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Alumni Spotlight

Melissa Atanasio | Class of 2020

Current Occupation: Marketing Intern

Career Path: In my senior year of high school, I had the opportunity to work alongside Mr. Justin Johnson and Ms. Stephanie Weaver as one of the first marketing and communications interns of the ELANCO School District. This position brought me to the realization that I was passionate about this field and wanted to pursue marketing as my career path.

As the coronavirus pandemic began in mid-2020, I was offered a remote position as a Human Services Intern at PA CareerLink of Lancaster County, which allowed me to explore the Human Resources field. Around this time as well, I was promoted to the managerial role of a shift lead at the Taco Bell in Ephrata, which I have worked at for about 5 years now (and work at during my college breaks). 

As my freshman year of college began during the pandemic, I continued to work full-time while taking business classes full-time at HACC for a transfer to the University of Pittsburgh in 2021. In addition to my business background, I have always had a passion for music and even write my own! In April 2021, I released my debut single “‘cause i’m a fool” under the artist name “Meli Anne” on all streaming platforms, thanks to the music production skills of my town brother, Michael Atanasio. Just a few months later, I had the opportunity to perform my first live show of original music.

I am now a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh double majoring in Marketing and Human Resources Management to pursue a career within Digital Marketing for the Entertainment Industry. During my first semester at Pitt, I accepted the role as a Marketing Intern for a fast-casual Italian restaurant chain called Piada, where I am working on social media, driving brand awareness, and increasing customer engagement. I am pursuing my degree while working this position, and I am enjoying every second of it! I have my roots at Garden Spot to thank for allowing me to explore my passion for marketing.  

Favorite memory: Some of my most fond memories of Garden Spot were spending time with my friends in the marching band and color guard at football games. Mr. Fitz created a welcoming community for all kids to have fun, learn, and feel comfortable being themselves. 

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? Most notably, Mr. Justin Johnson influenced me most during my time at the ELANCO school district. At the beginning of my senior year, I was extremely unsure as to what path to take for my future and having the opportunity to explore Marketing and Communications as an intern with him brought me to the realization that this was the path I wanted to pursue!

Professional/personal accomplishments: In April 2021, I released my first single “‘cause i’m a fool” under the artist name “Meli Anne” on all streaming platforms! (You can find me at

Dean Weiler | Class of 1977

Current Occupation: Service Writer

Career Path: After graduating from Garden Spot, I attended Rosedale Bible College, worked for Conestoga Wood Products, and helped my dad with farming. Then I took a couple months off for a cross-country bicycle trip from Oregon to Virginia Beach. Following that, I have been employed at Brubacher Excavating, Power Pro Equipment, and most recently, Pine Hill Trailers. 

Favorite memory: My favorite memory would be the trips to the National FFA convention in a homemade camper on the back of a pickup truck. Also, my time spent in the vocational agriculture program designing and building various projects for welding competitions.

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? Many good teachers influenced me during my years at Garden Spot. Mr. Lauffer, Mr. Woods, and Mr. Day steered me into welding and mechanics. Mr. Day’s constant reminder to “be useful as well as ornamental” has served me well throughout life. Mr. Deen’s speech class and Miss Shoemaker in music and orchestra also influenced me and helped me build confidence.

Professional/personal accomplishments: Riding bicycle across the country; getting married to Kathy Burkhart, class of ‘82; my family, children, and grandchildren; serving in various ministries and mission trips at Petra Church

Jill Hackman (Beck) | Class of 2000

Current Occupation: Teacher

Career Path: After graduating from Garden Spot High School, I attended Shippensburg University, where I expected to get a degree in Management Information Systems. While at Shippensburg, I earned two internships in IT departments for large corporations. These internships were the most influential in helping me develop as a professional. Beyond the everyday tasks in IT, I learned about leadership, professional communication, collaboration, teamwork, and problem-solving. I also learned how to be independent and when to ask for help. I never forgot how these experiences impacted me and helped me grow. 

Even though I found my stride in the IT industry, something about a career in IT didn’t feel like a fit. I made a pivot to my college major and found a joy and passion for Business Education. This major merged my practical side with my desire to help others. After graduating from Ship, I returned to Garden Spot High School to work as a business teacher. I taught a range of courses over the years but was always most passionate about teaching career courses because of the impact of my internships in college. More recently, my job shifted to focus on career development programs including Co-op, Internship, and Access Success. Each work program helps learners help find their career passion and gain authentic experiences that they could not have in the classroom. The most significant part of my job is connecting learners to opportunities at local businesses and organizations. Learners can get a glimpse into a career through our internship program before entering college, or, through our co-op program, they can transition from their high school job to their long-term career. Either way, my goal is to help learners find their passion in the workplace and graduate with a career plan!

