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FEATU RES August 2012 Volume 7, Issue 8



The big time


Operation graduation

Mankato students are thriving at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities.

Nathan Brand has faced some unique challenges as a soldier pursuing a college degree.



United they stand Le Center and Montgomery-Lonsdale have combined to form southern Minnesota’s newest school district.

A different path Some students find career opportunities outside the typical college options.

On the cover: Shellie Church waves goodbye to her daughter Ashtyn, who is enrolled at the Aveda Institute this fall. Photo by Pat Christman MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 3







32 4 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE



6 From the Editor Education remains region’s biggest asset 9 From the kitchen Are you ready for ribs? 10 Familiar Faces Kevin Buisman, MSU athletic director 12 Artist Insight Katie Kaczmarek 24 Garden Chat Garden wars 28 That’s Life Crossing Cassidy off the bucket list 30 Things to Do, Places to Go Events to check out in August 32 Places in the Past Mankato West 34 Good Health Is going back to school right for you? 35 Happy Hour Drinks from the brink 36 Fashion Currents Makeup for hot weather 44 The Way It Is What my eyes have seen

Coming up in the September issue of Mankato Magazine ... This region — and, indeed this country — was built on the backs of men and women who weren’t afraid to work. In September, we’ll honor those who labor for their ideals. We’ll feature a few of those who labor for no pay and little recognition. We’ll also pay tribute to a pair of craftsman who match their labors with creative vision and a local non-profit leader who connects others with their labors of love. Frankly, we’re ready to get to work. Join us, and we’ll roll up our sleeves together.

MANKATO magazine


James P. Santori Joe Spear Tanner Kent


Nell Musolf Pete Steiner Grace Webb Marie Wood Jean Lunquist


John Cross Pat Christman


Christina Sankey


David Habrat


Barb Wass


Seth Glaser Sue Hammar Christina Sankey


Denise Zernechel

Mankato Magazine is published monthly at 418 South Second St., Mankato, MN., 56001. To subscribe, call 1-800-657-4662 or 507-625-4451. $19.95 for 12 issues. For editorial inquiries, call Tanner Kent at 344-6354, or e-mail For advertising, call 344-6390, or e-mail

6 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

From The Editor

By Joe Spear

Education remains region’s biggest asset Reading through the “Back to School” issue of Mankato Magazine, I’m struck by the extent area residents embrace education. That shouldn’t be too surprising in a region that hosts five institutions of higher education. But you have to have people interested in lifelong education before it can be the bedrock of your community’s culture. The stories suggest that we not only have the bricks and mortar to be strong in education, we also have the will and the spirit. Take Nathan Brand, for example. Finishing his senior year at Minnesota State University at 28, he had served eight years as a member of the Minnesota National Guard doing tours in Iraq and Kuwait. His first few days in Iraq, he and his fellow soldiers took cover under shelling and bombing. He drove the lead gun truck in convoys. He’s now finishing up his dream of a law enforcement degree, and likely had some real life experiences to offer in any classes he might have taken in say, world conflicts. His story is chronicled in this month’s edition. There are others stories this month showing that local students aim high in pursuit of their education. We found several who got into the best of the best colleges including the Ivy League. Karl Meierding, a 2009 Mankato West High School graduate, is nearly finished with a history degree from Yale, which was a tough choice given his other option was Harvard. Mat Schnorenberg, a 2010 Mankato East High School grad, did chose Harvard and is in the second year of a biomedical engineering degree. Allison Cannella, a 2012 graduate of Loyola High School, attends Georgetown University as a pre-med student. All are among the group of Mankato area students who got into prestigious schools, where acceptance rates are anywhere from the top 7 to 10 percent of students who apply. There are plenty of other students who are products of the Mankato and regional school system who’ve gone on to do great things. Most people don’t realize that current General Motors CEO Dan Akerson graduated from Mankato High School in 1966. Cable TV magnate the late William Bresnan graduated from Loyola High School and what is now South Central College in the 1950s.

Regional schools have produced learned lawyers and judges, innovative entrepreneurs and famous educators in their own right. The kind of community you live and the general consensus that education is paramount can influence the institutions of education themselves to preserve and protect the delivery of education. The leaders of the Le Center and Montgomery-Lonsdale schools come to mind in that respect. Their story in this edition recounts how dwindling enrollment and extremely tight finances were simply eroding the level of education they could provide their students in these small towns. They looked to the alternative of consolidation, always a controversial topic in small towns. They, of course, studied the idea and decided the primary outcome of consolidation would be more resources, better services and enhanced learning for all their students. They put forth a plan to the communities and the communities voted in favor. “It started with the communities themselves and their bold vote,” says Matt Helgerson, the superintendent of the newly formed Tri-City United schools. “It’s been a real team effort.” This fall, they’ll open the doors to a newly constructed school; foreign language classes were resurrected, curriculum was expanded and 100 players are registered for the football team. The value the Mankato region’s people put on education seems more clear in some ways when you read these stories. It’s one community characteristic that won’t go away anytime soon. M Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at 344-6382 or

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Printing more than just your everyday color!

August Almanac

This Day in History

Aug. 4, 1916: Amos Owen is born on Sisseton Reservation in South Dakota. Owen would later befriend Bud Lawrence and Jim Buckley, the trio eventually founding the Mahkato Powwow in Mankato. The first event in 1972 was considered a huge stride toward reconciling with the Dakota who were forced from the land after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 that infamously culminated in the hanging of 38 Dakota in Mankato. More than 2,000 Dakota as well as members of other tribes attended the inaugural event. It continues annually in Land of Memories Park. Aug. 10, 1853: The Chicago Landverein, or land society, is formed by German immigrants. Members of that group would later help found the city of New Ulm, so named because many of the original settlers were from Ulm, Germany. Aug. 17, 1862: A group of young Dakota men on a hunting expedition kill the Baker family near Acton in Meeker County. Upon hearing the news, tribal leaders decide to launch a series of attacks on settlements along the Minnesota River to try and drive the whites out of the area. The U.S.-Dakota War claims the lives of up to 800 white settlers and untold Indian casualties. It is one of the bloodiest Indian wars in U.S. history and touched off a series of conflicts across the plains that lasted another 30 years.

Coming Up

Fair Attraction Tilt-A-Whirls, funnel cakes and blue ribbon hogs. Hot summer days, lemonade and midways. Each July and August, the familiar sights, sounds and smells of the county fair return to southern Minnesota. There are only a few left in the region before school starts in September. So, put on your fanny pack and walking shoes and c’mon out.

Brown County Fair • Aug. 8-12 Address: 1201-1601 N. State St. in New Ulm

Le Sueur County Fair • Aug. 16-19 Address: Hwy 99 in Le Center

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Martin County Fair • Aug. 13-19 Address: 1300 N. Bixby Rd. in Fairmont

Nicollet County Fair • Aug. 8-12 Address: 400 W. Union St. in St. Peter

Sibley County Fair • Aug. 1-5 Address: 507 West Elgin St. in Arlington




By Family Features

Are you ready for ribs? Sweet, Spicy, and Smoky Spareribs Serves 6 Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 2 hours


hen it’s time to fire up the grill, go beyond the bun this season with succulent pork ribs. Armed with these juicy tips and a great recipe, you’ll be ready to grill with the best.

The rib basics Need a rundown on ribs? The National Pork Board has the tips and tricks you need to know to take your grilling game to the next level: • Back ribs originate from the blade and center section of the pork loin, which is known for the “finger meat” between the bones. Back ribs also are referred to as “baby” back ribs because they are smaller than spareribs. • Spareribs, usually larger and heavier than back ribs, are known for their delicious, meaty pork flavor. • Dry rubs are a mixture of herbs and spices applied to ribs just before barbecuing to create an intensely flavorful, smoky crust. • Ribs are often basted with sauces during the barbecuing process to enhance flavor and to create a sweet and savory glaze. For best results, brush ribs generously during the last 30 minutes of cooking. • Always use tongs, not a fork, to turn ribs as they cook - piercing the meat causes juices to escape. • When grilling ribs, adding aromatic wood chips like hickory, apple or oak to the preheated coals infuses the meat with the distinctive smoky flavor prized in authentic barbecue.

