Three named to PHS alumni hall

Three new members of the Plymouth High School Alumni Hall of Fame were named June 5 during PHS Commencement Exercises.

The new members are:

Darwin Blanke, Class of 1941: Like many who graduated 75 years ago from PHS in 1941, Darwin Blanke’s next stop was WWII. Blanke was an Army staff sergeant, and was awarded both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service in the Battle of the Bulge. He later attended the University of Wisconsin, graduating with an accounting degree.

Blanke enjoyed a successful 40-year banking career in Wisconsin Rapids, and simultaneously earned respect for his service to the community. Blanke will be PHS’s second posthumous inductee, having passed away in 2011.

Thomas Kestell, Class of 1966: After graduating from PHS, Kestell attended college with the intention of obtaining a law degree. In 1971, he changed his plans and started his first dairy herd on a farm he rented from his mother.

Today, Kestell’s Ever-Green-Farm - located just north of Waldo - is recognized as one of the top Holstein herds in the nation. In addition to record-setting milk production, Ever-Green Farm has marketed outstanding stud bulls and thousands of embryos worldwide.

Lisa (Peplinski) Jaster, Class of 1996: After graduating from PHS, Lisa Peplinski was accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She graduated with a degree in civil engineering, and, as an officer, led troops during deployments in both Afghanistan and Iraq. She stepped down from active duty in 2007, and started a family and a civilian career with Shell Oil Co.

Jaster returned to the Army in 2014 as a reservist, and made history by becoming one of the first three female graduates of the Army’s Ranger School.

The Hall of Fame was created by the PHS Student Council in 2010 to recognize distinguished alumni who have achieved a high level of success and have demonstrated extraordinary leadership, who have given unselfishly to make their community a better place, and who have made a significant difference in the lives of others.

New candidates, who must have graduated from PHS at least 10 years ago, may be nominated annually in the spring. The nominations are then reviewed by Student Council members, with the honorees revealed at Commencement in June and inducted at Homecoming in the fall.

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