GCHS grads to be inducted into Hall of Fame
By RACHAEL GRAY
When students graduate from Garden City High School, some head to the workforce, others to area community colleges and still others to pursue professional degrees.
Two GCHS alums who have developed professional careers will be inducted into the GCHS Hall of Fame on May 17.
Stewart Nelson, Garden City architect, and David Wiebe, an Orlando, Fla., engineer, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony in the commons area of the high school, 2720 Buffalo Way Blvd.
Nelson is a 1972 graduate of GCHS. He received a bachelor of science degree in architectural studies from the University of Nebraska. He is a longtime resident of Garden City and currently serves as the managing partner in the architectural firm of Gibson, Mancini, Carmichael and Nelson PA.
Nelson has been the project architect for the new Garden City High School, Garfield Early Childhood Center addition, former Garden City High School Courtyard enclosure, Garden City Community College Student/Community Services Building, Finney County Administration Center, St. Dominic Parish Center, Garden City State Bank, and Finney County Courthouse renovations, along with many building projects outside the community. He also has given back to Garden City through many leadership positions in associations and organizations.
Nelson said he's honored to have been selected for the Hall of Fame. Since he's worked for the past four years on the new high school, Nelson said the induction has special meaning.
"It's obviously quite an honor. And that kind of gives it some special meaning, I think. Obviously, the high school has gained a lot of attention through construction and completion. It has been a privilege to have been involved in the design and construction of that building," he said.
Stewart moved to Garden City with his family when he was 5. After obtaining his degree from NU, he decided to move back to the area.
"I came back here after that, and I've been here ever since. I think Garden City is a nice community. It's been good to my family and me. It's a nice place to raise a family, and there are a lot of good people who have made their home here in Garden City," he said.
Wiebe is a 1964 GCHS graudate. He earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Kansas. He also graduated with honors with a master of divinity from Emory University in Atlanta. He works as the chief engineer at Siemens Energy, gas turbine division in Orlando.
He was a pastor who founded a Haitian-American Church and was appointed pastor of Northwood United Methodist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla. The church leadership from the state had expected the church to close in a few years because its small membership no longer matched the ethnicity of the neighborhood. Instead of closing, Wiebe re-established the church as a predominantly Haitian-American congregation.
As an engineer, he led the design of the prototype afterburners for the F-22 military jet fighter engines. He holds 10 U.S. patents and 21 patents pending on military jet engine components and industrial gas turbine engine components, according to a press release from USD 457.
Wiebe could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Rick Atha, superintendent of USD 457, said the district is fortunate to recognize and honor its graduates.
"There are many things that make Garden City Public Schools unique. One of those things is to recognize former graduates through the GCHS Hall of Hame. I think these recipients serve as professional role models for our students as they go through the educational process and set goals for themselves," he said.
Atha said working with Nelson has been a pleasure.
"One of my regards to Stewart Nelson is that as he went through the process of being part of the team that designed and built the new high school. This was clear that it wasn't just another project to him. He was building the school in his community that would replace the one he himself graduated from," Atha said.
Atha said Nelson put great effort and emotion into the project.
"He put himself professionally and personally into this project, and that's one of the reasons we got as good of a project as we did," he said.
Tours of the high school will be offered at 5:30 p.m. May 17, and a buffet dinner will be served promptly at 6:30 p.m. in the high school commons area prior to the induction ceremony. Reservations for dinner are required. Cost of each dinner is $12, payable in advance. For dinner reservations or more information, call Theresa Meng, Garden City Public Schools, 805-7013.