The Highland Alumni Association, in partnership with The Highland Foundation for Educational Excellence, is pleased to announce their second class of Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame inductees. The five honorees span generations of Highland graduates, reinforcing the district’s ongoing commitment to educational excellence.
Dwier Brown – 1976
While at Highland, Dwier played basketball, ran cross-country and track, and had the lead in the school’s musicals both his junior and senior years. After high school, Dwier graduated Magna Cum Laude from Ashland University with a bachelor’s in Drama. He began his professional career in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles in 1982. Since then, he has performed in hundreds of films, plays and television shows. Most notably, he played Kevin Costner’s father in the movie Field of Dreams. He has returned many times to speak to Highland drama students. Recently he returned for an Alumni Forum to talk about his book, If You Build it… A Book about Fathers, Fate, and Field of Dreams.
Dale Chorba – 1981
A standout student/athlete, Dale was on the golf and basketball teams while at Highland. He is well-known in the local community, both for his volunteer work and as the president/owner of Action Management Services. His privately held search and executive recruitment firm has been named to the Forbes Top Recruitment organizations two years running. Dale serves as a trustee for The Highland Foundation as well as the Hinckley Chamber of Commerce, where he is famous for his home-cooked sausage at the annual Buzzard Day Pancake Breakfast.
Dan Hahn – 1987
Dan made a name for himself at Highland through his dedication to music and drama. This passion continued at Baldwin Wallace University, where he earned a bachelor’s in Theater, followed by a master’s from the University of Akron. Over the years, he has been an adjunct professor at Baldwin Wallace and the Director of Education for Great Lakes Theater. Today, Dan serves as the Vice President for Community Engagement and Education at Play House Square, where he oversees the Dazzle Awards and the Children’s Theater Series. He also spearheads their sensory-friendly initiatives and is creating programs to serve the hearing-impaired, refugee communities and children in foster care.
James Ritcher – 1976
Jim wrestled and played football for Highland and received many accolades over the years, including First Team All-County. He continued his football career at North Carolina State University where he won the Outland Trophy – an honor given to the nation’s best college interior lineman. In 1980, the Buffalo Bills selected Jim in the first round of the NFL draft, and he played for the team for 13 years -- including four Super Bowl appearances and two Pro Bowls. In 1998, Jim was selected to the College Football Hall of Fame and in 1999 inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. He is currently a commercial pilot with American Airlines.
Jill Smith-Sooy – 1993
Jill was a scholar athlete in basketball, softball and volleyball while at Highland, where she won countless league, district and state honors, including Medina County Female Athlete of the Decade, Medina County Sports Hall of Fame, and United States Army Reserves National Scholar/Athlete Award. After high school, Jill continued balancing sports with athletics. She played basketball and volleyball at Baldwin Wallace University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and was named a four-time all Ohio Athletic Conference honoree and inducted into the Baldwin Wallace Sports Hall of Fame. She continued her studies at Kent State University, earning a master’s in Library Science. She is the Library Media Specialist and Computational Thinking Lab Instructor at the Hudson Montessori School.
The Highland Alumni Association recognizes a new class of honorees every two years, with nominations accepted via The Highland Foundation website. The Selection Committee, comprised of members of The Highland Foundation executive committee, considers various criteria when selecting Distinguished Alumni, including a nominee’s accomplishments in their chosen vocation, their demonstrated leadership skills and their commitment to the community. All nominees must have graduated from Highland at least 10 years ago.