Alumni Success Stories

  • Many students who graduated from District 742 have continued on to make significant contributions and achieve high recognition in a variety of fields. Below you will find some of our talented alumni who have generously shared their stories with us.

    Do you know a former student whose story is inspirational and a testament to the District 742 experience? Share it HERE!

  • Josh Kaler - Apollo, 1997

    Posted by Communications Department at 9/13/2017

    Josh Kaler

    When you think of Nashville, it’s all about country music, honky-tonks, cowboy boots and Johnny Cash. What you may not know is that 1997 Apollo graduate, Josh Kaler, is all about Nashville. Recording artist, producer and songwriter of indie, pop and rock music, Josh is leaving his mark on Music City.

    Taking a year off post high school graduation to work at local Schmitt Music prepared him to attend Berklee College of Music. Kaler describes Berklee as the “Hogwarts” for music. It’s where you go to meet your kind.

    Energetic Boston is where Kaler was able to ignite his creativity in songwriting.  His hunger to find other musicians to further his education fueled the friendship of his “musical comrade,” Michael Flynn.

    The pair formed a band, moved to Charleston, South Carolina and then expanded their band Slow Runner. By 2005, the group signed with J Records. They’ve toured with the likes of The Damnwells, Say Anything, The Avett Brothers and Evan Dando. They’ve also traveled all over the world. Some favorites were the Czech Republic, Madrid, Germany and Ireland. Their music has even been featured on TV series such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “One Tree Hill.”

    The experience Kaler gained through these years changed his course in music. Though his education focus is with the guitar, Kaler learned to play the drums, bass and keyboard as well as to record music.

    “My other school,” says Kaler, “was learning how to craft records.”

    Slow Runner produced several records while in Charleston, where Kaler’s new passion began. He loved the behind-the-scenes production of music.

    Following that passion, four years ago, Kaler moved to Nashville, Tennessee.

    “It’s mostly country, but it has indie, pop and rock,” describes Kaler. “There’s room for somebody like me in Nashville.”

    In Nashville, Kaler connected with the group Hula Hi-Fi. They are self-proclaimed “Hawaiian Noir: Volume One,” a tropical feeling turned into music. The trio recorded the album, “The Ilse of the Forgotten Dreams” yet to be released.

    “I’m always interested in having a toolbox [many talents]. It’s always helped me out,” explains Kaler. “It’s good to have that.”

    Kaler’s craving for recording music doesn’t slow down his touring. He continues to tour with his bands, playing guitar and steel guitar.

    Looking back over his career thus far, he recognizes the early mentors in his life. Whether it was Lawrence Severt, a counselor at Apollo, encouraging him to play with the jazz band in high school or Dan Preston from The Electric Fetus, who allowed him to come over and jam at his house, to his long-time friendship with Michael Flynn, mentors have played an important role in his life.

    Kaler always looks for a “better” musician to play, record or theorize with.

    “I want to immerse myself into something challenging,” says Kaler.

    Whether he is playing or recording in Nashville, touring the world or writing cinematic music for TV, Kaler loves sharing his music and plans to be doing it well into the future.

    Hang on, Music City. There’s more to come!

    Josh Kaler

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  • Todd Williams - Apollo, 1990

    Posted by Communications Department at 8/30/2017

    Todd Williams

    The saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  And it certainly echoes through the extraordinary work of 1990 Apollo graduate, Todd Williams.

    Williams is a professional photographer who has traveled the world photographing people and places. His clients have included Polaris, Victory Motorcycles, Indian Motorcycles, Vogue, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Nike, Gatorade and many more.

    It all started with National Geographic and borrowing a college friend’s camera.

    As a child, Williams remembers paging through National Geographic. Inspired by the images throughout the world, he thought it would be cool to see those places and photograph them.

    By the time he attended Bemidji State University, he was looking for a hobby and remembered those National Geographic images from his childhood.

