Inspiring alumni dreamed big and pursued boldly at Neuqua


Ingrid Marques Reginato

Neuqua choir opens the ceremony by singing Alma Mater

Lily Ha, Editor-in-Chief

In order to commemorate 25 years since its establishment in 1997, Neuqua Valley High School held a memorable ceremony in the main auditorium on April 24, 2022.

Throughout the event, the audience looked excited and pleased at the school’s bright future as well as Neuqua’s achievements. Dr. Kathryn Birkett (first principal), Dr. Michael Popp (principal, 2004 to 2008) and Dr. Bob Mcbride (principal, 2008 to 2019) also attended this ceremony to see how much the school has grown over the past years.

 This event served as a great opportunity to declare Neuqua’s continued determination to be “the center of a community, a reflection of the values and the ambitions of the people around it,” which the school expressed in the pamphlet for this event. In particular, this event reminded the Neuqua community of the question of “What does being a Wildcat mean?”

Neuqua’s current principal, Dr. Lance Fuhrer, declared that during the last 25 years, Neuqua’s leaders and faculties have maintained a welcoming atmosphere and that they hope to continue to do this. He also noted that thanks to our previous principals’ vision and contributions, Neuqua Valley became “one of the best in the nation because of the positive climate and culture that separates us [from other schools].”

Dr. Fuhrer recalled that from when Neuqua was founded to now, the school continues to be student-centered, collaborative, and respectful. Birket that “Students will always come first” and “become what you are capable of becoming.”

As the first speaker, Sachin Fong, a Neuqua Senior, gave a speech about leaving a legacy and how he has accomplished this: by running on the cross-country team and becoming a photographer. Sachin Fong was able to leave a legacy for future wildcats to look back on by being newspaper Editor in Chief, Homecoming King and Mr. NVHS.

Many of the staff asked the question of what it means to be a wildcat. For them, the most important thing is to be a part of the community and to try to live by Neuqua’s mission of being who you are. Next, we should strive to accept each other for who we are and recognize we are all on a continuous path. As Neuqua Valley High School is part of a people who strive for excellence, valuing positive attributes is also an important factor of excellence. McBride signified its importance in Neuqua, stating that although it “started with the building, it ended with the people.”

In this event, the distinguished alumni all had much to say regarding their achievements and expressed their gratitude to Neuqua for the honor. For the four recipients, the following was a snippet of their advice and feelings:

“Let your curiosity guide you to new” -Josh Johnson (2007, a musician)

“Always keep learning along the way” -Reef Kareem (2004, a worker towards social movements)

“I felt welcomed almost instantly at Neuqua” -Jordan Schubert (2011, a musician)

“My wildcat pride, it knows no bounds” -Lauren Underwood (2004, a politician)

“Neuqua was a chance for me to grow and develop my passion” -Jessica Walsh (2000, an educator)

“Due to the support of Neuqua, in addition to the teachers, parents, and the Neuqua mission that ‘everyone can be the best they can be,’ I’m proud to be a part of this 25-year academic excellence,” remarked Lauren Underwood, a representative of Illinois and Neuqua distinguished alumni recipient.

It was here at Neuqua that these inspiring alumni were able to dream big and boldly pursue. One important message in every speech by the alumni recipients is that they believed in themselves. They were given a great opportunity on their respective roads and they have always been proud to become one Neuqua team.

Dr. Fuhrer praised the distinguished alumni by saying, “it was pretty incredible that we could combine a 25-year celebration with our first class of distinguished alumni.” He stated, “So much of our first 25 years is a story of the people that work here, the people that attended here, the graduates, the people, they’ve become the adults, the parents, the spouses, all of their accomplishments. I love that we began with five alums that have made an imprint of a different variety on the communities within which they work.”

He continued, “Some of those communities are big, some of those communities are small, but nonetheless, their impact is important, and their impact is meaningful. It’s our job as a school to remind our students that are here currently will become someone that you don’t know who that is yet. All of the people that spoke today have become those people.”

A district official for District 204 said, “I love the words that were shared today that you have what you can be in the future, and that the school is all about helping you achieve that and to see those visions.”  She added, “I’m always grateful for the staff, the leadership, and the values that the school provides to the students, and it will continue in the future too.” 

The ceremony not only celebrated a milestone for Neuqua but also the accomplishments of the five notable alumni gathered at their “home” school on Sunday. By recalling the hardships and accomplishments of our school with former and current staff and students, one thing was clearly revealed:  Everyone was proud to be a Neuqua Wildcat.