Hall of Honor 2018


Emma Bernick

2018 Hall of Honor Inductee, Dr. Bryon E. Peterson, presents to West’s science courses on Friday, Apr. 27. 2018 Hall of Honor Inductees will be honored at the spring banquet on Saturday, Apr. 28, in the West High Cafeteria from 5:45 to 8:00 PM. The honorees include Dr. Petersen, class of 1976, John Maxwell, class of 1980, and Beth Godwin Calabotta, class 1985.

Naomi Walker, Reporter

Dr. Bryon Petersen, John Maxwell, and Beth Godwin Calabotta will be honored at the 2018 Hall of Honor that will take place at West on Sat. April 28th from 5:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m..

“The purpose of the Hall of Honor is to recognize alumni who have gone on from West High School and became successful in their occupation. We also like to look for people who give back to the community and are involved,” head chairmen of the Hall of Honor committee Jane Kroening said.

The Hall of Honor started in 2012 for the 50 year celebration of West High School being open. The principal at the time, Mr. Lawler, had the idea, according to Kroening.

“Sometimes people do not have very good memories of highschool and it is good to be able to recognize people who have done well and it reflects well on the school,” Kroening said.

Two of the nominees, Maxwell and Petersen, will be at West to talk with students. Maxwell will be talking to business classes in second block and Petersen will be in the LMC for second and third block talking to science classes.

“We hope they can inspire students to become involved in the community and do great things themselves,” Kroening said.

Petersen is a professor and director of the Stem Cell Research and Hepatic Disorders Child Health Research Institute. He graduated from the University of Iowa with his bachelor’s degree. He then went on to the University of Pittsburgh for his masters degree and doctorate.

“I’ve always been interested in science, but the medical side of things was more or less an accident. I started out my graduate career wanting to be a wildlife toxicologist, but a series of events lead me from NC State University to Duke University, where I met Dr. George Michalopoulos (who became my mentor) and started down what turned out to be my career in stem cell research. I am a trained molecular toxicologist in pathophysiology of the liver. More or less I am an experimental pathologist trying to understand how to use stem cells as a tool to treat liver diseases,” Petersen said.

Petersen he plans to finish off his career with two projects. He is trying to cure type-1 diabetes with a protein called IHoP. He is also working to create a bioartificial liver to help patients get to their transplant or until their liver recovers.  

“Never give up hope, you never know what breakthroughs are just around the corner. New discoveries are presented every day and the next one could be the one that cures them,” Petersen said.

Calabotta graduated from the University of Iowa with her minor in mathematics. She then went on to earn her MBA at the University of Washington, St. Louis. Calabotta worked for the Monsanto agricultural company until she got breast cancer in 2008. She continued to contribute to the community by mentoring other breast cancer patients. Calabotta died on Mar. 28, 2017.

Maxwell graduated from Muscatine Community College and the University of Iowa with B.S. (Bachelors in Science) in Psychology. Shortly after graduating he bought Cinnamon Ridge land in Donahue. He then went on to build a dairy barn and milked 40 cows.

“I think a big part of this award has been generated from my passion for agriculture especially sharing where our food comes from with people. It started early on after college to celebrate food and its nutrition and health. Through the thousands of visitors that I have shared this with has helped our community grow stronger,” Maxwell said.  

Now, Cinnamon Ridge Farms has around 4000 acres of corn and soybeans. Plus, they milk 200 cows and sell their own cheese and beef in stores and restaurants around the Quad Cities.

“Even though things seem dark now, set a small goal that you can accomplish and keep making your goals just a little bit bigger each time. Like they always say: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell is also the Superintendent of the Dairy Department at The Mississippi Valley Fair, Vice President of the Scott County Extension Council and the President of the North Scott School Board.

“As I tell all my students ‘never just follow your dreams, chase them down and tackle them’. If you just follow dreams you’ll reach them. Always push the envelope, always keep reaching for more, never settle for the status quo,” Petersen said.