Alumni Reflect and Share Their Experiences at OH

Anne Monoky Goldman ('96)

Senior Director of Editorial and Social Media at Tory Burch

Picture of Anne Monoky Goldman's Family“I attended Ottawa Hills from kindergarten through high school graduation; I loved my time at the school. I feel extremely lucky to have been supported by such an amazing group of leaders, teachers and coaches. To name a few...Barbara Wagner taught me how to speak publicly. Ernie Berg taught me that winning isn’t everything. Steven Wipfli taught me the power of a great song.

Not only did I receive a well-rounded education at Ottawa Hills, I made lifelong friends with whom I still laugh today.”

Jeff Johnson ('82)

Nike Executive

Picture of Jeff Johnson“Ottawa Hills High School provided me with an incredibly challenging academic experience, a unique athletic opportunity to play multiple sports, and a great social environment that allowed me to build great relationships and develop as an individual. The teachers, administrators, and coaches were able to provide a personal connectivity that one is not able to attain in much larger high school environments. I left OH armed with a competitive spirit and confidence that has allowed me to pursue and reach my goals.”

Ted Souder ('89)

Head of Industry and Retail for Google

Picture of Ted Souder“Growing up in Ottawa Hills and attending OHES and OHHS made me who I am today. I benefitted from living in a small, close-knit community that supported and participated in the life of the school. The school was always at the center of everything we did as members of a community. The top-notch teachers not only instructed us students, but they also inspired us. The coaches always challenged us. The music, art, and theatre teachers brought out the best in us. And of course, the parents were patient with us. I wouldn’t replace one minute of my childhood in Ottawa Hills, as it has everything a young family needs: a close-knit community and a top-notch school that unleashes greatness.”

Christine Brennan ('76)

USA Today National Sports Columnist

Picture of Christine Brennan"What's great about Ottawa Hills schools? Where to begin? I barely can remember what I had for lunch a few days ago, but I certainly can remember the lessons that specific OHHS teachers gave, the books we read, the assignments we were given and the fun we had in class, on the playing field, and putting out the Arrowhead - and I graduated 40 years ago. That's the impact that Ottawa Hills has had on my life. The teachers are the best, and so is the entire community of supportive parents, coaches, administrators and staff. We all know the quote, 'There's no place like home.' It's true. There is no place like Ottawa Hills."

Phil Mattingly ('02)

CNN Correspondent

Picture of Phil Mattingly“Anyone who asks how I figured out what I wanted to do for a living always get some iteration of the same answer: my Junior Year AP English class at Ottawa Hills High School. It's where I learned how much I loved writing and realized I wanted to do it the rest of my life. But that's just one example of how the school -- really the whole village -- helped shaped who I am. From the sports championships and lifelong friends to the incredible teachers and coaches I still talk to today, the best way to describe my time there is simply this: worth every minute.”

Michael Geisler ('14)

Harvard University ('18)

Picture of Michael Geisler“Ottawa Hills is truly an incredible place. Everything about it gives students the opportunity to succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. From the phenomenal teachers to the nurturing community to the loving kids who fill the hallways, Ottawa Hills is the perfect environment for any student to grow.”

Emily Huntington ('63)

Retired Interior Designer and Hotel Owner/Manager

Picture of Emily Huntington"Because our education at Ottawa Hills was based very importantly on ‘liberal arts’ we were offered a curriculum which included a broad choice of subjects and activities, i.e. both in the classroom, the community and also on the sports field. The classical definition of ‘liberal arts’ in the dictionary is particularly telling as we were graduated with exactly that, an education which enabled us to become useful members of society wherever and however that might be or that we might choose. We were taught to think outside the box (as the saying goes today) but also that we could apply ourselves to do anything."

Mark Wagoner ('90)

Partner at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick LLP
(Former State Senator)

Picture of Mark Wagoner“My education at Ottawa Hills was second to none. My teachers pushed me hard and were a great source of support. I still reflect on the lessons I learned from them. Ottawa Hills helped prepare me for life beyond school by giving me a chance to try a number of things to find my passion. No other school will let you play 3 varsity sports, Quiz Bowl, Chess Club, Mesasa, and student government all in one year!”

Phil Beans ('09)

Account Executive at ESPN

Picture of Phil Beans"Smaller classes allow for a more realistic, real world experience. Interacting as a team prepares you for school and the real world.”
Advice to students: “Take advantage of the small class sizes as well as the wide range of classes that are offered. Small classes allow for students stand out as well as build impactful relationships with their teachers. This proves to be great practice for the real world. Also, many of my teammates in college were jealous that I was able to take high school classes like photography, pottery, chief’s delight and courses in graphic design. Kids should definitely take advantage of these classes while they are available. My last piece of advice would be to support other groups/clubs at the school; go to the school plays, support the basketball team, and engage in all the little things that the school has to offer.”

Jeff Gibbs ('78)

Owner/Operator of Potbelly
Sandwich Shop, Toledo OH

Picture of Jeff Gibbs"Ottawa Hills prepared me for college very well. Many of my entry level courses were easier that the senior level courses at OH. Also the desire for learning and interest in the world was cultivated at OH. My desire for lifelong learning and quest for knowledge began there. The many varied opportunities available were a tremendous asset. Large school variety with a small school population. Also being treated as an adult at an early age was a leg up, as was the continual interaction with community and business leaders."

Lori Mitchell Dixon ('78)

Principal at Great Lakes Marketing

Picture of Lori Mitchell DixonOttawa Hills helped prepare me for life beyond school by: “Giving me confidence to try anything and everything”

Advice to students: “Do, try, engage, take advantage of the opportunities”

Courtney Fung ('14)

Biomedical Engineering Major

Picture of Courtney Fung"I would say that the best qualities of OH were how much dedication the teachers had towards the students and how much they cared about our progress. I also think that another great quality is that they prepared me to be able to handle the workload that I currently have in college. When I first started college, I didn't struggle with homework as much as other freshmen because I was used to the workload and knew how to manage the stress that came with it."

