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191 Honors Volunteers 2007

by John Gessner '
Burnsville High School senior Lynnea Durand spends most weekday afternoons at Sky Oaks Elementary School, working in a kindergarten classroom.
Richard Pomije spearheaded a 50th- anniversary celebration for the high school that grew into a giant community party and led to formation of an alumni foundation.
Durand and Pomije are two of the nine volunteers to receive 2007 John Coskran Volunteer Awards in Burnsville-Eagan- Savage School District 191.
The winners were chosen from among 45 nominees. The award is named for for­ mer School Board Member John Cosk­ ran, a longtime advocate for volunteerism and retired associate director of volunteer services for Catholic Charities.
Durand said her personal care atten­ dant got her started in volunteering. She started by volunteering in a nursing home, and is now an aide to Sky Oaks kinder­ garten teacher Jackie Ritchie. “I chose to go here because I like kids,” said Durand, who has Asperger syn­ drome. “I like seeing them smile when I try to help them.”
She has also worked with Sky Oaks second-graders in the Seekers program, helping them with research, writing and class presentations.
Earlier this year, Durand befriended a BHS student with autism.
“She just didn’t have many friends, so I decided I would change that,” said Du-
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I2A May 19,2007 THISWEEK
Volunteers/from 1A

rand, who plans to study cu­ linary arts at Dakota County Technical College. “I knew her a little bit. I think I knew her in seventh grade. I wasn't friends with her then. She was in need of a friend, so I decided I would be one of her friends. She really appreciates it.”
Pomije, Class of 1974, lit­ erally grew up at Burnsville High School. His father, Rob­ ert, was principal for 13 years
and a District 191 assistant superintendent. Pomije would often play in the gym when his dad was working.
Now he has a daughter, Brittany, who’s graduating in June.
Pomije served on a com­ mittee raising funds to replace the school's monument sign last year, which was also the school’s 50th anniversary.
He, resident Dolly Kai­ ser and Principal Kay Joyce spearheaded the anniversary
celebration. Pomije was egged on by his father, who now lives in Illinois.
“I could tell he was excited about it,” said the longtime Burnsville resident. “I half did it for my father and half did it to show my daughter volun­ teer work — what you can do to help the community, to give back. I thought it would be a good experience for both of them.”
Anniversary events Aug. 25 and 26 drew 4,000 to 5,000
people, Pomije said. They in­ cluded a dance at Buck Hill Ski Area, a school hall of fame induction, and a series of “decade” class reunions.
It went so well Pomije is repeating the celebration this Aug. 24 and 25. The newly formed BHS Black and Gold Alumni Foundation plans to make it an annual event.
The foundation will raise money for the school.
“It’s in the charter thabit benefits the high school,” Po­ mije said. “The first person who volunteered to be on the board was (former teacher and coach) Dick Hanson.”
The other Coskran Award winners are:
• Ozan Kalpak, a Nicollet Junior High ninth-grader and
peer tutor.
• Jackie Maddaloni, parent
and volunteer coordinator at Harriet Bishop Elementary.
• Carolyn Neville, Edward Neill Elementary school secre­ tary and volunteer.
• Autumn and Chad Olinger, parents and volunteers at Wil­ liam Byrne Elementary.
• Tammy Dylla, a parent at Gideon Pond Elementary who helps students with reading.
• Kim Depies, a parent and volunteer at Edward Neill El­ ementary who led the Read­ ing Buddies program for many years.

John Gessner is at burnsville. thisweek@ecm-inc. com.

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