Tuesday, May 24, 2016

50 Years of Benton Community -- Miss RoseMary Meyer Impact

“Absolutely a hoot!”  

That’s how Miss RoseMary Meyer described her time as an employee at Newhall High School and later Benton Community High School. 

Miss Meyer began her teaching career in the fall of 1955 and taught business courses for a total of thirty-nine years.  Her largest senior class was 141 and smallest was 99.  For those of us who had the pleasure of being taught by Miss Meyer, that’s a whole ‘lotta “homerow people”.  I am one of many great typist she helped develop due to her dedication and tenacity for helping students learn “correctly”. 

1975 Yearbook photo

Miss Meyer grew up in Clarence, Iowa, and when she graduated from Coe in the spring of 1955.  She interviewed for two different jobs; Grundy Center and Newhall.   Both were farming communities and Miss Meyer chose to work in Newhall because “everything seemed very comfortable and like home.” 

Miss Meyer had the chance in 1958 to study in California with her former advising professor from Coe.   She did this for her first two summers of teaching.  In 1959 her advising professor wanted her to interview in Palo Alto, CA.   She went and interviewed and told me, “I just didn’t feel comfortable with the place.  The next summer my dad passed away and if I had taken that job, I would have missed that year with my dad and helping my mom with everything.   The years just crept along and I had many friends here and it just worked out.”   
Miss Meyer did spend a few summers in Colorado earning her M.A. in business education.  She commented, “Those summers in Colorado and California were so much fun.  I got to learn from a work study program in the insurance industry.  The work study program was designed for me to find out the types of skills a high school graduate needed for those types of jobs.” 

This summer Miss Meyer will attend a 60th class reunion for the Newhall School.  In a recent phone conversation, Miss Meyer shared she loves these events.  She thoroughly enjoys being able to see how students turned out after high school. 
Miss Meyer commented, “The thing that is really neat is to see the late bloomers.  It’s great to see someone come back who you thought years earlier ‘how will they ever survive?’ and they’ve now found their nitch and they turn out so super.  That’s absolutely a hoot!  For so many of students, I only saw them for three years when we were in the Van Horne High School.   And then there were so many after that when we moved into the MS/HS building.  I was fortunate that I had contact with all of them their senior year.  I was senior sponsor and helped with graduation for 28 years.”

Miss Meyer shared with me, “Graduation was held on Thursday evening when we started at Benton Community – just like Newhall.  School Baccalaureate was on Sunday and the following Thursday graduation would happen.  Local ministers were on a rotation by denomination and town, in alphabetical order, to lead Baccalaureate.  There was no band at Baccalaureate, only an organ.  Reuben “Denny” Denbo would go to Atkins and pick-up Deanne Krug Becker’s organ.   Evelyn Wiebke and Linda Podahasky played the organ for Baccalaureate.

Baccalaureate, during those times was a board approved event and when classes would tell Miss Meyer they did not want to hold Baccalaureate, she would share with them,  “We will have it unless you can go to board and present why not to have it.  This is board policy.”  One year the class got themselves organized, went to ministers and the board and Baccalaureate was no more.   Miss Meyer shared, “Then we moved graduation to Sunday, which caused quite uproar!  But that is what ended up happening.” 

Two Benton Community graduations were held outside and Miss Meyer would like to know which years these were.   Miss Meyer commented there was a lot of stress with having graduations outside.  Miss Meyer remembers it was so cold and had been raining that first year graduation was held outside.  She told me, "Almost everyone wore overcoats and chairs sunk in to the football field.  The next year graduation was a beautiful and calm night and the band people didn’t even need to use clothespins on their music.  The following year graduation was planned for outside, but it got moved inside due to pouring down rain."  Miss Meyer told me this was not a problem due to students already having Baccalaureate inside on the Sunday before.  The following year, on the morning of graduation, it was raining again and Mr. Merchant called Miss Meyer and told her, “We are having graduation at Newhall today and from now on.”  

