The 20th class of the Wall of Honor at Hutchinson High School features a trio of HHS alumni.
The 2019-20 honorees are Francie (Hardin) Ekengren, class of 1975; Garrick Harmon, class of 1988; and Annie McKay class of 1996.
Sponsored by the HHS Alumni Association and Hutchinson High School, the group will be honored during a banquet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, October 3, in the HHS Career and Technical Education Academy, 800 15th Circle.
The public is invited and encouraged to attend as the groups celebrate three individuals who have dedicated their lives to making Hutchinson and the world a better place.
Tickets go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 3, and must be purchased in advance for the banquet. Tickets cost $15 each and can be purchased weekdays at the HHS main office, 810 E. 13th, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 3 through Oct. 1.
The three honorees formally will take their place on the Wall of Honor prior to the Homecoming Game at about 6:20 p.m. Oct. 4, at Gowans Stadium.
Brief biographies and photos of the honorees follow.
Francie (Hardin) Ekengren
Class of 1975
Some of Dr. Ekengren’s fondest memories from Hutchinson High School revolve around her friends and the teachers who unwaveringly pushed and encouraged her to develop good study habits, believe in herself and work hard. These are priceless, cherished memories that helped shape who she is today.
After graduating from Hutchinson High School in 1975, Dr. Ekengren received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Kansas and became a medical doctor through the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1987. She spent decades as an emergency department physician and in 1999 she became the chief medical officer at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.
Dr. Ekengren has also served as the president and CEO of Mid-Kansas Wound Specialists. Among her honors are the Kansas Health Ethic Award and HCA First Humanitarian Award.
In serving her community Dr. Ekengren has volunteered at Good Samaritan Clinic, as a church elder, as a medical missionary volunteer in the Dominican Republic and as a survivor participating in Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Work ethic, integrity and honest delivery of health care are significant but even more importantly to Dr. Ekengren is her role as a loving mom, wife and sister.
Garrick M. Harmon
Class of 1988
After graduating from Hutchinson High School in 1988, Harmon received his bachelor’s degree in European history and Russian language from the United States Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned into the U.S. Army.
Following initial assignments as a field artillery officer, he transitioned into the foreign area officer career field, specializing in Russia and the former Soviet Union. Throughout his long and distinguished career, Harmon has served in numerous strategic assignments as a soldier, statesman, and diplomat in Germany, Estonia, Spain, Afghanistan, the Republic of Georgia and Russia. The Harmon family has used the unique opportunity of serving abroad for many years to “see the world.”
Promoted to brigadier general in 2018, Harmon currently serves as the United States senior defense official and defense attaché to the Russian Federation. He holds a master of arts in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia studies from Harvard University, and a master of strategic studies from the United States Army War College.
His military education includes the U.S. Army War College (Distinguished Graduate), Joint and Combined Warfighting School, Command and General Staff College and the Defense Language Institute. Harmon’s numerous awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, the Airborne and Air Assault Badges and the Army Staff Identification Badge.
Harmon credits his success to his strong upbringing in the great state of Kansas and his HHS teachers, and he is eternally grateful to his wife Nickie – who is also an HHS alumna (class of 1988) – and his three children for all of their love and support during a demanding career. Garrick believes that there is no greater responsibility for a citizen, and no greater honor, than to serve our great nation.
Class of 1996
After graduating Hutchinson High School in 1996, McKay graduated with her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Kansas and received her master’s from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.
McKay was the founding executive director of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth beginning in 2013. In 2016 Annie was named the president and CEO of the Kansas Action for Children and awards quickly followed.
Her accolades include Head Start Association’s 2017 Children’s Champion for Region 7, YWCA of Northeast Kansas’ Woman of Excellence and Woman of Excellence for the University of Kansas. She has been appointed to the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and the Governor’s Education Council by Gov. Laura Kelly.
In high school McKay participated in many clubs, but none were as significant in shaping her being as sports and student council. She deems herself a shy introvert, but playing sports and running for office helped her to develop the skills she would need for the rest of her life – skills that would allow her to step into prominent leadership positions, to testify before the legislature or to be swarmed by media and remain calm and confident.