulous with the creature comforts our students and community deserve when complete. Once both West and East Stadium are done we will have an additional 2,200 permanent seats to accommodate for growth, making it an up to date community-wide venue. We can’t wait until the entire project including updates to East Stadium are ready to unveil in the fall of 2020.

You can be part of this historic project!  Your gift can be mailed or made online: Memorial Stadium: Ways to Give 

Checks can be mailed to:
GIPS Foundation
Memorial Stadium Campaign
P.O. Box 4904
Grand Island, NE  68802  

At the Top

Hooray for ... Ryan and Guy ... In Hollywood

Ready or not, Senior High grads and screenwriters Ryan Murphy and Guy Busick, both from the Class of 1994, have a major motion picture set to be released on August 23.

The pair penned “Ready or Not,” a horror thriller chronicling the wedding night of a young woman whose new in-laws make her play a frightening game.

Murphy and Busick have been in Los Angeles for 25 years, heading there for college and staying to be part of the film industry. You can read more about their journey in this Independent article from 2017:  G.I. friends since age 13 stick together as script writing team in Los Angeles

The Walt Disney Studios announced the premiere date for “Ready Or Not” earlier this month. According to Variety, the film is part of a number debuts the company is scheduling after its blockbuster merger with 21st Century Fox, a $71.3 billion union of big boys that will carry considerable clout in Hollywood. Fox Searchlight Films is releasing “Ready Or Not.”

While the writing credit on “Ready Or Not” is Murphy and Busick’s most impressive credit to date, they are no strangers to the business.

Busick has writer or story credits on TV series “Stan Against Evil”  (2016-2018), “Watch Over Me” (2006-2007), “Desire” (2006), and a feature film, “Urge.” He also produced two episodes of “Watch Over Me.”

Murphy has written short films, “The Mill at Calder’s End” (2015) and “The Narrative of Victor Karloch.” He also wrote a segment for the horror anthology “Minutes Past Midnight” in 2016.

I've Been Thinking

Psst ... Hey, Graduate ... Listen Up

We recycle at my house: newspapers (we get two a day), aluminum, and plastic, whose importance to this column will be obvious later.

So recycling a column I wrote five years ago when I was employed to produce a coherent thought via 700 words in a newspaper column four times a week is squarely in my lane. The bones of this one ran in the (Grand Island) Independent and the Omaha World-Herald.

Actually, this column is not a word-for-word recycling as I’ve reworked some parts, but the subject matter comes from a piece I wrote in 2014, when the nation’s high schools permanently dismissed about 3.3 million students from cafeteria food and hall passes. That number for the Class of 2019 is 3.6 million.

Across America graduation speakers will earnestly implore these commencers to aim high, follow their dreams, carpe a few diems, or perhaps conquer the world, the image of forced colonization and imperialism notwithstanding.

A few grads will pay attention to these urgings. Most, however, are simply eager to have it over, to move on, to get going, to embrace (conquer?) something … as long as it’s outside of high school.

Still, from graduation speakers to favorite teachers to buttinski relatives, ’tis the season for advice — solicited or otherwise.

Despite this warning from playwright John Moritmer: “All advice is useless,” I soldier on with a column of advice for graduates.

This year’s honorees may not understand, but those of us who remember Kennedy and Nixon also remember perhaps the most famous single word of wisdom ever uttered to a graduate: “Plastics.”

The line was from the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” starring Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock.

Nobody knew what it meant, either, although I remember many of us then-recent or soon-to-be graduates contented ourselves by believing “Plastics” symbolized a superficial world of one rat chasing another for no good reason and certainly doing it without a deeper meaning.

Surely, this year’s crop of graduation speakers will have more to say than “Plastics.”

But just in case a graduate daydreams through a speech or simply chooses not to listen, here’s some unsolicited advice he or she may want to consider.

By the way, relax. I dispensed graduation advice many times in my column and only rarely did someone get hurt.

Let’s start with some chronological realism for the graduates:

You are no longer young enough to know everything. Deal with it. Time need not simply be relentless but a teacher, too. To wit:

Don’t waste your time.

Never bathe with badgers.

You can’t control life, but you are in charge of your response to it.

Constantly swimming upstream makes for a good story, but going with the flow is much more efficient. (Either way, you’re going to get wet, pal.)

