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Bautch and Kruse Inducted into Hall of Fame

Bernie Bautch and Neil Kruse were inducted into the Centennial Hall of Fame on May 9 at a ceremony held at Infinite Campus. The district's Hall of Fame recognizes its alumni and members of the community for their professional accomplishments and commitment to youth and the Centennial communities.

“The Hall of Fame Class of 2024 is a reflection of this community and its spirit of giving back,” said Jeff Holmberg, superintendent of the Centennial School district. “The induction marks their commitment to students and education at Centennial Schools.”

The Class of 2024

Bernie Bautch (1982-2022), for distinguished service: Not only did Bautch ensure students receive breakfast and lunch to support their learning, but she also established a wonderful, long-standing tradition of giving to those in the Centennial community with the creation of the Cooks Scholarship 29 years ago--$58,000 raised; 116 students have received support. She also served as Chief Steward, providing representation for Centennial paraeducators and food service employees of the Minnesota School Employees Association. Bautch was honored for making connections with students and creating scholarship opportunities for so many graduates so they can realize their dream; for her professionalism—from the kitchen to serving countless hours on district committees and representing fellow employees—to her work, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, the Governor and state of Minnesota.

Neil Kruse (1985-2022), for distinguished service: Born and raised on a farm in Verdi, Minn., Kruse developed an ethic of working hard while reserving time for fun after a full day’s work on the farm. The impact of those early experiences can be seen throughout his career as a 6th grade teacher and coach at Centennial Schools. He gave students an agricultural experience through visits to Blue Earth and brought the farm to the classroom through “Minnesota Ag in the Classroom” curriculum; he built a small cross-country team into state bound teams by the time he retired in 2022. Kruse is honored for his love of teaching in the classroom and coaching, making connections with students; for bringing his work ethic learned on the farm and the love for play to our schools; for giving back to the Centennial community, and today, for making a difference in students’ lives as he continues to provide learning opportunities beyond the boundaries of this district through continued work with nonprofits.

View a Video of the Induction