2015 Hall of Famers

2015 Hall of Famers

Grace Dorsey

Every year, a select group of RBHS graduates are elected as members of the school’s Hall of Fame . Their achievements are acknowledged at the homecoming assembly. These are RBHS’s 2015 Hall of Fame inductees:
Andrea Allison Putman graduated in 1981 and went on to be a Chief People Officer (someone who deals with human resources) for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. She now lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

Story Reaction
My time at Rock Bridge High School made a significant impact on my life and career. I truly feel I was afforded an excellent education and overall diverse experiences which prepared me well to complete my undergraduate degree at MU as well as to help me develop into the leader I am today.  I didn’t realize while at RBHS the challenging and  rigorous coursework that I was exposed to until attending MU along with other students from across our state and U.S.
I believe the interactions and relationships with students, staff and educators of various backgrounds influenced me as well.  Part of my focus as Chief People Officer for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City  is developing and leading our diversity and inclusion efforts for our staff and volunteers as well as how to engage leaders in our community in volunteering. I also dedicate a significant amount of my time volunteering with various organizations including MU Alumni Association,  Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Jackson County CASA and Harvesters food bank.My commitment to giving back in the community was reinforced with my exposure at RBHS through organizations such as Student Council,  Tri Theta and volunteering with American Red Cross . My experiences at RBHS influenced my commitment to this critical work in diversity and inclusion as well as community service.

I appreciate this special honor to be inducted into the RBHS Hall of Fame.  I have such high regards for my  experience with Rock Bridge that I truly take this as a compliment that the committee felt that my accomplishments in my career and volunteer service were worthy to be recognized.  I will always cherish this special recognition.

Dr Jennifer Rukstad graduated in 1994 and is currently the principal of RBHS. She lives in Columbia, Missouri.

Story Reaction
I’m not sure I can pick one story that encompasses my time at RBHS. Since my sophomore  year (even a little of my freshman year) of high school, I’ve been at Rock Bridge in some way, as a student and staff member, and even while I was in college, I had brothers and a sister here. I suppose one story that comes to mind is the fact Kathy Ritter is serving as the Acting Principal while I’m on maternity leave. Kathy came to RBHS (a second time) my junior year to take over student activities. She was a very influential person during my high school days and we stayed close after I graduated. I later became her colleague and we are great personal friends. When I learned I was expecting, there was no question in my mind the right person to ask to serve the school as principal while I would be gone. The connection to RB Kathy and I both have, which is the reason we have such a strong connection to each other is why this place is so special to me: strong relationships with people who share a common understanding and philosophy about how we approach high school.
What does it mean to me? In a word: humbling. I’ve spent the majority of my life at this school. I’ve served it in many different ways, but it has given so much more back to me and my family. Watching and being a part of the Alumni Hall of Fame induction is one of my favorite events every year, and I can’t really believe this year I will be included. It is a great honor to be chosen as a distinguished alumni of any school, but for RBHS to include me in the list of inductees is a little surreal. I’m used to helping honor the newest class of inductees, so being one of the honored will be a cool experience. This place is part of me, so it will be different to be somewhat an outsider

Theron Denson graduated in 1982 and has gone on to entertain crowds as a Neil Diamond impersonator. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Story Reaction
For me, Rock Bridge was like living in a dream-seriously-and a sweet dream at that! I remember once when I left my wallet at home and had no money for the day. A teacher-Mr. Marvin-reached into his pocket and gave me a ten dollar, bill saying I should make sure I was full because I had a big test in his class later that afternoon and he didn’t want me passing out from hunger or to hear any stomach growls,haha. Being class president my junior year and president of the RB Ambassadors as a senior, was rewarding because both taught me leadership skills I’d employ later in life, in my singing career. Also it was fun getting to know the needs of my fellow students in a more in depth way. Several teachers and staff would pick my brother, Mario and me up for school because at times we lived off the bus route. Coach Henage, Mrs. Humlicek, Mrs. Abernathy and Mrs. Chambers, were all too kind for doing it. I’ve always remembered those types of moments as well as the BOSS classmates I had!

It’s one of the most gratifying honors ever! Being selected and invited back to the ceremony that will induct me into a Hall of Fame is right up there with the coolness of appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live years ago and having a book written about my life’s odyssey recently. In fact this accomplishment is even cooler than either of those, given that Rock Bridge is where it all started for me. It’s the stellar scholastic institution which gave me the tools, knowledge and courage to move towards making my mark on the world and I imagine it was preferred I do it out there as opposed to on the bathroom walls with a sharpie which, of course, I would never!

Adam Hawf graduated in 1988 and has gone on to consult school systems and state departments throughout the country. He now lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Story Reaction
I was really fortunate to have Mr.Priest, he and Ms.Tolson were both really wonderful to me. Ms Tolson  wasn’t a teacher she was more of an advisor. Mr.Priest, he used to give me special reading lists like additional books to read and he gave me lots of recommendations for books and he really pushed me to challenge myself and he pushed me to read and to learn not just for the sake of doing my homework but for also the joy of it. Mr.Priest was responsible for me going into college feeling really excited and enthusiastic about learning and I would not have had nearly as successful of an experience in college if it were not for having Mr.Priest take a real interest in me as a student and go out of his way to counsel and mentor me. He used to do things outside of school. He used to make me up a reading list and we would meet at a coffee shop called Lakota and talk about books and he would make me reading lists. He really just took a personal interest in me and it’s really the number one reason why I was successful in college. I’m really grateful to Mr.Priest and also to Ms. Tolson, Marilyn Tolson. She was the EEE person. I’m really grateful to both of them because they took an interest in me as a student. I’m sure you have teachers or other people like that where I really felt they cared about me as a student and as a person. Their taking an interest in me made my high school experience dramatically better. I’m really humbled and I was surprised because I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished very much yet. I’m flattered and humbled. I’m really excited to have an excuse to come back to campus and to see what’s changed.

Philip LeDuc graduated in and has gone on to be a professor of biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon. He now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Story Reaction
I still have a close group of friends that I keep up with from high school who were pretty instrumental in highschool. I talk to them every couple of months even to this day. We all played together, most of us played together on a soccer team. I think that year we went to, my senior year we went to state semi-finals in soccer and it’s amazing to watch the talent that goes to RBHS. The people I went to school with over time are doctors and lawyers. Some of my friends who are my age, that I grew up with are being congressmen, one is a highly acclaimed writer. It’s amazing the diversity of people who come out of RBHS. They are a wonderful school in the center of America. But it produces some super talented people and I think the strange thing is you don’t actually realize how smart the people are that are around you until later on in life when you actually realize how smart those people were that were students in the same classes you were. It’s a tremendous honor, I looked at the people who are winning it with me and who won it in the past and I actually feel, compared to them, I’m very honored to be inducted into this class. I hope that to some degree I am, perhaps I could be a role model for other people. I’m a chaired professor top five engineering school from across the United States. I’d like to think that a lot of the creativity and knowledge that I gained, I gained inside of highschool to build up my career. I’m just honored to be selected for the hall of fame.