Be Devil’ed: Eagle Valley High School celebrates Fire and Ice Gala Saturday, Feb. 3 | VailDaily.com

Be Devil’ed: Eagle Valley High School celebrates Fire and Ice Gala Saturday, Feb. 3

Former Eagle Valley High School teachers Ralph and Janice Starr didn't plan to spend their entire careers in the same school district they attended as students. Things just worked out that way.

During their long careers with Eagle County Schools, the Starrs touched the lives of hundreds of kids as teachers, coaches and advisers. On Saturday, Feb. 3, the EVHS community will thank the Starrs for their contributions by inducting them into the EVHS Hall of Fame. During Saturday's ceremony, the EVHS Foundation will also honor community member Fred Collett for his decades of support for EVHS.

This year marks the eighth Fire and Ice Gala and former EVHS Hall of Fame honorees include Pete Nolan, Dave and Susan Scott, John Ramunno, Randy Rohweder, Gail Eaton and Linda Hatton.

The Fire and Ice Gala is a fundraiser for both the Eagle Valley High School Foundation and various school teams and clubs. Since it was founded eight years ago, the EVHS Foundation has contributed more than $117,000 to the school for scholarships and legacy projects — improvements to the school that include the new trophy cases, the baseball field scoreboard and the football field sound system. EVHS students directly benefit from the gala because all school teams and clubs offer silent auction items and then receive 100 percent of the proceeds from the event.

For the honorees and the attendees, the event is a celebration of why it's great to be a Devil.

Ralph Starr

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In 1964, Ralph began student teaching at EVHS. He helped coach football that fall and then worked during the next semester while Janice did her student teaching. Just before the end of the school year in 1965, Ralph was hired to be the junior high math and physical education teacher and the junior high coach. But the job quickly morphed into something else.

"During the summer, I got a phone call from Ron Atkins, who was the head high school football coach, saying that he was taking another job and had recommended me for the head football coaching job at EVHS," Ralph said. "I accepted and we had a decent season. That year led to many more seasons, including the year we didn't have a field and had to play all our games on other school's fields. I have many great memories of those years of coaching. I sometimes wonder how things would have turned out if I had not gotten that first opportunity."

That year, his first year at EVHS and his first year as the head football coach, Ralph also coached junior varsity basketball, junior high basketball and junior high track.

By the 1966-67 school year, Ralph's coaching duties expanded even further when the EVHS wrestling coach resigned and the school faced dropping the program if a coach couldn't be found. That year proved to be interesting as Ralph knew very little about wrestling. He did, however, have a book with wrestling instructions and he used that to coach the team. He compared the experience to the movie "Take Down" with one big difference — the team actually enjoyed success.

"I had a few kids who were experienced and they helped out," Ralph said. "We had some success and we qualified some kids for state every year. Then in the later years we had several state qualifiers."

During his time at EVHS, Ralph also coached volleyball and cross-country. He was also a registered football and wrestling official.

His career lasted for 33 years, where he taught at all levels from elementary to high school teaching math and physical education. But his favorite post was when he worked as a school counselor. After retirement, he was called back to finish the year as principal at Gypsum Elementary School and then as a part-time counselor at Red Sandstone Elementary. His stint at Red Sandstone was supposed to last for one year, but after the fourth year he officially retired. He and Janice moved to Tennessee in 2003.

Ralph continued to officiate football in Tennessee until having knee replacement surgery. He now spends his free time on the golf course whenever possible.

Janice Starr

It would be difficult to find a more devoted Eagle Valley Devil than Janice Starr. She was a member of the first EVHS graduating class — and that particular group of students chose the school mascot and colors. What's more while riding around Eagle one evening Janice and her friends Judy Seabry, Susan Koonce and Jetty Buchholz composed the school song.

In 1965, Janice began student teaching at EVHS — business education under Ray Logan and English under Eleanor McLaughlin. At the end of that semester, she and Ralph returned to Greeley for Ralph's graduation and Janice's next quarter of study. Just before the beginning of the summer quarter, Leonard Hammock called to see if she would come back to EVHS for a year while Logan went on a sabbatical leave. Janice explained that she had 24 credits left to get her degree. Hammock told her that the district would pay for the hours if she could complete them in the summer quarter.

"So, the challenge was on. I was in class for six to seven hours every day and also took the rest of the credits via correspondence classes," she said.

This breakneck schedule was further complicated by the fact the Starrs had two young daughters at home. But everything worked out and Janice graduated in August with a double major degree.

"Four days later I began what was supposed to be a one-year teaching job that lasted 32 more years," Janice said.

During her tenure at EVHS, she primarily taught business education courses including typing (later word processing), accounting, business law, business English, shorthand, journalism and publications.

Janice was in charge of the school newspaper and yearbook for 22 years, which means she was responsible for most of the photography. At that time, the job included developing the film and pictures and setting the pages.

While working on publications, Janice was behind the EVHS mascot re-branding. In the early days of the school, the devil looked ugly and demonic. Today's devil — known as Hot Stuff — gives off a cute, mischievous vibe.

Janice also sponsored the Pep Club and cheerleaders for many years.

The Starrs retired in 1997 but in 2002, four weeks before the start of the school year, Janice was asked to come back to teach part-time. She agreed and taught accounting and word processing.

"Memorable moments are almost too many to mention, but include being in the dark room developing film/pictures and not being able to open the door to get out. The door knob was missing and I could not get it open," Janice said. "In the meantime, I had a class that was supposed to be in session."

When she finally got the door open and hurried to class, she fully expected her students would be gone.

"Surprisingly, they were in class and working on their assignment. Apparently they didn't miss me," Janice said.

She also fondly recalls many homecoming float building incidents including the time when the keys to a car were "stolen" so the kids had to hotwire the vehicle.

"I was driving but realized the car couldn't be steered. Our new principal, Bob Adams, was standing in front of another vehicle and I drove right into him, pinning him against the car," she said.

"There was also the infamous trek to Pierce's Cafe area when a soda truck crashed," Janice continued. "They let the high school out to clean it up and keep whatever they could salvage. Cans of soda were stored everywhere, and a lot of it sold through the concession stand at ball games."

Janice said her years at EVHS were some of the best times of her life.

"I have so many wonderful memories of everyone there. The blessings from all those years are that many of my former students are now ones I consider friends," she said.

Fred Collett

Fred Collett is the first community member — rather than an EVHS teacher or staff member — to be named to the school's Hall of Fame.

"Not only is he our first community member, he is foremost in the community," said EVHS Foundation president Scott Green.

Collett is a former Eagle County School Board member, and he even served as the board president. But his contributions to the EVHS community extend beyond that service. As the founder and owner of Collett Enterprises, Collett has been a staunch supporter of community causes for more than 50 years.

"Fred has always been there, putting money back into the community," Green said. "I don't think there has ever been a kid who asked that Fred hasn't helped."

As a business owner himself, Green said Collett has provided a great example.

"You try to give back to the coming and Fred has always done that," Green said. "There is always a fundraiser going on and Fred has always been there."

If you go …

What: Fire and Ice Gala, Eagle Valley High School Foundation’s celebration featuring dinner, dancing and a silent auction.

When: Saturday, Feb. 3, 6 to 10 p.m.

Where: Eagle River Center at the Eagle County Fairgrounds.

Cost: Tickets are $60 per person or $550 for a table of 10.

More information: Contact Scott at 970-376-4080 or Mike at 970-904-0198 for tickets or information.