City Schools Foundation recognizes outstanding alumni, teachers

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Left to right are East Elementary Teacher of the Year- Kelly Thrasher, special education; Cullman Primary Teacher of the Year- Allison Bates, first grade; West Elementary School and Overall Elementary Teacher of the Year- Salena Mayberry, third grade; Cullman High School and Overall Secondary Teacher of the Year- John Drake, multi-media design, business tech applications, television production and AP computer science principles; and Cullman Middle School Teacher of the Year- Kylie Bates, eighth-grade math.

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman City Schools Foundation on Friday held its 11th annual Distinguished Alumni and Service Awards Luncheon held in Tillman Hall on the campus of Cullman High School.

The late Dr. Rhonda Quick was awarded the 2019 Distinguished Alumna with her sister

Regina Quick accepting the award in her sister’s memory. A 1985 graduate, Rhonda Quick was valedictorian and received a full scholarship to Auburn in pre-medicine. She was a first-generation college student. She continued her education at Wake Forest University Bowling Green School of Medicine and received her doctor of medicine in 1993.

She completed her residency in general surgery at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center in 1998. After a two-year vascular fellowship, she remained on faculty at the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine and the department of surgery. In 2003 she moved to Tucson, Arizona to work at VeinSolutions.

Quick passed away suddenly March 17, 2019.

“She did choose Tucson, Arizona, probably to many folks’ dismay, and Dr. (Gregory) Windham who is here today. Dr, Windham, thank you, not just for allowing her to work with you during the summers when she was at Auburn, but he was the anonymous benefactor of her full-ride scholarship,” her sister shared. “They remained lifelong friends.”

She continued, “She was also an expert at cross-stitch and embroidery, which I would frequently tease her about. She would say it helps with her fine motor skills. Jan Porter is here today. We played basketball together on the bench at Cullman High School, Class of ‘81. Jan and I used to say to her, `I cannot believe you are a surgeon, holding people’s lives in your hands. You couldn’t even dribble!’ She would say, ‘That is a gross motor skill not a FINE motor skill.’”

The Quick family is currently working to establish a pre-med scholarship to Auburn University to be awarded beginning in the 20200-2021 school year.

Rhett Thompson, Class of 1987, was recognized as a 2018 Distinguished Alumnus and thanked the Cullman City School Foundation via a video from Finland. Thompson now works as an investor in technology companies in the Nordic countries.

He said, “I work to find great companies and help them expand. I think it’s absolutely remarkable the basis of the education I received from Cullman High School. I never went to university. I just started working and I was able to leverage everything I learned there in great ways to go beyond and do great things. I will forever be grateful for what I have acquired: friendships, mentorships and all kinds of opportunities that came out of my experiences from Cullman.”

Jacob Calahan, Class of 2013, was presented the 2019 Promising Alumnus Award. He attended Auburn University where he was in several honor societies and graduated Magna Cum Laude. He continued his education at Auburn in pharmacy school. This year, he was named Auburn University’s Most Outstanding Pharmacy Student. He is also heavily involved in community and church organizations.

Calahan thanked many of his teachers throughout his years at Cullman City Schools, saying, “At East Elementary, I am from the class that is known for having a different principal all five years, but I am so thrilled that Mr. (David) Wiggins is still there today. Fun fact, I was his first office aide.”

He continued, “Upon graduating in May with a doctorate in pharmacy, I plan to complete a residency in clinical pharmacotherapy and specialize in oncology and emergency medicine. If life goes as planned, you can even vote for me to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate.”

He thanked all of his family, girlfriend, teachers and administrators before giving a “Go Bearcats and War Eagle!”

2018-2019 Teacher of the Year Awards

  • Cullman Primary Teacher of the Year- Allison Bates, first grade
  • East Elementary Teacher of the Year- Kelly Thrasher, special education
  • Cullman Middle School Teacher of the Year- Kylie Bates, eighth-grade math
  • Cullman High School and Overall Secondary Teacher of the Year- John Drake, multi-media design, business tech applications, television production and AP computer science principles
  • West Elementary School and Overall Elementary Teacher of the Year- Salena Mayberry, third grade

Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Patterson gave a special thank you to the Cullman High School Ambassadors, National Honor Society volunteers, FCCLA student servers and Ms. Debbie Johnston’s piano and guitar students for contributed to Friday’s program.

The mission of the Cullman City Schools Foundation is, “to support the values, traditions and commitment to excellence of the Cullman City Schools and to promote character, citizenship and scholarship for all students.”

For more information, visit https://sites.google.com/view/cullmancityschoolsfoundation/home.

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com