I just drove back to my home outside of Minneapolis, MN, from Denison where I attended my 35-year high school class reunion (yes I am an old man) and was compelled to write to express my strong sense of gratitude.

The reunion was superb and my classmates and I thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with friends and recalling shared experiences in the town where we grew up.

The reunion would not have been possible without the leadership, time, and effort put forth by Class of 1984 alumni Coleen Babe, Marilyn Mathison, Steve Nelson and Joni Slechta - thank you!

The reunion began for me by watching the Monarch football team beat Kuemper; that could never get old. I was blown away by the marching band, they are on another level from what I expected. The tours of the high school led by Dave Wiebers and Broadway Elementary (our middle school when I came through) by Trevor Urich were awesome and prompted numerous thoughts and remembrances. Thank you to you both for your time on a Saturday and for all you do for the young people of Denison and the surrounding communities. If only we would have been able to tour the old St. Rose of Lima and Central School buildings.

During the tours it began to amaze me how vividly my classmates and I would recall things said, how we were treated, and lessons taught by our teachers and coaches from 35 to 45 years ago. So I encourage all of the teachers and coaches to not lose heart but to instead give it your all and invest in our young people. What you share from your hearts and minds may not take hold for years or even decades at times but I cannot think of a more lasting and impactful profession where paying it forward is truly in action.

The barbeque festival and all that went with it was great. I can only imagine the collective efforts it took to have it turn out so well. Thank you to the staff and numerous volunteers for making it possible and for letting the Class of 1984 partake in all of the offerings.

When I think of my experiences of being born and raised on Avenue B in Denison and the connections and caring I still feel for the town and area, I feel a special shout-out for Tom McGrane and the work he does for the Denison Alumni Association is appropriate. Their thrice-yearly newsletter is excellent and provides an enjoyable way for Denison graduates to stay connected with the happenings with the school, the community and the people. And all for only $5 a year, but you need to join to receive it. Please check it out and encourage your kids and grandkids to do the same.

Lastly a plug for a couple of organizations that are often unsung long-time pillars of the community - KDSN radio and the Denison Bulletin & Review. Whether it be broadcasting a local sporting event (I would know Randy Grossman’s voice still today) or the paper writing an editorial challenging the community on a specific issue (remember Chuck Signs), they enrich the experience for the area residents and challenge us to rise up when needed. Over the years, most of my nine siblings and I carried papers for the long-time former publisher and community activist Dick Knowles. While I did not always enjoy carrying papers (anyone recall the blizzard of 1975?), it began a love for newspapers and respect for the people who bring them to life that remain with me still today.

Keep challenging each other, getting involved and most importantly working together for a truly special place.

Jim O’Neill, Delano, MN

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