Favorite memory: Some of my most fond memories of Garden Spot were spending time with my friends in the marching band and color guard at football games. Mr. Fitz created a welcoming community for all kids to have fun, learn, and feel comfortable being themselves. 

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? I had so many great teachers at GS. Mr. Falvey, Mrs. Linton, and Mrs. Lowell were a few of my favorite teachers because they were so welcoming and helped me feel confident.

Professional/personal accomplishments: The best part of my job is visiting students at their internships or jobs to see their personal and professional growth. Our kids couldn’t have these impactful experiences without the help of local businesses and community members who are willing to invest in our youth! I’m so thankful for their partnerships! Growing these programs has been the most satisfying accomplishment of my career.

Nathaniel Deen (Busko) | Class of 1987

Current Occupation: Film Producer

Career Path: After graduating from Garden Spot High School, I worked my way from my first job at Sight and Sound Theatres as a follow spotlight operator, to being Sight and Sound’s photographer for 15 years, to my current position as Associate Films Producer. 

Favorite memory: I would have to say my time in GSPA and not only working behind the scenes but also as an actor on stage. 

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? Without a doubt, the teacher that influenced me the most was Mr. Deen. His constant presence and persistence made the difference for me. He never gave up, never judged, always encouraged, and brought out the best in me. He believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. He had a unique ability to make each person he encountered feel special and truly valued.

Professional/personal accomplishments: I recently finished filming Brave the Dark in New Holland and various locations in Lancaster County. This full-length feature film is in post-production. It is based on the true story of Stan Deen, a local teacher who helps Nate (me) come to terms with his dark past. Brave the Dark features Jared Harris (Chernobyl, The Crown) and Nicholas Hamilton (IT). I am so excited to see it come to the big screen and to see the positive impact it will have on audiences. 

In 2018, in honor of Mr. Deen (Stan), I changed my name officially to Nathaniel David Deen.

Hannah Ashcroft | Class of 2017

Current Occupation: Third Grade Teacher

Career Path: I started college as a political science major with the hopes of making the world a more positive place. However, I quickly found out that his path was not for me, or my goal. I thought about who in my life has made the biggest influence and the common denominator was teachers. I began studying education and fell in love the first time I led a classroom. 

Favorite memory: I loved football game Fridays in high school. I also am still great friends with many of my friends from GSHS. 

Professional/personal accomplishments: Teaching in the school where I was a student has been a major accomplishment for me. This is my second year teaching and both years have, of course, been full of many new challenges. However, every day when I make a student smile or see learners making memories together just like I had at New Holland Elementary, I feel proud.

I have always felt safe, welcomed, and loved throughout my student experience at ELANCO. Now I want to make sure all my learners have the same positive memories of school. 

Amber Stoltzfus (Walton) | Class of 2011

Current Occupation: Paraprofessional

Career Path: My career path is a bit unconventional. After graduating high school, I attended Harrisburg Area Community College for two years. I earned my associates degree in English in 2013, while working at Shady Maple Smorgasbord. Shortly after that, I applied to work as a teaching assistant through the Substitute Teacher Service. I have worked in various special needs classrooms in the ELANCO school district through them since 2014. I have worked in various special needs classrooms in the ELANCO school district through them since 2014. In 2016/2017 I started attending the University of Phoenix (online campus) to finish my bachelor’s degree. In 2018, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English while still working in the district. Currently, I am working at the high school through STS and am working on getting my teaching certificate in order to take up teaching as a second career.

Favorite memory: Like others, I have so many fond memories of my time at Garden Spot. My favorite though was being with friends. Another favorite memory was being able to take mostly all English electives during the last semester of my senior year. 

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? I’d have to say my English teachers: Mrs. Custer, Mr. Hardin, Mr. Weidman, Ms. Martin, and Mrs. Phongxaysanith were among my greatest influences in high school. In a way, they still are. They taught me different ways of writing, studying literature, and expressing oneself through writing. They inspired me to be a writer and an English teacher, though I’m still working on becoming a teacher and getting my writing published. 

Professional/personal accomplishments: My personal accomplishments (so far) are marrying my best friend, getting my bachelor’s degree, and beginning to forge the path I want to take in life. My professional accomplishments are still a work in progress at the moment.

