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Leaders, athletes, champions join BHS Hall of Fame

The Burnsville High School Hall of Fame Class of 2014 represents the tremendous breadth of success achieved by members of the BHS community both at the school and beyond. 

2014 Inductees are graduates Jim Banke, Janet Barker Cain, James Campbell, Denise Johnson Hennen and Lance Werness, retired teacher/coach Neal Jeppson, and the 1972 Minnesota state champion football team. They will join 60 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,” according to Dave Helke, principal.

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.

2014 Hall of Fame Inductees:

Jim Banke, Class of 1980, was selected to participate in the Hugh O’Brien Youth Foundation state convention, was named Minnesota’s outstanding sophomore leader for 1978 and represented the state at the International Leadership Seminar in New York City. He worked closely with Supt. Bob Tschirki during the time when student representation on the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Board of Education had just started. He served on the Student Council from 1977-1979 and was elected student body president for 1979-80. He was a member of Chamber Chorale and produced and co-hosted the annual pop concert during his junior and senior years, working with music teacher Loren Squires. Banke attended Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, graduating in 1987 with a B.S. in Aviation Business Administration. There he served as president of the school’s student chapter of the L5 Aerospace Society, a national space advocacy organization now known as the National Space Society.  As the organization’s president, he was asked to represent the student body in testifying before members of the National Space Commission, which included Neil Armstrong, about the future of the space program. He also served as space technology editor for the student newspaper, The Avion. In that capacity, Banke was present at Kennedy Space Center’s press site in 1986 during the Challenger disaster. After college, Banke worked for 16 years as an aerospace journalist and early pioneer in online journalism, initially for Florida Today/USA Today. He was hired by Lou Dobbs and Sally Ride to work for For the past decade he has worked more directly on behalf of the space program, establishing himself as a major voice and leader within the space community, both locally along Florida’s Space Coast and nationally. In 2006, he was selected by then Gov. Jeb Bush to serve on the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Space and Aeronautics in Florida. Since 2007, Banke has worked as an independent consultant and owner/president of MILA Solutions, LLC with customers including NASA, the Space Foundation, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and the Astronauts Memorial Foundation.  He serves on several boards of directors including the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Museum Foundation, and the National Space Club Florida Committee. He provides live coverage for all rocket launches from Cape Canaveral on WMMB-AM radio and hosts a weekly hour-long show called “Space Talk.” He has received many awards including the 2013 NASA Group Achievement Award-Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, the 2007 NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal (the government’s highest award for a non-government employee) and the 2003 Online News Association Award for Breaking News (coverage of the Columbia disaster). As a member of the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Space and Aeronautics in Florida, Banke originated the idea and wrote the report that led to the creation of Space Florida, the state’s current space agency. He also produced, directed and emceed numerous space-related community events including Kennedy Space Center’s 50th Anniversary Gala.

Janet L. Barke Cain, a 1982 BHS graduate, serves as the State of Minnesota’s First Judicial District Court Judge. She attended the University of Minnesota, where she graduated in May 1986 with a business degree from the Carlson School of Management and was recognized on the Dean’s List. She attended the Hamline University School of Law where she graduated Cum Laude in 1986. There Cain was a Merit Scholarship recipient, was on the National Dean’s Honor Roll and received the Am Ju Award in Evidence and Litigation Practice. She also served as associate articles editor of the Law Review in 1987-88 and editor in 1988-89. Cain was responsible for all aspects of criminal prosecution as well as the necessary legal research and paperwork associated with courtroom appearances as an assistant city attorney in the Criminal Division of the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office from 1992-94. She then moved to the Carver County Attorney’s Office where she served as assistant county attorney in the Criminal Division from 1994-96 and the Civil Division in 1996. She became the Juvenile Division Head in 1996, a position she held until 2008. There Cain was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Division including supervision, case management and policy and procedure development and implementation for juvenile delinquency and child protection matters. She was responsible for training local law enforcement, social services employees and other county agencies on a variety of juvenile, criminal and civil issues.  Gov. Tim Pawlenty appointed Cain as the State of Minnesota First Judicial District Court Judge in 2007. She is responsible for handling all calendars in the district including Criminal, Family, Juvenile Delinquency, Children in Need of Protection or Services and Conciliation Court. She is also the presiding Judge for the first Veteran’s Court in the First Judicial District.  She serves as the lead judge for the State of Minnesota Children’s Justice Initiative Carver County CHIPS Mediation Pilot Project and is responsible for implementing Early Neutral Evaluation in Carver Courts. Cain also serves on the Minnesota Supreme Court Juvenile Protection Rules Committee, the Minnesota District Judges Association Board of Directors and the Minnesota Tribal Courts/State Court Committee. Cain is active in the Burnsville community volunteering with the Vista View Elementary PTO, Nicollet Junior High and Burnsville High School fundraising activities, serving on the District 191 Community Education Advisory Council, and volunteering with the Burnsville Athletic Club.

