The Blake School honors distinguished alumni through our alumni awards program. Alumni from Northrop Collegiate School, Blake School and The Blake School are recognized in the following categories:
Outstanding Alumni Award
The Outstanding Alumni Award honors alumni who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, achievement and influence in their field and/or in their community activities. If you would like to nominate yourself or a fellow alum, please fill out the nomination form here.
Young Alumni Award
The Young Alumni Award honors graduates of Blake from the last 25 years who have made significant contributions to civic or professional organizations, who are driven by a bold sense of curiosity and openness to differences and who constantly strive to be an engaged, courageous and intelligent world citizens. If you would like to nominate yourself or a fellow alum, please fill out the nomination form here.
Jenny Stephens Hagen Spirit Award
The Jenny Stephens Hagen Award honors alumni who have shown commitment to The Blake School community in the following ways: have devoted extraordinary time and energy to the school; have served as stalwart enthusiasts for the school; and have promoted, attended and supported with vigor the involvement of alumni in The Blake School community events. If you would like to nominate yourself or a fellow alum, please fill out the nomination form here.
Athletic Hall of Fame
The Athletic Hall of Fame highlights the accomplishments of alumni, coaches and friends and celebrates the school’s sports history. In addition to this year’s inductees, the Hall of Fame honors members of Blake’s Hockey Hall of Fame and past recipients of the Alumni Athlete of the Year award, which includes 40 alumni spanning multiple sports and 30 years.
2023 Recipients and Biographies
Andrij Parekh '90: Outstanding Alumnus of the Year 2023
Andrij Parekh ʼ90 lives and works in New York City, shooting features, television and commercials. In 2004, he was named one of Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Indie Film" and was included as one of Variety's "Ten Cinematographers to Watch." Recently, he was invited to join the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC).
He won the 2020 Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for his work directing “Hunting,” an episode of that year's Outstanding Drama Series winner, “Succession.” He was the cinematographer on three of that season’s episodes, developing its visual style, and directed six episodes of the series. He is currently in London directing “House of the Dragon” for HBO.
After earning a bachelor's degree in sociology/anthropology and a minor in media studies from Carleton College, Andrij went on to study directing and cinematography at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and then cinematography at FAMU film school in Prague. While at NYU, he was nominated for the 1998 Eastman Excellence in Cinematography award. In 2001, he won an honorable mention from the American Society of Cinematographers in the Heritage Award category.
Andrij was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After moving to Minneapolis, he joined Blake in seventh grade. In Upper School, he played varsity soccer, sang for the glee club and was active on the Quiz Bowl team and on the yearbook committee.
Parekh will be honored on Oct. 6, 2023 at Breakfast at Blake during which he will be the featured speaker.
Oliver Utne ʼ04: Young Alumnus of the Year 2023
Oliver Utne ʼ04 is the founder and general coordinator of Kara Solar, an electric river transportation system in the Ecuadorian Amazon that is powered by solar energy. He created Kara Solar together with Achuar communities and leaders as a strategy to help protect the environment and provide an alternative to further roadbuilding, which is the leading driver of deforestation in the Amazon. The transportation system now connects 1,100 indigenous people along 67 km of the Pastaza and Capahuari rivers to schools, clinics and each other and is operated by a locally led community enterprise. He hopes Kara Solar serves as a new model of infrastructure and sustainable local economy that can be scaled across the Amazon basin.
Oliver entered Blake in ninth grade and participated in many sports such as alpine skiing, varsity soccer, baseball, lacrosse and basketball. He was a National Merit Semifinalist and received honorable mention for the Assembly Speaking Award. He received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University where he studied history and social energy. He lives in Quito, Ecuador, with his wife and daughter.
Utne will be honored in November 2023 at Breakfast at Blake during which he will be the featured speaker.
Fred '55 and El Winston '60: Jenny Stephens Hagen Spirit Award
Eleanor “El” Crosby Winston ʼ60 attended Northrop Collegiate School through eighth grade and graduated from Foxcroft School in Virginia. She attended Smith College, where she received her bachelor's degree in 1964. El earned a master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education in 1966. She was a first grade teacher before becoming a full-time community volunteer. El was a director at Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota from 1994-2008, serving as president from 1998-2002. She received the organization’s Reuel Harmon Award, one of its highest honors. She has also served on the boards of the Nature Conservancy (1987-93), Minnesota Historical Society (since 1988) and Pillsbury United Communities (1987-96).
Frederick “Fred” Winston ʼ55 entered Blake in third grade from Kenwood and was involved in the Dramatics Association (chairman), Dance Committee, publications (copy editor) and was the hockey manager. He attended Williams College, and after graduating in 1959, joined OCS and the Navy. After his service, he joined First National Bank of Minneapolis. In 1978, he started Ridgedale State Bank, which was later purchased by Highland Bancshare, Inc. Fred is the former director. He is also a board member of Marshall & Winston, a small family independent oil company in Midland, Texas.
Fred and El are longtime benefactors of The Blake School and have both served on the Alumni Board. Fred is a former trustee (2011-14) and was part of the Building & Grounds Committee and Advancement Committee. He served on the Excellence Accelerated Comprehensive Campaign cabinet (2013-18) and on the Seal Advisory Committee (2017-19). Between the two of them, they have attended 101 Blake events since 2003 including a 50th reunion, Alumni Holiday Parties, Breakfast at Blake presentations, campaign events, Golden Bears Luncheons, Grand Friend Days, Ivy Circle Parties and Philip Otis Environmental Author Dinners.
Fred and El's extended family have attended Blake over the years, including their children, Betsy Winston ʼ99, Frederick Winston ʼ92 and Tom Winston ʼ95. Their daughter Nell Smith graduated valedictorian from Orono. She and her husband, Chris, have three children who all attend Blake; one graduated in June. Fred's mother graduated from Northrop in 1922 and two brothers also attended Blake in addition to his aunt and uncle. El's father graduated from Blake in 1932 and her mother attended Northrop. Her three brothers and two sisters also spent time at Blake and Northrop along with four uncles and an aunt. Fred and El live in Wayzata.
The Winstons will be honored at Breakfast at Blake on Oct. 6, 2023.