Foundation for Saline Area Schools Honors 2 Hall of Fame Classes

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The Foundation for Saline Area Schools, making up for lost time, honored two classes inducted into its Hall of Fame.

The inductees were honored at halftime of the Saline-Monroe football game at Hornet Stadium Friday night. The Hall of Fame banquet will be held Saturday.

The 2020 class is composed of Ruth Lockwood, Kim Kaster, Barb Cey, Zach Wigal, Jon Voigthman and the late Silas Woods. The 2021 class features Kathy Bakian, Olivia Fanning, Grant Gilmore and Nancy Thelen.

Here's a closer look at the Hall of Fame Inductees

Silas Woods, Saline Alumni, was born in Saline & graduated from Saline High School in 1956. He played football, basketball and track at Saline, holding a shot-put record, among other athletic accomplishments. He also attended and graduated from Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI in 1960 with a BS in Business Administration. He served in the Army from 1961-1966, stationed in Germany. Upon returning to Saline he worked in the excavating business, later starting his own Si Woods Excavating business. He was married to Gail Bennett for 21 years. Silas was a very well-known & liked figure in Saline where part of the Woods family still lives. Gail received the award for Silas, who died in 2014.

Zach Wigal, Saline Alumni, Class of 2008, is the founder of Gamers Outreach, a charity organization that provides recreation to children in hospitals through the power of video games and the gaming community. To date, Gamers Outreach programs enable an estimated 1.5 - 2 million play sessions for patients across 200 healthcare facilities each year. The organization also hosts one of the largest LAN parties in North America - Gamers for Giving - which brings together gamers and esports enthusiasts in support of hospitalized families. Wigal has been recognized as a 2019 CNN Hero, and named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list (2017) for his work in the games for health space.

Jon Voigtman, Saline Alumni, Class of 1980, is the Chairman of RBC Financial (Caribbean) and Managing Director, Head of Bahamas for RBC Capital Markets – the investment banking arm of the Royal Bank of Canada.

After spending 15 years on Wall Street, Jon and his wife Terri moved to The Bahamas in 2014.

Built Michigan tough, Jon is a product of Saline Schools – He earned four year varsity letters in wrestling, and proudly trailed all his teammates on the league championship cross country team.

Jon and Terri are both proud of their Michigan public educational roots and have focused most of their philanthropy efforts on Michigan education. But what they are most proud of is their son, Kirby, a bond trader who lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Ruth Lockwood -  From 1972-2001 Ruth taught grades 2nd through 8th throughout her career in Saline. Her career led to her implementing many programs throughout the district.

Ruth, along with fellow teachers presented a proposal to the Saline Design Team and, with assistance from Saline Foundation, the opportunity for collaborative teaching became a reality. Ruth was instrumental in advancing mainstreaming of physically and developmentally challenged students into general education classrooms.

Ruth was part of the team to design Woodland Meadows school building,

After retirement, Ruth continued to mentor teachers, be active in many school organizations (with her husband Roger) and as a long time Saline resident, Ruth continues to support Saline's excellent educational programs and other community activities.

Kim Kaster owns Brewed Awakenings Cafe that opened in March of 2011 to an overwhelming support from the community. Kim works endlessly to realize her dream - to be more than a place to get a great cup of coffee or freshly made sandwich or soup, but to create a comfortable, inviting atmosphere. She also wants the café to play an integral part of the community, a community where she, and her husband Mike, raised their two sons, Zach and Nick.

She is passionate about making a difference in our community and Saline schools, who have given so much support to her and her family.

Barb Cey (not pictured)

Teaching grades 1-5 and multiage classrooms, and implementing, coordinating and facilitating district wide educational programs, enabled Barb to tailor an educational environment to meet the needs of each student, while fostering confidence, collaboration, and success. This is the premise on which Barb based her thirty-plus year career at Saline Area Schools. Through the continued support and encouragement of the district’s administrative staff and colleagues she was able to research, design, implement, and evaluate many successful classroom organizational plans, instructional practices and assessment procedures that led to successful learning opportunities for all learners.

Olivia Fanning, Educator. Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1943, Olivia Fanning lived with her parents in her aunt’s home in Ann Arbor. They soon moved to Ypsilanti where she received her entire formal education. She remembers with great fondness her elementary and high school years and of course her years at Eastern Michigan University. There she earned a B.S., M.A. and Ed. Specialist degree.

After graduating from EMU, Oliva’s first job was teaching kindergarten in Livonia for two years. She moved to Saline in 1971 where she substitute taught until she landed a first grade position in 1973. Teaching different grades was very stimulating. She taught 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th in Saline with most of her years teaching 4th grade. Also, she taught Title 1 Math. In addition, she was a visiting lecturer teaching two classes at EMU to undergraduate students majoring in education. Teaching young adults was great! She had a captive audience with whom she could share her classroom teaching experience. After teaching 30 years, Olivia decided to retire with her husband in 2001.

It was at EMU that Olivia met and married her beloved husband, Bill Fanning, in 1964. They had two children, their daughter Shawn, and son, Grant. They married and gave them grandchildren. After their retirement, Bill and Olivia took several wonderful trips. Sadly, Bill passed away in 2013.

Being a member of a church has been important to Oliva. Bill and Olivia belonged to First United Methodist of Saline and then moved their membership to Ann Arbor. She has served on several committees, taught Sunday school, and was a wedding coordinator.