James Campbell, a four-year class officer at Burnsville High School, graduated in 1963. He was an honor graduate, a charter member of the National Honor Society, president of Student Council, and played in the band for four years. He earned three football letters, three baseball letters and two basketball letters. He served as co-captain of each of those teams his senior year and quarterbacked the 1960 Missota Conference Championship football team (the first year of Missota Conference play). He was the 1962 homecoming king, was recognized with a citizenship award and was the recipient of a PTA scholarship. Campbell received his BS degree in Mathematics from the University of Saint Thomas in 1967. While attending college, he taught physical education and coached basketball at St. John the Baptist School in Savage. He attended the University of Minnesota from 1967-68 working on a Master’s of Science degree in mathematics, but enlisted in the U.S. Army prior to completing that degree. He served as an officer on active duty from 1968-1971 and then served in the Reserves until 2000 when he retired as a colonel. He received three Meritorious Service Medals and a Legion of Merit during his service. Campbell earned his Masters of Science in 1972 from the University of Oregon. He then taught mathematics and coached football, baseball and basketball first at Mechanic Arts High School in St. Paul and then at Hastings High School from 1972-1981. During this time he served on the mathematics education advisory board at the University of Minnesota. Campbell left academia for a computer programmer analyst position at Smead Manufacturing in 1981 where he introduced personal computer technology and conducted staff training. He developed the Information Center concept and expanded technology capabilities nationally to branch locations. From 1986-1996, Campbell worked for Washington County as manager of the Information Technology Department. During his tenure, the Washington County Information Center User Specialist Program, land management tract index and criminal justice (ALERTS) development teams won awards from the National Association of Counties. Campbell moved to the job of director of the Public Services and Revenue Division for Dakota County in 1996, a position he held through 2000, when he became Director of Information Technology.  He led the county-wide Y2K project and annually developed a county strategic plan to define the mission, vision and technology goals, a document that served as a model for other governmental agencies nationwide. The Center for Digital Government recognized Dakota County in six of his seven years as IT Director, ranking it in the top ten nationally of 3,068 counties for the quality, efficiency, effectiveness and responsiveness of its technology services to its citizens. He retired in 2007. Campbell was an active volunteer throughout his career, serving on the Hastings Youth Athletic Association providing administrative help and coaching youth baseball, football and soccer. He also taught fourth grade Junior Achievement and served on the Saint Elizabeth Seton Parochial School Board. He currently volunteers at Lake Region Hospital in Fergus Falls.

Denise Johnson Hennen, Class of 1982, was a member of the National Honor Society during all three years of her high school career. She was a nine-time letter winner in swimming, cross country skiing and track and field during her time at Burnsville High School. She qualified for the Nordic skiing Minnesota State Tournament all three of her high school years. Hennen was also All Conference and a three-year letter winner in track and field. She excelled in swimming and was part of the 1981 girls’ swimming and diving state championship team. She was a six-time state runner-up in four different individual swim events and earned All-Conference, All-State and All-America honors. At one time, Hennen held every BHS individual swimming event record. She received a swimming scholarship to the University of Minnesota where she was Big Ten champion and runner-up in two individual events during her freshman year. She was the first female swimmer at the University of Minnesota (along with a teammate) to be named an NCAA All-American. Hennen was an assistant coach for the Wayzata Country Club Swim Team as they won 10 straight Western Country Club Swim League championships. She also served as girls head coach and boys assistant coach for the Eagan High School swim teams for four years.  She was an ACE certified group fitness instructor for 28 years. Hennen has been a busy volunteer as a booster club member for five years and home meet scorekeeper for five years for the University of Minnesota Swim/Dive Team. She spent eight years as the Shakopee hockey registrar and two years as the uniform coordinator for Shakopee soccer.  She also served as Girls Team representative for two years for Minnesota Valley Gymnastics and treasurer for them for two years and was the assistant show director for the Shockwaves Water Ski Show Team for four years.  In addition, she taught Sunday School catechism at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church for seven years. Hennen has also dealt with adversity, having been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2008 and with a brain tumor in April 2012 which was removed in 2013.

Neal Jeppson taught physical education and health at Burnsville High School from 1973-2003, and served as the head baseball coach for 29 years and assistant coach for two years. He also spent 31 years as an assistant football coach. He was a Fellowship of Christian Athlete Huddle Leader from 1988-1996 and served as the Section 6AA Coaches Representative from 1998-2003. He was named Region 1 Coach of the Year in 1981, 1983 and 1989 and Minnesota High School All-Star Baseball coach in 1989 and 1998. He was named Amateur Sportsman of the Year by Northwest Umpires in 1989. Jeppson was awarded the Minnesota High School Baseball Coaches Association Past President's Award in 1996-1998 and the Minnesota Baseball Coaches Association Dick Siebert Award in 1999. He was selected as the Burnsville High School Teacher of the Year in 2002. He was inducted into the Minnesota Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005 and also served on the Board of Baseball Association 191 from 1988 until today.

Lance Werness graduated from Burnsville High School in 1987. He was a gifted athlete who earned varsity letters in football in 1985 and 1986. He played on the 1985 state champion team and was named to the All-Conference and All-State teams in 1986. Werness was a three-year letter winner in baseball serving as captain of the team in 1987. He was named All-Conference in 1987 and played in the Minnesota Metro All-Star game in 1987. He lettered in hockey in 1985, 1986 and 1987 as a member of the 1985 and 1986 State Champion team and the 1987 State Champion Runner-Up team. He served as captain of the 1987 team and was named to the All-Conference, All-Metro and the Team Minnesota All-Star teams that year. Werness was awarded a University of Minnesota athletic scholarship, playing hockey for the Gophers from 1988 through 1991. He received his bachelor's degree in 1992.  Werness played hockey for the St. Paul Fighting Saints from 1992-1993.

The 1972 Burnsville High School Football Team is also being honored. Coached by long-time coach and Hall of Fame member Dick Hanson, the team won the state championship that year, the first football championship for Burnsville High School in the Missota Valley Conference.  

Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 12:17