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Three PHS grads join District 202 Foundation Hall of Fame

Jean Brannen Dr. Jennifer Kelsall Sgt. Eric Munson Three distinguished Plainfield High School (now Central Campus) graduates will be inducted into the Plainfield Foundation for Excellence Alumni Hall of Fame at a special ceremony at the Foundation’s annual dinner and auction on Thursday, April 19, 2018.

The event, which serves as the Foundation’s main fundraiser, will be held at the Bolingbrook Golf Club, 2001 Rodeo Drive, Bolingbrook. Tickets are $75 each. The social hour and silent auction will begin at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7 p.m.

Tickets can be ordered from the front page of the Foundation for Excellence web site: . Click on the “Purchase Tickets” tab at the top of the page.

The Foundation for Excellence Alumni Hall of Fame was founded in 2011 to recognize and showcase graduates from District 202 to recognize those individuals who have created a legacy for current and future students.

All inductees must have graduated at least 20 years ago. Therefore, all inductees attended (then) Plainfield High School.

Those selected for induction have both achieved much in their chosen profession, and given back to District 202, their community or society. All inductees are nominated by community members.

“Each year it is our pleasure to recognize and honor several wonderful, talented District 202 graduates who have served District 202 and the community with dedication and integrity,” said Foundation for Excellence Chairman Matthew Starr.

The Alumni Hall of Fame Class of 2018 comprises (in alphabetical order):

  • 1974 graduate Jean Brannen (Community Service and Volunteerism)

Jean Brannen is a lifelong Plainfield resident, parent, business owner, civic leader and community volunteer, whose activities extend to nearly every part of the District 202 community.

Among her many achievements, Brannen has owned Smith and Associates Accounting for over 25 years and is a member of the Plainfield Chamber of Commerce. She is a member, sponsor of and current treasurer for the Plainfield Riverfront Foundation and PlainfieldFest volunteer.

Brannen helped found and remains active in the Plainfield Alumni Association and Homecoming Planning Committee. As president and treasurer, she helps organize and oversee one of the biggest community parades in Illinois.

On a personal level, Brannen was involved in the parent groups at all of her children’s schools. She gave countless hours of volunteer support at all three levels, chairing committees, helped build Homecoming floats, working social events, chaperoning student activities and getting her hands dirty – literally – helping to landscape all of her kids’ schools.

Finally, Brannen also served the community through the Plainfield Lions Club’s 2017 Christmas Basket program and as Program Book Sponsor for the Joliet Area YMCA Giving Gala, among many other activities. Likewise, she has provided free tax services to many school and community organizations.

  • 1989 graduate Dr. Jennifer (White) Kelsall (Education and Humanities)

Ridgewood District 234 Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jennifer Kelsall has been recognized as an educational leader both in Illinois and nationally.

Under her leadership, the Norridge, Illinois school district increased enrollment in its Advanced Placement courses and was named to the College Board’s AP Achievement List for its gains in AP access and student performance.

Ridgewood earned accolades for its excellence from the Washington Post in 2013 and US News and World Report in 2015 and 2017, and was also named an Apple Distinguished School during Kelsall’s tenure.

Kelsall supports fellow educators as a consultant with DLA Ltd. The company designs educational learning spaces for tomorrow learners. She has also served as a juror for the Learning by Design Journal and Illinois Association of School Boards to choose award-winning educational design spaces.

Finally, Kelsall also supports her community, serving on the Salvation Army Advisory Board (Norridge Citadel) and with the Rotary Club. She is also a member of the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (ONCC) and is Vice Chair of the ONCC School Sound Insulation committee.

  • 1987 graduate Eric Munson (Government and Military)

Sergeant Eric Munson started working with Plainfield Police Department in 1999. In 2007, he took over the department’s Traffic unit.

He has received numerous commendations and recognitions for his work, including the 2012 Supervisor of the Year award for his exceptional and professional service to both the department and the Village of Plainfield.

That year, Munson oversaw and coordinated several initiatives promoting road and vehicle safety including seatbelt campaigns, roadside safety checks, railroad grade crossing enforcement, speed awareness campaigns, Operation Prom Night re-enactment programs, and the Operation Life Saver program, among others.

Also in 2012, the International Association of Chiefs of Police National Law Enforcement Challenge recognized Munson by naming the Plainfield Police Department the First Place winner and recipient of the 2011 Championship Class. The department topped 19 other applicants including several with significantly larger police departments.

In fact, thanks largely to Munson’s leadership, the Plainfield Police Department has won every traffic challenge category for which it was eligible through the Illinois and International Association of Chiefs of Police.

The Plainfield Foundation for Excellence Alumni Hall of Fame comprises:

The Class of 2017

  • Nequa Valley High School Athletic Director Barbara Barrows (1978) for achievement in Education and Humanities
  • AeroTek Design Labs, LLC founder Greg Chapman (1972) for achievement in Business and Commerce
  • Businessman Terry D’Arcy (19740 for achievement in Philanthropy and Non-Profit service
  • Doctor Allen Saxon (1967) for achievement in Medicine and Health
  • Firefighter and paramedic Charles “Chuck” Willard (1982) for achievement in Government and Military

The Class of 2016

  • Nursing Professor Dr. Amber Kujath (1993), for achievement in Medicine and Health
  • Retired FBI trainer and administrator Catherine Fletcher (1974), for achievement in Government and Military Service
  • Retired District 202 educator and high school principal Tom Hensel (1967), for achievement in Education and Humanities
  • Plainfield Central Elementary School Principal Linda DiLeo (1980), for achievement in Education and Humanities
  • Scientist Dr. Lee Gehrke (1970), for achievement in Science and Technology

The Class of 2015:

  • Business owner John Berst (1959) for achievement in Business and Commerce, Community Service and Volunteerism and Philanthropy and Non-Profit Service.
  • Communications Designer Justin Ahrens (1990) for achievement in Arts and Entertainment and Philanthropy and Non-Profit Service.
  • Retired Air Force Lt. Col. and United States Air Force Bands Conductor Roger Sebby (1964) for achievement in Arts and Entertainment.
  • Maria College (New Jersey) President Dr. Lea Johnson (1968) for achievement in Education and Humanities.

The Class of 2014:

  • Plainfield Mayor Mike Collins (1964) for achievement in government and military

The Class of 2013:

  • Architect Cliff Bender (1969) for achievement in science and technology
  • Bonnie Lutter (1954) for her community service and volunteerism
  • Dr. Jeff Ryan (1989) for achievement in medicine and health

The Class of 2012:

  • Judy Avery (1959) for her outstanding accomplishments in community service and volunteerism, and
  • Dr. Burt Saxon (1965) for his professional achievements in education.

The Class of 2011:

  • Karen Hamilton (1958) for her community service and volunteerism
  • Dr. Bradley Barnes (1977) for his work in the field of dentistry
  • Lt. Col. Christopher Cozzi (1988) for his service in the U.S. Air Force, and
  • Dr. Julie Ruddy (1988) for her service as a clinical psychologist for the U.S. Navy.

Since 1983 the Plainfield Foundation for Excellence has raised and contributed about $500,000 to support District 202 students and staff in the form of grants, scholarships and special funding.

The Foundation has also supported special programs including a District Art Gallery, the Great Read community reading program and the 1847 Schoolhouse Restoration.