Ilion High School

Class of 1997

Alumni News

1997 Mirror Cover Ilion


Digitized Class Yearbook....

97 Mirror A Step In Time from the New York Heritage digital Ilion Free Public Library Yearbooks collection. Link opens in new browser tab. (added March 26, 2021)


Class Roster....

Class Roster, Officers and Honor Students, as published in the "The Mirror - 97 Mirror A Step in Time", are available on the 1997 Class Roster page. (added September 26, 2022).


Congratulations to Donna (Thibault) Flesher

Congratulations to classmate, Donna (Thibault) Flesher IHS 1997. Donna is Vice President of Biomarkers at HI-Bio. She has deep industry experience leading precision medicine strategies from discovery through development and commercialization. Prior to joining HI-Bio, Donna was most recently the head of Oncology Clinical Biomarkers at Amgen, where she led a team accountable for the development and execution of biomarker strategies for a diverse portfolio of more than 25 therapeutic programs spanning both early and late-stage clinical development. Throughout her time at Amgen, Donna held numerous roles across discovery research, translational sciences, and clinical development. Before her time at Amgen, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in biomarker discovery and human genetics in autoimmune disorders at Genentech. Donna received her PhD in Immunology from Stanford University. Donna went from Stanford to Genentech and then to Amgen rising to a top executive level. This year, she left Amgen to be on the ground floor of a new bioscience start-up that recently went public with 120 million in start-up funds. Very excited for her future. Donna is married, she and her husband have two children. Donna (Thibault Flesher, Ph.D. Vice President, Biomarker and Bioanalytical Sciences. (added March 26, 2023).


Class of 1997 - 20th Year Reunion News....

Kelly Richards Rowland is the Facebook Admin for a closed Facebook group named IHS Class Of 1997 20 Year Reunion about the Class Reunion. Kelly wrote: "IHS Class of 1997 Reunion Update! We WILL be having our 20 year reunion. It looks as though we should have around 60 people. Thank you all for filling out the interest form so we knew if we should go ahead with plans."
Here are some other details about the evening:
Friday July 21st
Ilion Moose Club
8:00 pm - 12:00 am
DJ Services and Dancing (special request for songs, please let me know)
Appetizers/Buffet Meal
$40 a couple / $25 single
If you have questions, please contact Erin Bullis Dempsey, Kelly Morris Cave, or myself.
Can't wait to see you all there. In addition, please share or text your friends! The more the merrier!
Source JoAnn Grabowski Duga - Ilion Jr.-Sr. High School (July 1, 2017)



The Jennifer Lynn Johnson - Memorial Art Scholarship was presented in 2001 to Jennifer L. Major. The Jennifer Lynn Johnson - Memorial Child Care Scholarship was presented in 2001 to Katherine M. Geer. (July 21, 2001)


A Tragic Loss

It is with great sadness that we report Jennifer Lynn Johnson, 18, of Ilion, passed away Tuesday, November 4, 1997, in Buffalo, as a result of injuries from an auto accident this Fall. Jennifer was born September 26, 1979, in Ilion, the daughter of Gene and Betty Fletcher Johnson. After her graduation from Ilion High School, in June of 1997, Jennifer attended Herkimer County Community College. Deepest sympathy is extended to the family and friends of Jennifer. Friends are requested to consider memorials to the American Lung Association.



