From the past students
Carly Peters Class of 2020
I just want to start off by saying how incredibly thankful I am to have been able to have you as a teacher. Your class was really something to look forward to and that bell always rang way too early. You not only taught me many things in the classroom, but also on the field. I absolutely loved having you as a softball coach for those couple of years that I played. I am so happy for you to be taking this next step in life and to hopefully enjoy some free time and relaxation. It’s going to be really hard for them to find someone to fill your shoes because you did it all so well. Thank you again for all you did for me during my time at OHS and I wish you the very best.
Bethany Hagan Class of 2020
Mr. Kuchno was a big part of my high school experience. My first journalism class made me fall in love with writing, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of Kuchno. The program has come a long way since it has started, and I think we can all thank Kuchno for that. He pours his heart and soul into every section of the program, making it the best production every time. Not only is Kuchno a great teacher, he is also an amazing role model. He always pushed me to do the best I can. The journalism program will always be grateful for Mr. Kuchno.
Jordan Beseda Class of 2020
You did it! You spent years pouring passion and joy into the OHS journalism program, and I can assure you that to your students, it was so totally worth it. Being in broadcast was a major highlight of my time spent at Oakville. Thank you for leading the department so well and for always being a mentor that I could lean on. Congratulations on your retirement! Now, go relax because you deserve it.
Adam and Taylor Zapf Class of 2020 and 2018
On behalf of myself, as well as my sister Taylor, we would like to thank you for everything you have done for us over these past few years. You were and will continue to be our favorite educator that we have ever had, and we are so thankful for the passion and love you hold for journalism, and for providing us students with a great work environment. Although we will miss you terribly, we wish you all the best in retirement. We hope to see you soon, and we hope you always remember to keep your eyes on the tigers.
With much love, Adam and Taylor Zapf
Christina Meier Class of 2019
I wanted to thank you for all you have done for me and my peers through the OHS journalism program. Getting to be on newspaper and broadcast staff were truly highlights of my high school career. One of the things I enjoyed most about being in your classes was that I could see how much you cared about your students and wanted us to grow as journalists and people. You always wanted the best for us and encouraged us to keep improving, because you knew we were always capable of it. Your love for journalism carried over into us students, as you know many of us spent hours upon hours in room 234 after school or during ANP because we wanted to make the best articles, shows, and newspapers possible. You saw the potential in us to be leaders. I am still so thankful to this day to have been an editor-in-chief of The Prowl, and getting to lead my fellow journalists impacted me so much. Your dedication to your work and teaching was evident in giving us opportunities to write about subjects that were interesting and important to us. For me, this impacted me the most when I wrote an editorial about the environment my senior year. With now studying to work for an environmental non-profit in the future, getting to write that story helped me realize that what I wanted to do with my life was possible. In fact, my time in journalism in high school put me on the right path for college. I already had my love for writing going into the OHS journalism program, but being a part of it sparked a love for content creation. With deciding on a major in Communication and minor in Agricultural and Science Communication at Mizzou, I’m still able to use all that I have learned in your classes (especially InDesign), and doing projects in my coursework reminds me of how far I’ve come since being a reporter.
Thank you Mr. Kuchno, for all that you did for me and the staffs before, during, and after my time at OHS. You gave so many of us a purpose and a drive to get the most out of journalism classes that were unlike any other ones we could take at the time. You inspired careers, talents, and helped create so many friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. I wish you all the best in your retirement!
Kristin Kuchno Class of 2019
Thanks for letting me nap on the room 234 couch, drink all your energy drinks and inspiring me to go the extra mile! I hope you enjoy retirement and get to relax!! OHS will never forget how you made the journalism program what it is today!
Rachel Delago, Class of 2018 (has pictures)
Congratulations on your retirement! Every student and staff member, including myself, at Oakville has been blessed to have you a part of their Oakville High School experience. I remember joining Yearbook my sophomore year having no idea what I was getting into. Before I knew it, I was immersed into friendships and experiences I will never forget. To this day, I have been so blessed to be best friends with Mckenzie Knapp and I truly believe your class is what brought Mckenzie and I closer. Your class, the yearbook meetings after school, the amazing journalism field trips, etc. were all experiences from Oakville that I will never forget all thanks to you and the journalism program. I truly believe that I am a better person, a better writer, and a more determined individual all because of your class and having you as a teacher. Thank you for dedicating yourself to this program and to these students. I know for a fact you were a teacher nobody will ever forget. Congratulations again and have a happy retirement! You deserve it.
