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West Fargo High School inducts three into Hall of Fame

From left, Tony W. England, Marvin Leidal and John Hoganson were inducted Thursday into the West Fargo High School Hall of Fame. Michael Vosburg/The Forum

West Fargo High School has a brand new way of honoring and celebrating successful alumni with the implementation of a Hall of Fame this year that resulted in two former students and one former staff member being inducted into the prestigious program - Anthony (Tony) England, John Hoganson, and Marvin Leidal.

The idea for the Hall of Fame was initiated by West Fargo High School Principal Gary Clark, who had wanted to organize the program for quite some time as a means of recognizing the longstanding tradition the school has played in contributing to the success of its students and staff.

"Last year I asked Dan Holder (currently WFHS Dean of Students) to help me in getting it started for the fall of 2009. Dan has put considerable effort into that process," and it was ultimately realized this year.

The goal of the Hall of Fame is to receive nominations and select new inductees yearly - up to three former students and one former staff member - with consideration given to the awards each spring.

The awards banquet and induction of England, Hoganson and Leidal was held Thursday evening, Sept. 17, as part of homecoming festivities with the three also recognized during halftime of the football game at Packer field on Friday night, and at the West Fest Parade on Saturday.

England, a member of the class of 1959, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1969, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in geophysics in 1970, also from MIT. England went on to become a member of NASA's STS-51F Spacelab-2 which orbited the earth 126 times, and was instrumental in successfully landing the Challenger on August 6, 1985, ultimately logging over 188 hours in space. After his work at NASA, England participated in and led field parties in Antarctica, served in the United States Geological Survey organization, and presently serves as associate dean and professor at the University of Michigan.

A member of the class of 1966, Hoganson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in earth science from North Dakota State University in 1970; and in 1985, his doctorate degree in geology and paleontology from the University of North Dakota. In 1977 while in Chile, he discovered the stenus hoganoni beetle, now on display in Munich, Germany. Hoganson contributed to National Geographic's movie "Sea Monsters - a Prehistoric Adventure," and has been involved in unearthing many fossils. His work has provided great insight to the climate of North Dakota's past; and his efforts as the State Paleontologist of North Dakota led to the expansion of the North Dakota Heritage Center in 2009.

Leidal earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1960 from North Dakota State University and his master's degree in educational administration in 1965, also from NDSU. Beginning in 1960, he taught mathematics at West Fargo High School, becoming a part-time assistant principal in 1965. In 1968, he was named principal and served in that role until 1979 when he was named superintendent for West Fargo Public Schools. He continued in that position until retiring in 1999. During his tenure, he also served on the board of directors for the North Dakota High School Activities Association from 1992 until 1998; and was named the North Dakota Superintendent of the Year in 1998-1999.

In addition to the three inductees and their guests, others in attendance at the Thursday night presentation included high school administrators and their spouses, school board members Karen Nitzkorski and Kay Kiefer, and students Briana Keller and Cora Bollinger who were on the Hall of Fame Committee that helped develop the process and guidelines for the Hall of Fame.

Referencing the evening, Clark said "Our initial Hall of Fame banquet was a great success. We are very proud of our three historic first inductees and their contributions to West Fargo High School, our community, our state and our nation. We are looking forward to our community nominating other outstanding alumni and former staff in the future."

Holder agreed, adding he "hopes that establishing the Hall of Fame sends a clear message to the students at West Fargo High School that they are attending a great school that is preparing them to be or do anything they can dream. In other words, start here, go anywhere."

On that note, it's never too early to plan ahead. Anyone wishing to nominate any alumni for future recognition can do so by contacting Holder at 356-2050.