5 pounds spareribs, cut into 4-rib slabs 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika 1 tablespoon kosher salt 2 teaspoons dried oregano 2 teaspoons cumin, ground 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chiles, or chili powder 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon onion powder 1/2 cup honey, heated until liquid Mix paprika, salt, oregano, cumin, chipotle or chili powder, garlic powder and onion powder together in small bowl. Sprinkle generously over both sides of ribs. Let stand at room temperature while preparing grill. Prepare outdoor grill for indirect medium-hot grilling. For a gas grill, remove cooking grates. Preheat grill on high. Turn one burner off. Place disposable aluminum foil pan over off burner and add 2 cups water to pan. Replace grates. Adjust heat to 350 degress. For a charcoal grill, place disposable aluminum foil pan on one side of charcoal grate. Build fire on opposite side, and let burn until coals are coated with white ash. Spread coals in grill opposite pan and let burn 15 to 20 minutes. Add 2 cups water to pan. Position cooking grate in grill. Lightly oil cooking grate. Place ribs over foil pan and cover grill. Cook, adding water to pan as needed, until ribs are browned, fork-tender, and meat pulls away from end of bone, about 2 hours. (For charcoal grill, add 10 briquettes to fire every 45 minutes to maintain heat.) During last 20 minutes, occasionally brush both sides of ribs with warm honey. Let stand five minutes, cut into ribs, and serve hot. M

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Familiar Faces

By Tanner Kent Photos By John Cross

Kevin Buisman became the athletic director at Minnesota State University in July of 2002. During his tenure, MSU has made more than 45 postseason appearances.

Best seat in the house

Kevin Buisman has seen a lot of success as MSU athletic director


ith August comes the return of Minnesota State University athletics. And a return to excellence. In the 2011-12 season, MSU finished 21st in the Division II Director’s Cup standings — a national competition that awards points for an institution’s performance in 14 men’s and women’s sports. The contest recognizes institutions that promote “broad-based success” and MSU has finished among the top five four times since 2006. But success requires leadership. And Kevin Buisman is at the top of the ladder. The University of Northern Iowa graduate and athletic director since 2002 took some time to relive his favorite memories, toughest decisions and all the reasons why we miss MSU athletics so much during the summer.

State University in July. Looking back, what accomplishments are you most proud of? KB: There have been a lot of bright spots along the way, but the run to the 2009 national championship in women’s basketball will always hold a special place. That group was special and I will never forget that experience. The trips to the College World Series with the baseball and softball programs and the push to the Final Four with men’s basketball were also very memorable. I also enjoyed the opportunity to showcase our community and the University when we hosted the wrestling championships in 2004 and the NCAA indoor track and field championships in 2008 and 2012. That was a lot of work for everybody involved and my staff did a great job with each of those events.

Mankato Magazine: When, and why, did you decide to become an athletic director? Kevin Buisman: The decision to become an athletic director was made when I was finishing up my undergraduate degree at the University of Northern Iowa in 1987. I was completing a program in financial management and winding down my athletic career at UNI when I decided to find something that I thought would be a good blend between my academic interests and my passion for sports. Believing that college athletics would be run like a big business, I decided to stay in school and get my MBA while interning for the athletics department. It has turned into a nice career for me.

MM: Your tenure has also been marked by some very difficult decisions, from coaching changes to budget-related program eliminations. What’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make? KB: Making difficult decisions comes with the territory and there have certainly been some challenges along the way. Making a coaching change is very difficult because of the personal nature of it. You develop relationships that go beyond the bounds of employer-employee and you empathize with the personal impact the decision has at that level. On the other hand, eliminating sports programs created a different level of inner conflict. It pits fiscal responsibility and program administration against your primary role as an advocate for the student-athlete and that is a very difficult challenge to

MM: You celebrated your 10-year anniversary with Minnesota 10 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

resolve. There are no winners in a situation like that. MM: Of course, one of the biggest changes is yet to come with the split and subsequent reorganization of the WCHA. What does the future hold for MSU hockey? KB: After this season, there are some big changes ahead for college hockey and the effects will have a mixed impact on our own program. We will now be more closely aligned with other schools of similar resources, which should immediately make us more competitive. Because of that, I believe we will be better positioned to compete for conference titles and postseason playoffs and by virtue of that we will also be in a situation where we have a more reasonable chance to contend for NCAA championship bid opportunities. The changes will also impact us financially. We will be more spread out geographically, so it’s very likely that travel costs will climb. Our recruiting will also change a bit, so I anticipate some added expense there. On the revenue side, I think it is unrealistic to think the Final Five will have the same revenue generation capacity as it does now, so we need to make an adjustment there. And while we won’t have some of our “marquee” opponents like Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota and St. Cloud in here as conference opponents, we are optimistic about establishing scheduling relationships with those schools that will be very appealing to our fan base and good for us at the gate, as well. MM: Can you share a few of your favorite MSU sports moments from your tenure? KB: I have enjoyed a lot of great moments, but I have learned over the years that getting too emotionally invested can sometimes be a painful experience. In that sense, I try to maintain more of an even keel and avoid the highs being too high, and the lows being too low. But some moments that will always hold a special place in my heart are: 1) Celebrating a national championship with our women’s basketball team in San Antonio in March 2009. It doesn’t get any better than that! 2) Trips to the College World Series with baseball (2010, 2012) and softball (2011), and the Elite Eight men’s basketball tournament (2011). 3) Our Homecoming win last year against Winona in front of the largest crowd ever at Blakeslee Stadium. 4) The epic three-game series against the University of Minnesota in a first-round WCHA playoff match-up. People are still talking about that series (March 2008). 5) Our men’s basketball regional final win against Ft. Lewis. The crowd was amazing and when the students rolled out that banner and began the “I believe that we will win” chant, it was all but over — took my breath away. MM: Also, which MSU student-athletes or coaches have you admired most? KB: These are always tough questions because you are afraid you will leave someone out. We have had a lot of great young men and women come through our program during my time here, but some that really stand out in my mind include Jim Dilling, Katelin Rains, and Brittany Henderson from our track and field program. They all trained very hard, were committed to their goals and accomplished at such a high level.

B.J. Abel was a tremendous captain and impressive individual leader on the men’s hockey team that qualified for the NCAA tournament. David Backes is another one from our men’s hockey program — a great player and an amazing student. As an Olympian and captain of the St. Louis Blues, he continues to be a wonderful ambassador for the university. The 2009 national championship women’s basketball team was obviously a pretty special group. They were extremely focused, highly passionate and deserved to win the title. The 2011 men’s basketball senior class was also an exceptional group; they willed their way to an outstanding season and an appearance in the Elite Eight tournament. And finally, I think Kendra Huettl stands out for her high level achievements both on and off the field. There is a lot of pressure that comes with being the “hometown hero” and Kendra was both an outstanding pitcher and a highly accomplished student. MM: What changes are on the horizon for MSU athletics? KB: It’s hard to look into the future and predict what will happen. The landscape of college athletics continues to change. I will say that I believe that there will still be some further adjustment in terms of conference alignment in college hockey and that we haven’t seen everything quite settle into place just yet. I would also guess that there might be some movement in the Northern Sun as well, as that seems to be the name of the game at every level of college sports. Closer to home, I think we have a lot of work to do in developing the facilities on the south side of Stadium Road to the same standards as those on the north side. There are not too many places that can match Myers Field House or the Taylor Center, so we are extremely fortunate in that regard. On the other hand, our baseball, football, softball, and soccer facilities could all use some attention. We are also looking at the possibility of an air-supported sports bubble. In what has become an “arms race” in intercollegiate athletics, that sort of addition would be a tremendous recruiting asset and would benefit so many of our current teams and student-athletes. It also would be a great space for classes, intramurals, and club teams and has tremendous potential for community programming and revenue generation. We also need to continue to work with the City to make the necessary improvements at the Verizon Wireless Center to enable our hockey programs to compete at the highest level possible.


