Mattawan Hall of Honor inductees recognized

Honored were 12 individuals “who have performed at a high level in high school and beyond, and those who gave their time, talent and treasure” at Mattawan Consolidated School. They include, from left, John Kruzich, Christopher Barbee, Debbie Schlukebir accepting on behalf of her late daughter, Karie Schlukebir-Pennock, James Weeldreyer, Fred Bowman, Ralph Moyle, Larry Herron and Chris Higgins. Also inducted were Chelsea Shephard, Lydia Buttolph Moyle, James Cotter,  and Alexander Ketzko.

    MATTAWAN - Mattawan Consolidated School administrators, staff, families and friends gathered Saturday to induct the first set of Hall of Honor awards recipients. The former MCS students and employees were recognized for their service to the school district, their contributions to society, or their performance in their careers since graduation.  The inaugural class of honorees includes:

MCS SERVICE

James A. Weeldreyer
1969-2006

    Jim Weeldreyer devoted four decades of service to Mattawan Consolidated School. He served as Early Elementary School principal from 1969-1978, before becoming the longest serving MCS superintendent.
    During his 31 years as superintendent (1978-2009), Weeldreyer watched Mattawan’s enrollment more than double, making the district one of the “smallest large schools in the nation.”
    Weeldreyer was named regional Superintendent of the Year in 2008 by the Michigan Association of School Administrators.
    Always highly visible on campus, Weeldreyer was involved in numerous activities, including announcing at basketball games and assisting the Mattawan Bands.
    In honor of his retirement, MCS established the James A. Weeldreyer Endowment for Building Positive Interpersonal Relationships and named the high school auditorium after him.
    
Fred Bowman  
1965 -1999
Class of 1955

    Fred Bowman was born and raised on a Mattawan area farm. He attended MCS from the first grade, graduated in 1955 as class salutatorian, and went on to attend Western Michigan University.
    While at Mattawan, Bowman earned 15 varsity letters in four sports - football, basketball, baseball and tennis - more than anyone in the history of the school district to this day.
    Bowman was a member of MCS Board of Education from 1965-1971, and served as the school district’s business manager from 1972-1999, during which time, MCS grew from a Class C to a Class A district.
    While MCS operated as one of the lowest funded school districts in the state, Bowman’s performance and efficiency helped shape practices, procedures and protocols that endure to this day.
    Bowman has also served the district as athletic director, Commissioner of the Kalamazoo Valley Association, football announcer, and a substitute bus driver.
    
John Kruzich
Class of 1962

    John Kruzich amassed many honors and accomplishments during his years as a Mattawan Wildcat. He excelled as an athlete, earning four varsity letters for both baseball and track and three varsity letters for both basketball and football.
    His senior year, Kruzich was elected student council president; and in 1961, Kruzich was selected as the Mattawan High School representative to Boys State, an educational program to help young men learn about government.
    Kruzich attended Western Michigan University as an education major and lettered in baseball as a freshman there. He played top tier city league basketball and baseball during the 1960s and 1970s.
    Kruzich and his wife, Marsha, continue a 70-year family tradition of grape farming.
    
James Cotter
1935 -1944

    Born in 1876, James Cotter was a visionary who brought his experience in teaching, county school examination and school administration to Mattawan.
    Cotter held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Michigan State College, and was hired as superintendent, and agriculture instructor at Mattawan in 1935. He led the district in increasing the district’s boundaries, planning, and completion of two school buildings. The district experienced a notable increase in student enrollment during his tenure.
     Many courses of study were added and two forest projects were completed under Cotter’s leadership.
    
Lydia Buttolph Moyle
1916-1919 and beyond

    Even though she was an employee of MCS for only a few years, Lydia Moyle’s legacy is remarkable and notable. She came to MCS as a teacher and principal in 1916, after graduating from Kalamazoo College She briefly took over as superintendent in 1918 when then-Superintendent Frank G. Davis was drafted into military service.
    Buttolph married teacher Norman Moyle and left MCS in 1919 to start a family; together they raised five children.
    Buttolph Moyle organized a girl’s basketball team in 1916 -- an era when girls weren’t supposed to run. Among her other accomplishments, Buttolph Moyle  organized the Mattawan Alumni Association in 1918, the Parent-Teacher Association in 1927, the Mattawan Garden Club in 1935, and the Merry Mates 4-H Club in 1938.
    She  served on the MCS Board of Education during the 1960s. Mattawan Public Education Foundation scholarships are awarded in memory of Lydia and Norman Moyle.

