During high school, many teenagers have the opportunity — whether viewed as a privilege or a curse — to follow in the footsteps of older siblings or pave the way for younger ones.
But what about being the last of 18 grandchildren to graduate from the same school?
At Bishop Watterson High School, graduating senior Katie Theado has spent the past four years walking the hallways that her three siblings and 14 cousins navigated before her. And, before all of them, the parents of all 18 graduated from the Roman Catholic school on the North Side. The string gives new meaning to “living up to the family name.” As high schools throughout central Ohio gear up for commencements (including some this week), The Dispatch identified three with “legacy” families who are represented in the Class of 2017.
The last of the “originals” — as the grandchildren in the Theado family are called — will don her cap and gown Saturday morning and become the final member of the second generation of Theados to earn a diploma from Watterson. “It’s kind of bittersweet, but I’m excited to get a new start,” said Katie, who in the fall will attend Indiana University in Bloomington. “I think I’ll be more sad once I’m gone.” The Theado legacy at the school began with Katie’s aunt Mary Ann — the oldest sibling of Katie’s father, William Theado, and a member of the Eagles’ Class of 1969. Mary Ann, William (Class of 1979) and three of their four siblings — Walter (Class of 1970), Tom (Class of 1972) and Cathy (Class of 1975) — as well as two of those siblings’ spouses (Class of 1970 and Class of 1972) all attended Watterson, followed by their combined 18 children. The four other Watterson graduates in the family married into the second generation. With the family’s enduring connection to the school, Katie Theado had been immersed in Watterson tradition long before she started school there in August 2013, having attended more than her share of Eagles football games and other school-related activities.
On the first day of her freshman year, Katie’s oldest cousin, Erin Gruver — a science teacher and cheerleading coach — greeted her. “The first year I was teaching, I taught my brother and one of my cousins,” recalled Gruver, a 1993 Watterson graduate. “It was strange.” Strange yet familiar. The running family joke is that Theado protocol requires members to marry a Watterson graduate. Kidding aside, they all take pride in their alma mater, said Gruver, noting that the long stretch of graduates is probably unusual given this era of mobility — not to mention the cost of a Catholic education. “We all know that coming here is a sacrifice for our parents,” she said. “We don’t take it lightly. We could’ve easily gone to public schools.” Watterson Principal Chris Campbell knows the Theado family well: He lived next door to Katie’s father and siblings while growing up and graduated from Watterson about the same time — in 1977. “They’re one of the families who has stuck around a long time, and there are so many (in the Theado family),” Campbell said. “They haven’t spread that far apart. They’ve been so active as students and adults in the Watterson family.” Gruver said that the high-quality education provided by Watterson and the school’s emphasis on faith and values have kept the family coming back.
Indeed, even though the Watterson run of second-generation Theados will end Saturday, the next generation is nipping at their heels: Gruver’s oldest child, a son, will be a freshman in the fall. “He knows the legacy, she said. “All our pictures are on the wall...” Read the Entire Story on Dispatch.com
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Update on one of our home owner's Cystic Fibrosis Quilt Drive (click photo for Dispatch.com story)