Volume 127, Number 5
Photo by Deb Pierson, Minnewaukan.
Turning a negative into a positive brings new life to the Sheyenne School and hope to the community
BY SARA J. PLUM
When school is done for the year teachers and staff normally breathe a sigh of relief, while students experience an overwhelming sense of freedom. This was not the case in Sheyenne four years ago. Instead heads were shaking in disbelief and tears were making their way down faces filled with sadness.
The school district was going to merge with neighboring New Rockford and the school in Sheyenne would no longer be needed.
Gone was the sound of children laughing and playing outside during recess. Gone were the school programs that were major social events.
Gone was the sense of security and pride a school provides a small town.
And when a school is gone sometimes it isn’t very long before the town is gone, too.
Four years ago the city of Sheyenne was at a crossroads and faced with a decision to make: sit back and wallow or stand up and fight.
Residents chose to fight.
Sheyenne is located 21 miles south of Minnewaukan and 11 miles north of New Rockford on US Highway 281. According to City-Data.com, its population in 2008 was 280. That same year the city celebrated its 125th anniversary.
When the school closed, Sheyenne was already involved in Horizons Leadership Training, gathering input from monthly community meetings about active and positive ways to stimulate growth in the town. The future of the school building became one of the Horizons focus projects.
After a rummage sale at the school, 53 of 55 people surveyed thought the town should purchase the school. The New Rockford-Sheyenne School Board accepted a bid in October of 2007 from an anonymous donor to buy the building for the city of Sheyenne.
The city agreed to own the building as long as no taxpayer money would ever be used for its upkeep or remodeling. An account was opened with a $10,000 Horizons grant, a $400 Northern Plains Rural Community Development grant and another $10,000 in donations. To date, no taxpayer money has been used.
Sheyenne alumnus Jon Garnaas and LADCO Development held a community work session in October to gather ideas of possible uses for the school. In April of 2008 another meeting was held for feedback on the design plans LADCO had donated to the project.
The rest of the year was spent planning and raising money. The "Spice Girls and Boys" volunteers took over the Spicy Roadkill Caf? at Wild Things Taxidermy. Open only two days a week, the caf? has generated $13,500 so far for the school project.
Grants were applied for and the Sheyenne Community Development Corporation was reinstated so the money and renovation could be managed from one location.
A community newspaper was begun the summer of 2009 to keep residents and school alumni informed of the ongoing project.
By November of 2009, all repairs had been made and the water, electricity and heat were back on at the school.
After many hours of discussion, the Sheyenne School also had a new name
— Open Season Lodge and Event Center.
The name was chosen to reflect the positive attitude of the residents who are volunteering their time and talents to keep Sheyenne alive.
A construction boom in the area motivated people to set an opening date of March 1 for the lodge. Now those working on the rural water project, the new elevator and nursing home building in New Rockford and local road improvement projects have a place to stay that is closer to their jobs.
The rising Devils Lake has also generated a tourism boom with hunting and fishing enthusiasts looking for places to stay near their favorite spots.
And families coming home for holidays, reunions, weddings or funerals will be able to stay closer to their loved ones.
An open house attended by 189 people February 28 revealed five classrooms ready to rent. Each room has a dining table and chairs, TV, "living room" area and beds for up to four people.
What was once the school office is now the lodge’s "front desk" and linen storage.
The home ec room is fully equipped, so guests are able to cook their own meals if desired or at least have a place to keep snacks and beverages.
Bathrooms and showers are shared and located in the locker rooms off the gym and the public bathrooms in the hallway. Plans are in the works for each room to become a "lodge" with its own entrance and bathroom.
Other classrooms have many potential uses. The library and science room have plumbing and water. They may be renovated as additional rooms to rent or could be used for offices or businesses. A gift shop or snack bar would work well in either location.
The shop is heated and currently used for storage and laundry. Future possibilities for this area include a cleaning station for hunters staying at the lodge.
Opening the doors of the gymnasium reveals the excellent condition that area is in. Lodge guests and community members are welcome to shoot some hoops or run laps.