Kevin Buisman (second from right) meets with members of his team (from left): Tim Marshall, Cindy Hobbs, Nathan Christensen and Doug Dittbenner. MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 11

Artist Insight

By Nell Musolf Photos

by John


Focusing on art A

Self-trained painter Katie Kaczmarek said “everything is an inspiration. I’d rather be penniless — a starving artist, I guess — than not paint what I want to.” 12 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

rtist Katie Kaczmarek freely admits she has a hard time concentrating on anything. But when it comes to art, her ability to focus suddenly becomes crystal clear. “I don’t know quite how to put it,” Kaczmarek said. “Most of the time my mind races from one subject to the next. But when it comes to painting, it’s different. Whenever I look at something like a glass on a table or someone’s face, I see it the way I would as if I were going to paint it. When I’m painting, it’s really the only time I can block everything else out.” The self-trained artist is currently employed by Sherwin-Williams as an in-house designer. She said that working for the paint giant has been both fun and instructive as she has learned “everything” about paint — a definite job benefit for any painter. “I do love to paint,” Kaczmarek said, “and I will paint anything. I’ve painted murals in houses and restaurants and I’m really enjoying it.” Kaczmarek said she “likes to play” when she paints, creating new ways of getting the images in her head onto paper or walls. Inspiration comes from everywhere for Kaczmarek, especially from nature. “If you look outside at nature, you can tell that God doesn’t want us to sit in a white room with square windows and no color on the walls. We need color in our lives,” Kaczmarek said. Kaczmarek is also inspired by people who have good attitudes and friendly smiles and believes everyone is creative in one way or another. “Really, everything is an inspiration. I’d rather be penniless — a starving artist, I guess — than not paint what I want to,” Kaczmarek said. Kaczmarek’s work can be seen in two popular restaurants in Mankato: Neighbor’s Italian Bistro in Mankato and Dino’s Pizzeria in North Mankato. Her mural at Dino’s was inspired by the famous “Dogs Playing Poker” painting series. “I was working at Neighbor’s before Dino’s opened,” Kaczmarek explained, and “the owner was planning to put up a black and white diagram of how to eat pizza on one of the walls at Dino’s. I told him that I had another idea for him.” Her idea was to paint James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra sitting

around a table eating pizza. According to Dino’s employees Jen Johnson and Samantha Walden, the painting has been a hit with the customers. “We have tons of people who pose next to the painting,” Johnson said. “Everyone seems to like it.” Walden added about the image of Frank Sinatra: “We call the guy on the end the ‘mystery man. People are always guessing that it’s Dean Martin.” Kaczmarek understands how people might not recognize Ol’ Blue Eyes right away. “I had the hardest time painting Frank Sinatra,” she said. “I just couldn’t get his nose right. It kept getting longer and longer.” The mural took about 60 hours to complete. Kaczmarek often painted at night, alone in the restaurant with nothing but her painted companions to keep her company. “It could get a little spooky,” she said, but also found the solitude inspirational. Kaczmarek has her hands full raising five children who range in age from 5 to 21. “My kids were always with me,” Kaczmarek said. “I’ve always brought them along with me on just about everything I’ve ever done.” The mother of five plans to continue painting and would also like to extend her artistic abilities to interior design. She has already helped some homeowners decorate through her job. Kaczmarek prefers simple lines as opposed to anything fussy when it comes to decorating. “To me, clutter equals chaos. I feel better when things are neat and when lines are simple. But that’s me,” Kaczmarek said. “People need to get in touch with what they like and what they want in their own homes when they decorate. I like to help them do that.” Kaczmarek said she loves to walk into people’s houses and inspire them. She will often ask clients to show her Katie Kaczmarek stands next to a mural she painted in her friend’s home. She has also painted murals at restaurants, including Neighbor’s and Dino’s.

a favorite piece of art so she will have an idea of what colors and textures will work for them. Another possible future project might be a memoir written with second-oldest daughter Jocelyn. Jocelyn is double majoring in communication and arts and literature and Minnesota State University and hopes to eventually be an English teacher. “I would love to write a book with Jocelyn,” Kaczmarek said. “I think we could find a lot to write about.” For the time being, Kaczmarek intends to continue working, painting and raising her children. “When I go to sleep at night, my mind is going a million miles a minute,” Kaczmarek said. “I’m always thinking about what I want to do next.” M


big time Mankato students thrive at nation’s most prestigious universities By Marie Wood | Photos by John Cross


ehind the walls of the Ivy League, academic intensity burns deep amidst the college experience of roommates, parties and football games. Several Mankato students attend Ivy League colleges, where they compete with the brightest students from across the country and world. Acceptance rates at Harvard and Yale are less than 7 14 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

percent. Entering the Ivy League has humbled them, strengthened them and earned them amazing opportunities. They are pouring their hearts and minds into learning, researching and succeeding in college and beyond.

ersity v i n U e l Ya Karl Meierding, a 2009 Mankato West High School graduate, learned quickly how to survive his freshman year at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. Meierding was one of 125 freshmen accepted into Yale’s Directed Studies, an interdisciplinary program on Western Civilization. He studied the masterpieces of the Western world in three, year-long seminars in literature, philosophy, and historical and political thought. In one seminar taught by a renowned ancient Greek historian, Meierding presented a paper while the professor critiqued him in front of a class of supersmart peers. Another syllabus required him to read “War and Peace” in two weeks. Meierding credits Tania Lyon, his Advanced Placement English teacher at West, for his success. “It was kind of rough the first year,” said Meierding. “It did force me to become a much better student.” Growing up, Meierding heard stories about Yale from his uncle, a Yale alum. When Meierding participated in Bulldog Days — a three-day orientation for the incoming class — during his campus visit, his mind was made up. He chose Yale over Harvard. “The students were really friendly and

excited to be there. They went out of their way to make sure we had a good time,” said Meierding. Meierding’s favorite place on campus is his residential college, Berkeley College. Yale students are randomly divided into 12 residential colleges, which include a dormitory, dining hall, gym and library. Meierding’s closest friends are from Texas, California, Washington D.C., and New Jersey. “That’s the place where I spend most of my time. My friends are all there,” said Meierding. As he enters his senior year as a history major, Meierding said he’s had many eyeopening experiences. After freshman year, Meierding and his best friend received a Yale fellowship to teach English and math to students in Kenya. The trip culminated in a climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. While they lived with the wealthiest family in the village, there was no electricity, indoor plumbing or modern cooking conveniences. The experience has influenced him to write his senior thesis on the British colonization of Africa. The next summer, Meierding traveled to Paris for a Yale course titled “The Age of Cathedrals.” This summer he is in St. Louis, cataloging artifacts for the St. Louis Cardinals museum. “I do feel really happy where I ended up,” said Meierding.

Ivy affordable Ivy League schools not as expensive as some think By Marie Wood Despite $50,000 yearly tuition, room and board, it’s cheaper for Karl Meierding and Mat Schnorenberg to go to Ivy League colleges than in-state schools. When Schnorenberg was accepted by Harvard, his mom was reluctant for him to go so far from home until the financial aid package came. They found it was cheaper for him to go to Harvard than Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. His mom’s reluctance faded away to “See ya at Thanksgiving,” said Schnorenberg. In 2004, Harvard led a financial aid initiative for middle and low-income students. On average, Harvard students with financial aid pay $11,500 annually and 60 percent of undergraduates receive aid with an average grant of $40,000, according to the Harvard web site. Ivy League colleges have followed suit to compete and attract a diverse student population. Drawing from $20 billion in endowments, Yale awards financial aid according to family need. Once a student is accepted, Yale offers an affordable tuition package, explained Paul Meierding, Karl’s father. “It costs less to send Karl to Yale than any school in Minnesota,” Paul said. Both Meierding and Schnorenberg have student loans, but will still graduate with minimal debt, which is one goal of Ivy League schools today.

“I do feel really happy where I ended up.” Submitted photo

Mankato West graduate Karl Meierding (left) received a Yale fellowship to teach children in Kenya. He is pictured at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 15

ersity v i n U d r a v r a H Mat Schnorenberg, the 2010 Mankato East High School valedictorian, had grown accustomed to knowing and mastering concepts in school — until he began his freshman year at Harvard University. “It was humbling. It was a shock at first,” said Schnorenberg. Plus, the former East football captain walked-on with the Harvard football team. In high school, balancing football and academics was easy. At Harvard, he had to learn time management. “I learned how to study with other people and ask for help,” said Schnorenberg. Schnorenberg is majoring in biomedical engineering. He was fascinated by the intersection of science, research and

medicine when “It’s cool how old it is. Harvard is its he took cellular own little bubble in the middle of the city. and molecular biomedical You wonder what happened there for the engineering as a sophomore. last 200 years,” said Schnorenberg. Last semester, Schnorenberg received a As freshmen, students live in one of the grant from Harvard to research breast dorms in Harvard Yard. Then in the spring, cancer and ovarian cell lines at the Dana- students are placed in one of 13 houses. Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The houses are stately buildings where Schnorenberg hopes to stay with the students live, eat, study and hang out. institute through his senior thesis. Then, Similar to the residential colleges of Yale he’d like to take a gap year and work in and Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, there is research before beginning a medical PhD house spirit and rivalry. program. Schnorenberg was placed in Dunster “Everyone here seems to have so much House, a beautiful house on the river with energy, drive and determination in the “best dining hall on campus.” Currently, everything they do and it still amazes me. he lives in overflow housing, which are ... It helps to drive me and apartment motivate me and makes buildings. me always want to strive With friends “I learned how to study to be a better person,” he from the East Schnorenberg. C o a s t , with other people Schnorenberg visited Chicago, and ask for help.” Boston on a family road California and t r i p elsewhere, it’s during exciting for high school. His Schnorenberg to meet students from parents are Mankato Minnesota. On weekends, Schnorenberg police officers who likes to go into Boston and hang out with graduated from friends. But like any college, there are Minnesota State parties, which surprises friends back University in Mankato. home. They took the campus “People study hard during the week, but tour of Harvard in on the weekend, you can walk down the Cambridge, Mass., street and point to where all the parties never expecting he’d are,” said Schnorenberg. attend school there.