Allison Kuipers | Class of 2003

Current Occupation: Faculty Researcher

Career Path: After graduating from GSHS, I attended Pitt as an undergrad from 2004-2007 and majored in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Theater. In 2005, I got a job as an undergraduate student researcher in a lab in the Epidemiology department where I primarily performed blood-based assays (such as DNA extraction, genotyping, and measuring proteins in the blood) for a number of research studies at the school. Through this position, my mentor helped me to begin my own research into the genetic determinants of body size and composition (fat vs. bone vs. muscle). As I continued this work, I became further interested in the field of Epidemiology and decided to pursue a PhD after my Bachelors. Since I already had begun research at Pitt Epidemiology, I decided to stay there for my doctorate (grad 2011) and, as they say, the rest is history. I continued to further specialize my research into molecular and cardiovascular epidemiology. In 2009, I began a heart disease research study in the Caribbean. I continued this research through my postdoctoral work, which led to the funding of my first research grant and my appointment as faculty at Pitt in 2014. Currently, the majority of my time is spent in research, though I do mentor students and teach one course a year.

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? There were 2 instructors that most influenced me: Mr. Fitz (band) and Mrs. Ingraham (English/gifted). Mr. Fitz and the whole band/orchestra/marching band/theater/chorus experience was by far the largest area of engagement for me during my time at Elanco. Mr. Fitz in particular was always supportive of me, pushed me to do things that I didn’t really want to (but knew I could), and always had a friendly ear to lend. My time in the Performing Arts in HS was particularly important because it helped me to develop a good sense of time management and reminded me to have an outlet for personal passions throughout my collegiate career. Mrs. Ingraham was my English teacher (one of my least favorite subjects), but was also the Director of the gifted program. Mrs. Ingraham was known for being demanding of her students, but she was just doing that to push us to be our best. I found this challenge to be particularly useful in the transition to college; which was nowhere near as easy as HS had been for me. It was always clear that both Mr. Fitz and Mrs. Ingraham truly cared for their students and loved what they did. I am forever grateful for them and owe part of my success to their early engagement in my academic life.

Professional/personal accomplishments: My first primary author manuscript was published in 2009 and since then I primary-authored or senior-authored 17 manuscripts and co-authored an additional 23 manuscripts. I have received 4 research grants totaling ~$4million in funding as Principal Investigator and collaborated on a number of other large research studies with over $70million in funding as a Co-Investigator. I have received 5 international awards, have been invited to give lectures on my research throughout the US and internationally, and have presented at over 50 international conventions. In addition to my professional accomplishments, I was married in 2018 and recently had my first child (a pandemic baby!).

Soo Han | Class of 1998

Current Occupation: Director of Orchestral Studies & Music Director

Career Path: After graduating from Garden Spot HS, I attended Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (Bloomington, IN) and received my undergrad degree in music education. I fell in love with teaching, my students, and community through my work as an orchestra teacher. I taught a total of fifteen years at three wonderful school districts in Indiana, then took a leap of faith and decided to go back to school to receive my doctorate degree in music. I am now the Director of Orchestral Studies at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music (just outside Cleveland, OH) and the newly named music director of the Elkhart County Symphony Orchestra (Elkhart, IN). In addition, I'm a contributing editor for Hal Leonard Corporation's Essential Elements for Strings series, an educational clinician for Conn Selmer Corporation, educational clinician for D'addario Orchestral Strings, a member of the Board of Directors for the Midwest International Clinic, and a summer program coordinator for Los Angeles Philharmonic's YOLA National Festival. I feel incredibly lucky that my careers is a perfect balance of teaching and performing. I get to teach some of the best students any teacher can ask for and make music with great artists who are also incredible people. 

Favorite memory: Way too many to choose just one! My favorite memories include; having summer ESL classes with Mrs. Cox in (former) New Holland Elementary School, being a part of Mrs. Butterbaugh's winter program at Blue Ball Elementary, taking violin lessons with Mr. Hackenberger, my friends and I starting the basketball pep band, getting to be the KGSH weatherman, building the class floats for the New Holland fair/parade, breakfast at Yoder's before Show Choir rehearsal (...sorry for being late all the time Mrs. Olson), and Friday night games with Mr. Fitz and the GS Marching Band (...then hang out at Sheetz).  