James 'Jim'Duffy age 29, of 2 John St., Ilion, passed away unexpectedly Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008. He was born on Jan. 26, 1979, in Ilion, the son of James and Anna (Butkiewicz) Duffy and graduated from Ilion High School with honors. Jim also graduated from Nazareth College, Rochester, with a B.S. in Business Administration. At one time he was employed as a sales representative at Mutual Life Insurance Co., New Hartford, N.Y., and later at Pyramid Malls, Syracuse. Jimmy was a fun loving, generous, caring and compassionate person. He enjoyed watching sports, fishing with his brother and going away on occasional weekends, but mostly just having his brother near him and having his family around him meant the world to him. All who knew Jimmy loved him dearly. Survivors include his mother, Anna, his brother, Terence 'T-Man' of Ilion, his sisters, Alicia (Duffy) Joseph and her husband Garth of Dominica, West Indies, Sabrina Duffy of Ilion and her boyfriend Sean Roney, his nieces and nephew, Taylor, Ashley, Garth and Analda; one uncle and two aunts, Joseph and Emilie Duffy and Marie Duffy, all of Ilion; several cousins including Gertrude Kaczorowski and her husband David and their children David, Annie and Joseph; Billy Lucey and his wife Patty and their son Billy; Tom Duffy and his children Andrea, Patrick, Erin and Ryan; Mary Earl and her husband Kevin and their children Timothy and Lauren; Carol Carney and her husband Bob and their son Justin; Tom Moreau and his wife Carolyn and his children, Becky Moreau Dean and her husband Nick and their daughter Katie Rose, Eric Moreau and his wife Julie and their son Cannon; Debra Richards and her children Ryan, Kyle and Lauren; Diana Duffy, Greg Duffy and his wife Pam and their children Greg and Julie; Jana Mula and her husband Pat and their children Michelle and Kelly; Joe Duffy and his wife Samantha; Aunt Elizabeth Parker and her daughters Liz Ciganek and her husband Michael and their son Michael, Emily Peterson and her husband Joe and their children Lily and Anthony; Aunt Lucy Vilamill and her children Albert and David; Aunt Mary Mazzella and her husband Silvano and their daughters Rosamaria and Christina; Aunt Christine Santiago and her husband Bill and their sons Douglas, Dennis and Daniel; Uncle Eddie Butkiewicz and his wife Maria and their children Eddie and his wife Pam, Mike and his wife Alysa; Aunt Tanya Mackley and her husband Matt and their children Jeremiah and Ariana; Aunt Teresa Galarza and her husband Luis and their children Luis, Luis and his wife Miriam and their children Luis and Marissa; Uncle Chester Butkiewicz and his wife Stephanie; Aunt Pam Sackett and her husband Geoff and their children Erika, Eric Butkiewicz and wife Marie and their children Eric Jr. and Robert; Irene Fenstermacher and her husband Mark and their daughters Zoey and Addison; other cousins Jack Duffy; Joe Bechtel and his wife Isa and his best friends Greg Jones, George Amendolare, Zach Brooks and close Friend Carolyn DeJohn. He was predeceased by his father, James Duffy in 2004, his grandparents, George and Gertrude Duffy, Joseph and Luba Butkiewicz. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008, at the Church of the Annunciation, West Street, Ilion, where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Father Alfred Lamanna, assisted by Deacon James Bower. Interment will be in Armory Hill Cemetery on the family lot. Calling hours are Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Applegate-Day & Enea Family Funeral Home, 102 West St., Ilion. Anyone wishing to share a memory of Jim or add to his online memorial may go to on the Internet. As an expression of sympathy and in memory of Jim, please consider a memorial contribution in lieu of flowers to the Church of the Annunciation or American Heart Association. Envelopes are available at the Applegate-Day & Enea Family Funeral Home, Ilion. (Nov 24, 2008)


Erica Suzanne Backman, born Feb. 14, 1979, died July 2, 2004, from an accidental drowning. Erica was born and raised in Ilion, graduated from Venice High School in Venice, Fla., and later went on to earn a degree in massage therapy. Erica had an incredible and contagious love for life that greatly touched all of those she encountered. Of all her many joys, her greatest was her three children. Although her life here with us was much too short, her well blossomed spirit will live on forever in all of us. She is survived by her three beautiful children, Lincoln, Tria and Kenya Backman-Lowe and their father, David Lowe; her loving parents, Gary and Ellen Backman; her brother, Brad and sister, Darcy and brother-in-law Chris Herron; grandmother, Joyce Backman, many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and many friends whom she met and touched along the way. She is predeceased by her beloved grandparents, Gordon and Joyce Morse and Roy Backman. A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, a trust fund has been established for Erica's children. Send donations to The Backman-Lowe Children Trust Fund, Whiter-Hendrix Funeral Home, 100 Otsego St., Ilion 13357-1806. (July 11, 2004)


Donna Thibault '97 Awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship

Donna Thibault, a May 2001 Rochester Institute of Technology, Biotechnology graduate is now in the first year of a Ph.D. program in Immunology at Stanford University. Donna was selected to receive a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. This is the most prestigious fellowship awarded new graduate students in doctoral programs. Donna was featured in the RIT Biological Sciences Department On-Line Newsletter. (May 14, 2002)


Wide Receivers Coach at Hartwick College.....

