This tradition began in 2013 as a way to acknowledge, recognize, and celebrate outstanding Wildcat alumni who have set a standard of excellence for future Wildcats to follow.
2017 Wall of Fame Dinner
Saturday, October 8th
Where: Lakeside Country ClubWhen: Doors open at 5:00 PMWho: Contact John Bierbaum for more informationWe are proud to be sponsored by All-American Drivers Training, Gearheads Garage, and Mann's Tree Service. See more about these business at the bottom of our page.
Inducted | 2017
Jared O'BrienCLass of 2006Inducted 2017
In the fall of 2001, Jared O’Brien approached Normal West Varsity Baseball coach Chris Hawkins having been the Varsity Basketball manager and asked where he could get a Wildcat baseball cap. Coach Hawkins told him if he would be his manager in the spring, he would give him one. Jared became the baseball team manager in the spring of 2002 and he’s never left. Today he does not miss a game. Jared is a fixture on the sidelines. His jobs vary from running scoreboard, travelling with the medical kit and being the #1 backer of West baseball at all home and road games. In addition, he became a team manager on the Varsity Football team during his sophomore year and has fulfilled that position ever since. To say that he is a loyal fan of Wildcat sports is an understatement. In describing Jared, Normal West Varsity Football coach Darren Hess explained that “he represents what we’re all about as a school.” To know Jared O’Brien is to love him. Coach Hawkins adds that “he has a smile that melts your heart and a sense of humor that can make you buckle over in tears.” Over the years he has also become an ISU Redbird fan and there’s no doubt that he is ISU’s biggest fan. However, if it ever came down to a Wildcat sporting event or an ISU game, he always chooses the Wildcats!
Kim (Behrens) KaufmanClass of 2004Inducted 2017
Kim Kaufman exemplifies the power of communication and its ability to improve lives, give people a voice, and change communities for the better. Kim has spent the majority of her life using communication for the betterment of herself and others. As a member of the speech team at West, Kim was a two-time state qualifier and served as a leader and peer coach for the team. She was also an active participant in the musical as well as the theatre program where she was a member of the state qualifying cast of The Diary of Anne Frank. During her years at Normal West, she also played tennis, sang in the choir and jazz voices, and represented the very best of the school. Kim went on to study communications at Illinois State University where she graduated summa cum laude and was a Robert G. Bone Scholar. Since that time Kim has used communications to inspire and impact others from working at Walt Disney World to her time at WMBD, Children’s Hospital of Illinois, and State Farm. As an active participant in Toastmasters, Kim reached a new pinnacle in 2016 when she competed in the Toastmasters International World Championship of public speaking and was named among the top ten speakers in the world.
Inducted | 2016
Kathy SmalleySchool Counselor 1995 - 2006Inducted 2016
Kathy Smalley was a brilliant school counselor who performed her complex duties with distinction. Due to Kathy’s natural leadership ability, passion for the welfare of students, boundless energy, and extraordinary interpersonal skills, she was a driving force behind the creation of a “student first, solutions oriented” counseling department at Normal West.Her support of students in crisis was tireless. She was equally effective with all types of learners and was a “go-to” resource for teachers and staff members in need of support or assistance. Her legendary organizational abilities and “can-do”, creative spirit were often called upon by administrators and faculty to solve school problems that went beyond the scope of her personal duties or departmental function.Kathy Smalley played a foundational role in creating the school community that is Normal West today. Her vision was to create at Normal West a school that was truly a home, a place where all were accepted, loved, and supported. She exemplified a school culture in which every student, parent, and colleague was treated with dignity and respect.Kathy Smalley left a lasting legacy at Normal West. She positively impacted all who worked with her and made the lives of all she touched better.
Inducted | 2015
Nathan StarkClass of 2008Inducted 2015
Nathan Stark has been an actor his whole life, first appearing on stage at the age of four. He spent his early years on stage at Illinois State University, Illinois Wesleyan University, and Normal West. As a member of two of Normal West's state-qualifying IHSA Contest Plays, Nathan was name to the All-Sectional and All-State casts. In addition to his involvement in Theatre at Normal West, Nathan ran on the Cross Country Team, qualified for State in Dramatic Duet Acting on Speech Team, won King of Hearts, and was an outstanding student in the classroom. Nathan exemplified the best of Normal West throughout his four years. He went on to study Theatre at Ball State and graduated in 2012 with a BFA in acting. Throughout college Nathan worked professionally with both Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival and the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Upon his graduation, Nathan moved to New York where he has continued to work as a professional actor with a recurring role on The Good Wife on CBS, co-starring in The Following on Fox, and acting in television, films, and commercials. In 2013 Nathan made his Broadway debut at the Lincoln Center Theatre as Fleance in Macbeth directed by Jack O'Brein.