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? There are so many people that I'm forever indebted to for helping me find my way. If I were forced to choose, I would have to say Mrs. Cox, my ESL teacher, and Ms. Jennifer Schoener (Weidman), my MS & HS band director. Mrs. Cox was just not just an amazing pedagogue, but she helped my entire family when we didn't have much or know much about America. She would invite me and my family to her house for Thanksgiving, bring us Christmas gifts, taught me the boogie-woogie, and made us feel proud to be ourselves. I think of her every time I get to be of service for my students. As for Ms. Schoener, I'm not entirely sure if I would be doing what I'm doing today if it weren't for her. As an awkward teenager, I believed that I could make something of myself because she believed in me and encouraged me. I know I became a music teacher because I wanted to be exactly like her.  

Professional/personal accomplishments: I'm fortunate to be an active conductor for many professional orchestras, All-State, regional, and honor orchestras appearing in over 30 states, and have conducted internationally in Austria, China, Thailand, and Australia. I've collaborated with numerous artists, groups, and conductors such as Lynn Harrell, David Kim, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. I've produced multiple recordings of complete symphonies and have premiered several commissioned works for strings and full orchestras. I've had good fortune to present workshops and clinics internationally and for nearly every major national and state music conference including the Australian String Teacher Conference, Maryborough National Australia Conference, Midwest Clinic, ASTA National Conference, NAfME National Conference, and Ohio University Summer String Teacher Workshop.

My students have won 9 Indiana State School Music Association (ISSMA) State Championship and were named Grand Champions at the National Orchestra Cup at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. As a passionate supporter of public school music programs, I continue to remain active in instrumental classrooms throughout the country.

Most recently, I served as the author, contributor, and co-managing editor of Teaching Music through Performance in Orchestra, Vol. 4 (GIA Publications), which will be released in March of 2021.

Ronald Bush | Class of 1975

Current Occupation: Retired

Career Path: Five years as a mechanic at Conestoga, started at Carpenter in 1979 - Asst. Metal Processor, promoted to Associate Metal Processor, promoted to metal processor, radio dispatcher, promoted to Customer Service Coordinator, promoted to Manufacturing Support Specialist; retired in 2015.

Favorite memory: All Track, and Cross Country meets

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? Coach Russ White who kept me grounded and made me WORK for myself and for my teams.

Professional/personal accomplishments:  DeMolay, Representative; DeMolay, Past Mater Councilor; Past Grand Commander Reading Court of Chevaliers, Past Dean, John Winkleman Preceptory, Legion of Honor, Senior Master of Ceremonies, Reading Lodge # 549 Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania.  Four Children, married 36 years, three grandchildren


Richard Fitz | Class of 1979

Current Occupation: HS/MS Band Director for Elanco School District

Career Path: After graduating from GSHS, I attended West Chester University and received my BS Degree in Music Education and my Masters in Music Performance. I auditioned for the USAF Band of the East and spent 8 years on active duty performing throughout the United States. I then joined the PA Air National Guard Band and recently retired with a total of 35 years of active military service. I was deployed twice to the Middle East in support of various military operations. I have had the honor of performing for numerous presidents, heads of state, foreign dignitaries, and US Embassy functions. I have been featured on over 25 CDs and one in particular was selected for a Grammy Award.

Favorite memory: I have so many wonderful memories from GS. Naturally, the band, but I also performed with the chorus, vocal ensemble, orchestra, and jazz band. I was also extremely involved with GSPA and worked backstage, on stage, and in the pit orchestra for various productions. I feel that every teacher I had was compassionate, expected the very best from us, pushed us to be the best, but was also there to lend a helping hand. GSHS was, and still is, a great place to go to school, make new friends, and receive a fantastic education.

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? My high school band director Mr. Stan Deen, who started GSPA, and numerous other teachers in the English, Math, and Science departments.

Professional/personal accomplishments: I have been featured on over 25 CDs and one received a Grammy Award. I have toured throughout most of the US, Canada, England, Denmark, Germany, and the Middle East. I have been a First Sergeant with the PA Air National Guard Band, have received numerous awards, medals, and recognitions, and have performed for thousands of civilians, military, and coalition forces throughout my career.

My wife and I have been married for over 32 years and we have three daughters - all have graduated or attended GSHS and are very successful in college and with their own careers. 

Jody Greve (Good) | Class of 1995

Current Occupation: Self-employed Classical Musician, Domestic engineer, and Mama!

Career Path: Studied music at Lebanon Valley College and Millersville after graduation from GSHS while maintaining an active performing career on viola. Have played in York Symphony Orchestra every season since 1998, and also performed numerous times with Reading and Lancaster Symphony orchestras. I also am a member of Allegro Orchestra Lancaster and play for various colleges and churches in the county. I have provided music for hundreds of weddings and special events with various string quartets.

