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‘Gavit-built’: Region family has five pairs of high school sweethearts and decades of memories

‘Gavit-built’: Region family has five pairs of high school sweethearts and decades of memories

From the 5 stories to know from the weekend series
The Cory family had five pairs of high school sweethearts from Gavit Middle/High School

First, Jack and Gayle Cory met at Gavit High School. Then their four kids met their own future spouses while attending. All five couples are still together and feel bittersweet about Gavit's closing.

HAMMOND — On June 3, Gayle Cory turned off the lights in her classroom for the last time. She wasn’t just closing the door on the school where she worked for over a quarter of a century, but the place that laid the foundation for her family.

Cory worked with students with special needs at Gavit Middle/High School for 26 years. Before that she floated between different schools in the School City of Hammond, but her full-time position at Gavit happened to line up with the time her youngest child, Mark, started sixth grade at Gavit.

Cory and her husband, Jack, graduated from Gavit in 1970. From there, they built a life together and watched all four of their children not only attend Gavit, but go on to marry their own high school sweethearts. 

On Saturday, the last graduating class from Gavit received their diplomas at a ceremony at The Pavilion at Wolf Lake Memorial Park. Gavit is one of three high schools in the School City of Hammond that will be closing after this school year. The new Hammond Central High School will take the place of the three schools. 

For families and alumni like the Corys, Gavit’s closing is bittersweet. The building itself holds decades of memories, but they know the schools are being consolidated to benefit current and future students. 

Jack and Gayle, Class of 1970

Jack and Gayle Cory met during their senior year. They were both on student council and responsible for decorating for the homecoming dance. 

Their paths hadn’t crossed before — even though Gayle went there for all of high school and Jack started after his freshman year — but it wasn’t long before the two started dating. 

They spent their time going to the movies and grabbing a bite to eat at the House of Pizza. Jack especially loved spending time with Gayle and other friends in the student lounge at Gavit between classes. They would play albums, make plans for the weekend and escape the classroom for a bit.

After graduating, Jack and Gayle were married on March 11, 1971. This year they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with what has become a yearlong celebration. 

Later this summer, the whole family is going to Disney World so Gayle can get a photo of everyone standing in front of the castle at Magic Kingdom, which was her request as an anniversary present. Jack and Gayle said they started taking trips to Disney when their youngest was 2, and now, he’s 37.

As Gavit closes and Gayle retires, she isn’t just saying goodbye to her alma mater, but a place where she taught hundreds of students with special needs.  

"I really have loved what I’ve done," she said. "I wouldn’t trade it for the world."

Amy and Tom Ingram, Class of 1989

Amy is the oldest of the Cory children and went to Gavit for high school after attending a Catholic middle school. 

It was her first experience at a public school, so she was timid at first, but quickly grew to love it and meeting new people. Now, 30 years later, Amy describes her (and her whole family’s) experience at Gavit as "magical." 

She met her husband, Tom, at the end of freshman year. She was 14, almost 15, when they started dating. They dated all through high school and went to all the dances together.

At 21, they got married and started their family. When you’re young, Amy said, you don’t really think about whether or not your siblings will all stay with their high school sweethearts, but the way all their relationships started is special.

Being the oldest, Amy not only had her parents’ relationship as a model, but got to watch all of her younger siblings' relationships unfold. She said she never would have thought they all would have stayed with the people they dated at such young ages, but it lines up with the way they were raised as a tight-knit, loving family. 

The beloved student lounge was still at Gavit when she went there, but the spot that sticks out in Amy’s mind is Room 120, Mr. Bradkey’s room. The rooms were renumbered at some point after she graduated, but back then it was where he taught business math — a “horrible” subject, in her opinion — and made it fun. 

She laughed the most in his class because of the goofy way he would call on people whether they wanted to be or not. To this day, she and Tom still joke about it. 

Their kids don’t attend Gavit because they moved to Lowell, but Amy said she wishes they could have experienced it, too. She’s thankful that Gavit started her life, marriage and family.

"We say 'Gavit-built,' because we are, essentially," she said.

Tracy and Dan Igras, Class of 1992

Jack and Gayle's second child, Tracy, also went to Gavit for high school after attending Catholic school. 

It was especially fun for her because she was a freshman when Amy was a senior, so she showed her the ropes of public school. Tracy played sports just as Amy did, but she said she participated mainly for socialization.

Tracy and her husband, Dan — who have been married for over 25 years — started dating their junior year after meeting in a graphic arts class. 

"Our parents were very good role models to us," she said. "Once we found who we love, we stuck."

The graphic arts classroom still holds a special place in Tracy's heart because it's where she met Dan and many of her friends, but Tracy also loved Gavit's open campus when she was there. 

She and her friends would walk down Indianapolis Boulevard to get a bite from The Wheel or the Arby's that used to be there. She and Dan had the same lunch hour, so they would get to wander off campus together for a midday meal.

For Tracy, it is sad to see Gavit close. She knows it will benefit future students, but it feels strange for her to say that the place she went to high school is closed now. 

"It's a sad chapter to close," she said.

She was there for Gayle's last day. It was emotional, she said. Amy and her brought balloons and flowers to surprise her, and it was the first time in many years she had been able to walk the halls again. 

Jake and Lisa, Class of 1995

Jake was the first of the Cory children to go to Gavit for middle and high school.

He and his wife, Lisa, met in their classes as sixth graders. Now, the two have been together for over half their lives and are going on 24 years of marriage.

The two have four kids and now live in Lowell.

