From letterman jackets to lifelong bonds, FHC has seen it all through the years

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Katelynn Heilman

A couple of photos from one of FHC’s earliest yearbook spreads.

By Katelynn Heilman, Forest Hills Central High School

Although high school can have its tiring days and academic pressures, at least students don’t have to fear spam raining down on them during assemblies. This, unfortunately, was not the case for FHC alumnus and AP World History teacher Brad Anderson.

During his freshman year of high school, rumors wafted through the halls that seniors were planning a one-sided food fight with the freshmen during their homecoming assembly. When the day of the assembly came, Anderson was amongst the many freshmen who anxiously awaited their doom. 

“The day of the assembly came, and we all filed into the gymnasium, terrified,” Anderson said. “The principal, [Ron Caniff], took the floor, and there was a tense feeling in the gym. [Then], all of a sudden, one [senior] stood up and launched a fresh brick of spam across the gym at the freshmen. Caniff and [past] wrestling coach Dave Mills ran up into the stands, grabbed the [student], and hauled them out of the gymnasium.”

With memories like these, it’s clear that Anderson’s time as a student at FHC was far different than the modern experience of the school. And, despite some minor tiffs between classes, he has definitely seen the comradery between grades change for the better. 

Anderson remembers his time in high school fondly; however, he appreciates that certain traditions, school spirit, and other engaging events have come so far over the years. 

“[During my time in high school], we didn’t have many assemblies,” Anderson said. “We were good at athletics, but we didn’t have as much school spirit. We definitely have a lot more school spirit, togetherness, and embracing of diversity now.”

Being a dedicated athlete in high school and on, the idea of school spirit means a lot to Anderson. Watching this progression of comradery and community is one of the many reasons Anderson became a teacher. 

With this enthusiasm, an impressive background in athletics, and a voice meant to fill gymnasiums, it was only natural that Anderson was quickly encouraged to create a spirited environment.

“The principal that hired me, Terry Urquhart, recruited me as a first-year teacher,” Anderson said, “and he essentially encouraged me to help build [up] school culture. In partnership with a lot of other teachers in the building, we’ve been able to build that up over the years.”

The principal that hired me, Terry Urquhart, recruited me as a first-year teacher, and he essentially encouraged me to help build [up] school culture. In partnership with a lot of other teachers in the building, we’ve been able to build that up over the years.”

— Brad Anderson

During this process of building up school culture, Anderson has had the opportunity to work alongside teachers that taught or inspired his spirit during his time in high school. These include greats such as AP US History teacher Steve Labenz, history teacher Laura Styles, and one of the longest-standing educators currently still at the school, Spanish teacher Tammie Dykhouse. 

Dykhouse has been teaching at FHC since 1987, and her influence has stretched vastly throughout the walls of the school. This impact has provided her with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to watch her students grow.

“It’s fun because some of the teachers here were once my students,” Dykhouse said, “and I can remember when some of my [current] students were born because their parents [were once my students]. So, it’s [sentimental] being able to watch everybody grow.”

With such beautiful bonds between past and present students, there has to be some sort of secret to her success. Dykhouse feels the method to her madness is being able to evolve as an educator.

“It’s one of those things where I’ve never stopped thinking of new things to do or [ways] to tweak [my lessons],” Dykhouse said. “When you’re a first-year teacher, you kind of rely on help from everybody else. [Now], it’s nice when things naturally pop into my head, and I can automatically make connections to the classroom.”

Both this constant change and development of teaching style have been vital to Dykhouse growing her community as a teacher. 

From doing projects with her students that involve acting out an entire wedding ceremony to picking songs for a Spanish-style March Madness bracket, it is clear that her teaching has altered a lot through the years.

For Principal Steve Passinault, a constant emphasis on the improvement and evolvement of teaching styles is vital for the progression of FHC. This idea has been one of his main focuses since starting at the school in 2012.

What’s good about [FHC], is that a lot of our community cares so deeply about education, and students and families are so passionate about getting a good education. So that remains pretty constant.”

— Steve Passinault

“The biggest [aspect] of my interactions with teachers is trying to mentor [them] to do more hands-on project-based learning,” Passinault said, “and [encouraging them] to try to get away from the traditional lecture-[style] classroom.”

With these changing classroom styles, building renovations, student attitudes, and many other aspects, it seems that education will constantly be evolving in a rapid manner. However, despite the constant change, Passinault feels that one thing will always remain the same. 

“What’s good about [FHC],” Passinault said, “is that a lot of our community cares so deeply about education, and students and families are so passionate about getting a good education. So, that remains pretty constant.”

With such a dedicated community around FHC, it’s no wonder the school has had such successes over the past 64 years and is set up wonderfully for the future. 

No matter how many joys happen within the walls, however, the true reward is watching FHC students make waves with their ‘Ranger pride’ all over the world. 

“I have worked with so many wonderful [students],” Dykhouse said, “and it’s fun that I still keep in touch with a lot of my kids. It’s fun to [watch them go in the real world] and see how they went on to use [what I taught them]. It’s been fascinating [and] very rewarding.”

This story was originally published on The Central Trend on March 24, 2023.