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NR School District seeking nominations for Distinguished Alumni Award

Although New Richmond High School has had an athletics hall of fame since 2012, the school hasn't had a way of recognizing graduates, teachers and staff who have excelled in their professions and/or made significant contributions to their communities. To remedy that situation, the district approved a new award program, the New Richmond Distinguished Alumni Award.

"The building leadership team started looking at the idea of setting up a distinguished alumni award a few years back because it wanted to recognize graduates or staff that used their education or experience in New Richmond to go on and distinguish themselves and do great things," said NRHS principal Tom Wissink. "In addition to that, we also wanted to connect those recognized with our current students as role models and examples of the possibilities of what starts here being important and that it carries on and you build on it to make a difference. For your family, for others, for your community and for your country."

The award — which will be given in the spring of 2019 — is also a way of giving students role models and success stories who went through school in the same community they did. This year, the committee will make its choice for recipient of the distinguished alumni award by March 15 and announce the award winner soon after.

"I know we have had some pretty extraordinary graduates who have gone on and done some amazing things. That's what we wanted to start celebrating," Wissink said.

According to Wissink, there will be one, possibly two, recipients of the award every year. Only one nominee shall be selected each year unless at least two-thirds of the School District of New Richmond Distinguished Alumni Award Committee agrees to a change for only that year. If you are nominated, Wissink said, your nomination will be considered for five years.

"We just really wanted to move in a direction where we recognize athletic accomplishments and doing the same thing for academics," Wissink said. "We thought it was a good idea to add in teachers and staff to the criteria for the award — for those that taught here for a minimum of 10 years — because they had made a long term commitment to the district and the community and made a difference during their time here. Although they might not have been a graduate, they were part of the district and impacted students and graduates."

This year's nominations are open until Feb. 1, which is a later date than nominations will be open in subsequent years, since the approval for the award took longer to receive than the committee originally thought. Normally, nominations will be closed by Dec. 1 of each school year. Nominations can be made online through the School District of New Richmond and/or New Richmond High School webpage.

The high school principal (or designated committee member) will contact all nominees — there will be no limit on the number of nominees per year — by Dec. 15 to notify them of their nomination. Those wishing to be considered for the award must accept their nomination by Jan. 15.

Once all nominations have been accepted or declined, the field of nominees will be narrowed down by a preliminary vote, with the award winner being selected by Feb. 1. All other nominees shall be informed of the results of the selection process by Feb. 15 of each year.

"We researched about 15 or 20 other high schools and colleges that give distinguished alumni awards and just kind of pulled things together and kind of created our own that we thought was a great way to do it. We took it to the board and they reviewed it and that's how we got it all put together," Wissink said.

The following criteria, according to the award bylaws, are what the committee will consider for selection of the award recipient:

• Nominees shall have graduated from NRHS at least ten years prior to nomination.

• Teachers or staff that worked within the School District of New Richmond for a minimum of ten years can be nominated.

• Nominees may have military service in place of graduation.

• Awards may be given posthumously.

• Nominees will have distinguished themselves through their work, personal accomplishments or in the lives of others.

• Nominees must be in good standing in their community, past and present.

• High moral values, good ethics, character and discipline during or while at NRHS and post-high school shall be considered.

• If a nominee is selected to the athletic or any other NRHS Hall of Fame, we will remove their nomination for the award.

• Members of the committee shall be ineligible for induction while serving on the committee.

• The committee reserves the right to name a distinguished alumni on a triennial (recurring every three years) or biennial basis (taking place every other year).

"We are really inviting the community to make nominations to make sure we are involving them in identifying people that made a difference that were either graduates or teachers," Wissink said. "This award is not a place to make nominations of someone who distinguished themselves athletically, that is why we have the athletic hall of fame."

The winner will be presented a plaque, which will be placed on permanent display at the high school, along with a gift of recognition. Recognition of the inductees shall take place at a prearranged date in the spring of each school year. The Distinguished Alumni will be presented and speak to the current student body.

"We want to bring the recipient in to speak with the student body in the spring so they can share their experiences and the value of their education and time here," Wissink said. "We are really looking to share those success stories and inspire all of us, really."

More information on the award, as well as the full bylaws, can be found on the district and high school home pages ( Anyone who has questions can contact Wissink at 715-243-7451.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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