May 10, 2017

CARTERVILLE — It’s been a busy year for Katie Sandusky.

When she hasn’t been driving in runs for the winningest softball team in John A. Logan College’s history (46 wins), she has been collecting awards for her performance in the classroom.

Such an outstanding student that Lora Hines, business, computer science, and mathematics department chair, called Sandusky a “blessing in the classroom.”

But while she was a blessing to instructors, she was a terror to opponents on the field.

The left-handed outfielder hit .373 for the Lady Vols, helping to set the bar high for future teams playing for first-year Head Coach Taylor Orsburn with a 46-12 record.

Orsburn praised Sandusky and her teammates saying, “I am very proud of this team. They worked hard every single day. I cannot even begin to describe how much they grew as a team and developed into a fantastic group of student athletes.”

Sandusky will graduate this week with a degree in accounting. Hines honored her with the “Outstanding Accounting Student Award” during the 49th Annual Honors Night held at the College May 1. She will also speak at Friday’s graduation ceremony.

The Benton resident will then move on to Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she will seek a four-year accounting degree.

“John A. Logan College has been so great in so many ways,” Sandusky said. “I can’t say enough for how wonderful my instructors were and I can’t say enough for how great it was to play for Coach Orsburn.”

In a decision that stunned many sports fans in Southern Illinois, the top girls high school basketball player decided to forgo a four-year scholarship to play basketball in Missouri in order to attend John A. Logan College and obtain a degree in nursing.

Morgan Griffith averaged 33 points per game and set her school’s all-time scoring record for both boys and girls while playing at West Frankfort High School. She was also named first team All-State and chosen as Southern Illinois’ top female basketball player. She was set to attend Missouri S&T when she changed her mind.

“After a change in my desired career, I have decided to forgo my academic/basketball scholarship at Missouri S&T and, instead, I will be playing basketball and continuing my education at John A. Logan College,” Griffith recently announced. While graduating from high school this month, Griffith will also obtain an associates degree from Logan Thursday and will begin working toward a degree in nursing in the fall.

“I am very happy with my decision,” Griffith said. “I’m excited about what John A. Logan College holds for me in my future.”

Zina Smith will be graduating with a degree in construction management. She has already landed a job in the construction industry allowing her to work in Southern Illinois.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the way things have worked out for me here at John A. Logan College,” Smith said. “I had the two most amazing instructors you could ever imagine, Greg Walker and Mike DeMattei.”

Joe Reinhard worked for years in the electrical industry, he was an electrical engineer. But, the 61-year-old said, sometimes your life takes a different direction.

Reinhard, a Marion resident, will be graduating with a certificate in heating and air conditioning.

“This is a second career for me,” Reinhard said. “This was made possible through John A. Logan College and instructor Jason Stutes.”

Reinhard praised Stutes for his classroom instruction and for being “an incredible example” of someone who never gives up.

Stutes will be honored at graduation with the 2017 “Distinguished Faculty Award.” While producing students who are in demand in the heating and air industry, Stutes also battled and overcame cancer while keeping up with his duties in the classroom.

“My students’ success is what drives me,” Stutes said. “I wasn’t going to let the cancer change me. I didn’t want it to affect the success we were seeing in the classroom. That’s why I kept working and tried to keep everything normal.”

There are two nights of graduation this year (May 11 and 12) at John A. Logan College, a new effort to help accommodate this large crowds that turn out to be a part of the event. Graduation both nights begins at 7 p.m.

The graduations will open with the processional, “Pomp and Circumstance,” played by the John A. Logan College Community Band and directed by Michael Hanes. Melanie Record, acting vice-president for Instruction, will then make introductions.

The invocation will be offered by the Rev. Alan Kornacki, Jr., of St. Peter Lutheran Church of Campbell Hill.

Nathan Arnett, associate professor of Music at John A. Logan College, will sing The Star Spangled Banner.

Dr. Ron House, president of John A. Logan College, will then welcome the crowd.

Brittany Flick will be the student speaker on May 11. Sandusky will speak on May 12.

Following the student speaker, Ryan Patrick, a longtime radio voice in Southern Illinois, will address the crowd as this year’s “Distinguished Alumnus.”

Following Patrick, Stutes will be recognized. Recognized after Stutes is Lewis Russell, the 2017 “Distinguished Term Faculty Award” recipient.

Kara Gilbert, coordinator of scholarships and accounting support services at the College, will then be recognized and address the crowd.

Directed by Arnett, the John A. Logan College Choral Ensemble will perform the “John A. Logan College Alma Mater.”

Pecord will then offer the certification of graduates before the conferring of degrees by House. Diplomas will then be presented. House will then make closing remarks before Kornacki, Jr., offers the benediction. The John A. Logan College Community Band will play the recessional.

Marshals include: Shawn Bonds, Amanda Fry, and Eva McCormick. Ushers include: Alayna Boese, Victoria Carlock, and Sofia Ramirez. Interpreters include: Patrick Erwin, Kimberly Heibner, and Laura Gimmy.

Sharyl Melvin, assistant to President House, has worked to organize this year’s double graduation ceremony.