The Gaucho Gazette

The Secret Life of Staff

Emma Pearce, Page editor, reporter

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Athena Kautsch:

1. I am a certified massage therapist.

2. I once played a concert in front of 5000+ people.

3. I’ve had several nicknames including Betty Crocker Punk Rocker and Duh.

4. I’m a big fan of Martha Stewart.

5. My parents met at the Parthenon in Athens, which is why they named me Athena.

6. I once got suspended for fighting.

7. I’ve traveled to over 25 different countries around the world.

8. I speak Japanese fluently.

9. I played varsity soccer in high school.

10. I sat on Abdullah the Butcher’s lap when I was little.


Pam Schaefer:

1. I was born in California and have never lived in any other state.

2. I have two adult daughters, Anne and Katherine, and Katherine is also a high school math teacher (in LA).

3. I have 2 cats, Angel and Emy.

4. One of my grandparents lived to be 101, so I still had a grandparent alive when I was 47.

5. This is my 14th year of teaching.

6. I got my BA in Math and my teaching credential from San Francisco State University.

7. I grew up in the Berkeley area and just moved to Sonoma County 4 years ago.

8. I have one brother who is younger than me and lives in Sunnyvale with his wife and son; their son attends the same high school from which his mother graduated.

9. I love going to movies.

10. I am a Lutheran pastor.


Paul Koene:

1. I was a dance club bouncer in SF…until I was fired.

2. When I was a kid I would spend hours organizing and listening to stacks of 45s that had been removed from the jukebox in my parents’ bar.

3. I have acquired a 100,000 song library from a defunct radio station that I need to curate into playlists.

4. I’ve been to Burning Man.

5. I’ve had the same two earrings in my ears for 20 years.

6. I’m the youngest of 10 children (from the same mother and father).

7. I read at least 2000 comic books by the time I graduated from high school.

8. I share season tickets for the Green Bay Packers with my siblings.

9. I have never owned a pair of flip flops or slides.

10. My kids are jocks, but I was terrible at every sport except football.


Jake Lee:

1. I’m a direct descendant of Robert E. Lee.

2. I played basketball for Coach Forni.

3. I drove a ’69 Camaro in high school.

4. I have 15+ of my former teachers/coaches still teaching on campus.

5. All members of my immediate family graduated from Casa.

6. My family founded a town in Oregon after traveling on the Oregon Trail.

7. I had class with multiple NFL players in college.

8. I am engaged to someone with the same last name (Le not LeE).

9. I met President Obama on his campaign stop at University of Oregon.

10. I have never seen the movie Top Gun.


Megan Fontaine:

1. I have super eclectic taste in music, but I particularly love punk/thrash and hip hop.

2. I’ve attended more concerts than I can count.

3. I worked at the California National Primate Research Center when I was in college at UC Davis.

4. I helped care for over 1700 Rhesus Macaque monkeys who lived in groups of 75-100 in the behavioral studies division.

5. I have been bitten by a baby monkey. (Some of my students may already know this.)


Lynne Moquete:

1. I was the state doubles champion for tennis at the College of Marin.


Kelly Rankin:

1. I speak Italian.

2. I have hosted over 15 exchange kids.

3. I wore a back brace for 3 years in high school for scoliosis.

4. I work for an exchange program.

5. I make candy.

6. I can jam, soup and pasta sauce.

7. I work out regularly and can usually do more than my students.

8. I have a learning disability.

9. I travel a lot to other countries and states in the US.

10. I am obsessed with chocolate. 


Caitlin Cunningham:

1. I’m an instructional assistant in Special Ed (not a teacher).

2. I tutor in math after school.

3. I have a degree in architecture and practiced for over 10 years in San Francisco.

4. I was a volunteer performing arts director for five years at McNear School.

5. I met Michael Jackson ( and all his brothers) when I was 16. He was really sweet!

6. l LOVE shoes and have over 60 pairs.

7. I’m a 4th generation Californian.

8. my high school graduating class was over 900 students.