Max Rodenbeck Class of 2018
Mr. Kuchno, Thank you for being the incredible teacher you were. Your kindness and passion in class was a constant reminder of the great things we all achieved together. Thank you for always being there for me and for everything you’ve done for the broadcast program. The lab was always my favorite place to be in the school. Thank you for all your years of hard work and dedication to the students and the program. I know that for many of us, our years spent in 234 were life changing and will forever impact us.
Caden Turner Class of 2018
I do not wish to start off this composition of gratitude with a corny sentence or two, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
There are simply no words to describe how much of an impact you have left on my life. Not just as a journalist, news anchor, cameraman, editor, or even a line producer. You taught me how to stand out from the crowd and show my worth as a creator. No matter what we worked on throughout the three years of me being under your wing, you were never hesitant in allowing me to leap outside of the box. We followed the rules, but you allowed us to bend and oftentimes tear them. But that is what journalism is all about. It’s about delivering to the people what they need to hear. No matter the situation, you were always there to walk us through whatever story we had at our fingertips.
I have been blessed to have a teacher allow me to let my creative passion shine. Looking back on the first few stories that I got to work on back in the fall of 2016, I am in no way that same kid. That kid was shy, awkward, and without the drive that every sixteen year old hopelessly tries to find in order to have a reason to get up in the morning. In the back of my mind, I always felt that drive for me was learning the ropes of entertainment. But I never realized how much entertainment was centered around journalism. Without the journalist, it would cease to exist.
I recently finished watching a fantastic noir film called Sweet Smell of Success starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. One of the many underlying themes of the film is how important it is to always sell the truth, otherwise consequences are bound to result. And in the main character J. J. Hunsecker’s case, writer of a very popular newspaper column, he does not follow this theme in the slightest. In fact, he abuses the power of journalism to his advantage, corrupting the minds of citizens into believing something absurdly fictitious. I’m rambling on because you have always been, in my eyes, a teacher that makes sure that no one comes out of Room 234 becoming another J.J. Hunsecker. You have been laying down the tracks for thousands of students to succeed in wherever their hearts take them, whether it involves journalism or not. I will never be able to comprehend the idea of being a teacher. The amount of patience, dedication, and drive to do something so courageous, especially in today’s world, is something that I can only admire.
I apologize if I seem all over the place with my wording. I am not the most professional of writers. But, as I said in the beginning, I could write for ages and still feel as though I have not even scratched the tip of the iceberg.
I wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors. Keep in touch.
Louis Luong Class of 2018
Mr. Kuchno has been one of the best teachers and advisors I’ve had throughout my four years at Oakville High School. If it wasn’t for him allowing Caden and I to film our very first Investigative Reporting skit, I would not have developed the same love for video production that I have to this day. Kuchno allowed me to be fully creative with my out-of-the-box ideas and supported me the whole way. He gave me the space to be myself and express my ideas with the school in the form of video content. And it was with his attitude and encouragement that gave me the courage to always push myself to be better and create better videos. I would not be the man I am today if it wasn’t for him and his Broadcast Journalism class. I appreciate Mr. Kuchno so incredibly deeply – not only for his contributions to me as a humble student, but to the entire world of journalism as well.
Mckenzie Knapp class of 2018
Kuchno, congratulations on your well-deserved retirement! I cannot begin to express the impact you have made on many students during your time at Oakville, especially me. WHen I signed up for the yearbook my sophomore year, I did not expect for it to lead into a passion for Journalism that I developed during high school and still have today. Your mentorship gave me the confidence to pursue Journalism at Mizzou, and I do not know where I would be today without your guidance. Your dedication to each of your students was heartfelt and was noticed by anyone that stepped in Room 234. Thank you for always continuing to support me as I take on my future in Journalism. I hope your retirement is filled with Mizzou tailgates and Blues games!
Katie Counts Class of 2017
You are one of the most incredible teachers and mentors I have ever had. Over the years, the lessons I learned in 234 have impacted me greatly. Oakville journalism and your wisdom taught me to be curious, to keep an open mind, and to see the world with empathy. What makes us different is what makes us stronger.
And as I get older, the more I see myself moving towards your path–teaching. In the summer, I’ll serve as an English teacher with the International Institute and in the fall I’ll move to Japan to teach English as well.
When I think about the kind of teacher I want to be and the impact I want to have on my students, I think of you. I think of your dedication to our publications and us. I think of your sense of humor and the value you placed on celebrating every victory. Most importantly, I think of the way you inspired us to see the world deeper and look at people with compassion.
You have had such an incredible impact on my life and so many others.
I hope retirement brings much joy and some hard-earned rest. I hope you can attend many Mizzou games and watch lots of sports on your many televisions. As always, we’ll keep in touch.
