The student news site of Maize Career Academy in Maize, Kansas.

Fusion by OneMaize Media

The student news site of Maize Career Academy in Maize, Kansas.

Fusion by OneMaize Media

The student news site of Maize Career Academy in Maize, Kansas.

Fusion by OneMaize Media

Leaving a legacy

MHS teacher prepares to retire after years of dedication to the school

The MHS choir walked into a cathedral in Germany and got ready to sing. When they started singing, their faces lit up with joy and love for the music that they were creating.

Doris Prater recalled this memory as one of her favorite moments teaching vocal music. She has been teaching at Maize High School for 36 years, and many current and former students have been affected by her position.

Dashall Meyer is a senior at MHS who has been in choir for six years, with four being at MHS with Prater. Meyer has been the lead in musicals such as Legally Blonde and The Lightning Thief Musical. 

“Mrs. Prater has really taught me to be confident, even if I don’t think I’m right about something because the only way you’ll actually improve on it is if you show that you don’t know it and learn from it,” Meyer said.

Even students that have only had her for a short time have been affected by the way that Prater teaches. Freshman Lucas Gordon joined choir in middle school, and this is his first year with Prater.

“[I’ve learned] to not give up and keep pursuing,” Gordon said. “Keep going for what you want to go for in life and work hard, and you’ll get there.”

Choir has become a welcoming environment for students of all kinds, and has given them a love for music 

“It wasn’t so much a matter of teaching,” Prater said.  “It was a matter of I enjoyed music so much, and I wanted to share it with other people. And I found that I had a gift that I could teach it and could break it down so that kids could understand it, and could also feel that love and the spirit of the music, and it’s truly the emotion and the meaning of the music that made me want to teach more than anything.”

Prater directs the Madrigals at a concert. She was leading them through the Christmas concert, “Holiday Follies,” in 2022. (Dustin Baker)

This love has given kids the confidence to succeed in everyday life.

Junior Elise Lansdown has been in choir for a total of eight years and three with Prater.

“I’ve learned a lot about regular life through music,” Lansdown said. “ I’ve learned the importance of hard work and dedication. You have to work hard if you want to go anywhere in this choir and it shows.”

Prater has also touched the hearts of her coworkers and colleagues at Maize. Science teacher Stan Bergkamp has worked with her for 30 years, and they put events together in 2018, 2022, and 2023. These events have been fundraisers for the Maize Solar Initiative.

“The solar project would not be as successful as it is right now without her help,” Bergkamp said. “She is compassionate, she’s giving, and she just has a vision that says, ‘Hey, I want to be a part of something bigger than myself.’”

There have also been projects with Maize Middle School, and Cortney Woodruff, who has taught there for 16 years and has been a strong point of communication with new kids coming into the choir program. Woodruff started her teaching career at St. Mary’s Catholic School where she taught music to kindergarten through eighth graders, but she felt called to come back to Maize when the job opened up at the middle school.

“I came to Maize my eighth grade year and got involved in choir and it was awesome, and then I went to the high school, and Mrs. Prater was my teacher,” Woodruff said. “As I went through the program, it was just like that was what I love to do.”

Woodruff has a similar spot for students in her heart that Prater does.

“Getting to know [the kids] and watching them just develop as young adults,” Woodruff said.“It’s been so much fun and then reconnecting with them and seeing where they go and what they’re doing.”

Prater is getting ready to pass the torch on to a new teacher, and the school has selected Woodruff to fill her shoes. Many people are excited for Woodruff to take her place at the high school, including Prater herself.

“I am so excited about Mrs. Woodruff coming up to the high school, and if you haven’t heard, a Maize High School graduate, Madison, used to be Fitzmeyer, but she’s now Brant, is coming to take Mrs. Woodruff’s place,” Prater said. “It’s two of my favorite graduates.” 

Woodruff is very excited about her transition to high school.

“I’m so excited,” Woodruff said. “It feels so surreal right now just to have that in front of me. I’m so excited to be back with my students from middle school and just see where they’re at in high school.”

Many students are also excited about Woodruff coming to teach the program, since they know that she will continue to grow it.

“I’m excited about it. I think she’s good at middle school, I know she’ll change it up for the high school, and she’ll give her full potential,” Gordon said.

Even with these new and exciting changes, students will still use the knowledge they have learned from Prater during their time in choir.

Emma Dugan is another senior student of Prater. She has spent four years in choir, and she will be heading to Southeast Missouri State University and majoring in Musical Theater.

“Moving on to music theater to where I’m going for college, it’s definitely going to be a totally different experience without her; but I’m definitely going to take her advice from the years she has taught me and use it in the future,” Dugan said.

No matter what Prater chooses to do with her time in the future, her students will continue her legacy at Maize, and no one doubts that she will continue to make music out of it.

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About the Contributor
Alissa Ragland
Alissa Ragland, Photographer
Alissa is a junior at MHS who is involved in madrigals/select choir, art club, National Honor Society, drama club, and backing club.

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