9. I was a minority in high school and usually hung out under the bleachers to avoid trouble.


Melinda Maderious:

1. I grew up on a farm in the Central Valley where my brother is the 4th generation of our family to work on the farm.

2. I went to school in Missouri for the first two years of college. It was to a women’s college, Cottey College.

3. I took piano lessons for 12 years.

4. I have 5 dogs, a cat and a leopard gecko.

5. I’ve done numerous cross stitch pieces for family and friends.

6. I have a daughter who is in the 8th grade.

7. I can write upside down.

8. I love CheezIt’s as a snack but only at school.

9. I twirled baton from the ages of 4 to 13.

10. The only things I bake well are chocolate chip cookies and quiches.

11. I believe math is so fun!


Sarah Obbagy:

1. I can make wedding cakes.

2. I competed in horse shows (dressage) when I was a kid.

3. I have owned pet rats.

4. I have done barrel racing and vaulting on horseback.

5. I rolled my car when I was 17.

6. I love crocheting.

7. I was once on a bowling team.

8. I once won $100 by being the 9th caller on a radio show.

9. The farther I ever biked in one day was 51 miles.

10. I was asked to try out for the game show “The Chase.”


Christiane Traub:

1. I have ridden more than 150 000 miles on a motorcycle.

2. I like to bet on the horse races at the fair.

3. Yes, I do wear jeans.

4. My husband is 6’10”.

5. I only have one kidney.

6. I once said (and firmly believed) that I would never want to be a teacher.

7. I am not French.

8. Some of the sweaters I wear I have knit myself.

9. I have started hand-sewing a king-sized quilt that will take me four years to finish.

10. I know four languages.


John Rustan:

1. I am a published, professionally produced playwright.

2. I am studying playing the drums — blues, rock, and swing.

3. Dialect Coach: I teach individuals or whole casts of plays how to speak in particular accents or dialects — for instance, Standard British and Cockney needed for My Fair Lady.

4. I have done commercial and industrial voice-acting for many years.

5. Before teaching here, I taught at University of Oregon, Gonzaga University, SRJC and Napa Valley College.

6. My favorite author is Raymond Chandler.

7. I went to Occidental College with President Barack Obama — how much he was influenced by me can only be speculated upon.

8. I shook hands with Groucho Marx.

9. I worked for many years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

10. I am very introverted and shy by nature — unusual for a teacher of theatre and public speaking.


Kinsey Avery: 

1. Lived in a bamboo hut on the Adriatic Sea for a summer.

2. Graduated with a Master’s degree at the age of 22.

3. I am an Orangetheory Coach in Albany and a NASM certified personal trainer.

4. Studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic.

5. I have been to 23 countries and four continents.

6. I kissed a giraffe in Kenya.

7. I have been to Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

8. I workout 6 days a week.

9. I get married to a Casa grad (Colin Coughenour) on June 15, 2018.

10. I punctured my lung snowboarding when I was 18, but am still an avid snowboarder.

11. My favorite hobbies are hiking and taking pictures.

12. Ice cream and homemade baked goods are my weakness.

13. I am very good at baking cookies and breads, but I tend to overcook meat.

14. I love 90’s everything.


Jo Thinnes:

1. I Lived in Hungary for a year, speak Hungarian.

2. I’ve been to Europe 12 times, addicted to travel.

3. I’m afraid of balloons/popping noises (phonophobic/globophopic).

4. I hate shredded coconut and mayo.

5. I have a problem with mixing up cliches that have similar meanings (I will accidentally say “That’s easy as cake!” “That’s a piece of pie!” or “Does the Pope poop in the woods?” instead of bear/is Catholic).

6. My favorite pizza is garlic and pineapple (but I don’t get it often b/c my husband hates it).

7. I am a homebrewer — it’s how I met my husband, one of the original brewers at Lagunitas. 

8. My longest backpacking trip was 14 days.

9. I’m allergic to pennicillin.

10. I love Romanticism.

11. I love Western movies, favorite is High Noon.

12. I secretly love to read spy novels (not a secret from Mr. Libecap).

13. I binge-watch British mysteries.

14. I probably watch the Pride and Prejudice miniseries from ’95 once a year. (A&E version with Colin Firth). Yes, I own it. Yes, I’m nerdy.


