Karen (Howe) McDonough
The legendary success of the Forest Lake speech teams would not have been were it not for the vision and energy of first-year English teacher Karen Howe McDonough, who single-handedly started the first speech team during the 1966-67 school year. Just three years later Karen helped coach fellow Hall of Fame member Tom Hollihan to become Forest Lake’s first state speech champion. Her teams would quickly see much more success, and she went on to work with 10 other state champions during her Forest Lake career. Karen’s dedication and hard work laid the massive foundation that set the Forest Lake High School speech team up as the number one program in the state of Minnesota for more than a decade. Not only did Karen establish herself as an excellent speech coach and English teacher, she also served as the school’s theatre director from 1966 until 1980. She also established herself as a talented actress, performing at the Lake Shore Playhouse in White Bear Lake, where she was awarded Best Actress three separate years. In 1977 Karen joined the school district’s administrative team as the Director of Staff Development, and in 1978 she began working in the newly-created position of Skills Director, where she served until 1981. In 1980, Karen was elected to the Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors, representing all of the speech, theater and debate programs throughout the state. After leaving Forest Lake she lived in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, before eventually moving to Long Beach, California, where she worked as a corporate trainer until her retirement. Karen’s impact on the Forest Lake Area Schools is still felt to this day.