Pomije, Schoenecker inducted to NPHS Hall of Fame

By Chuck Kajer

New Prague High School inducted two members into its Hall of Fame during the school’s Evening of Excellence Tuesday evening, May 17, at the high school auditorium.

Ralph Pomije, a former school board member who later became a teacher, received the schools Distinguished Service Award. Ray J. Schoenecker received the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

In addition to these awards, Retired basketball coach Merv Sheplee will be inducted to the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame during the school’s Athletic Banquet on May 31.

The Evening of Excellence was also a forum for current New Prague High School students to be recognized for their achievements in the classrooms and in arts and activities.

The plaques honoring Pomije and Schoenecker read as follows:

Ralph Pomije

From 1961 until retirement in 1987, Ralph Pomije taught English/language arts at New Prague High School. But his commitment to education had started years earlier.

After graduating from NPHS in 1943 and serving in the U.S. Navy, Ralph purchased Pomije Chevrolet and Implement from his ailing aunt in 1948, the year he married Helen Ryan. From 1954 until 1961, he served on the District School Board. But, wanting even more direct involvement, he attended the University of Minnesota, earning a bachelor of science degree in education with a speech/theatre major in 1961. Motivated by deep respect for his mother, Mary O’Connell Pomije, a county school teacher, Ralph followed in her footsteps and began his own teaching career, one that included positions as language arts department chair, head speech coach and drama director. Though Ralph saw himself as a teacher first, his position as drama director may provide his most enduring legacy. During his 26 years at NPHS, he directed 36 productions, ranging from class plays to Broadway musicals such as My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music, and thrilled New Prague audiences with a stage version of Ben-Hur.

For each production, he designed and built sets rivaling those of professional theaters. In the classroom, with the speech team, or on stage, Ralph thoroughly enjoyed working with students and watching them succeed. Never afraid of hard work himself, he inspired those around him to do their best.

Ralph always took great pride in family—he and Helen raised five children—in the community and in New Prague schools. His love of all three came through in everything he did.

Ray J. Schoenecker

Two years after his 1940 graduation from New Prague High School, Ray Schoenecker embarked on a life of service to his country and his community. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving as a member of the 20th Armored Division, which helped liberate Dachau Concentration Camp.

Returning to New Prague in 1946, Ray’s dedication to country and community continued as he joined the New Prague Veterans Honor Color Guard, participating in events with them for 57 years. In 1947, he joined the VFW and the American Legion, and held command positions in both organizations.

From 1950 through 1987, he owned and operated the New Prague Feed Mill. Somehow, Ray also found the time to serve his community in a variety of other capacities, including more than 30 years with the Fire Department, as assistant chief from 1958-1970 and as Chief from 1971 to 1978. He was a member in the Sportsman’s Club and in the Knights of Columbus. From 1960 to 1987, he served on the City Council, including two consecutive terms as mayor, from 1983 to 1987. Through his generous service to family, community and country, Ray Schoenecker has secured his place as a distinguished alumnus of NPHS.

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