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Lance Bagstad

Park Rapids Superindendent

What do you see in your future? BY LANCE BAGSTAD | SUPERINTENDENT

The adage that, “it’s never too late,” applies to all of us. Especially so when it refers to what or how we see ourselves in the future. In formulating those visions, one needs to come up with answers to the following questions. What is it I want to do? Why is it important to me? In the globally connected and competitive world in which we live today, many high school students ponder those two questions passionately. During this time in their lives, students seek experiences and advice from parents and trusted adults about narrowing down the skills and interests that excite them


for the future. For most students, the first step in executing any plan for the future involves graduating from high school and receiving their diploma. The framing of the questions, “what” and “why,” and focusing on identifying steps and resources in answering the questions, relies on learning. Finishing the high school program and attaining the maximum experiences that challenge students’ intellect, character, compassion and integrity is a foundation for all to be able to ask the what and why of their future. A high school diploma is a liberty offered to all Americans. We are very fortunate to live in a country that grants freedoms to its citizens. All

of us have or had the opportunity to capitalize on a free and appropriate public education. The liberty and freedom of completing the requirements to receive a diploma is the most tangible stepping stone for the pursuit of happiness in the future. Graduating seniors, now with a diploma in hand, take control of your future by challenging yourself and asking, what is it I want to do and why is it important? Challenge yourself, with strength and courage, that you can accomplish more than what you believe you can. Seek out the resources and experiences that will help you plan that future, then work the plan! Congratulations, Class of 2021!



Earning your diploma is a significant achievement BY JEFF JOHNSON | PARK RAPIDS AREA HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL

Your graduation is the start of a new chapter in your life. Congratulations to the Park Rapids High School graduating Class of 2021. I’m sure the past four years have gone fast and you’re ready for the next step. Achieving your diploma signifies that you have completed and passed the standards that the State of Minnesota has established and passed the classes that the school board and community have set as benchmarks. The diploma signifies that you have passed an

important hurdle, but in reality, there are many more changes yet to come. Park Rapids has been your home for many years and you probably know many people here. This may not be true on your next journey in life. This community has supported you as you have grown and learned. What you decide to do next, whether it is furthering your education, working in the community or joining the military, you will be challenged to support your community you live in. Remember how

your community has supported you, in preparing you for your next chapter in life. The graduating Class of 2021 will leave the high school with many memories of successes and challenges. Seniors, as you start the next chapter in your future, use the tools that have been given to you to explore your talents, live well and enjoy life. Park Rapids will be anxiously awaiting the news of your successes and to hear about the new chapters in your life.

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead, where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson



We would like to take this opportunity to salute the young men and women graduates who, after four years, have maintained an academic grade point average of 3.5 or more.

Taylor M. Dravis

Brenna E. Behrens

Amber M. Berndt

Kathryn L. Burlingame

Savana R. Damar

Ellie K. Gwiazdon

Alan R. Guajardo

Brody R. Hagen

Skylar M. Hagen

Joseph P. Huber

Caitlin E. Kalita

Abigail R. Kirlin

Desarae L. Kohrs

Keith Canfield owner

(218) 732-7238 PO Box 191, 17109 Dawn Dr. Park Rapids, MN 56470



New, Remodel Repair and Service Air Duct Cleaning 24 Hour Emergency Open / Close Cabins Water Heaters Service

Bode S. Lee

Brynn A. McComas

Hannan Morgan

Shailyn M. Pachel

Isaiah J. Phillippi

Blake A. Simpson

Analise M. Smee

Madison M. Thompson

Aleah S. Voigt

Jacob D. Zinniel

Megan M. Westby

Ellie K. Ulvin

Owen E. Wagner

Wherever Life Leads You - Take Us With Download our mobile app today! 300 W. 1st St., Park Rapids • 218-732-3393 • www.cnbbank.com PRAHS GRADUATION 2021 | 5