Mat Schnorenberg is a 2010 Mankato East graduate who was a football captain and valedictorian. He is majoring in biomedical engineering at Harvard University.

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest university in the United States and among the most prestigious in the world.

ity s r e v i n U n w o Georget Allison Cannella, a 2012 graduate of Loyola High School, knew Georgetown University was the college for her when she took a family trip to Washington D.C. her sophomore year. “As soon as we walked onto campus, I knew this is the place I had to go to school,” said Cannella of Mankato. “It just felt right. I felt like I belonged there.” Though it’s not technically an Ivy League school, the Washington, D.C.based Georgetown is among the most selective universities in the country with a 16 percent acceptance rate for the class of 2016, a record low for the university. Cannella wrote an essay on how she could contribute to the Georgetown community and learned she was accepted last year. “Washington D.C. has so much to offer.

Mankato Loyola graduate Allison Cannella will attend Georgetown University this fall. Though not an Ivy League school, Georgetown University is still among the most selective in the country.

I’m pretty involved in community service in Mankato. I want to continue to do that in D.C.,” said Cannella. Cannella was president of Loyola’s Key Club, a community service club, and volunteers at Mayo Clinic Health System in M a n k a t o . Cannella plans to become a student m e d i c a l responder for the Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service, a volunteer team of trained student EMTs. As a pre-med major, Cannella has her eye on Georgetown School of Medicine. She has already attended a summer medical camp at Georgetown. Cannella has grown up in the medical field; her dad is a neurosurgeon at Mayo Clinic Health

System and her mom is a registered nurse. To choose a roommate, Cannella is using the campus roommate matching service. The service is similar to an online dating service to help match up roommates with similar interests. “They (Georgetown students) are from all over the world. I’m so excited to meet people with different backgrounds and stories,” said Cannella. Her parents will fly with her to Washington D.C., hit a box store to buy dorm supplies and help her move in, before saying their goodbyes. “I still can’t believe it. I’m not nervous. I’m just very excited,” said Cannella. M

“It just felt right. I felt like I belonged there.”

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 17

Southern Minnesota’s newest school district — Tri-City United — opens its doors this year after a nearly two-year consolidation process between the Le Center and Montgomery-Lonsdale school districts.

United they stand Le Center, Montgomery-Lonsdale form Tri-City United, southern Minnesota’s newest school district By Tanner Kent | Photos by John Cross 18 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Supt. Matt Helgerson stands in the new high school gymnasium for Tri-City United, the new school district comprised of the former Le Center and Montgomery-Lonsdale districts.


n June of 2011, residents of the Le Center and MontgomeryLonsdale school districts matched drastic times with drastic action. After more than a year of discussing, debating and deciding the merits of consolidation, voters approved the measure to merge into one district for the 2012-13 school year. And now, the time has come to open the doors to the newly created Tri-City United School District and celebrate the culmination of a long and sometimes difficult process. “It started with the communities themselves and their bold vote,” said Matt Helgerson, Tri-City United superintendent. “It’s been a real team effort.” The “bold” vote The process arose from rather dire beginnings. In the fall of 2010, the situation for Le Center School District seemed bleak. Though community members did pass a renewal levy on that November’s ballot, two other measures for additional operating funds were rejected. The district had already cut everything from activities to electives to staff. The district’s treasured all-day kindergarten program was in jeopardy. Budgets were drained and students were missing out on opportunities. And it appeared the situation would only get worse. “I was talking with Deb Dwyer, and we just said we have to do

something different,” said Matt Helgerson, who shared the Le Center superintendency with Dwyer at the time. “So, we asked: ‘What’s the next step.’” Knowing the district was headed into a disastrous cycle of budget cuts — which often cause families to enroll students elsewhere, thereby prompting more budget cuts — Helgerson and Dwyer began considering something more drastic: Consolidation. District officials approached neighboring districts about the idea. Only Montgomery-Lonsdale showed interest. Beginning only with an agreement to explore the possibility, the two districts opted into a detailed study by the South Central Service Cooperative. That study generated dozens of meetings, reams of data and much discussion. It pointed to clear educational benefits for students, added security for teachers and buoyed finances. The measure went to a community vote last June. And despite the fact that a public survey issued before the vote indicated broad support for the measure, school officials remained cautious it could pass muster in small towns that hold tightly to their history. But it did pass. Though the vote was narrow in some places, all three communities approved. “It was always scary,” Helgerson said. “We’ve all had those moments where we were scared to jump in.” MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 19

Coming together Even the students seemed a bit nervous to join forces with their peers. That is, until they actually met their peers. When Carrie Altomari announced to her Le Center Spanish students that they would have an opportunity to travel to Costa Rica in the summer for a two-week field trip, she said the groans were audible when she advised they’d be traveling with their Montgomery-Lonsdale counterparts. Nonetheless, 17 students signed up for the trip — eight from Le Center and nine from MontgomeryLonsdale. At the airport, awaiting their outbound flight, Altomari said it was clear the group wasn’t integrated — yet. By the time they returned, however, the situation had changed completely. “Now, they’re all Facebook friends,” said Altomari of what is surely the ultimate social barometer for youth. “They were like one big, happy family.” While at Le Center, Altomari was the only language teacher. If students didn’t register for her class, she’d have no class to teach. Tri-City United, however, will offer Spanish, German and American Sign Language. As for Altomari, she’ll have multiple What was once the sections of Spanish classes.” Montgomery-Lonsdale Not only has the consolidation elementary building has now given her a welcome measure of job been almost wholly security, she said, but also enriched reconstructed into the new the educational offerings for high school. Improvements students. include high-technology labs “Hands-down, consolidation was for science, agriculture and the best opportunity for students,” business courses. said Altomari, adding that her own school district — Minnewaska in west-central Minnesota — consolidated when she was in fifth grade. Without that move, she said, Spanish classes would have never been available and she would not be a teacher today. “I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am if our school hadn’t consolidated.” Crown jewel To top it all off, Tri-City United can mark its beginning with a 20 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

brand-new high school. At the time of the initial consolidation talks, MontgomeryLonsdale had just received about $10 million in tax breaks from the state through a stimulus measure to prompt school had construction. At the time, Montgomery-Lonsdale residents narrowly approved the bond referendum required to begin construction.

That action provided a unique window to discuss consolidation as the districts could plan the new high school together. Now, construction is very nearly finished on what will certainly be a crown jewel of south-central Minnesota high school facilities. The space is located on the site of Montgomery-Lonsdale’s former elementary building. The facility is open and airy with lots of windows, high ceilings in the commons area and wide, breezy corridors. School officials designed the building with the intent of creating a “campus” atmosphere. As such, the building includes an Internet cafe and a series of lounge/study areas spread throughout the building. As an educational facility, the high school will feature state-ofthe-art labs for art, biology, chemistry, business and family and

consumer science classes. The agriculture lab has an attached greenhouse and a nearby softball field will be re-purposed into a school garden. Special education teachers will have their own suite of classrooms and meeting areas. Teachers will have largerthan-average classrooms as well as their own school-issued laptops. Le Center students will now have a choir program. MontgomeryLonsdale students will now have access to all-day kindergarten. The football team already has nearly 100 registered players. Such realities didn’t exist just a year ago, Helgerson said. And now, opportunities are flowering where they were once wilting on the vine: “We’re doing what we said we were going to do,” Helgerson said. “We want to deliver for our communities.” M

Construction on Tri-City United High School should be complete by the time school opens this fall. The school has a campus-style atmosphere with high ceilings, an Internet cafe and study/lounge areas.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 21


By John Cross

22 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Gardening generally is a quiet affair carried on with little attention or hoopla. The rewards reaped from lovingly tending a garden plot literally are the fruits (and vegetables) of one’s labor. The exception to this is when the county fair rolls around. County fairs are a place where gardeners can show off and be recognized for the best of their green-thumbed efforts. Few of us are as closely tied as we once were to the agrarian lifestyle that inspired these agricultural expositions. But even the most urban of fair-goers still can appreciate a plate of perfect tomatoes, a gigantic head of cabbage, decorated with a coveted purple ribbon.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 23

Garden Chat

By Jean Lundquist

Green thumbs, red tempers:

