Greeley West High School Hall of Fame Class of 2014

Hall of Fame Class of 2014

Photos of the event can be found at:


Annette Onorato


Annette affected so many lives during her decade-plus at West running the school from the main office.  She mothered students without smothering them through minor high school hiccups as well as life changing events.  She gently but firmly guided the staff through the craziness of daily high school life with words of wisdom such as, “Did you move the milk?”  As an office mate, she was the consummate professional, prepared, organized, critical, and forward thinking with the rare talent of knowing just when to pull out the Salvador – Spartans rock, Netteo!   Through the years, Annette was also an advocate for employees district-wide with her work on many district committees including President of Classified Employees Council.

Annette continues to bless her family as a wife, mother, daughter, and grandmother, motivates co-workers, mentors young women whether she aware of it or not, and inspires her friends.   Annette continues to impact lives volunteering her time and talents for her favorite causes at Greeley West High School and embracing her other district family, Bella Romero, and working with families confronted with the difficult task of rebuilding their lives after the floods of 2013.


“Annette Onorato is the quintessential goddess, diva, head of school, role model, confidant, voice of reason, and friend.  Greeley West was blessed with her presence for too few years where she impacted our Spartan Family and left her legacy that lives in the way we laugh and support each other.”

-Beth Dent, Greeley West teacher


“Annie Lee was our leader.  She knew what was happening EVERYWHERE in the building, more so than her husband….. The main office was a place of refuge, information and lots of laughter.   Annie Lee was one of the reason why West was  and is the Best, although it has not been the same since she left. Whatever anyone needed, it was given, sometime with a swift kick in the butt.”

-Jane Burke, Greeley West Teacher


Thank you!  I truly enjoyed my second chance at high school, Annette.

– Mary Mitchell, fellow Spartan and friend


Ben Stookesberry


Ben Stookesberry is a Greeley West Graduate  who has gone on to receive world-wide recognition as a Kayaker  on his Playboat “Superstar” and his Creekboats “Villian” and “Superhero”.  He has completed over two dozen international kayaking expeditions through 13 countries resulting in over 70 first descents.


Ben’s tenure as an extreme kayaker is unique in the industry.  He has started his own video production company, Clear H2O Films (CHF) in 2000 as a group of friends with a common passion for the execution and documentation of extreme expedition kayaking.


Since its humble inception, the CHF team has released nine feature-length kayaking documentaries, and has amassed a list of clients that includes Eddie Bauer/ First Ascent, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Outside Magazine, Canoe and Kayak Magazine, Jackson Kayak, Kokatat Water Wear, and many more.

Today this collective of professional photographers and cinematographers specializes in the exploration and re-exploration of our planet traveling by whitewater kayak and capturing one-of-a-kind HD images of the earth and its rivers in the 21st century.

“Stookes,” as he is known in the kayaking world, loves his profession because, “There are no restrictions, no rules, and no lift tickets.  It can take you any where on the planet.”

Follow Ben at


Watch Videos of Ben at:



Greg Gerbrant

Shortly after receiving a solicitous call during the summer of 1992 from GWHS choir director, Judy Atkinson, Gregory Gerbrandt begrudgingly joined the GWHS Pegasus Choir the subsequent fall!  Greg had already agreed to join the Concert, Marching, and Jazz Bands as a trumpet player, and within a few short weeks he would quickly solidify himself as the best in each musical group, earning first chair in each as a first-year player at GWHS, all of which he would never relinquish.  Greg would also join the orchestra his senior year to play first trumpet, and dabble in Jazz Band II to try out his guitar chops.  Greg was awarded countless distinctions by the many judges for best-played solos (trumpet and guitar) at numerous Jazz competitions during all three years at Greeley West.   Greg would continue to play tennis through his high school years at GWHS, lettering, and eventually competing alongside his doubles partner to earn 4th Place in the State of Colorado his senior year.

Enjoying the challenge and camaraderie of his choir director and peers, Greg decided to also get his feet wet in the theater by auditioning for the annual spring musical.  Peggy Fremole cast Greg in the role of Rolf in The Sound of Music in 1993.  Greg went on to also perform the roles of Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls and the Tinman in The Wizard of Oz at GWHS his junior and senior years respectively. Greg also represented Greeley West in All State Choir both his junior and senior years.  Before he graduated, Greg competed in, and won 1st place in the Greeley Chorale Vocal Competition, which awarded him a financial scholarship towards further vocal study as well as a highlighted, guest-artist performance on the program of a subsequent concert with the Chorale.

