In recent months, Centennials (Generation Z) are speaking up and taking action across our nation. They are our future, but they are making a difference now.
Megan Rogers is an outstanding example of this group. She is making a big difference at Woodinville High School (WHS), and I imagine very soon in the world at large.
She also freely admits that she isn’t doing it alone. Megan said, “We have great administration, and the teachers here [at WHS] are remarkable.” She also praised her fellow students and spoke at length regarding how talented so many of them are.
As the ASB (Associated Student Body – the “student council” of WHS) President Megan has made it her mission to assure that all students feel a part of the high school experience. One way she is doing that is by organizing assemblies that celebrate the arts as much as the traditional sports centric celebrations as often as possible.
She commented on the number of students that have had tremendously successful high school careers in drama, art, and science and who are now navigating through college scholarship offers. At the same time, these types of students often haven’t received much recognition in school. Megan and the entire ASB are working hard to change that culture and to move towards equality. As an example, Megan was an organizer of a “welcome parade” during a recent assembly, which was designed so that nearly every student that had a “success” this year was given a special entrance with spotlights and music and applauded by their peers. “Our hope is to create an environment where people feel free to pursue their passions whether it be in arts, athletics, or academics. We hope that we are creating moments that stay with students beyond graduation,” she said.
The list of accolades for Megan is lengthy, and I had a difficult time narrowing down the ones that display just how exceptional this young woman is. She has held a 4.0 GPA throughout her four years of high school all the while being very involved in the very essence of high school experience---getting involved in many activities and experiences as well as reaching out to as many of her schoolmates as possible.
She takes her role as a leader very seriously and is not only involved in student government at WHS but has also represented the students on Northshore School District (NSD) Strategic Planning Core Team and currently NSD Student Board working with Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid.
She lights up when she talks about her involvement in ASB. “It has been a place to take an idea and make it a reality. We are trying new things from massive all-school pancake breakfasts to the recent light saber battle (mentioned in the Woodinville Weekly story on Grace Hofrichter in our March 5th edition), and many more new events coming up and drawing people in,” she noted. Megan explained that they are not only involving clubs and the arts but also trying to elevate them. In this role, she has been able to get to know many people in school that she might not usually get to know, and that has been really great for her.
Beyond academia, Megan has worked in Mexico as an Environmental Education Intern, has participated in Relay for Life the past three years, and has enjoyed playing volleyball for the past five years.
In thinking about her senior year, she commented that she is being purposeful with her time and making investments in her peers.
What do we have to look forward to with the up and coming Centennials? “Having a fresh set of eyes will be helpful along with our use and grasp of technology,” she said. “Just believe that we are ready to work.”
What advice would you give to younger classmates? Megan said, “Practice self advocacy. If you want something don’t be afraid to ask. Celebrate the special things that set you apart from others. You’ll use those qualities to help the world in ways only you can. At the same time school becomes a lot more fun when you look for that uniqueness in your peers.”
I contacted Kurt Criscione, principal at WHS, about Megan and he reached out to a few teachers in the school and they provided me with some amazing quotes about this wonderful young lady. Unfortunately I cannot print them all in this article but I did want to share the following:
“I could talk for hours about Megan. She is very mature for her age; really cares about her peers and others; walks the walk, not just talks about it; wrote a thank you card for “great teaching”; is truly empathetic and feels others pain; and ALWAYS A POSITIVE INFLUENCE IN CLASS.” ~ Clark Cox, Social Studies Teacher WHS
Megan has lived in Woodinville her entire life and truly loves the community. Her parents have been a great support for her through the years to her and her younger brother.
Next fall, Megan is leaning towards attending school at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana but is still waiting to hear back from the regular decision schools. She is planning to study Project Management and Spanish.
I’m certain that whatever path she takes, she’ll do amazing things!
Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look! Out on the rink! It’s a bird. It’s a plane! It’s Ivana Hercha!
Ok that may be a bit of a stretch, but “Ivana Hercha” is actually Julie Lagace—by day a mild mannered middle school art teacher that lives with her husband in Duvall and in her 40’s is in the best shape of her life. She credits that to her alter ego, Ivana Hercha, and to her involvement in the world of roller derby.
