Zephyrhills High School – 1983


Highlights of 1983

Ten Years Later- The Valedictorians of 1983, St. Petersburg Times, May 30, 1993, Section: Tampa Bay and State

Where is the ZHS Valedictorian in 1993? She is Mary Beth Kuusisto (now Mary Beth Bejar) School: Zephyrhills High. College: Boston University College of Law; University of Florida, bachelors in accounting. Job: Soon-to-be a lawyer at the commercial litigation firm of Vart, Marcus and Fink, Boston. Why Boston University? “Part of it was that I had lived in Michigan before my parents retired here. . . . I still have the Northern attitude I guess. . . . I had all these grandiose ideas about the business world.” Why Boston: “My decision to come to Boston was more personal than anything else. . . . Part of it was conscious and parts of it us kind of fell into. It was job-driven. We could be anywhere now. . . . We’ve considered going back (to Florida). I think it’s a great place.”

Sound of Music Is Founder’s Day Event, Zephyrhills News, March 17, 1983

The Zephyrhills High School Drama Department production of “The Sound of Music” will play a major part in this year’s Founder’s Day celebration. The musical Friday and Saturday evenings of next week will join with the “Miss Zephyrhills” Beauty Pageant, Thursday night and the second annual Picnic in the Park, Saturday afternoon, March 26, celebrating the city’s 73rd birthday anniversary.

Hours for the old-time community event at Zephyr Park are between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and once again everyone attending is urged to put on an old-time costume, although that’s not a requirement to enjoy stage entertainment, a bonus luncheon plate, games for the kids, a fishing contest, horseshoes, a petting zoo, antique cars on display, and a variety of other attractions.

School Daze by Lyn Thompson, Zephyrhills News, February 10, 1983

Congressman Bill McCollum has nominated two Zephyrhills High School students to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. They are seniors, Russell James Ellis and Roy Davis, who earned the nominations on their academic, athletic and leadership capabilities.

Our very own business teacher, Mrs. Idel Lane has been chosen as ZHS “Teacher of the Year.” Congratulations.

ZHS Scholars High In National Test, Zephyrhills News, July 14, 1983

The Valedictorian of any graduating class is always recognized as a top scholar, but the belief held by her teachers that Mary Beth Kuusisto, who led this year’s class at Zephyrhills High School, is an exceptional student was confirmed this week when it was revealed that she recorded the highest possible score on the annual College Advance Placement Test.

In addition, according to Mrs. Gail Reynolds, Miss Kuusisto scored the highest ever recorded by a ZHS student in the AP program-a 5.

Two ZHS Students Are Merit Test Commended, Zephyrhills News, October 13, 1983

Three more Pasco County High school students have been honored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, and two of them are from Zephyrhills High School.

They are Melintha Kretschmar and Tracy Dunlap who have been designated Commended Students by the Academic Recognition Program.

American Legion To Host Boy, Girl Staters, Zephyrhills News, September 29, 1983

Zephyr Post 118 American Legion and Auxiliary made plans to hold a covered dish dinner meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 19, in their historic Legion Hall on 8th Street

Guests of honor and featured speakers will be Christopher Williams, David Harwell, David Seidel, Roy Wells, and Tracy Dunlap, Zephyrhills High School seniors who attended the 1983 American Legion Auxiliary-sponsored State Sessions.

Peeples All-State, Zephyrhills News, October 24, 1983

Ken Peeples of Zephyrhills High School claimed All-State Honors Saturday by finishing 10th in the Class 3A State Cross Country Championship, timing 16:00 over the 3-mile course.

Kathy Evans, competing for the lady bulldogs finished 14th to just barley miss All-State honors. Runners who finished in the top 10 were automatically named all-state.

Evans who clocked 12:14 over the 2 mile course was disappointed with her finish as several runners outkicked her in the last 200 yards.

For Peeples it was an excellent race. Ranked 12th coming in to the meet, Peeples felt he could have finished higher if he had had a finishing kick.

Peeples, a senior and Evans, a junior, will look ahead to track season now with the hopes of strong teams for both the girls and boys teams.

School Daze by Lyn Thompson, Zephyrhills News, January 13, 1983

It was a first for ZHS Tuesday when the ZHS Bulldog Booster Club sponsored a Senior Citizen’s Night at the basketball game in the gym.

Senior Citizens were admitted free, if they were 65 or older. In other words, they were “carded,” just as some students are when they try to go to see certain movies. ZHS athletic director Craig Milburn says there will be other special nights for the Booster Club. I’m sure these nights will be appreciated.

School Daze by Lyn Thompson, Zephyrhills News, March 24, 1983

Four junior class girls at Zephyrhills High School were nominated last week to attend the 1983 session of Florida’s Girls State sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. They are Karrie Pate, Tracy Dunlap, Melintha Kretschmar and Janna McKell. Interviews will be conducted ant he results should be given next week.

