This year's Centennial Hall of Fame inductees have two things in common — their support of Centennial Schools and students, and their passion for education.
Circle Pines Mayor Dave Bartholomay and longtime theater director Mark Quinlan were formally inducted into the Centennial Hall of Fame Friday, Sept. 27. Quinlan was previously inducted into the Hall of Fame in May prior to the opening of the spring play “Becoming Memories.” He passed away days later after a battle with thyroid cancer.
“This year our Hall of Fame inductees represent distinguished service to our district. We are honored to include two great supporters of our schools and students for their work and passion for education,” said Superintendent Brian Dietz.
The Hall of Fame, established in 2013, honors alumni and individuals who have made a significant impact on Centennial Schools. The Hall of Fame has two categories: Distinguished Alumni and Distinguished Service. The former honors individuals who have a longstanding history of service to the district and who have provided services of time and commitment to education. This year marks the seventh addition to the list of honorees.
Bartholomay has been an avid supporter of Centennial Schools since 2000 and was elected as the mayor of Circle Pines in 2006.
“Mayor Dave’s passion is servant leadership and to build a better community. Mayor Dave is a strong supporter of the community and an advocate for public schools,” said Centennial High School (CHS) junior Skylar Dahl, who happens to be Bartholomay's neighbor.
“His partnership with the district has grown over the past 19 years, impacting Centennial students with his desire to improve the lives of young people ... Mayor Dave
has certainly left his mark on the education of Centennial students.”
It is not uncommon to find Bartholomay reading to students or attending school events. He speaks at the annual senior assembly, lectures in American Government class and is a supporter of the district's annual Service Day. He has also served on various committees, including the Superintendent Search Committee, Strategic Planning Committee and numerous levy committees. Bartholomay was a founding member of the Centennial Area Education Foundation.
Bartholomay said he was humbled to receive the award and took time out of his induction speech to recognize other community members who support Centennial Schools. He then shared why he decided to run for re-election for mayor rather than the vacant Anoka County Commissioner District 6 seat.
“This summer (my wife) Janis and I were working on the gardens in our front yard. We were discussing the pros and cons of whether I should run for county commissioner or perhaps the state Legislature someday. And at that moment, two young boys rode by on their bikes. And as they cruised by, they waved and hollered, ‘Hi, Mayor Dave!’” he recalled. “I knew right then that my place was here, where I can serve and make a real difference. Where I can use the lessons I've learned from the tremendous people who have been in my life, to help build a community that loves, supports and lifts up our kids.”
Quinlan was honored for his decades of service to the district.
“We are honored that he was able to be recognized for his long-standing commitment to the district as a teacher of language arts, speech and theater at CHS for 38 years, retiring in 2016, and for his continued dedication to students as director of theater and head speech coach for 41 years,” said CHS senior Lauren Couillard.
Quinlan's many accomplishments could fill a book. His contributions to CHS began with volunteer work in 1978; he took over as theater director in 1979. His repertoire includes 39 musicals, 41 one-act productions, and 111 plays. Quinlan is credited with building the speech team, which began with nine students in 1979 and now has around 60 students. He was also an announcer for Centennial football and basketball games for over 20 years and served on various district committees, including the design committee for the Performing Arts Center, as well as the Centennial Education Association.
At the induction, Quinlan's family showed a photo slideshow; at its conclusion, there was not a dry eye in the room. Nancy Schnickels-Bledsoe, a retired Centennial English teacher, said a few words about Quinlan and re-read the speech that Quinlan had colleague John Eret read for him when he accepted the award in May.
“For many years Mark and I shared a hallway between our two rooms, and he was the itch you could never get rid of. I loved him dearly, and this is the only time in 41 years that I ever saw Mark speechless,” Schnickels-Beldsoe said.
Quinlan's speech read in part, “It is certainly an honor to be inducted into this prestigious organization. As the years pass and the number of inductees grows, the prestige will only grow as I am joined by more and more deserving members. As I look back over the past 41 years, I can take pride in how what I have done in the classroom (and) on stage has made a positive impact on so many lives.”
Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or email@example.com.