LOWELL | Taking PRIDE in their achievements, the 32 Lowell High School seniors with the top academic records revealed their most influential teachers May 4 at the annual LHS PRIDE Banquet.
Surrounded by family and friends, the soon-to-be graduates heard themselves praised for being "an amazing group of students," according to co-host/teacher Kevin Deal, and having "a sense of justice and responsibility," according to Lynne Haberlin, retiring director of Innovations in Learning for the Tri-Creek School Corp.
Haberlin, who began her career as a first- and third-grade teacher, was selected by the student honorees as their Honorary PRIDE Recipient this year.
"She's one of the most positive people I've ever been around," said co-host/teacher Joe Gianotti in introducing Haberlin, who also served as Oak Hill Elementary School principal for 18 years, and as curriculum director for all of Tri-Creek.
"I will miss working with teachers and administrators who are compassionate and excited about working with students," Haberlin said of her pending retirement. "The kids keep you motivated."
Haberlin recalled watching members of the class of 2014 "walk into Oak Hill as confident kindergartners full of excitement, nervousness and anticipation," and advance as "learners, strong readers and problem solvers. You were curious, exuberant and you became very social."
Those thoughts were echoed by first-year LHS Principal Lori Pavell, who introduced each of the honor graduates and their chosen teacher. "Kids aren't what they used to be - they are smarter and more productive," she said as she listed extracurricular activities that ranged from book club to baseball, and National Honor Society to show choir.
Honor graduate Amy Fraikin said "there were a lot of teachers that I liked," but Barbara Deardorff, who spent just one year at LHS, "stood out. . .because she encouraged me not just to do well, but to do my best and strive to be better."
Jacob Lang, one of seven students to single out Gianotti, said he wanted to go back to class each day, knowing the Honors English teacher is "very interested in what we are learning. . . and seems to care that his students are learning and having fun doing it."
Gianotti stressed that while they may come from a small town, "Lowell High School graduates can do anything they want" by detailing the successful careers of several recent graduates. He added: "The talent in this class is incredible, and in 4 or 5 years, I'll be telling stories about you."