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2022 Recipients


Tanni Anthony

A professional in vision services, a North Dakota-born legend is sought out by people around the world for expertise and inspiration in blindness, deaf-blindness, and intervention. Dr. Tanni Anthony is the Director of the Access, Learning, and Literacy Team in the Exceptional Student Leadership Unit within the Colorado Department of Education. Her title is long, her achievements longer. Not that she needs an introduction. “In all honesty, I have a very limited knowledge of her career accomplishments,” says Paul Olson, superintendent of North Dakota Vision Services and School for the Blind. “What I do know is that everyone in our field nationwide knows her name and have benefited from her work.” Tanni is the consultant on visual disabilities for the state of Colorado and the project director for children and youth with combined vision and hearing loss. She has served as an adjunct instructor at several universities.

She has been invited to be a keynote speaker and workshop presenter in places as far away as Qatar, where the 1975 South graduate was greeted at the airport with a limousine for one.

Dr. Robin Greenfield, Associate Director at the University of Idaho’s Center on Disabilities and Human Development, says Tanni’s presentation style is compelling, from being very funny to explaining complicated issues in a simple and convincing manner. “Tanni is a teacher, an orientation and mobility specialist, a college professor, a published author, an amazing storyteller, a mentor, and most of all an advocate for children with disabilities,” says Gina Herrera, supervisor for the Colorado Department of Education.  “At the end of the day, Tanni is about students with disabilities and ensuring that they are receiving the services they require to be the best student and person they can be,” Gina says. “She works many long hours because the work is far from being done.”


James Caulfield

It’s rare for a coach to single out one player, especially when summarizing a legendary career in developing thousands of athletes, but the late Sam Neis did not hesitate when asked about the toughest athlete under his watch.

“Without a doubt, Jim Caufield,” the coach said of South’s all-conference nose guard. “God, he was a stud. Just mean and tough.”

The grit and determination didn’t stop there with James Caufield. The 1972 South graduate joined the greatest team of them all, the United States Armed Forces. He signed up with the Air Force directly out of high school, where the Munitions Maintenance Specialist had the extremely dangerous task of handling explosives and pyrotechnic devices. He spent his days working in an area commonly referred to as a bomb dump.

The number of lives James saved with his meticulous attention to detail cannot be completely documented, although Air Force cohort Dennis Soukop recalls a day “when the unthinkable occurred” and a weapon accidentally launched inside a building. “A catastrophic chain of events was about to begin,” Dennis says. “Keeping a cool head, Airman Caufield assisted in removing the weapon to a safe location to allow it to burn out.”

James rose to the rank of Senior Master Sergeant and became highly decorated with honors that included the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Air Force Achievement Medal, among numerous others.

“His reputation and integrity were beyond reproach,” says retired Air Force Col. John W. Ayres. James took courses over several years from 10 different colleges and universities before earning his degree in management and human resources in 1993. Following his retirement from the Air Force, he worked with various high-tech companies and owned small businesses. James was forced to retire in 2012 from some long nagging injuries. He now has a 100% VA disability rating. What a stud, indeed.


Tom Gravel

The number that sticks out in Thomas Gravel’s curriculum vitae is 4.0. That was his grade-point average while taking classes leading to his master’s degree and specialist degree in educational leadership, plus a doctorate in philosophy. While that impressive resume would have been enough for Tom to rest on his laurels, he instead chose to take the road less traveled. That means helping every student and adult receive the education he believes they deserve.

“I can tell you, being his high school coach and teacher, Tom has lived a life that has not been one blessed with paved roads to travel on,” Dale Hertel says. “He has paid the price of experience as he has amassed the knowledge to make his own path in excellence.”

Tom currently serves as a principal of West Fargo Community High School, the district’s alternative high school. He’s also principal for the district’s alternative middle program, director of adult education, and administrator of the home education, homeless, and Indian education programs.

He has contributed to numerous dropout prevention programs and seminars. He has been president of the North Dakota Association of Lifelong Learning and The Mountain Plains Adult Education Association, a 10-state region.

“His knowledge, expertise and leadership extend well beyond the borders of our state,” says Richard Warner, longtime South principal.

Tom began his career in education as a history teacher and coach in Wahpeton. He went on to teach social studies at Moorhead Public Schools and graduate courses at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He was principal at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton for a decade.

While at South, the 1981 grad participated in football, wrestling, track, band, pep band, marching band, baseball and DECA, where he was the group’s president. “Tom has dedicated himself to helping kids succeed in graduating from high school,” says South graduate Brian Hayer. “He has promoted hard work, strong ethics and compassion for others.”


Tom Hoge

It’s been said that the first thing golf teaches is humility, the second, empathy, and third, patience. Those qualities are manifest in Thomas Hoge.

So, too, are his skills, toughness, and determination on golf’s biggest stage. He’s ranked among the best players in the world. His low score on the PGA Tour is 62. He won at the hallowed Pebble Beach Golf Course, a day when he outdueled Jordan Spieth down the stretch.

His previous honors as a high school, college, and amateur player are too numerous to mention. “Tom has a work ethic, along with determination for success, that has allowed him to attain some very lofty goals,” says Steve Kennedy, Tom’s coach in high school when the 2007 graduate won 20 titles, set several school records, and led the Bruins to five straight state titles. “I believe Tom’s biggest wins are still to come.”

Tom has not forgotten his roots. While he was born in North Carolina and is revered in Texas, where as a sophomore at Texas Christian University he finished third in the NCAA nationals, he insists that starters on the first tee announce his hometown as Fargo.

His game is North Dakota tough. His personality is North Dakota nice. “There are many examples I can think of that show Tom’s selflessness and his character,” says Adam Gronaas, Tom’s high school teammate. “Tom has been a great ambassador for golf, as well as a phenomenal role model and representative of our community and Fargo South High on the national stage.

Gronaas and David Schultz, a fellow TCU and South golf standout, cite Tom’s donations of clothing and hats to young players, his willingness to sign autographs at tour events, and myriad charitable endeavors.

“Tom is very philanthropic,” David says. “He has created a platform for himself and uses his means to do good.”


Steve Kennedy

Steve Kennedy built a pair of dynasties in his nearly three decades at Fargo South, one in the classroom, the other on the golf course.

As a physics teacher, he developed and expanded the program with various methods making it fun for students and allowing them to be successful. During the years he taught the class, enrollment ballooned from one section of classes to more than five at times. That’s “attributed directly to Steve,” says Carol Beaton, Steve’s cohort in the science department.

Along with chairing the science and math departments, he ran pep fests, hosted lunches with students and staff, coached the Science Olympiad and Science Bowl teams, and was known to blast his favorite classic rock songs between periods. His talents also extend to the air guitar.

His students “learned how to love learning,” says Jason Smedshammer, math department chair. “What a great legacy Mr. Kennedy gave to hundreds if not thousands of students!” That legacy extended to the golf course, crafting a program that won 12 state championships in 18 years. He was a five-time North Dakota Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year in 2008. He has since taken his teaching and coaching skills to NDSU, winning a Summit League championship.

"Like in the classroom, he created an environment that allowed players to have fun and succeed,” says Bill Carlson, one of his former golfers at South and NDSU. “His leadership comes from his personal character, charisma, and winning mentality,” Carlson says. 

Steve helped hone the skills of PGA Tour pro Tom Hoge, whose appreciation for his coach extended to a pair of tickets to see the prestigious Masters Tournament. It brought out emotions from a man with a big heart who wears it on his sleeve. “A lot of people know me, I’m a crier,” Steve says.