Vocational schooling

can pave the way to high-paying jobs Many students believe that the next natural step after graduating from high school is to go off to college. Secondary education has become such a common transition that many parents begin saving for college tuition as soon as their children are born. Although college can be the next chapter in a student’s education, many teenagers still choose to attend trade school. Television personality Mike Rowe says the country is in the midst of a skilled labor shortage because workers lack the necessary training to fill the hundreds of thousands of available jobs. Lack of information may drive the notion that trade jobs are nothing more than a backup plan if college doesn’t pan out. However, by realizing that trade jobs, along with short-term vocational training, is a smart investment – and eventually a lucrative career choice – attitudes about trade schools and laborintensive jobs may shift. A great number of college graduates enter the workforce with degrees that may not help them land jobs. And these students typically carry thousands of dollars in tuition debt. Many college grads are underemployed 6 | PRAHS GRADUATION 2021

and working in jobs that aren’t even in their fields of study. Career and technical schools help students develop specialized skills that make graduates immediately marketable in their chosen fields, and trade salaries can be very competitive. The following are some of the fastest-growing and highest-paying trade careers to consider, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Forbes magazine. • Construction manager: Construction professionals with great organizational and communication skills can enjoy high earning potential as construction managers. Expected growth of this career over the next 10 years is 5 percent. The average income of a construction manager is $87,000. However, with a topend hourly pay of around $75 per hour, it’s easy for managers to earn into six figures. • Elevator installer and repairer: This career is listed as a topearner. These employees can earn anywhere from $74,000 to

$105,000 per year. Elevators are in demand as urban centers increase, so this career has staying potential. • Rotary drill operator: The oil and gas industry relies on rotary drill operators to extract oil or natural gas from underground sources. Salaries for these jobs can range from $30 to $40 per hour. • Dental hygienist: Cleaning teeth and inspecting mouths for disease is an important role. Job growth is still hovering around 20 percent, and hygienists can expect to earn up to $98,000. • Electricians and plumbers: Electricians and plumbers are continually in demand. With a short amount of trade school and apprenticeship, itÕs possible to earn up to $90,000 per year. These are just a few of the many skilled professions that vocational schools prepare their students for. Scholarships and funding programs are available to help make vocational training an affordable possibility.

Did you know? Graduation ceremonies are a tradition that dates back to the first high schools and universities. While many aspects of graduation ceremonies have evolved over the years, the graduation cap has remained a hallmark of such ceremonies. Graduation caps are one of the most visible aspects of graduation dress. Many scholars believe the mortarboard style cap graduates don was developed from the biretta, a similarlooking Italian hat worn by Roman Catholic clergy. In the 12th and 13th centuries, students and teachers typically wore clerical clothing because the church was highly influential at this time. Medieval universities helped inspire academic dress, including the familiar graduation cap.

Mortarboards are shaped like a square, perhaps to give them a scholarly appearance like a book or to represent the shape of a quad on the campus of England’s Oxford University, where many graduation dress customs are believed to have originated. Others theorize that the mortarboard, which is named after the flat board used by bricklayers and masons, represents the skill of a master workman. Many graduation caps were initially black or gray. According to the graduation information site Graduation Source, when color photography became the norm in the 20th century, schools began to use gowns and caps in different shades because they would show up in photographs. Schools often coordinate caps and gowns so their colors reflect their

The history of the graduation cap

official school colors. While certain degrees warrant different styles of gown, cowls and hoods, mortarboard caps are relatively standard. In addition to the cap, there is a single button at the top. Tassels hang from these buttons. At commencement, tassels are traditionally worn on the right

side of the cap and then moved to the left once graduates receive their diplomas. Graduation caps are part of the larger scope of academic dress that comprises school traditions. Millions of graduates across the globe will don their caps and toss them into the air later in celebration of their hard work.

Congratulations to the 2021 Park Rapids High School Grads!

i’m lovin it! McDonald’s •101 S. Park Ave. •Park Rapids


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THESE ABBREVIATIONS ARE USED FOR STUDENT CLUBS/ ACCOMPLISHMENTS. BPA Business Professionals of America FBGM Future Business Growing Managers

COLE ACKERMAN Son of Anthony and Coreen Ackerman


No information provided.

Thielen Motors

Cole participated in baseball all for years of high school and was on the honor roll. He plans to work for Laneys Plumbing in Fargo.

BRENNA BEHRENS Daughter of Brian and Jodi Behrens

Brenna participated in figure skating (Park Rapids, 13 years; Bemidji, 6 years), volleyball (9-12), speech (8-12, state participant senior year), choir (9-12) VPin 12th, book club (10-12, president), NHS (11-12, president), April Student of the Month and Calvary Youth Group. She plans to attend College of Saint Benedict to become a physician assistant specializing in dermatology.

Anesthesia Care Team, P.A.

