DuBois Area School District students Landon Fairman and Nathan Swope spent many hours after school building a pine book shelf for the middle school office in honor of their classmate, Maddox Hyde, an eighth-grader who lost his battle to cancer in January. The shelf was presented during the school’s end-of-year awards ceremony which was attended by Hyde’s mother, Kristi Potter.
Fairman and Swope, who will be freshmen at the high school beginning the 2019-2020 school year, have enjoyed building things with the assistance of Industrial Arts teacher, Robert Ginther, and custodian Russell Perks since they were in the sixth grade.
“They have put a lot of hours in after school from sixth grade on to eighth grade ... a lot of hours,” said Perks. “So it’s cool these guys took the ownership and when things started happening with Maddox they decided they wanted to something in memory of him.”
Ginther said the students initiated a lot of the work.
“They would come down to me and say, ‘Hey Mr. Ginther, is it okay if we come in and work on this?’” said Ginther. “I’d tell them they could stay and varnish until we get ready to go. They put in a lot of hours. Every board needed three coats of varnish on it.”
Though they weren’t close friends with Hyde, both Fairman and Swope remember him as always being happy and friendly.
In addition to Hyde’s name on top of the book shelf, there is a written quote by Hyde: “I used to be famous but now, I’m REALLY famous!”
“Whenever Maddox got his Christmas cards he said, ‘Well, I knew I was famous, but I didn’t know that I was this famous.’ And we thought that’d be a really cool saying to put on his shelf,” said Fairman.
Fairman was referring to when the terminally-ill Hyde decided last year that he wanted his last Christmas to be extra special. His request for Christmas cards quickly became a global campaign, spreading like wildlife on social media. He received thousands of cards and much more, including gifts, money, stickers, words of encouragement and recognition from celebrities and even from President Donald Trump and his family.
And the eagle on the shelf represents when Hyde first came to the school and they took him on a tour, said Perks, noting that Hyde kept talking about how he wanted to be a state police officer someday.
“That’s why we wanted to put the eagle on there with his name on it, because that was his goal, to become a police officer,” said Perks.
Both boys believe that Hyde would be very happy with the shelf.
“I’m just really proud of them taking the leadership of their school and wanting to do things like this,” said Perks. “I’m very proud of them and I’m sad to see them leave also, you know. Because you build a bond with these kids and see their great leadership skills. I’m very proud of them and I can’t thank Mr. Ginther enough for helping teach these boys how to do these things.”
The end of the 2018-19 school year also marked the end of Ginther’s teaching career with the district after 42 years. He taught approximately 19 years at the high school in the agricultural program, eight years science at the middle school and the rest in the wood shop program at the middle school.
Though he has a lot of good memories, one thing that stands out in Ginther’s mind is that there were many years that most every student received good scores — at least a C, B or an A.
“Particularly this year, I have not had a student that didn’t work in class,” said Ginther. “They all come in and they all work and they all work to get their project done and it’s really neat when you have every kid doing their work. A lot of it is pride in their work. You know when you’re working on a paper or doing a written project or computer project, it’s not like working with your hands and making sure that the edges are smooth and the pencil marks are off and you know there are all these emphasized quality of work. I always say if it’s shiny, you can make a million next to nothing but it’s going to lack the quality and that’s what really adds value is quality of work.”
“It’s all about doing your best and being your best,” said Ginther. “And being here every day.”