Donovan Frank gives a speech to the crowd during the Kingsland Wall of Honor program Friday evening where he was awarded the distinction.
Donovan Frank gives a speech to the crowd during the Kingsland Wall of Honor program Friday evening where he was awarded the distinction.
Kingsland put Donovan Frank on the wall.

"I just met your new principal, Mr. Priebe, and I have to say that I had hair longer than his when I was in high school in 1969," said the federal judge, addressing the audience gathered to witness the awarding of the 2012 Wall of Honor recognition upon Frank, who is the fifth inductee into the district's Wall of Honor distinction.

Frank's classmate, Sue Kolling, who introduced him, recounted that their high school days were during years of protest, political unrest and cultural revolution.

"In 1969, you've got to think what was happening to the world - Nixon was in office, the Vietnam War, Janis Joplin and CCR were singing protest songs, and thousands of people arrived at Woodstock. Those were turbulent times ... people challenged the system, they challenged their teachers, challenged our school to be better. We wanted to make a difference, and he has touched lives, hasn't forgotten this community, hasn't forgotten his roots," said Kolling.

Frank is an example, according to Kolling, of someone who followed his dreams, "someone who, coming from an average means background, has shown that you can accomplish great things and go out and be the change you want to see in the world."

Accepting the honor gave Frank the opportunity to thank the people who have guided him to become who he is, including his sisters, "who should be getting the award for putting up with me."

Frank pointed out, "Everybody in the room has at least three things in common. Most of us aren't arrogant enough to think that we do what we do and get there by ourselves. I'm thankful for my mother and father - on the best days, I was an average student. I owe thanks to a number of people who never discouraged me when I told them I wanted to go to Luther College, a place I didn't know was for the high-achieving students ... I just went there on a band trip once and liked the place.

"I have to thank a teacher who told me, 'Go, go, go!' His name was Charlie Reps. I owe so much to him, because probably the most underpaid and undervalued professionals are teachers in public schools."

Frank went on to give credit to the members of the community who encouraged him to work hard and showed him that "they didn't need to read a bunch of fancy books" to lead rewarding, productive lives.

"I learned how to treat people, give them equal treatment. Don't judge a banker to be better just because he has more money. The challenge is not forgetting, whether it's the kid with the 4.0 GPA or the kid who's barely passing ... not letting people fall through the cracks. People didn't give up on me."

He closed by saying, "I thank you for coming. I haven't forgotten my roots, where I come from. There's a foundation here - the school, the community, the farming communities around. It's a privilege to be honored along with the four prior people who received this award. I knew John Osterud, and I'd met Terry Therneau, and now, my job is to continue to try to set an example."