A peek into competitive gardening


o people outside the circle of gardeners, it may appear we are all kind-hearted, caring people who just want to feed ourselves, our families and even the community and the world with good, fresh produce. The truth is a little more bloodthirsty than that. I say that in the kindest possible way. But gardening — I’m telling you truthfully — is a very competitive sport. It is true that gardening, and farming, for that matter, are about successfully producing food. As a gardener, it is difficult to put into words the satisfaction that comes from wanting a tomato to put on a hamburger, and finding a sun-warmed specimen that perfectly fits the bill in your own plot. The taste is superior to anything that can be found in a grocery store. Commercial breeders of tomatoes have bred taste out of the fruit by altering the genetic code. It’s somewhat ironic that the same genetic change that causes the tomatoes to ripen uniformly also makes them produce less sugar, making them “somewhat tasteless,” as scientists wrote in their study published this summer. The tastiest tomatoes are now one more thing to compete with other gardeners about. There are many “ugliest tomato” contests to be found. These are almost always about heirloom tomatoes. They 24 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

grow very lumpy and bumpy and asymmetrical, and are considered by many who grow boringly uniform hybrid tomatoes, to be ugly. Yes, I think you now know where I fall on this question. Once I grew an heirloom called Ananais Noir. It was all those heirloom qualities I described above on the outside; but when cut open, it was a blend of mottled colors that included lime green, lemon yellow, orange, pink and red. I cut into an Ananais Noir for a sandwich at work one day at noon, and gushed about what a beautiful tomato I had. A co-worker looked at me as if I had gone mad. I noticed he had brought a carton of those uniformly red, round little cherry tomatoes for lunch — tomatoes I now surmise were also tasteless. It’s not just the ugliest, prettiest or tastiest tomato that gardeners compete about, but also the earliest to ripen. It’s just that competitiveness that led me to grow a tomato called Fourth of July a few years ago. It was not just to have a nice ripe tomato by early July, as I believe I wrote about here; it was also to be able to brag about it. Even amateur gardeners catch the competitive spirit early on. A friend who just a few years ago laughed at me when I paid attention to the names of the tomatoes and beans I planted, telling me, “A tomato is a tomato,” this year called me special to say she had put her green beans and tomato plants in the first of May. Did I have mine in yet, she wanted to know. I chided her again for being an amateur, and told her she’d jumped the gun and would be frozen out, needing to replant. Well that, of course, didn’t happen. So in early July, she emailed me to tell me she had picked an ice cream pail of green beans and wondered if I was eating my green beans yet. I was not, and her response was something along the lines of, “OK, master gardener!” If you need more evidence of competitive gardening, I invite you to look to your local county fair. Pay attention to conversations among those who obviously

did not make an entry into the open class vegetable or flower entries. You’ll undoubtedly hear snippets like this: “Can you believe this won?” And, “I should have brought MY cauliflower if this is the best the rest could come up with!” Or maybe, “There are bug bites out of that hosta leaf, and they gave it a ribbon?” In the grains divisions of some local fairs, there has been speculation that a winning entry was saved to enter again the following year. That called for some creative ways to make sure that every entry was grown within that year. Confetti and glitter were added to the jars, making it impossible to remove in order to re-enter the same specimen the following year. I believe the entrants said they were offended, at the time. And moving up the chain a step to home canning (drying and cooking with garden produce), just imagine the conversations about different recipes for salsa, and which hot pepper is THE ONE to use! M Jean Lundquist is a master gardener who lives near Good Thunder.

Pat Christman

Operation Graduation

The twice-deployed Nathan Brand is set to graduate in the spring from Minnesota State University.

Student veteran faces unique challenges while pursuing higher education By Grace Webb

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 25


athan Brand is entering his last year at Minnesota State University. The 28-year-old is pursuing a degree in law enforcement with the hope of becoming a police officer. He started taking classes in spring of 2008 and hopes to graduate in spring of 2013. Along the way, though, he’s taken some detours. Brand has been a member of the Minnesota National Guard for the past eight years and, after completing three years of college, he was sent to Kuwait. It wasn’t the first time he’d been deployed, either. From drills to deployment Brand joined the military in 2004 after he graduated from high school. He and some friends had considered enlisting for some time and finally decided to all join up together. “It was more than just the college money and experience,” he said. “To me, it was the pride of serving with the finest men and women this great nation has to offer.” He chose the Minnesota National Guard

because it fit his lifestyle the best, allowing him time to work with the military and in civilian life. He trained on weekends once a month and for a two-week period once a year. Then, in March 2005, he learned he would be deployed. “I knew that it was going to happen sooner or later,” he said. “I was just glad I was with friends.” Brand was sent to Mississippi to train for six months before heading to Iraq in April 2006 for a 12-month deployment. Within the first few days, he and his fellow soldiers were exposed to the dangerous reality of their situation. Around midnight, alarms went off and the soldiers had to run for cover. They were being bombed. “At some point, there came a sense of acceptance in knowing that you are in a combat zone and terrible things could and would happen,” Brand said. “Your only option is to continue moving forward, get the job done and get home safe.” During his deployment, Brand was the lead gun truck driver for his section. He was in charge of providing security for other soldiers, as well as aiding other units

Submitted photo

Nathan Brand is pictured at the Tower of Nimrod in Iraq. 26 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

if they ran into trouble, such as hitting a roadside bomb. Brand himself was never hurt, but he lost a fellow soldier and friend. “The reality of war is always on your mind but seldom talked about,” he said. “We all knew what we signed up to do, and that is what we did. We did our job and took care of each other.” Brand’s deployment was supposed to last 12 months; but, by the 10th month, he learned the time was to be extended for four more. “That was hard to deal with because we were so close to being done,” he said. “After a while, it just went back to normal, and we just kept driving on with our original mission.” By the time Brand returned home, he’d been deployed 22 months — nearly two full years. From studying to serving After Brand’s first deployment ended, he still had time with the Minnesota National Guard but also decided to pursue a college education. He has wanted to be a police officer ever since he was a kid, so he chose to study law enforcement. “Pursuing a degree in law enforcement has always been a dream of mine,” he said. “The (idea) of working with the community and ensuring public s afety is something that really interests me.” As Brand weighed his options, he was drawn to Minnesota State University because of its strong law enforcement program. He began taking classes in spring 2008 and finished three years of school. However,

Submitted photo

Nathan Brand is pictured with his dog on the day he returned from his deployment in Kuwait. he also re-enlisted in the MN National Guard in 2010 and, in May 2011, was sent on a one-year deployment to Kuwait. There, he conducted base security, which he said was set at a much slower pace than his time in Iraq. “When I (told) my family and friends that it’s boring, they said it’s better than getting shot at or having the fear of being blown up,” he said. Non-traditional education Brand finished his second deployment this May. He is heading back to MSU this fall and hopes to graduate next spring. He only has three more upper level courses to complete. Because of his veteran’s status, Brand is considered a non-traditional student at MSU. However, he said his experiences have actually been a benefit now that he’s pursuing a higher-level education. “I enjoy being a non-traditional student,”

he said. “(I think) we learn from the challenges of having to balance school along with being in the military, having a full-time job, having children, starting at a later age. ... Some may see it as a setback, but many will see it as experience.” Brand said MSU actively reaches out to nontraditional students and tries to make their transition smoother. “MSU has done a fantastic job in reaching out to non-traditional students, especially military veterans,” he said. “The faculty understands that you have other factors that may intervene with school, and they are more than willing to help.” Brand is also grateful for the on-campus Veterans’ Resource Center, which offers veterans guidance and a place to meet fellow veterans. He said student veterans frequent the center on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis. “It is nice to have a place to go where there are people that are going through the

same transition that I am, and the Veterans’ Resource Center provides that place,” he said. Graduation goals After graduation, Brand isn’t sure whether he will continue in the military or not. He says he will take it one year at a time. He does plan to return to MSU to pursue his master’s degree in either public administration or criminology. For now, he’s focusing on finishing those last few classes. And, while his military service certainly added challenges when it came to reaching commencement, Brand says his time in the military has shaped him and given him great opportunities. “The military has given me the confidence to better myself, and the civilian side has produced my strong work ethic,” he said. “What better job is there than to work with America’s greatest?” M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 27

That’s Life

By Nell Musolf

Crossing Cassidy off the bucket list Who’s next? Ah, yes. Donny and Marie.