Favorite memory: In my junior year, I was piano soloist with the school orchestra on a movement of a Mendelssohn piano concerto, an amazing opportunity that most music students never get to experience. In my senior year, I was the piano soloist with the senior band on Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” the first time a current student instead of an area professional was ever given that honor. I competed for and won a place at both the state orchestra (viola) and state chorus (alto) festivals in my senior year.

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? I have many fond memories of my time at Garden Spot, and many teachers and faculty hold a special place in my heart. The excellent instruction I received from all my Honors English teachers (Tom Matthews, Ginni Ingram, Karen Hudick, Priscilla Fias, Marge Lowell, Keat Murray, Jim Murphy, Lorell Price) provided me with skills that prepared me for success in college and that I still use every day. My music teachers Ena Marie Banks, Jeff Hackenberger, and Deb Olson were all very supportive, and provided me with opportunities and experiences that helped advance my music career. Guidance counselors Fran Campagna and Denise Zimmerman-Collins and administrators Cindy Speace, Denny Hornberger, and Don Reed were all very encouraging, and both personally and academically helpful.

Professional/personal accomplishments: Established and managed two chiropractic clinics with husband (2000 and 2002); Played viola in a one-month, 14-city orchestral tour of China (2016); am “Mama” to six children between the ages of 3 and 16 and have homeschooled them all from the beginning of their school careers.

Life is busy and rich, and I feel fulfilled in my life’s work as a musician, business owner, wife and mother, and home educator. I really feel that I had an excellent education at Garden Spot and am proud to say I am an alumnus!

Allison Cuthie | Class of 1999

Current Occupation:  Associate Director of Development at Garden Spot Village and Mom!

Career Path: I had always been interested in education and appreciated English and its focus on communication. After teaching high-school English, I spent ten years at home taking care of children. During that period, I strove to strengthen my marketability by taking on several volunteer projects in the community, as well as writing for LNP, Media Group. I discovered a natural knack for fundraising and event planning and took a position at Garden Spot Village, where I currently raise funds that care for older adults who have exhausted their financial resources.

Favorite memory: I was crowned the Homecoming Queen my senior year. That was definitely a surprise for me, and it taught me that it was more important to connect and love as many different people as possible in life, rather than keep that appreciation to a certain few. The world needs it!

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? Nancy White- while I did not actually have her as a teacher, she was my volleyball coach and then personal friend after high school to the present. I learned how a strong, successful, smart, compassionate, competitive person handled themselves. She had a confidence, but not an arrogance. She had a loving persona, but not a saccharin facade. I never got the impression from her, that one should ever really "settle". When you were in her presence, there was no question you mattered. To this day, she is an example of someone to emulate- who does what she loves, where she loves it, and continues to grow in her interests and appreciation of the world around her.

Professional/personal accomplishments: I continue to consider my number one job to be the mother of my four kids. I have 13-year-old twin girls, an 11-year-old girl, and a 10-year-old boy. I've had the pleasure to serve on several committees and boards that focus on empowering the community in which I raise my family. I have often worked on the fundraising side of non-profits and continue to do so where I can. I love my job working with and for older adults. Every day is a gift from God, and I intend to live each day for His glory, with all I can offer.

I would not mind offering some advice to students. Take advantage of as many different opportunities as possible. Play lots of different sports, read lots of different types of books, join the clubs, exchange ideas respectfully and play nicely. When an opportunity presents itself for you to volunteer- do it. You will learn things you would not have the chance to learn otherwise. When you start questioning if you are smart enough, good enough, talented enough to try something, stop it. Take the gift that is your everyday and fill it up with ways to serve. Your community will be better for it, as will you.

Andrew Goodman | Class of 1996

Current Occupation:  Lobbyist / Business owner at Milliron Goodman, llc

Career Path: After high school I entered the Air Force on active duty. I served four years of active service then another year in the Air National Guard. I attended Millersville University and earned a BS with two minors. I interned at the Attorney General's Office and networked in the Harrisburg area. Soon after the internship, I was offered a job as a legislative "grunt" for a lobbying firm. After 8 years of difficult work, I became a partner. Also during those 8 years, I earned a Master of Business Administration degree. Four years after becoming a junior partner, I earned the title of Managing Partner and own the firm of Milliron Goodman.

