Casey and Mark Harrison with Trevor, 6, and Evelyn, 3.

Casey Becker Harrison, class of 2001 and daughter of Roger and Cindy Becker, is the featured student this month in a series that catches up with the current lives of Kingsland graduates during the school’s 25th anniversary.
Now living in Downers Grove, Illinois, she is married to Mark Harrison and mother of Trevor, almost 6, and 3-year-old Evelyn.
As a student in Kingsland, Harrison was involved in one-act plays, National Honor Society, and basically anything except band. However, many people thought she was in band because former guidance counselor James Block used to let her into all sporting events for free because he thought she was in band.
Harrison was strongly influenced by three teachers in particular.
Lyman Richter was one because he had a great laugh, and found joy and humor in anything and everything. She commented that because she is a Type A personality, she tends to stress out or take things too seriously. Richter was great about making light of all situations, teaching her to find the humor in her mistakes.
Frau Karen Cleveland was another mentor as she had a motto of “be you!”
“Not only was Mrs. Cleveland sooooo incredibly nice to everyone, but she was great about letting all the kids in her class be themselves. She didn’t care about what was cool or about the drama of high school. She wanted everyone to learn and if that meant expressing themselves or learning in an atypical way, great,” said Harrison.
Harrison always felt very comfortable (less teenage angst) in every German class she ever had.
Stephanie Derby: “Celebrate your passions!” Harrison learned to know Derby through one-act plays. She was new to Kingsland at the time, but became very involved as she loved drama and the one-act plays. The performances were far from Oscar material, but Derby treated every competition and school performance as if it were a leading role audition.
Harrison feels apathy is too common and has become the default emotion for many teenagers. Derby didn’t let the performers only give 50 percent or say they really didn’t care, “she wanted us to give 110 percent each time students were up on stage.”
After graduating from Kingsland, Harrison went to Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin. She graduated with a bachelor of arts in political science. Then she moved to Chicago to work for Chicago Medical Society and Boston Consulting Group. She met her husband while visiting friends in Washington, D.C. He was transferred to Phoenix for work, and after a year of long distance, she moved to Arizona. There she worked at the University of Advancing Technology before moving to Irvine, California, to work for United Capital Financial Advisors. She lived in California for four years. Then her husband was offered a position in Chicago and “we said yes. There is nothing like coming back to the Midwest and Midwest winters,” she said. She is still working for United Capital Financial Advisors as a project manager, and works out of her home office.
Harrison believes that growing up in a small community and small school teaches one to be a better/nicer person, because everyone knows everyone. One can’t go around being a jerk because everyone will hear about one’s actions and know you are a jerk, she explained. Thinking about the decisions one makes and how they will affect you is an important life lesson to learn. On the flip side, being polite and welcoming is seen and revered by our small community, she said.
Harrison has words of encouragement for members of our community.
Students: “Take the three lessons I have learned from my teachers to heart. Laugh, be yourself, and celebrate your passions!”
Parents: “Do not accept apathy. Force your kids to get involved and lead interesting lives. It will help with post-secondary acceptance, and will also make them more interesting/better people.”
Educators: “Stop focusing on rankings and start focusing on making school work interesting.”
Harrison, who has always been very organized, is still working for a financial company, which is a natural fit for her personality and mindset.
For leisure activities, she enjoys watching “This is Us” along with holiday baking challenges, reading, playing outside with the kiddos, cooking, and shopping……”actually anything that doesn’t involve heights!”
Editor’s note: This column highlighting Kingsland graduates is running periodically throughout the 25th anniversary year of Kingsland. The information is provided by a school committee consisting of a teacher, board member and former administrator that sent out surveys to alumni chosen at random.