Greg enrolled as a Voice Performance major at the University of Northern Colorado, and experienced his first voice lesson, coincidently, yet naturally, under the supervision of his late father, Dr. Carl Gerbrandt.  Greg graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Northern Colorado, where he was twice selected and awarded the sole, prestigious distinction of Scholar of the Year.

The following year, Greg was recruited and offered the highest awarded scholarship for graduate study by the best conservatory in the country, the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music and returned to Colorado for a career in firefighting. Within the next 6 months, Greg had enrolled in, and earned his State Certifications for Firefighter Operations, First Medical Responder, and Hazmat Control, scoring highest in each of his classes.  Greg enjoyed these experiences in Kersey so much that he applied to the Civil Service Commission in Denver, Colorado to explore the possibility of a career in the Fire Service.  After easily passing weeks of tests, and within a couple months of being accepted into the Fire Academy with the Denver Fire Department, he was offered a job to perform with the Cincinnati Opera.  After much agonizing and debate over which profession to pursue at that moment, Greg packed his bags and headed to Cincinnati, forfeiting his spot in the Fire Academy, though not severing his connection with the Kersey Fire Department, where he continued to serve as a volunteer Fire Fighter between singing contracts for the following 6 years.  Greg still has a good relationship with the Kersey Fire Department and their long-standing Chief, and has been asked on several occasions to sing for the annual Christmas Banquet.

Following his time with Cincinnati Opera, Greg was sought after, and selected to join the apprenticeship programs of many opera companies around the United States.  His talent, dedication, and hard work garnered three Apprentice of the Year awards, one of which was earned here in Colorado, at the Central City Opera in 2005.

American opera singer, and 1995 GWHS graduate, Gregory Gerbrandt has made a strong surge into the world of opera and music theatre bringing a dynamic blend of vocal ability and stage prowess. Garnering critical acclaim, Greg is creating a prominent name for himself while receiving follow-up contracts from virtually every organization with which he’s worked.  He has performed as a soloist with opera, symphonic, and choral organizations in 35 of the 50 United States.  His most recent international credit came in late 2013 when he performed with the National Theatre in the capital city of Quito, Ecuador in South America.  In his young career, Greg has performed on five continents, singing on numerous occasions for ambassadors and other officials from all over the world.

Greg’s 2013/14 Performing Season includes the title roles of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, respectively with Carmel Opera of Carmel, California and the Crested Butte Music Festival of Colorado, while also debuting in Faust with the National Theatre of Ecuador. Greg also debuts with Opera Saratoga of New York in The Elixir of Love, Annapolis Opera of Maryland in La bohème, the Boston Youth Symphony of Massachusetts in Tosca, and will sprinkle in many concert appearances throughout the season.  )Greg is currently tied up in final preparations for the opening performance of the Opera La boheme in Annaopolis, Maryland which will take place later this week.)

“Greg is especially remembered for all his “creative quartet” performances with his pal, Matt Anderson and company. The guys serenaded many a pretty lady on Valentine’s Day, and entertained audiences  with their unique and creative musical renditions!

Today Greg’s future looks bright as he travels the world and is becoming increasingly well-known as a rising star in the opera scene. He possesses a warm and dynamic baritone voice and a stage presence that displays his incredible acting talent to go with it!  The Greeley West community is proud of his accomplishments as a GWHS Alumni.  He is a credit to his wonderful family and school, and well-deserving of this Greeley West Hall of Fame Award. “

-Judy Atkinson, GWHS Hall of Famer

John Haefeli


John Haefeli has spent his life trying to leave those he was in contact with better off, and during his decade-long tenure at Greeley West, he did just that.

As a social studies teacher, Haefeli focused on building relationships with his students.  Through high fives, hugs, and positive affirmations, Haefeli made a difference with some of the most challenging students at West.  His positive enthusiasm and Spartan Pride led a variety of West’s student population to continually vote him onto the stage at graduation.

Haefeli was also instrumental in developing a sense of civic-mindedness in West’s halls. As a sponsor of the Link program, Haefeli helped transition freshmen into  high school.   However, he did not stop there.  Haefeli was paramount to the creation and execution of the Interact Club, which worked with

the Greeley Rotary Club to pass on a sense of community service to students through projects like the Big Give and Random Acts of Kindness.

