Gene Dillon Elementary School Honors Namesake In Dedication Ceremony
After years of hard work, Bemidji finally has its newest elementary school. Today, students, staff, family members and friends took the time to dedicate the Gene Dillon Elementary School building and honor its namesake.
“A lot of times, schools are named after famous individuals, politicians, and philanthropists and leaders and educators, and that’s wonderful, but the school board recognized the important person that my dad was and what he represented in this community, so we’re just really humbled that they would name a school after him,” says Gene Dillon’s son Mark, speaking on behalf of the Dillon family.
About 40 members of Gene Dillon’s family were at the dedication today. A few of Gene Dillon’s Navy friends were also in attendance. They traveled to Bemidji from all over the country.
Mark Dillon says, “A lot of great people, they do a lot of great things for the community, and that was my dad. He was a member of the military, served honorably for 20 years in the United States Navy, and he brought a lot of that service here to the community. He was a baseball coach. He was a small business man.”
“This is a dream come true to have this new beautiful school and to dedicate it and put the name on it of Gene Dillon who served our community. He served our school board over 25 years,” adds Carol L. Johnson, the chairperson for the Bemidji School Board.
There was one action that Gene Dillon stood by, and Gene Dillon Elementary School principal Ami Aalgaard made sure it was present throughout the ceremony.
“He was a very humble and kind man, and so the premise of our entire presentation, if you will, or dedication ceremony was to honor him as who he was and what his legacy will be at our school, and so ‘humble and kind’ is kind of our theme,” says Aalgaard.
Another big part of the dedication was thanking everyone who helped make the dream school a reality, ranging from the school board and other community members, to Kraus-Anderson Construction and the people who currently fill the halls.
“Every new school is going to have hiccups, if you will, but we feel really good with where we are right now, and a large part is due to our staff and our students are amazing!” says Aalgaard.
Johnson adds about the ceremony, “It was just so important to recognize him in this way and give something back to him so that his legacy for the importance he placed on education would continue into the future.”