Steve MintusTeacher 1995 - 2015Inducted 2015
Before retiring in 2015, Steve Mintus was a teacher, coach and administrator at West for 20 years. An original faculty member, he helped lead and establish the culture of care and dedication to students West faculty are known. Through action and example both in and out of the classroom, his lasting impact can be seen in the thousands of lives he has touched in the Bloomington/Normal community. Whether it was the hours he put in planning and delivering creative content to students such as the Truman Trials; his time working individually with basketball players to not only make them better, but to make them better people; his visits to the homes of students and their families who needed extra interventions to get them across the stage and graduated; he worked tirelessly to make West a better place. His greatest attribute was that he never really worked as a matter of intention, but rather as a matter of his nature. He always placed others needs above his own, teaching all who worked with him, by example, what ‘service before self’ truly means. He is the epitome of the word mentor. Steve has truly set the bar for others to aspire in and out of school.
Tyler RossClass of 2013Inducted 2015
Tyler Ross exemplified excellence both in and out of the classroom during his four years at Normal West. He is Normal West’s most decorated speech team member to date. As a four year State and National qualifier, NSDA semi-finalist in Expository Speaking and Top 30 in International Extemporaneous Speaking, and the 2013 Greater Illinois NSDA District Student of the Year, Tyler raised the bar for competitive speech at Normal West. In February of 2013, Tyler became Normal West’s first State Champion in Speech and second IHSA Individual State Champion by winning Extemporaneous Speaking. In addition to his extensive success in Speech, Tyler struck a balance with equal success in the classroom. He received the Big 12 Conference Academic Award; was a member of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, National Social Studies Honor Society, and National Math Honor Society; and became a Valedictorian for the class of 2013. Tyler is continuing his studies at Illinois State University as a Mathematics major and continues his involvement in Speech by coaching for Normal West.
Berny ChiaroTeacher 1995 - 2013FMP Coordinator 2006 - 2013Inducted 2015
Berny Chiaro could be in the Wildcat Wall of Fame for numerous accomplishments just related to being a basketball coach. From taking two teams to the State Tournament at the very beginning of West's existence to being a tireless advocate for female athletics, she had positive influence on the lives of countless student-athletes. However, putting all of her coaching accolades aside, of which there are many, her desire as an educator to bring a freshmen mentoring program (FMP) to her school has forever positively changed the culture of Normal West. Because of Berny Chiaro’s influence, Normal West will never have another freshmen go through school without being positively influenced by a student who has walked in their shoes. These lifelong relationships that FMP has created and continues to create every year does not stop at the doorstep of Normal West. Because of Berny Chiaro’s vision, leadership, and commitment to assisting others, numerous schools in our community and throughout Illinois have an FMP program today. Berny Chiaro exemplifies what it means to be in the Wildcat Wall of Fame.
Inducted | 2014
Cody James WhiteClass of 2007Inducted 2014
On behalf of the Wildcat faculty, administration, and student body, we would like to honor Cody White for his achievements. Since graduating from West in 2007, Cody has made it to the highest level in football – an NFL player. His hard work, dedication and leadership are just a few of the qualities that exemplify Cody as a person on and off the field. Cody set a positive example for our entire student body at West.
Cody White is the first athlete in Normal West history to make it to the NFL. Cody’s accomplishment while at West include: lettering in football and basketball for three years and being selected as a co-captain of our football team.
High School Accomplishments
Basketball: Team Captain - 3years/Team MVP-2 years/1 st Team All-Conference- 3years/Pantagraph All Area Team-2 years/Special Mention All-State
Football: Team Captain – 2 years/All-Conference – 3 years/Pantagraph All Area Team – 2 years/Brian Baker Linemen Award/Team MVP/Black Shirt Defensive Player of the Year Award/Honorable Mention All-State
Illinois State University Accomplishments
Cody chose to continue his football career at Illinois State where, in 2011, he earned All-Missouri Conference Honorable Mention. He started at both TE and Offensive Tackle, his unit allowed just 6 sacks in 2011 which ranked his offensive line unit at # 3 in the country. He played in 43 of a possible 44 games while at ISU.
In 2012 as an undrafted free agent he earned a spot on the roster of the Houston Texans as a member of the offensive line.
Linda BawulskiSecretary 1995 - 2010Inducted 2014
Linda Bawulski served the students, staff, and community of Normal West High School for fifteen years as Administrative Assistant to the Principal. In her official capacity, Linda served with unparalleled distinction. She managed the school’s district budget and the activity accounts for nearly 150 different student organizations, sports teams, and parent groups with unquestioned accuracy, provided sound advice and support to the administrative team, and performed a myriad of other tasks assigned by the principals. However, Linda Bawulski influenced Normal West in ways far beyond her official position. Her welcoming, positive spirit and professional demeanor were the “face of West” to countless parents and community members. Her flawless staging of public events such as graduation, Senior Award Nights, and homecoming events made West celebrations events to remember. Her training, mentoring, and leadership of the support staff set a standard for service and effectiveness unmatched in Unit 5. Teachers and students knew Linda Bawulski could solve any problem that impeded the progress of teaching and learning at Normal West. Personally and professionally, Linda Bawulski exemplified the spirit of teamwork that has been a hallmark of Normal West since 1995. Truly, Linda Bawulski’s tireless work made every day a “Great Day to be a Wildcat!”