Finally, Haefeli was heavily involved with the community service element of Greeley West’s International Baccalaureate Program.  By monitoring student hours and activities, Haefeli was the final “sign-off” for those ever-valuable CAS Hours.

Haefeli’s retirement did not lead him out of Greeley West.  He has made his way back in the classrooms to evaluate and mentor student teachers as an education professor at UNC.  In addition, Haefeli now serves as a member of the District 6 School Board.

Haefeli is also a high school and college referee and his enjoying his retirement from West experiencing the great outdoors with this wife Delia.

“I have known John since we were in first grade, I have the unique perspective of knowing the real “Bad Dude.”  There is no one who gives more of himself for his family, friends, and community.   Whether it was as a catcher on our baseball team for the Univeristy High Bulldogs, as a teacher working hard for the success of his students at Greeley West, or now, as a member of our local school board, we have all  benefitted from his generosity and hard work.   His entire life, he has exemplified the motto, “One for all, All for One, All for West.”

-Mike Sage, Owner, GoJo’s Sports

Jerry Truesdell


Jerry Truesdell is an original Spartan, opening up the school  as the original Art Teacher in the 1960’s. and leaving his legacy for decades in the building and community.  Mr. Truesdell set the foundation for excellence in the arts at Greeley West High School  that continues to this day which is summed up by his quote from the 1968 yearbook, “West High School art classes were structured to meet every degree of skill, interest, and taste.  Students were offered wide and varied experiences in creative expressions.”

Mr. Truesdell left his mark on Greeley West in a variety of ways beyond the classroom by sponsoring door decorating contests and doing numerous other projects to improve the building.  Jerry helped students pursue their passions through his curriculum, and through his work with his Art Club and through the National Art Honor Society.  He was a leader for students and staff with is passion for education and for the arts, and was willing to take on whatever he could to make the school a better place, even sponsoring the yearbook and the Future Homemaker’s of America Organization during his tenure at West.

“Mr. Truesdell was an outstanding teacher. I always enjoyed attending his class and the enthusiasm he shared with us.”

-Doug Max, Greeley West High School Hall of Famer


Roche Family Foundation


The Roche Family is synonymous with philanthropy in Greeley.  Attend any sporting event, any community event, or look at the sponsorship of almost any activity taking place in Weld County and you almost always see the Roche name helping to make our community a better place.

At Greeley West, along with a countless number of sponsorships and donations by the Roche Family Foundation and Roche Construction, the Roche Family has also given out a number of scholarships to Greeley West High School Students to help them achieve success in our community.

The Roche Family Foundation Scholarships were established in 1989 in memory of  Patrick Thomas Roche who sent all of his children to Greeley West High School, and his children Patrick Blaine Roche, a 1980 Greeley West Graduate (whose son Connor will be a 2014 Greeley West Graduate), and Ellen Margrete Roche who passes away while attending the school in 1989.  Other members of the Roche Family who are alumni of Greeley West include Thomas Joseph Roche (Class of 1978), Sandra Roche Olson (Class of 1979), Stacey Roche Lukens (Class of 1983), John “Jack” Jules Roche (Class of 1985).

2014 marks the 25th Year that the Roche Family Foundation will give out scholarships to Greeley West High School Graduates.

Richard Ziegler


Dick Ziegler has been a Spartan the majority of his life – as a graduate in 1968, a student teacher in 1974, the head baseball coach from 1991-2006, and as a math teacher from 1998-2008.

Ziegler was a solid student who was a three-sport letter winner during the mid-1960s. Ziegler competed in tennis, basketball, and baseball.   Baseball was his calling card to college, where he played at Western State.

Ziegler returned to Greeley West in the Spring of 1974 as a student teacher under Jerry Wiggett and Jim Nelson.  He also acted as a coach that year under John Christiansen.

After a tenure at John Evans, Ziegler returned to his roots and worked as a math teacher, while acting as head coach.  During Ziegler’s time as a coach, the Greeley West program flourished with a handful of conference championships and Final 8 appearances.

All of Ziegler’s children (and now even his daughter in-law Jennifer) attended Greeley West.  The opportunity to coach his three sons – Jon, Ben, and Josiah – was among his finest memories.

Ziegler is enjoying retirement with his wife Linda, his sons, and his grandchildren.  He continues to work the scoreboard for home basketball games and tutors math at Frontier High School four days a week.