Viewpoint 181: 2022 Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame

This year's Hall of Fame class is Robert Nystrom, Raymond Frisch and Steffen Johnson.

Brainerd High School Sign
We are part of The Trust Project.

An admonition commonly heard is to “remember.”

Icons, trophies, banners, flags and all manner of artifacts are “remembering” aids we can see and appreciate today, and also serve us and our communities in “remembering” the past by providing us with a window into another place or time. These simple appearing things trigger profound insights, bring those who have gone ahead back to us and inspire us to serve more intentionally.

Artifacts, however alluring, are inanimate. While they can attract our attention and deeply enrich us, they are gates only, tangible abstractions on the road to something else.

Since 1999, Brainerd Public Schools has recognized, through a careful selection process, a limited number of its graduates and their achievements by inducting them into the Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame. These inductees are the few, representative of many who are equally deserving but not selected who, when inducted, become animate symbols for all of us.

That is the critical distinction. Icons, trophies and the like are not alive and never were. If they are seen at all, it may be on a dusty shelf, in an inconspicuous institutional backroom or as part of a glimpsed social media posting.


The 2022 Brainerd Public Schools Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame inductees — Robert Nystrom (Class of 1975) for his public service, Raymond Frisch (Class of 1950) for his service in post-secondary education, and Steffen Johnson (Class of 1987) for his service in law — all have served “with distinction.” They have no “dust” on them, nor are they covered up in an obscure corner, nor are they mere assemblages of electrons awaiting disposal.

Some of these inductees of distinction will have taught classes at Brainerd High School before the 10 a.m. Sept. 23 ceremony to which the public is invited at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts. All of them will be inducted in the physical presence of approximately 1,000 BHS students, and via livestream in the presence of approximately another 1,000 BHS students, and by that same livestream in the presence of others in the extended Brainerd Public Schools community, a place to belong, from Hanoi to Rome to New York City and back.

We honor and remember three distinguished achievement graduates of Brainerd Public Schools Sept. 23 and we hold them up to the world, to our students and to ourselves as living symbols of what we can aspire to be, and then be.

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