Favorite memory: I remember the people being very good to each other. The community supported the district and the district was responsive to the community.

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? There were a lot of strong influences on me during my time at Elanco. I certainly give a lot of credit to the teachers, staff, and administrators. However, I believe the strongest influence on me during my time was my friends. I am very lucky to have had, and continue to have, a group of friends that actually cared for each other and had each other’s best interest in mind. Beyond my friends, their parents cared about each of us and watched out for us all as if we were one of their own. It is a bit strange, but fantastic, that most of those strong friendships exist today and I am proud that all of us have done well for ourselves and most importantly for our families.

Professional/personal accomplishments: The most important accomplishment that I've earned is a wonderful family.

Showing up is 99% of the equation. Think differently. Do the right thing when people aren't looking

Rebecca Branle | Class of 1996

Current Occupation: Small Business Owner, Lititz Bikeworks

Career Path: Unconventional. Writing is the string that ties it all together, but I've evolved from the buttoned-up, corporate advertising world to the very different world of bike shop ownership. From early childhood, I knew I wanted to write. As an anxious teen, I always found an escape in words and found my confidence in Garden Spot's honors English program. After graduating from Ursinus College, I grew to the position of Senior Copywriter at QVC. This afforded me the opportunity to do Tae Bo live with Billy Blanks and meet Mr. T (yes, this ages me, but man was it a fun life for a few years!). From QVC, I matured into a career writing, producing and directing television commercials for clients across the country. It was fun, but it's amazing how quickly starting a family turns the romance of business travel into a logistical nightmare. I ended that career to focus on my children without much of an idea where I'd head next - a privilege I recognize not everyone has. Bicycles were never on my radar, but my husband was itching to leave a career in publishing that had him traveling to the Middle East. His passion has always been bicycles - winning state and regional titles on road and cyclocross bikes throughout his adulthood. Together, we created a unique business model, combining traditional retail sales with bicycle tourism. Our mission has always been to "create a better community through bicycles." I find my fulfillment creating events that use bicycles as a catalyst for community enrichment. This year, our annual Cranksgiving food drive ride raised nearly 18,000 pounds of food for Ephrata Area Social Services. Our Merry Little Community Drive is in the process of collecting nearly 100 gifts for local kids in need. I use my writing and marketing skills to grow our business, and help our community thrive.

Favorite memory: Senior Class Trip to Disney World. That was pretty awesome. For laughs? We were doing mock interviews with Mr. Hornberger for a business class, I think. I was extremely nervous and awkward. Mr. Hornberger went to sit down, missed his chair, and landed with a flop on the floor. It totally broke the ice!

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? The two Ms - Mr. Murphy and Mr. Murray. Mr. Murphy for always seeming to so genuinely enjoy my writing. I needed to hear that. Mr. Murray for showing us the beautiful world words can create when perfectly strung together.

Professional/Personal accomplishments: Earning Phi Beta Kappa is a huge honor. Defending my thesis on James Baldwin's short fiction to be awarded department honors at Ursinus was a beautiful way to punctuate my senior year of college. Professionally, getting to see my commercials air on networks throughout the country was great, but even more rewarding is building a family business alongside my husband. We offer free cycling clinics to kids every summer, operate bike shares on the Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail, and work with community organizations like Mainspring Ephrata, Ephrata Area Social Services, and Northern Lancaster County Regional Police. Personally, I'm very proud of the writing I've done this year, some of which can be found at I was also honored to host Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President Elect, Kamala Harris, at our home for a meeting with the Lancaster County Democratic Veteran's Caucus.

I guess I'd want to share that these accomplishments don't matter much if I haven't grown as a person. Like lots of us, in high school I suffered from anxiety and struggled with self esteem. Those things were my mountains and my attempts to climb and conquer them blinded me from some of the kindness I needed to extend to others...who were all climbing mountains of their own. I guess that's the biggest lesson I've learned - to open my eyes to the struggles of others, to learn about the struggle, and then ask myself if there's a way I can help. I think that's the true definition of success - not money made, or job titles earned, but rather lives touched, stories heard.

Nicholas Good | Class of 2014

Current Occupation: Director of Administration/Public Information Officer at Garden Spot Fire Rescue. 

Career Path: Youth Business Services Representative - Lancaster CareerLink/EDSI Field Representative - Senate of Pennsylvania Grant Coordinator - Lancaster County Workforce Development Board Communications Intern - Hempfield School District Communications/Research Intern - Lancaster County District Attorney's Office - Communications/Public Relations

Favorite memory: Favorite memory would be participating in the GSHS Jazz Band as a guitarist and also as a member of GSPA. I had the honor of being in several leads and loved working with the late, and forever legendary, Stan Deen. . 

