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Holy Rosary’s Larson honored by VFW

Cathy Larson (center) was recently presented with the Teacher of the Year Award by Leatrice Wirtz (left) of the VFW Auxiliary and Dave Coalwell of VFW Post 1676 in Detroit Lakes. The local VFW and Auxiliary honored Larson for her efforts in “instilling an appreciation of patriotism in her students, past present and future, for the generations that will follow.” DL NEWSPAPERS/Vicki Gerdes

Ever since Cathy Larson was a little girl, playing schoolhouse with her big sister at their home in the tiny town of Rutland, N.D. (population: 200), teaching was pretty much her life’s goal.

“I have always wanted to be a teacher,” says the Holy Rosary School language and art instructor. “When I was in elementary school, I had a classroom set up in our attic at home. I just couldn’t wait to get off the bus every day to get home and teach school.

“I would put on dress clothes and my mom’s high heels so that I would look like a teacher. I would go upstairs to the attic and teach my imaginary students for hours.  That’s one of my greatest memories; it sounds strange, but it was lots of fun for me.”

All the way through high school and then college, at Minnesota State University Moorhead, through her first teaching job in Glencoe, Minn., and her current work at Holy Rosary, “That desire (to teach) has never left me,” she added.

“I loved my education classes, I loved student teaching, I love everything about it,” Larson said. “I thoroughly enjoy my students, and knowing you’re making a difference in someone’s life, seeing that ‘light bulb’ come on in their face… it’s a very rewarding job.”

In fact, Larson finds the rewards of the job to be such that when she received a Teacher of the Year commendation from Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1676 in Detroit Lakes, she almost felt embarrassed to be singled out from among her coworkers.

“I didn’t know anything about it, they just showed up one morning (at Holy Rosary) and presented the award to me,” she said. “I didn’t expect it at all… I feel like I’m just doing my job, I don’t do it to receive awards.”

At the same time, however, “it makes me feel very, very honored,” Larson added.

“Not only do I feel very honored, but I also feel very fortunate. I say this because I know there are a lot of teachers (especially the ones that I work with) who go ‘above and beyond’ every single day.”

Larson was honored by the local VFW Post and Auxiliary for her work with their annual essay contest, in which her language arts students have participated every year since she started at Holy Rosary nine years ago.

“I teach sixth, seventh and eighth grade language arts, and they have this essay contest every year in which I require every single one of my students to participate,” she said. “After we are done with the writing, I line up a panel of judges to come in and have the students read their essays to them. They choose the winners.

“I see this essay contest as an opportunity for growth in my students and it is my duty to follow through and give them the best education I can,” she added.

“So, to be recognized for just doing my job makes me feel very honored and fortunate!”

Larson is also a firm believer in passing on the concept of patriotism to future generations, including not only her students, but her own children, of which she and husband Troy have three: Noah, 8, Ella, 4 and Johanna, 1.

“I think nowadays, kids don’t really think about patriotism all that much,” Larson said. “When I bring it up to my students in class, they don’t really know what it means. It brings up a lot of good discussion about our country and its history, and what our soldiers do and have done, for us and our freedom — which is something I think we all take for granted.

“We don’t really realize how these people have given up their lives, how much they have sacrificed for our freedoms… I do feel that’s something we all need to be aware of.”

But in addition to teaching the concept of patriotism, Larson said the essay contest also helps her students to “learn the writing process, how to speak in front of people and to present to an audience. I think it’s a great opportunity for them.”

In addition to her language arts classes, Larson also teaches general art for all Holy Rosary students in grades 1-8.

“Teaching art, that’s like dessert for me,” she said. “I like to be creative, and to see the creativity in the kids.”  

Follow Detroit Lakes News-papers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454