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Brian Scholl did postdoctoral work at Harvard University before joining the faculty at Yale University where he has been a professor of psychology and cognitive science since 2001. (Submitted photo)

Richard Schwenk and Brian Scholl are newest inductees to Hudson High School's Wall of Fame

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This year's Hudson High School Wall of Fame inductees are alumni Richard Schwenk, Class of 1953, and Brian Scholl, Class of 1990. Both men hold Ph.D.'s and went on to distinguished careers following their graduations. They will be honored at a dinner and ceremony at their alma mater on Thursday, Sept. 26. The public is invited to attend.

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The dinner begins at 6 p.m. followed by the program at 6:45 p.m. The program is open to the public but reservations are required for the dinner. For more information contact Marie Roe at (715) 377-3800.

Richard Schwenk

When he graduated from high school in Hudson in 1953, Richard Schwenk, 79, was just beginning his formal education. He went on to earn his bachelor's degree from UW-River Falls; his master's degree in divinity from Garrett Theological Seminary; a second master's from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. and his Ph.D., also from Cornell.

Schwenk said he went on to use his education and experiences to help others. He spent more than 39 years as a missionary in the Philippine Islands and Malaysia through the Methodist church. During those years he often taught agriculture at high schools.

Schwenk said that no matter the position he held or the community he was serving, his focus was always helping the people live healthier and more productive lives.

Now living full time in Naperville, Ill., Schwenk has found another mission, this time in his hometown where he founded the German Settlement Heritage Society which is researching the history of German settlers east of Hudson.

Genealogies of the original settlers have been developed, buildings have been resurrected, park land has been set aside, graves have been discovered and revitalized.

Schwenk attended high school in what is now Willow River Elementary. He recalled that his graduating class had about 50 students in it. He was a "country boy" who enjoyed school. Among his favorite teachers were math teacher Helen Hughes, science teacher Al Weitkamp who also served as his Boy Scout leader, and Wilfred Heiting, another science teacher and Schwenk's boxing coach for four years.

When he graduated, Schwenk wanted to attend the University of Minnesota to study forestry or agriculture but couldn't afford the tuition. That's when E.P. Rock, Hudson educator and superintendent offered Schwenk a football scholarship to UW-River Falls.

"It was for $99 a year -- $33 per quarter," Schwenk recalled.

Over the years, he has stayed in touch with classmates and friends from Hudson. He counted the late Willis Miller among them and when in town, joined Miller for coffee at Dibbos.

He says he is "flabbergasted and happy" to receive this alumni award. He will attend the ceremony with his wife of more than 52 years, Caring Schwenk. His sister, JoAnn Schwenk Carlson of White Bear Lake, Minn., will also attend.

Schwenk says he has been, and continues to be, a missionary.

Brian Scholl

Brian Scholl has come a long way since graduating Hudson High School in 1990.

After receiving his undergraduate degree from Carleton College Northfield, Minn., he went onto earn his master's degree and his Ph.D. from Rutgers University in New Jersey. He did postdoctoral work at Harvard University before joining the faculty at Yale University where he has been a professor of psychology and cognitive science since 2001.

He also serves as director of the Yale Perception and Cognition Laboratory where he and lab members are researching all aspects of perception, cognition, and how they relate to each other.

Scholl grew up on Carmichael Road and attended E.P. Rock Elementary and the former Fourth Street School before going on to the Hudson Junior High School and Hudson High School.

He said he made a lot of good friends at HHS and keeps in touch with them. His favorite memories there involve music and his time in the marching band, band and choir including the swing choir. "I enjoyed a pretty balanced life there and those experiences are among my best memories."

Scholl said he loved his math and science classes in those days and "gobbled it all up." He knew when he graduated he wanted to be a scientist. He received his undergraduate degree in computer science and expected to have a career in the field of artificial intelligence but said he became interested in the real thing and built his career there.

He said he likes to tell his new college students that there are two kinds of freshmen -- "those who have no idea what they want to do and those who are wrong."

"I think it is intellectually irresponsible to have decided what you are going to do with your life before you know what's out there. You have to stay open to all the possibilities."

Scholl said he continues to be fascinated by his work studying the human brain and is fortunate to be working at one of the country's best universities with high caliber undergraduate and graduate students from all over the world.

"I can't believe I get to get up every day and study the most fascinating thing in the world."

Scholl said he only wishes his late father Don, also a HHS alumnus, was alive to share in this honor.

Scholl and his partner Wendy Reilly are parents of a 3-year-old. He will be unable to attend the ceremony because he will be in New York City filming a segment of his research for the "Brain Game" on the National Geographic channel. His mother, Jean Moen Scholl, still lives in Hudson and will be at the ceremony with his brother Steven, a teacher and a member of the HHS Class of 1992.

Inductees to the Wall of Fame are chosen by a committee of HHS alumni.

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Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
(715) 808-8604
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