May 2024 Alumni Spotlights: Vicki Hays Pierce (FCHS ’70) & Laura McGuirk (NAHS ’75)

May 2024 Alumni Spotlights: Vicki Hays Pierce (FCHS ’70) & Laura McGuirk (NAHS ’75)

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re thrilled to bring you a special Alumni Spotlight column.

This month, we feature heartwarming tributes from two daughters (Casey Hays Street – FCHS ’03 & Colleen McGuirk Parker – NAHS ’10) to their incredible mothers (Vicki Hays Pierce – FCHS ’70 & Laura McGuirk – NAHS ’75), both of whom hold a special place in our hearts at the Foundation. These inspiring women were part of our 2023 Royal Court, where they helped raise over $50,000 for our NAFC Schools.

Excerpt from the May 2024 Legacy Ledger:

Alumni Spotlight Header

Vicki-Hays-Pierce headshot

Sharing the profile of my mother, Vicki Hays
Pierce, feels like such a privilege for this set of
Mother’s Day tributes. It’s an honor to recount
her story to you. It would be great to see this
become a tradition each May, for Alumni

It’s not so surprising that… as “guest
contributors”, neither Colleen McGuirk Parker
nor I knew each other. We just barely skimmed
through a short bio of each other’s mom. So, it
seems striking to me that their stories pair up so well. They both delivered decades of service to
the high schools they attended.

You surely wouldn’t say that they came from “the same mold”. Mom’s early years were undoubtedly different from going to schools in New Albany. She grew up in Georgetown, where there was a strong sense of community pride “as a town”… but she’ll tell you that life was certainly “half rural” (and maybe more). That didn’t change just because Floyd Central opened. Getting to see a newborn calf wasn’t a rare experience for my mom, and things like that were still part of my grade school days.

My childhood memories blend directly into my teen years and adulthood. I recall countless birthdays for me and my brothers; she repeatedly went the extra mile with creative cakes, decorations, and magical moments. My 30th birthday was perhaps the pinnacle, surprising me at a restaurant.. in a clown costume with balloons galore.

To some extent, my brothers and I did have to share our mom with Floyd Central, primarily in her devotion to FC’s Theatre Arts. Over 28 years, she went from “I’ll give it a try” to being the bedrock of the Costume Department. It began in 1995, with just one role in one musical (my brother Harrison in “Oliver”). By 1997, she was first listed in one of the theatre programs. Tallying up her statistics yields staggering numbers. As of 2023, she had worked on 153 productions, providing and creating costumes for over 6000 students, One unique feature of her “era” was literally turning the department into a profit center, making hundreds of rental costumes available far and wide. She was inducted into the International Thespian Society, traveling fifteen times to International Thespian Festivals.

Vicki, Casey and two of Vicki's grandchildren celebrating after Vicki was crowned 2023 Royal Court Queen.Theatre hasn’t been the only component in her dedication to her alma mater. Since 2008 and still to this day, Mom has been a perpetual cornerstone of the Floyd Central Alumni Board. She was a founding member of the group that coined the name Floyd Central Alumni Association. She helped draft its original bylaws and she’s served as the board’s secretary ever since. In recognition of her tireless service to the school… she received the 2023 Distinguished Highlander Award, bestowed at FC’s Hall of Fame banquet.

It wasn’t even her biggest milestone of the year. In a twist of “spring begins again at age 70” (unexpected even in her eyes), she met anew a schoolmate, Jim Pierce (FCHS ’71), from over fifty years ago. Last August, they became newlyweds, just seven days after the Hall of Fame banquet. It turns out… she was on a roll.

In December, she agreed to participate in the Royal Court (alumni fundraiser) for the NAFC Education Foundation. It involves being one of eight NAHS and FCHS alumni, going head-to-head with each other, vying for top contender (measured by donations to the Foundation). It made my mom’s year a triumphant “three-peat” as she was crowned Queen of the event.

Mom and Jim are living the dream, with all of the family just a short distance away from each other. That’s Harrison and his two kids, Seth and his wife Sarah (also two kids), plus my husband Chris and myself with our two kids. All of the grandchildren go to NAFC schools.

Prepared by guest contributor Casey Hays Street, FCHS 2003
Special Education Teacher at Mt. Tabor Elementary School

Laura Morris McGuirk headshot

I’m very proud to offer this profile of my mother, Laura McGuirk. As my counterpart Casey expressed already, I hope that a Mothers’ Day tradition will blossom for Alumni Spotlight each May. Readers are urged to share ideas of mother-daughter duos for next year!

For some, a Mother’s Day tribute might begin by asking, “what was the greatest impact she had on your life as a child?” Well, for my mom, there simply is no one impact she “imprinted” on me.

From my earliest memories, my mom was unquestionably my best friend. Yes, she “parented” me, of course she did. But as I think back, she was an invisible hand, helping me to find my own passions… using the right combination of supporting, enabling and guiding. Was I an easy kid to raise? Was I a kid who absolutely loved school? Maybe, but was that nature or nurture?

My mom, like others in her generation, was blessed to learn dance at the legendary Weber School with Hall of Famer Bette Weber Flock NAHS ’49, at the helm. Mom took me there when I was age five. It always felt like we loved it together. She was there, every practice, every performance without fail (not just dance… choir, theatre and more). Now, in adulthood, we share a love of all the arts; it’s one of the best mother-daughter bonds we have. It’s in our recurring travels to New York to “get a fix”, but also in our enjoying music and theatre at venues right here at home.

Just as I loved school as a child, I consider it great that I became a teacher. Dare I say that it’s “in my blood”? I saw firsthand Mom’s pursuit of excellence in education; I learned by watching how hard she worked at it. It didn’t come to me all at once; she had already earned two degrees before I was born. She completed her certification in school counseling while I was in kindergarten. But from my grade school years, through junior high and high school, I see it now… looking in the rearview mirror. From year one, she moved up quickly through the ranks and soon became a seasoned veteran for the seniors she served. When she first became a counselor, she already had two decades of experience, learning the keys to students’ successes in college. She never stopped being an educator, and her favorite achievement was helping students find the means for the education they wanted. Between 1998 and 2020, “her” Bulldog grads earned $145 million in scholarships and other financial aid. Her professional accolades have been both local (twice named NAHS “Teacher of the Year”) and national (in a 2016 “top 30” group of high school counselors). In 2022, she was inducted into the NAHS Hall of Fame, an honor she considers very gratifying.

Laura and Colleen

Somewhat recently… I learned (quite after the fact) that she stood out in the IU Southeast community before she became a counselor at NAHS. For her service in the admissions office, Mom received the 1991 Distinguished Service Award for Administrative / Professional Staff. The IUS School of Education always kept a keen eye on her career as a counselor. She received the 2005 Outstanding Supervisor in Counseling Award and the 2019 Excellence in School Counseling Award.

As an ambassador for the School of Education and for her eleven years of service to IUS, Mom’s career was spotlighted by the school last year, as she received the IUS Chancellor’s Medallion Award (along with Sally Newkirk, FCHS ‘72). It’s the highest award bestowed by IUS.

With Mom’s retirement in 2020… most likely, the best is yet to come. It’s rewarding to see her taking on a new lifestyle… enjoying her two grandsons and more time with family and friends.

Prepared by guest contributor Colleen McGuirk Parker, NAHS 2010
4th Grade Teacher at Floyds Knobs Elementary School

Read the complete May 2024 Legacy Ledger

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