By Amanda Dyslin
---- — MANKATO — The staff at West High School decided there have been way too many meaningful contributors to West over the years to let them go unrecognized.
Hence the launch of the school's Hall of Fame, which will induct its first members at a ceremony Thursday at Applewood Restaurant.
West Principal Brian Gersich said annual inductions will be made to recognize the legacies of West and to celebrate its successes. Categories include: professional; athletic/entertainment; science/technology and community service.
“We're really excited about it,” he said.
The idea began a couple of years ago with staff who wanted to preserve West's rich history. A campaign began to gather nominations, and a selection committee of students, parents, current and retired staff, and administration made this year's selections.
Nominations will be accepted year-round, but the deadline for each fall's selection is the end of March. Selections will be made in May. And inductions will be done in concert with homecoming.
Inductees don't have to be graduates of the school; they just have to have made a meaningful contribution.
“It's really about trying to find people who have done something special in the history of Mankato West High School,” Gersich said.
A display case is being installed this week in the main hallway of West near the gym.
Here is a bit about the first inductees:
• Dan Akerson, a 1966 graduate of Mankato High School, is chairman and chief executive officer of General Motors (GM). This spring he visited the school and gave $40,000 to two students.
• Margaret Anderson-Kelliher graduated from West in 1986. She has served two terms as speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. She is the second woman to hold this position and the first to win major-party endorsement for a Minnesota governor election.
• Matthew Drake, a 1989 graduate of West, is a consultant in endocrinology as well as an assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
• Sharon Euerle has 38 years in education. She served as athletic/activities director for 20 years at West.
• Jim Northenscold, graduated from West in 1975. He is a manager at Neubert Millwork Company, where he has worked for 29 years. He was state champion in shot put and still holds the high school record and is one of the top 20 all-time best in Minnesota.
• Louis Todnem (1898-1997) served as football coach at Mankato High School for 40 years, having a winning football record between 1923 and 1962. The West football field is named in his honor.
More detailed biographies can be found at www.isd77.org.