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Student tops teacher for New Castle board seat

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Long-time teacher Doris Addington-Brooks remembers having Cory Bennett in one of her New Castle High School classrooms as a student.

Tuesday night, Bennett made the grade with voters, defeating not one but two highly-regarded educators en route to claiming the inside New Castle School Board seat. 

Bennett, one of the last entrants into the school board race, won by collecting 2,339 votes, just over 38 percent of the total. His former teacher, Addington-Brooks, was second with 1,496 votes. Jaci Hadsell, who spent more than 35 years here as an educator, first as a teacher, then a counselor and ultimately an administrator, was third with 1,429 votes.

Employed as assistant plant manager at Boar’s Head, Bennett will replace Liz Whitmer, who decided not to seek a third term on the board.

It was after midnight when Bennett said his wife woke him with the good news.

“My wife actually woke me up at about 12:40 a.m.,” he said. “Then I couldn’t get back to sleep. I’m really excited about this opportunity.”

Bennett was a basketball star not only here, but with the University of Indianapolis. At New Castle, he was a key player in regional and semistate appearances. At U of I, teams he played on made the Division II tournament three years in a row.

It’s the competitive nature in Bennett that made him want to run for school board.

“When I do something, I go 100 percent,” Bennett said. “I’m looking forward to being a fresh set of eyes and helping to make positive changes.”

Bennett paid tribute to Addington for her strong run.

“She was a French teacher of mine, definitely a teacher I had a lot of respect for while I was there,” he said.

Addington, who had a 34-year teaching career here, was the first to file for this board seat. She said she was still ready to support the schools in any way possible.

“When I first decided to run, no one else was running,” she said. “I think there are a lot of people who are qualified.”

Forrest Plank was fourth in the four-person race and received 875 votes, a strong showing given who he was up against.

“I knew that I faced an uphill battle with name recognition, going up against a retired educator, retired teacher and a local basketball star,” Plank said. “The fact that I was able to pull 14 percent of the vote, I was happy with that. I will continue to support the school in any way that I can.”

Courier-Times attempts to contact Hadsell for comment were unsuccessful at presstime Wednesday.