September 3, 2007

Lester Prairie Alumni honored

By Samantha Schommer
Staff Intern

Three Lester Prairie High School alumni were recently honored at the July Board of Education meeting for their outstanding achievements since graduating high school.

Louis Dammann (‘59 graduate), Kay H. Konerza-Bachert (‘82 graduate), and Ralph C. Machemehl (‘56 graduate) were the three distinguished alumni that were presented with the honorable award.

All three of the honorees were asked a series of questions regarding what they enjoyed doing during high school, their post high school successes, and how their education at Lester Prairie High School impacted their lives.

What activities were you involved in during high school?

Kay Konerza-Bachert: “Girls basketball, track and field, volleyball, band, choir, student council, National Honor Society, and school mascot for all school sporting events.”

Louis Dammann: “Football, basketball, baseball, track (one year), voted Homecoming King, Letterman’s Club, Student Council vice president, class president (two years), County Day, and class play.”

Ralph Machemehl: “All sports and class play.”

Please list some of your personal and professional accomplishments.

Konerza-Bachert: “First female selected to SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) Team, assistant woman’s basketball coach at Colorado State University, police officer for the city of Fort Collins in Colorado for 10 years, received the Police Chief’s Commendation and Commitment to Excellence awards, co-founded the Fort Collins Police “HEAT” basketball team, 2006 KDUZ/KARP Radio Sports Hall of Fame inductee, and was selected to play for the AIA-USA Olympic team handball squad. Married to husband Garrett and the mother of four young children, Keziah, Jezreel, Mikyla, and Gabriel. Since 1999 we’ve owned our own internet-based business, mentoring and empowering others to reach their goals and dreams through an incredible business vehicle.”

Dammann: “General contractor for 39 years. Some of the buildings I did in the area, Quast Transfer office and terminal in Winsted and Mounds View, Wells Fargo Bank in Hutchinson, Hutchinson Telephone Co. in Hutchinson and Litchfield, Peace Lutheran Church in Hutchinson, and various high class homes in Hutchinson, Independence, and Golden Valley. Married to my wife, Leaette for 41 years, National Guard for six years, and played in two state tournaments for Town Team baseball.”

Machemehl: “I worked for Jenneke Oil since 1958, took two years off to serve in the U.S. Army, but resumed work at Jenneke Oil until 1971. I purchased Mobil Bulk Fuel Business in ‘72 as well as Jenneke Oil shortly after. In ‘83 I purchased Laxen Oil in Winsted, and combined the three companies into Ralph’s Oil Incorporated in Lester. I retired in 2000.”

How did your education impact your life?

Konerza-Bachert: “My education taught me how to budget my time; to be organized; how to interact with others; teaching and testing styles. The process of education helped me figure out how I learn. I have since learned applied knowledge is power; attaining a degree allowed me to apply and compete for a position in the work force. My education helped me to present myself in a positive way.”

Dammann: “I had some very good teachers in Alton Hovern, Violet Jenneke, and Bob Evans, which gave me a firm foundation to help me in my business and personal endeavors.”

Machemehl: “Math was very important in my business.”

What were some advantages and disadvantages of coming from a small school?

Konerza-Bachert: “You have a feeling of ‘family’ coming from a small school. Everyone knows everyone, and I saw that as a positive. It gives you the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. I liked the individualized attention we were given in the classroom and I appreciated getting to know my teachers as people away from school. The only disadvantage I saw was the level of competition; it might have been better at a larger school playing against other larger schools with bigger talent pools. In my opinion the advantages definitely outweighed the disadvantages.”

Dammann: “Advantages: Being able to participate in many things in the classroom and extra curricular gave me self-confidence. In a large school you might not have this opportunity. Disadvantages: Competition not as great.”

Machemehl: “I see no disadvantages at all. Advantages would be getting help from teachers and other classmates when needed.

What was one of your fondest memories of your years at LP Schools?

Konerza-Bachert: “Winning our first district girls basketball championship my freshman year against the favored Glencoe, having my jersey, number 21, retired, and being voted by my peers as the Homecoming Queen.”

Dammann: “Being able to participate in athletics in four sports.”

Machemehl: “Being involved in all activities and knowing all of your classmates and other students. It was Sept. 1952 that I met my wife, Donna.”

Do you have any advice you would like to give students today?

Konerza-Bachert: “Dream big dreams. Set your goals high. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Be friends with everyone. Work hard. Have fun. Don’t be afraid of failure. Try to learn something new every day. Live your life in such a way that your life will outlive your life.

Dammann: “Work hard in the classroom and extra curricular, because when you get out you will realize they are the best years of your life. Believe in yourself because most of the time nobody can do better.”

Machemehl: “Work hard. Play hard. Save your money. Be active in church, community, and your town.”

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