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New members are selected for 2009 BHS Hall of Fame

Six new individuals will be inducted into the 2009 Burnsville High School Hall of Fame during a dinner ceremony on Aug. 28 at the new Burnsville Performing Arts Center.

The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to recognize individuals or organizations that have made exceptional achievements in their field, significant contributions to Burnsville High School and/or unique contributions to the community on a local, state, national or international level.

The first 20 members of the Hall of Fame were inducted in August 2006 during the school’s 50th anniversary celebration. Six more members were added in both 2007 and 2008. To read more about them, go to  

The 2009 inductees will be:   

Dr. Michelle Brown (Alumni - Class of 1972) was involved in Girls Athletic Association, Burnsville Athletic Club fast pitch softball, choir and a student poetry journal while attending Burnsville High School. She was admitted as a member of the National Honor Society during her sophomore year and appeared in "Who’s Who Among High School Students." After high school, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and earned a medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1984. She is currently president and medical director of Lemuria Health Institute in Monterey, Calif., which specializes in wellness, pain and stress management. Brown is involved in several professional, community organizations and has been a guest lecturer at many medical/health seminars, workshops and conventions.

Dennis Dale (Retired Staff) was a physical education teacher and swim coach at Burnsville High School from 1972-1985. His BHS teams won three girls' and one boys' state swimming titles. Dale is currently coaching swimming at the University of Minnesota where his collegiate teams have won several Big Ten championships. He has also coached for USA and Brazilian swim teams and has won many individual coaching honors.

George Harris (Alumni-Class of 1973) lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track while attending Burnsville High School. During his senior year, the football team went undefeated and won the first Minnesota State Championship while he was voted most valuable player. Harris graduated from Brigham Young University in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics, He obtained a Juris Doctor degree in 1981 from Washington University and was admitted to the Missouri State Bar and the Federal District Court. He was also admitted to the Utah State Bar and is currently operating Harris Law Office in Highland, Utah, where he is involved in several community organizations and volunteer activities.

Todd Okerlund (Alumni - Class of 1983) was an eight-time letter winner in football, hockey, and golf while attending Burnsville High School. He was a member and captain of the 1980 state champion football team and during his senior year. He led Burnsville to its first state tournament appearance in hockey with the team as runner-up that season. Okerlund exemplified what was right about team sports; namely, commitment, leadership on and off the ice, and a tremendous work ethic. He is the only BHS alumni to represent the USA in Olympic hockey. In 1988, Okerlund graduated with a degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota and is currently a business partner with the Fuzion food group based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

Richard VanderLaan (Community Commitment to BHS) was active with Burnsville baseball as a booster since the late 1980s. He is one of the founders and CEO of Baseball Association (BA) 191, a sponsor of American Legion Baseball. BA 191 formed a partnership with the City of Burnsville for the development of one of the finest baseball complexes in the State of Minnesota. VanderLaan is also involved in several community organizations including the Burnsville Community Foundation, Art & All That Jazz and the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce. He is a long-time resident of Burnsville and his three children are graduates of Burnsville High School.

David Voracek (Alumni - Class of 1982) was involved in football while attending Burnsville High School. He received the Bob Pates Memorial Award which is given to a senior athlete who has given his best to the football team by using his talents and potential to the fullest. Voracek graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering and a Master’s Degree from Northrop University. He earned a second Master’s Degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Southern California. Voracek was recently named Deputy Director of Research and Engineering at the NASA Dryden flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.  He has authored or co-authored over 20 NASA technical reports, journal articles and conference papers. He is active in several local school and community activities.

Posted: Thursday, January 8, 2009 - 00:00