Annual Hall of Fame inductees decided

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Trisha Chaudhary

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RBHS awarded each inductee their very own jersey at the Homecoming game.
Photo provided by Denise McGonigle
Imagine returning to RBHS years and years after graduation: walking through the halls again – this time without the pressure of getting to class on time, sitting in the gym for an assembly – this time without being packaged in with other students you barely know like sardines, and walking across that stage – but with that same anxiety fluttering in your stomach.
Last Friday, Oct. 15, five RBHS graduates did just this. They returned to high school, reliving the experience not as students, but as inductees to the RBHS Hall of Fame.
Alumni Caitlin Casey (an astronomer at the University of Hawai’i), David Diggs (a Value Consulting Director at Oracle Corporation), Todd Gingrich (a PhD student in Chemistry at the University of California – Berkeley), Bradley Sloan (a Sports Medicine physician at Sloan Clinic in Jefferson City), and Steve Wall (CEO at United Healthcare) were all inductees for the RBHS Hall of Fame Friday.
Each fall at the first assembly of the year, RBHS inducts alumni into the Hall of Fame. Former RBHS principal Kathy Ritter began the Hall of Fame in 2003 while she was principal of RBHS. Ritter put together a committee. RBHS secretary Denise McGonigle organizes the paperwork and emails all of the committee members each year with all of the nominations.
“We’ve got the Sports Hall of Fame, but [Ritter] wanted to have an Alumni Hall of Fame based more on the people, not their athletic abilities,” McGonigle said. “She wanted it to be about the nuts and bolts in education and what did you go on to do with your life.”
Applications to nominate people for the Hall of Fame are located on the RBHS homepage under the Alumni tab. The committee accepts applications year round and then meets in February to decide on the inductees for the upcoming fall. They decide early in order to give the inductees ample notice beforehand, McGonigle said.
They try to “find five good people that represent [RBHS],” McGonigle said. “And then try to have them be good role models for [students], when they come back and [students say] ‘Wow, you know I could go on and do that.'”
Dr. Caitlin Casey – a 2013 Hall of Fame inductee – said that it was her time at RBHS and within the Columbia Public Schools system that shaped who she became and her successes in her career. Her love for the planetarium, her teachers and encouragement from family all motivated her to pursue the science field and reassured her in her capabilities.
“The most important thing I now know is that most kids growing up in Columbia are very lucky; Columbia Public Schools are fantastic and provide so many opportunities for its students,” Casey said in an email interview. ” I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I met people who grew up in less privileged, sometimes very impoverished areas of the world.  I love coming back to Columbia; it reminds me how lucky I was as a kid and what great opportunities I had.”
McGonigle, like many admires Casey’s accomplishments, especially considering the fact that Casey was one of the youngest Hall of Fame inductees this year. Casey attended the University of Arizona for her undergraduate studies, completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge in the UK, and currently works at the University of Hawai’i. Casey, however, was not expecting the honor.
“I was very surprised, especially since I’m relatively young and have yet to establish my long-term career,” Casey said. “It’s a great honor though, and I really appreciated the opportunity to come back and make a short statement to students during the assembly sharing my experiences and highlighting that life can be really awesome after you graduate.”
By Trisha Chaudhary