o, a few months ago my sister asked me what was on my bucket list. Her question took me by surprise since, to be perfectly honest, I’ve never given a whole lot of thought to what I’d put on my bucket list if I had one. I’m not the type who’d ever want to climb Mt. Everest; I’ve seen the Statue of Liberty; and I’ve already achieved the lofty goal of seeing every single episode of “Knots Landing” chronologically. But after thinking about it for a moment or two, I told her, “Well, I would like to go to a David Cassidy concert.” A professor told me once that if you verbalize a goal, it’s a lot more likely to happen. Although this hasn’t held true with my ardent goal of winning the stupid lottery, it did work in this instance. After talking to my sister, I did a little Internet sleuthing and learned that David Cassidy would be appearing at the Lakeside Casino in Osceola, Iowa, in June. A little more Googling informed me that Osceola is a mere 219 miles away from Mankato. Needless to say, the next thing my intrepid fingers did was order concert tickets. We arrived at the venue a little early — an hour and a half. But I wanted to make sure we got there on time. Very quickly the lobby area filled with women of a certain age (middle). A look somewhat close to shock passed over Mark’s face as he whispered to me, “They’re all women.” I’m not sure what he expected at a concert by a former teen idol, but I pointed out a few other hapless husbands who were good-naturedly listening to all of us squeal as we compared

memorabilia and memories. A rumor spread through the crowd like a hot flash that a line was forming for anyone who wanted a photograph taken with David. Pulling Mark with me, we got in the line. All eyes were focused on a door that tantalizingly opened every once in a while, the door behind which we all knew HE was waiting. At one point the door opened and a collective gasp rose among the crowd followed by a disappointed sigh when a bus boy walked out, a youth of about 20 who had a look of awe mixed with rampant fear as he eyed all of us eyeing him. Thankfully it was a friendly crowd and/or we all took our hormone replacement pills that day, or he could have been torn limb from limb. Unfortunately, the rumor turned out to be false and only the people in the VIP section were allowed to get their picture taken. Only a little disappointed, we waited for the doors to open so we could get our seats. The Lakeside Casino describes its auditorium as “intimate” and they aren’t kidding. From our third-row seats we could not only see the sweat on David’s face, we could almost count the gray hairs on his head if he had any, which he doesn’t. The concert was great and the crowd certainly got into it, including the man sitting on my left who kept on shouting out, “You’re the man, David.” Mark has always been blessed with being able to get into the spirit of things and the David Cassidy concert was no exception. For the next hour and a half, we listened as David sang his classics. During that 90 minutes, it was easy to forget about such mundane things as doctor’s appointments, mortgages, problem children and children with problems. For a little while, all of us were able to go back to when the only lines on our faces came from sleeping on scrunched up pillows instead of from age and worry. For a little while, we were all timeless. The next morning, Mark and I were having coffee in the lobby when David Cassidy walked through on his way to a waiting Suburban. “Great show” Mark told him. David waved and said “thank you” before getting in the Suburban and heading off to his next gig. It was a great show. It was better than great — it was magic. How many times can one turn the clock back 40 years over the course of a couple of hours? Of course, now that it’s over, I find myself faced with a new dilemma: what next to put on my bucket list. I wonder if Donny and Marie will be touring any time soon? M

Nell Musolf is a mom and a freelance writer from Mankato.


to do,


to go

August 1 • Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Linebackers) 11:30 a.m. • Blakeslee Stadium, Mankato free •

4 • Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Alumni) 5:30 p.m. • Blakeslee Stadium free •

6 • Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Quarterbacks) 11:30 a.m. • Blakeslee Stadium free •

2 - 5 • Mankato’s 15th Annual RibFest 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. • Riverfront Park, Mankato $5, free Sunday

4 • Family Fotball Day at Verizon Vikings Training Camp 10 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. • Blakeslee Stadium free •

7 • Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Defensive Tackles) 11:30 a.m. • Blakeslee Stadium free •

2 • RibFest featuring The Schmojoes • 6 p.m. G.B. Leighton • 8 p.m. Smashmouth • 10 p.m. Riverfront Park $5

8 • Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Running Backs) 11:30 a.m. • Blakeslee Stadium free •

2 • Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Wide Receivers) 11:30 a.m. • Blakeslee Stadium free

10 • Movies in the Park playing “We Bought A Zoo” Starts at dusk • Jefferson Park, St. Peter free • 934-0667

3 - 4 • Corn Stock 2012 8 p.m. •Farmamerica, Waseca $5

11 • Summer Wine Fest Noon to 9 p.m. • Indian Island Winery, Janesville $2 •

3 •Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Defensive Ends) 11:30 a.m. • Blakeslee Stadium free •

12 • Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Specialists) 11:30 a.m. Blakeslee Stadium free •

Eddie Money

Sawyer Brown 3 • RibFest featuring Shelby Tweeten • 6 p.m. Hitchville • 8 p.m. Sawyer Brown • 10 p.m. Riverfront Park $5 30 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

4 • RibFest featuring The Undergroove • Noon Barefoot Winos • 2 p.m. The Murphy Brothers Band • 4 p.m. Johnny Rawls • 6 p.m. Powerhouse • 8 p.m. Eddie Money • 10 p.m. Riverfront Park $5 5 • Waseca Garden Walk 1 to 5 p.m. • Beginning at Bailey-Lewer House, Waseca free • 507-461-1222, or 507-833-3235

13 • Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Defensive Backs) 11:30 a.m. • Blakeslee Stadium free • 14 • Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Entire Team) 11:30 a.m. • Blakeslee Stadium free • 14 • Minnesota Vikings Fan Appreciation Day 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. • Blakeslee Stadium free • 17 • BoDeans 7-10 p.m. •Vetter Stone Ampitheater, Mankato $20 •


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in the


By Grace Webb

Mankato West: Rising from the ashes R

on Flynn watches as the students of Mankato West High School stream through the front doors. It’s the first day of school, which means there are hundreds of new faces in the crowd. But by the end of the school year, Flynn will have learned almost all of their names. “My most enjoyable (part of work) is meeting the freshmen,” Flynn said. “My saddest day is graduation.” Flynn has been working as a custodian at Mankato West for almost 20 years. He began as a substitute custodian but is now head custodian. And he loves his job. “To me, it’s one of the best places I’ve ever worked,” he said. ‘It really is a great place, and I just wish I could have started years and years ago.” Flynn has had his share of challenges and triumphs at West High School throughout the years. His experience echoes the school itself, which has a tumultuous and colorful history. Even its beginning was contentious. Mankato West High School began when another school burned to the ground. Fiery beginning The story of Mankato West High School begins long before the building was even constructed. Before 1941, Mankato had one high school, simply called Mankato High School. It was constructed in 1891, a magnificent two-story building that served the Mankato community for half a century. However, by 1939, the building had been condemned as “unsafe” by the state fire marshal’s office. Instead of tearing it down, the city tried repairing it. Tragically, these repairs were not enough, and one hot July afternoon, Mankato High School burst into flames. Within an hour and a half, both stories of the building were destroyed by a wall of flames, leaving only the brick shell. The Mankato fire department later concluded

32 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Photo courtesy of Blue Earth County Historical Society The original Mankato High School caught fire due to faulty wiring (pictured). It took a protest from Mankato students to prompt the construction of a new high school — what would eventually become Mankato West. that faulty wiring had caused the initial a new high school. explosion that started in an upper room Finally, the students couldn’t take any and spread to the entire building through more. In 1947, high school students staged the ventilation system. The estimated a protest march. They had hoped their damage was $250,000, with precious principal would support them, but he school memorabilia such as old speech and pulled out at the last minute. The students athletic trophies consumed by the blaze. went through with their protest, marching Only the band equipment was saved, out of school to The Free Press office. snatched by brave music students and They even picked up a police escort. The their director, who ran through the flames students continued their school strike, to retrieve their uniforms and trophies. bolstered by sympathetic news coverage, Luckily, only about 20 people were in until board members agreed to come up the building when the fire started: school with a solution. Ten years after Mankato officials and 11 men taking a civil service High burned to the ground, the students exam. All of them managed to escape finally got another school building: without injury. But the school was Mankato West. completely destroyed. New challenges Fighting for a new school It seemed like once the kinks were As school officials scrambled to figure finally worked out and Mankato West’s out a solution, Mankato High School doors opened, the future was bright. students were sent to Lincoln Junior High However, by the 1980s, the school was to resume classes. Rooms were extremely in trouble again. This time, it was crowded, with older students squished something less exciting than fires, floods into desks made for 12-year-olds. The or student protests. This time, it was situation dragged on for years as school economic trouble. The nation was going board members argued over where to build through hard financial times and school

budgets were being cut. Mankato West was not immune. “(There) simply has been reduced state support for public education,” said former West principal John Barnett, who served as West’s principal from 1980-2004. “With money being deferred, school districts and school boards [were] expected to offer the same quality of education with reduced funds. That’s very, very difficult to do.” Barnett said the school went through a period of declining enrollment in the 1980s that led to less state money. Because of this, the school had to redo curriculum and tighten its budget. “In Mankato, our staff, throughout the school district, has been tremendous in redoing curriculum and revisiting their priorities so that the students continue to get a really good education, but certainly a more bare bones education than it used to be,” Barnett said. The school board still managed to renovate the building in the early 1990s, installing new technology, windows, plumbing and electricity. For updates the school couldn’t afford, there was the Mankato West Booster Club, which is composed of West High School parents. These parents fundraise at games and other school events, selling West-related apparel and working concession stands. Because of the Booster Club, the school received new bleachers, a new concession stand and new windows. “Mankato West Booster were very hard workers throughout the years,” Flynn said. “(They) raised a lot of money, and they pitched in whenever they could for things the school couldn’t buy. They were always there to help out, and that’s why I think that we have the best Booster Club around.” No end in sight Flynn has been working at West High School for 19 years. He has seven more years until he hits retirement age, but he says he has no plans of stopping even after he hits 65. “I enjoy getting up in the morning and going to work,” he said. Flynn’s relationships with his students go far beyond the students” four-year high school careers. He said he still keeps in contact with former students years after they graduate. This summer, he was invited to 37 graduation parties. “I made every single one of them,” he said. M MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 33

