On May 19, the students of Hilltop High School won’t be the only ones receiving awards.
The date of the school’s High School Academic Awards, there will be a presentation taking place on that night new to the event. Members of the Hilltop Alumni, as well as those who went to one of the pre-consolidated schools of which it is currently comprised, will be honored through a newly created Hall of Fame, with this year’s inductees serving as its first class of entrants.
So whose idea was it to have a hall of fame for Hilltop graduates in the first place?
“It’s really interesting to see what kind of talent comes out of your community.” Larry Long, school superintendent, stated.
Coming up with the concept through his many years of experience in education, Long helped to design the process for which the nominations are made and the inductees are chosen. In the interest of fairness, he tried to ensure that said process was as community-inclusive as possible.
“We don’t do the nominations.” Said Long of the school’s involvement.
Instead, the school sought out the civic groups of West Unity for the names of potential inductees. Once the nomination process was completed, things were turned over to a committee consisting of five members not directly affiliated with the Millcreek-West Unity School District, who ultimately decided which nominees would get in to the Hall of Fame from the initial ballot. Those who did not get voted into the Hall will remain on the active ballot for five years.
This year, three will be making their way into the Hilltop Hall of Fame, though the committee can alter that number from year to year. Those who receive this honor will have their picture placed on the wall of the school’s lobby opposite the military tribute. A listing of their accomplishments will accompany each photo.
“This year’s class is a very good balance.” Long opined on the inductees.
Nominated by his daughter, Joan Rohlf, Coach Ralph Geesey, deceased since 1974, graduated from West Unity High School in 1917. Running the basketball programs at West Unity and Stryker, beginning in 1923, he led each school to the state finals. He also achieved that same feat at Kunkle School. Upon his retirement in 1929, Geesey maintained a record of 231 wins and 21 losses. He was inducted into the Ohio Historical Society’s Hall of Fame in 2007.
Paulette Frances Zuver-Potts, nominated by her husband, Terry, passed away in 2012. A 1965 graduate of Hilltop, she never stopped learning. Earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Language Arts from Defiance College in 1969, she pursued and obtained her Master’s in the field from Bowling Green State University in 1985. As a teacher at Hilltop, Zuver-Potts taught Freshmen and Sophomore English, Junior and Senior English, College Prep, and Speech class. Retiring in 2006, her last teaching job was a Communications course at Northwest State Community College.
The only inductee still living, Terry Klopfenstein received his nomination from former Hilltop Class of 1957 classmate Barb Green. Attending the school from grades one through eleven, Klopfenstein achieved class office during his time at Hilltop. He was awarded several degrees from Ohio State University, including a Bachelor’s in Animal Science, his Master’s in Ruminant Nutrition, and a Ph.D in Ruminant Nutrition in 1961, 1963, and 1965, respectively. He has been teaching at the University of Nebraska, with positions ranging from Research Associate to Full-Time Professor for more than four decades. Klopfenstein is no stranger to distinction, already having received induction into the Cattle Feeder Hall of Fame and becoming a Nebraska Agricultural Achievement Honoree.
Not only is Klopfenstein slated to speak at the awards banquet, but he plans to pay his old school a visit during the day as well. His intentions are to speak with Vocational Agriculture students throughout school hours.
T.J. Hug can be reached at