Abby Ludwig Class of 2017
Thank you so much for all that you did for me at Oakville- you were always the most patient teacher and coach. I appreciate how you encouraged us to be independent thinkers and persistent both in the classroom and on the field. I have so many great memories working on spreads, hunting down pictures and interviews, going to convention, and just goofing off in 234. I gained so much confidence in myself and my abilities as a journalist/athlete because you believed in me. Thanks a billion for all you did for us, it really means the world!
Hannah Hoffmeister Class of 2016
When I sit down to put Mr. Kuchno’s impact into words it’s harder to do than expected – I have too much to say. How to start? “Oakville is losing its best asset”? “Who wants to place a bet on how long the man who never stops moving can stay retired?”? I’ll go with this one: Kuchno has been one of the singular, most impactful people in my entire life. From the inverted pyramid (still used today!) to the importance of treating everyone with a mix of patience and kindness, there is so much good, so many life lessons to come out of Room 234. When I think of the thousands of students whose lives he’s touched through softball and journalism, it’s astounding; there’s no one at OHS like him, and I’m grateful to have been a student there during his tenure. So here’s to Kuchno, the best headline writer, the best teacher, the best role model. Can’t wait to celebrate!
Beth Ludwig Class of 2016
Kuchno created an environment where every student felt like they belonged in his journalism room. Whether it was trying to get a new story or trying to edit a picture, he always had something to say and helped you make it better. I loved the Journalism room, it was my home away from home in high school. Kuchno has created a safe space at Oakville that will leave a lasting impact for generations to come, whether it be from yearbook or journalism programs. Thank you for the time you put into everything you did to make out publications some of the best in the nation. Thank you for always being someone who we could look up too. You will be greatly missed and I wish you the best in your new journey!
Taylor Paluczak Class of 2014
Mr. Kuchno (aka Da Kuch),
It’s hard to believe you’re actually retiring! You are part of the backbone of Oakville High School and what makes it such a special place to go to high school. Your pride for this school runs just as deep as your love for Mizzou and all of your current/former students. You are one of those teachers who makes kids happy and excited to come to school. When they walk through your door, they know they will be supported and uplifted. They know your guidance will help them create something bigger than themselves, a broadcast, yearbook, newspaper, etc. that will bring to light memories that will last a lifetime. They know that after they put on that cap and gown to graduate, you will still be thinking about them and hoping they are doing well. It is teachers like you that I have been blessed with that made me want to become a teacher myself. The positive impact you had on my life in my short 2 years on the Yearbook staff are with me each and every day during every interaction I have with my own students. The way you keep in touch with all of us, inviting us to dinners when you were in Columbia, asking how our jobs are going, and texting us to check in lets us know you still care and that we were not just a kid in your class or an assignment to grade. You truly care and put relationships first. Because of that, your legend lives on in each and every one of us just like our handprints on the walls of the Journalism room. I will always hold my Yearbook Staff memories close to my heart and I could keep writing for days, but it is time for you to enjoy your retirement. I think we need to do a Crusoe’s dinner to celebrate like old times! Thank you for absolutely everything, now go relax and stop worrying about deadlines!
Mikey Bellinger Class of 2013
To my main man Jeffery Kuchno-
Wow! Retirement in 2021?! Back in 2013, you were looking like you should have retired in 2001, but you made it this far! (laughing emoji)
But on a more serious note- the biggest congratulations on your retirement and a very long and successful career! I’m very proud of you and proud to say you were, and still are, one of my biggest inspirations and role models. In 2013, in a personal conversion you said, “find something that you love to do, and you will never work another day in your life.” that message has never left me, and it never will as I continue to be the best version of myself both professionally and personally. Your teachings have made me exil in all the best ways, and I can never repay or forget that. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for all of us – by being a Facilitator, bringing out our creative sides, letting us shine and even rubbing your hin in frustration to give us all a good laugh. If it was not for Journalism, I would have needed to find another way to be the center of attention. HAHA!
Cheers to you, and thanks for everything!
John Stinson class of 2013
Bewildering to think that I first met Jeff Kuchno 12 years ago, let alone type it out. At 26,
I can easily say that he is nothing less than a saint for dealing with 14–18-year-old me. A feat I
would not even attempt and an accolade in itself for the level of patience that one person could
Before I even started my first day as a high schooler, I was in the journalism room
helping out with what became the early days of Channel 97 News. I will be forever grateful for
somehow making it into that room. Through my 4 years at Oakville, I delved deeper and deeper
into writing, cameras, and most importantly, white balancing (Kuch, did you know they have
cameras that accurately auto white balance now? Kids these days really do have it all). I know I
wouldn’t be where I am now without those formative years of Kuchno letting me use my
imagination and just listening to my weird ideas of what we could do with stories (I believe I still
hold the title of the weirdest Line Producer. An achievement I hold with great pride). That isn’t
even beginning to mention the lifelong friendships I made in his class, but I digress. What a
great time we all had; all while being mentored by a great man.
