Former VGHS homecoming queens share their stories

By Tony Hooker
It’s become a tradition of sorts to look back at former homecoming queens and get to share a small part of their stories during Villa Grove’s homecoming week. This week, we are reintroduced to the homecoming royalty from 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999, and 2009.

Belinda Carr Beccue, 
Homecoming queen, 1969


1.  What’s your favorite memory of being named Homecoming queen?

My favorite memory of Homecoming 1969 was the excitement of the football game and quick change for the half time show. I made a mad dash running from the football field as a cheerleader to change into a formal gown to be driven on the field with fellow senior classmate Peggy Kirby and underclassman attendants. After the announcement of king and queen on the field, I again quickly changed back to my cheerleading outfit in the locker room and ran back to the sidelines as fast as I could and cheered the second half of the game.

 2.  Who was the King? Do you still talk to him?

Rick Barnett was the homecoming king. I see Rick when we have class reunions and stay connected with him and other VG classmates on Facebook. 

3.  What was the score of the homecoming game?

The score of the homecoming game was VG 14 Monticello 8. It was an exciting game and win. My brother Rick Carr was the kicker, and my boyfriend and future husband John Beccue played end. 

4.  What was your career aspiration when you were a senior? Is that the career path you followed? If not, what are you doing now?

I always wanted to be a teacher- specifically an art teacher. I loved art and was influenced by my father and grandmother who were teachers. Darla Gardner as my senior art teacher was a wonderful role model as well. I attended Eastern Illinois University and received an undergraduate degree in education and a master’s in fine art. I student taught in Monticello and began my teacher career there in 1974. I taught art for 32 years and greatly enjoyed my career and many students. 

5.  Where do you live now? Do you ever get back to Villa Grove?

I still live in Monticello and am retired. My husband John of 46 years also taught in Monticello and served as the Monticello head football coach. We raised three sons and enjoy spending time with our family and four grandchildren. 

We have always come home to Villa Grove most weekends to spend time with our parents and family. Our sons loved spending time with grandparents Pat and Martha Carr, Wayne and Harriet Beccue aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family. I return each week now to spend time with my father Pat Carr. My brother Brian Carr and his wife Dema live close in the Camargo area. Our Carr family loves to still gather at our family home. We cherish our connections to the Villa Grove community, friends and family.

 6.  What advice do you have for the class of 2020?

My advice to the Class Of 2020 is to slow down and appreciate the people and values that truly make you happy. Life is so fast paced that people often fail to take time and enjoy the moment. I also think it is incredibly important and rewarding to immerse yourself in the natural world and advocate for the environment. If you learn about nature and love it, you will fight to save it. 

Jerri Collins-Pinnock,
Homecoming Queen, 1979


1.  What’s your favorite memory of being named Homecoming queen?

My favorite memory is that I made it just in time to the half time presentation. I got stuck on the wrong side of the rail tracks and when I got to the school, there was no time to spare. I had to run to the bathroom and my friends helped me dress and stuck me on top of a convertible and off we drove to the mid-field. And, of course, that was before cell phones, and I think they thought I was going to be a no show.

2.  Who was the King? Do you still talk to him?

 Rick Melton, and yes sporadically throughout the years we have kept in touch. I always liked Rick very much through school. He is a great guy.

3.  What was the score of the homecoming game?

26-8 we beat Bement. I cheated and looked at my yearbook. I remembered the boys who played much more than the game itself.

4.  What was your career aspiration when you were a senior?  Is that the career path you followed? If not, what are you doing now?

I wanted to be a lawyer and I did become one. This year I have been a licensed for 30 years, both in Georgia and Florida

5.  Where do you live now? Do you ever get back to Villa Grove?

I live in Longwood, Florida. A bedroom community of Orlando. I don’t get back too often. My family moved after my senior year.

6.  What advice do you have for the class of 2020?

This is the hardest question by far…. Be brave but kind, and I know it’s easier said than done. And remember, some of the biggest roadblocks that you may face in life are put in place so you can take a different path.  Life is a long and winding journey. And always put a little money away for a rainy day because it will rain.

Nannette Panzer Oganovich, 
Homecoming Queen, 1989


1. What’s your favorite memory of being named Homecoming queen?

All of it! I remember getting dressed for the parade with the nominees (Terri Burnett [Hillard] and Kerry Finley [Voight]) at Terri’s house and then getting ready for the actual dance with Stephanie Wetzel. I was nervous but excited for the announcement in the gym. It was an absolute honor to be chosen by all the classes of VGHS to be their Homecoming queen. That following winter, I represented Villa Grove High School at the Illinois Homecoming Queen pageant. I was shocked when I won (you can ask my Mom—I had a terrible answer to my on-stage question)! My family, along with Marcia and Michelle Albin, traveled to Hawaii that summer for the national pageant. It was an amazing opportunity to represent all the Illinois high school homecoming queens on the national stage.

2.  Who was the King? Do you still talk to him?

Tony Vandeventer! Yes, I still catch up with him at our class reunions. It’s hard to believe that we have our 30th reunion coming up in 2020. I think it’s such a wonderful tradition of Villa Grove alumni to come back together for our milestone reunions.

3.What was the score of the homecoming game?

I have no idea, but I am pretty sure that the Blue Devils won.

4.  What was your career aspiration when you were a senior? Is that the career path you followed? If not, what are you doing now?  

I wanted to be a clinical psychologist (shout out to Mrs. Krejci) and psychology was my major at Illinois State University. Although that is the degree I graduated with, it is not ultimately the field that I work in now, which is healthcare marketing.

