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Peter Heryla and John Rockwell Named Columbia Heights High School Alumni of Distinction

Columbia Heights High School (CHHS) alumni Peter Heryla (class of 1988) and John Rockwell (class of 1989) have been named their alma mater’s 2020/2021 Alumni of Distinction. Heryla and Rockwell are the 12th and 13th recipients of the award. An alumnus was not formally recognized last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[When I found out] I was amazed, honored, humbled,” said Heryla. “We have been involved with the community so long and seeing who else was awarded this, they did some pretty big things and to be considered with them in the same conversation was an amazing thing.”
“You don’t work to win an award, you do it as a labor of love so I was completely surprised,” said Rockwell.

Superintendent Zena Stenvik expressed her gratitude to the alumni on behalf of the District for their decades of service to students. “From coaching student athletes, to opening the strength training program and mentoring so many students over the years, these two have made an incredibly positive impact.”

Heryla and Rockwell attended CHHS in the late 1980s and played varsity football – from which they both carry a multitude of memories.

After graduation, Heryla attended St. Olaf College while Rockwell attended Augustana University where they played football, respectively. Both eventually landed in the real estate business and partnered shortly after college graduation. The flexibility in their careers enabled them to continue their involvement in CHHS football. They were both hired by the District in the early 1990s and have been coaching the team ever since, totaling 57 years of coaching between the two of them.

“There are no two more deserving individuals than John Rockwell and Pete Heryla for the Alumni of Distinction award. They have shown so much dedication and passion for our District and schools,” said CHHS Principal Dan Wrobleski. “Pete and John’s visibility and commitment to our students has been significant. They are great role models for all our students and they truly know how to ‘Keep it REAL!’”

Heryla and Rockwell will be formally recognized in the fall by the Columbia Heights High School Alumni Scholarship Foundation.