Skip To Main Content
* Offers Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) special program
** Offers Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) & Gifted Academy special programs
*** Offers Adult Education program

Alumni Spotlight: Guilford Grad and Grammy Award Nominee Jake Runestad

Jake Runestad

We’re featuring RPS 205 alumni on the 205 VIBE! We caught up with Guilford High School graduate Jake Runestad, class of 2004. He went to Winona State University and earned a bachelor’s in instrumental music education in 2009. Runestad is a musician – specifically a composer and conductor. He has a master’s of music in composition, which he earned from the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University in 2011. He lives in Minneapolis, Minn.

Before graduating from Guilford High School, which other RPS 205 schools did you attend?
I attended Bloom Elementary School and Eisenhower Middle School.

What’s your favorite memory about attending school in RPS 205?
When I was a senior, the Guilford High School band director, Mr. Rick DeRango, offered to perform a composition that I wrote for the wind ensemble. It was a transformational moment for me to hear my music being played by other musicians and inspired me to continue composing music. Little did I know then that years later my music would be nominated for a 2020 Grammy Award!

How has your time in Rockford Public Schools contributed to your success – whether in your career or life?
The opportunity to participate in the arts was crucial to my educational experience and offered the strengths that the arts provide all students: opportunities for self-expression, fostering compassion, storytelling, higher-level thinking, a broadened worldview, and engagement with diverse cultures and ideas.  

Is there anything else you want to say about your time in RPS 205? Advice for seniors? A teacher, coach or mentor you want to thank?
I have so many teachers and mentors to thank in my RPS 205 schooling. I’m proud of my public school education and am grateful for the opportunities it provided me. I took advantage of all of the honors classes and extracurricular activities that I could, and these experiences provided a solid grounding for my life as a professional musician.

Alumni text, graduation cap

RPS 205 Alumni Spotlight

Do you know alumni from RPS 205 who should be featured on the 205 VIBE? Contact

  • Family & Friends
  • Guilford High School