There was a Sadie Hawkins Dance in the commons on Tuesday during which the Stage Band provided music. The junior class presented the dance to raise money for the Junior-Senior Prom.

ZHS Senior Wins $500 Study Grant, Zephyrhills News, April 28, 1983

Carolyn Thompson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Thompson and familiar to the News readers as “School Daze” columnist this year, has been awarded a $500 Josten’s Foundation, Inc., of Bloomington, Minnesota scholarship which she will use to attend Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, N.C. in the fall.

ZHS Student Names Student of the Year, Zephyrhills News, 1983

Mary Beth Kuusisto, a senior at Zephyrhills High School and class of 1983 Valedictorian, has been named the Pasco County Student of the Year.

The announcement was made Tuesday at Zephyrhills High School by Larry Robison, ZHS Principal.

Miss Kuusisto is the daughter of Reverend and Mrs. Wayne Kuusisto of Zephyrhills.

She said Tuesday that she is “really happy and surprised” by the honor. She plans to attend the University of Florida in the fall and will study business and most likely majoring in accounting.

Five county administrators interviewed each county high school nominee before selecting the Student of the Year. Miss Kuusisto said that she was unaware that her interview had been set up and was called at school 10 minutes before the Land O’ Lakes appointment was scheduled. She arrived, but about an hour late, she said. Miss Kuusisto also is the recipient of the National Merit Scholarship and will receive $1950 a year for four years toward her college expenses.

1983 ZHS Seniors Await Diplomas At Commencement, The Zephyrhills News, June 9, 1982

The activity center at Zephyrhills High School will be packed with relatives and well-wishers Friday evening when the 263-member Class of 1983 is presented graduation diplomas.

Commencement exercises will begin at 8 p.m. with the processional to “Pomp and Circumstance” as played by Stanley Castor following an organ prelude, the march being led by Mary Beth Kuusisto, Valedictorian and Dale Lee Parker,


The opening prayer will be by the Reverend Ron Walker, Pastor of the First Assembly of God, and the pledge of allegiance to the flag will be led by Principal Larry Robison, who also will introduce the guests.  

Salutatorian Parker, who will attend Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and major in engineering, will be the first of the three special speakers, followed by Kirk Pomp, senior class president.

Valedictorian Kuusisto, this year’s County Outstanding Senior, will attend University of South Florida to major in business.

Diplomas will be presented by District 2 School Board Member Janet Tolar, whose daughter, Crystal Tolar, is a member of the graduating class. As the last graduate settles back into his or her auditorium seat, a senior, Kim Whitworth, will present a special music solo, “You Never Really Say Goodbye,” after which Reverend Ron Walker will give the benediction and the class will recess to “March of the Priests” played by Castor.

Ushers will be selected members of the junior class and include: Sonia Dudley, Tracy Dunlap, Anna Eskelund, Wendy Garrels, Andrea Giles, Caroline Graham, Olaj Jonasson, Chris Kieper, Jana McKell, Kim Nelson, George Neukom III, Karrie Pate, Kenneth Peeples, Rich Reagan, Teresa Straube, Roy Wells, Chris Williams, and Dana Wooten.

The class flower is the orchid; the class color is fuchsia, and class motto is, “Time goes, you say? Ah not Alas, time stays; we go!”

Class of 1983 Baccalaureate Service, Zephyrhills News, June 9, 1983

The threat of rain failed to spoil the annual Baccalaureate service of Zephyrhills High School for the 263-member Class of 1983 at the First Baptist Church Sunday evening.

Fr. Leo Coppens, OMI, St. Joseph Catholic Church, was featured speaker for the inspirational message, and a highlight was special music by two members of the class, Brenda Helm and Kelly Reagan, singing a duet, “Jesus Never Fails.”

Stephen Castor was organist as the seniors marched into the church to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” and Dr. Lenton Turner, host pastor, gave the opening prayer. Words of welcome by Robison included an invitation to graduation this Friday night.

Dr. Turner pronounced the benediction to close the hour-long service and the recessional was “March of the Priests.”

Ushers were selected members of the sophomore class.

Two are Slated For Boys State, Zephyrhills News, May 26, 1983

David Harwell, son of Mrs. Freddy Gore and Christopher Williams, son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael R. Williams, have been chosen to represent Zephyr Post 118, American Legion at the 1983 session of Boys State scheduled July 2 at Tallahassee. A legion Post committee of Legionnaires, Lucy Mae Knox, chairman, Ivan Grant and Edna Ballard, also chose Roy Wesley Wells, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Wells and David Eric Seidel, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Seidel as alternates.

Diplomas Given Most Seniors: 262, Zephyrhills News, June 16, 1983

When Zephyrhills High School graduated the 262 member class of 1983 on Friday evening in the Activity Center, it was not only the ceremony for the largest senior class in the school’s history, it also was the largest audience ever to jam the Activity Center, and probably ever to attend a ZHS commencement.