The three-phase project has entered its second phase, with lots of elbow grease and funding still needed to realize the full potential of the school building. A part-time housekeeper has been hired, but reservations and guest check-in and check-out duties are handled by volunteers for now.
With the whole town involved one way or another in this project, listing everyone by name would be a daunting task. There are three women who are the main contacts for this project, and even though they are the first to give credit elsewhere, they exemplify the spirit of the community.
Patti Jo Larson, Bek Meredith and Paula Myhre know the school project inside and out and are always willing to answer questions. Bek has agreed to take reservations for the lodge to keep the information organized and in one location. She can be reached at 701-996-3115.
Sheyenne School may not be open for educating children, but it is still providing an education. It is showing others that hope is not lost when a school closes. People are given an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive and to work together to achieve a common goal.
The common goal of the citizens of Sheyenne is to make their town a destination again. They are well on their way to doing just that.
A banner sporting the new name for the Sheyenne School was revealed at the open house February 28.
Classrooms are no longer filled with school desks and children’s artwork. They have been transformed into spacious rooms for guests to enjoy.
Each room has its own dining area.
The comforts of home include couches, recliners and TVs.
Visits first teacher
Virgil Anderson of Leeds recently decided to visit Signa Nelson at her home in Fargo, since he had missed her 99th birthday party at Rugby last fall because he was combining. Mrs. Nelson, who lived with her husband Oscar at Knox for many years before moving to Rugby, was Virgil’s first grade teacher at the Brazil School in Tuscarora Township of Pierce County 12 miles southwest of Rugby. Mrs. Nelson has lived at Fargo the past few months. Her memory is very good and she related many stories of her teaching career, including a recitation Virgil gave while in the first grade.
To compete in state event
Leeds Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) attended the District III STAR Events in Carrington with the Carrington High School FCCLA Chapter members hosting the event.
Leeds members participating and ratings include: Morgan Leapaldt and Hannah Anderson with an Illustrated Talk project received a gold star and will advance to state competiton; Brenna Stone and Sadie Vallier with a Focus on Children project received a gold star and will advance to state; and Allison Manley, Blake Darling and Logan Gunderson presented a National Programs in Action project and received a silver star and will also advance to state. Ashley Manley, state officer and VP of program also attended STAR Events. The State FCCLA Leadership meeting and competition for students will be held on April 11, 12, and 13, 2010 in Bismarck. Left to right are Hannah Anderson, Morgan Leapaldt, Logan Gunderson, Allison Manley, Blake Darling, Sadie Vallier and Brenna Stone.
Alumni take first
The Leeds Alumni took first place in the Bismarck Women’s All-State Invitational Volleyball Tournament on March 6. Left to right, front row, are Melissa (Haagenson) Pavek, April (Keller) Anderson and Kirstin(Peters) Ahlberg. Back row: Melissa Anderson, Nicole Anderson and Pam Blegen.
Ant farm at Warwick
Mrs. Dawna Leith’s kindergarten students at the Warwick School were fascinated by an ant farm, which is pictured on the table. Left to right are Mrs. Leith, Skylor Anderson, Peyton Azure, Kylen Guy, Michael Jons, Maci McKay, Hansome Bird Horse, Bobby Little III, Riley Cavanaugh, Taleya Redfox, Glenna Rue and Dagny Black. Also pictured is the black cover to simulate night for the ants.
Scouts observe 98th anniversary
The Maddock Girl Scouts celebrated the 98th anniversary of the founding of their organization. Left to right, front row, are Talissa Aabrekke, Marissa Lunde, Kenzie Randle, Abigail Grossman and Charity Dosch. Middle row: Helen Foss, Larissa Falzoni, Ashley Foss, Carah Hestdalen, Courtney Hestdalen and Joyce Rasmussen. Back row: Taylor Foss, Emily Sears, Delores Williams and Kristi Medalen. They are members of the Brownie, Junior, Cadette and Senior/Ambassador Troops. Members not pictured are Ashley Risovi and Emily Nolden. Leaders are Robyn Risovi, Becky Hestdalen and Maryann Williams.
