Howell varsity tennis impressively capped off their season on Friday, October 7. Statistically, it was one of their best in decades. The Highlanders ended the year with a solid 7-3 record and a third place finish in the extremely competitive KLAA West Division.
Number two doubles player, junior Austin Schippers, was the team leader in points this season while sophomore Mason Wenzel had the role of the number one singles spot.
The team consisted of many seniors who provided excellent leadership. Nick Barnowski, Connor Kurtz, Henry Palmer, and Tim Langford were all four-year players who really stepped up their games to help the team.
Number two doubles player, Connor Kurtz, finished his career as the Howell record holder in points, with 202.
“The season was tough, but overall we had a good season because we reached several milestones. I really worked hard to reach that record,” Kurtz said.
One of the team’s most notable victories this season was beating Brighton. It was the first time in nearly two decades that the Highlanders were able to defeat the Bulldogs.
However, Howell’s greatest achievement this season was not what they did on the tennis court.
“We were able to win a few tournaments, but I feel that our greatest accomplishment this season was our tournament fundraising ALS. We raised nearly $6,000 for the ALS Association,” coach Mark Oglesby said.
Going into their regional, the Highlanders knew they were going to face excellent competition. The Highlanders put together their best effort, but it was not good enough to extend their season. The three teams that made it out of Howell’s tough region ended up placing 2nd, 3rd, and 4th at the state meet.
Even though they were unable to make states, coach Oglesby was pleased with their effort.
“The kids worked hard and were well prepared for their matches. Everyone really got along and did a great job for us this season.”
Despite the departure of several upperclassmen this season, the future of Howell tennis still looks bright.
“We’re graduating a bunch of seniors next year, but we have several talented players returning. People are going to have to step up to the table. It will be a challenge and we will have to work hard,” coach Oglesby said.
Advanced Placement Government and Politics, U.S. History and We the People teacher Mark Oglesby was recognized for his exceptional work inside the classroom motivating students to be active in their communities. In the past six years, Mr. Oglesby is one of only 18 to earn this award.
The organizations that sponsor this event are the Center on Congress at the University of Indiana, the Center for Civic Education, and the National Education Association.
The Center on Congress is an institution designed to help Americans understand their legislative branch on a higher level and also encourage citizen interaction within our government.
The Center for Civic Education is a non-profit organization designed to inform citizens on civic issues and assist in responsible participation between America and its people.
The World’s largest professional organization, National Education Association, represents 3.2 million people ranging from elementary school teachers, to school administrators.
These three groups came together in order to reward the top three civics or government-related teachers in the country for their outstanding classroom performance. Each teacher awarded had to demonstrate their expertise in their specific field, along with their ability to teach the Constitution and public policy successfully to their students.
Alongside Mr. Oglesby with this prestigious award is Mr. Jim Bentley of Foulks Ranch Elementary in California and Ms. Cindy Jarrett from Durant Road Elementary in North Carolina.
“I am humbled and honored to be recognized with some outstanding teachers. I think this award is more about the great students I have had the privilege to work with than it is about me as a teacher,” Mr. Oglesby said.
These three teachers have received a trip to Washington, D.C., in July to participate in an educational program that includes engaging in floor sessions and committee hearings in Congress, meeting members of Congress and other important officials, and visiting sites around Washington D.C. like the National Archives and the U.S. Supreme Court.
The winners also will be recognized at a national conference of government instructors this September.
Mr. Oglesby adds this to his other much deserved awards for his dedicated work in the classroom, and hours spent outside the classroom trying to help his students become well-informed United States citizens.
Most students find it very hard to imagine that teachers have lives outside of school. It can be very rare to see a teacher out and about in normal life, but with Mr. Mark Oglesby being involved in many outside activities and putting a lot of extra time into them, seeing him in normal life does not seem so strange.
Currently Mr. Oglesby coaches boys’ and girls’ tennis, teaches We the People (among other social studies classes), and advises the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Putting in a lot of time at school and at home, Mr. Oglesby feels it is very important to pay equal attention to all the commitments he takes on and to improve the programs he is involved in, noting that he has been spending more time improving his AP U.S. Government and Politics class lately.
Being involved in sports and other extracurricular activities is a way for Mr. Oglesby to better his teaching and he seems to be very dedicated to that goal as he has coached tennis for 17 years; advised the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for three; and started teaching We the People back in 1995 in Washington.
“Teaching is my priority but it is important to build relationships with students,” Mr. Oglesby said.
Not only does Mr. Oglesby coach tennis but he also used to coach baseball, which he coached for 11 years, and volleyball. His dedication to doing anything to help his students and himself grow seems endless. In fact, Mr. Oglesby started the We the People class in Washington.
“I got a flyer [asking for teachers to teach We the People] in the mail, “ said Mr. Oglesby.
From there, Mr. Oglesby’s fondness of the class has grown as he finds it more engaging for the students than textbooks because it forces them to think and collaborate.
From a student’s perspective, We the People student, senior Andrew Meagher, notices Mr. Oglesby’s commitment every day. “He covers everything in depth, knows answers, and will go home and do research on a question if he is intrigued by it,” Meagher said.
Former AP U.S. Government and Politics student and current We the People student, senior Meagan Roche likes Mr. Oglesby as a teacher because he is one of the only teachers who thoroughly promotes learning. “He facilitates thought and is super excited about the material,” Roche said.
As for family, Mr. Oglesby tries to find the right balance of time. “I try to balance my faith, my family, and school commitments. We go on trips, play games, read with my youngest daughter, etc. to spend time together,” he shared.
Mr. Oglesby also notes how understanding his family is about all the time he puts into his school commitments, especially during We the People preparation time, and he just tries to spend as much time with them as he can, when he can.
It also helps that Mr. Oglesby’s wife, Karen Oglesby, helps run sports and activities with him. “We have a deal, the first sport is my choice; if there is a second sport we decide equally; and if there is a third sport season, it is entirely her decision (if she says no, I don’t coach). It has worked well so far,” Mr. Oglesby said.
Since high school, Mr. Oglesby has wanted to be a teacher. “I love what I do, working with kids makes me better,” Mr. Oglesby said.
It is that love that enables Mr. Oglesby to do all the work outside of school that he does. Every day, he takes work home in hopes to better his students and “produce critically thinking students.”
He seems to be doing a great job because when asked what Mr. Oglesby has taught them that they will always remember, both Meagher and Roche quickly responded with, “thinking critically of the government.”