By Conrad Dudderar
Chris Cunningham is a huge fan of Yukon Miller athletics.
So, at his final meeting March 6 as a member of Yukon Public Schools’ Board of Education, Cunningham received the perfect gift – a lifetime YPS athletics pass.
“This is awesome!” said Cunningham, who has served the past 4-1/2 years as the Post 3 representative on the five-member YPS board. “This is a great night.
“I’m honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve the people of District 3, the students and faculty of Yukon Public Schools as your board member over the last 4-1/2 years. I came to this board with no agenda or experience, and I just really wanted to give back. I’m really proud of the accomplishments of this board and district over the 4-1/2 years.”
Cunningham was initially appointed to fill a vacancy, then was elected to complete an unexpired term.
“Chris has done an outstanding job,” YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said.
“Chris went to work in the education field while he was a board member, so he was able to see things from both sides and provide some really good insight.”
Simeroth told Cunningham, “I have appreciated your efforts as a board member and consider you a friend. You will be missed. You’ve done a really good job.”
Cunningham is a history teacher and assistant football coach in Mustang. He retired in February 2020 as a Yukon police captain after a 20-year law enforcement career.
In his departing comments at the March 6th YPS board meeting, Cunningham said he’s proud to be the parent of “some great Miller students.”
In fact, he had a student in five different Yukon schools over the last 13 years – sometimes multiple schools at the same time.
Cunningham has lived in Yukon and has had an affiliation with the school district for more than 20 years.
“I can’t be more proud to have had this opportunity serve and I truly want to say ‘thank you’ to the people who helped me,” he added.
The retiring YPS board member singled out his fellow school board members who he’s served alongside – Cody Sanders, Brian Coulson, Leonard Wells, and Suzanne Cannon.
“Mr. Sanders and Mr. Coulson – you won’t find more dedicated people that believe in this district and believe in doing great things,” he said. “They’re amazing board members, and they’re good men.
“Mr. Wells and Mrs. Cannon – it’s been an honor to serve with you. You truly have been great mentors and friends. Thank you for helping and supporting me, even when it wasn’t as popular as it is today.”
Cunningham thanked all YPS administrators, teachers, parents, and students from the bottom of his heart.
“I worked hard to be your voice and try to serve you in my term,” he said. “I am proud to be a part of the many great things this board has accomplished over my term.”
Cunningham listed the district’s partnership with Southwestern Oklahoma State University and bond issue projects like Redstone Intermediate School construction, artificial field turf installation, Yukon High School expansion, new elementary playground equipment, cafeteria furnishings, and signage.
Cunningham called it a “bittersweet day” for him and his family.
“I will truly miss seeing all of you regularly and serving with every one of you,” he said. “I’m hopeful this is not goodbye but maybe I’ll see you guys again later as I’m going to be at various sporting events now.”
In closing, Cunningham said, “While I came in with no agenda, I leave full of gratitude and appreciation for all of you and this amazing district. Thank each and every one of you so much for all you do. Thank you for being Millers.”
Cunningham decided not to seek re-election to the YPS board last year and will be succeeded by Jeff Behymer at the April meeting. Behymer was elected without opposition to represent Post 3 for the next five years.