I Found the Founder: A Horizon History

Allyssa Gauer, Columnist

Our school, Horizon Honors, has been around for almost 21 years (founded in 1996) and has gone through changes, improvements, and events that have led it to be the school that it is today.

Over the course of 20 years, most of the original staff have parted from Horizon, but three remain. Brad Skaggs, Intermediate science teacher, Cynthia Shaheen, Secondary principal, and Pam Wagner, Secondary science teacher, have all found success through their jobs at Horizon Honors, so I asked them a series of questions about the history of Horizon.

The Horizon Sun: How did the mascot become the eagle?

Cynthia Shaheen: That was in the charter. And our founder, Mr.[Larry] Pieratt, definitely had a connection to eagles. He believes in the soaring eagle and the vision of the eagle and there’s just so many stories about eagles that are just amazing.

Pam Wagner: I know Mr. Pieratt really liked the colors blue and silver and wanted them to be the primary colors of the school [and they related to an eagle].

The Sun: Why was the school founded?

CS: I can’t speak directly for Mr. Pieratt or those who were here doing the original charter of the school, but I just know that they believed that children needed to have a place where they could succeed, and all children needed to have the opportunity to learn the way that gifted, educated children [should].

The Sun: What’s unique about Horizon Honors compared to other schools?

CS:  Over the years, that’s changed a lot because when we first started we were exceptionally unique. Now there’s many schools of choice. But I still think we’re a small community, and a community that cares, a school that has established values, and cares about the whole child. We want you to develop academically, socially, and want you to be involved. We care about critical thinking [and] being able to work with others in a group, because that’s real life. So I think it’s some of those things that were still a part of who we are fundamentally, that are still just as important as they were 21 years ago.

PW: Obviously, the project-based learning is what drew me in. I love the idea of learning by doing, and understanding what we learned by being able to show what we learned [through activities and projects].

The Sun: How has Horizon Honors changed over the years?

CS: Well, we’ve grown. When we first started we had six students in our high school [and] we were in two separate buildings. And eventually we had such demand for enrollment that we built the second half of the building. So just building and facilities has been a huge change, but also the change in our world has caused us as a true school to change, [with] technology [being] number one.

PW: It’s gotten a lot bigger. When we started out we were pretty small, for instance, there were only 90 students in all of middle school combined, and all the classes were combined at that time, so that was a very big change when we decided to split that out into intermediate school and middle school and as time’s gone on, we’ve divided even more.

The Sun: Are there any values that are important to you, present or past?

CS: I think they’re all really important, but I think integrity is a really really important one that encompasses a lot of the others, because if you’ve got integrity, you’re gonna do the right thing no matter if someone’s looking.

PW: Well, I love teaching students about the world around them, and how the physical world can really impact them. Science is really just the study of curiosity, and I like to foster that curiosity.

The Sun: If you could improve any one thing about Horizon Honors (past or present), what would it be?

CS: I would say to have our facilities campaign go through, and continue building us buildings so we can look at putting a big building where our middle school courtyard currently is, and that we can continue to expand classrooms and types of facilities that would offer even greater opportunities to our students.

Throughout time and history Horizon has improved so much. This is not just physically, but it has become a safe and secure community for students to learn and express their knowledge.