5.  Where do you live now? Do you ever get back to Villa Grove?  

I have lived in Chicago for the past 25+ years, which is where I met my husband, Bobby Oganovich. It’s so wonderful to live close to two of my best friends from VGHS, Kerry Finley (Voight) and Kristi Metallo (Fish). We try to get together every few months with all the kids. I do enjoy coming home to Hugo and enjoying its peace and quiet. My city kids, Isabella and Petra, think it’s so cool that I grew up in the country. I find it so interesting that even after all these years living in Chicago, I still will tell people that I am going home when I head downstate.

6.  What advice do you have for the class of 2020? 

That’s a tough one! I would say to enjoy all your moments in high school and do your best to keep in touch with your friends. They very well could turn out to be your life-long partners in crime!

Kristin Reifsteck Foust
Homecoming Queen, 1999


1. What’s your favorite memory of being named Homecoming queen?

The Spirit Week before Homecoming was my favorite memory. Our class was very competitive with Spirit Wars! Our floats were always amazing. Our class really got into all the pre-homecoming festivities like dressing up AND especially penny wars. I hate to brag but the Class of 2000 won Spirit Week all 4 years, even Freshmen year.

2. Who was the King? Do you still talk to him?

The king was Cory Henson and sadly, no, I don’t still talk to him. Shortly after we graduated, I would see him at TGIF where he was a manager. He lives in North Carolina with his family now. I do get the pleasure of seeing his sister Lacy at Tri-City Country Club about every Friday. In fact, the first time we met, she said, “Were you Homecoming Queen with Cory Henson?” I guess there was a picture of us after coronation at her family home and she recognized me from it which made my day since it was 20 years ago!

3. What was the score of the homecoming game?

Ha, I have no idea, but I can tell you the color of my dress! Would you settle for the score of Villa Grove-Tuscola play-off game in ’97? My husband, Scott (who I guess was a star high school football player), still talks about that game. Once again, I just remember what he wore. They were royal blue and shiny, I believe spandex was the material…

4. What was your career aspiration when you were a senior? Is that the career path you followed? If not, what are you doing now?

I went to the University of Illinois for dietetics and I graduated in dietetics. Initially, I thought I would go into the research side and I continued on to receive my Masters in Nutritional Sciences from there as well. However, as my career evolved, I found I really liked working on the clinical side. You know, take the research and apply it to educate patients on preventative care. So yes, technically I stuck with my career aspiration from when I was a senior and checked dietetics on my college application. My current position is as a renal dietitian at a dialysis center. I am lucky to work with some of the most caring nurses, doctors, and techs around! I have a lot of fun coming up with creative ways to teach and inspire patients to meet their goals; but to be honest, I learn from my patients everyday as well and, because of this, I have a very fulfilling career.

5. Where do you live now? Do you ever get back to Villa Grove?

I moved all the way to Philo (10 whole miles). I always loved Philo growing up because my grandma lived there so when it came time for my husband and I to buy a home, it was an easy decision. Now we have two children, Rowan & Tatum, who attend St. Thomas School. We couldn’t be happier with our new, small-town community. I do still have roots at Villa Grove Schools. My older sister, Marci Howard, has taught Kindergarten there for 22 years. And I get back to my first small-town, VG, at least once a week. We are members at Tri-City, and we eat there about every Friday with my parents, Denny & Theresa Reifsteck, and my husband’s parents & grandparents, Bob & Jane Faust and Bob & Areta Joines. Jimmy just knows, reservation for 8 every Friday night. I’m starting to feel like I am using this platform as an opportunity to advertise Tri-City, which my husband will be happy about since he is on the Board (www.tricitycc.com)!

6. What advice do you have for the class of 2020?

Stay active! -whether it is in your community or for your health. Never stop moving and caring for others. 

P.S. Thank you for asking me to email my answers to your questions for the paper. I can’t believe it has been 20 years! I have very fond memories of VG schools and those who took so much time to teach and sculpt me into what I hope is a productive and kind person. I was given many opportunities to succeed at VG thanks to the hard-working and caring staff. I do ask you, if there are any typos, please correct them so my HS English teacher, Mrs. Pat Meller, does not mark it up with green ink (which was meant to be less offensive than red ink).

Shelby Greger Eversole
Homecoming Queen, 2009


1. What’s your favorite memory of being named Homecoming Queen?

The whole process was a really fun experience. I enjoyed getting to ride in the homecoming parade, riding on the field at halftime of the football game, walking in at coronation, and getting to come back to homecoming the following year.

2. Who was the King? Do you still talk to him?

Cody Hatcher was homecoming king. I haven’t seen him in a long time. We are friends on social media, though.

3. What was the score of the homecoming game?

I have no clue! I remember the weather was nice though.

4. What was your career aspiration when you were a senior? Is that the career path you followed? If not, what are you doing now?

At the time, I believe I was trying to decide between a career path in psychology or education. I decided on elementary education. Now I’m teaching at Villa Grove and I’m so excited to be part of the school district. 

5. Where do you live now? Do you ever get back to Villa Grove? 

We actually just bought a house in Villa Grove!

6. What advice do you have for the class of 2020?

You might not know what you want to do or where you want to be at this minute, and that’s ok. Explore different career paths and find something that interests you and makes you happy. Don’t let small setbacks ruin your days. You cannot always control the situation you’re in, but you can control how you react to it. So, make meaning of your time and enjoy it!  Best of luck to you all!

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