Gary WoodsAthletic Director 1995 - 2001Inducted 2014
Gary Woods was instrumental in establishing the athletic traditions and success that we have at Normal West as our first athletic director. A long time teacher and coach in Unit 5 Schools, Gary was the athletic director at Normal Community prior to the opening of Normal West and served as the athletic director at both schools when Normal West opened its doors for the 1995-96 school year. He became the athletic director exclusively at Normal West the following year. Gary served the Illinois High School Association in many capacities from committee work to hosting state series events. The Illinois Athletic Directors Association also benefited from Gary Woods’ leadership as he served that association as an executive board member and a district representative. The recipient of many awards, Gary has been inducted into the Bloomington-Normal Officials Association Hall of Fame. He was also named the Illinois Athletic Director of the Year in 2000 and was inducted into the Illinois Athletic Directors Association Hall of Fame in 2004. Gary Woods ended his thirty-three year education career when he retired from Normal West in 2001.
Inducted | 2013
Adam KinzingerClass 1996Inducted 2013
Adam Kinzinger became active in politics at an early age. During his sophomore year at Illinois State University, he challenged a three-term incumbent for the McLean County Board and won a seat; becoming one of the youngest county board members in McLean County history. After serving from 1998-2003, he joined the U.S. Air Force. Kinzinger served in both Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and continues to serve at the rank of Major. In 2007, he received the U.S. Air Force Airman Medal for wrestling a knife-wielding man to the ground and disarming him, saving the life of a young woman who was attacked. Kinzinger was later awarded the National Guard’s Valley Forge Cross for heroism and was selected as the Southeastern Wisconsin American Red Cross Hero of the Year. In Janurary 2011, Kinzinger was first sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives at the age of 34 making him one of the youngest members of Congress. In 2012, he was named one of Time Magazine’s 40 under 40 “Rising stars in American politics.”
Dr. Jerry CrabtreePrincipal 1995 - 2003Inducted 2013
"It's a Great Day to be a Wildcat." Although Dr. Crabtree didn't coin this phrase, he made it part of the Wildcat life. Daring to rock the boat and forge new traditions, he opened Normal West and led the Wildcats through the first 8 years of the school's existence. Dr. Crabtree took special pride in hiring staff that had the expertise, passion, and energy to build a Wildcat family. He motivated the staff to "challenge each other and celebrate together" in forming and developing a new school culture that still exists at West today. On any given day, Dr. Crabtree could be found asking faculty if they were familiar with the school's mission statement or students if they could recite the school song for a $50 prize. Dr. Crabtree embodied what it took to make each day a great day to be a Wildcat.
Tom EderPrincipal 2003 - 2012Inducted 2013
Mr. Eder was a consummate educator who saw his years as an educator as a vocation, not simply a job. His passion for learning was only surpassed by his personal devotion to his faculty, staff and students. Tom’s love of sports and extracurricular activities was paramount during his nine years at the helm, as West devotees saw the Wildcats win many contests, awards and become a force in the Big 12 Conference. Most importantly, however, it was Tom’s deep belief in the power of collaboration and teamwork that is his legacy. This compassionate and caring servant leader’s devotion to community is most evidenced by his support of Interdisciplinary classes, the Freshman Mentoring Program, and the Professional Learning Community process, all of which were initiated or prospered during his tenure at Normal West.
Taylor KirbyClass of 2011Inducted 2013
Taylor Kirby set the bar of excellence both on the track and in the classroom at Normal West. She was a 2 Time 4x200 Big 12 Champion, 2 Time Big 12 Indoor Pole Vault Champion, and a 2 Time Intercity Pole Vault Champion. Not only did she excel in the Big 12, but she was a 3 Time AAU National Placer. In 2011, Taylor became Normal West’s first Individual State Champion, winning the Class 3A IHSA Pole Vault title. Taylor was a member of the National Honor Society and Senior Class Board, received the Prairie State Achievement, Scholastic Achievement and Big 12 Scholar Athlete Awards. She graduated with a 5.2 GPA / 5.0 scale. Taylor is currently on the University of Wisconsin’s Track & Field team while double majoring in Neurobiology & Life Science Communications.
Mann's Tree ServiceFully insured, licensedServices: Tree trimming/tree & stump removalFree estimates-residential/commercial/emergency servicesJoe Bierbaum: 309-310-8911