    “I borrowed my friend’s camera,” explains Williams. “I’d go out and shoot wildlife. It was just something fun to do. There was not much to do up in Bemidji.”

    Williams graduated with a degree in graphic design and moved to Texas where he worked in the industry for a year. At that point, he knew he wanted to pursue photography.

    With some connections, he moved to New York in 1995 and became a photography assistant.

    “The best place to learn photography is New York,” says Williams with conviction. “I became a photo assistant for many magazines, taking photographs of stills, life and cosmetics. I did the circuit and got the opportunity to travel around the world.”

    Williams later hustled to go out on his own.

    “A lot of people pay to get their master’s,” explains Williams.  “[In this industry], I was really getting paid to earn a master’s degree [with experience].”

    Williams’ agent was out to dinner one evening with a young idealist named James Marshall and suggested Williams and Marshall meet. Marshall’s idea was to travel cross-country on a motorcycle as an “everyday American” while photographing the trip. The two met and hit it off, and the idea morphed into asking people along the way about the American dream. Does it still exist?

    And so began the Netflix documentary series, The American Dream Project. The pair, with a video crew in tow, began their journey. With the help of Williams’ connection to Indian Motorcycles, they began traveling from the east coast to the west.

    Along their journey, they stayed with families in small towns, doing work for their keep and asking the question, “What is the state of the American Dream?”

    “I’ve always enjoyed meeting strangers like in New York,” explains Williams. “You never really know anyone. It’s great to get to know them. Traveling cross-country was really fun. We’d stop in small towns, help people, and talk. The common theme: we’re all human. There are still good things here in America.”

    The American Dream Project became a Netflix hit, nominated for the 44th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards Best Special Class - Short Format Daytime Program.

    In a tone of sheer wonder, Williams remembers, “The Emmy thing was pretty cool. I’m from St. Joe, Minnesota! So, we got tuxes and did the red carpet. People were taking our photo and I realized it was pretty cool.”

    Williams continues to photograph. His resides now in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he houses his studio, but he spends several months a year in Venice Beach, California continuing his work commercially. His next adventure is photographing the auto industry.

    “You’re trying to sell a vision. Some days it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” Williams reflects.

    However, looking back at his own career thus far, he remembers, “Be smart. Be kind and creative. Keep reinventing yourself, and style . . . have an eye for it and sell your vision.”

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  • Alison Feigh - Apollo, 1996

    Posted by Communications Department at 8/21/2017

    Alison Feigh

    Since her graduation from Apollo High School in 1996, Alison Feigh has made it her mission to educate the public on child safety. As an author, she’s written two books on child safety and as a program manager for the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center (JWRC), she travels speaking on the importance of child safety as well as writing curriculum and policy for child safety.

    As a classmate of Jacob Wetterling, the impact of his abduction profoundly affected her at an early age. Despite the tragedy that happened, she has fond memories of North Junior High School, too.

    Ruth LaDuke is one of her middle school teachers she remembers the most.

    “She (LaDuke) was great,” reflects Feigh. “Middle school is never easy for anyone. She took me aside and gave me the pep talk I needed. She always had the social aspect of kids at heart. She cared about the whole person.”

    Feigh was the kind of student who was always taking a different path than others to get to the end result. Whether making a tennis shoe-shaped clay pot when all the other students were doing regular forms, or pitching her own book (as a second-grader) during an author visit instead of asking questions, she got things done.

    “I’ve always loved writing and reading, ever since I was at Madison,” says Feigh.

    It was that passion for literature coupled with the tragic disappearance of Jacob Wetterling that prompted her to write books about safety for children.

    While researching children’s literature, Feigh discovered that she could not find any child safety books that were bright and colorful.

    Hoping to save at least one child, she wrote her first book, “I Can Play It Safe,” a colorful, brightly illustrated book to help parents speak to their kids about safety measures.