Luke Urtz is a Wide Receivers Coach at Hartwick College. Luke was a first team all-league selection in football, basketball and baseball at Ilion High School. (January 12, 2002)


St. Lawrence University Staff.....

Nan Duga, email, is the Assistant coach for both field hockey and softball at St. Lawrence University. She earned a Springfield College Degree in Physical Education in May 2001. She was named The Springfield Senior Team Athlete of the Year. She holds virtually all Springfield pitching records in softball and set single season and career records in strikeouts as a senior. (December 13, 2001)


Golden Bombers Buzz WebSite.....

Angel Cotto, Ilion, NY, registered. (Dec 14, 2008)

Cindy Williams Van Dien, email, from Saranac Lake , NY, sent news. (Nov 24, 2008)

"My husband Peter and I feel very blessed to have welcomed our beautiful baby girl (Hailey Elizabeth) into the world on September 3rd 2008. She joins her two brothers David-11 and Peter Jr.-6. We also purchased our first house this summer in the Adirondacks. I passed my series 7 this August, and am now working on taking my 66 this month (it's been a very busy, but wonderful year). Take care!! :"

Cari Alukonis, Nurse, email, re-registered. (July 13, 2008)

Shelly Pickett, Bacteriologist, email, from Amsterda, NY, registered. (Dec 14, 2007)

Megan Dorr, Attorney, email, from Clinton, NY, re-registered. (Nov 14, 2007)

Ksenia Papkov, email, Des Plaines, IL, re-registered. (Aug 10, 2007)

Heather Geno Orendorf, Mental Health Advisor, email, from Ilion, NY, registered. (Aug 10, 2007)

Tracy Fletcher, Nurse, email, from Ilion, NY, re-registered. (Aug 10, 2007)

Donna Thibault, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, email, from San Francisco, CA, re-registered. (Aug 10, 2007)

Kevin Jablonski, Quality Engineer, email, from Rome, NY, re-registered. (Aug 10, 2007)

Michelle Moss, email, from Oriskany, NY., sent news. (June 27, 2007)

"Hello Everyone! It has been a while. I'm planning a June wedding (07). Recently graduated with a Masters Degree focused on Special Education. My fiancée has two children and all is well. Hope to see everyone soon."

Jason McMahon, Law Enforcement, email, from Ilion, NY., re-registered. (June 27, 2007)

Julie Ryan Eisele, ER Nurse, email, from Marlborough, MA, re-registered. (May 11,2007)

Tami Conklin Wojcik, Lead Teacher, email, from Cheektowaga, NY, was married on June 10, 2006. (May 11, 2007)

Jessica Norris Lamb, from Clevland, TN, email, re-registered. (April 13, 2007)

Ken Wilcox, Sales, email, Ilion, NY, registered. (Feb 15, 2007)

Rebecca Papa Bowman, Medical Billing, email email, from Vernon Center, NY, re-registered. (Jan 2, 2007)

Russell Outtrim, Executive Property Manager, email, - Annapolis, MD, re-registered. (Nov 5, 2006) /

Marci Berney, Assistant Director for Student Development, St. Joseph's University, from Philadelphia, PA, email, re-registered. (July 14, 2006)

Matt Pendrak, email from Lancaster, NY, re-registered. (July 14, 2006)

Cynthia Williams Van Dien, Planning Assistant, email from Saranac Lake, NY, registered. (May 18, 2006)

"Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I have been married for three years to my wonderful husband Peter. We live in the Adirondacks (near Lake Placid) with our two boys. David is 8 and Peter Jr. just turned 4 (they are doing wonderfully). I am in the process of becoming a Financial Advisor for Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Just one more test to go. It was nice to read through and see how everyone is doing. Good luck with everything, and feel free."

