Pacelli inducts alumni into Hall of Honor; McDonough named Teacher of the Year

By Maddie Bosshart

Director of Advancement, Pacelli Catholic Schools

On Saturday, Nov. 11, Pacelli Schools inducted four new individuals/couples to the Pacelli Hall of Honor.

The selection of Kevin Halbach, AIA (Class of 1967), Dr. Tom Majerus (Class of 1964), Terry Nelsen (Class of 1964) and Connie Nelsen (Class of 1964), and Gary and Diane Bickler were honored that evening. The Pacelli Hall of Honor exists to recognize alumni and supporters who have made a meaningful difference in the world through their professional careers, philanthropic work, or service.

Kevin Halbach has enjoyed a very robust career. Kevin’s company played a role in the planning and design of the Mall of America but his passion is in educational planning. Kevin participated in the construction of over 500 schools throughout the world. He functioned most often as a planner and financial facilitator, working to bring people together. Kevin found resources and made connections by building relationships. In 2006 Kevin sold his shares of the architectural company and is now committed to spending the rest of his career doing work with Catholic schools.

Dr. Tom Majerus was chief of the division of clinical pharmacology at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland.This was the first such trauma center worldwide. He did much research in the area of pharmacology and the practical application of therapies and treating patients. His methods are still used 30 years later. Dr. Majerus had a key role in developing over 12 different drugs, managing everything from their discovery to the marketplace. His military career is also an area he is proud of. He had many assignments during his 35 years in the military, retiring as a brevetted brigadier general in April 2000. Just when he thought it was time to go fishing and read more, another career opened up in 2010. Tom now teaches high school. He teaches two courses, physics, and human anatomy and physiology. He admits that there are no aspects of his careers that he would change; at the same time he most enjoys teaching high school students and getting them ready for college.

Terry and Connie Nelsen both graduated from Pacelli in 1964. Terry started teaching at Pacelli in 1969. He has been the athletic director, principal, and advancement director. He is in the Minnesota Coaching Hall of Fame. Connie was a registered nurse for over 50 years. Terry and Connie also served as missionaries in Africa for four years. Due to tremendous support from benefactors, they were able to dig 29 wells, remodel two hospitals, and start an operations program that helped 55 children with polio receive needed operations and medical attention while in Africa. Connie also started and maintained a children’s feeding program in their village. They both worked with street kids in the capital city. Most recently, Terry has been volunteering as a girls basketball coach at Pacelli.

Gary and Diane Bickler have always believed in Catholic education, the religious and family atmosphere, and the quality education. They volunteer unceasingly to support that belief and recruit other volunteers to come alongside them. They have been active on almost every committee over many years at both the parish and school level. Gary and Diane’s three children attended Pacelli and they  currently have four grandchildren in Pacelli Schools. Gary served in the past on St. Edward’s Parish Council and completed 15 years on the United Catholic School Board. He served two terms as chairman and five terms on the finance committee. Gary is currently on the UCSF and is a KC member. Diane managed the SCRIP program for 10 years after its six month startup under Bill Christopherson and others. Serving and giving within the Catholic school system is a passion for Gary and Diane. They gladly give wherever there is a nee

The Pacelli Teacher of the Year was also announced at the Hall of Honor event. Congratulations to high school science teacher, Mr. Jonathan McDonough!  While Mr. McDonough has only been in the teaching profession for three years, he has accomplished that which would be expected of a more veteran teacher. He has received Advanced Placement training to challenge students with higher level classes. He accepted an unpaid advisory role and initiated the Pacelli HOSA (future health professionals) chapter, attending leadership conferences, touring health facilities, and leading students through competition with two national qualifiers the first year. In collaboration with the social studies department, he developed and was awarded an interdisciplinary STEM grant and two 3D printers to help students explore areas of design and product development, economics, marketing, and business management … to name a few of his accomplishments in his young career.

According to one of the nominations from a Pacelli parent, “Mr. McDonough clearly lives his teaching career as a vocation. He puts a lot of time, extra effort, and dedication into his class, and he is always looking for new ideas to achieve excellence at an academic and personal level.  His excellent communication skills and humility surpasses the classroom and have built great trust and respect. He is very attentive to each student’s state of mind, detecting when they may need to talk, and helping according to the situation. Teachers like him make our school, society and country great.”

Pope Francis says “Teaching is a beautiful job. It is a great responsibility. Teaching is about giving young people values and hope.”

The Pacelli Hall of Honor evening, spent with past graduates and present teachers, was a testament to these “values and hope” given, and brought to fruition, through past and present generations.

If you are interested in learning more about Pacelli Catholic Schools visit our website at www.pacellischools.org, email admin@pacellischools.org or call 507-437-3278.

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