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2005 Honored Alumnus

Mrs. Bessie (Nissen) Hawks-Class of 1929

Mrs. Bessie Hawks of Elgin received the second annual Honored Alumnus Award during the Elgin High School Alumni Banquet,  Saturday, June 25 in the EHS gym. 

Mrs. Hawks, 93, is a 1929 graduate of Elgin High School and taught for 28 years at Elgin Public Schools.

Her award was presented by Kathy Jillson Cook, a 1975 EHS graduate.  Bessie was born in 1912 at Rosalie, NE with a birth weight of slightly more than two pounds.  She moved with her family to a ranch west of Elgin at about age five.

She had a great desire to go to school, so she rode to town on horseback to attend Elgin High School.  After her graduation, she began teaching at age 17 and continued her education.  She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Wayne State College in 1963.  

Mrs Hawks taught seventh and eighth grades at Elgin Public Schools.  At least one of her students was in the finals of the Antelope County Spelling Bee for more than 17 years.  For eight consecutive years, the county spelling bee champion came from her eighth grade classes.

Many of Mrs. Hawks' former students have thanked her over the years for teaching them how to study.  They have said their study skills learned in the eighth grade allowed them to be successful in high school and college.  

Four Generations of EHS Graduates

Steve Heithoff '76, Crystal Heithoff '05, Darlene Hawks Heithoff '54 and Bessie Nissen Hawks '29
Bessie still has many connections to Elgin High School.  Her two daughters, eight of her 12 grandchildren and two of her great-grandchildren are EHS graduates.  Her grandson, Steve Heithoff, is presently the president of the Elgin School Board, and Stan Heithoff, another grandson, also serves on the board.  A third grandson, Todd Heithoff, is head basketball coach at EHS.  Her great grandchildren, Michael and Crystal, children of Steve and Rita Heithoff (EHS Art Teacher), are fourth generation family members to graduate recently from Elgin High.

2005 Honored Alumnus

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