If you’re comparing your insides to everyone’s outsides, more than likely you’ll come up short.

If two roads diverge in the woods, use your GPS.

Show up on time, pay attention, and have good manners. The rest is simply details.

This above all: to thine own self be true. And it follows, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. (Borrowed, obviously. If you don’t know from whom, then perhaps you’re a few hours short in English Lit.)

Life is indeed an adventure, but it’s still OK to check your parachute.

Being fiercely independent does not preclude having a large posse of close friends ... the kind you can depend on.

Don’t wear suede in a blizzard.

If you’re thinking you’re all that, you’re probably not. (Despite the shiny GPA and extracurricular gold star, dial back the swagger, Bunky. I have read where college professors and employers want critical thinkers and problem-solvers first. Plan accordingly.)

A little prep work never hurts. The graduation cake always falls frosting side down.

If you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.

If you miss the lesson of a loss, you lose twice.

Exercise your body, exercise your mind, exercise your soul, exercise your spirit.

Hate is too valuable an emotion to waste on someone you don’t even like.

Integrity, dignity, and compassion are more than words in a commencement address.

Love unconditionally. Your family and friends need the break.

Live all the days of your life.

And one final piece of advice this 2019 graduation season … “Plastics.” (Hey, you decide.)

Alumni Reunions

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.

Kari Price, Alumni Coordinator
308.385.5900 ext. 1148


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.

Class of 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 Midtown Holiday Inn at 6:00 pm.

Class of 1959

The class of 1959 is planning a 60 year Class Reunion on September 27-28, 2019 at the Riverside Golf Club. 

Class of 1966

The Class of 1966 wishes to extend an invitation to fellow classmates to join them at their monthly lunch gathering. They meet the 3rd Wednesday of each month at the Platt Duetsche at 1:00 pm. 

Class of 1969

The class of 1969 is planning their 50th Class Reunion on October 18-19, 2019 at Riverside Golf Club.

Class of 1974

The Class of 1974 is planning their 45th Class Reunion on August 2-3, 2019. August 2 from 6:30 pm - 1 am at Sluggers Bar and Grill, 707 West Anna Street. August 3 from 6:30 pm to midnight at Fonner View Golf Course, 2224 S. Stuhr Road.

Join our facebook group: GISH Class of '74 40th Reunion

Registration Deadline is July 21, 2019. Send a check made out to "Class of 1974" to Bob Buck, 4411 Quail Lane, Grand Island, NE 68801. Please include the number attending the Friday event, and the number attending Saturday event ($10 per person). If you have questions, call and leave a message with Bob Buck at 308-383-4616.

Class of 1979

The Class of 1979 is planning a 40 year class reunion on July 19-20, 2019. 
July 19 - At 5 pm doors open at Platt Duetsche, 1315 W. Anna Street. 
July 20 -  Tours of Grand Island Senior High (meet on the west side of the school) at 1 pm; At 5 p.m. doors open at Platt Duetsche; At 6 pm will be the meal (steaks and all the fixings); And the dance will begin at 7 p.m.

Registration Deadline is June 1, 2019. One price for both days. Pay online at $75.89 (couple) $44.06 (single)

Pay by mail:  $70 (couple) $40 (single)  "Class of 1979" 822 Pleasant View Dr., Grand Island, NE 68801.

Shaking the World

101 ... 166 ... $684,558 ... WOW!

101 students from the Class of 2019 were awarded 166 scholarships through the GIPS Foundation worth $684,558. This number is still sinking in. I mean, wow! This community of businesses, parents, friends and alumni have gone over the top with their investment in the future of our Island.  This total goes on record as the “largest investment ever.”

I cannot describe the emotion that fills the room when a student finds out he or she is a scholarship winner.  Even if you are not the crying kind…you will cry happy tears. Students and parents are so appreciative for the investment in their dreams.  We often term these days, “Dreams Come True” days. You can’t help but feel good and know deep down that your work matters.

The magnitude of this impact on our next generation just takes my breath away. Equally amazing is the altruistic and thoughtful investment of each donor into this program. Every donor has a reason that compels him/her to invest. What an honor it is for me to hear the stories and design these legacy funds.

We want to tell these stories too. That is why part of each issue of Rise is dedicated to legacy funds “Your Legacy. Their Opportunity.” You can also read the stories in our online scholarship guideline book using this link: Scholarship Guidelines.