Prudential - Brian Behrens

MVP Most Valuable Player NHS National Honor Society PSEO Post-Secondary Enrollment Option


Son of Christine Belina, Robert Belina

Samuel participated in trapshooting. He plans to work and save for college. Thielen Motors


Daughter of Melissa Meier, Zachary Bera

Cassidy participated in softball, tennis and volleyball (senior year) and coached minor league baseball. She plans to attend Bemidji State University, majoring in elementary education and minoring in psychology. T&M Express



Daughter of Jeff and Stacy Berndt

Amber participated in softball, basketball, tennis, swimming, student council, book club, A honor roll, academic letter winner, NHS. She will be attending Minnesota State University - Moorhead. Main Street Meats



Daughter of Jennifer Borders

Jaynine participated in NHS, theatre, speech, band and choir, appearing in solo contests for band and choir. She will be attending Bemidji State University to major in biochemistry. McDonald’s of Park Rapids

CHRISTOPHER BRICKER Son of Karmeen James, Mike Robbins

Chris plans on working after graduation. L&M Fleet Supply


Son of Jeremiah Israel Buckley

Drew plans to save some money for college to become an electrical engineer and for business. He would like to build a business that sells Airsoft and Paintball items. L&M Fleet Supply


KATHRYN BURLINGAME Daughter of Terry and Jan Burlingame

Kathryn participated in volleyball (2017-2020), basketball (2017-2020), yearbook 20220-2021), academic letter winner (2018-2021), athletic letter winner (2018-2021), B honor roll. She plans to attend Bemidji State University for a degree in physical education. Liberty Mutual - Brian Behrens





Son of Lance and Trish Crandall

Joshua participated in baseball and hockey, where he lettered, and Clay Dusters trap team. He will be joining the U.S. Marines. Prudential - Brian Behrens



Savana participated in swim and track teams (captain), state FFA; student council (vice president of student body, December Student of the month and A honor roll. She plans to attend UND.

Ronaldo participated in cross country (2 years, Hard Work Awards, Toughest Runner Awards), football (1 year), track (1 year) and March student of the month. He plans to study physical education at MSUM.

Daughter of Jenifer and Jordan Anderson, Jamey Damar

Standingstone Masonry


Daughter of Donna and LaDonne Edelman

Allie participated in drama (9-12, letter winner), trap shooting (9-10), speech (7-10, 12), FFA (11-12, vice president). She plans to attend the University of Manitoba to study genetics with hopes of being a genetic research scientist. Northern Convenience



Son of Lloyd and Kristie Edelman

Taylor was a B honor roll student. He will be attending Central Lakes College to become a heavy equipment operator. Flying W Gardens

Son of Sabina Gomez and Doming Gutierrez


Daughter of Jeff and Tara Dravis

Taylor participated in tennis (captain), track and field, A honor roll and NHS. She will be attending MSUM and study to become a speech pathologist. Citizens National Bank

Ulvin Plumbing & HVAC


No information provided.

Citizens National Bank


Son of Raelyne and Jeff Fieldsend

Michael plans to find a job after graduating. Thielen Motors



No information provided.

RD Offutt Farms


Son of KT George, Kevin George

Tayden participated in the trap team and A and B honor roll. He plans to go to M-State Wadena to become an electrical line worker.


No information provided.

RD Offutt Farms



Daughter of Trevor and Sarah Gwiazdon

Ellie participated in FFA (state qualifier), academic letter winner (four years), A honor roll (four years) and NHS. She is attending Bemidji State University to pursue a degree in psychology.

Pine Cone Lodge

TruStar Federal Credit Union


Son Brent and Shawna Hagen

Brody participated in hockey (captain) and baseball. He plans to study business. Ulvin Plumbing & HVAC


No information provided.

Headwaters Golf Club


No information provided.

Headwaters Golf Club


Son of Jill and Jim Hartig

James participated in football (2019 Most Improved, 2020 All District Honorable Mention, Team Offensive MVP, captain, athletic letter winner), basketball (two-time athletic letter winner, captain) and golf (two-time athletic letter winner). He plans to work after graduation. Hubbard County DAC





No information provided.

Citizens National Bank


No information provided.

