2023 Warrior Hall of Fame Inductees
School District 197 Celebrates Inaugural Class of Warrior Hall of Fame Inductees
September 5, 2023—School District 197 and Two Rivers High School are proud to announce the induction of the inaugural class of the Warrior Hall of Fame. This honor recognizes individuals who have significantly contributed to the School District 197 community and excelled in various fields, including athletics, activities, the fine arts, academics, and philanthropy. This year’s inductees have not only left a mark during their time at Henry Sibley/Two Rivers High School but have also continued to make a positive impact in their post-district endeavors.
The Warrior Hall of Fame is an all-inclusive, nomination-based collection of former Warriors who have distinguished themselves in the area of athletics, activities, the fine arts, academics, and service while at Henry Sibley/Two Rivers High School and beyond. The Warrior Hall of Fame pays tribute, recognizes, and enhances School District 197’s tradition of excellence by honoring alums, educators, advisors, coaches, and friends for their accomplishments.
The inaugural class of the Warrior Hall of Fame includes individuals who have achieved excellence in their respective areas are:
- Ann Bancroft, Henry Sibley Class of 1974 and founder of the Ann Bancroft Foundation. Ann is a nationally renowned explorer, educator, speaker, and philanthropist.
- Helen Fisk, Henry Sibley Class of 1975, Sibley Debate Team State and National Tournament Award Winner, and former Henry Sibley Principal. Helen has been a teacher and administrator for the past 43 years.
- Tom Gustafson, former teacher and coach in School District 197. Tom taught and coached in the district for 33 years, and received the Breaking Barriers Award from Girls and Women's Sports Day.
- Dean Verdoes, former teacher, coach, and athletic director at Henry Sibley High School. Dean worked for the School District for 20 years, and currently serves on the ISD197 Educational Foundation.
This year’s inductees will be celebrated at the homecoming football game on Friday, September 22, before the game. The event will bring together current and former members of the School District 197 community, as well as friends and family of the honorees, to celebrate their remarkable achievements.
Ann Bancroft graduated from Henry Sibley High School in 1974. Ann founded the Ann Bancroft Foundation in 1991. It was originally called the AWE Foundation (All Women's Expedition), but in 1997, Ann and the Board of Directors decided that the Foundation would better achieve its mission by focusing on honoring and encouraging girls and women to reach, explore, and discover their own dreams. Thus, the Ann Bancroft Foundation was born.
The vision of the reborn organization is to provide girls who dare to dream with the support, inspiration, and resources that will help make their dreams come true. Ann is a spokesperson for the Learning Disabilities Association, Wilderness Inquiry, and Girl Scouts of the USA. She serves on the board of Youth Frontiers, co-chairs the Wilderness Inquiry capital campaign, and is a judge for the Nuclear-Free awards and the National Women's Hall of Fame inductions. Ann serves on the advisory board of the Melpomene Institute and Medica.
Helen Fisk has been a teacher and administrator in private, traditional public districts and charter schools for the past 43 years.
Ms. Fisk began her career teaching social studies and English for four years at Coon Rapids Junior High School in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. She then taught high school history and geography at St. Paul Academy and Summit (SPA) for the next 11 years. At SPA, Ms. Fisk was also a successful debate coach, bringing home a state championship for SPA. After a successful career in teaching, she went on to become the Upper School Director at Mounds Park Academy, a private college preparatory school. In 2001, Ms. Fisk left the private sector to work in the public charter school movement by becoming the first principal of two Minneapolis schools founded by the East African immigrant community (the Twin Cities International Elementary School and the Minnesota International Middle School). After leaving the international schools, she became principal at Henry Sibley (now Two Rivers). In 2008, Ms. Fisk co-founded a new K-8 charter school called Global Academy. The school is an authorized International Baccalaureate site serving a diverse immigrant population of 50 students. Global Academy recently celebrated its 15th year of operation and has been a leading school in closing the achievement gap in Minnesota. Ms. Fisk served as the Executive Director of Global Academy for 15 years until her retirement in June of 2023.
Tom Gustafson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. After graduating from college, Tom moved to Australia to coach and teach for 2 years, followed by serving in the Peace Corps in Samoa.
After returning home, Tom began his teaching and coaching career in School District 197, where he served our school community for 33 great years. Tom taught Physical and Adaptive Physical Education and coached girls and boys cross country with 13 conference titles and 16 trips to state. Tom also coached girls basketball and Nordic skiing, Track and Field Coaching distance runners, with many runners winning the conference Championship and moving on to state appearances.
Tom has received the Breaking Barriers Award from Girls and Women's Sports Day. Tom now lives in Biwabik, Minnesota, with 46 years of marriage and still coaching.
Dean Verdoes served as a math teacher, coach, and athletic director at Henry Sibley High School for 20 years.
At Sibley, he started the soccer program and was the head soccer coach for 10 years. He was also the head boys basketball coach for seven years and an assistant for six more. He served as the head coach for the golf team for 10 years. He then switched hats and in 1986 became the school’s athletic director, a position he held for 12 years. As athletic director at Sibley, he was named the Region 3AA Athletic Director of the Year in both 1988 and 1995. Dean was also inducted into the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame in 2011.
Now, as a community member, Dean serves on the ISD197 Education Foundation and volunteers his time in the District Office.