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BHS names Hall of Fame Class of 2015

The Burnsville High School Hall of Fame Class of 2015 represents the impressive breadth of success achieved by members of the Burnsville High School community both at the school and beyond.  

The newest Hall of Fame class, including leaders in their professional fields, standout student athletes and a championship team, will be inducted at a free public ceremony on Friday, Oct. 2, in the school’s Mraz Center for Performing Arts. A reception will take place at 5 p.m. followed by a program at 5:30 p.m. and recognition during halftime at the football game that evening. New inductees are graduates Mike Dreier, Dr. Craig Foster, Mitchell Aaron Larson, Heather Manley, Aparna and Ashwini Ramaswamy, Jeff Swanum and the 1975 Minnesota state champion girls’ gymnastics team. They will join 67 previously inducted honorees.

“The Hall of Fame honorees serve as an example of the quality education that BHS provides and has fostered over the years and as role models for current students and staff to achieve their own success,” said Principal Dave Helke.

The BHS Hall of Fame was established in 2006 as part of the school’s 50th anniversary celebration. It is a way to recognize those who have made exceptional achievements in their field, significant contributions to Burnsville High School and unique contributions to their community on a local, state, national or international level.  

2015 Hall of Fame inductees:

Mike Dreier, Class of 1969, played football, basketball and baseball during his time at BHS and was named All-Conference in basketball his senior year. He was also the 1969 Snow King at the high school. He helped to organize the girls’ basketball program in the Burnsville Athletic Club (BAC), served as commissioner and also coached BAC basketball and softball. In the mid-1970s, he was recognized by the Burnsville Jaycees with the Burnsville Physical Fitness Leadership Award. He attended Hamline University, graduating in 1976 with a degree in Social Studies/Physical Education/Health. He coached girls’ basketball at New London-Spicer High School for 37 years, recording a career record of 840-154 — the most wins in Minnesota high school girls’ basketball history. During that time, his teams won 26 conference championships and eight conference runners-up in a row. The team won the State AA Championship in 1997 and 2002, were five-time state runners up and two-time 3rd place winners. He has been inducted into the West Central Tribune (Willmar) Hall of Fame, the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Dr. Craig Foster, Class of 1966, played baseball and was on the swim team in high school. He attended Gustavus Adolphus College where he earned his BA degree in 1970. He went on to study at the University of Minnesota receiving his MD degree in 1974 and his DDS degree in 1975. He completed his General Surgery Residency and an Otolaryngology Residency at the University of Minnesota and his reconstructive plastic surgery residency at New York University. He was admitted as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and has co-authored surgical textbooks and many publications on aesthetic and reconstructive surgical procedures. He volunteers to help children born with deformities by repairing cleft palates and creating ears for children born without them. He performed facial reconstruction surgery for the “Central Park Jogger,” a woman beaten and disfigured while jogging in New York’s Central Park. He has been named to New York Magazine’s “The Best Doctors in New York” and “Best Doctors in America- Northeast Region,” New York Times’ “New York Super Doctors” and Strathmore’s Who’s Who in Medicine and Health Care." He was named to the “Best Doctors in America” list and has been featured on TV shows including “The View” and “The Discovery Health Network.”

Mitchell Aaron Larson, Class of 1995, was a member of L.I.F.E., a peer helper group at BHS. He participated in Youth in Government, was a member of the National Honor Society, wrote for the school newspaper, and was a member of the Investment Club. He played football and tennis. He attended the University of Miami and the University of Minnesota, graduating with a degree in filmmaking. He moved to New York where he worked as an assistant to film director Mike Nichols. In 2005, he moved to Los Angeles where he has written for shows on the Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney UK, Discovery Kids Channel, The Hub and Nickelodeon. He has also been a contributor for all five seasons of Hasbro Studio’s “My Little Pony:  Friendship is Magic,” becoming the head writer for the show’s fifth season. His first novel, “Pennyroyal Academy,” received rave reviews from the New York Times and Publishers Weekly. He has sold the film rights to Lionsgate Films and has been hired to write the screenplay with actress Reese Witherspoon as producer. The novel was chosen for the 2014 Book Expo America “Middle Grade Buzz Panel.”