    For Feigh, it doesn’t stop with writing books, however. Her work with the JWRC is where her passion is right now.

    “My goal is to work myself out of a job,” explains Feigh. “People will say, ‘Boy, I’m worried about you.’ I just love that.”

    JWRC and Feigh have a goal: to end child abuse within three generations. The work is endless.

    “Every day is different,” says Feigh. “My main [job] description is to get ahead of the problem. I train people and parents about safety. I write curriculum and help with policies for organizations. The work you do is hard, and you don’t always see your impact, but it is worth it.”

    Feigh urges the need for more voices. No matter what career path, there is always room for prevention.

    “We need all hands on deck,” describes Feigh. “I get to meet so many people with so many stories. If they know someone who has a story, it’s more likely to shape them than statistics.”

    So, for this voted “most-friendly” Apollo grad, her work continues.  And, her mission is to promote child safety and abolish child abuse.

    Feigh speaks around the nation. Contact the Jacob Wetterling Resource Foundation about scheduling a speaker to visit and teach child safety.

    Alison Feigh

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  • Justin Ploof - Tech, 2002

    Posted by Communications Department at 7/20/2017

    Justin Ploof

    As Technical High School revs up to celebrate 100 years of tradition and excellence, 2002 graduate and professional musician, Justin Ploof, will be bringing in the band.

    Justin Ploof and The Throwbacks is a familiar name in central Minnesota. The band is one of the newest sensations on the music scene, especially since their original “Rockumentary” videos, containing vintage footage and narration to accompany their performances, were recently released.

    “I’ve always loved music and loved documentaries as well as performing,” says Ploof. “We create a documentary to accompany the music-whatever we are covering that night. It’s like if you went to a movie theater to watch a movie, only with a live band.”

    Ploof’s band covers many styles of music ranging from The Monkees, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys to others like Eric Clapton and local favorite Bobby Vee.

    Remember Joan Jett or Soul Asylum? Well, Ploof and his band have shared the stage with them as well.

    Ploof’s love of music started at an early age. He’s always loved music, but he “really got into it” while in elementary school when he received his first guitar. His first band consisted of some Talahi elementary friends who owned guitars and a drum set.

    “I’m sure we were a lot worse than we really thought,” says Ploof, looking back at his first band.

    He does remember watching reruns of “The Ed Sullivan Show” when he was younger. Watching the bands made him think that it would be a good job.

    Ploof describes what it feels like to be on the big stage.

     “It’s amazing. You start out in little venues and coffee shops, and it is a far cry from the 30 or so friends that show up to support you. It’s just such a rush that is indescribable.”

    Earlier in his career, he and his family created two albums, and it looked like they were going to get signed by a record label. However, it didn’t pan out at the time. Ploof later started getting a “weird” feeling that he should go out as a solo artist.

    Justin McGuinn is his solo persona and his solo album is “Love Song and Others.”

    “I came up with the name for a two-fold [purpose]. A stage persona:  if I had a different name, it didn’t feel as weird [being a solo artist].”

    The other reason was to keep a similar name.

    Ploof now has a record deal and a new album. A full-length video is also about to be released.

    “It’s been a whirlwind with this whole record deal,” explains Ploof. “I went back to school, and all at once the deal came around.”

    He always advises, “Don’t expect the music industry to be easy and don’t expect handouts.”

    But, he also says, “Don’t be afraid to chase the dream.”

    As most artists dream, Ploof hopes that his music catches on. He loves to create music with other artists and wants to continue following his passion.

    It is more than fitting that Justin Ploof and The Throwbacks is performing at the Tech Centennial Celebration on July 28. It is an opportunity to celebrate Tech’s success through the life and music of such a successful grad.

    Check out his other upcoming performances in St. Cloud.

    Justin Ploof

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  • Chris Jungels - Apollo, 2006

    Posted by Communications Department at 7/5/2017

    Jungels and President Obama

    What’s a Marine’s dream job? How about becoming a part of the Marine One detail to the President of the United States?

