October 20, 2019

Two generations share same science teacher - Daily Leader Extra : Top Stories

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Two generations share same science teacher

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Posted: Monday, May 20, 2019 4:01 pm

Sitting on the bleachers at the back of the Oldham-Ramona gym on Saturday afternoon, the school's science teacher watched another class of students graduate.

Dean Koster has been watching students graduate for more than five decades. This class was unique, though.

"In that family, I taught all five members of the family," Koster said.

He was talking about Zachary Halverson, whose parents Scott and Tammy had studied under him when he taught in Madison, and whose two older sisters studied under him at Oldham-Ramona.

It's not uncommon at parent-teacher conferences for a parent to recognize Koster from their own school days. However, despite teaching for 55 years, most of them in the area, he has not taught any other students whose parents had both been students of his.

He said he doesn't let prior knowledge of the family influence the way he teaches any of his students. Rather, mutual respect is the foundation of his approach.

"I want your respect," Koster said about his attitude toward his students. "When I get your respect, I can teach you."

He added that respect isn't a one-way street in his classroom, though.

"I love and respect every one of my students," Koster said.

During the Oldham-Ramona commencement, the students themselves expressed their respect and appreciation for all of the teachers and other staff members who had helped to shape their educational experience at the small rural school. This year's graduating class included seven students -- Valedictorian Taylor Hojer, Salutatorian Haley Gearhart, Connor Spilde, Tanner Scholl, Peyton Roti and Avery Hyland in addition to Halverson.

The program was filled with laughter, memories and gratitude and conducted with dignity to honor the occasion. Following the processional, Spilde introduced his classmates to those in attendance, focusing on positive attributes.

Gearhart "always had a positive attitude." Hyland "is one of the hardest workers in our class." Scholl is "a man of few words." Halverson "is a pretty easy going guy." Hojer is "the academic of the class." Roti is an outdoorsman who knows a lot about fishing.

"He know how to get out there and catch something," Spilde said.

Hyland presented a prayer, leavening the hope and gratitude with humor.

"Please, let all the diplomas be signed today," she prayed.

Before introducing the eighth grade class, Superintendent Michael Fischer spoke briefly about the graduating class.

"They have made their mark on their school, their community, and soon, the world," he said.

Gearhart chose to begin her remarks with the opening passage of "A Tale of Two Cities."

"The best way to describe the last four years is with a quote from Charles Dickens," she said. "`It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of'...'"

She stumbled over the pronunciation of "incredulity" to transition into the rest of her comments. Gearhart described her classmates' futures in terms of their current dreams and thanked those who had influenced her, emphasizing her mother's role in her life.

"This will be a chapter of my life I will never forget," she concluded.

After recognizing parents and other significant people with flowers and sharing their memories with a slide show, Hojer spoke, sharing amusing anecdotes as well as recognizing the teachers and staff who had been part of the class's educational experience.

"You should all be proud. This hasn't been easy," he said.

He encouraged his classmates to take advantage of the opportunities which lay ahead and reminded them that plans don't always work.

"When we go our separate ways, don't forget to do what you love because you have a plan," he said.

The class motto is "I have a plan." The class flower is the carnation and the class colors were purple, black and gray.

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