Tiger Tracker: Kathy Ahern Neel
Welcome to Tiger Tracker, a snap shot of past Summit School District graduates. As a Summit-LakeDillon Optimist member, I welcome you to enjoy, as I have, learning about graduates from our schools. In my 20-plus years as a Summit High School teacher, I met and worked withthousands of students. What a pleasure it’s been to see them move on from their secondary education into professions spanning all walks of life. One of the most-gratifying aspects has been to see them grow into contributing and participating members of society, regardless of their high school achievements. I hope you will share in the pride I feel of our school system and community as you read the stories of these past students.- Bill Wallace
Kathy Ahern Neel, a 1976 graduate of Summit High School, was born and raised in the Summit County area. She is the daughter of longtime Breckenridge residents Rosemary (Breckenridge Town Clerk) and Jerry (Summit County Assessor) Ahern. Kathy excelled in high school, particularly enjoying the sports of soccer and ski team. Mrs. Osborn taught her how to write effectively and Mr. Wallace taught her a love of math. Kathy reflects that the size of the county and SHS was quite small, with less that 70 students in her graduating class and the population of Breckenridge at only around 500 full-time residents. The small community and class size gave Kathy some special opportunities to really get to know everyone in her class. “We learned to be independent with our small and close-knit class,” she said of her high school days. “We learned acceptance of others, we weren’t in cliques.”Following graduation from SHS, Kathy attended Fort Lewis College in Durango. She moved back to Summit County and worked on the ski patrol at Breckenridge Ski Resort for three years. Kathy married Joe Neel in 1981 and moved to Arkansas for a brief period before returning to Summit County in 1995. Kathy has worked in the Summit County Clerk and Recorders Office since that time, and was elected Summit County Clerk in 2010. Kathy also serves as the Town Clerk of Blue River, a position she has held since 2000Kathy has three children, all SHS graduates: Emily (1982), Patrick (2006) and Rosemary (2009). Emily and her husband, Matt Taylor, reside in Breckenridge, Patrick is a senior at the University of Colorado and also a member of the CU Ski Team. Rosemary is a sophomore at University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.Asked if she remembers anything special or funny about her time at SHS, Kathy remembered a caper she and high school classmate Kim Skaro cooked up. They decided to start an archery team – with only two members. She remembers rummaging though the school closets and finding the archery gear only to have the bows and arrows confiscated after almost shooting the principal. She said that students had much more freedom back then. They didn’t get into much trouble, but when they did, because of the small community, the parents knew about it before they even got home. Summit County was a fun place to grow up in. When asked what words of wisdom she would pass on to current SHS students Kathy said: “Enjoy your youth, once you are an adult, you are an adult forever. It is such a short and special time when you are young.” Kathy can be found on Facebook at KathleenAhernNeel or at the Summit County Clerk & Recorders office, phone, (970) 453-3471.
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