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? I will rank my three top influencers at ELANCO for this one: My father, Steve Good, who was also my assistant principal because he pushed me as both a father and an educational mentor to never settle for less than the best. Scott Miller, who I had for statistics, for dedicating his time and efforts to guide me beyond the classroom and help me achieve personal goals. Neil Weidman, who I had for Advanced Composition and Speech, for helping me develop as a leader and revealing my inner potential.

Professional/Personal accomplishments: Carson Scholar's Fund Recipient in 2013 and 2014 Carson Scholar's Honorary Alumni Speaker - Pittsburgh - 2016 Graduate of Millersville University Class of 2018 - Bachelor of Science in Speech Communication with a focus in Public Relations.

I am forever proud to be an alumnus of Garden Spot High School! I wish everyone the best at my alma mater and offer one piece of advice - never settle for less. You are bright and offer a fresh perspective in this world, so continue to push and you will succeed.

Anne Williams | Class of 1997

Current Occupation: Director of Communications at Lancaster City Alliance

Career Path: I think it is important to share that for many years, my career path was a struggle. As a student in high school and college, I did everything right. I got good grades, I was accepted into an excellent university, I participated in the most dynamic activities, and I secured two strong college internships. I checked every box I needed to set myself up for career success. Except, it didn't turn out as I envisioned. For the first 16 years of my career, I was frustrated, bored, underutilized, I watched as the guys got all of the promotions, I was stuck in a rut, and laid off twice.  Most of the time I was convinced I was in the wrong career, I reasoned that if I had chosen the right type of career, that it would not have been this much of a struggle. Throughout that time, I wanted to go back to school to become a teacher, but there were so few openings and the certification process so cumbersome, that I continued to stick it out in marketing and communications. What I did become good at during this time was observing leaders and taking inventory of what I saw as effective and not effective leadership. I also continued to improve my writing and communication skills because that was about the only thing I felt like I could control.  I also got good at putting together a great resume and staying on top of changes in the hiring industry.  So, when I got laid off for the second time in 2017, I was ready. Days after the layoff, out of nowhere, a recruiter messaged me and said she had a job that she thought I was a good fit for. God bless that recruiter, she was the first person in my career to act on my potential. That phone call resulted in my current job at the Lancaster City Alliance. A job that allows me to showcase my skills and put the lessons I learned in the first half of my career into action. 

Favorite memory: I have many good memories, but the best ones revolve around music or sports. There were a handful of times on the field or the stage when things just clicked and the team or musicians achieved a level beyond ordinary. It felt a little like you were floating and time slowed down in your favor. I can remember hitting the closing notes of Rhapsody in Blue, a difficult song the band probably had no business playing. However, it all came together and we nailed it. I can remember everyone, including the conductor, looking around with a sparkle in our eyes, breathless with adrenaline and emotion, it was the best feeling in the world, and I have never forgotten the sensation. You don't get many of those opportunities as an adult and so I have always held on to the sparkle we created that evening. To this day, I look for ways to recreate it. 

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD?  Todd Reitnouer. He was my basketball coach in middle school and field hockey coach in high school. He was a tough coach and scared me to death, I was completely out of my comfort zone working with him. However, I was determined to make the team and succeed at field hockey. I had general athletic ability but I wasn't the most gifted athlete either, so I had to work at it. Therefore, the combination of him pushing me out of my comfort zone and my stubbornness to stick it out, without question, molded me into the resilient, comfortable in my own skin, and hardworking person I am today.  

Professional/Personal accomplishments: There were several opportunities in my career where I had the opportunity to sink or swim. But time and again, I dug in and figured it out. They don't typically give out professional awards for grit, but if they did, I think I could win it. (See Todd Reitnour's influence, above.) 

In addition to being an athlete I also participated fully in the music program and even won the music department award as a senior. (Fun fact, I also got to take part in Mr. Deen's last show at Garden Spot, Meet Me in St. Luis) One thing that has stuck out to me over the years is how as a student, I could participate fully as both an athlete and a musician. The school provided an environment where I had the freedom to do that. Unless I was just unaware, being an athlete or a musician at Garden Spot didn't carry the stigma it did at other schools. I am grateful for that because it allowed me to be myself and truly explore both passions of sports and music and I am grateful for that opportunity. 

