At the 2012 Put-in-Bay High School Alumni Banquet, three members of the Class of 1987 and two members of the Class of 1989 volunteered to become officers of the Put-in-Bay High School Alumni Association. Among other duties, planning and producing the 2013 and 2014 alumni banquets are the officers’ main responsibilities. Read on for a glimpse of what these alumni have been up
to since high school and a bit of advice they have for future graduates.

President-Tanya Burgess Bender, Class of ‘87 Tanya graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design. She currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she is an Art Director in the Marketing and Creative Services department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Tanya, her husband, Chad, and their children, Sophia, age 5-1/2 and Evan, 4, enjoy a rewarding life of activities and family adventures. Each year, Tanya looks forward to attending the alumni banquet to reunite with her childhood friends. Her advice for future graduates: “Hard work, determination and enjoying what you do are the true measures of success. Have confidence in yourself and embrace life’s journey.”

Vice President-Eric Booker, Class of ‘87 Eric attended Wright State University and The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He currently lives and plays on Put-in-Bay with his wife, Jen, and their three boys, Ericson, age 14, Jack, 12, and Blake, 10. Eric says “the island is what you make of it, there is no other place like it…love it and it will love you!” His advice for future graduates: “Smile, respect others, kiss like it’s your last, stay focused on your goals and give thanks— because no one can achieve without the help of others.”

Historian-Rudy Cooks, Class of ‘87 Rudy graduated from The University of Toledo with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. Currently, he is completing a Masters in Education at The University of Findlay. Rudy leads an enriching life on the island with his wife, Susan, daughter, Hope, 7, and son, Lear, 4. Rudy and Sue can think of no finer place to enjoy life and raise a family. They have lived all over the country, returning to the island, in favor of the close-knit community. A former television reporter, Rudy now enjoys producing history videos including several on Put-in-Bay island history. His love for history extends into the classroom where he teaches part-time in local schools. During the summer, Rudy co-manages the new Topsy Turvey’s Coffee Shop, Bar & Grill on Put-in-Bay. In addition, Rudy is also completing his real estate sales license and works for Howard Hanna Realty.Rudy’s advice for future graduates: “This island is filled with endless opportunities if you choose to involve yourself. If you are graduating soon keep your eye on the ball. Don’t ever underestimate what you are capable of and never give up. It is an extremely competitive and difficult job market out there but our school and community have prepared you well. I believe going to school on Put-in-Bay, you have been given an incredible edge. You have every opportunity to succeed. Give it your all, don’t take “no” for an answer. Don’t forget to have a little fun along the way!”

Treasurer- Suzanne Riddle Kostura, Class of ‘89 Suzanne attended Bowling Green State University where she studied Sociology. Currently, she is leading a fulfilled and happy life on Put-in-Bay with her husband, Joe, and their two children – Ella, age 7, and Lukas, 5. Suzanne stays busy running Northern Exposure Investments, a construction business, Hard Water Charters airboat transportation, as well as her island housekeeping service. In her “free time”, Suzanne utilizes her skills leading thirteen sweet and strong island girls in Brownie Troop #10719 and serving on the Put-in-Bay Recreation Committee. Suzanne enjoys seeing her high school friends often and values her deep friendships with them. Her advice for future graduates: “Do what makes you happy and work hard for it…amazing things will happen if you work hard and stay true to yourself!”

Secretary- Cinnamon Morris Groot, Class of ‘89 Cinnamon graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Science degree in Design. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she is a Sr. Graphic Designer at Axis41, a marketing communications agency. She lives a life full of sports and adventure with her husband, Rob Groot, and their golden retriever, “Big Bud.” They look forward to returning to Put-in-Bay every year to spend time with family and friends—and reflect upon memories of island life. Cinnamon’s advice for future graduates: “Open your eyes to the world. Look for opportunities and adventures that make you happy, but don’t forget your roots.” These officers encourage you to attend the 2013 Put-in-Bay High School Alumni Banquet to see what fun and excitement awaits you. To ensure you receive your invitation, please send your current email and mailing address to Cinnamon at

Visit Put-in-Bay Ohio Facebook page to reconnect with your classmates, share memories, and discover interesting facts about other graduates from Put-in-Bay High School!