What did you learn? Fox alumni talk about lessons from Silverton High

May 2018 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Community

By Melissa Wagoner

Ask former Silverton High School graduates to step forward on the popular Facebook group, “Silverton Connections,” and the outpouring of school and hometown pride is nothing short of phenomenal.

A recent Facebook request for former alumni elicited more than 65 responses – and counting – most of which came with enthusiastic shout-outs to former classmates, boasts from members of the “best-ever graduating class” and nearly all were peppered with exclamation marks, hearts and the ever-popular thumbs up.

Scrolling through, it is not hard to imagine why the majority of respondents still live and work in their home town or why, when asked, they became so effusive when praising their high school experience. Below are a few responses with class year and submitted photos.

Miriam (Watson) David, 1958
Retired secretary, accountant, computer programmer and Realtor in Salem

“I learned business skills which always kept me employed and able to provide for myself well.

“The one thing I didn’t learn were foreign language skills because only first year language courses were offered.  I have travelled all over the world and have always wished I had those skills.  I tried to learn in later life but it wasn’t the same.”

Marilyn Schmidgall, 1967
Retired as supervisor at Fairview Training Center, living in Silverton

“My experience as writer and editor at the school newspaper taught me to work with and delegate assignments. By being on committees and joining clubs I learned to work with many different people, learning to work hard and compromise with other various opinions.

“I wish I would have learned Spanish more proficiently.”

Judy Marcoe, 1975
Metal garden art artist in Madras

“I took a lot of Home Economics – my parents were divorced and I did a lot of the cooking. It got me to try new foods and not be afraid of trying new recipes.”

“So many things I wished I had taken in high school: shop, typing, drama.”

Terisa (Alexander) Pepiot, 1984
Office manager and president of Shepherds without Borders Rescue in Scio

“Living, working… and going to school in a small community, provided many more opportunities to get to know people, have relationships with your classmates, your teachers, your customers – learning to develop and maintain relationships at various levels was a stepping stone of success to both office management and running a dog rescue.”

She wishes she had learned “more history of the town. It has a long and
fascinating history.”

Steve Vaughn, 1984  
Auto repair shop
owner in Silverton

“I wish I had learned early, life needs patience – slow down.”

Julie Harris Garland, 1990
Mental health therapist in Silverton

“Being a part of the Natural Helpers Program my senior year helped me identify my strengths with helping others and started me on the path to become a counselor.”

“I wish I had taken auto shop!”

Sarah Kaser Weitzman, 1993
Registered Nurse living in Silverton

“Participating in Music at SHS was key to my high school success. Being a part of an excellent choir program as both a singer and accompanist taught discipline, teamwork, and fostered a lifelong gift that has continued to enlighten my life during college and beyond. My music skills continue to bring me joy at home, church, participating in musical theater, and a skill set as President of Silverton Friends of Music. Music is even important in nursing as it is used for distraction, pain control, and end of life comfort.”

“I think more education on personal finance and civics would have been nice.
I wish they had offered different language options. I had to wait until college to learn German, which was my second language of choice to learn.”

Rosalie Cocker, 1994
Optician in Silverton

“[G]ood friendships can last a lifetime.
[H]aving great teachers who genuinely care about your wellbeing is a good start to adulthood. [H]ard work and dedication pay off.”

“[W]hen you get older, if you were picked on in high school, none of that will determine your future. [B]eing a teenager should be fun, not stressful.”

Barbara Matye-Baker, 1994
Educational assistant in Independence.

“The biggest thing that I learned was
to have compassion for others. I was not an easy student to deal with. I currently work at a junior high and have been able to look back on my own experiences to empathize with the more difficult students. I learned this from my teachers in the Silverton School District, but my biggest influence and cheerleader was Mrs. Jodi Drescher. I have seen her in person and told her I was sorry for giving her such a hard time and also said thank you for believing in me.

“I wish I would have learned how to believe in myself a lot sooner, but I don’t think that is something that I could have learned from school. I had to learn that on my own.”

Kirstin Jorgenson, 1995
Scotts Mills School Principal in Silverton.

“Though I had moments through school where I thought I had other career plans – like a dentist, career in public health, and even once an FBI agent – I always knew I really wanted to be a teacher. While a student at SHS, I learned what it meant to have teachers, coaches, and administrators who truly cared about me and my success as a student, athlete, and person. Throughout my career as both a teacher and a principal, I have continued to reach out to many of my teachers, coaches, and administrators from SHS for advice.
I hope that I can make that same impact in the lives of the students that I work with each year.

“I probably should have paid closer attention in Home Ec.”

Angela Garcia, 1996
Accountant – Owner AMG Accounting Solutions LLC in Molalla

She wishes she had learned another language.

Alan Hafner, 1996
Cattle rancher in Plains, Montana

“[I] took several agriculture classes that have been very beneficial. FFA helped me to improve my public speaking.” He also learned “the importance of perseverance.”

He wishes he had learned “[h]ow to be self-confidant”

Leslie Martin, 1996
Benefits specialist in Silverton

“I learned that after the first few weeks of freshman year it really didn’t matter which school you came from, you formed bonds and friendships based on the present. What mattered was how you treated the people around you and learning that everyone has something to contribute. The same holds true today. Your boss or co-workers may not have the same background or upbringing as you do, and that’s OK because you both bring something different to
the table.”

Melanie (Jensen) Huebsch, 1997
Stay-at-home wife and mom to four kids (previously a dental assistant) in Silverton

“Besides academics, I had some amazing teachers that prepared us with life skills. Good communication and interpersonal relationship skills. They taught us how to resolve conflict and held us accountable for our poor choices. In particular, Mr. Bellando, Mr. Stoops, Mr. Tiffee, and Mr. Gilman were some of my favorites. Although, I didn’t realize at the time that they were teaching me things that would greatly benefit me as an adult I see them now and I’m so thankful.”

Pamela Shetler, 1998
Scotts Mills

“I loved all my classes relating to medicine/biology. As a mom I have relied many times on lessons learned in sports medicine, health, anatomy, and medical terminology.

“I wish we would have had a photography course in high school. It would have helped a lot with the direction my life took after high school.”

Staci Fisher, 2004
School counselor
in Medford

“I would say that people and relationships matter. I can honestly say that in my four years at Silverton and essentially growing up at the high school, that I never had any ‘bad’ teachers or administrators, everyone adult was so kind and helpful. They really instilled a love of learning within me and obviously had an impact since I am working in the field of Education and coaching high school athletics.

“I probably doubted myself too much.
I have so many current students who are just fearless and aren’t afraid to fail and take risk and through that, they create a world that is their oyster. I wish that I understood the power of failure and the value of taking risk earlier on in my life.”

Chloe DeVito, 2008
Child care provider in Silverton

“I really valued the interpersonal skills
I received while attending SHS. Specifically working on communication and helping others.

“Having a life skills class would have been incredibly beneficial. After graduation, then entering the ‘adult world’ with minimal knowledge of how to manage money and prepare taxes was difficult.”

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