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Highland Alumni Committee

Last Updated: 9/16/2021 8:39 PM

Alumni Assn LogoHighland Alumni Committee
The purpose of the Highland Alumni Committee, in partnership with The Highland Foundation, is to engage, solicit and establish a Highland alumni donor base, as well as to enhance the presence of this group in the Highland community. The goal is to resonate the importance of Highland community pride and perpetual support from its members – past, present and future. The committee works to increase alumni participation in The Highland Foundation events and charitable giving and maintain and foster collaborative relationships for future initiatives.

In 2017, the committee hosted its first annual Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame. Although we have much work to do, we are confident that the Hall of Fame will become a way to recognize and promote the legacy of Highland Local Schools for past and future generations. 

Current honorees are Highland graduates who have achieved success in their careers and/or have made significant contributions in their fields, as well as to society, the state and/or on a global scale. 

Questions about the Highland Alumni Committee should be directed to Terri Pfister at terri.pfister@highlandfoundation.org.


  ALUMNI HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES  

2021 HOF inducteesNewest Members of Hall of Fame Inducted
The Highland Alumni Association, in partnership with The Highland Foundation, inducted its third class of Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame members on October 8. The district and community celebrated the honorees at a special ceremony and reception held at Highland High School, followed by recognition during halftime at Highland’s Homecoming football game.  

The six newest inductees span generations of Highland graduates, reinforcing the district’s ongoing commitment to educational excellence. Congratulations to Todd Bischof (1981), Kimberly Bolas Miller (1989), Gary Green (1970), John Kobs (1999), Mike Kudla (2002) - Posthumously, and William Wagar (1983) - Posthumously. Also honored were 2019 inductees Dwier Brown (1976) and Jim Ritcher (1976) who were unable to attend their induction ceremony held in 2019. 

The Highland Alumni Association recognizes a new class of honorees every two years, with nominations accepted via The Highland Foundation website. The Selection Committee, composed of members of The Highland Foundation executive committee, considers various criteria when selecting Distinguished Alumni, including a nominee’s accomplishments in their chosen vocation, their demonstrated leadership skills and their commitment to the community. All nominees must have graduated from Highland at least 10 years ago. 

  • Todd Bischof, a 1981 graduate, played football and basketball. He attended Akron University and the Illinois College of Optometry. Todd is certified and licensed by the International and Ohio Boards of Optometric Examiners in the treatment and management of ocular disease. In 1997, he joined the Davis Eye Center where he practices today.
  • Kimberly Bolas Miller graduated in 1989. She was involved in Student Council and concert and marching bands while at Highland. She also participated in Track and Basketball.  Kimberly received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration/Finance from the University of Akron. She is now a Private Banker with Westfield Bank and a Trustee for Sharon Township.
  • Gary Green graduated in 1970. While at Highland, Gary played football, basketball, baseball, and was in the Choir. He was awarded All-District All-Ohio for his athleticism. Gary received a master’s degree in Education and coached football at Walsh University and the College of Wooster. He also had the privilege of coaching football at Wooster High School under his Highland High School football coach, Bob McFarland.
  • Mike Kudla graduated in 2002 and is being awarded posthumously. His mother, Mary Fran Kudla, is standing in his honor. At Highland, Mike participated in National Honor Society and was a Peer Leader. He lettered in football, basketball, and Track and Field. Most notably, he was the 2005 Defensive MVP for the Ohio State University Football Team. He graduated with a degree in Business and developed hospital and medical facilities throughout the eastern United States.
  • William Wagar graduated in 1983 and is being awarded posthumously. His widow, Jenny Napier, is standing in his honor. At Highland, William participated in football, basketball, and National Honor Society. He attended Bowling Green State University where he received a bachelor’s degree in Math and Computer Science. He earned a master’s degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from Cleveland State University. At the time of his death in 2000, he had just completed the development of the Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System for NASA Glenn as its project manager. This instrument is still in service today in the International Space Station.
  • John Kobs, 1999 graduate, was an Eagle Scout and participated in football, wrestling, and track while at Highland. He was student body president during his senior year. He received his bachelor’s degree in management and finance from Case Western Reserve University. There he played football and ran indoor and outdoor track and was all conference football player in 2000 and 2001. John is the CEO and founder of Apartment List, the fastest growing rental marketplace in the United States. Apartment List was named in Forbes list as the most Promising Company in America. John, his wife, and baby daughter reside in San Francisco.

Alumni Association Announces 2019 Hall of Fame Inductees
MEDINA, OH (SEPTEMBER 24, 2019) -- The Highland Alumni Association, in partnership with The Highland Foundation for Educational Excellence, is pleased to announce their second class of Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame inductees. The five honorees span generations of Highland graduates, reinforcing the district’s ongoing commitment to educational excellence. The district and community will celebrate the honorees at a special Hall of Fame ceremony and reception at 5 p.m. on Friday, October 11 in the Highland Middle School Cafeteria. The event is open to the public. Tickets are $20 per person and may be purchased at the door. Cost includes food and refreshments.
 

Dwier Brown Dwier Brown – 1976
While at Highland, Dwier played basketball, ran cross-country and track, and had the lead in the school’s musicals both his junior and senior years. After high school, Dwier graduated Magna Cum Laude from Ashland University with a bachelor’s in Drama. He began his professional career in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles in 1982. Since then, he has performed in hundreds of films, plays and television shows. Most notably, he played Kevin Costner’s father in the movie Field of Dreams. He has returned many times to speak to Highland drama students. Recently he returned for an Alumni Forum to talk about his book, If You Build it… A Book about Fathers, Fate, and Field of Dreams.
 