George Amendolare, email, from Ithaca, NY, sent news. (Jan 18, 2006)

"Finally graduated and moved from Albany to Ithaca. Great place to live. Just recently got into a car accident and broke my femur. That is a tough bone to break. You stay classy San Diego"

Kerri Perkett Robinson, Operations Research Analyst, email, from Craigsville, WV, registered. (Jan 7, 2006)

"Hello former classmates of 1997..Although i didn't have the chance to graduate with you all since i left Ilion in the 9th grade, Ilion is still the best.I miss all my friends and family in NY. I am currently living in West Virginia and have been married for 9 years. I have 7 children and work a full time job for a company as an Occupational Research Analyst. My youngest little girl Myrissa Cheyenne just turned 1 Thanksgiving Day. I haven't been back to Ilion for 3 years now and wish everyone the best and good luck in your futures...Lots of Love..Kerri"

Ksenia Papkov Fedorets, sent news. (Oct 3, 2005)

"Hi All! Hope everyone is healthy, happy, and doing well. Congratulations to everyone on their successes in the last 8 years - jobs, marriages, kids!! It was great reading the guest book & catching up on everyone's news. Things haven't changed much since I gave my info in 2001. My husband & I still live in Rhode Island where it seems like we will be for a while. I work in downtown Boston at a company I've been with for more than 5 years & love my job. It's great to work in the city. I often wonder how many people from the class live/work in the Boston area. If anyone is ever here, feel free to contact me. Take care! - Ksenia

Tami Conklin, Lead Teacher, email, from Cheektowaga, NY, re-registered. (August 3, 2005)

"Hello, Class of 97'... I am now living in Cheektowaga, NY. I am planning a 2006 wedding with my fiancée. I also just got promoted to a lead teacher position at my job."

Kathleen McKenney Weber, paralegal, email, sent news. (May 28, 2005)

"Hello class of '97. It's been quite a long time. To give you a brief update, I graduated from Buffalo State College in December of 2000 with a BA in English. I spent a semester abroad in Dublin, Ireland. I married Thomas Weber of Buffalo, New York in September of 2003. We have a three year old son. We have never been happier. I have been working as a paralegal with a prominent firm in Buffalo and in the fall I will be attending the University at Buffalo School of Law as a part of the class of 2008. I hope everyone is well."

Julie Ryan Eisele, Oncology Nurse, email, from St. Boston, MA, re-registered. (October 4, 2004)

Deborah Dunadee Wood, Mathematics Teacher, email, Macedon, NY, re-registered. (June 2, 2004)

Kelly Morris, Prevention Specialist, email, Ilion, NY, registered. (May 18, 2004)

Amanda Hoover Lopez, Military Healthcare, email, from Germany, re-registered. (Feb 1, 2004)

Kelly Richards, email, Pittsfield, VT, sent news. (Jan 5, 2004)

"It's been a while since I last submitted my information and things have changed dramatically. I graduated from SUNY Potsdam in 2001 with a BA in Elementary Education and a BA in English Writing. I began my graduate work at SUNY Cortland and then transferred to Castleton State College here in Vermont. I currently teach 4th grade in Bridgewater, Vermont (near Killington) where I enjoy having a total of nine students and the freedom to teach what I want to teach. I just recently finished my masters degree in Reading and Language Arts and can finally say I am finished with school. My life here is very simplistic and I enjoy it very much. I hope all is well with everyone else and please feel free to drop me a line if you would like. Take care! Kelly"

Jessica Ritton Wellington, mom, Ilion, NY, email, re-registered. (December 23, 2003)

"Hi everyone. I hope everyone is doing well. Bob and I are great. We had our second child on August 28, 2003. We had a beautiful baby girl. We named her Reese Beatrice and she weighed a healthy 8lbs 5oz. Her older brother Garrett is almost 3 and life is great. Feel free to e-mail me from time to time. I would love to hear from you."

