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Thoughts from the graduate…

I remember KHS as being a wonderful time in my life. When the new middle school was built next to the old high school, I was in the 8th grade transferring from Holdrege to Kearney (I won the Bobby Hauver Music award in 9th grade).  I lived right across the street from the KHS auditorium on 6th Ave so as you can imagine, I was late just about everyday for homeroom. (My home room teacher was not amused.) 

I was playing in a church folk-rock service starting in 9th grade at a place called Campus Lutheran at Kearney State College. There were rehearsals for that on Wed nights and then my brother Chuck and I  started Timberline with some of the college guys… that kept me up late rehearsing all the time and eventually playing night clubs and then colleges on the weekends.

In theater, I managed to be in the Wizard of Oz (Cowardly Lion), The Odd Couple (I won an award for playing the character “Speed”),  Guys and Dolls (Nicely Nicely Johnson), The Fantastiks (El Gallo) and I was Emile DeBeck in South Pacific (trying to sing and sound like Mario Lanza on the song “Some Enchanted Evening” was fun).

I really liked my teachers back then 1972-73-74: Drama with Rick Keubler, English classes with Tom and Jim Anderson, Band with Ralph Spongberg (1st chair trombone),  Chorus with Fran Wilson, English classes with Connie Francis, Tennis with Coach McCann- (Greg Kirby and I got 2nd in Class B doubles) and all things involved with KHS including being the Music Editor on the school paper, The Echo.

I remember my guidance counselor told me as a Junior I had enough credits to graduate from High School midterm my Senior year.  I was bummed to not stay, as that last semester would have been so much fun. I could have had a big role to play as a senior, but our band Timberline was playing colleges all over the country and we were about to get signed to CBS EPIC records. Unfortunately high school was keeping that from happening. So, I didn’t go to college. I don’t think that was a great idea then, nor now. I wish I would have had that higher education (college education gives you the rounded out stuff that’s very hard to learn on your own)  and the music theory would have been most helpful (Fran Wilson gave us a 1st year freshman course in music theory but he knows and I know there’s so much harder to learn especially on your own – I had to learn it the hard way). 

I would suggest this to those who might be reading this, Kearney High School offers you a really solid education.  A base! Try to do your best….do what’s asked. Keep your eyes on your prize, whatever your mind can dream. You can go anywhere and be anything… if you want it badly enough.  I am living proof that KHS can give you the foundation to win an Emmy Award, record a national released album, become a part of a Superstar’s life (Dolly Parton and John Denver),  raise a family, buy a home, and live happily ever after.  Never give up on your Dreams! Thanks a million for reading about mine and how KHS gave me the tools to make them come true.

I loved Kearney High School.  You will too! 


On March 24th, 2019 Jim, through his foundation (the Grateful Foundation), donated a C.F. Martin 000-RS-1 in honor of his education at KHS. Thanks for passing along your love for music!

Jim is an Emmy Award Winning Songwriter, a gifted guitarist, a seasoned performer who has been writing and recording music since he was 13, and a graduate of Kearney High School in 1974.

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