The Judy Lysaker Journalism Support Fund Honors Dedicated Teacher

Kary (Lysaker) Magruder ’89 describes her late mom, Judy Lysaker, as “a pinnacle in the State College community” who dedicated 35 years to teaching English and Journalism at State High. When Judy passed away in December 2022, her family knew creating a fund to support journalism students would be a powerful way to honor her memory, even though she had not lived in State College for 15 years.

Judy Lysaker and her husband Pete moved to State College in 1979—Pete was employed by Jostens and had the option to relocate from Ohio to either State College or Hershey. The couple fell in love with State College as a place to raise their three daughters, Kristin (Lysaker) Schiller ‘87, Kary (Lysaker) Magruder, and Kassie Lysaker ‘90.

Judy and Pete met at Moorhead State University where they both earned degrees in English. Both were teachers early in their marriage until Judy focused on raising their daughters. In State College, Judy earned her MA at Penn State University and began teaching English at State High. She was instrumental in launching State High’s journalism program along with several other teachers including Chris Weakland and Carol and Steve Gentry.

In her 35 years, she impacted the lives of countless students and especially enjoyed taking students to attend the annual Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) Spring Scholastic Convention at Columbia University in New York City. Her daughter Kary said Judy often shared many fond memories of these trips where students were able to get one-of-a-kind experiences to advance their skills and interest in journalism.

Mike Conti ’99 was one of Judy’s students and attended the CSPA convention. He now manages and operates a sports radio station in Atlanta and credits Judy for helping him follow his interest in broadcasting into a successful career:

“Mrs. Lysaker was my ninth-grade Journalism teacher and my tenth-grade English teacher at State High.  If not for her, I have no idea what I would now be doing professionally.  She took a personal interest in my aspirations to be a radio broadcaster, to the point where she helped to create a student-run “radio” station (really the school’s intercom system).  When I told her that I wanted to hone my skills as a play-by-play broadcaster, she found the equipment and facilities for me to call State High football and basketball games.  Twenty-five years later, I now manage and operate a sports radio station in Atlanta, and I’ve called games on radio and television in the NFL, NBA, MLS, and WNBA.  If not for her taking an interest in my aspirations, I may have never ended up where I am now,” Mike said.

“The fact that Mrs. Lysaker’s Journalism Fund will help to subsidize student travel to CSPA is especially appropriate.  Mrs. Lysaker always recognized the importance of collaboration and having access to the best and brightest minds in scholastic journalism, and that’s exactly what students get to experience at CSPA,” he continued. “We were very fortunate as high school students to be able to learn directly from professionals at broadcast outlets and newspapers from across Pennsylvania, and Mrs. Lysaker was a chaperone on each and every one of those field trips.  The Judy Lysaker Journalism Fund will be an appropriate tribute to her legacy.”

During retirement, Judy spent her summers on White Earth Lake, her favorite place in the world, and her winters at Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers, Florida, where she loved playing golf, presiding over the girlfriends’ group, and knitting beautiful things for her kids and grandkids.

Kary described Judy as generous, kind, thoughtful, and strong. “I am so proud of who she was, and teaching was such a big part of her life. I am glad there will be students, for generations to come, who will benefit from this fund, so her love of state high journalism and her legacy will endure,” Kary said.

A celebration of Judy’s life is planned for March 11 at 3:00 at State College Presbyterian Church in State College. Gifts to honor Judy’s memory can be made here or by mailing your check to the address here. Make sure to select the Judy Lysaker Journalism Support Fund from the giving menu or include it in the memo line of your check.

One thought on “The Judy Lysaker Journalism Support Fund Honors Dedicated Teacher

  1. Mrs. Lysaker’s journalism class was absolutely the academic highlight of my years at State High. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and she really made the class fun and rewarding. I even made one of my lifelong best friends in her class during my senior year (1999)! While I do not work in journalism now, I use the writing, reading, and editing skills I learned from her classes constantly over the last 20+ years. Thank you for setting up this fund, I have no doubt students will benefit greatly for years to come. My condolences to the Lysaker family and State College Area community.

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