Jaclyn Berney, Health and Physical Education Teacher, New York, NY, email, re-registered. (December 23, 2003)

Micah Hanford, email, from Niagara Falls, sent news. (September 29, 2003)

"Hello to all....... it's great to read over the recent entries and see how everybody is doing now! After graduating from Niagara University in '97, i got a job teaching math at Niagara Falls High School. I also am an assistant coach for the baseball and wrestling teams. So, things are going well for me out here. But, no matter how well it gets...... there's nothing like going back to Ilion and hanging out with some of the old friends!!" - Micah

Melinda Dove, Ilion, NY, registered. (May 29, 2003)

Tricia Riesel Cartwright, military police, email, Ft. Sill, OK, registered. (May 28, 2003)

"hi everyone. i am currently in oklahoma with my 2 boys and husband. i am still in the military and doing well, i hope everyone is doing what they wanted with their lives. email me from time to time." tricia

Dawn Kovac, from Albany, NY, email, re-registered. (April 3, 2003)

Irina Krechko Jones, Sales and Catering, email, Boiling Springs, SC, registered. (February 8, 2003)

Casey Moore, Freeloader/Ragamuffin, email, Weehawken, NJ, re-registered. (January 11, 2003)

Erin Bullis Dempsey, International Dept., ConMed Corp., email Ilion, NY sent news (modified August 3, 2004)

"hey everyone! just wanted to say hi! i haven't updated my info lately, so what better time to do so then now. i graduated in may 2001 from SUNYIT Utica/Rome, with my B.S. in communications. basically the degree lets me do anything from web design to developing brochures, flyers, etc...i'm still in ilion, working in herkimer for a local business. i recently got engaged to jason dempsey (class of '95). we're planning an Oct. 2003 wedding.things are busy, but exciting. i'm glad everyone is doing so well since we graduated!! i would love to hear from you guys. let me know what you've been up to. take care." erin (September 20, 2002)

Kimberly Stenske, email, New Hartford, NY, is attending the mega reunion. (August 24, 2002)

Laura Salewski, Middle School Teacher, email, Albany, NY, is re-registered. (August 21, 2002)

Jared Spadea, email, from Essex, VT, re-registered. (August 13, 2002)

Donna Thibault, Graduate Student, email, Stanford, CA, re-registered. (May 3, 2002)

Tracy Fletcher, email, from Ilion, NY, wants to help with the reunion. (March 28, 2002)

Jennifer Rathbun, student, email, from Ilion, NY, registered. (March 20, 2002)

Kim Stenske , email, from New Hartford, NY, submitted the reunion survey. (March 20, 2002)

Michele Pickett, email, from Centre Hall, PA, submitted the reunion survey. (March 14, 2002)

Halinka Spencer, email, Rochester, NY, re-registered. (February 23, 2002)

Erin Bullis, email Ilion, NY submitted the mega-reunion survey form. (February 22, 2002)

Carreen Burling, Ilion, NY, submitted the mega-reunion survey form. (February 17, 2002)

Luke Urtz, email, varsity lettered in football and basketball, for four years each, at Hartwick College. After graduating last Spring, Luke become an assistant coach for the Hartwick College Football team this season. (January 12, 2002)

Josh Hall, Soon to be Paramedic, email, Ilion, NY, registered. (December 10, 2001)

Kimberly Stenske, Insurance Claims/Firefighter, email, New Hartford, NY, registered. (October 13, 2001)

Erin Gage Wilsey, Manager of a Restaurant, Studying Pharmacy Tech at home, email, Twenynine Palms, CA, registered. (October 13, 2001)

Marci Berney, Boston College studying for masters in School Counseling, sent news. (modified Sept 17, 2001)

"It's been such a long time since I've talked to some of you. I hope that everyone is doing fine! I recently graduated from Le Moyne College with a degree in Political Science and Social Studies Education. I spent sometime in Kenya this past summer and loved every moment of it! Currently, I'm at Boston College studying for my masters in School Counseling. I'm also working for Residential Life here at BC and loving it! Overall things are going quite well! Best of luck to all of you!"

