HAMMOND | A 1970 graduate of Morton High School encouraged students to develop good goals and surround themselves with friends who have solid goals so they can support one another.

South Bend attorney Jay Lauer was one of eight successful former Morton High School grads who spoke to students Thursday during Success Day.

Hosted by the Hammond Education Foundation’s Alumni and Friends of Hammond Schools organization, the event was held at each of the School City of Hammond’s four high schools — Morton, Clark, Gavit and Hammond High.

Success Day featured alumni of the four Hammond high schools visiting classrooms to discuss with students how they can achieve personal and professional success. Nearly 500 freshmen, sophomores and juniors participated.

The Hammond Education Foundation also held its annual dinner Thursday night at Dynasty Banquet Center. It honored outstanding teachers, principals and administrators.

The former grads who visited Morton in additional to Lauer were Frank Mrvan, North Township trustee; Ken Benich, Hammond public schools IT director; Wes Lukoshus, Purdue University Calumet assistant vice chancellor for institutional advancement; Tom Keilman, director of government and public affairs for BP's Whiting Business Unit; Joseph Coates, a reference librarian and instructional technologist; Amy Blaker, federal caseworker for U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville; and Chris Walker, a CVS pharmacy representative.

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Freshman Clarence Scott, 15, was particularly impressed with the response from the professionals regarding a question he asked about balancing school and sports.

Lauer responded he would attend sports practices, then go home and eat and do his homework.

Scott, who said he's maintaining a B average, plays basketball and football. Some of the grads also talked about the number of distractions students have today, and the importance of maintaining good grades and activities despite that.

"I've been playing basketball since I was 5," Scott said. "I just started football. I think this program was a really good idea. It helps kids to see what they can do and how to get into a good college."

At the banquet, the foundation introduced Joshua Long as its new executive director. He begins in July and will succeed Gail Rodovich, who is retiring. A Griffith native, Long is currently a learning behavior specialist/case manager at Gary Comer College Prep School in Chicago. Rodovich will remain for a few weeks as a consultant to mentor Long.

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Southlake County Reporter

Carmen is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Times newspaper for 20 years. Before that she also had stints at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., The Post-Tribune and The News Dispatch in Michigan City.