By Diane Gasper-O’Brien
HAYS, Kan. — Twenty students were honored at last Saturday’s completion ceremony for Fort Hays State University’s Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science. But the academy’s director said he was the one honored to be a part of the program.
“My satisfaction is getting to see students come in and grow and develop, not only in the classroom but also outside the classroom,” Dr. Roger Schieferecke said. “To see them surpass what they thought were their limits is really rewarding.”
In his address to the students, Schieferecke said that while every KAMS class is special, the 2016 class held particular significance for him.
KAMS is a premier academic high school program where juniors and seniors live on the FHSU campus for two years. At the end of those two years of earning nearly 70 hours of college credit, the students receive a certificate of completion as well as diplomas from their home high school.
Schieferecke just completed his second year as the program’s director. He worked for KAMS as an academic advisor and associate director of student services for four years before taking over the director’s position for a retiring Ron Keller in 2014.
“This is the class I started with as director,” said Schieferecke. “So it’s a really important class for me.”
While 19 students received certificates Saturday, Hunter Lile from Caldwell, who died last month, was honored as well.
A photo of Lile appeared in the completion ceremony program with a memorial statement that said: “he was a valued member of the KAMS program, and he will forever be in our hearts.”
Several members of Lile’s family attended the ceremony, and his mother, Cynthia Conrady, was presented her son’s medallion at a ceremony earlier on campus.
Three different students spoke at Saturday’s ceremony, as did FHSU President Mirta M. Martin, who charged the graduates to be leaders, to make a difference — and to be ready for whatever comes their way.
“If you are visible, if you can be seen, you can be touched, you can be hurt,” she said. “However, the more generous you are with your talents — your genius — the greater your impact.”
Schieferecke said he will remember the KAMS class of 2016 because of its hard work, determination, and grit.
“They exhibited the family values that are the fabric of Fort Hays State University,” Schieferecke said.
Nearly a third of those students will remain close to the FHSU family as six have chosen to continue their college careers at Fort Hays State.
Alex Wohler from Palmer — population 110 — in the northeast corner of Kansas, said he had thought about going to Kansas State University to be closer to home.
K-State is just an hour from home while Hays and Fort Hays State are an additional 100-plus mile to Wohler’s trip to college.
It’s definitely worth the extra windshield time, Wohler said.
“I decided to stay because I really felt like I could get a more rounded education here because of the access to professors and friends,” said Wohler, a chemistry major with aspirations of getting into med school. “You’re not a number here. You’re a student; you’re a person.”
That’s what brought Emily Larson to Fort Hays State in the first place — that and the opportunity to explore a lot of options before deciding upon her major.
Larson said she knew from her freshman year at Decatur Community High School in Oberlin that she wanted to attend KAMS. But little did she know she would change her mind on majors so frequently.
“I thought I wanted to be a forensic scientist, then a veterinarian, even a marine biologist for a while,” Larson said. “Then last semester I started doing some research in programming. That’s when I decided to become a computer science major.”
The class of 2016 included five international students, with Hays High School being their high school of record.
This class, Schieferecke pointed out, features some unique statistics. The average score on the ACT, for which a perfect score is 36, was 32, with the lowest score being a 29.
“In previous years, we’ve had more 34s and 35s and also more 24s and 25s,” Schieferecke said. “But to have that kind of average, with the very lowest being 29, that shows this is a very good class overall.”
Members of the KAMS Class of 2016 are listed alphabetically by hometown with their home high schools and parents.
HAYS (67601): Jinseo “Jin” Bae, Hays High School, Youngish Bae and Jungsoon Min, Seoul, South Korea.
Jiyoung “Ji” Baek, Hays High School, Jongsoo Baek and Gilwon Lee, Daejeon, South Korea.
Gyuseung “Sean” Hwang, Hays High School, Ji-Hae Lee and Young-hun Hwang, Seoul, South Korea.
Chaeyeon “Chloe” Kim, Hays High School, Sun Yeon Lee and Minsung Kim, Seoul, South Korea.
Yuneil Yeo, Hays High School, Ji Yoon Lee and Sung Jun Yeo, Seoul, South Korea.
ANDOVER (67002): Kaleb Goertzen, Hiawatha High School, Kevin and Vicki Goertzen.
ATCHISON (66002): Joey Schmidt, Maur Hill-Mount Academy, Dean and Teri Schmidt.
CALDWELL (67022): Hunter Lile, Caldwell High School, Cynthia Conrady.
CHENEY (67025): Madison Campbell, Cheney High School, David and Jennifer Campbell.
HIAWATHA (66434): Fenwicht Edwardson, Hiawatha High School, Amanda Edwardson and Anthony Edwardson.
LAWRENCE (66049): Prerona Kundu, Free State High School, Agamani Sen.
OBERLIN (67749): Emily Larson, Decatur Community High School, David and Belinda Larson.
PALMER (66962): Alex Wohler, Linn High School, Leland and Janell Kohler.
FONTANA (66026): Cassandra Olender, Paola High School, Debby and Larry Gliem and Micah Nance.
PRAIRIE VILLAGE (66028): Courtney Sharp, Shawnee Mission East High School, Vicki and Stanley Sharp.
REPUBLIC (66964): Brianne Little, Republic County High School, Dawn Little-Journey and Travis Journey.
RICHMOND (66080): Jacob Kice, Central Heights High School, James and Julia Kice.
TOPEKA (66605): Morgan Mitchiner, Shawnee Heights High School, Kim Hilgenberg and Michael Mitchiner.
WICHITA (67203): Alyssa Crumley, Wichita North High School, Shaun Crumley.
Georgie Tauber, Wichita North High School, Norma Tauber.