Ivana Hercha (aka Julie Lagace) in action (Photo by Joe Mac)Lagace is honored to be one of the original Jet City Roller Derby girls and is the only one that has participated in every bout since its inception 12 years ago.
In her early 30’s, Lagace followed her husband Erik’s lead and started playing ice hockey for fun. Like most people, she occasionally skated (roller and ice) at a school outing or a birthday party but wouldn’t have been considered a particularly accomplished skater. She loved it however and looked at it as a way to get and stay in shape. Eventually, Erik saw a Craiglist ad for a new roller derby league in Everett inviting people to a recruiting skate and passed it along to Julie. She had two hours to prepare but was compelled to check it out. After watching for a bit she said to herself, “Oh I’m doing this!”
She was working on her Masters degree at the time and used joining the league (knowing it would be a time commitment) as the incentive she needed to wrap that up and get on to something fun. After 12 years, she is still having fun! “It makes me feel alive,” Lagace added.
Being a Jet City Roller Derby girl takes a big commitment of time, energy, and even finances because everyone that is involved is a volunteer. Lagace said, “We even pay dues.” The dues along with ticket sale proceeds help pay for rink time and other hard expenses but doesn’t cover them all.
Furthermore, the organization is dedicated to giving back. This seemed to be the component Lagace was most proud of. At their bouts, they partner with other nonprofit organizations that benefit women, children, and animal welfare.
She noted that it isn’t just her league either…roller derby is built on this principle, and it’s traditionally important to give back to the community.
Jet City Roller Derby currently has two league teams and their Bomber travel team that competes on a regional, national and even international level. In this region alone, there are teams in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham, Olympia, South Seattle, Centralia, Palouse, and Spokane.
The Bombers have a March trip planned to Tucson, Ariz. where they will be competing against teams from Utah, Phoenix, Ariz. and Edmonton, Alberta. They will also head to Eugene, Ore. in May to play teams from Tucson, Ariz., Calgary, Alberta and even Berlin. There are nearly 2000 roller derby teams spread across 53 countries, and over 100,000 women play the sport regularly, as do many men, and juniors, too.
Jet City Team Shot (Photo by Anthony Floyd)Where did the derby name “Ivana Hercha” come from? She explained that you have to go to six official practices before you can even claim a name. For six months, she struggled to find the right name so she was known as “Julie No Name” on the rink. She scoured the database (roller derby used to track every roller derby girl name and at that time). There were many Ivanas already… “Ivana Rock,” “Ivanna Destroya,” “Ivana Bruiseya,” etc. and she finally settled on what she felt fit her persona “Ivana Hercha.”
If roller derby sounds like something you’d enjoy as a roller skater, official, or a coach, check out the Jet City Roller Derby website for more information. They are always recruiting! Lagace wrapped up what roller derby means to her “I love the way it has changed my life….it has been transformative in the best ways I never expected.”
If you’d rather watch the action up close and personal, Jet City Roller Derby is finishing up Season 11 with the following home bouts:
March 31–Fundraiser Bout–Star Wars vs Star Trek
This will include a junior bout as well.
April 14– Bomber squad vs a team from Vancouver, B.C.
Plus league teams Sky Raiders vs Aviators.
Location: Seaview Gym at Edmonds Community College (20000 68th Ave W., Lynnwood)
Visit www.jetcityrollerderby.com for more information.
I am always a little cautious when I receive a voicemail message claiming to have a “great human interest story idea” with no additional details but “call me back.” That was a message I received a couple weeks ago from Dwight Crosby.
Crosby is a retired teacher from Woodinville High School and used to teach with Grace Hofrichter. He went on to say “I ran into Grace recently, and she told me she was still substitute teaching. She retired 18 years ago and is still subbing!” He added, “She is 88 years old, still as sharp as a tack and has a great attitude.”
Grace Hofrichter participating in a light saber battle at a recent WHS assembly. (Photo by Austin Glenn, Freshman at WHS)I agreed, it would make a great story, and I reached out to Hofrichter.
To say Hofrichter has spunk is an understatement. She may be all of 4’10” on a good day and claims to be shrinking every year. But what she lacks in height, she makes up for in personality.
She graduated in 1957 from Central Washington with a degree in Social Studies. Ironically, a professor in school tried to dissuade her from this major by saying “that degree is for men.” Grace was not deterred. She also earned her masters in counseling from Seattle University in 1977.