Good Health

By Family Features

Is going back to school right for you? T

he phrase “back to school” doesn’t just apply to kids. Many adults are headed back to the classroom in hopes of starting a new career or improving their odds of promotion within their current job. In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students over age 25 grew 43 percent from 2000 to 2009 — and it’s expected to increase another 23 percent by 2019. Going back to school is a big decision, but if you ask the right questions and do the right planning, it will be a decision you can make with confidence, knowing it will pay off with a brighter future. What to think about If you’ve been thinking of going back to school, ask yourself the following questions and answering them honestly: • What are my goals? You need to be clear about why you want to go back to school. Some common goals include getting ahead in your career or starting a career in a new field. • Do I have time to take classes? According to the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, whether taking classes online or in a classroom, it can take at least eight hours a week of work to successfully complete assignments. • How can I leverage my support system? Ask family or friends if they are willing to look after your children while you’re studying. If you work, discuss your situation with your supervisor to ensure you have a plan in place to address work-related responsibilities. • How are my computer skills? As more and more course work is done online, it’s critical to have these skills in order to succeed. If your computer skills are a bit rusty, look to see if your college or university offers any courses to help strengthen your skills before enrolling.

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What to look For The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning recommends that you: • Look for colleges that are accredited - Check for their accreditation on their website, or look for them at • Ask about Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) - If the school has a system for evaluating your prior learning, you could save time and money when earning your degree. • Find out about student services. For example, will you have access to faculty and advisors to help you with classwork and your program goals? M

Happy Hour

By The Washington Post

Drinks back from the brink


wedish punsch was an essential cocktail ingredient in 19th-century America, but after Prohibition — like so many spirits — it basically disappeared. Eric Seed, owner of the Edina-based Haus Alpenz, developed a new recipe that replicates Swedish punsch from a century ago. Kronan Swedish Punsch has a gamy, complex sweetness with smoky, funky dried-fruit flavors. Mabel Berra 1 serving Mabel Berra was an early-20th-century comic opera prima donna nicknamed the “Venus of Vaudeville.” Why this drink is named for her is lost to history, but if her performances were anything like this drink, she is a forgotten genius. The rich, old-timey sweetness of Swedish punsch is balanced by the tart sloe gin and the lime. Always use a real sloe gin, such as Plymouth brand, which is the most widely available. Adapted from “Recipes for Mixed Drinks,” by Hugo R. Ensslin (1917; fascsimile edition published by Mud Puddle Books, 2009).

Ingredients Ice 1 1/2 ounces Swedish punsch 1 1/2 ounces sloe gin 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice Steps Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Combine the Swedish punsch, sloe gin and lime juice. Shake well, then strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass M

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 35

Fashion Currents

By McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Faces of summer: Makeup for hot weather

High temperatures make for hot and greasy skin that complicates the makeup process.


ost women won’t forego putting on a face just because the mercury’s rising, turning their skin into a slippery mess. The smart ones, though, get smarter about the products they use and how they apply them. “When it’s hot, makeup doesn’t stick. It will literally slide off the face,” says Allie Lapidus, a commercial makeup artist in Los Angeles. “In the summer, be sure to create a really good base so that everything stays on better.” Lapidus says it’s best to keep layers minimal because “an extra layer of anything on the skin makes it feel heavy. The thinner the layers, the more it’s going to stick.”


As a first step, Lapidus recommends using oil-free, highly pigmented concealers and moisturizers, instead of foundation, and applying as little as possible to prevent it from sliding. Nars Pure Radiant tinted moisturizer ($42) incorporates broad-spectrum sun protection, as does CoverGirl’s CG Smoothers tinted moisturizer ($8). To bring a fresh summer glow to the cheeks, Lapidus suggests gels and stains instead of powders and creams - with one exception: Yves Saint Laurent creme de blush ($38), which she says has the pigmentation of a cream and stays put in hot weather. The only powder Lapidus recommends for summer is for “setting” a face. She swears by Make Up For Ever Microfinish Powder ($32) when the makeup application is finished, then switches to blotting papers if the skin sweats or begins to look greasy. “It’s better to remove moisture than to add another layer to the skin that will then get cakey,” Lapidus said.


For eyes, Lapidus recommends applying either a primer

36 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

or a dab of foundation before putting on shadow to help it stick, and following it up with a gel liner, instead of waxy, melt-prone pencils or tricky-to-apply liquids, and then topping it off with waterproof mascara. For summer, Make Up For Ever introduced its new Aqua cream shadows ($23), which are billed as waterproof, smudge-proof and crease-proof. Maybelline’s EyeStudio Color Tattoo gel cream shadows ($7) and L’Oreal’s Infallible shadows ($8) are similar, though the Aqua line has a larger color selection. Lapidus likes Maybelline and L’Oreal mascaras, such as Maybelline Mega Plush ($8), LÕOreal Voluminous ($10) and, at the high end, Christian Dior Diorshow ($25). To “melt the makeup away and leave the skin super-soft,” she suggests using Josie Maran Argan cleansing oil ($32).


For lips, there are lots of options for giving a hint of color without the heaviness of a lipstick. For eyes, apply either a primer or a dab of foundation before putting on shadow to help it stick, and following it up with a gel liner, instead of waxy, melt-prone pencils or tricky-toapply liquids, and then topping it off with waterproof mascara. A ga i n , Lapidus recommends highly pigmented products, such as balms and butters, that build up color through layering. Lapidus likes Revlon’s Colorburst lip butter ($8), which comes in a tube but is best if dabbed on with a finger for a more natural look, and tinted lip balms from Burt’s Bees ($7). Some tinted balms, such as Sugar Lip Treatment from Fresh ($22) and Neutrogena’s Moisture Shine Lip Soother ($7), also incorporate SPF. M

Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens, which come in a tiny, tissue-like dispenser, are a popular option; they cost $10 for 100 sheets.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 37

John Cross Mankato East graduate Breanna Loken hopes to someday combine her interests in cosmetology and photography.

A t n e r diffe path

Some students find career opportunities outside traditional college options

By Nell Musolf


oing to a traditional four-year college is a goal for many recent high school graduates. But with the sluggish economy and a job market that seems to be on life support, many young people are taking the time to pause and think about what they want to do next. Some of these students are opting to take a different path than going straight 38 • August 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

to college after receiving their high school diploma. Rebecca Lewis is one such student. Lewis has always been interested in art and also has an extensive background in fundraising and sales via volunteer work. During her senior year of high school at RBA Public Charter School in Mankato, Lewis planned to go to college and major

in business and marketing. After going online to check out what kind of scholarships might be available to her, Lewis began receiving telephone calls from recruiters. “Within a day or two of going to the scholarship website, I suddenly got phone calls from three different colleges,” Lewis recalled. “One was from Rasmussen