Here are some links to our Facebook albums where donors and students cross paths, interact, and share their journey. What a fun experience it is to be a part of this incredible investment!

GIPS Foundation Donor Scholarship Reception

Martin Family Scholarship Reception

Jack and Lucile Martin Scholarship Presentation

Bob Hamblet Northwestern University Scholarship Winners

Your Legacy. Their Opportunity.

It's That 70's Show All Over Again!

Well friends, the 1970’s have done it again.  They won the coveted Street Cred associated with the Go Big Give effort.  If you are counting, this is a three-peat.  Other decades are well represented, but you can see by the numbers below that it is just hard to argue with the winner! If we were playing a game of Risk…well, you know, world domination follows. 

In all, we are so proud of the effort from our alumni and supporters who went big and gave to our students through the 2019 Go Big Give effort.  Our totals that day grew to $31,524 from 80 donors.  Of that total, $21,014 was given to the Stadium Project and $10,510 was given to our general campaign.  $19,943.75 came from alumni with seven decades represented.  We added $3,221.25 to the Purple and Gold Fund as this was the amount that was given by alumni and not restricted to a specific project such as scholarships or the stadium.  Watch for grants and scholarships over the next year from the Purple and Gold Fund. 

Here is how the day shook out:

1940’s – 1 gift for $1,500

1950’s – 2 gifts for $560

1960’s – 7 gifts for $1,813.75

1970’s – 10 gifts for $10,618

1980’s – 6 gifts for $2,728.25

1990’s – 6 gifts for $2,118.75

2000’s – 7 gifts for $605

Thank you.  Thank you. Thank you for supporting opportunities for our students!

A Distant Mirror

Grade School Crime and Punishment

April of 1960 – Howard School,  Grand Island – Mrs. Severson’s Fifth and Sixth Grade combination room: The Spitball Incident

On this April day, the beloved Mrs. Severson was not present, and an older woman was filling in as a substitute. The class immediately sensed this substitute was not a disciplinarian. Her newness and passive approach would provide chances for some fun. A couple of the more daring miscreants in the class began to throw spitballs, formed by taking some paper in your mouth and wetting it into a ball. My recollection is that Steve Schroeder and Mike Parmley were the ringleaders. They of course were not new to trouble. Earlier in the year, the class planned a surprise “fruit roll” for Mrs. Severson, an event where apples, grapefruit, and oranges would be rolled to the front of the class, as an act of kindness and source of gifts for the teacher. The whole class was in on the surprise, and all the students were excited to please the teacher. But of course Steve Schroeder had to push it too far, and he threw, rather than rolled, a large watermelon, which split open causing a huge mess near the teacher’s desk. This resulted in a very angry Mrs. Severson, and likely put a permanent end to the “fruit roll” tradition.   

But on this day, it was spitballs. At first Schroeder and Parmley threw the spitballs only when the substitute teacher’s back was turned. But when nothing happened, they began to throw them in more risky situations. Soon, most of the class joined in, including the notorious “good boy,” yours truly, Mike Monk. While a few upstanding girls made faces and did not participate, virtually all of the boys began throwing them, and a good number of girls, too. It was exciting and fun. I sensed, however, that the teacher had to have noticed this uprising, though she did not let on. I also sensed we were all on thin ice.

When the substitute teacher left the classroom for a moment, all heck broke loose, and soon most of the class was up out of their seats, running around, and pummeling classmates with spitballs. Mike Parmley was shouting and egging others on.  One student went to the chalkboard, and wrote, “Shut Up Parmley.” Just then, the teacher returned to the room. She obviously then saw the full extent of the uprising, and order was soon returned to the classroom. The teacher then proceeded, in front of the entire class, to investigate the matter.  Who started it? Which students were involved? Did anyone try to stop it?

