RHS Hall of Fame to induct new class

Jun 15, 2017 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

Five individuals and two teams will be honored.

Five individuals and two teams will be inducted into the third class of the Riverton High School Hall of Fame.

The 2017 inductees are Mike Harris, Willie Wright, Scott Acton, Brian Connell, John Aanestad and the 1982-83 and 1983-84 volleyball teams.

RHS activities director Reggie Miller made the announcement this week.

The group will be recognized at Wolverine Field during halftime of the Oct. 6 home varsity football game against Rawlins, and the induction ceremony will take place on Oct. 7, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at Riverton Middle School.

Mike Harris

Harris, a graduate of St. Stephen's High School, was an all-state athlete in football, basketball and track. He won the first Wilford Mower Award in 1960. Harris taught and coached in the Riverton school for 30 years and served as Riverton's varsity head coach in football, basketball and track. He is a member of the Wyoming Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

A longtime sports official, Harris is also a member of the Wyoming Sports Officials Hall of Fame.

Willie Wright

Wright also had a storied football career while also excelling in music at RHS.

After walking on and then earning a full-ride scholarship at the University of Wyoming, Wright was an all-Western Athletic conference linebacker.

He played for two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals in the National Football League and also played in the Canadian Football League and the World League of American Football.

He was a two-time all-state concert band member and won numerous awards as a member of the RHS jazz band as a saxophonist. Wright was a conference long jump champion and placed second in both the long jump and triple jump his senior year at RHS.

After his pro football career, Wright earned a master's degree in conducting and now is the band instructor at Worland High School.

Scott Acton

Acton graduated from Riverton High School in 1979, where he was active in Riverton's band, speech and theater programs. Acton competed in speech and studied at Central Wyoming College, the University of Wyoming, and Abilene Christian University, then went on to earn his doctorate in physics at Texas Tech University.

As a team leader at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, Acton was instrumental in the closing of the "adaptive optical loop" for the first time, a highly technical achievement that some had considered impossible. It greatly enhances deep-space images viewed from telescopes.

Acton was instrumental in solving a problem that the Hubble Telescope had with its mirrors, and he now is a key member of the team developing the Webb Space Telescope, earmarked as the replacement of the Hubble Space Telescope.

To promote public interest in the Webb project, Acton spent much of the past year. spent the last year on a 15,000-mile bicycle tour of the globe, giving lectures on his work in adaptive optics and electro-optics on the Webb Telescope.

His work at Ball Aerospace as a wavefront sensing and controls scientist is central in assembling the telescope and aligning its 18 mirror segments after launch, scheduled for this coming October.

Brian Connell

Brian Connell is a graduate of RHS who went on into the field of sound editing. He has won two daytime Emmy Awards for excellence in the television industry. In all, Connell has been nominated for seven daytime Emmy Awards and and three prime-time Emmy in sound editing category and was recognized for his work on "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" and "Dead by Sunset."

John Aanestad

Aanestad's accomplishments over his 32 years as high school and middle school music instructor are numerous, and his success is evident by the number of his former students who have chosen careers in the field of music, including professional musicians, college professors, public school educators and arts advocates.

He pioneered improvements to the RHS marching band and jazz programs, guiding state-championship ensembles in both areas.

Now retired, he remains the longest-serving band director in RHS history.

Volleyball teams 1982-83, 83-84

Riverton High School Lady Wolverine volleyball players, coached by a previous RHS Hall of Famer, the late Sherry Douglas, won several conference and regional tournaments, but are most remembered for their two Class AA state championships and 46-2 record over the two-year span.

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