By Rita Maisel
For months people have been asking about “the graduation story”, and while collecting the names of local graduates we have discovered once again that annual columns need some type of push to make them both traditional and special for that year. That combination did not gel until one of the graduates informed me that their class would be the first millennials to graduate. Now that could make for headlines! However, in the interests of accuracy, it seemed reasonable to look up the term millennials in a dictionary. My dictionary is too old to include the word. The internet says it means anyone born between 1976 and 2004 in one definition and anyone born between 1998 and 2012 in another definition. Readers may understand why the decision was made to go with the millennial definition given by the local graduate: “We were all born in 2000 or later”. Whether down the line they might wish to be known as Generation X, Y, Z or some other classification will be their own choice.
As graduation stories go, the number of graduates this year is low in comparison with past and future class sizes. The total, including home-schooled, comes to 35 graduates. Because of the co-op arrangements for sports, Edmore is included this year along with the schools in Cavalier County. Privacy laws restrict asking their parent’s or grandparent’s names so I try to go with previously printed information like centennial books from the area, the clipping file which often gives birth notices and stories volunteered by grandparents and great-grandparents who have fond memories from the past. It also helps to be working with graduates whose older brothers and sisters were researched for previous columns. First the names and then the stories.
Munich’s graduation ceremony will be May 19, 2019. Those receiving their diplomas will be Denver Biby, Adrienne Darling, Hunter Haider, Coty Harder, Callie Perry and James Tabert. Coty and Callie are pictured in the Munich Centennial Book, and there are longer stories about pioneer ancestors, parents, grandparents and relatives of their classmates in that same book which might even include pictures of the original homesteads.
Edmore’s graduation will be May 26, and the 2019 graduates include Sarah Hodek, Haylee Linstad, Holden Mack and Ethan Sampson. Both Holden and Ethan are recognized as part of the co-op teams, but none of this year’s graduates appear to be listed by name or pictured in the Edmore centennial book. Holden does have a mention but not a picture in the Nekoma book. Sarah lives near Fairdale, and Haylee is from the Adams portion of the Edmore district. Possibly because Ethan might not have been born when the Edmore book was published, the family stories do not appear to include him although his extended family is well represented in that publication. Ethan may be one of the best-known graduates from this class, in part because of his throwing ability as a baseball pitcher and from skipping rocks as a world class junior curling champion. That story earned him a picture and story on the front page of the Cavalier County Republican in February.
Langdon Area High School will also hold their graduation on May 26 with 24 graduates this year: Brianna Bakke, Trey Barker, Landen Brocato, Hope Cleveland, Preston Close, Carter Curry, Sadie Fetsch, Dylan Fetsch, Rhiannon Giguere, Erykka Gratton, Alexander Gronhovd, Jessica Hoffarth, Travis Johnson, Kaydee Koistinen, April Kratcha, Alexander Lowery, Hannah Lundeby, Emily Messner, Tera Mittleider, Madison Pritchard, Kellen Roder, Tanner Romfo, Rylan Rueger, and Erika Simpson. A few stories about these students will follow.
The only home-school graduate this year is Ethan Blackwell from the Langdon area who lists his school as Blackwell Academy. Along with other members of this family, Ethan has participated in some of the extra-curricular activities at the high school.
Most of the Langdon Area graduates have interesting stories with a few of those beginning with their births. At some point in the 1990s Cavalier County Memorial Hospital had closed their birthing center due to a regulation which required an anesthesiologist to be on hand for delivery. But one arriving baby was not willing to ride all the way to Grand Forks for her delivery. A quick stop was made at the Langdon hospital, and with the help of Dr. Goodliffe and experienced nurse Olga Feil, Madison Rose Pritchard was born on July 10, 2001, according to a front-page clipping from the Republican. She may still be considered the last baby born at the Langdon hospital.