In state choir
Two Maddock High School students have been selected to be members of the 2010 Music Educators National Conference All-State Mixed Choir. Sophomore Breana Buehler, daughter of Todd and NadleyBuehler, was selected as an alto and senior John Sears, son of Jerry and Marianne Sears, was selected as a bass for the mixed choir. Members of the choir were chosen through live auditions held in January at various sites throughout the state. The two will travel to Bismarck on March 28 and will rehearse for three days in preparation for a concert on Tuesday, March 30 at 4:30 p.m. at the Bismarck Civic Center.
The Minnewaukan Community Club’s Fffishtival was held at Minnewaukan March 6. The weather was perfect with warm sun. Karyn Neve is shown here grilling hamburgers and hot dogs for the event. Proceeds go to help the club maintain the fish cleaning station in town and the boat ramp near the dumpground.
The Minnewaukan library served donuts, caramel corn and other goodies under the big tent. Behind the table are librarian Cathy Burkhardsmeier and library supporter Doris Griffin of Oberon. The man standing in the rear was not identified.
Only four northerns and three perch were caught during the Fffishtival fishing tournament. In the northern category, Randy Rafferty pulled in a 4.12 pounder, Dan Szafranski caught a 4.03 pounder, Bob Wang had a 3.33 pounder and Nick Carrico caught a 2.55 pounder. In the perch department, Don Meier caught a 1.22 pounder, Dagan Arendt caught a 1.16 pounder and Gaffrey had a .44 pounder.
A flea market was held at the school. Genny Smith, standing, makes Neck Tubes which provide warm, moist heat to the neck and shoulders or other parts of the body. Minnewaukan native Cynthia Lien of Rugby handled the booth while Genny was helping serve food in the school kitchen.
Ward Christensen sold chances on many items at the Fffishtival. Winners were determined by spinning the numbered wheel in the background. Sharon Ebach signs up for one of the prizes while Gary King looks on.
Take part in contest
Junior high students from the Minnewaukan School participated in a junior high music contest March 6 hosted by the New Rockford-Sheyenne School. The students earned three stars and two number one ratings on their performances. Left to right are Drew DeMarce, Shana Greywater, Ms. Deb Dyste, Dallas Anderson and Calum Sherman.
Recognized for service
Benson County Superintendent of Schools Jean Olson is pictured with the appreciation plaque she received from the National MATHCOUNTS Foundation in recognition of 25 years of service.
April Anderson, math teacher at Leeds School, made the presentation at the county MATHCOUNTS competition in Minnewaukan February 10.
The Benson County MATHCOUNTS competition was held February 10 at the courthouse in Minnewaukan under the direction of Jean Olson, county superintendent of schools. Four county schools participated.
Individual winners of the contest are shown. Left to right, in first to sixth place, are Cherilyn Cloud of Minnewaukan, Mylie Herman of Leeds and Maria Sears, Renae Lauinger, Dylan Lauinger and Alexis Gigstad, all of Maddock.
The Minnewaukan team took first place honors. Left to right are coach Jason Svir, seventh grader Cherilyn Cloud and eighth graders Shana Greywater, Dallas Anderson and Demrae Ami.
Second place went to the Maddock team. Left to right are Dylan Lauinger, grade eight; Maria Sears, grade seven; Renae Lauinger, grade eight; Alexis Gigstad, grade seven; and Brian Amann, coach.
The Leeds team placed third in the contest. Left to right are Bo Lauckner, grade eight; Kalvin Slaubaugh and Andrea Jorgenson, grade seven; Mylie Herman, grade eight; and coach April Anderson.
Placing fourth was the team from Tate Topa Middle School. Left to right are eighth graders Shanda Littlewind and Willanette Goodshot; seventh graders Arlete Lohnes and Janessa DeMarce; and coach Mike Babinski.