Shortly after graduation in 1957, Hofrichter started teaching at Shoreline when only freshman and sophomores were at the school.
It is amazing what she has seen, heard and experienced in over six decades of teaching. After only spending an hour with her, I’m quite certain Hofrichter’s life could easily fill the pages of a book.
When she started teaching, she said, “I had to take an oath saying that I was not part of the Communist party.” The nation was just coming out of the McCarthy era, and everyone was on high alert regarding the presence of possible communist spies and sympathizers in our country.
She shared stories about attending a summer program at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California in 1960 when the students were all required to dress up (women in dresses and men in ties) for guest night on Thursdays. Students had to abide by nightly curfews, and if they missed them they could be locked out for the night – that even happened to her once!
In the early 60’s, instructors often picked out their own teaching materials and books. Hofrichter enjoyed teaching units incorporating literature, and two of her favorites were “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair and “Looking Backward” by Edward Bellamy. These weren’t always popular choices with parents in the district, but she thought they were significant pieces of history, and it was important that they were shared.
I asked her what it was like to be teaching on the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. “I was teaching at Shorecrest High School then, and we only had one TV in the school. I had it reserved for my class that day although I can’t remember why. [When the news was reported] the students did not move. They were mesmerized.” She noted that Prom that had been scheduled for later that week was immediately canceled.
She added, “It was the most impactful thing I ever saw.”
She has always taught high school students and loves it. “Every place has been wonderful,” Hofrichter said. From her start in Shoreline, she moved to Shorecrest, then Bothell until the new high school in Woodinville opened in 1985 and finished her (full-time) teaching career there. Woodinville High School (WHS) is also the only place that she substitute teaches now.
Grace Hofrichter in the library at WHS helping Taylor Reese. (Photo by Shae Pitta)I jokingly asked why she didn’t act like a normal retired person and knit. Hofrichter said she traveled a bit with her sister after her initial retirement but after she passed away it wasn’t as easy. “I get restless,” she said. “I don’t knit, and you can only play Free Cell and read so much.”
Hofrichter enjoys spending time with her daughter and her three granddaughters that live nearby. She also has two grandsons that live in Ohio near their mother. Her son died in 2000 of pneumonia at 31 years old.
Overall, she said that she is grateful, and although she’s been a teacher the better part of 60 years, she said, “I’m getting older but I’m not old.”
Since retirement there have been some setbacks to her health, but again overall Hofrichter feels very fortunate. She said, “I feel good.” She commented that longevity runs in her family and she comes from ”good genes.” She also said she sleeps ”like a log” which she knows helps her to stay healthy and active.
Just as Hofrichter loves teaching and her students, they love her. She noted that they are always very respectful of her.
A case in point was an invitation she received to participate in a recent school assembly organized by Student Body President, Megan Rogers, and the Assembly Committee at WHS.
Hofrichter is all to familiar with assemblies as in her teaching heyday, she was tasked with the added role of organizing them at a couple of the schools she worked at. That’s why she was happy to accommodate the request to participate in a “Star Wars light saber battle” during an assembly last month.
The scene involved a large group of teachers with Hofrichter coming out at the end of the battle (light saber in hand) and bringing them all to their knees. Rogers said, “The student body went absolutely crazy when she came out, people were already cheering, but they started jumping up and screaming when she won!”
Rogers added, “I am absolutely astounded by Mrs. Hofrichter’s contributions to the Woodinville High School community. As students, we love to have her in our class, and we are all hoping we can be as active as she is one day. So incredible!”
Hofrichter plans to continue subbing and will as long as she stays healthy and can continue to drive. “I’ll do it as long as I can,” she said.
I would venture to guess that when Nancy Balin graduated from law school she didn’t see herself running a nonprofit raising money for scholarships for siblings affected by cancer. Even more of a stretch would be using the phrases “nut hut, family jewels, and testicles” on a regular basis. We don’t always pick our paths however. Sometimes the path picks us.
Balin’s stepson, Jaimeson Jones, died of testicular cancer in October of 2010 when he was only 20 years old. That was following his second valiant battle against the disease over a six-year period.