Contributions to Society
Ralph Moyle, Class of 1950

    Ralph Moyle began driving his father’s 14-foot ‘straight truck’ during the grape harvest season when he was 13.  After high school and serving two years in the U.S. Army, Moyle resumed hauling local produce, while pursuing a business degree at Western Michigan University.
    Moyle’s ambition to own a trucking company grew from one truck and trailer, to today’s  70 tractors, 130 employees and 320,000-square-feet of dry goods warehouse.
    Moyle has continually supported the local food pantry, sponsored numerous local events, and has regularly purchased MCS yearbook ads.
    
Chris Higgins, Class of 1992
    Chris Higgins entered the commercial horticulture industry un-sure of where his first job would lead. His vision to use business to create a better community led him on a 21-year journey to becoming co-owner and general manager of Hort Americas. Hort Americas supports Tour De Fresh to raise funds to benefit the national Salad Bars to Schools initiative; MCS received a donated salad bar in 2014.
    Higgins is dedicated to creating change through a variety of non-profit and community minded projects. He created Urban Ag News, a publication focused on providing innovative and educational content to a wide audience.

Christopher Barbee
Class of 1984

    Chris Barbee, a broadcasting major and 1988 graduate of Grand Valley State University, received the News in Excellence Award in 1991 while working for Michigan Public Broadcasting.
    Aspired to become press secretary for Congressman Vernon J. Ehler in Washington, D.C.  from 1994 to 2002, he is currently the Director of Alumni Relations at GVSU, where he received the GVSU School of Communications Distinguished Alumni Award in 2003.
    Barbee serves on the board of the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan; volunteers at Excel Charter Academy and Special Olympics Summer Games; and is a member of What Daddies Do Best - a GVSU dad’s group. In 2014, he received the Father of the Year Award given by the American Diabetes Association.

Performance
Larry Herron, Class of 1998

    Larry Herron’s first  taste of performance began on the Mattawan High School stage and forensics team. In 2005, he received a   bachelor’ s degree in Theatre Performance from Western Michigan University. He studied Shakespeare at Oxford University, and received a master’  degree from the University of California San Diego.
    In 2008, Herron moved to Los Angeles, CA, and earned TV roles on ER, Numb3rs, Cold Case, Medium, Shameless, Lie to Me, NCIS, The Brink, Law and Order, and the Spike TV hit Adam Ruins Everything.
    Herron uses his vocal talents for best selling audio books and national TV campaigns.

Alexander Ketzko,Class of 1936
    Alexander Ketzko grew up in Mattawan as the son of fruit farmers.  He never played football as a Wildcat, but during his junior year at Michigan State College in 1938, he was spotted as a “natural” and joined the Spartan football team to play tackle, which took him to the 1938 Orange Bowl against Auburn. Ketzko signed with the Peterson Panthers of the American Football Alliance in 1940. He then signed with the New York Giants in 1940, but was traded to the Detroit Lions, where he played in 9 out of 10 games during the 1943 season.
    He enlisted in the U.S. Army and was killed in action during the Battle of the Bulge in France in 1944.

Chelsea Shephard,Class of 2004
    An active member of the Mattawan bands and choirs, playing leading roles in school musicals, Chelsea Shephard aimed high as an MHS student. She received her bachelor of music from DePaul University, and earned her master of music from Rice University.
    Shephard trained in classical music as a soprano vocalist. She has won first prize in competitions such as Handel Aria Competition, Schubert Club Bruce P. Carlson Competition and the National Opera Association Vocal Competition. She recently released her first CD with fortepianist Trevor Stephenson, entitled, “Songs by Mozart, Haydn & Schubert.”    
    On May 6, she  made  her Carnegie Hall debut  with the Cecilia Chorus of New York, performing Brahms’ Requiem and A Garden Among the Flames.

Karie Schlukebir-Pennock
Class of 1998

    Karie Schlukebir’s love of tennis led her to a high school state title in her sophomore year and entrance into the Mattawan Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1998, Schlukebir was diagnosed with malignant melanoma.  Despite this challenge, she earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in sports marketing from Indiana University.
    She played four seasons of college tennis at Indiana, was team captain of the 2004 Big Ten Championship Team and received the NCAA Wilma Rudolph award for students who overcome challenges, and the ITA Cissie Leary Sportsman award. She became assistant women’s tennis coach at Florida International University.
    She married Joe Pennock on July 4, 2009.
    At age 29, Schlukebir-Pennock finished the Boston Marathon in 4:46:01 to raise money and awareness for the Shade Foundation about the dangers of sun exposure. She endured 11 years of treatment until passing away in 2010.

 

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