Little Cyclones Making a Difference
Resilience, ambition, and passion are just a few words to describe the many Ames High Little Cyclones who are making a difference. Alumni who have ventured beyond their alma mater’s halls to make a profound impact on their communities and the world. These individuals, once students navigating the corridors of Ames High School, have gone on to achieve great things in their communities, sparking change, and inspiring generations. Their stories echo with determination and illuminate the transformative power of education.
Are you an Ames High graduate and want to have your story told? Tell us about you!
Mindy DeVries (Wilson) Hu
Ames High School has a rich history of encouraging students to aim high. Mindy DeVries (Wilson) Hu, class of 1998, embodies this spirit and encourages her students to do the same.
DeVries is a dedicated music teacher, certified to teach general and vocal music from kindergarten through 12th grade. She is in her 21st year of teaching, focusing on general music for 3rd through 5th graders.
“The fine arts department at Ames High is top notch, and I received an excellent music education, which prepared me to become a music educator,” DeVries said. “ I had music educators that encouraged me to seek out a music education degree, which deeply inspired me to pursue one.”
Her Ames High adventure had many opportunities outside the classroom, including a senior choir trip to St. Louis and a trip to Spain during her senior year.
“I was also in jazz band as a pianist,” DeVries said. “I was a football and basketball cheerleader for three years and then was on the first year of drill team my senior year. I was in the musical, ‘Pirates of Penzance’ and the play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ I also took Modern Dance and was in the student-led production of Terpsichore.”
DeVries credits her time at Ames High for laying the foundation for her career and to hopefully make the same difference for students in her classroom.
Amanda Hardy, PhD, Ames High class of 1999, is a Little Cyclone making a difference. As a mental health provider, Hardy owns a perinatal mental health clinic. Her commitment to helping mothers navigate the challenging transition to motherhood extends beyond her clinic.
“The transition to parenthood can be challenging,” says Hardy, “whether it’s the first time or fifth, it’s my honor to walk alongside families as they walk their own unique parenthood paths.”
Hardy completed her master’s in psychological counseling from Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey in 2006 and earned a doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies from Iowa State University in 2011. For more than a decade, she has worked with local, national, and international birth and human rights advocacy organizations promoting improvements to our maternity care systems.
She is the author of Dear Mama, You Matter: Honest Talk About the Transition to Motherhood, which serves as a guiding light, offering honest and valuable insights to mothers, reminding them that they matter and are not alone on their journey.
During her time at Ames High, Hardy was a yearbook photographer and participated in girl’s swimming.
Audrey Morken, a proud member of the Class of 1990 at Ames High School, has dedicated her life to education, inspiring young minds to aim high and positively impact the world. Currently residing in Mankato, Minnesota, Morken is a fifth-grade teacher with 25 years of teaching experience, including 21 years as a middle school math teacher. Her journey from AHS to becoming an influential educator is a testament to the solid foundation she received during her formative years.
While at Ames High School, Morken was actively involved in various activities, including the Spanish Competition, intramural volleyball and basketball, PowderPuff Football, Kiwanis Key Club, and Peer Helper.
“I am blessed beyond measure to have received a quality K-12 education from Ames Public Schools,” reflected Morken. “I knew early on I wanted to be a teacher. I loved all my teachers and felt that I received the best education. My teachers held me and my peers to the highest standards. They expected a lot out of us.”
Her favorite teachers and courses at Ames High influenced her journey into education. She fondly remembers Mrs. Peterson’s Spanish class, Dr. Wood’s teaching of Algebra II, and Mr. Troeger’s Earth Science classes.
“He (Dr. Wood) was an inspiration for me that led me to teach Math for much of my career,” Morken said.
To the current students of Ames High School, Morken offers some valuable advice: “I would just like to say to current students that YOU are the future leaders of America and the world. Find a passion and put all your talents and hard work into making this world a better place for all.”
Mykah (Kennedy) Peterson
Ames High School is known for shaping young minds and preparing students to aim high in their lives and careers. Mykah (Kennedy) Peterson, a proud member of the class of 2015, exemplifies this sentiment.
Mykah Peterson is a middle school English teacher in Davenport, instructing 7th and 8th-grade students. During her career, she has taught high school and middle school, coached speech, and directed fall plays at her previous school.
While at Ames High, Mykah was an involved student. She participated in the choir, a cherished part of the fine arts department, honing her vocal talents and fostering a sense of unity. Mykah also left her mark in journalism through her involvement with “The WEB” as the News Editor. Furthermore, her passion for public speaking and drama led her to join the Speech, Fall Play, Musical, and Spring Play programs.
The English department held a special place in her heart, and she often reached out to her former teachers for lesson plans. A heartfelt shoutout goes to Mr. Ripley, Mrs. Engelkes, Mr. Woolery, Mrs. Seibert, and the Johnsons. She particularly highlights Mr. Woolery for igniting her passion for drama and theatre.
Peterson’s time in the drama department are among her favorite memories made at Ames High, which led to her career path.
“I loved everything that I did involving the drama department!,” she shares. “My favorite times of my life were on and behind the old stage, just learning to be someone else for an hour or two. I still have lifelong friends from my time in that auditorium and miss it often.”
Ames High School has a long tradition of nurturing excellence and fostering personal growth. Among its many accomplished alums, class of 2015, Sam Rathe is a shining example of someone who embraced the spirit of Ames High and used it to aim high in his career. Rathe is a Resident Physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.
“I’ve found Podiatry to be a rewarding and stimulating field thus far as it provides great balance between the clinical, surgical, and inpatient aspects of medicine,” Rathe shares.
Rathe was also active outside the classroom, participating in football, basketball, soccer, and choir. Rathe still appears in the 2023 Iowa High School Athletic Association football record book as one of 31 players (in 11-player) to connect on 10 or more points after touchdowns (PATs) in a single game and is in the top 20 all-time (11-player) for PATs in a single season with 72.
He credits Ames High for encouraging him to challenge himself and set high expectations, instilling in him the values of personal accountability and excellence.
“The rich tradition of Ames High breeds excellence,” says Rathe. “Those that came before me set the bar high, and I developed the desire to reach similar heights because of it.”
Rathe credits AHS for playing a significant role in shaping his career.
He stated that even during the especially difficult times, he can draw on past experiences, including those from the classrooms and playing fields of Ames High. Rathe uses those experiences to remind himself of the essential opportunities for growth in the past and how those can be used now and in the future.
Rathe’s story is a testament to the lasting impact of #AmesHighPride on its alums. His dedication to excellence, personal growth, and the pursuit of a rewarding career in medicine demonstrates the values that Ames High instills in its students. Rathe inspires current and future students, reminding them that the lessons learned in high school can shape a remarkable future.