    For 2006 Apollo graduate, Chris Jungels, that dream became an unexpected reality.

    As a recent Apollo High School graduate, Jungels remembers setting an appointment with the Air Force to learn about his military options. He’d always had an interest in all things military, especially airplanes.

    When Jungels arrived for his interview, however, the assigned Air Force recruiter was not there. Fortunately, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Lindsey (from a rival branch of the military) stepped in and ultimately changed the course of Jungels’ career path.

    As a Marine recruit, Jungels was stationed in San Diego for basic training before moving between various locations for the Marine Corps. Along the way, he never forgot how much he loved planes and eventually enrolled in flight school.

    On the first day of flight school, Jungels filled out the necessary background check paperwork including HMX-1 paperwork. At the time, he was not even familiar with HMX-1, the Marine Helicopter Squadron responsible for transporting the President of the United States.

    After graduation from flight school, and to his surprise, his orders came in for HMX-1, a squadron on the east coast.

    Arriving in Virginia, he was asked by his commanding officer if he wanted to see the “white tops.”

    That is when his orders finally sunk in. The White Tops: Air Force One and the President’s fleet of helicopters.

    Jungels spent the first 18 months during President Barack Obama’s term on the “green side” of the fleet: the crew assigned to the support flights which carried the press, Secret Service and advanced teams.

    The last six and a half years, he was assigned to the “white side:” the crew that carried the president, vice president and heads of state.

    “It was so surreal,” remembers Jungels. “The first time, I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ as the helicopter came flying into the South Lawn. You make sure you’re squared away. There is a mob of press on one side and the visitors on the other. You can’t see the president coming out. The press cameras are the cue to let you know to stand at salute.”

    When you’re nervous, you fall back on your drills.

    “Your training really kicks in,” says Jungels. “No emotion. No movement.”

    Jungels also witnessed the peaceful transfer of power from President George W. Bush to President Barrack Obama, an event very few people witness in a lifetime.

    His military training opened up opportunity and provided him with responsibility, structure and the knowledge to formulate plans.

    After his military service, Jungels looks forward to a new journey as a minister and reflects on all he has learned.

    “If you don't challenge yourself, if you never take risks, then you will never grow as a person.”

    “Do the thing that may seem fearful or daunting,” he advises, “because that is where the growth is. In the risk is where the reward is, that is where you find the adventure, the knowledge, and find out who you truly are.”

    He also adds, “Leaders are readers. Read books from all different genres, expand your knowledge, but also go and do what you have learned, take action!”

    As for his time with the president, “It was everything you could imagine.”

    Jungels and his mother with President Obama

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  • Josh Hagemeister - Tech, 1989

    Posted by Communications Department at 5/11/2017

    Josh Hagemeister

    Josh Hagemeister may have just become famous for being chosen as an official fishing guide to Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith for the Minnesota Fishing Opener, but he’s already held in high esteem as a Tech graduate of 1989.

    Hagemeister started his fishing guide business in high school. Dreaming of always owning a guide business, he didn’t let his teasing friends sway him from his dream.

    After graduation, Hagemeister attended St. Cloud State University and pursued a career in English and speech with the hope of obtaining his teaching license in order to allow time for guiding in the summer. He maintained his guiding business throughout college.

    Hagemeister laughs, “I have more college credits than a NASA scientist!”

    He gave back to Tech by working there during his college years as a security officer and has many fond memories of Principal Ed Johnson and the halls of Tech.

    But it was the call of the lakes and rivers of Minnesota that changed his professional course.

    Through his guiding business, Hagemeister got into radio and television production. He was an on-air host of the weekly show, “Outdoors Minnesota,” which also expanded to a magazine that published on a monthly basis.

    Hagemeister soon took over American Bowhunter Magazine, a bi-monthly magazine with about 30,000 subscribers. After a few years, he sold the magazine. It was too much office time. The water and challenge of fishing were still too strong.