Brandon Bixler | Class of 2019

Current Occupation: Freshman at Penn State University Schreyer Honors College, Undergraduate Intern, Global Teach Ag! Network

Career Path: After having an incredible and transformative experience during my four years as a member of the Grassland FFA chapter at Garden Spot High School, I went on to serve as the State Vice-President for Pennsylvania FFA. In this role, I took a gap year from post-secondary education and travelled across the state and country to advocate for agriculture education and youth leadership. Upon completion of this role this past summer, I began my undergraduate studies at Penn State University Schreyer Honors College studying Agriculture and Extension Education with minors in International Agriculture and Entrepreneurship/Innovation. In the future, I hope to teach agriculture science at the high-school level. I look forward to doing international research focused on sustainable development and empowering entrepreneurs in developing countries to achieve self-sustainability through small-business ventures. I currently work as a Global Teach Ag! Network Intern, where I help create and deliver globally-minded programming to educators in the United States and around the world.

Favorite memory: One of my favorite memories from my time spent at ELANCOSD would be getting to teach a Middle School agriculture club during my senior year of high school. It was an awesome opportunity that allowed me to work with students in a new way and helped me to gain valuable experience as an educator before even beginning college. ELANCOSD benefits from a strong Internship and Co-op program, and I cannot overstate the value that these first-hand, real-world experiences added to my education! I also enjoyed being a part of the student body and cheering on the Spartans at various different events.

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? My time at ELANCOSD afforded me countless incredible role models and positive influences. Numerous teachers and administrators within ELANCOSD took the time and effort to invest in my life, and I am extremely grateful for this! When Mrs. Katie Ranck came to Garden Spot High School during my junior year, I saw an example of the type of teacher and leader that I wanted to be. Mrs. Ranck helped me understand more about agriculture, worked to help me achieve my goals, and pushed me to achieve more than I ever thought was possible. I feel blessed to have been a student in her classroom, and someday hope to make this same kind of impact on students of my own.

Professional/personal accomplishments: Serving as a Pennsylvania FFA State Officer was a goal of mine throughout high school, and it was a true privilege to serve in this role over the past year. I was recently selected as a Borlaug Scholar by the World Food Prize Foundation, and have the honor of presenting my research on agriculture, education, and small-business in St. Vincent and the Grenadines at the World Food Prize Convention this fall. I look forward to the years ahead at Penn State University and am excited for the possibilities the future holds.

I am forever grateful for the solid foundation I received during my time at Garden Spot and in the ELANCO School District. While I have only been out of high school for two years, I truly value the connections I made and the experiences I gained during my time as an ELANCO student.

Derek Dienner Profile Photo

Current Occupation: Executive Producer at MAKE/FILMS

Career Path: I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur and I started my business shortly after high school. I built a team over the past 13 years and now MAKE/FILMS is an award winning production company. We produced commercials and video content for businesses like Hershey, Sheetz, Benchmark Construction and many more. We also produce documentaries, one of them currently airing on PBS stations called Dismantling Democracy.

Favorite memory: I made videos for the Garden Spot school store and that allowed me to really practice filmmaking at an early age. 

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? My high school teach Mr. Lowell taught a class about entrepreneurship, and I really enjoyed learning from him and his personal experience as a former businesses owner. 

Professional/personal accomplishments: Entrepreneur of the Year, Lancaster Chamber, Built a team of 12 filmmakers in Lancaster county, Won multiple telly awards for directing and music, and was nominated for an emmy award for a show I produced called "Dream Weddings", it aired on WGAL for 5 years

Emily Blackwell Profile Photo

Current Occupation: Talent Selection & Recruitment Manager at High Company

Career Path: Upon graduation from HS, I went to a 2 year business school. I was hired right out of college at High in an entry level administrative role. Since then I have worked my way through various departments and positions. They also paid for me to go back to college to get my BS in Business with a concentration in Human Resources.

Favorite memory: There was a class offered for seniors called Entrepreneurship, which allowed us to run the school store. It was a great opportunity to be creative while having fun and learning. It also helped me later in life when my husband started his own business.

Who influenced you the most during your time at ELANCOSD? Brad Harris - He was kind and welcoming. He also helped me to realize my true potential and determine my career path. We knew that his door was always open anytime we needed anything.

Professional/personal accomplishments: My greatest accomplishment is finishing my degree and being able to succeed in a salaried level role at High. I have had a lot of great mentors throughout my 13 years of working there and know that I can do anything with a lot of hard work and dedication.