Jaimeson with his sister, Tara Jane Seymour and Samantha Seymour, taken in June 2010. (Photo by Nancy Balin)As it turns out, 14-year-old Jones was too embarrassed to tell his parents about the pain and swelling in his testicle for over a year. As a result, he was diagnosed at a very late stage of the cancer. Although he fought his way into remission that first time, when his cancer recurred at age 19, in spite of several rounds of aggressive chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, he lost the battle.
What haunts and drives Balin is the fact that: Testicular cancer is curable 95% of the time if caught early.
Much of the credit for that statistic must be given to oncologist Dr. Lawrence Einhorn of Indiana University, who is credited with major advances in the curative treatment of testicular cancer.
Credit also needs to be given to trailblazers like Balin who are willing to talk to ANYONE about testicular cancer and who are driven to educate the demographic of boys/men between 15-44 years old about it. Testicular cancer is the
#1 cancer of young men in this age group.
Instead of giving closing arguments in a courtroom, Balin is now spending her time educating young men about testicular cancer, organizing the annual Family Jewels 5K, thinking up new “Nut” and “Ball”-titled events to raise money for the Jaimeson Jones Memorial Scholarship, baking pies to bring to speaking events and to sell for the cause, and even driving for UBER occasionally - because who has time for a regular job?
Jeanne Johnston and Marsha Loicano posing in the Nut Hut. (Photo by Gini White Photography)Let’s face it, many young men – especially early in high school – are shy. They might not be so quick to share the news that their testicle was enlarged or that it was in pain for fear of embarrassment. Balin believes that was a critical factor in Jones’ cancer having time to spread. Additionally, during his routine and required sports physical many months before his diagnosis, his testicles were not examined by the doctor. She pleads, “Don’t die of embarrassment.”
Balin stresses the importance of education about the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer and that men do monthly self-exams. That is how the “Nut Hut” was born, which is a starring attraction at the upcoming Family Jewels 5K trail run. All attendees, both male and female, are encouraged to step inside and when they do they will find instructional signage about performing a self-check as well as facts and figures about the disease. In short, Balin said, “no lumps, no bumps, no pain, the same.” That statement she credits to a 4 year old whose mom created the poem in teaching him to perform self-checks in the bath. “If he can do it, you can,” she added.
Balin wants these monthly self-exams to become part of young men’s ritual just like breast exams have become commonplace for women. The foundation has created signs that can be hung in the shower as a reminder, along with educational materials. “If I can save one family, it is worth it,” Balin said.
Balin has spoken to Boy Scout groups, business groups, service organizations and community groups, as well as the captive audience in her car when driving for UBER. She is driven by this mission to educate. She urges you not to hesitate to contact her if you’d like her to speak to your group, troop, team or church. Note: She brings pie.
The Jaimeson Jones Memorial Scholarship stems from Jones knowing that his family was turned upside down while dealing with his cancer treatment, not only emotionally but financially. Balin said that shortly before his death, he let the family know that he wanted his college savings to go to his two younger sisters. This generous act inspired the foundation, which provides scholarships to siblings of local students who have suffered from childhood cancer.
Standley Douglas crossing the finish line in 2017. (Photo by Gini White Photography)Why a 5K run? Jones was a cross-country runner at Bothell High School and loved to run. It seemed only fitting to organize a 5K run in his memory to raise money for the memorial scholarships. This year marks the 8th annual run.
How does pie fit in? Jaimeson’s birthday was March 14, and that so happens to be the mathematical equation for Pi (3.14). He was a pie-lover as well. Balin decided to create the only 5K run with a pie table, featuring her homemade individual pies for every participant in the event. Her pie is so popular that some people register and only come for the pie. Balin says that is just fine with her, and that is why there are the 5K run, 2.5K walk and the “zero K just sit and eat pie” categories for the Family Jewels event.
One way or another, I was inspired and impressed with Nancy Balin and her dedication to educating the public about testicular cancer and raising money to help families affected by it. She modestly said, “I love it.”
8th annual Family Jewels 5K
Saturday, March 10, 9:00 a.m. start
Saint Edward State Park
(14445 Juanita Drive NE, Kenmore), near the playground.
Register by February 28 for discounted rate. Registration includes an event shirt and Nancy Balin’s famous PIE!
To register, or make a donation, for the 2018 Family Jewels 5K, visit FamilyJewels.education. Please use the group code WoodinvilleWeekly for $5 off.