After that the only time graduation was moved to Keystone was when a storm came through and ripped off part of the roof at Newhall.  This was also the same year that the robes for graduation didn’t arrive until the Friday before graduation.  Miss Meyer was really concerned and as she put it, "I was in a bit of a tizzy", but was assured when the robes arrived other people would help fix this dilemma. 
1981 Yearbook photo

When I asked Miss Meyer if she had a time in her teaching career that really sticks out, she commented, “There are many of them.  One time was when we had two new seniors move to BC (a brother and sister).  I was sharing with them the process for graduation and another senior said to them, ‘Do what she says, you can trust her!’  That meant a lot to me.”  She also commented, “I remember a graduation picture with someone and Jim took a picture of us and put it in the paper.  Things like that were the most fun.  It was just a hoot!”  

Myself and Miss Meyer taken by Jim Magdefrau

She also commented on what fun it was to teach with former students.  Andy Becker and Don Gibney were two of Miss Meyer’s former students.  She says “That was a hoot!”  She also fondly remembers all the family members she had.  

Judy Boddicker Garber’s, a former BC Elementary teacher and student of Miss Meyer from Newhall, fit this definition.  RoseMary commented, “I had all of her siblings and they all told Joe (the youngest sibling), ‘We had to take her class and you need to as well!’  He did, but I don’t think he liked it very much!  I also taught all of Judy’s own children!  That is scary to think about when I taught children of former students.  

I didn’t get to the third generation – but I was close.  They were in the building, but I never actually taught 3rd generation students.  I have been invited to a wedding of two former students (Kelly Becker and Daron Buch), who each of their four parents (Deanne & Andy Becker and Cathy & Jim Buch) I also taught.  I made sure I got a picture of that!”

Miss Meyer shared with me how helpful people at BC were.  “We had so much fun when we were together!”  Examples she shared ranged from wrestling tournaments, track meets, football games, dressing up for Halloween, coaching cross country,  FFA trips, band trips, FHA trips, sponsoring NHS and Prom.  “Everybody worked so hard to make sure events went off without a hitch.  We all just pitched in and had a ball doing it.”  When I asked her about coaching cross country, she laughed A LOT!  “I had to stay until 4:00 and I thought I may as well be helping.  I asked Wayne if he would like to have me go along to meets since he was coaching both the boys and girls.  The high point of my coaching was when Wayne gave me my own whistle!”   And she still has it.

1980 Yearbook photo

I was inducted into NHS in the summer before the start of my senior year and I remember how much time and energy Miss Meyer put into our induction process and banquet.   I am not sure people who don’t work in education understand the amount of time sponsors of activities spend on their children.  I so appreciate all of those sponsors and coaches who gave of their time for those of us who so greatly benefited from participating in these activities.   Thank you from the bottom of my heart.    

My letter from Aug. 1981
Miss Meyer also shared, it wasn’t just staff that came together, but the community as well.  “We had a prom fund-raiser dinner before a girls’ basketball game vs. Montezuma.  There was a snow storm  the night before the game and school got cancelled, but it was decided to play the ball game anyway.  The mother’s decided they had the food prepared, they might as well host the fund-raiser.  They arrived at the school at 3:30 and by 5:00 they were ready to serve the Swiss steak dinner with dessert.  One mother even had be transported down her lane in the loader-bucket of a tractor to get her pies to the dinner.  “Absolutely a hoot!” 

Miss Meyer also spoke of the times that were incredibly difficult, such as a death of a student.   She remembers how quiet the halls were after a tragic accident where two of our students were killed.  She never objected to the noise in the hall from that point on.  
As I think about how Miss Meyer has impacted my life there are a few things in me which might be a direct reflection of her investment in me:
  • We both agree that being committed and persistent are much nicer adjectives than being called stubborn.
  • We both move from one place to another very quickly.
  • We are both very organized and love to have fun with the people we work with.
  • I don’t twist my hands and say “people” the way she can, but every time I see a ‘toad’ I think of her.     

1981 Yearbook photo
Miss Meyer ended our conversation with, “I had so much fun teaching – thank you for listening to me.  I liked the people I taught with and I respected them and still do.”  I responded, “This is pure joy listening to you!”  To that Miss Meyer laughed hysterically and I thought to myself this conversation has been “Absolutely a hoot!” 

1980 Yearbook Photo

P.S.  As I was reviewing this story with Miss Meyer, I commented to her on how I think we look alike in the photo Mags took of the two of us.  She said she always thought that same thing.   Thanks Miss Meyer for your impact on me and Benton Community. 

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