Heather Manley, Class of 1995, played volleyball at BHS, lettering as a sophomore. She graduated from the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and earned an MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2009. She is a successful serial entrepreneur, now operating four different businesses — two based on her IT expertise and two based on her passion for food and spirits. She joined her father’s business, On Demand Group (ODG) in 2006, and purchased majority control in 2008. The company has expanded into Latin America and Southeast Asia. In 2011, she opened Heather’s Dirty Goodness, a line of dry rubs sold in 75 stores. This led her to compete in the World Food Championships where she won 9th place in 2013 and 7th place in 2014. In 2012, she established DiversifyIT, a gate opener for small diverse or disadvantaged businesses trying to do business with Fortune 500 companies. In 2014 she established Crooked Water Spirits with plans to open a distillery in 2015. She served as president of the National Association of Women Business Owners-MN in 2014, where she worked to establish the Minnesota Women Business Owner Hall of Fame. In 2014, she was named the Minnesota SBA Women in Business Champion. ODG was recognized by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City and Fortune Magazine as one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Inner City Companies in America in 2012, 2013 and 2014. She received the 2014 Women’s Business Enterprise of the Year Award from the Women’s Business Development Center in Minnesota and the 2014 Enterprising Women of the Year Award from Enterprising Women magazine in 2014. She was recognized with a Paul Harris Community Service Award from the Burnsville Rotary in 2015.

Aparna and Ashwini Ramaswamy, Classes of 1993 and 1999, were both members of the BHS National Honor Society.  Ashwini served as a Peer Tutor, was on the Student Advisory Council and participated in theater. The sisters attended Carleton College with Aparna graduating in 1997 with a degree in Political Science and International Relations and Ashwini graduating in 2003 with a degree in English Literature. Aparna was recognized in 2010 as one of Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch. She was named the Minneapolis Star Tribune 2011 Artist of the Year and received an Arts and Religion grant from the Rockefeller Foundation as well as three McKnight Artist Fellowships for Dance and Choreography. Ashwini received a Jerome Foundation Travel Study Grant. She received two Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiatives Grants and a Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Next Step Fund Grant. She also received a McKnight Fellowship for Dancers. Both women’s dancing has been featured at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Lincoln Center in New York and the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C.


Jeff Swanum, Class of 1976, was the first swimmer at BHS to receive a Division 1 swimming scholarship and the first to be named an All-State swimmer in 1975. He was named to the All-American team in 1976. He never lost a 200-yard Individual Medley in high school dual meets, held a record time for 23 years, and finished high school with seven school records. As a sophomore he set the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke school and conference records and was named All-Conference in those events. As a junior he was the top scorer for the team and set school and pool records in the 200-yard individual medley, 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard medley relay as well as school records in the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard freestyle and pool records in the 100 and 50-yard freestyle events. He was an all-conference swimmer, conference champion and set the conference record in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke. He added section championships in those events and the 200-yard medley relay. His senior year he again set school and pool records in the 200-yard medley relay, and 200-yard individual medley. He set school and pool records in the 100 and 200-yard freestyle events and the 100 yard butterfly, school records in the 100 yard breaststroke and the 400-yard freestyle relay and pool records in the 50-yard freestyle and 400-yard breaststroke. He was conference champion and record holder in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke, section champion and record holder in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard freestyle and state meet champion in the 200-yard individual medley.

The 1975 Girls’ Gymnastics Team tied with Richfield for the first-ever state championship in girls’ gymnastics in the first year that female sports were recognized by the Minnesota State High School League due to Title IX. Members of the team were Sandi Adam Koppen, Bonnie Berning Burak, Connie Crowl Erickson, Cheryl Nimsger Connelly, Lesley Pederson Ernst, Robin Pederson Ruegg, Maureen Potasek Simpson, Kelly Shogren and Cindy Ritchhart Hoyer. Team manager was Linda Gaudette Sigel, head coach was Peggy McDonald and assistant coaches were Nancy Stewart and Jim McDonald. Bonnie Benning Burak, a current Hall of Fame member, won every event and the all-around championship at the tournament giving her a combined six gold medals at the meet, which is still a state record.

Posted: Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 07:21