Neighbors: Couple help districts not take reading for granted
There's a lot of trust in the New York Mills-Perham area of Minnesota. Almost $250,000 worth. It comes from Harley and Velma Karvonen, Perham. They recently set up a $50,000 trust for the New York Mills public schools to establish an annual remed...
There's a lot of trust in the New York Mills-Perham area of Minnesota.
Almost $250,000 worth.
It comes from Harley and Velma Karvonen, Perham.
They recently set up a $50,000 trust for the New York Mills public schools to establish an annual remedial reading program for students in kindergarten through third grade.
This in itself is a nice gift. But it's nothing new for the Karvonens. It's the fourth $50,000 trust they've set up for local causes.
Harley says education is especially close to his heart.
This comes from a guy who had to repeat third grade - and is grateful to the teacher who made him do it.
Harley grew up in a Finnish family in New York Mills. The family spoke nothing but Finnish at home. Harley had to learn English in school.
It was tough going. He struggled through first and second grades. When third grade was equally as difficult, his teacher, Miss Drieste, was wise enough to make him take it over.
That allowed him to learn English much better. Now he says that if he'd gone on from grade to grade without that extended stay in the third, he'd probably have dropped out of school early.
So to help today's kids, he and his wife gave this gift to the New York Mills schools, on the heels of a similar gift to the Perham-Dent School District to establish reading programs for its first three grades.
"We think everyone will admit," Harley said in 1997 when that gift was announced, "that a student who doesn't learn to read and understand what is read will have problems in higher grades, so it is important that no student be allowed to go beyond the third grade until he has mastered the requirements for that grade."
That gift allowed the Perham-Dent district to provide a six-week summer school for students needing additional instruction in reading.
The other two previous gifts provided sports equipment for the Perham youth programs and a soccer field and set up maintenance funds for three cemeteries in the New York Mills area.
World War II vet
Harley is a decorated war veteran. He enlisted in the Navy during World War II and served on a minesweeper in the Pacific for 22 months. He participated in landings in the Philippines and on Okinawa. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds he received in the Philippine campaign.
Now this retired businessman and his wife are doing what they can to help their communities in general and those communities' youngsters in particular.
"I'm going on 88 years of age," Harley says. "I have to do things while I am still on earth."
Harley and Velma are doing lots of things.
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