COLUMBIA — Community members gathered Thursday evening at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts to celebrate the behind-the-scenes stars of Columbia’s public schools.
Outstanding volunteers, educators and alumni were honored at “Night of Stars,” the 2010 Hall of Leaders induction ceremony and charity event sponsored by the Columbia Public Schools Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing additional funding for Columbia’s public schools.
“These four individuals have each contributed in their own way by giving their time effortlessly,” master of ceremonies Fred Parry said as he introduced the outstanding volunteer honorees.
Lynnanne Baumgardner, Karen Smith, Ann Warren and Bondi Wood were each recognized as 2010 Outstanding Volunteers.
Honorees were each escorted by a student leader from Rock Bridge or Hickman high schools and were introduced with a brief description by Parry. The honorees gave a short thank you speech and accepted their award — a school bell.
“(She’s) a pleasant, caring, engaged worker bee” who parents strive to emulate, Parry said about Smith.
Parry also described Jolene Schulz, a 2010 Outstanding Retired Educator, as the “Maria von Trapp of CPS children” for her 34 years of service.
Pam Conway, Nancy Fritsch, John Kelly and James Ritter were also honored as 2010 Outstanding Retired Educators.
Ritter, a two-time superintendent of CPS, joked about being called out of retirement multiple times to serve CPS.
Kelly, a former assistant principal and athletic director at Hickman, spoke of his experience working for CPS.
“It was a joy to work with so many talented educators and watch them practice their craft on a daily basis," he said. "We are a blessed community.”
Katherine Hanley, Jack Horton, Margaret Lemone, Pamela Otto and John Troelstrup were the honorees for the 2010 Outstanding Alumni.
*Hanley, a 1961 graduate of Hickman and former Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia, recalled being in Ritter’s class the first day he ever taught at Hickman. She also attributed her interest in public schools to CPS.
“It’s easy to advocate for public schools with the experience I had,” Hanley said.
The event wasn’t just about awards, though. Students from Hickman's fall musical, West Junior High School's jazz ensemble, and Rock Bridge's drum line and chamber choir performed.
Carla Hunter, the mother of a Hickman senior and a volunteer said, “I loved hearing everyone’s stories and their accomplishments and how their success was based on their time here with the Columbia Public Schools.”
In its 14th year, the Columbia Public Schools Foundation has provided more than $500,000 to the Columbia Public Schools. The foundation has honored outstanding volunteers, retired educators and alumni by inducting them into the Hall of Leaders since 1999.
“It’s just an honor to be recognized, and it was totally unexpected,” Kelly said. “I never thought a career assistant principal would be so honored. I always worked behind the scenes. And it’s great that people noticed and appreciated it.”