Julie Raya: 

1. I was born and raised in Hawaii.

2. I played on the first water polo team at Sonoma State.

3. I love to go camping.

4. I worked in Yosemite for 2 summers.

5. I swim 6 miles a week.

6. My mother is an immigrant from Sweden.

7. My kids’ names are Cora and Joaquin.

8. I want Mr. Raya to buy me a new car.

9. My high school job was at a fish store.

10. I’ve been to Alaska 3 times.


Sarah Dooley:

1. I have nine children.

2. I was on a freestyle ski team in college.

3. I was a voice theater major.

4. I play guitar.

5. I was completely dyslexic as a child and could not read until I was 8 years old.

6. I ran 200 miles last summer.

7. I won a 3rd place trophy in a tri state competition for cutting hair when I was 21.

8. I am adopted.

9. I was a rodeo parade clown when I was 15.


Dan Ostermann:

1. I was an Eagle Scout.

2. I was the Team Captain of my high school Varsity Swimming Team.

3. I spent my 16th birthday in Guanajuato, Mexico.

4. I met my wife in a Rock Band.

5. I used to lead a Hip Hop Orchestra.


Kelley Holly: 

1. I was an exchange student to Norway.

2. I am an international 2* FEI Steward.

3. I was undefeated doubles tennis champion back in high school.

4. was the US national Vaulting 2-phase champion for four years in a row back in the 80’s.

5. I used to play the trumpet with my high school band and have donated both of my trumpets to the Casa Grande music program.

6. I am currently the second highest ranked Vaulting Judge in the United States.

7. I am currently coach vaulting from my home here in Petaluma and continue to take youth from beginners up through international levels, we have had several Casa Grande students on my team and all have been able to achieve international status representing the US and many have become champions. Currently Madeline Martinez a sophomore vaults with my team and is a past CVI champion.

8. I still ride, drive and vault on my horses on my farm here in Petaluma, also raise goats and milk them making cheese and bread from their milk.

9. I love all forms of arts and crafts and make most of my gifts for people.

10. I have a rebuilt right knee and a bicuspid aortic with a distended aortic anyourism but none of these keep me from playing the sports that I love I just have to play smart.


Melissa Witte:

1. I was bitten by a copperhead (venomous snake), and survived! (bites from this snake are generally not fatal to healthy adults).

2. My dad was in the Air Force. We moved every 4 years.

3. We lived in California, England, Alaska, Colorado, Ohio, Florida, and Delaware.

4. I spent a season monitoring loggerhead sea turtle nests in Georgia.

5. I spent a season working as an educator at a raptor migration site in New Mexico.

6. I spent a season tracking Black-backed Woodpeckers in Plumas National Forest (CA).

7. I enjoy being on islands and have lived/worked on Tuckernuck Island (MA), Cumberland Island National Seashore (GA), St. Lazaria Island (AK).

8. I went to college at the Ohio State University and worked as a large animal groom at the university vet hospital. Also worked at the horticulture greenhouse and as an aide in the animal science department taking care of pigs!

9. I graduated from Lakenheath High School, in England.

10. I have been to Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London.


Paula Biancalana:

1. I have a passion for gathering sea glass at the beach.

2. I like collecting rocks of all sizes that look cool.

3. I have flown in a balloon.

4. I have stood on a live volcano and a real glacier (not at the same time).

5. I really enjoy gardening and growing flowers and vegetables from seeds.

6. My 9th great grandmother Welthian Richards was accused of being a witch in 1653- Massachusetts Colony.

7. My family in Scotland once owned a castle: Ravencraig in Kirkcaldy.


Josey Richter:

1. I love all kinds of birds.

2. I am not the main cook in my house, my husband is.

3. I like to rollerblade, but I don’t do it too often.

4. I have a pet bunny and bird and fish and my bird is 23 years old.

5. I am a Girl Scout leader.

6. Trader Joes and Joann’s are my favorite stores.

7. I have lived in 3 states – Colo., Ill. and Calif.

8. I went to high school on an Air Force base.

9. I love chips and salsa.

10. I taught elementary school before teaching high school.


Helen Austin:

1. I go kayaking in my back yard (the Petaluma River.)

2. I love the ocean, love to boogie board.

3. I create silver jewelry.

4. I collect cookbooks, marbles, and rolling pins.

5. I’m a cat lady.

6. I tumble rocks that I find at the ocean to polish them.

7. I love to drive.

8. My middle name is ‘Go.’ Not really. It’s Angel, but I love to go. 


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The student news site of Casa Grande High School
The Secret Life of Staff