Jessica Ritton Wellington, Pre-K Teacher, email, Schenectady, NY, re-registered. (modified September 27, 2002)

"I was married to Bob Wellington on September 30, 2000. We had our First child on February 17, 2001. His name is Garrett Loyal Wellington. He weighed 7lbs 6 1/2 oz and was 20 inches long. Both the baby and I are doing wonderful." - Jessica

Rian Harrington , Ilion, NY, registered. (Feb 25, 2001)

"jager,jager,miester.......uuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmm, got a class now.........mmmmmmmmmmm....test now" - Rian

Jennifer Patten, student, email, from Ilion, NY, registered. (June 29, 2000)

Amanda Hoover, email, from Yigo, Guam, registered. (May 19, 2000)

"I just want to say hi to everyone. I'm still in the Air Force stationed in the tropical island of Guam, and enjoying my job as a Medic. I will be over here for over a year, which after that I will be heading to North Carolina. Well take care everyone!!! " - Amanda

Evan Jones, student, email, from Newark, NJ, registered. (April 8, 2000)

Keith LaQuay, military man, from Camp Lejeune, NC, registered. (March 1, 2000)

Megan Dack, student, email, from Ilion, NY, registered. (January 28, 2000)

Sarah Leonard, from Greensboro, SC, sent news. (December 26, 1999)

"I am working as a teacher's assistent at a Day Care Center, in Greensboro NC, which I love!" - Sarah

Adam Cooper, tried Guess the Graduate (July 22, 1999)

Erin Bullis, graphic designer, email, from Ilion, NY, registered in the directory. (modified November 4, 2001)

Jessica Brown, Supervisor - KFC, from Herkimer, NY, registered in the directory. (December 7, 1998)

Tracy Fletcher, student, email, from Lakeland, FL, registered in the directory. (October 14, 1998)

Matt Maloy, email, tried Guess the Graduate. (September 30, 1998)

Halinka Spencer, email, from Rochester, NY, registered in the directory. (July 29, 1998)

Adam Grimshaw, Register Technicion, Atlanta, GA, registered in the directory. (May 12, 1998)

Jon Kozenewski, Equipment operator GVT Rail, registered in the directory. (March 10, 1998)

Don Dunn, Customer Administrative Manager, email, Hendersonville, NC, registered in the directory. (March 4, 1998)

Deborah Dunadee, email, Ilion, NY, registered in the directory. (February 11, 1998)

Michael Kelly, email, Buffalo, NY, registered in the directory. (February 10, 1998)

Deb Dunadee, email, correctly identified the graduates in the December, Guess the Graduate contest. (December 16, 1997)

Gina Chiesa from Ilion, NY., email, registered in the alumni directory. (December 11, 1997)

Ryan Day a student from Cortland, NY., email, registered in the alumni directory. (December 8, 1997)

Justin Hoffman a Canisius College Student, registered in the alumni directory. (November 14, 1997)

Jennifer Rathbun, Ilion, Ny, registered in the alumni directory. (November 1, 1997)

Jonathan Morse, '6th guy from making the band', Boca Raton,FL email had the correct answers in the "Guess The Graduate" feature." (modified August 3, 2000)

Thomas Haddock, Charlotte, NC, registered in the alumni directory. (October 10, 1997)

Kara Benson, St. Lawrence University, Class of 1997 the second alumnus to correctly identify all of our "Guess The Graduate" entries. (October 3, 1997)

Josh Hall, Student, email registered in the alumni directory.

Christine Witt, Ilion, NY, the second alumnus from the Class of 1997 to register in the alumni directory.

Michael Geroux, Ilion, NY, email, the third alumnus from the Class of 1997 to register in the alumni directory. (September 3, 1997)

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Created and maintained by Aileen Carney Sweeney - Class of 1974

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Modified March 26, 2023