Remembering Yukon educators of the past


Now that I’m happily a (now-so-cub) reporter, Yukon Progress editor Tim Farley lets me out to cover more events than I have since my early years in the newspaper business nearly three decades ago.

One of my latest “assignments” was for Dental Health Day in Yukon schools as part of National Children’s Dental Health Month. For 45 years, Dr. David Deason has worked feverishly to get all Yukon dentists to participate.

Yukon dentists, orthodontists and oral surgeons donate their time and talents for several hours each February by going into school classrooms and talking to first graders about proper dental hygiene. Each student has their teeth examined during these visits and the dental professionals report any findings to teachers if follow-up care is needed.

The first school I visited on Dental Health Day was Ranchwood Elementary, where I was greeted by a familiar face. It didn’t take me long to realize that principal Kristin Lipe was the Kristin Kilpatrick I remembered before I left Yukon in June 2015 on an extended vacation.

Mrs. Lipe (FKA Mrs. Kilpatrick) always seems to have a big friendly smile and share a warm greeting. She has been Ranchwood’s principal for many years after being an assistant principal at Skyview.

Kristin’s mother was Lendell Ellis, a longtime and well-respected educator whose contributions and school advocacy are honored by the Yukon Foundation for Excellence with a memorial grant in her name.

Along with Lance Haggard and Carla Smith, Kristin Lipe is among Yukon Public Schools’ longest-serving principals.

It is impressive to see how long many Yukon school administrators, directors, principals, and assistant principals have been in their positions.

I recall the principals at each Yukon school when I came to Yukon in the early ‘90s fresh out of Oklahoma City University.

Larry LoBaugh was at Yukon High School 11-12 and Shirley Tucker was at YHS 9-10.
Independence Middle School was led by Janice McComas, who was the first principal at Parkland Elementary School when it opened 40 years ago. Independence was a middle school then, now an elementary.

(Lakeview didn’t have a principal when I came to Yukon 28 years ago because it hadn’t been built yet).

Joe Hanska was at Central, Dwayne Bunch was at Parkland, Janet Lee was at Skyview, Wayne Beam was at Myers, Beverly Kindred was at Shedeck, Randy Averso was at Ranchwood, and Karen Fisher was at Surrey Hills.

This was when Surrey had the smallest YPS school with only about 220 students!
Look at Surrey now. There have been at least three additions to the elementary school and this area is getting a new school – Redstone Intermediate – to accommodate two-plus decades of steady growth. Lakeview and Independence also will become intermediate schools when Redstone opens in fall 2020.

YPS Assistant Superintendent (and fellow OCU Kappa Alpha brother) Jason Brunk reports that Yukon school district now has 8,902 students. I recall it was a big deal when enrollment surpassed 6,000.

That was back when the incomparable Darrell Hill was district superintendent, Yukon legend Gene Cranfill was assistant superintendent and school board seats were held by the likes of the great Dixie Ritz, David Montgomery, Dennis Carter, and Richard VanAntwerp.
About 350 seniors comprised the high school classes when Yukon Project Graduation began in the early ‘90s. Today there are more than 600 graduates each year.

Although he still owns a youthful demeanor and appearance, Dr. Deason has been around a lot longer than me. Dr. Deason likes to talk about 1974, the first year that he and four other Yukon dentists (including Dr. Limestall, Dr. Watson and Dr. Britton) started their “Dental Health Day” school visits. That year, the dentists saw between 60 to 80 students.

And this year? How about 1,184! Fortunately for Dr. Deason, he had 24 other dentists to help him this time.

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The Yukon Chamber of Commerce gala committee headed by Nichole Lerma hit one “out of the park” at the Jan. 25th gala and auction.

Theme was “Tennis Shoes & Tuxedos.” About 90 percent of gala attendees wore tennis shoes but I didn’t see too many tuxedos.

I wore my classic black-and-white Chuck Taylor high-tops. Interbank’s C.H. Wyatt had a similar pair of high-tops, only his were not nearly as scuffed.

The 2019 gala raised $34,300 to boost the Yukon chamber.

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You have until Wednesday, Feb. 20 to submit your application for Yukon’s annual Citizens Police Academy. If you want an insider’s view into the Yukon Police Department, then sign up for weekly classes March 5 to April 30.

I was part of the first Yukon Citizens Police Academy, which was around 1998. We had 20 members in our inaugural class taught by Michele Knight. One of my fellow academy graduates was current Skyview principal Carla (Pryor) Smith, whose mother Sondra then worked in the YPD records division.

Submit your application for the 2019 Citizens Police Academy through the City of Yukon website. Cpl. Tim Peters teaches the classes.