    He started working for In-Fisherman as an instructional fishing guide in the Brainerd and Walker areas.

    Then, 15 years ago, Hagemeister and a partner purchased Rainy Lake Resort near International Falls in northern Minnesota. He still owns the resort and has been opening Camp Fish every summer, which is a one-week fishing camp for people who want to learn how to fish.

    “Camp Fish” has become very popular. Hagemeister plans on expanding to more weeks during the year and offering ice fishing as well.

    When Hagemeister looks down the road, he knows he’ll still be doing exactly what he’s always wanted to do. He is expanding his guiding business, Minnesota Fishing Guide Service, with more guides to meet the new challenges of people wanting to learn to fish.

    “If you want to do it [your passion], just do it,” advises Hagemeister. “Don’t listen to anyone else. Keep a clean slate and don’t look back.”

    One thing is for sure. Hagemeister loves what he does.

    “My favorite thing about my job is that it is a constant change and challenge,” he explains. “There is no playbook. It’s all in your hands.”

    And, lucky for us, the St. Cloud area has great fishing according to Hagemeister. His favorite time to fish in the area is late summer and fall.

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  • Greg Klinefelter - Apollo, 1987

    Posted by Communications Department at 4/19/2017

    Greg Klinefelter For police officer Greg Klinefelter, St. Cloud is in his blood. As a 1987 graduate of Apollo High School and St. Cloud State University graduate, the St. Cloud community is his home.

    Klinefelter looks back on Apollo with fond memories.

    “Back then, it was the modular system at Apollo, and it felt so different,” says Klinefelter. “It felt like a college campus.”

    Klinefelter believes that his high school experience was a good one to transition into college.

    “It really helped me be ready for the next step,” he explains.

    After completing his degree at St. Cloud State in mass communications, Klinefelter hit the corporate world. He was in advertising and then became a marketing analyst. However, the corporate world started to take its toll.

    The tipping point came in 1996 when his brother, Brian Klinefelter, was killed in the line of duty as a police officer.

    His parents owned a small landscaping business at the time. Greg moved home to St. Cloud to help out with the business and eventually purchased the business from them.  During this time, his life became very busy and he found himself not having much time to spend with his family.

    It was his newly formed family that started calling out to him: the local police force family.

    “You don’t realize what a close-knit group police officers and their families are,” says Klinefelter. “We were immediately taken into that family.”

    As a way to give back to the police community after his brother’s passing, Klinefelter became a reserve officer.

    In 2005, Klinefelter decided he wanted to become a full-time police officer. It took one year to complete his certificate, and at the age of 38 he was hired on as a police officer at the St. Cloud Police Department.

    Now, 10 years later, he is a sergeant with a goal to reach lieutenant.

    “I love my job. This is why God put me on this earth,” explains Klinefelter.

    He knows he’ll still be a police officer five to 10 years down the road, and he loves to train the younger generations. 

    His advice to those coming up is to not listen to the national media when thinking about law enforcement. He emphasizes that law enforcement is gratifying work.

    “You have to have thick skin and truly believe you are in the business to help protect and serve the people,” says Klinefelter. “ You won’t get monetarily rich doing it, but it is incredibly gratifyingly rich.”

    Stop and say hello to your local police officers and say, “Thank you.”

    And you never know, you may just run into Klinefelter out on patrol.

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  • Jill McGuire - Apollo, 1987

    Posted by Communications Department at 11/30/2016

    Jill McGuire If you’re looking to engineer something and send it into space, Jill McGuire is your person! McGuire, a 1987 graduate of Apollo High School, is a space robotics application office lead at NASA. She and her team, after completing their mission to design and send over 200 tools into space for the Hubble Space Telescope servicing machine, are designing and engineering parts for robots to refuel satellites.

