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K12 Notebook: Woman's Perham magnets raise money and pride

Perham, Minn., resident Marion Johnson is cultivating local pride with a simple message - and raising money for the Perham-Dent School District. Johnson recently read an editorial in her local paper that told of a family that was sending its thre...

Marion Johnson heads effort to sell magnets
Marion Johnson of Perham, Minn., is heading an effort to sell "Perham Pride" magnets to raise money to help the Perham-Dent School District. Special to The Forum

Perham, Minn., resident Marion Johnson is cultivating local pride with a simple message - and raising money for the Perham-Dent School District.

Johnson recently read an editorial in her local paper that told of a family that was sending its three children to a neighboring district after budget cuts claimed the Perham arts program.

"I was just appalled by that," Johnson says. "That really did it. I thought, 'I have to do something.' "

Johnson and her husband, Bob, have lived in the area for about a decade, and they've grown immensely attached to their adoptive community.

Though they don't have children in the district, Marion decided to tout the town and support the district in one go. She ordered 2,500 magnets with "Perham Pride" in the district's yellow and black colors.

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They're selling for $5, and the couple's business, an Internet advertising company in town, will match the funds raised. The money will be earmarked for library books, computers and science equipment.

Since homecoming last week, more than 1,000 of the magnets have sold.

"They've been going like crazy," says Jo Strege, the coordinator of the 549 Family Foundation, a community group raising funds for the district, which is helping sell the magnets. "They're showing up all over the place."

The magnets are available at the Perham Chamber of Commerce, the Johnsons' Keep It Local office and other businesses in town.

"We just want to sell a whole lot of bumper stickers," says Marion, "so we can give the school $25,000."

German connection

Seventh- and eighth-graders at St. Joseph's Catholic School in Moorhead have been immersing themselves in German culture.

Eve Skajewski, a literature and language arts teacher, recently kicked off a number of unorthodox strategies to help students cultivate a curiosity about all things German.

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"The students are trying to learn more about German culture," says St. Joseph's Principal Leslie Honebrink.

They've been corresponding with pen pals from Germany about what growing up in Europe is like. They've listened to three teachers from the north German town of Itzehoe explain how school is different for students in their homeland.

This month, the students will throw their own beer-free Oktoberfest, which will involve sporting aprons and suspenders and sampling signature fare such as bratwurst with sauerkraut.

And on Wednesday, the school will host the Bayerishe Schuhplattlers, Minneapolis husband and wife duo Tom and Karen Wiblishauser, who specialize in traditional German dance. The performance will include polka, waltz and the Schuhplattling folk dance. Then the guests will take students for a spin.

"They'll get the students out on the floor and teach them some steps," Honebrink says.

Governor's group meets

The Governor's Youth Council will meet in Bismarck on Tuesday.

North Dakota Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple chairs the 20-member council of youth and legislators who aim to identify challenges facing North Dakota youth related to jobs, health care, recreation, education and other major issues.

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The meeting, which is open to the public, begins at 9:30 a.m. in the Roughrider Room at the Capitol.

Readers can reach Forum reporters Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515 and Mila Koumpilova at (701) 241-5524

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