DDale Chorbaale Chorba – 1981
A standout student/athlete, Dale was on the golf and basketball teams while at Highland. He is well-known in the local community, both for his volunteer work and as the president/owner of Action Management Services. His privately held search and executive recruitment firm has been named to the Forbes Top Recruitment organizations two years running. Dale serves as a trustee for The Highland Foundation as well as the Hinckley Chamber of Commerce, where he is famous for his home-cooked sausage at the annual Buzzard Day Pancake Breakfast.  


Dan HahnDan Hahn – 1987
Dan made a name for himself at Highland through his dedication to music and drama. This passion continued at Baldwin Wallace University where he earned a bachelor’s in Theater, followed by a master’s from the University of Akron. Over the years, he has been an adjunct professor at Baldwin Wallace and the Director of Education for Great Lakes Theater. Today, Dan serves as the Vice President for Community Engagement and Education at Playhouse Square, where he oversees the Dazzle Awards and the Children’s Theater Series. He also spearheads their sensory-friendly initiatives and is creating programs to serve the hearing-impaired, refugee communities and children in foster care.

Jim RitcherJames Ritcher – 1976
Jim wrestled and played football for Highland and received many accolades over the years, including First Team All-County. He continued his football career at North Carolina State University where he won the Outland Trophy – an honor given to the nation’s best college interior lineman. In 1980, the Buffalo Bills selected Jim in the first round of the NFL draft, and he played for the team for 13 years -- including four Super Bowl appearances and two Pro Bowls. In 1998, Jim was selected to the College Football Hall of Fame and in 1999 inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. He is currently a commercial pilot with American Airlines.

Jill Smith-SooyJill Smith-Sooy – 1993
Jill was a scholar athlete in basketball, softball and volleyball while at Highland, where she won countless league, district and state honors, including Medina County Female Athlete of the Decade, Medina County Sports Hall of Fame, and United States Army Reserves National Scholar/Athlete Award. After high school, Jill continued balancing sports with academics. She played basketball and volleyball at Baldwin Wallace University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and was named a four-time all Ohio Athletic Conference honoree and inducted into the Baldwin Wallace Sports Hall of Fame. She continued her studies at Kent State University, earning a master’s in Library Science. She is the Library Media Specialist and Computational Thinking Lab Instructor at the Hudson Montessori School.



The Highland Alumni Association recognizes a new class of honorees every two years, with nominations accepted via The Highland Foundation website. The Selection Committee, comprised of members of The Highland Foundation executive committee, considers various criteria when selecting Distinguished Alumni, including a nominee’s accomplishments in their chosen vocation, their demonstrated leadership skills and their commitment to the community. All nominees must have graduated from Highland at least 10 years ago.


Committee Inducts First Group into Highland Alumni Hall of FameAlumni Hall of Fame Inductees
MEDINA, OH (OCTOBER 6, 2017) -- The Highland Alumni Association, in partnership with The Highland Foundation for Educational Excellence hosted the Inaugural Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame on October 6 at Highland Middle School. The committee honored the first Hall of Fame class and recognized the 50th Anniversary of the Class of 1968. It was a special evening, as Highland Board of Education member Chris Wolny read each inductee’s impressive list of accomplishments. 

Congratulations to the following Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Dr. Roger Chaffee is a graduate of the class of 1976.  Academically, he was at the top of his class and was the lead in the high school musical. He played basketball, baseball and was a co-captain of the football team. He earned his undergraduate from Ohio Wesleyan where he also played basketball and baseball.  He earned his medical degree from The Ohio State University. Dr. Chaffee is the chair of Summa Health System’s Department of Cardiovascular Disease, medical director of an Akron free clinic and the recipient of the Dr. Carl E. Krill Sr. Award.
  • Barbara J. (Khoenle) Dzur, a 1959 graduate, was just as active in high school as she is now in the Medina County community. In high school, Barbara was class president, active in yearbook, the Girl's Athletic Association and Future Teachers of America. She was also a Homecoming attendant. She holds a bachelor of science in Secondary Education/English and Psychology, a Masters of Education in Guidance and Counseling and postgraduate studies doctoral program in School Administration. 
  • William S. (Bill) Konyha is a 1966 graduate. He played football and baseball. Bill attended Kent State University and Ball State University. He has been active in a number of community development projects including rural community and rural economic development efforts. Bill has had an exemplary political career as he has worked in the Indiana Economic Development Association and served as the Chair of its Legislative Committee. Bill was awarded the highest award an individual may receive for service and leadership in Indiana. 
  • Dr. Jeffrey Pay is a 1994 graduate. While at Highland, Dr. Pay was a member of the National Honor Society and was a National Merit Finalist. He played football, golf, basketball and baseball and was also a member of the concert band. Dr. Pay is an accomplished ER doctor, youth football coach, dedicated husband, father and Highland community member. 
  • Dr. Charles R. Pfister, 1973 graduate, is a well-known and respected orthodontist working in our community. Dr. Pfister earned his undergraduate degree from the College of Wooster and his dental degree from Case Western University. Dr. Pfister remains an active member of the dental community and the Highland community. He has been a youth athletics coach and supporter of various Highland groups including being a key sponsor and supporter of The Highland Foundation.

The event was catered by alumni John Kolar, Executive Chef/Owner of Thyme 2, and Chef Jennifer Englehart-Starcher of Eclectic Edibles Catering. 

Contact Us
The Highland Foundation 3880 Ridge Road
Medina, OH 44256