The honorees for this year’s Holmen Kornfest have quite a bit in common.

The common denominator for Trygve and Karan Mathison and Laurie Kessler are they have musical backgrounds, worked for the Holmen School District and have volunteered to make the Holmen community a better place.

The Mathisons were selected as this year’s Holmen Lionesses’ Citizens of the Year and Kessler will be the Holmen Lions’ Kornfest Parade marshal.

The three honorees will help the community celebrate the 54th annual Kornfest by riding in the parade 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 19.

“Being chosen as Citizens of the Year is very humbling as there are many people in the community that do much,” wrote the Mathisons in a statement. “We feel we are just representing the Holmen Lioness Club in their mission of reaching out to others.”

Each year, the Holmen Lioness Club honors a Holmen citizen or couple who have lived and worked to espouse the organization’s motto, “We help people to see the rainbow.”

The Mathisons are being recognized for their work educating and encouraging students, helping the elderly and beautifying and supporting many aspects of Holmen.

Active Lion and Lioness, the Mathisons have worked in the Holmen School District for more than 30 years. Trygve was music teacher, band director and principal of Holmen High School. He has also served as organist for the Holmen Lutheran Church for over 50 years.

Karan, an elementary music teacher, has also been active in her church’s music program as a member of the bell choir. She has also served as a member of the congregation’s hospitality team.

Along with volunteering with Meals on Wheels and the Grandview Garden Club, the Mathisons continued their connection with the school district by supporting HHS’s music programs and competitions as well as its sports programs.

“Educational support is so important,” wrote the Mathisons. “We love supporting the youth by attendance at concerts, athletic events and theater. By communicating with Holmen alumni, we stressed the importance of the community center.”

Trygve played a key role in getting Kessler involved in the Holmen community. As Holmen High School principal, he hired Kessler as a music teacher for the district. During the interview, he asked Kessler if she would be willing to work with his church’s youth choir.

Working a number of years as a music teacher, Kessler decided to return to school and earned a degree in guidance counseling and was able to continue working for the HSD.

The deaths of several students and counseling the district’s youth led her to start an afterschool youth program and inspired a determination to establish a place where youth can go after school. Although not a Holmen resident, Kessler has been a driving force in the campaign to build a community center in the village.

“You see what they are facing,” said Kessler. “Every child needs a safe place to go after school. Studies have shown the afterschool programs are critical for (the youth in) making healthy decisions.”

She credits the district’s supportive leadership and the welcoming environment of the Holmen community for keeping her engaged.

“I’ve been lucky to have met all those good people,” said Kessler. “Volunteering is a nice way to stay engaged in the community. The people in Holmen get you connected and you want to stay involved.”


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