Growing up in a family-oriented household, Jake said the values his parents instilled in him and his siblings taught them that it's not always going to be good, so find someone to work through the highs and lows of life with.

When Jake thinks of Gavit, the place he's taken back to is the gym. He played varsity basketball all four years of high school, so he spent a lot of his time practicing and playing in that gym. 

Not only did Jake's parents and siblings go to Gavit, but so did Lisa's. Seeing the school close is bittersweet, he said, but he's happy for the current Hammond students. 

Jake is happy for his mom and her retirement. She's dedicated so much of her life to the school and the kids she worked with, so he knows she will miss it. 

The kids Gayle worked with were part of her life, he said, and "she loved them like they were her own." After all these years, he said she's earned the chance to enjoy her well-deserved retirement.

Mark and Allison, Class of 2002 and 1999

Since Mark started at Gavit the same year Gayle started working there full time, he said they would drive to school together every morning. 

Mark and his wife, Allison, met in the summer before his freshman year and her senior year. Both of them were in band. Allison was drum major, and she knew Mark as the sweaty kid who came to band practice straight from basketball. 

The two didn’t actually start dating until a few months after Allison graduated, but now they have been together for 22 years.

At first, Allison thought Mark was an only child because of the age gap between him and Jake, so she didn’t realize the history the Cory family had with falling in love at Gavit. It wasn’t until about a year after they were dating, Allison said, that Gayle drew the connection that every couple had met at Gavit.

"We do think the heart of Gavit brought us all together," Allison said. 

Allison is sad she won’t be able to visit the band room one more time. After playing clarinet and spending two years as drum major, she said she spent many hours in that room.

Mark and Allison have lived in Florida for the past 13 years, so their kids didn't get to experience Gavit as students, but their son did get a small taste a few years ago. 

One year when they were back in Indiana visiting, Gayle asked if she could take their son to school with her for 'take your kid to work day.' He only went for a couple hours, but he ate lunch with Gayle there and saw where his parents went to school.

Mark and Allison also have a mix of emotions when it comes to Gavit closing. They know that change is inevitable in life and the progress is good, but it is a bummer for them. 

As for Gayle, they know she shaped hundreds of lives with her patience and devotion to her students.

Gallery: Gavit High School Commencement

The last batch of Gavit High School graduates walked across the state Saturday.

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Students listening to the Valedictorian speech on Saturday.

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A graduate fans hereself while listening to a speech at the Gavit graduation ceremony on Saturday.

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Students listening to the Valedictorian speech on Saturday.

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A student receives her diploma with a smile at Gavit's graduation ceremony Saturday.

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Annikkha Setlak, Gavit High School class president, gives a speech Saturday during graduation at Wolf Lake Pavilion.

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The ten students with the highest GPA sit on stage at Wolf Lake Pavilion on Saturday.

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A student listens to the Salutatorian's speech on Saturday.

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Students listeing to the opening speaker at Wolf Lake Pavilion on Saturday.

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A student receives her diploma at the Gavit graduation ceremony on Saturday.

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Students wait by the lake just before the graduation ceremony begins at Wolf Lake Pavilion on Saturday.

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A Senior throws up peace signs as she walks to her seat for the Gavit graduation on Saturday.

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Valedictorian Luke Miiller gives a speech at Gavit High School's graduation ceremony Saturday.

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A student listens to the Salutatorian's speech on Saturday.

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Students listening to the Valedictorian speech on Saturday.

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Salutatorian Sean Stringfellow gives a speech Saturday during Gavit's graduation at Wolf Lake Pavilion.

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A student poses with diploma in hand at the Wolf Lake Pavilion on Saturday.

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A student receivng his diploma at the Gavit High School graduation ceremony Saturday.

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A student receiving his diploma at Wolf Lake Pavilion on Saturday.

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Students heading to their seats just before the Gavit graduation ceremony at Wolf Lake Pavilion on Saturday.

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A student holds her diploma at the Gavit graduation ceremony on Saturday.

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A student poses for a picture at the Gavit graduation ceremony on Saturday.

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Students heading to their seats just before the Gavit graduation ceremony at Wolf Lake Pavilion on Saturday.

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A Gavit High School student shakes hands with Superintendent Scott Miller after receiving her diploma Saturday during graduation at Wolf Lake …

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A Gavit High School graduate walks back to his seat after receiving his diploma Saturday.

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One of many decorated graduation caps worn by Gavit graduates on Saturday.

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Students walk singe file towards their seating for the Hammond Gavit graduation ceremony on Saturday.

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A Senior gives a thumbs up as he walks to his seat for the Gavit graduation on Saturday.

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Students walk singe file towards their seating for Gavit's graduation ceremony on Saturday.

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A student raises up his diploma to show applauding family.

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Graduates cheer after the end of the Gavit graduation ceremony on Saturday.

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A student poses with dipoma in hand for a photo on Saturday.

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A student poses with diploma in hand at the Wolf Lake Pavilion on Saturday.

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A student poses with diploma in hand at the Wolf Lake Pavilion on Saturday.

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A parent taking a photo of students arriving for the Gavit graduation ceremony on Saturday.

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A Gavit graduate poses for a picture after receiving her diploma on Saturday.

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Students returning to their seats with their diplomas on Saturday.

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A student hugs a faculty member at the Gavit graduation ceremony on Saturday.

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Education Reporter

AnnMarie Hilton is an education reporter for The Times. She grew up in a Chicago suburb and studied journalism at Northwestern University. Before coming to The Times, she worked as a business reporter in Wisconsin.

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