Soon informants were rising up and ratting out the ringleaders and those most involved. It was amazing how willing 5th and 6th graders were to throw others under the bus.  The Madame Defarges of the grade school set were happy to convict. Maybe because they were sincerely annoyed by the commotion, maybe to get even with an adversary, or maybe to hope for lenient treatment themselves. Or, God forbid, maybe they were just good citizens. The investigation also involved questions about who did not participate. Someone said Gloria Callahan (who later became a teacher herself) didn’t throw any spitballs, and someone else said Peggy Burger also did not throw any spitballs. Other girls, too, were identified as not being involved in the melee. Then it evolved to students saying that certain people participated, but didn’t throw many, just a few, and so forth. While I had thrown my share, I hoped someone would say that while Mike threw some, he was not as bad as the leaders. And near the end of the uprising, I did make a soft suggestion that we might cool it. But no such support emerged for me. So the innocent and the guilty were identified, with surprising gradations of guilt being assessed.  

The punishment, as I vaguely recall, was somewhat minor.  I think the worst transgressors were required to clean the chalk boards and erasers for a week or so, or miss recess, or take on some similarly minimal duty. While it may have happened, I do not recall any parents being contacted, or any more severe punishment. The real punishment was being outed in public. It was embarrassing, and everyone observed it. And it left a sense of being judged by one’s peers. It certainly gave me the awareness that transgressions will likely be discovered, and it was not worth the thrill to get caught and publicly embarrassed.   The sense that the entire class was involved in the process left no room for anyone to complain about how anyone was treated.

The Distant Mirror now moves forward 39 years.

April, 1999, The Carden School of Santa Monica, California -  Ms. Monk’s Second Grade Class, and Ms. Amato’s Third Grade class: The Pokémon Incident

In 1999, my wife was the Director of a small private K through Six Grade school in Santa Monica. That same year, prior to going to law school, my daughter Susannah taught second grade at the school. There were many good students in the second grade class, including two Japanese American boys who were very bright and lots of fun. I was always fond of them for two reasons. Once Susannah overheard them talking and one of them asked the other “If you could marry any teacher, which one would you marry?” and the answer was “Ms. Monk.” Also, once when Ms. Monk told them a spelling quiz was over, time was up, and to stop writing, one of these boys kept on writing.  Pursuant to the rules, his quiz paper was collected before he could finish. He was furious, and Ms. Monk later found a mock report card he prepared with all students getting straight “A’s” and Ms. Monk getting a “Z.”

In April of that year, the Pokémon fad was in full swing. One of the Japanese American boys’ father took a trip to Japan and brought back Pokémon pencils and erasers as presents for him and for all of his second grade classmates. These were prized possessions. Shortly after the pencils were handed out, during a second grade recess, the third grade class used the second grade room. At some point, a third grade boy surreptitiously took most of the pencils from the second grade students’ desks. When the second graders returned, they were distraught to find their prized possessions gone.    

But soon enough, some other third grade pupils saw the pencils and erasers and ratted out the boy who had taken them.  Once again, much like the spitball event at Howard School, an open and immediate investigation took place. While I do not recall the gory details, I do recall that the boy who stole the pencils and erasers was questioned by the third grade teacher, Ms. Amato, in front of his class. The accusers confirmed finding the loot in his desk, and he eventually confessed to the crime.  The second graders not only had their pencils and erasers returned, but they learned that the thief was confronted, convicted, and outed in person. Once again, I do not recall the precise punishment imposed, but I again think that the most painful punishment was the open forum in which his deeds were confirmed and at which he eventually confessed. These second and third graders, too, had a sense that the community had acted in concert, with nothing behind closed doors, and that justice had been served.

And, as with the spitball investigation, I do not recall any adverse comments by parents. The teachers were trusted and not questioned.

The 2019 Grade School Crime and Punishment

I have rarely been in a grade school classroom in the past 20 years, and then only to meet my grandchildren’s teachers on the first day of school. But I wonder how grade school crimes like spitballs and stealing pencils would be treated today. I strongly suspect that the Spanish Inquisition style used in the 1960 spitball crisis and the 1999 Pokémon crisis would not be used or welcomed today.  

I can just hear today’s parents ranting that their child had been singled out, was embarrassed, and now needed counseling and therapy. They would contend that the teacher violated the student’s privacy and abused the child with open accusations and punishment. I can see lawyers writing sternly worded letters and threatening lawsuits. I can see letters to the local newspaper decrying the brutal and insensitive treatment and suggesting the ouster of teachers and the principal. I can see the parents indeed blaming their child’s behavior on the teacher, for some transgression or mistake the teacher had made, which of course was the direct cause of the poor child’s misbehavior.  

