Jim Buckley, Redwood Area Board of Education member and Evening of the Stars emcee said it best May 1.

“Tonight we have a unique opportunity to celebrate the past and the future,” he said, as he pointed to those who were being inducted into the Redwood Area Schools Hall of Fame and the impact they have made, as well as to the members of the RVHS Class of 2019 and the potential impact those students could have on their community in the years to come.

Four individuals were inducted May 1, including Wallace Simpson, Nick Stanton, Linda Zeug and Rick Thielen, and as each message was shared the concepts of working hard and taking chances were shared repeatedly.

Rose Simpson, the wife of Wallace Simpson (both Belview natives), spoke on his behalf and shared it has been said that people are often without honor in their own country.

“Your wonderful award tonight shows that Wally is honored in his own country,” said Rose, expressing thanks from the bottom of their hearts for that honor.

Nick Stanton said he enjoyed his time at Redwood Valley as a student, adding he learned important life lessons during those formative years of his life.

Whether it was running in cross country and track or meticulously preparing the 100-page application that was required as part of his application for acceptance into the USC film school, Stanton learned the value of hard work.

Stanton said he put in many miles during the summer months to better himself as a runner, adding that paid off when he qualified for the state track meet. Yet, Stanton added, it was at that same state race when Stanton learned another valuable lesson.

As the race neared its end, Stanton found himself at the head of the pack with a state championship in sight. He has a decision to make. Would he start his kick early or run a more conservative race?

“Ultimately, I didn’t take a chance,” he said, adding several runners past him in those final laps.

Seven years later, with his college degree, Stanton was working in a mail room trying to make ends meet.

“I was quickly running out of money,” said Stanton, adding his plan to make it big on a game show did not pan out.

Things were not working out the way he had planned, and so, like that day at the state track meet, Stanton found himself with a decision to make. This time he took the chance. He quit his day job and started writing ultimately getting hired by Disney. That opened the door for Stanton who said he has been blessed with an amazing career.

“I love being from this small town,” Stanton said.

For Linda Zeug, the job of working with students as they celebrated athletic and academic achievements always kept her energized, adding one of the most exciting things for her was the work she did each year helping to prepare the diplomas for each graduating class.

Zeug also expressed her congratulations to the Redwood Valley Class of 2019 for the successes it has experienced in high school. 

Rick Thielen said when he first started with the bus company in Redwood Falls things were tough, as he worked six and seven days a week getting up at 6 a.m. and working until 10, 11 or 12 at night. There was lots of debt and no money.

“I was determined not to fail,” said Thielen, who then pointed to the senior class and its accomplishments.

Success is not easy, but failure is not an option, he told them.

Thielen emphasized the fact that his success has not happened in a vacuum, adding it is also because of the people who have worked alongside him, such as Rick Ellingworth, Redwood Area School District superintendent, his dedicated school bus drivers and the community as a whole.

Thielen specifically pointed out those school bus drivers and the impact they have had on students, as they are the first and the last person students see each day who connected to their school experience.

Thielen encouraged the senior class to remember where they came from as the continue on in the next stage of their life.

“As you further your careers, wherever you go, wherever things may take you, always remember Redwood Falls is a home to come home to,” he said.

The message from those inductees was clear, the community where this year’s senior class has been raised will always be part of them, and what they do with what they have been given is up to each of them.

Hard work and taking chances truly does reap great benefits.