Cultural / Performing Arts – Class of 1958
Wanda Anderson is a watercolor/mixed media artist who has captured her world of “undulating lake, hills, woods and bayou” in watercolor paint on paper and experimental media to widespread acclaim.
After graduating cum laude from Kent State University with a B.A. in Art Education, she returned to her hometown to teach art at GHHS from 1963-65. She has studied around the world and taught numerous workshops for artists. Many of her more than 750 paintings have been shown at exhibitions such as the Adirondacks (NY) National Exhibit, the Red River Watercolor Society in Fargo, ND; and the International Society of Experimental Artists in Wales and England. Closer to home, she has served as Artist-in-Residence at the Franciscan Life Process Center in Lowell and mounted one-person exhibits in Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and Grand Haven.
She currently has a one person exhibit at the Lowell Flat River Gallery, and has work in the Artist Alliance Exhibit at the Holland Area Arts Council. Another painting is in a traveling exhibit in Wales (UK).
Among the more than 100 awards her work has garnered are the Montana Watercolor Society’s National Award, the California Watercolor Association’s Experimental Award, and Best of Show at the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts. Her work can be found in more than 675 private and corporate collections and has been featured in six books.
Athletic Achievement – Class of 2002
According to her high school swim coach, Don Camp, Abby Seskevics was one of the finest and best swimmers to graduate from Grand Haven High School. Her accolades include four years of being named All-OK Red and All State and three years All American. She was an individual state champion in five events, swam on two state championship relay teams, one of which set a state record, and missed a national record by hundredths of a second. She holds GHHS school and pool records in the 50-, 100-, and 200-yard freestyle events, the 200-yard medley relay, and the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays. She led GHHS to its two best team finishes in MHSAA swimming Class A championships to date and went on to swim for the University of Michigan.
At Ann Arbor, Abby continued to excel. While completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology, Sport Management, and Communications in four years, she swam on the women’s varsity swim team, was selected all four years to the Big Ten All Conference team, the NCAA Division 1 All American first team, and the NCAA All American Honorable Mention Team. She received both NCAA and Big Ten scholastic honors in two of those years, captained the swimming and diving team as a junior, and holds the U of M record for the 200-yard freestyle relay.
After graduating from Michigan in 2006, she earned a Master of Education Degree from GVSU and is now an academic advisor at Brandeis University.
Career / Academic – Class of 1977
Dr. Steven Goodman has devoted his career to helping children fulfill their potential through education. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology/special education in 1981, a Master of Arts in psychology in 1991, and a PhD in psychology in 1999 from Western Michigan University.
He began his career in education with Ottawa County Community Mental Health agency as a counselor for adults with severe mental impairments and behavioral problems, and then worked as both a teacher and teacher consultant through the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District. From there he went on to train current and future teachers for the Developmental Disabilities Institute at Wayne State University and as an adjunct professor for undergraduate and graduate psychology and education at GVSU.
In his 33-year career, he has contributed numerous articles to the body of scholarship on education and worked with both the federal and state departments of education to transform educational practices for the benefit of teachers and students alike. His current roles as (1) the Director of Michigan’s Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative (MiBLSi) through the Michigan Department of Education as well as (2) a Partner in the National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) make him a nationally recognized expert on improving student reading and behavior outcomes and in demand as a teacher, author, and lecturer throughout the United States.
Athletic Achievement – Class of 1995
The only Grand Haven High School athlete to hold back-to-back state championships, Ryan Kosanic is no stranger to singular accomplishments. He holds GHHS records for the 6 and 11 dives, was named to the All-State diving team both his junior and senior years at Grand Haven, the All American team as a junior, and All American Top Six as a senior.
At Indiana University, he mastered the relatively new sport of synchronized diving, and with teammate Mike Collier “stunned a field of professional divers” when he became the U.S. National Synchronized Diving Champion on the 3-meter board in 1997. He graduated from IU in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in computer information systems, and ten years later established Covalent Marketing, a database marketing consulting company headquartered in Chicago.
Athletic Achievement – Class of 1976
Among many firsts that Jane Robinson accomplished as an athlete was in 1972, when she was the first female to play Junior League Baseball in Grand Haven. At GHHS she helped inaugurate basketball as a women’s varsity sport, playing for three years, winning all conference honors, and helping her team clinch the district title two years in a row. She was one of two recipients of the Steve Sluka award the first year it was given, and in 1975 she was elected Homecoming Queen.
After graduation from GHHS she attended Central Michigan University for five years, playing basketball for four years and softball for five. During college she also played with the Wyoming Royals (a traveling fast pitch team of college athletes), who were ranked fourth in the nation. She has coached JV and varsity girls’ basketball at Fruitport High School, was the assistant softball coach at GVSU, and coached women’s softball at Muskegon Community College in its inaugural year.
