The hustle and bustle of Homecoming Week largely focuses on today’s high school students, but one Homecoming evening last week was set aside to honor some of their best and brightest as the school district inducted two more Monticello alumni into their Wall of Fame.
Julie Lyn Fish (Class of 1981) and John Pederson (Class of 1986) were celebrated for the life accomplishments they have made since graduation, a tradition the district has been following in fits and starts since 1995 due to occasional funding difficulties.
That’s because new inductees have been added every other year. Joel Lundin, Wall of Fame co-chair, said he is working to make the Wall of Fame induction an annual event.
This year’s inductees have many commonalities, Lundin said.
“They are civic minded, they give back,” he said, noting that this attribute is one of the most important lessons they are trying to impart on today’s students.
Julie Lyn Fish
As a high school student with her fingers in many aspects of student life, from drama and the arts to athletics and many things in between, Julie Lyn Fish received the Rotary Club’s first Student of the Month award as well as the high school’s Arian Award for her singing abilities.
She believes her leadership abilities to be ‘a gift from God,’ and that she was taught by her parents’ example how to give back to the community where she lives, works and prays. Fish said her parents were a model of volunteerism, love, kindness and positive attitudes that she could emulate as she grew.
Today, Fish is an active member of the Elk River community, taking on leadership roles in both the Elk River Rotary Club and the Elk River Chamber of Commerce for the better part of three decades.
She is a volunteer at the CAER food shelf and is also a member of the Monticello American Legion Auxiliary.
“Believe that you are who you are supposed to be, and make the best of what you have,” Fish said as her advice to today’s students, “and find something every -day to be grateful for.”
John Carrol Pederson
John Pederson’s mother, Grace Pederson, gave the introductions to her son at Wednesday night’s ceremony, highlighting his high school and church involvement as a youth and his accomplishments since then.
In his college years, he spent a summer in Philadelphia developing and implementing summer outreach programs in a low-income area.
He has also worked at a group home for teenage boys. Pederson is currently the vice-president of the family business, Amcon Block, which supplied the building materials for many Monticello projects such as the newer schools, the community center, churches, other retail facilities in town as well as other projects in a five-state area.
Grace said her son is very involved with the St. Cloud community, taking part in “too many things to list.” He has taught classes at local colleges and served two terms on the St. Cloud city council.
In 2010 he was encouraged to run for the state senate and was elected a Minnesota state senator in November of that year. Because of redistricting he is now out campaigning and running for re-election.
“He has worked to be a positive influence on those around him by trying to demonstrate priorities that include faith, family, education and hard work,” Grace said of her son.
The third of four children, Pederson said many of his family memories relate to the work they did together on their farm.
This instilled a work ethic in himself and his siblings that he said made it tough to follow in the big footsteps of his two older siblings when he arrived at Monticello High School.
Pederson said he never imagined himself becoming a ‘part-time politician’ in Minnesota, but opportunities and changes to his original life plans led him this way.
“Instead of working for the airline industry, I started selling septic tanks for my father,” Pederson said, noting that his decision to be open to change allowed him business opportunities and experiences that he would have never otherwise gotten, experiences that now contribute to his ability to serve effectively as one of the state’s political leaders.