Annie Keener ('07)

Physical Therapist, Sports Therapy
and Rehbilitation

Picture of Annie Keener"Ottawa Hills High School is more than a school. It's a community filled with teachers who care about teaching, parents who love their children, and students who strive to be better. The small classes allow for individualized attention and the numerous extra-curricular opportunities allow students to explore their interests. I am so grateful my high school experience was at OHHS."

Samantha Slater ('08)

Licensed Professional Counselor
MBI Health Services

Picture of Samantha Slater"OH helped me develop an appreciation for learning that allowed me to excel in college and graduate school. Looking back, I'm so grateful for the quality of education that I received. It's hard to have that kind of appreciation as a kid, but I noticed it in me as soon as my first semester of undergrad, because I felt prepared and confident in my classes.”

Meghan Browne ('10)

University Relations Program Manager
Apple Inc.

Picture of Meghan Browne"An Ottawa Hills High School education provided me with more than the academic skills I needed for a successful college experience. It provided me with a community of supportive teachers, staff and residents that stretched me to pursue opportunities in service as well as academics. This community feeling helped me to push myself and to try new things without reservation but with confidence."

Stephanie Wade ('12)

Reporter at WRTV
Chicago, Illinois

Picture of Stephanie Wade"For a young 14-year-old just coming into high school, I had no idea I would even be interested in pursuing a career in journalism. It was only during a meeting with the vice principal where I discovered my skills and interests pointed to writing, asking questions, editing and shooting a camera. That prompted me to report and anchor for our morning news show, "OH Morning News," and write for the school newspaper, "The Arrowhead." The, what I'd call, "open door policy" and one-on-one attention even OUTSIDE of the allotted class time transformed my simple interest in broadcast news to a passion for broadcast news. My teacher, Mrs. Kate Hunyor, allowed me to come into her classroom whenever i wanted to ask questions, work on extra stories and just gave me opportunities to grow. Ottawa Hills High School taught me strong work ethic that served me well in college and now in my career. Without my experience at Ottawa Hills, I would most likely not be working in this field or be where I am now, and for that, I am extremely grateful."

Mara Horn ('14)

Global Health and the Environment
Economics and Strategy Major

Picture of Mara Horn"I think the best qualities of OH are the people within the school. Throughout my college experience, I've realized just how incredible it is to have such close connections with teachers who not only know you as an academic, but as a person. At OH, I found incredibly important relationships that not only shaped me in the interests I developed in the classroom, but as a person. I think it's obvious that Ottawa Hills is academically challenging, intellectually stimulating, and a close community. But you really see all of those traits combine in high school when you can count on not only the students in your classes, but also the teachers to help you grow. As far as how Ottawa Hills helped prepare me for college, I think the variety of classes I took and how in-depth they were really made me into a critical thinker before I ever stepped foot on a college campus. I was able to view the world and larger issues in history, politics, math, and anatomy from different perspectives and link the learning I did between classes flawlessly. Though I originally thought this was everyone's experience, I learned quickly in college that other people weren't used to having as intensive, challenging, and overall enriching classes as I was. For that, I can't thank OH enough, as it genuinely helped me grasp concepts and form connections automatically.”

Daniel Kane ('07)

Associate at JPMorgan Chase

Picture of Daniel Kane"I have fond memories of Ottawa Hills and the community definitely gave me a great head start to life. As is always the case, the people make the difference. From K-12 the parents, teachers and staff at Ottawa Hills created an environment conducive to learning and pushed students to achieve more. The STEM curriculum would certainly be a strength I would highlight--I was very well prepared for my college courses; however, more than that, I developed a genuine appreciation for science that continues to brighten my life. Although not my forte at the time, Ottawa Hills also has a great history and humanities program. Even today I talk with my peers and colleagues about the literature I read in school--George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut to name a few. I also frequently engage in casual trivia about American and European history. It goes to show that what you learn in the classroom stays with you for life and that the purpose of education is to be educated, not to score well on tests--although that happens to be a natural outcome. Furthermore, the extracurricular program was strong--whether it was sports, theater or Model UN--it shaped who I am today. All of my friends have been very successful in life thus far and we have you all to thank."

Nick Hauck ('15)

Finance & Economics Major

Picture of Nick Hauck"One of the best things about Ottawa Hills was how well the teachers and faculty prepared me for college. Apart from preparation, there was a huge sense of involvement from almost every student, which you can't say about most other schools."

Daniel Intrater ('15)

Sports Management, Law and

Picture of Daniel Intrater"While at Ottawa Hills, I was provided with a myriad of opportunities that truly prepared me for college. The main aspect of OH that prepared me for success in college was the rigorous curriculum. I never truly realized how great the teachers and classes at Ottawa Hills were until I stepped foot on campus. There are some people who are academically so far behind compared to Ottawa Hills graduates. I would say the largest gap between an Ottawa Hills student and others is in the English department. With challenging English teachers such as Mr. Broadway, Mrs. Schoenberger, and Mrs. Hurst, I felt as if I had a huge advantage in my first English class and that my first semester of college was a brief recap of what I had already learned in high school…Another major aspect of Ottawa Hills that prepared me for college was the athletic side of high school. While at Ottawa Hills, I played hockey, football, and baseball all four years. With coaches such as Coach Hardman, I was pushed not only to focus and be prepared to succeed on the field, but also in the classroom. By being able to play three sports and also perform in the plays/musicals, I learned how to manage my time. ”