I speculate that today the investigation would likely be done privately, and the results perhaps not even conveyed to the other students, to protect the accused student’s “privacy.”         

Which is the better approach? I do not pretend to know, and I am not a trained educator. And I know that such matters are clearly more complex today.  But I think there is some value in the old approach. It creates the sense among the students that the matter was taken seriously and immediately addressed. It has the value and credibility of being a process in which everyone was involved. It was transparent. And for me at least, the public shaming made me think long and hard about any future misbehavior.  

But I do understand that schools must act in accordance with the times. And I sense the times now, even in the relative haven of an excellent midwestern grade school, would not permit a public examination of the crime and the punishment. I would be delighted to hear from the GISH nation as to how such matters are handled today, and thoughts on how they should be handled.  

I can be reached at

(Editor’s note: Sadly, Mike Monk’s lifelong friend, Mike Parmley, passed away on Thursday, May 9. Mike’s July “Distant Mirror" column will be a remembrance of his friend, “Parm.”)

In Memoriam

March and April memorial list of GISH Alumni

MAX JOHNSTON, Class of 1976, died February 27, 2019, in Lincoln. He lived in Grand Island. He was 61.

WILLIAM ‘BILL’ RINKE, Class of 1966, died March 2, 2019, in Aurora. He was 70.

JAMES ‘JIM’ REITAN, Class of 1956, died March 7, 2019, in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. He was 80.

BOB STOPPKOTTE, Class of 1954, died March 7, 2019, in Grand Island. He was 82.

NORMA RAE (WATSON) SCROGGINS, Class of 1955, died March 8, 2019, in Grand Island. She was 81.

DELORES (THOMSEN) BRUNS, Class of 1951, died March 9, 2019, in Grand Island. She was 85.

KENNY PARTRIDGE, Class of 1968, died March 11, 2019, in Grand Island. He was 69.

DEBORAH ANN (BRUNS) BERGMAN, Class of 1978, died March 14, 2019, in Grand Island. She was 59.

PAUL ‘BUBBA’ CASTEEL, Class of 1976, died March 14, 2019, in Hastings. He was 61.

BENJAMIN MELENDEZ, Class of 2007, died March 13, 2019, in Grand Island. He was 29.

JACQUELINE ‘JACKIE’ (MENCK) BURNETT, Class of 1948, died March 16, 2019, in Nebraska City. She was 88.

NYLA (ASHBURN) ALEXANDER, Former GIPS principal, died March 18, 2019, in Grand Island. She was 84.

JEAN (ETHINGTON) STOCK, Former GIPS teacher, died March 19, 2019, in Omaha. She lived in Grand Island. She was 74.

PAT (MCMINAMEN) KIRSCHBAUM, Class of 1949, died March 21, 2019, in Omaha. She was 87.

DAVID DICKSON, Class of 1964, died March 22, 2019, in Rapid City, S. D. He was 73.

JEAN (LANGENHEDER) PRICE, Class of 1961, died March 25, 2019, in Great Falls, Mont. She was 75.

ROBERT ‘BOB’ SCHROEDER, Class of 1947, died March 28, 2019, in Lakewood, Colo. He was 89.

JOYCE (PAPE) RASMUSSEN, Class of 1959, died April 5, 2019, in Grand Island. She was 78.

PAULINE KATROUZOS, Class of 1943, died April 7, 2019, in Grand Island. She was 95.

GEORGIA (BOHL) HUGHEY, Class of 1964, died April 17, 2019, in Sun Center, Fla. Georgia lived in Valrico, Fla. She was 73.

JUDY (VANG) WIEGERT, Class of 1960, died April 17, 2019, in Grand Island. She was 76.

ROGER CLINE, Class of 1966, died April 19, 2019, in Grand Island. He was 72.

JOAN (ROBINSON) FISCHER, Class of 1973, died April 22, 2019, in Stanton, Calif. She was 64.

JOANNE (LASSEN) NIELSEN, Class of 1944, died April 26, 2019, in Grand Island. She was 92.

JOSEPHINE (DONNELLY) DIETRICH, Class of 1940, died April 28, 2019, in Medford, N. J. She lived in Grand Island. She was 96.

To report an alumni death since April 30, 2019, please send an email with the first name, last name, class year and maiden name if applicable to

© 2024 Grand Island Public Schools Foundation

Powered by Firespring