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Graduation time provides good-tasting receptions and some feel-good stories

High school graduations dot the region's landscape today. I'll be marked "present" at the Thompson School festivities even though my attendance isn't mandatory.

High school graduations dot the region's landscape today. I'll be marked "present" at the Thompson School festivities even though my attendance isn't mandatory.

That's because I enjoy graduation ceremonies as much as I enjoy graduation receptions that overflow with scalloped potatoes and ham, macaroni salad, cold beverages, reminiscing and photo boards.

At graduation, you see the raw "it's over" relief on the faces of those who found going to school a chore. Also on parade is the pride of grads and their parental units. There's a warm sense by the veteran adults that these novice adults will amount to something. Graduation is one of life's major watersheds.

I also enjoy the student speeches. They're not always expertly delivered, but they're always expertly written. At their age, I wasn't nearly as thoughtful or as courageous to deliver my words to a big audience of mostly strangers.

I will listen to the valedictory address of Brian Nybo in the Thompson gym. Brian is someone who earned his No. 1 academic status. For one thing, he had perfect attendance the past six years. He also won the award for his class' best high school average in all four core academic areas -- English, history, math and science. Every semester grade but one was an 'A.'


His ACT score of 26 is certainly well above average but not at the genius level of many valedictorians. His ACT is proof of his effort.

Asked how he became the valedictorian, Nybo said: "I showed up every day, and I did my work."

What more do employers want?

Another of the region's feel-good graduation stories is in Warroad, Minn., where many graduates are richly rewarded even if they're not scholastic marvels. The William S. and Margaret W. Marvin Warroad Scholarship Fund, established last year with a $15 million endowment, is presenting $685,200 in scholarships to 25 graduating students.

The 13 scholarship winners advancing to attend four-year colleges will receive $10,800 a year for as many as four years. The 12 moving on to two-year schools will receive $5,150 a year for as many as two years.

The academic requirement to be scholarship-eligible is far from rigid, as only a 2.0 grade point average (C average) is needed. In addition to the 2.0, the other requirement is demonstrating service in the community. This includes the likes of school activities, Boy Scouts, Sunday School teacher and other volunteer work. So, it's a reward for effort, not just the good fortune of being part of a brainy gene pool.

"The Marvin family has a philosophy of community pride and volunteerism," Superintendent Craig Oftedahl said.

Fourteen of the 20 honor students (GPA of at least 3.5) received scholarships. That means another 11 winners weren't honor students.


"They hoped that some of the scholarship winners will come back to our community," Oftedahl said. "Marvin Windows has needs for employees who will get four-year degrees, two-year degrees and trades education. You need all kinds of people in your community to make it successful."

I'm guessing the prospect of receiving as much as $40,000 will compel Warroad students to turn the pages of their textbooks and raise their hands when volunteers are requested.

"We're hoping that students will now want to start doing better at a younger age," Oftedahl said. "We see a real trickle-down effect that will be positive and prompt students to do more than show up and walk the halls."

All it takes is the Brian Nybo strategy: Show up and do your work.

Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to rbakken@gfherald.com .

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