A column last year about the Green School of rural Valley City, N.D., meant a lot to Ken Welken, because he is a graduate of it.
Ken, who now lives in Fargo but spends winters in Arizona, sent his story to "Neighbors" after seeing the Green School column.
“I grew up on a farm about five miles from the school, which my dad also attended,” he writes. “I graduated from 8th grade there in 1961.
“I then went to Valley City High School and graduated in 1965.
“When I was a high school junior, I was out selling choir candy. I went to Herman Stern’s door. He bought a box and told me if I ever wanted a job at Straus Clothing (which Herman owned), to come and see him.
“I went to North Dakota State University my first two years of college. I was in engineering, but I only enjoyed the math portion of it.
“I finished my last two years at Valley City State University, majored in math and geography, and graduated in 1969.
“I signed a teaching contract in Moorhead and taught math at South Junior High School for 35 years, and five years at the new Horizon Middle School, retiring in 2009. I had present Forum Editor Matt Von Pinnon as a math student.
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“But while I was attending VCSU, I went into Straus Clothing. Mr. Stern remembered me and hired me to work there (in Valley City) when I wasn’t in class. I went to school from 8 a.m. to 12 and worked at Straus from noon until 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon until 9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“When I graduated from college,” Ken writes, “Mr. Stern offered me a job working at Straus full time, but I felt I needed to teach, since that’s what I had trained to do. I continued to work at Straus on weekends and in the summer for many years while I was teaching. I also helped my dad farm during that time.
“Later, when I stopped going back to Valley City every weekend, I would get a call from Rick or John Stern at Straus in Fargo to help with their sidewalk sales or other special events. Rick married one of my former students, Nancy Torson.
“On the last day when they were closing Straus Clothing on 13th Avenue in Fargo, I went up and helped Rick and John clean out the store, took their picture in front of the fireplace and went out to lunch with them to celebrate the many fond memories we had of Straus Clothing.
“Straus was a very big part of my life.”
Ken says he shared the original column about Green School with Tim Hager, who lives about 2 miles from the school. He also attended it.
“Tim ran Elim Nursing Home in Fargo for 30 years. He keeps an eye on the school these days.”
Ken also says Green School closed in 1972, not in 1962 as the earlier column erroneously stated.
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