    “I knew from an early age I wanted to be in design,” says McGuire. “I took a drafting class in high school and just fell in love with it.”

    She feels that all the teachers at Apollo were supportive of her and her aspirations, especially since she was busy with athletics.

    Her high school softball coach, John Ludwig, was her inspiration in school. He was instrumental in creating that team atmosphere and thought process, “if one succeeds, everyone succeeds.”

    McGuire describes the new Robotic Refueling Mission she is working on as challenging. By using robots from the international space station, she and her team are designing tools that can be attached to those robots to refuel satellites. The tricky part is that there are three caps all wired together. The robot has to systematically remove each cap, and to do so in a way that does not disturb the fuel because it is highly combustible.

    The goal of McGuire’s team is to use robotics to extend the life of satellites. Today’s satellites only have a 10 to 15 year life span due to running out of fuel. However, the data application software that is used in the satellite is still good and operable.

    In the upcoming year and a half, McGuire will be demonstrating the refueling of a satellite and the transference of liquid cryogens for future missions to Mars.

    What keeps McGuire inspired is the information.

    “Seeing all the pictures and data from Hubble, it’s rewriting the textbooks of today,” says McGuire. “Bringing that data back to students is the biggest reward you can have. It’s just the best feeling--enriching people’s lives. How many people look up [in the sky] and wonder what’s there? And, when they see those pictures, you know in your heart you brought that.”

    McGuire sees herself doing this for the rest of her life.

    “I’ll ride out my career. It will be spent doing robotic technology in space. Robotic technology is still very immature,” says McGuire.

    McGuire certainly has put in the work to get where she is today. Following graduation from Apollo, she attended the University of North Dakota where she was accepted into a co-op with the university and NASA.

    However, she almost didn’t make it in. Her motto: persistence pays off.

    “I never take no for an answer,” says McGuire. “Instead I ask, ‘What will it take?’ It’s just a matter of finding the solution.”

    During the interview process for the co-op, she went through three interviews and there was only one spot left. She continued to follow-up. She was eventually told the position isn’t glamorous. She’d be the only woman with 30 men. They weren’t sure if they were comfortable doing that.

    McGuire simply said, “I’ll take it.”

    McGuire says it was the best experience she could have received. She worked in fabrication, and as an engineer, she now knows both ends of the process. 

    “It makes me a better engineer,” explains McGuire. “Not everybody has that experience.”

    She tells young people looking for a career in engineering, “Don’t give up on that dream. Be persistent. Get your foot in the door any way you can and don’t take no for an answer.”

    McGuire is an inspiring role model of her own advice.

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  • Erin Saupe - Tech, 2003

    Posted by Communications Department at 9/6/2016

    Erin Saupe Some Technical High School graduates head for the Olympics, others like Erin Saupe go on to become Oxford professors.

    Saupe, a 2003 Tech grad, recently crossed the ocean to become an associate professor of earth science at Oxford. Her impressive education journey includes degrees from the College of St. Benedict, University of Kansas and Yale, but she admits there is a certain amount of pressure in taking the position at Oxford.

    “It’s such an adventure!” she says. “Both exciting and a little scary.”

    Saupe will be teaching earth science and evolution to undergraduates at Oxford as well as giving one-on-one, project-based tutorials. She explains that the tutorials are an expectation at Oxford and designed to encourage critical thinking.

    Erin Saupe A published researcher, Saupe will utilize her background to help students study species and communities over time while observing environmental changes.

    Although high school seems a long time ago, Saupe credits some of her Advanced Placement teachers at Tech with launching her on this professional journey.

    “Mr. Gerads is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had—anywhere,” Saupe says, referring to retired Advanced Placement History teacher, Jerry Gerads. “He inspired me to go into geology and become an archeologist.” (Her undergraduate degree.) “He is the reason I fell in love with the past.”

    “My dissertation is dedicated to him,” she adds.