College here in Mankato, one was the Globe University School of Business, and one was the Art Institutes International Minnesota.” Lewis talked with representatives from all three schools and set up appointments to meet with them. “I figured I would go to the school of business, but after meeting with all of them, I completely changed my mind,” Lewis said. The research Lewis conducted convinced her that Art Institutes International was the right choice for her. The school offers a design management program that Lewis feels is custom made for her. “It takes sales and marketing, business, and management, and combines it with the art and designing that I love so much,” Lewis said. Art Institutes International also offers housing and student employment, two more pluses for Lewis. As for what she’ll do when she finishes her degree, Lewis isn’t worried. “I don’t have a specific kind of job in mind at the moment; I’m more interested in learning and having fun while I’m at it. After all, there will always be job openings in sales, and that’s good enough for me. I’m looking forward to learning new artistic methods, managerial skills, and sales techniques. I’m also looking forward to meeting the people there. I know I’ll make a lot of new friends,” Lewis said. Also heading up to the Twin Cities at the end of this summer are fellow Mankato East graduates Ashtyn Church and Breanna Loken. Church and Loken will both be attending Aveda Institute in Minneapolis, a cosmetology training school. Although the two girls are friends, they didn’t know that the other was planning to attend Aveda at the same time. Church said, “Breanna and I are signed up for the same classes this fall and it will be helpful knowing someone already.” Church has always had an interest in cosmetology, an interest that her mother Shellie noticed years ago. “Ashtyn has always styled and fixed my hair and her sister’s. Cosmetology is something Ashtyn has been interested in for a long time and I think she has picked a career that she will enjoy and certainly be good at,” Shellie Church said. Ashtyn is looking forward to living in an apartment in Minneapolis and going to

school. Her eventual goal is to work at an Aveda salon while getting a business degree so that one day she’ll be able to own her own salon. Fellow Avedabound student Breanna Loken is excited about being able to do something she loves. “Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to play with e v e r y b o d y ’s hair,” Loken said. “I love art, and cosmetology is like an art to me.” As a teenager, she’s been doing her friends’ hair for events such as senior Pat Christman pictures, prom, Ashtyn Church will attend the Aveda Institute this fall. The Mankato interviews and East graduate said she’s always had an interest in cosmetology and parties. Loken hopes to one day own a salon. will be living in post-graduation options are a primary an apartment with fellow Aveda students and one topic. Krause said, “The district also has a student from the University of Minnesota. She’s looking forward to meeting new program called Naviance. This is a very people from other schools in the same area hands-on program for students to use to research colleges, take interest inventories, as the Aveda Institute. Loken is also interested in photography develop goals, set up a task sheet and and would some day like to combine her request transcripts.” Naviance’s “Do What You Are” program two interests of cosmetology and has helped students in grades 7 through 12 photography into a business of her own. “Aveda is a top-rated school so I’m develop career-interest inventories. The excited to learn all the latest and greatest district also hosts visits from various in cosmetology,” Loken said. “Overall, I’m branches of the military as well as college just excited to learn the best way to do recruiters, usually during lunchtime, to meet with interested students. The what I love and be successful!” Mankato Area School District guidance guidance counseling offices also offer counselors Heather Krause and Melodee resources such as computers where Hoffner say that high school students in students can do research, as well as the district have many resources available promotional college literature, and ACT/ to them as they try and decide how they SAT/PSAT prep books, which can be want their life after high school to look. checked out through the secretary. Hoffner The counselors make visits to the said the district also hosts a career expo classrooms throughout the school year and for all 10th-grade students. M MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 39

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Minnesota Air Spectacular 2012


1. The Blue Angel flight crew prepares for the return of the jets. 2. The Aeroshell aerobatic team performs an impressive air maneuver. 3. This photo shows just how close the U.S. Navy Blue Angels are able to fly. 4. Known for their daring maneuvers, the Blue Angels performed this maneuver making it look like a mirror image. 5. The Blue Angels fly in formation during a practice at the Mankato Regional Airport days before the shows. 6. Over 35,000 people attended the air show between Saturday and Sunday. 7. The Blue Angels finish their show by saluting their crew.




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Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Ted Nugent concert



1. Laura Wilde thrashes on her guitar as the opening act for Ted Nugent. 2. Ted Nugent wails away on his guitar during the first half of the performance. 3. Stage lights illuminate the crowd during

the show.

4. “Uncle Ted” gets close and personal with front row fans. 5. Dustin Abraham of Janesville signs Laurie Landford’s petition to make Ted Nugent the next U.S. President.




MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 41

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix



1. Lake Crystal American Legion Post 294 members greet the crowd from their parade float. 2. The Worthington High School Marching Band makes their way down the street toward the competition area.


3. The Cotter Marching Band from Winona, MN finishes their competition in front of the judges stand. 4. Lake Crystal Mayor Brad Ahrenstorff waves to the crowd at the beginning of the parade. 5. Henry Sibley High School of West entertains the crowd. 6. The Mankato Area 77 Lancers were the grand finale of the parade.





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Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix




1. Ben Klinger races “Mother Nature” as he tries to keep his ice cream cone from melting. 2. Cade Hinrichsen found a good shady spot to listen to the live band’s music. 3. Flowers were in full bloom in the city center after an abundance of spring rain. 4. Kids were able to make stamp signs and get rub on tattoos with their parents. 5. Some sat in the sun while others hunkered in the shade on a nice June day for the weekly Songs on the Lawn event in downtown Mankato. 6. Members of The Rain Kings play for the crowd in the city center. 7. Songs on the Lawn has become a popular event for lunchgoers on Thursdays in June.

3 4

6 5


MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 43

The Way It Is

By Pete Steiner

What my eyes have seen


adio guys have a lot in common with the wind. No, I don’t mean blowing a lot of hot air around, although in talk radio that’s pretty true. What I mean here is, when the wind is blowing, it’s tough to get away from. Little by little, it makes a difference, blowing down twigs or acorns, re-arranging sand on a beach, sometimes even knocking down a whole tree or a metal shed. But when the wind is gone, you don’t even notice. The wind, and radio, are ephemeral. Even broadcast legends like Murrow, Cronkite, Brinkley and Kuralt are noted only in passing at broadcast school. Lionized in their time, now they’re just dimly remembered messengers of the truths of long ago. I note this as I transition out of the radio newsroom. While I will still host a daily discussion show on KTOE, I will no longer chronicle the day-to-day events of life here in the valley. It’s bittersweet: Work seems to define who we are, so NOT working becomes a little like dying. But I hope to do more writing, so let’s say it’s more a transition than an ending. If you know me only through this column, my life change should have no effect. Besides, radio guys already know, the majority of the populace never hears you. You’re considered a success if 15 percent of the total audience tunes in. Put another way: if you’re non-existent to 85 percent of the local populace, you can still be a radio success. In fact, a lot of the people who actually tell me they’ve heard me on the radio say it was mostly during coverage of tornados or blizzards, when our listenership soars, and we actually do seem to matter. ••••

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Radio is a fun business, if you don’t mind odd hours and modest pay. My colleague Don Rivet shows up for work at 3 a.m. daily, when most are in deep REM phase. But that means he has most afternoons free, often to pursue his passion for golf. My colleague Jean Lundquist once said, radio is made for those who thrive in dysfunctional situations. To wit: I once worked a 14-hour, on-air shift when the guy who was supposed to relieve me began puking at five minutes to midnight. Who ya gonna call at that hour on a Friday night? Plus, the guy that was supposed to come at 6 on Saturday morning had gotten drunk and did not make it in until 8. Early on, I was program director in charge of staffing at KTOE. At 3 a.m. one Sunday, I was awakened from deep sleep by a phone call from the scheduled announcer. Slurring his words, he confessed that while he loved radio, he also loved bartending. Seems that evening, the bartender had gotten on the wrong side of the bar. I told him not to worry any more about radio. I’d go in and fill the loneliest shift. That 3 a.m. incident is the only time I remember actually firing an announcer I had hired. I’ll save some of the even more dysfunctional details for the book. •••• The hardest part of a newsperson’s job in a small town is announcing the death of a young person, whether in war or an auto accident or a drowning. I know you’re supposed to be objective, but you read the story, and then you turn off the mic, and you wonder, why? Years later, you still remember their names. You never know when you might actually make a difference. I was doing a short segment years ago, what I had considered a routine

update on National Depression Screening Day. Sometime later, I got an e-mail telling me a listener had gone in after hearing about the event on the radio. That person had gotten treatment for a life-threatening condition and wanted to thank me for saving a life. •••• One thing I must note as I exit the newsroom: I has been remarkable watching my hometown grow from a prosperous, but small river city to a bustling, booming micropolitan area. I used to know about one out of every three people I met on the street. Now it’s more like one of every 20 or 30. I have appreciated the chance to work with a group of visionary civic and business leaders who have engineered much of this growth. When I began working here, the hot spots for music and dancing were Friendlies and the Burgundy Haus, both long gone. There was also the Hurdy Gurdy, still in the same place, but in its fourth incarnation. Front Street was still a through street in 1978, and I could shop at Brett’s downtown if I chose not to go to the hot new mall, Madison East. What would become River Hills Mall was still a corn field. •••• It’s always thrilling to get a scoop. So let me give you the first scoop in my new phase of life. I know not everyone believes in global warming, but I, for one, do. And here it is, folks, GOOD NEWS for us: the last decade has generally highlighted a trend toward milder winters and fewer mosquitoes. Our local economy is humming along, and it all adds up to this: Mankato is becoming the Eden of the Earth! Trust me on this, I was a newsman.


Pete Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town” weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2012 • 45

Mankato Magazine  

People, Places, Lifestyles of the Minnesota River Valley