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2019 Recipients



One student credits longtime Fargo South teacher and coach John Marsh for making him a Division I athlete and planting a seed that made his brother a flourishing attorney. Another says Mr. Marsh was instrumental in helping him become successful in business. And two accomplished siblings say he was their favorite teacher and coach.

Such are the accolades for a man who spent 45-plus years in education. Former South teacher and coach Gelaine Orvik says, he often told student teachers to enhance their experiences by observing Mr. Marsh’s performance in the classroom, where he taught business law and accounting.

"He was one of the main reasons I chose a career path in accounting and finance and I attribute a lot of my success, both personally and professionally, to the lessons I learned from him during my time at Fargo South,” says Pat McShane, a 2001 graduate.

Ben Hendricks, a 2003 graduate who went on to become a Division I sprinter, says Mr. Marsh provided him with a “lifetime’s worth of mentoring, teaching, coaching and now friendship.” Ben says his brother, Jake, may not have studied law had it not been for Mr. Marsh. Jake became the youngest person at a prestigious Minneapolis law firm to make partner.

As a coach, Ben says, Mr. Marsh brought out the best in each athlete. He “loved to witness everyone’s improvements” and “treated every kid he coached with the same respect,” Ben says.

Jessica (Barner) Alsop, a 1996 grad, and her brother, 2003 class member Erik Barner, say few professionals in any field worked as hard or with as much passion for students and athletes as Mr. Marsh. “He is truly remarkable,” the siblings say.

“Mr. Marsh always taught his students to exhibit specific personal values of honesty and trust,” Mr. Orvik says.



From private business to public service, Jasper Schneider has been touted for his wisdom, creativity, integrity and work ethic. He has represented constituents not only in North Dakota but from coast to coast, always putting their interests above his own.

The 1997 South graduate earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Jamestown and law degree from Hamline University. Polly Peterson, president at the Jamestown college, says what many recall most about Jasper at that time was “his talent as a young journalist, business student and entrepreneur.” He also started an internet-based publication covering the computer hardware and software industry, which she says was “likely one of the first global blogging sites” to gain popularity on the internet.

A year after starting private law practice, he was elected to the State House of Representatives, where he served from 2006 to 2009. He was then named to lead North Dakota’s Rural Development Office and later tapped as Acting Administrator of the Rural Utilities Agency, or RUA. While heading the RUA, Jasper played a key role in bringing important services to North Dakota and the rest of rural America, including broadband capacity. Jasper is currently the General Manager of the Northern Municipal Power Agency in Thief River Falls, MN.

Earl Pomeroy, the longtime U.S. representative from North Dakota, says Jasper was a “ball of fire” while guiding the RUA and showed states across the country new ways to leverage financial assistance through USDA programs. Pomeroy says Jasper’s “leadership and substantive ability” led the National Information Solutions Cooperative to hire him in his current position as a vice president.

While at South, Jasper worked on the yearbook and newspaper, was named to the National Honor Society and earned varsity letters in swimming, tennis and baseball.

“To say that Jasper was an active student while at Fargo South is a bit of an understatement,” says his South tennis coach, Vic Youngs.



Setting high expectations combined with humor was the hallmark of John Syverson’s remarkable 38-year career teaching jazz ensemble and composition.

Mr. Syverson’s jazz bands were known regionally, nationally and even internationally. The number of his students chosen for honor festivals and North Dakota All-State bands are too numerous to count. He relished the fact that over the years he often taught children of former students. When he retired, a former student dedicated a composition to him and another former student took over his teaching position.

Each year, South Choir Director Sara Lichtblau says, the oldest jazz band students would give him a gift of their pictures and their favorite “Syverson quotes.”

One of his students, Adam Hochstatler, now a composer for film and TV, says Mr. Syverson has left a “fierce impact” on his life. Hochstatler recalled his first tryout as a jazz pianist for Jazz Ensemble III, which was his first time in Mr. Syverson’s office.

“Although I am certain my audition was nothing short of a disaster, John left me with the feeling that I could take on the world with my skill set,” Hochstatler says. “He opened the door that led me into the word of music creation, which changed my life forever.”

As a creative arts teacher, Mr. Syverson developed a four-year course of music theory and composition that was engaging to music students of all abilities. As a jazz band director, he spent countless hours after school with students or preparing for the next day, week, concert, or trip.

“The number of students that John impacted is immeasurable,” Ms. Lichtblau says. “Many of his students went on to become professional musicians and composers.”

Mr. Syverson received numerous honors, including the 2010 National Band Association Outstanding Educator Award and North Dakota Jazz Educator of the Year.



The headline in the Denver Post says it all: “Adapted athletics program gives hundreds of disabled students a chance to participate.”

The current program is the brainchild of 1982 South graduate Bryan Wickoren, who has served the students of Jefferson County, Colorado, as both a physical education teacher and adapted physical education specialist. In the latter role, Bryan established a county-wide adapted sports league, now funded by the school district and thriving in popularity.

“Brian’s focus is always on his students,” says Laurie Zlogar, who started the adapted PE program at Lakewood High School. “He is truly an inspiration to all.”

The Denver Post, which noted that the program took off when Bryan was hired in 2006, isn’t the only newspaper to take notice; another headline in the Colorado High School News publication states, “Jeffco continues to lead in Adapted Athletics program growth.”

Bryan was named Colorado’s adapted physical educator of the year in 2009. He has served on numerous committees and advisory councils and has been asked to speak at professional development seminars.

“Bryan is the very definition of dedication and selflessness,” says David Yonkie, Jeffco Public Schools physical education coordinator. “He works long hours not because he’s looking for accolades, or recognition, but because he is committed to the principles of his work.”

Bryan played football and participated in track and field at South. He went on to become the Northern Intercollegiate Conference javelin champion while attending Moorhead State. He went on to earn his master’s in special education from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.

“At this rate, Bryan will give thousands of special needs students opportunities that were not part of any discussion for so many decades,” said Jeff Kolpack, Bryan’s classmate. “As Bryan says, it’s about focusing on their ability rather than their inability.”