Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their young son and daughter, and their yellow Lab.
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Detroit Lakes High School's Freshman Academy presented donations to several charities last Thursday, thanks to proceeds raised at a rummage and bake sale fundraiser the class held in mid-December. The freshman class came up with the idea for the sale after watching the movie "Pay It Forward," which got them thinking about gratitude and inspired them to give back to the community in their own way. Students formed task forces to plan the fundraiser, and also researched local and national nonprofits to determine which organizations they wanted to support.
Sarah Newman's second grade class at Roosevelt Elementary wrote letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as part of a two-week lesson on the renowned civil rights leader. In the letters, they reflected on the important things they've learned from King's example, and describe how he's become a role model for them. Newman said the lesson began with students talking about what it means and looks like to be brave, courageous and stand up for others the way King did, and then learned about King's life through books, videos and newspaper articles.
Music teacher Diane Jordan has been named Lake Park-Audubon School District's Teacher of the Year. Jordan is a vocal music instructor for grades 3-4 and 7-12. She has been with the district for more than 30 years. A recognition program was held in Jordan's honor on Dec. 22 at LPA High School. Her family, friends and colleagues gathered together for the event, which featured music by a former student of Jordan's as well as a skit by her high school coworkers, a speech by the superintendent and an open mic time for sharing stories and accolades.
Team Lab employees always look forward to their annual company trip. Every January, the 20 or so office workers and sales consultants from the Detroit Lakes-based specialty chemical company travel somewhere special for a long weekend of work and play. They'll soon be heading for the warmth and sun of Arizona for this year's trip. Last year, they lived it up in 'Music City'—Nashville, Tenn. "I don't know if you can top Nashville," said Team Lab Office Manager Kelsey McCombs. "It was really fun."
The Detroit Lakes community has lost an active and influential leader with the passing of Cyndi Anderson. On Wednesday, Jan. 10, less than one week after a large crowd of Anderson's friends, family and other supporters packed the Holmes Ballroom at a benefit in her honor, the beloved community advocate succumbed to liver and bile duct cancer at the age of 59. She had been fighting the disease for more than two years.
If it weren't for a small group of dedicated Detroit Lakers, Polar Fest wouldn't exist as we know it. Today, Polar Fest is a popular, 12-day winter festival that takes place every February in Detroit Lakes. It includes dozens of fun events, geared to people of all ages, at various locations across town. It's now about a month out from this year's festival, and some people have already started marking their calendars with their 'can't-miss' Polar Fest events.
The Community Alliance Church is settling into its newly renovated and expanded space. After breaking ground in August 2016, the major construction project at the church was ongoing through this past fall and wrapped up in early October. The remodel gives the church a fresh, modern makeover inside and out, and has created more room to accommodate a growing membership and new opportunities for ministry in the community.
Luke Pechmann has always had a soft spot for abandoned animals. Growing up, he was forever finding stray cats and kittens in his Detroit Lakes neighborhood and taking them in. He'd give them shelter from the cold and keep them well fed until he could find permanent homes for them. He's rescued a few dogs in this way, too. He has an uncanny knack for stumbling across animals in need, and a heart that's too big to let him just walk away without helping. "I've always loved animals," he said.
Five years ago, school counselor Julie Smith was visited by a 15-year-old girl who told her she had been raped. The girl was looking for help; she needed help. Smith did everything she could. She counseled the girl and tried to set her up with the proper mental health services. But she discovered barriers within the system. There was a lot of paperwork, and things took a long time. The girl was a Native American student living on the White Earth Reservation, and the legal processes involved in the wake of her rape were frightening and foreign to her.
Kristi Brend stares at a screen all day, every day, and it's taking a toll on her eyes. The Detroit Lakes optician spends several hours a day in front of a computer at work, and then cell phones, tablets and TV screens all vie for her attention at home. By the end of the day, her eyes are red and dry, and her vision is blurred.