I have enough Kuchno quotes and stories to fill up a Bible (old testament AND new
testament), but by far the one thing that will always stand out to me is the way he always
treated me like an adult. It felt more like we were equals when it came to putting the broadcast
together and mapping out how the structure would be. Which when you’re young, means the
world to you. In hindsight, I have no idea how he did this because I clearly physically and
emotionally a young, dumb kid who thought the world revolved around him and that high
school broadcast was his magnum opus. And I am surely not an outlier in this. I believe that this
common theme will be throughout most of the letters published here, which is a testament to
how influential of a man he can be. “Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others past
and present, and by every kindness, we birth out future.” I am one drop in an ocean of students
that will have similar stories of Mr. Kuchno. Man, what a great guy.
I thought it would be best fitting to write this while I was on set of an upcoming movie
(This isn’t me bragging. I swear there’s a point I’m trying to make here), to further soak in the
life I have now due to a high school broadcast teacher letting me indulge in my passion. Here I
am, living my dream. A dream that would never have been realized without Mr. Kuchno. Thank
you for taking a chance on me, I am forever in your debt.
Here’s to you, old friend. The end of an era. An era I was lucky to be a part of.
Ryan Huegerich Class of 2012
Kuchno, your impact on my life is astronomical. My upbringing lit a match on video production, and you poured gas on the flame. Your commitment to students being the best they can be is unequaled, with a way of explanation that leaves endless room for creativity, skill refinement, and growth. Thank you for encouraging me to be the best I can be, and carrying the entire Oakville journalism program on your back to the highest peaks. You work harder than anyone I know. Have a happy retirement (the day I thought would never come) and remember, no more work!! 🙂
Emily Maag, Class of 2012
It’s not an understatement to say Mr. Kuchno changed my life. From first learning AP Style and the basics of using InDesign in Journalism I to being able to lead the team as editor-in-chief and help launch myOHSonline my senior year, Room 234 and Mr. Kuchno provided me with the foundations I needed for my professional career. As a copywriter, I truly think I use what I learned in high school journalism more than I do what I learned in some of my college courses.
I’m so appreciative of the opportunity to have had Mr. Kuchno as a teacher, and, looking back, it’s amazing what he was able to help so many students accomplish. It’s a true testament to his abilities as a teacher and how much he trusted and empowered students to be successful. Oakville was so fortunate to have him as an instructor, and I’m so glad future students will be able to continue to benefit from the programs he created and the legacy he left. Wishing Mr. Kuchno nothing but the best in his retirement.
Dallas Terry Class of 2011
To Mr. Kuchno: You created a space where weirdos like me could think, learn, and thrive. And that is no small thing. Thank you for your trust. You were the hard working engine behind an extremely effective academic exercise and enterprise. All of us benefited from it, and from your teaching.
Jerica Mosello (Drago) Class of 2011
“For me, Mr. Kuchno’s impact comes down to encouraging self-confidence and spunk. We were in the first broadcast class, so there wasn’t really a model for how it was run. He let us be the judges of that. He nurtured our creativity, our ingenuity and taught us valuable lessons. I remember little ‘Kuchno-isms’ to this day. Some of those pieces of advice, seemingly insignificant, helped me to achieve many of my favorite accomplishments throughout college and early in my postgraduate work life. A teacher’s impact is far-reaching, and I often wonder if on any given, ordinary day he is aware of just how much he affected the lives of the students he taught. Thank you for everything, Mr. Kuchno! You were truly one of my greatest influences.
Kaitlyn Meier class of 2009
It’s hard for me to imagine I’ve been out of high school for 12 years now – but whenever that classic question, “who was your favorite teacher in school?” comes up, I always think of you. As a quiet, insecure 16-year-old, I slid under the radar of most teachers throughout school and would never have envisioned myself as having a voice of influence or capacity for leading others. I thank God that I somehow found myself in your Intro to Journalism class sophomore year and for how your instruction and personal influence blessed me in enduring ways. You consistently challenged me to stretch out of my comfort zone, you encouraged me by seeing ability and character in me that I didn’t have the eyes to see in myself and you granted me opportunities to develop as a leader – rom that time on I’ve consistently found myself in areas of leadership in whatever opportunities the Lord has granted me and I’m certain your influence had a profound impact on that trajectory.. And while my personal development within your program was great, I am also immensely thankful to look back on your class, conferences, worknights, interviewing air-particle monitors, even selling advertisements – with a lot of fondness. I can only imagine how far your influence has stretched across your investment at OHS and I couldn’t be more thankful for your commitment and dedication to your students. Thank you.