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May 1, 2014

Students honor mentors as Pillars

30th annual Pillars ceremony recognizes roots of success

Behind every excellent student, there is a pillar of strength. Especially in Logansport.

Logansport High School’s top 10 students who excel academically honored their mentors in a ceremony Wednesday night. The 30th annual ceremony bestowed Lamp of Knowledge plaques on the students, who in turn honored their mentors — teachers, coaches or community members who had strongly influenced their academic career — with Pillar awards, recognizing them as “pillars of the community,” in Logansport Community Schools Superintendent Michele Starkey’s words.

The 10 students honored teachers or coaches who often were also close friends of the students’ families.

Cooper Kinnaman remembered entering first-grade teacher Stephen Gwin’s class eagerly. “He made class so enjoyable,” he recalled, telling the crowd of about 85 how Gwin had taken his class to march in a Light Up Logansport parade dressed as toy soldiers, ballerinas and a teddy bear. Cooper had Gwin as a teacher again in fourth grade, too.

Gwin, in his 19th year teaching in Logansport elementary schools, didn’t know until Wednesday how much he’d influenced Kinnaman, who was a finalist for this year’s Lilly scholarship.

“It kind of validates what I do every day,” Gwin said.

Michael Kistler chose his third-grade teacher, Chuck LaDow, who gave him his one and only B grade. LaDow and three other recipients were returning Pillars, having been chosen by other students in previous years. Brooke Bullard’s family first met English teacher Jitka Nelson when Brooke was a toddler.

Whitney Jennings’ family has been close with her tennis coach Kelly Bullard for years, and had to turn her speech over to her mother, Carol Jennings, when tears prevented her telling how the Bullards’ house had become like a second home for her. Hannah Jones, too, said she’d known her internship teacher, Cynthi Frye, for 12 years, and she “became more like family.”

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