Recognized for knowledge, success and compassion among other qualities, the four newest members of Wahpeton Public Schools’ hall of fame were inducted Saturday, Sept. 18 at Wahpeton High School.
Each honoree was an alumni, with one having continued on as a longtime school district faculty member. The quartet includes David Myhra, Ph.D, the late U.S. Marine officer, author and member of the class of 1957; Cindy Borchert, a 1969 graduate who taught in Wahpeton for 40 years; Dorothy Formaneck Henke, class of 1973 and known as the “Dot” in Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels; and the late Dennis Eastman, who earned the North Dakota High School Athlete of the Year honor in his graduation year, 1979.
“The hall of fame is long overdue,” Wahpeton High School Principal Ned Clooten said. “To only have three years of inductees, with the long, rich history of these schools, is a little bit of a shame.”
Community members are reminded that they can nominate potential hall of fame inductees. All that is needed is a worthy person who either attended or worked for Wahpeton Public Schools.
“David was a well-acknowledged expert on World War II German aircraft and was a prolific author, with 130 books and lots of papers,” said Myhra’s nephew, Mike Delisle, who accepted Myhra’s award from former Wahpeton Mayor Jim Sturdevant. “He did several documentaries on the Discovery and History channels that you can still see on YouTube.”
Family members either introduced or accepted on behalf of the hall of fame inductees. Henke, following husband Randy, said that sometimes she looks back and wonders how she got to the position of heading America’s second-largest pretzel company. Today, she produces more than 1 million pounds of pretzels per week. It is only thanks to more than 500 employees and every consumer who was and has been there for every baby step of the way, she said.
“I believe I owe much of the credit to a strong foundation: my family and my roots,” Henke said. “We understood the value of hard work and the results that came from working hard. We always came together to get the job done.”
Megan Ness, Dennis Eastman’s daughter, accepted the honor from his classmate, Lutheran minister Rev. Kerry Nelson. The ceremony marked one of many moments Nelson wished he was Eastman, he said.
“As a student athlete in Wahpeton, my dad learned many life lessons that impacted him into adulthood. Lessons about hard work, success, the importance of teamwork, and difficult lessons, too, about managing others’ expectations of him, racism, how people perceived him and disappointment as well. These lessons helped shape how he would be as a teacher and a coach. He wanted everyone to feel included, to feel respected and to give it all,” Ness said.
Recognition for Cindy Borchert came from Janet Bartels, a fellow high school math teacher, as well as Cindy’s husband Keath. Describing her friend and unofficial identical twin, Bartels said both were Wahpeton High School and University of North Dakota graduates who got married before becoming teachers.
“She offered stability and exemplary leadership to faculty at Wahpeton High School. Her poise and her ability to contribute put her in high demand for committees and task forces,” Bartels said. “Cindy Borchert is an excellent ambassador for Wahpeton Public Schools and role models for the hundreds of students she taught over four decades. Her grace, strength and mathematical intellect encouraged many female students to recognize the opportunities available, even in fields known to be predominantly male.”
A visibly touched Borchert said she wasn’t sure she’d be able to talk.
“My heart is just so full,” she said.
Previous Wahpeton Hall of Fame inductees include the inaugural quintet, honored in 2019: Robert Hughes, class of 1892; Arthur Anderson, class of 1954; Dr. Paul Radde, class of 1958; Roger Jensen, class of 1960; and Clark Williams, a former faculty member.
The 2020 honorees included Dr. Jack Pfister, class of 1938; Dr. Roger Worner, class of 1961; Louise Erdrich, class of 1972; Susan Swenson, class of 1987; and Karen Kehrwald, former faculty.
The Wahpeton Alumni Foundation Board consists of President Keath Borchert — alumni; Rod Breuer — current faculty; Perry Miller — alumni, who emceed the induction ceremony; Aimee DeVries — parent/alumni, Wayne Gripentrog — alumni/parent; Jessie Pulskamp — parent; Michelle Boelke — alumni/parent; Ginny Buck — school board/parent; Craig Caspers — alumni; Janel Fredrickson — legal and business representative; Sturdevant — alumni; Ben Fink — retired faculty; Phil MacIver — retired faculty; Janet Gagelin — retired faculty/alumni; and Kristi Mahrer — current faculty/parent.
Extra photos from the induction ceremony can be seen at NABUR.