It was a privilege to teach in Saline and Olivia finds it so rewarding to see or hear about former student’s lives. She has so many dear colleagues whose friendships span several decades. While it’s an honor to be nominated to the Foundation for Saline Area Schools Hall of Fame, she needs to emphasize that there are so many outstanding and excellent educators deserving of this recognition.

Kathy Bakian, Educator.  As a former educator and member of the Saline community, Kathy couldn’t be more proud and grateful to be recognized and nominated into the Foundation for Saline Area Schools Hall of Fame.

After completing her undergraduate degree she earned a bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education from Kent State University and continued her education with master degrees in Public Health and Guidance and Counseling from Eastern Michigan University.

Kathy started her career at Brentwood High School in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania teaching Health and Physical Education. After her marriage to Tim Kiraly in 1971, she accepted a teaching position at Saline Middle School where she taught Health, Physical Education and Skills for Adolescence to sixth, seventh and eighth graders. With the opening of Heritage School, she transitioned into Guidance and Counseling for fifth and sixth graders.

During their teaching career, both Kathy and Tim were active members of Michigan’s Middle School Association. Kathy was fortunate to be named Michigan’s Teacher of the Year while her husband Tim received the same honor the very next year. After spending 180+ days with middle school adolescence, Kathy soon learned their fears, their hopes, and what made them laugh. Chances are she’s also been a witness to at least one of their top ten most embarrassing moments.

Working together at the Saline Middle School, Kathy and her late husband had the unique opportunity to coach seventh and eighth grade boys and girls track and field and co sponsor Saline Middle Schools Student Council. With the support of talented, dedicated and compassionate colleagues along with the Saline community, they were able to initiate successful fund raising projects along with numerous school sponsored activities. One of Kathy’s fondest memories was Benny’ s Bakery agreeing to make over six hundred cinnamon and chocolate fry cakes and Wiard’s Orchard providing apple cider for all students and faculty. Our Saline community never hesitated to support our school population.

What an honor and a privilege to possibly have inspired so many young lives. With that honor there was great responsibility to provide an environment, where every voice had value and to reassure each student their voices would be heard. She believed if they could recognize their differences it would only make them stronger as individuals. Her greatest wish would be to have empowered her students to be kind, courageous, life long learners, who are inquisitive and excited about the world around them.

After her husband Tim’s death in 2000 Kathy established the Tim Kiraly Scholarship Fund. For the last eighteen years a high school senior, who exemplifies the characteristics that Tim demonstrated throughout his life, have received this scholarship.

Kathy has been an active member of 100+ Women Who Care, a Washtenaw-based organization impacting lives in the surrounding communities. She also served on Ann Arbor Hospice committee fundraisers and recognizes the invaluable service the Arbor Hospice provides.

Her heart and soul continues to be rooted in the Saline community. As an educator and resident of Saline, she could not be more proud and grateful when she sees so many of her former students who have evolved into exceptional human beings.

Kathy and her husband Corey Bakian plan to continue living in the Saline area. They are blessed with two amazing daughters, Susan and Mercedes, and two very talented grandsons, Ezekiel and Joshua.

After retiring Kathy continues her love for gardening, and cooking for family and friends. Her greatest and lasting accomplishment is to have had the opportunity to serve the Saline community.

Nancy Thelen, Saline Alumni. Nancy (Diuble) Thelen graduated from Saline High School in 1970. She was very involved in several school clubs and activities and appreciates the great teachers who mentored her during her high school years and beyond. Nancy attended Michigan State University majoring in Home Economics education and minoring in Animal Science. During her college years she was involved in many extracurricular activities and participated in university and national collegiate activities. After graduating in 1974 she taught home economics, worked in the livestock industry in several states, and then combined her passion for lifelong education and agriculture in various positions with Michigan State University Extension. Nancy retired from MSU in 2015 after a 36-year career as an Extension Educator and Director, the last 26 years spent in Washtenaw County. Since her retirement she has continued to mentor young people and provide leadership, community service and scholarship opportunities for them, as well as continued her involvement in agriculture. Nancy has always put an emphasis on involving youth and helping them develop skills. She is an active member of several local, county, state, and national organizations. Nancy has worked diligently with the Saline Fair Board and school administrators to enhance their relationship with the Saline Community Fair and involving Saline youth, families, and businesses in the fair programs. Nancy and her husband, Steve Thelen have two daughters, Renee Thelen Klues and Julie Thelen Conover, both graduated from Saline High School and were very involved in several school clubs and athletics.

Grant Gilmore, Saline Alumni. Grant’s entire childhood was spent making memories and forging friendships in Saline, Michigan where he attended Union School, Houghton Elementary, Saline Middle School, and Saline High School.

He was active in the Saline music program playing the trumpet in the high school Wind Ensemble and Marching Band where he was the drum major his senior year.

Grant ran track and played basketball for the Saline Hornets but soccer was his favorite sport which he carried with him into college. He attended the University of North Carolina Asheville where he played Division 1 soccer and graduated with a B.S. degree in Atmospheric Sciences in 2006.

Grant is now a broadcast meteorologist for the local CBS affiliate in Tampa, Florida. Before that, he spent eight years in Greensboro, North Carolina as the Chief Meteorologist. His first job in TV was in Macon, Georgia.

Grant is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist with the American Meteorological Society and has earned two Emmy awards for his coverage of severe weather.

Grant’s parents, Mark and Tracy still live in Saline but visit Florida often to see Grant, his wife, Liz and their two daughters, Finley and Rowen.

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