Career / Academic – Class of 1994
As it did for many of its members, the national champion GHHS Science Olympiad teams of 1993 and 1994 helped Jonathan Irish discover an affinity for science that grew into a career. Now an Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and a co-founder of Cytobank, Inc., a platform for scientific “big data” analysis, Dr. Irish graduated from the University of Michigan in 1998 with degrees in Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Honors Biology. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from Stanford University in 2004 and worked there as a postdoctoral Fellow and Instructor through 2011. His research has revealed the basic workings of the immune system and identified changes in the activity of individual cells that lead to therapy resistance in leukemia, lymphoma, melanoma, and brain tumors. He has studied and taught around the world and authored numerous publications. At Vanderbilt, he heads a research team dedicated to using single cell biology and innovative computational tools to identify safe and effective therapies tailored to the biology of each patient’s disease.
Service to GHAPS / Society – Class of 1955
Gerry Witherell has made a living as the owner of a real estate and insurance business in Grand Haven, but he has made it his life’s work to make Grand Haven a great place to live. He has chaired or co-chaired fundraising drives for United Way, the YMCA, the North Ottawa Community Hospital expansion, the Tri-Cities Historical Society’s Akeley building, the restoration of the Central Park fountain, and the Hospice House at Heartwood Lodge. He was also instrumental in the startup of the Grand Haven Downtown Development Authority. He organized big band performances on the waterfront in the 1970s and, in recent years, the weekly concerts in Central Park all summer long. He was an organizer of Grand Haven’s sesquicentennial celebration in 1984 and the restoration and rededication of Grand Haven’s boardwalk in 2010. He was a founding member of the Board of Directors of Grand Haven Bank and has served on the Board of Light and Power since 2005. In 2002, he received the DuBridge Community Service Award from the Chamber of Commerce and in 2011 its Lifetime Achievement Award for community service.
Service to GHAPS / Society – Class of 1953
Class valedictorian and president, Mart Johnson attended Stanford University, graduating with honors and receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering in 1958. He served in the United States Navy, achieving the rank of Lieutenant. He attended Harvard Business School, earning an MBA in 1963. During his time at Harvard, Johnson was inspired to create a corporation from long-held and successful family partnerships headquartered in Grand Haven.
After working as an economist for the American International Oil Company in New York City for two years, Johnson returned to Grand Haven to join Grand Haven Stamped Products (GHSP). He implemented his idea of consolidating family-owned partnerships into a modern sustainable corporation. Over a 40-year career, he held many leadership roles and eventually retired as JSJ’s Chairman of the Board in 2005.
While fully committed to the demands of leadership at JSJ, Johnson served on several boards, including as a trustee of North Ottawa Community Hospital and its second chairman; on the first board of the Grand Haven Community Center; as a trustee and president of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation; as a fund drive chair for the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District; and as chairman and trustee of Alma College for thirty years. Johnson also served as chairman and director of the Michigan State Chamber of Commerce, co-chair of the Economic Alliance, and on the boards of the Grand Rapids Symphony and Princeton Theological Seminary, in addition to serving as an elder and trustee of First Presbyterian Church.
Honorary Award for Service to Grand Haven Area Public Schools
A teacher of biology and physical education at GHHS from 1960-1996, Ron Anderson was known as a pioneer of education with a heart for all students. He developed two popular classes, Michigan Wildlife and Greenhouse biology, to make science come alive for students who struggled with traditional science curricula. He was co-leader of the Rifle Club, worked the chain gang for football games, was a judge at track meets and the voice of Buccaneer basketball from 1969 until 2000.
In 1985, when GHHS introduced Science Olympiad, Anderson began coaching as many as four subjects a year. He left high school teaching in 1996 to become the district’s elementary science coordinator but continued to coach high school Science Olympiad teams until he retired in 2000.
Anderson continued to teach the community’s children even after retiring, as a team teacher for elementary student experiences at the Campbell Biological Field Station in West Olive. He joined the board of directors of Michigan Science Olympiad in 2000, a position he still holds, and until 2012 was the national director for the bridges and towers event.
Honorary Award for Service to Grand Haven Area Public Schools
Raised in Pennsylvania, the son of a school superintendent, Walter Bright graduated from Smithport (PA) High School in 1941 and began attending Westminster College, but in 1942 WWII interrupted his studies. He enlisted in the US Army, serving as an anti-aircraft artilleryman from 1942-46. After the war, he attended the University of Michigan, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1949 and a master’s degree in educational administration in 1952 (which he earned while holding down teaching jobs in the area).
Bright first came to Grand Haven as principal of Central Elementary School in 1953. In 1955 he left to serve as superintendent for the Capac and then Escanaba school systems, returning to Grand Haven to become the high school principal in 1964. From 1966 to 1978 he was the assistant superintendent for curriculum instruction.
As the leader of the professional staff, known to be a tough but fair boss, he worked collaboratively to create goals and standards for all grades, which enabled Grand Haven graduates to be very competitive at the college level.