First RPS Hall of Fame members inducted

It was a ceremony unlike any other for Rockford Public Schools and the impact will continue on for generations.

The first inductees in the Rockford Public School Hall of Fame stand in front of the new monument which bears their names.

From Friday, October 1 with a monument dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony on through Sunday, October 3 with a farewell brunch, Rockford Public Schools recognized ten special people. Several came from different countries for the first Rockford Public Schools Hall of Fame induction ceremony and the related events.

Rockford alumni or residents were selected from four categories for this recognition. A six-and-a-half-foot-tall monument now graces the front of Rockford High School with the names of the ten inductees. There is space on the stone for nearly 80 more years of inductions, which will take place every other year.

“This was fantastic,” said Rockford Public School Superintendent Dr. Michael Shibler, one of the inductees.

He referred to the day of interacting with Rockford students by the inductees which took place Friday throughout the district.

The event was 14 months in the making and came with help from a similar program offered by Grand Haven Public Schools. Lisa Jacobs of Rockford Community Services and Jill Erickson from Rockford Education Foundation have been working with a committee for the Hall of Fame and the committee had the difficult job of choosing the initial inductees.

Dr. Ryan Kelley, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, worked with an advisory council over the summer, making sure all inductees met the criteria for recognition. The inductees include people from all over the country, who traveled here from throughout the world. The categories are Cultural/Performing Arts, Academic/Career Accomplishments, Service to the Community, Service to Rockford Public School/Community and Honorary.

Neil Blakeslee, former Rockford mayor and his late father, Clarence, were among the first inductees. “I feel humbled by the company I’m keeping with this group,” Neil said. He said others in the community deserve the award as much as he. “Dad’s is a posthumous recognition. I’m glad mine isn’t,” he joked.

Watch the Squire for photos and bios of each of the inductees.

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