Every seat was filled, all the way to the top of the auditorium, and as it was a year ago the audience was SRO-standing room only. However school officials said far more people had to stand this year than last. Last year’s class was the previous largest with 236 seniors. In 1981 there were 230 and in 1980 234. The only other class to top the 200 mark was the Class of 1979 with 206 seniors.

The program opened with a processional of academics including special guests and heads of the departments all led by the Principal.  Following the processional of the seniors to “Pomp and Circumstance” by organist, Stanley Castor, and the invocation by Ron Walker, pastor of the First Assembly of God, Robison led the pledge to the flag and introduced guests, as well as the three speakers of the evening, whose remarks follow below.

Awards were presented on behalf of the School Board and they included:

Citizenship—Carolyn Thompson and Jimmy O. Williams, Jr.

Leadership—Mary Kuusisto and James R. Ellis

School Spirit—Mary Fauth and Charles Brant

Best All-Around Girl and Boy—Susan Alexander and Dale Parker

Diplomas were presented to the graduates by Janet Tolar, School Board Member.

The three graduation addresses follow:

Be Informed To Live Together by Mary Kuusisto, Valedictorian

Welcome fellow graduates, faculty, administration, families and friends to the Zephyrhills High School 1983 Graduation Exercises.

As I was trying to find something relevant and memorable, but not preachy or complex to say tonight, I went over—many times—the ideas I was told the Valedictorian is supposed to speak on. The future, success, and our responsibility as citizens seemed remote as compared to what I expected most of our thoughts for the evening would be such as graduation parties, beach week and good-byes.

But as I perused these ideas, the last phrase struck me. Responsible citizens had always been a term to be associated with parents or teachers, but I realized that as we have here tonight, we will be added to our country’s list of “responsible citizens.” Our responsibilities shift from organizing powder puff football and getting homework done to becoming a part of the public, the masses, which make the decisions signifying our generation and civilization.

As detached as some of us may feel from these thoughts, we all must accept the role that has befallen us. We must be informed. We must decide what we as individuals, can do. And we must entwine our actions with each other to produce the most beneficial effects.

Being informed can be considered the hardest step because it requires not only reading and listening to what is happening around us, but also thinking about it and discerning truth from deception. Being culturally aware and knowing these deceptions will allow us to form unbiased sound opinions concerning government, social issues, our community, or the economy.

By refusing to become informed, we can end up giving up many of our nation’s inherent rights and privileges. A girl of voting age told me that she hadn’t voted in the last election because since she hadn’t learned what the candidates stood for, she could not make a wise decision. She regretted theism and remarked something to the effect of “you know, if I lived in a country where I were not allowed to vote, you can be sure I’d be informed and then complain that I had no rights.” It is our responsibility to use these rights to the greatest of our ability.

Avoid Indecision To Solve Problems by Dale Parker, Salutatorian

Fellow members of the class of 1983, good evening. Faculty members, administrators, parents and friends; welcome. Tonight I have the distinguished honor of delivering to you the salutatory address. The salutatory address has traditionally dealt with the future, but being the innovative person that I am…I wrote on the future.

The future is something we face every minute of every day. It is something that we are all familiar with, and yet at the same time it is something that continues to mystify us. It is an unknown commodity.

Throughout history, mankind has faced the unknown on a daily basis. He has dealt with the future in three basic ways: with action, with thought and with a combination of both. These three methods have brought us many successes and many failures. Let us look closely at one of these methods: let us look at the concept of using intelligence without the benefit of action. This is an idea which has been a major theme in literature throughout history and is a significant problem facing many of our young people today. Throughout our educational careers, we are taught to think and to think well. We are instructed to think a matter through carefully before acting upon it. A wise policy you will no doubt agree, but what happens when this same policy is carried to its logical extreme?

What happens when a young person is confronted with a problem and instead of reacting after suitable thought, contemplates the matter for hours upon end? What happens when this very same person loses contact with the reality of a problem and drifts off into the alternate universe for theoretical problem solving? What happens when we lose touch with reality? Will we come to resemble the Laputians of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, who must be led around by slaves in order to keep them from stumbling on the paths while they analyze mathematical formulas? Will we evolve into a race similar to the Laputians who have mastered all of the sciences and yet cannot build a house with square walls?

Is intellectually preferable (at the risk of exclusion) to the will to work? To this, and all previous questions, I answer no, intellectuality and philosophical knowledge is essential to insure a prosperous life in today’s highly technological society. But the will to work is an American tradition that will never die. The two-intellectuality and the American work ethic—are inexorably intertwined and they can never be separated. Without the will to work, intellectuality produces nothing but arguments with other intellectuals, and without any traces of intelligence, the best a person can hope for is the security of a 9-5 job without the hope of quick advancement.

Our generation, the class of 1983, must look into the future and realize that all of the knowledge we have accumulated in the past 12 years will carry us through our lives, if and only if, we are willing to work. So let us surmount each obstacle as it appears before us with intelligence and perseverance. And let us never succumb to our age old enemy—indecision. For not to decide is to decide.

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