Teachers retire, Editor-in-Chief receives athletic scholarship


With caps lock on and size 48 font selected, facilitator Peggy Nelson types an email announcement for FYI Club. Afterward, she advises a National Honor Society (NHS) meeting and plans future volunteer work for interested students. And, while her schedule remains busy, she still squeezes in time to run her senior citizen baton-twirling club.

Some teachers spend their careers merely educating students during the workday, but Nelson devotes time outside the workday to student extracurricular activities.

“Peggy Nelson has inspired me to have a more positive attitude, just in general,” said senior Maddie Woodard, president of NHS and FYI Club. “She’s good at going with the flow, which has never been a strength for me.”

Nelson’s dedication, combined with her experience—she’s been a teacher for 20 years, 11 at Free State—has impacted many of the students roaming the halls.

“She’s gotten me more involved in extracurriculars and giving back to the school,” said junior Steven Ozaki, FYI Club member.

However, all good things must come to an end, and Nelson is retiring after this year, along with gifted and special education teacher, Teena Johnson.

Like Nelson, Johnson—an educator for 27 years, 17 at Free State—has influenced the futures and hearts of Free State students.

“She created the gifted program at Free State, and it’s one of the strongest ones in the state,” gifted facilitator Janice Fullerton said. “She’s also been a good PR representative to promote gifted.”

After retiring this year, Johnson plans to travel and be with her family.

Nelson has similar plans, hoping to tour Canada’s coastline lighthouses and spend time with her grandchildren.

Nelson and Johnson are credited with influencing Free State for the better, and they have been equally impacted by their colleagues and students.

“Free State has made me realize how many different personalities there are,” Johnson said. “I got a better understanding of people and the different walks of life they come from.”

Nelson appreciates the student body’s overall pleasant attitude.

“[The students’] kindness, generosity, integrity and bottom line [their] intelligence and respectfulness has made the biggest impact on me,” Nelson said.

When reminiscing about their Free State history, both found it difficult to pick specific favorite moments during their career.

“My favorite thing at Free State is every year we have spirit week where they decorate the hallways,” Johnson said. “It livens the school up and brings the school together.”

Nelson’s favorite Free State memory is graduation. Watching her students transition into adulthood has impacted her the most.

Johnson and Nelson have dedicated their hearts to educating the minds of tomorrow, and as the teachers move on to the next stage of their lives, they leave behind something of which to be proud.


Hannah Moran—editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, a state championship gymnast, a state debate qualifier and a national forensics qualifier—was still shocked when she received the $20,000 Foot Locker Scholar Athlete Scholarship.

Out of thousands of applicants, Moran and 19 other student athletes were chosen for the esteemed scholarship.

This scholarship is dedicated to athletes who have overcome obstacles in their lives while still maintaining merit and integrity.

After writing two essays and obtaining two recommendation letters by Dec. 19, 2013, Moran officially applied for the Foot Locker Scholar Athlete Scholarship. Early second semester, Moran received an email congratulating her as a semifinalist for the scholarship. Afterward, “DoSomething” intern, Cali Opperman, interviewed Moran through Skype, which Moran admits was “nerve wracking.”

On April 11, Moran entered the journalism classroom for what she thought was a simple newspaper staff meeting. Upon arriving, Moran was met with not only the newspaper staff, but her parents and fifth hour Calculus BC class as well. Suddenly, Foot Locker representatives walked through the door and started giving the scholarship presentation.

“I was basically just in shock,” Moran said.

Moran could not be happier with her scholarship as she prepares to attend Washington University in St. Louis.

“Tuition at Wash U is very steep, so I’m incredibly thankful to have received this scholarship,” Moran said. “I honestly didn’t expect to be a finalist. It was one of the best surprises of my life.”