Archived Story

Peg Stowers ends 32-year career at 146th graduation

Published 6:35pm Sunday, June 6, 2010

By JOHN EBY

Seniors hurl their mortarboards skyward to mark their transition to Dowagiac Union High School graduates with the Class of 2010. (The Daily News/John Eby)
Seniors hurl their mortarboards skyward to mark their transition to Dowagiac Union High School graduates with the Class of 2010. (The Daily News/John Eby)

Dowagiac Daily News

Superintendent Peg Stowers presided over her fourth and final graduation on an overcast Sunday at Dowagiac’s 146th Commencement for Union High School’s Class of 2010.

Stowers, completing her 32-year career, heralded the “New Generation.”

Stowers thanked seniors Katelyn Newland and Mary Squires “because they let me know they’re becoming nurses and they’ll take care of me as I’m a senior citizen. I know this gives my family great comfort.”

“You are not members of the (World War II era) Greatest Generation, who we all so admire and are beholden to for their hard work, their quest for what was right, their deep Godliness and loyalty that built this nation to be what it is.

“You are members of the New Generation. The generation of technology. The generation of relationships online. And a nation of citizens who will inherit my generation’s mistakes. But don’t be confused. The basic ingredients for all generations remain the same – honesty, integrity, hard work, perseverance and deep-rooted values. Education is the key to life’s improvements,” Stowers said, quoting recently-deceased basketball coach John Wooden in saying, “Don’t give up on your dreams or your dreams will give up on you.”

“Thank you, community, it’s been a wonderful 32 years, she said. “I’ve appreciated every day having the opportunity to love your children.”

She corrected DUHS Principal Paul Hartsig for introducing her as a “young woman.”

Stowers “wore many hats,” coaching basketball, track and volleyball teams, working with alternative education students, teaching English at Union High School and, in 1985, beginning 18 years as Patrick Hamilton Middle School principal.

Stowers then became assistant superintendent for curriculum and special education.
Finally, she served the past four years as the district’s educational leader.

“She has committed her professional, and often her personal life, to educating the children of Dowagiac,” Hartsig said.

Salutatorian Kelsey Foote singled out two faculty members in her remarks, math teacher Becky Turner for championing her subject and making it understandable, and retiring Rich Frantz (“English has always been my least favorite subject, but this year I always looked forward most to your class”).

Valedictorian Cassandra Stone, who will be attending the University of Minnesota to eventually become an FBI agent, threatened a long, boring speech “to make everyone suffer as I have to write it.”

Stone said, “Nobody’s going to remember anything I say unless I accidentally swear or make some crude innuendo. Half of you aren’t even listening. Cody Cox is probably falling asleep like one of Mr. Brosnan’s physics videos.”

Rather than try to forecast a murky future, “I thought it would be better to look back on where we’ve been,” she said.

Becoming the Class of 2010 at Patrick Hamilton in fifth grade.

“I wished I hadn’t cut my hair so short because I looked like a boy.”

Crack the whip at recess. Blood gushing out of Zach Blank’s head when hit by a rock.

Starting at Central after boys spent the summer getting taller and deepening their voices.

“The girls are noticing, and wore low-cut shirts and danced provocatively. A whirlwind of hormones” while navigating those two flights of stairs, Cassie said.

“Finally, we made it to high school, the light at the end of the tunnel,” Stone said.

“Seminar! Those were the days. Remember how we all found ways to text in class when the teacher wasn’t looking? Every time we saw students all walking in the same direction with excited looks on their faces, we knew there was a fight. Every girl tried to fight the no-purses rule this year and failed miserably. Remember Spencer Dodd’s laugh? I think we’ll all remember that.

“It’s the little things we should take with us. If you see me at the grocery store in 20 years, maybe you won’t remember I gave this speech, or even my name, but you will remember that I said, ‘Ladies, leggings do not count as pants – and girls, you need to stop making that mistake.

“It’s not the huge moments, but the little things that make life worth living. Mom, I’m standing here in front of hundreds of people to tell you I love you and I appreciate everything you’ve given me. I would not be here if it weren’t for you.”

The Class of 2010 saw 25 seniors achieve high honors of 3.4 and 4.0 grade-point averages. Another 25 finished their high school careers with honors, 3.0 to 3.39 GPA.

Forty percent of the class had a B average or higher.

Five seniors had exemplary attendance all four years of high school.

Seniors earned 396 hours of credit at Southwestern Michigan College in various coursework and academies.

Forty-five seniors participated at SMC for college credit while still attending high school.
The senior class received all-state, all-district and all-region honors a dozen times during its career. This group of athletes broke school records three times. Saturday the track team took two state places thanks to Keisha Martin. Every track member who competed placed or earned honorable mention.

“We also wish our golf team success at state competition,” Stowers said.

Sixteen seniors received consistently high ratings at marching band and concert festivals. Four seniors individually earned superior ratings at solo and ensemble festivals. Six seniors helped host the districtwide jazz competition.

One vocalist participated at state solo and ensemble for choir while two choir members represented DUHS at vocal honors choir at Western Michigan University.

Class of 2010 teams earned Wolverine Conference championships five times, three district championships and qualified 11 times for state tournaments.

The Class of 2010 had two Academic All-Wolverine Conference athletes selected based on a calculation that took into account their overall GPA, their SAT or ACT scores and their number of varsity letters. There was one Detroit Free Press athlete-scholar nominee and four Michigan High School Athletic Association scholar-athlete nominees.

Forty-three percent of the DUHS Class of 2010 participated in interscholastic athletics during their high school careers.

The class earned $387,650 in scholarship offers.

Ninety-seven percent of graduates have definite post-secondary plans. Thirty seniors plan to attend four-year universities, 76 two-year community college, three a technical school and two representing our country as they enter the military.

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