It was New Year’s Day of 2007 when the first of a series of Gil Thorp comics that referenced Duluth was published. According to a Duluth News Tribune story that week, writer Neal Rubin typically uses the names of actual high school teams in the comic, and simply liked the team name Denfeld Hunters. Frank McLaughlin is the artist who drew the strip.
The Minnesota Vikings announced today rookie running back C.J. Ham of Duluth has been signed to the team’s 53-man roster.
Ham joined the Vikings during rookie camp on a tryout basis and signed to the practice squad after final roster cuts. He played high school ball at Denfeld, graduating in 2011. At Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., he totaled 2,662 rushing yards, 949 receiving yards and 35 total touchdowns in 43 games.
Minnesota (7-7) visits Green Bay (8-6) on Saturday.
Last week racist graffiti referencing U.S. President-elect Donald Trump was found in a female restroom stall at Denfeld High School. The student body responded this week, posting inspiring messages throughout the school. The movement was led by Denfeld’s student executive board and the video was posted on Twitter by Johanna Unden, the exec board’s student school board representative.
Duluth native C.J. Ham is the Minnesota Vikings leading rusher over the first two preseason contests. He has gained 60 yards on 20 attempts, including a game-winning touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in week one. He also has three receptions for 27 yards.
“It’s been a dream come true,” Ham told WCCO-TV. “Just having the opportunity to be in the NFL and be with the team I grew up watching, it’s a dream come true.”
UPDATE: As is plainly visible, a copyright claim on the music used in this video resulted in it being pulled from YouTube after one day. Follow this link to see an updated version without the Jay Z track.
Denfeld High School 2016 lip dub project. Full disclosure, I work at Denfeld as some kind of educator. The third annual all-school lip dub dropped today, something students and educators worked on closely for the past couple of months. It’s a mash up of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s “Crazy in Love” and “We Run this Town.”
If this is the future of Duluth, I think we can all be very hopeful and proud. Particularly noteworthy for me is the way that we see strong, confident and successful women portrayed prominently in the video.
With high school hockey playoffs underway this week, PDD takes a look back 30 years to Denfeld’s first trip to the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament. The video above includes TV news clips of Denfeld’s Section 2 playoff wins (2-1 over Duluth East, 8-2 over St. Cloud Apollo and 6-2 over Anoka). The photo at left is from the victory over Anoka, shot by John Rott of the Duluth News Tribune (as featured in the DNT archives).
Longtime Denfeld High School economics teacher Dick Gastler died on Thursday, Oct. 15, at the age of 79. Among many great teachers at Denfeld, Mr. Gastler would have to be considered the most famous of his era. He was a ham. He broke into song all the time. He frequently digressed into stories about growing up in Chaska. He wore cheesy leisure suits, famously sporting the same one every day during a stretch of 1984 when he was raising money to fight hunger — a stunt that landed him on Good Morning America. The suit was burned when Mr. Gastler reached his fundraising goal. The ashes are still in a trophy case at the school.
With graduation ceremonies taking place this week, we look back 85 years ago to see what the Denfeld class of 1930 looked like. That year the school’s Oracle strove to inspire students “with a steadfast purpose to build well upon the foundations of the past,” and was dedicated to “the spirit of industry and progress which has existed in the hearts and minds of the citizens of Western Duluth.” The inside folds of the book feature a “Decorative Map of Western Duluth, with which we begin this post.
The senior class held two successful paper sales, a Christmas card sale and a class play to fund the yearbook in 1930. The organizations that typically funded the Oracle instead gave money to the pipe organ fund; Denfeld’s pipe organ had been purchased in 1926 for $25,000.
Back in the day, Denfeld art students competed in the Proctor and Gamble contest, the Scholastic Award or the House Beautiful Cover Design contest. Miss Genevieve Bancroft was the art instructor, with the assistance of Miss Nellie Smith.