Wellington High School will honor Steve Sturgis as the 2022 Crusader Wall of Recognition inductee in a presentation during Class Night tonight at 7pm in the Wellington High School main gymnasium.
The Wall of Recognition program was started in 2012 for the following purposes:
To honor a culture and tradition of excellence and high achievement by recognizing outstanding Wellington High School Alumni and contributors.
To inspire current and future Crusaders to lead their lives in a way that will perpetuate the standards of excellence and high achievement the honorees have set forth.
During the presentation recognizing Steve Sturgis, WHS student Jaxson Irey-Hurt will read the biography which will be framed and hung on the wall of recognition. Additionally, Sturgis’ son Zach Parent and brother John Sturgis will be present, and the family will receive a smaller replica of the biography.
Wall of Recognition - 2022 Inductee
Known to thousands of Wellington graduates as “the Webmaster,” Steve Sturgis was the creator and sole keeper of the Crusader website for nearly 23 years.
Wellington was ingrained in Steve from the very start: He was born Steven Harold Sturgis at the historic Hatcher Hospital in Wellington on July 23, 1956, the third son of Harold and Jacqulyn Sturgis. Steve loved Wellington and always looked back fondly on the days of his youth attending Wellington schools. He compared his experience growing up with his close friends in the community to heaven, and he cherished the many adventures they had out of school and all the memorable experiences and activities in school. He appreciated all the Wellington citizens who made the community a great place to grow up and live in and the many teachers and coaches who educated him and helped develop his character. One of those teachers was his own mother Jacque, who taught elementary school for many years in the Wellington school system and was Steve’s third grade teacher.
Steve graduated from Wellington High School in 1974, and he began his college career at the University of Wyoming and eventually transferred to Wichita State University where he graduated with honors as a Bachelor of Science in Administration of Justice with a minor in Sociology. During and after college, Steve held a wide variety of jobs in Wyoming and Wichita, including Juvenile Court Service Officer, Limo Driver, Ranch Hand, Psychiatric Technician, District Manager in Charge of Circulation at the Wichita Eagle, and Quality Assurance Planner at the Boeing Corporation.
Steve’s love of and devotion to family brought him back to Wellington in 1996. His parents’ health began to decline, and fortuitously, Boeing was offering voluntary leave packages in advance of layoffs at the company. Steve took their offer, which allowed him to move back home to take on the role of caregiver for his ailing parents, whom he provided care for until his father’s death in 1999 and his mother’s in 2006. Since Steve was not working at the time, he began to dabble with the Internet and website-building and had created a website for his family to share photos and memories. It was also at that time that the United States experienced the first major school mass shooting which took place at Columbine High School in Colorado. In the national coverage that followed the tragedy, some in the media were consequently calling all youth a "lost generation." The hasty generalization aggravated Steve and he later said, "it was the initial impetus for the site," now known as wellington.cc. He resolved to "show the positive of teens as a whole.”
Steve set out to work on building a new kind of website which would prove to be the perfect project to combine Steve’s creativity, generosity, industriousness, and passion for Wellington. At the time, only about one-third of American households had home Internet access and mainstream Internet use was so new that there was really no other website similar to Steve's vision. He created something wholly new and became a pioneer in the early age of the Internet. In the summer of 1999, he pitched his idea to WHS principal Forest Covey: to establish a website that highlighted all the good teens were doing at his alma mater and perhaps raise money for a modest scholarship or two. With Covey's clearance, Steve took his digital camera to the football team's August 26th hamburger scrimmage and returned home from Sellers Park with 13 usable pictures on the camera's very limited floppy disk storage. He launched whscrusaders.net with coverage of that first event and the website quickly became a part of the school and community culture. Students now had the rare privilege of having a place in the world wide web where they could see and read about themselves. At the end of the first school year, Steve had hoped to hand out a $500 scholarship or two at graduation; he instead raised enough for two $3,000 scholarships. The site was a hit, and for students and staff, Steve "The Webmaster '' Sturgis became a familiar figure and friend. Steve and his website were students’ constant cheerleaders, whether the arena be in the classroom, on the field, or onstage.
The website provided a new shared experience. In addition to athletics and academics, Steve expanded the scope of the website's content over time to include alumni and historical information. The website became a platform bridging generations and building one Crusader community. For alumni and the community at-large, the website acknowledged tradition and history while also lauding a new generation of Crusaders by showcasing the talents and fine qualities of students, allowing the community to support its young people. For the high school students, it instilled a sense of pride in themselves, their peers, and their school. For those not yet in high school, the website was a preview of all that they could do and be, and held up role models to emulate and goals to aspire to. The website reminded all of us of our part in the Crusader continuum. Steve Sturgis’ part in that continuum has been to capture and preserve our memories, to bear witness to and tell our stories. The most rewarding aspect of working on his website, Steve said, was “the opportunity to get to know well over 2,000 Crusaders and share a lot of their achievements with the world.” For their part, it has meant the world to those Crusaders to have someone in Steve to see and celebrate their successes.
Steve’s website has been a decades-long gift and love letter to Wellington, and it has touched a countless number of people in that time. It is estimated that Steve took over 1 million photos in this role, and as of Spring 2022, he had raised through his website over $250,000 for Wellington graduates. Over the years, Steve took on additional community and school roles, such as writer and on-air newcaster for Sumner Communications’ Channel 55, creator and manager of the school district website, and most recently he was hired to co-teach a class at WHS and established the KWHS school newscast. Steve has also been recognized for his contributions to our community in ways large and small including being selected as the recipient of the Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award in 2004, but when Steve has had the choice, he largely eschewed any personal recognition.
Steve was an original founder and committee member at the inception of the Crusader Wall of Recognition in 2012. He was nominated to be inducted into the Wall of Recognition every year, and every year he declined the nomination. Steve would decline because, in his humble belief, he did not want recognition and attention for himself; he would rather have the attention focused on the students and not on himself, even though it was obvious to everyone else that no one was more deserving of this honor than Steve. Everyone knew that one day he should, and would, receive this honor. Immediately after Steve's untimely and unexpected passing on the 25th of January, 2022, community members requested his induction into the WHS Wall of Recognition. Steve is now and will always be recognized as one of our outstanding WHS graduates and contributors to this school and this community.
Steve will always be remembered for his kindness, generosity, and selfless devotion to the kids and community of Wellington.