A few months later a Langdon couple travelled all the way to China to bring home their first daughter, April Kratcha. While local graduation lists do include some foreign exchange students as well as graduates who were born in Manitoba hospitals, April is the first graduate we know who began her life in China. And then there was the graduation of the 8th grade class from St. Alphonsus where the graduates were asked to name a special blessing they had received that year. Big brother Quintin told the group assembled that his blessing was a new baby sister, Kaydee Koistinen. While checking to find the date April arrived in Langdon, the clipping file revealed a picture of three little girls at St. Alphonsus where they began their classroom years. April, Kaydee and Sadie are all graduating together this year.
The Langdon class traditionally has a large group of third and fourth generation graduates whose great-grandparents graduated from either a Langdon high school or surrounding Cavalier County high schools. Brianna Bakke is a fourth generation Langdon graduate going back to her great-grandmother, Anna Mae (Koehmstedt) Hansel. From visits with Anna Mae over the years we do know that she might have been the first generation of her immediate family to graduate from high school but was the fourth generation herself on two lines of her own pioneer heritage. That would make Brianna part of their family’s seventh generation in Cavalier County.
Several years ago I sat beside a nice young mother at a band concert. I did not know or ask her name, but she mentioned she had driven up from Milton for the concert so we talked about long ago Milton bands, and she mentioned she was there because Preston Close would be playing. It is possible he was not yet in high school, but the band has appreciated Preston all these years and will be sorry to lose him with graduation. While I may not be able to pick out a fourth generation back ancestor, I do know the Close family has been living in Milton for at least 120 years.
Each year we check to see if there are twins on the graduation list. This year the two who might have been questionable on that score are Sadie and Dylan Fetsch, the only graduates with the same last name. Thanks to older family members, we know they are not twins and not first or second cousins, but they do share connections in both the Fetsch and Chaput families that go back to the early pioneer days. As a result, the category of who in this year’s class has the most cousins still in the area should go jointly to Sadie and Dylan. Both had grandparents at Wales and at Langdon or St. Alphonsus, but some of those grandparents had their schooling interrupted by World War II so I did not find a fourth generation back for Sadie. Dylan is the great-grandson of both Charlotte (Beauchamp) Chaput and Jean (Bergman) Kram. Charlotte finished her high school at Sarles and Jean at Wales High School.
Alexander Gronhovd has family who graduated at Osnabrock and at Nekoma with at least one great-grandmother and maybe two. Each year it seems we find at least one or two graduates who are from the family of the late Anna Hoffarth, who died last year at the age of 110 – a record most of us will never reach. This year that descendant is great-granddaughter Jessica Hoffarth. Kaydee Koistinen’s grandmother worked at the Langdon school for many years and was, herself, the daughter of a lady who taught in Cavalier County. I did not find the complete information so will just write that she has roots in Langdon, Osnabrock and Hansboro.
The next two graduates, Travis Johnson and Hannah Lundeby, are great-grandchildren of two ladies who both graduated from Milton High School in 1931. Those ladies were Edna (Rusten) Johnson, great-grandmother of Travis Johnson, and Adeline (Olson) Jacobson, great-grandmother of Hannah Lundeby. Grandparents went to school in Osnabrock, Munich, Park River, Cavalier and possibly elsewhere. Both are the youngest graduating from original pioneer families and represent the sixth or seventh generation living in Cavalier County.
Emily Messner is the fourth generation of her family to graduate from Langdon High School going back through the Olsons to her great-grandmother, Edith (Kirby) Olson, who taught in several schools as did Emily’s special great aunt who died recently. Kellen Roder is the sixth or seventh generation on the Balsdon side where a great-great-grandfather had to go to Cavalier to attend high school because Cavalier County was just being settled and no high school had been established. Later generations graduated from Osnabrock and Langdon. Rylan Rueger’s grandmother graduated from Milton High School, and there are memories of meeting her great-grandmother when we worked on a 1989 project of visits with people born before statehood. That lady also attended school in this area, but without a name I did not find a graduation listing.
Apologies to others in the class who may be newer to the area and have an equally long educational history in another community. You are all important members of the graduating class, and we are fortunate to count you in the LAHS alumni.
And now the words every class traditionally expects: Congratulations to all of you! Best Wishes! Keep in Touch! Drive Safely and Come Home Often!