Commentary: Celebrating the Legendary Women of Brainerd Public Schools

Five women will be celebrated this year. Together with previous inductees these honorees have navigated a significant portion of recent women’s history.

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It’s time to give a collective “high-five” to people orchestrating year-long activities and exhibitions regarding this community’s celebration of Brainerd Public Schools 150: A Place to Belong. Simultaneously, it’s appropriate to acknowledge 2023 as the 5th year of recognizing “Legendary Women” graduates of Brainerd Schools.

Five women will be celebrated this year: Laura Brutsman Busch (BHS 1979); Susan Koering (BHS 1969); Becky McDonough Epidendio (BHS 2005); Sheila McKinney DeChantal (BHS 1985); and Mildred O’Brien Chalberg (BHS 1919).

Together with previous inductees, now numbering 50 distinguished women, these honorees have navigated a significant portion of recent women’s history. Their hometown educational journeys were just the beginning of myriad careers and volunteer activities they’ve imparted around the planet.

On March 2, 2023, a ceremony free of charge and open to the public will be held for the second year in the beautiful Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts. Light refreshments will be served at a social hour beginning at 5 p.m. and followed by a dynamic program honoring this year’s inductees at 5:30 p.m.

In the United States, 36 years ago, Congress designated March as Women’s History Month. In 2018, collaborating with the Brainerd Public Schools Archives, a volunteer committee of community members was formed. Honors began to be formally bestowed upon women who have radiated their acquired and developed skills, abilities, and energy into this local region and beyond.


Last year was the 50th anniversary of Title IX, whereby the Federal Government banned sex discrimination in schools for programs receiving funding. This year marks 100 years since the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced to Congress.

High multiples of fives are definitely being tallied historically, and women have become exponentially involved and recognized. Local education positions verify this phenomenon and history notes the very first graduate here to receive a diploma was a girl: Miss Sue Mulrine.

Don’t miss this upcoming opportunity to celebrate women who have benefitted from and capitalized upon 150 years of local educational growth and progress!

Linda Olsen Engel is Brainerd Public Schools parent and retired educator from Brainerd Public Schools

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