Woodland hall of famers deliver messages to students at induction ceremony

Alumni talk about the impact Woodland had on them

Woodland Hall of Fame inductee Jordan Wicks walks with the microphone to address students, teachers and community members Friday, April 5, 2024, during an assembly at the school's gymnasium.

Woodland Hall of Fame inductee Joyce Cook kept her message simple for students during Friday’s assembly at the Warrior Dome.

“No matter what,” she said, students should be themselves.

“Do what makes you happy,” she added.

Cook, who has been deployed to 48 different states in 15 years for various disasters such as hurricanes, fires, tornadoes and flooding with the Red Cross Disaster Action Team, was one of four inductees selected by the Woodland Education Foundation into the school’s hall of fame. She was joined by Alan Conrad, Dianne (Koval) Conrad and Jordan Wicks. The inductees gave short speeches to students and some community members Friday in the gymnasium at the school, just south of Streator.

Cook has a passion for helping people. She urged students if they see anyone in distress, they should stop and help them.

Wicks, who works as a meat scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, echoed Cook’s advice. She also said the atmosphere at Woodland with graduating classes less than 50 students prepared her to be a leader.

“When you want something to happen in a small school, someone has to step up to do it,” Wicks said. “No one else is going to do it.”

Wicks said showing up and sticking with goals is what she’s found as a key to success. She credited Woodland staff for introducing her to agriculture and encouraged students to recognize when others are helping and take advantage of those opportunities.

Alan and Dianne Conrad shared a unique perspective of their time at Woodland, because it’s where the married couple of 47 years met.

“We met in my first hour algebra class,” said Alan Conrad, who is a board-certified family physician practicing full time at Cadillac Family Physicians PC in Cadillac, Michigan, joking he liked to sit in the back row away from the teacher’s desk.

Dianne Conrad built off what her husband said, by noting the relationships made in high school can have a lasting impact.

“They provide a strong foundation,” Dianne Conrad said, also pointing out there were 5 couples in their high school class that married each other.

Dianne Conrad is a family nurse practitioner, having practiced with her husband at Cadillac Family Physicians and is board certified in Advanced Diabetes Management. She was a Fullbright Scholar, traveling to Ireland for the fall of 2019, exploring graduate education for advanced nurse practitioners.

“Keep following your dreams,” she said, adding she was got her doctoral degree at 55 years old.

The hall of famers were treated to a banquet at Mona’s restaurant in Toluca on Friday night.

Woodland Hall of Fame inductee Dianne Conrad speaks to Woodland students, teachers and community members Friday, April 5, 2024, at the Warrior Dome as fellow hall of famers Dr. Alan Conrad, Joyce Cook and Jordan Wicks look on.
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