Wildcat Wall of Fame Honors New Inductees

Marie Perry, Communications Director for the School District of Belleville

From left: Lisa Ingles (for JoAnn Frietag), Rodger Moe, Mike O’Connor. Photo courtesy of Marie Perry


As graduation day approaches, it offers a time to reflect on what has made a school notable.  In many cases it comes down to people – the faces and names we remember collectively over time who positively left their mark.  For Belleville, honoring a select few who are added to the Wildcat Wall of Fame each year is special.  This year, Belleville High School (BHS) honored JoAnn Freitag, Rodger Moe, and Mike O’Connor as their 2024 inductees.

The Wildcat Wall of Fame inductees are carefully researched by current BHS students as part of their experience serving in the Young Samaritans Club, under the guidance of Chad Hodgson.

JoAnn Frietag’s biographical information was co-presented by BHS students Alora Spiegel (Class of 2024) and Mallory Thompson (Class of 2025).  Her years of experience as a caring educator in Belleville are exemplified in the memories her students still hold for her in their hearts.  Frietag modeled who she wanted her students to be by her everyday actions offering a little extra help, a kind greeting, or a hug when needed.

Spiegel and Thompson noted, “Just as JoAnn remembered the names of all her students years after they had graduated, it is important that we remember her now.  Many of you may understand just how big of an impact a kind and supportive teacher can have on a student, and this is exactly the impact she has had on so many.”

Rodger Moe’s accomplishments were highlighted by Lillian Hanna (Class of 2025).  Beyond Moe’s obvious accomplishments spending 40 years as a teacher and a Principal for the School District of Belleville, his commitment to the community he served is palpable.

Hanna underscores, “Rodger’s presence touched and continues to touch the lives and hearts of many.  Those who have known him describe him as kind, dedicated, caring, and relatable.  For his students, Rodger was a positive, influential leader whom they could look up to and rely on.”

Mike O’Connor’s time at BHS and career in the Belleville community was brought to light by Lillian Palmer (Class of 2025).  From his time as a BHS student, to his continued involvement as an adult coaching and driving bus, Mike is a dedicated Wildcat.  His support is felt by all in the School District of Belleville with his regular “Belleville School Minute” radio spotlights showing a long history of devotion to the school district he calls home.

Palmer noted, “It’s not only what he does now, but everything he’s contributed to the community in his own actions.  I think it’s very telling of the kind of character that Mike O’Connor is, not only to have grown up here and stuck around, but to have devoted his life to supporting our community and especially this school district.”

The annual process to select new inductees for the Wildcat Wall of Fame is such a wonderful opportunity for Belleville High School students to be saturated in active historical research.  Their work is intense and meaningful.  Helping select the historic pillars of a school’s community is challenging and the students rely on primary research techniques to consider each nominated candidate.  Their teacher and advisor Mr. Hodgson is proud of the work the Young Samaritans Club does in this regard.

Hodgson notes, “As a humanities teacher this is really about being a historian – going out and conducting research, then synthesizing all that info to promote the candidate you have researched.  It is the purest form of learning.  The outcome of these students’ efforts is authentic and tangible.  These students are the epitome of great students – it is hands off in terms of my work as a teacher.  The kids do it all!”

While families and friends joined the Class of 2024 for the ceremony in the Belleville High School auditorium, it was nice to see the beautiful artwork that will mark this honor for each Wildcat Wall of Fame recipient for years to come.  JoAnn Frietag’s family and Rodger Moe received plaques with portraits created by BHS art student Kariya Harris, while Mike O’Connor received his plaque with his likeness rendered by art teacher Jon Benash.  It is a wonderful way to commemorate such an honor for all the Wildcat Wall of Fame inductees annually, and graduating seniors are encouraged to take one last look at these faces on the wall before setting out on their journeys as they prepare to graduate on Sunday, June 9, 2024.