    Other AP instructors at Tech inspired learning in her, too. “Jan Brown in English and Mr. Boatz in Math,” she reflects. “I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

    Saupe took away other lessons from Tech as well. She ran cross-country and enjoyed it, appreciating the teamwork. She participated in Knowledge Bowl and Youth Service projects and tried out various activities.

    One aspect of her high school experience she feels helped prepare her for a wider world perspective was “hanging out with diverse people.”

    “I even won a Tech Alumni Association scholarship on What Tech Means to Me,” she remembers. “I wrote about diversity.”

    Saupe grew up in Avon township on a six-acre hobby farm where her family kept sheep as pets. “They are our organic lawn mowers,” she says.

    Her mother, Linda Shinehouse Saupe, recently retired from District 742 after 23 years as a school nurse. 

    Erin’s husband Brian Finley works as an auditor for Price Waterhouse Cooper and is transferring to London to share in her adventure. They will live right at Oxford.

    “Oxford is made up of colleges,” she explains. “Kind of like Harry Potter houses,” she laughs.

    Whatever this next year brings, Saupe is excited for the future, building on a sound foundation that began at Tech High School.

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  • Dan Mondloch - Apollo, 2001

    Posted by Communications Department at 8/24/2016

    Dan Mondloch

    He calls himself a third generation landscape painter and jokes that he is genetically expected to paint! His father and great-grandfather were landscape artists. Dan Mondloch, a 2001 graduate of Apollo, is well-known for his beautiful, award-winning, watercolor paintings. He’s been featured in PBS “Postcards,” SPLASH 17 book and Pleinair Magazine’s “PlenAir Collector.”

    Mondloch has been exposed to artistry and painting his entire life. He remembers sitting in his father’s studio as a child.

    “I remember as far back as second grade,” says Mondloch. “I was with my three older brothers, and one day, my dad was doing a demonstration in his studio. He’d do them all the time. It was usually a mountain or a desert. I sat in the back working on my painting and was so proud to show him when I was done. I showed him my painting of my mountain. My dad said proudly, ‘That’s a great mountain! However, today we’re doing a desert!’”

    Dan Mondloch That kind of love and support never stopped for Mondloch, it’s something he’s always appreciated.

    “All of my [District 742] teachers starting in fifth grade were very supportive of me,” shares Mondloch. “My eighth grade teacher allowed me to go to the library to do projects and always said, ‘I’ll be here if you need me.’”

    By the time he was a freshman, Mondloch knew he wanted to paint. While driving with his dad, he told him he wanted to start painting. The next morning, he found all the paint supplies he’d ever need waiting for him.

    It was that February after conferences of his freshman year, when the counselor called him in asking for samples of his artwork. Mondloch was immediately transferred to one of Dennis Hummel’s classes. Mondloch took every art class he could.

    To this day, Mondloch still works with Hummel at the Paramount Theatre and continues to be a valuable source for him.

    By his senior year, his artwork was entered into a high school art show. He received a call to attend the reception. He was surprised to find that he won the Bill Ellingson award for his work.

    Mondloch has found a new passion in painting plein air, meaning open air or outdoors.

    “Lately plein air is my largest passion. My focus keeps changing. I think that’s what keeps me going,” says Mondloch. “That spark to keep exploring, it [plein air] gets me out with that sense of adventure.”

    California, Florida, Maryland and Colorado are just a few states that Mondloch has traveled to continue plein air painting.

    Looking to the future, Mondloch would like to be more nationally recognized and continue to build on the community of plein air painters.

    His advice to anyone thinking about being an artist, “If you’re interested, there will be no shortage of people that say that you can’t or shouldn’t. Stick it out for the long haul. Just know that it is possible. You need to do the business aspect of it. A quote by Frank Webb, ‘Success in watercolors painters is not measured in how many created paintings you have, but by how many acres you have.’”

    Right now, Mondloch is really enjoying life with his wife and new born son.

    Dan Mondloch


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