Northway Insurance of Park Rapids


Son of Lisa Henry, Tony Henry

James participated in the high school play and is a certified first responder. He will attend college at Moorhead. Signature Homes of Park Rapids


Son of Dave Huber and Tara Huber

Joseph participated in football (two varsity letters, captain, two-time Academic Team, Panther Teammate of the Year Award, Panther Power Award), hockey (two varsity letters), A honor roll (four years), Excel Award Nominee and October student of the month. He will attend South Dakota State University for business economics with a degree in finance. Citizens National Bank



No information provided.

Willy Jensen Trucking & Repair


Daughter of Melanie Weaver and Shawn Johnson

Chyanne participated in theatre (four years). She will be attending Alexandria Tech for criminal justice. Headwaters Golf Club


Son of Curtis and Leanne Kako

Joseph’s plans are to enter the workforce. Salvage Depot

Daughter of Jennifer Kalita, Ethan Kalita

Caitlin participated in girls hockey (letter winner), BPA (treasurer; 1st place regional level, 2nd place state level and national competitor for advanced accounting; 3rd place regional level for payroll accounting), FFA, Small Animal Vet Science CDE team (1st place individual at regional level for Small Animal Vet Science CDE, state competitor in Small Animal Vet Science CDE), golf and NHS. She plans to attend University of Minnesota Crookston with a major in equine business management and a major in animal science with a veterinary focus. She will attend vet school after that. Coborn’s Marketplace




Daughter of Shane and Rose Kirlin

Abigail participated in volleyball, gymnastics, book club, BPA, Mathletes, FFA, NHS, FBGM and The Brainiacs trig club. She plans to attend UND for kinesiology and exercise science. Zhateau Zorbaz


No information provided.

Northview Bank


Son of Christopher Klein, Marinda Klein

Kenton participated in football (letter winner) and golf (letter winner). He will be attending M State in the HVAC program. Americold Logistics LLC


No information provided. Citizens National Bank


Daughter of Randy Knutson, Teresa Knutson



Daughter of Tony & Maria Kohrs

Brooke participated in basketball. She will be attending UND. Heritage Senior Living

Desarae participated in speech, NHS and academic letter winner (four years). She will be attending Concordia College in Moorhead for pre-law and psychology.



No information provided.

Northway Insurance of Park Rapids

TruStar Federal Credit Union

Daughter of Jessica and Ryan Leckner

Brynn participated in girls basketball, girls golf, FFA, BPA, FFA, FBGM, Mathletics, The Brainiacs trig club. She plans to get a Business Administration degree at an undecided college. C’Mon Inn





Son of Mike Mead, Amanda Hagen


Son of Calbert and Jennifer Moir

Kody participated in trap shooting. He plans to attend a trade school after graduation.

David plans to enter the workforce or attend Central Lakes College in Brainerd for the occupational skills program.

Citizens National Bank

Thielen Motors



Lane participated in football (captain, three-time letter winner), track, (captain, five-time letter winner, state track participant), student council (vice president) and BPA. He will be attending Alexandria Tech for a degree in law enforcement, then get a criminal justice degree.

Hannah participated in volleyball, tennis, basketball, track, student council, NHS, FFA. She will be running track for Southwest Minnesota State University, majoring in communication studies and broadcasting.

Son Randy Tyge, Sheila Tyge

Standingstone Masonry


Daughter of Laura & Dan Nelmark

Laila participated in FFA and was a basketball manager. She will attend Bemidji State University and major in nursing. Zhateau Zorbaz

MADISYN NEVALA Daughter of Zane and Mindi Nevala

Madisyn participated in girls basketball and was a mentor. She will be attending SCTCC’s surgical tech program and hoping to further her education after that. Cupkie Accounting & Tax Service



No information provided.

Thielen Motors

Daughter of Joe and Andrea Morgan

The Secret Garden


Son of Richard and Sandra Nichols

Elliot participated in swimming and FFA. He will be attending Bemidji State University. RD Offutt Farms



Son of Rina and Brent

Alex plans to attend community college in Wadena.


No information provided.

Citizens National Bank


No information provided.

SW Interiors - Osage



Son of Trevor Persons, Dee Persons

Chaise participated in football (letterwinner in 2017, 2021), basketball (letter winner), baseball, (letter winner 2019, 2021). He plans to attend Bemidji State University for engineering technology.

Thielen Motors

Citizens National Bank


Son of Jim and Janna Phillippi

Isaiah participated in boys’ varsity basketball (letter winner), boys golf (letter winner, captain) NHS and A honor roll (9-12). He will be attending Bemidji State University for business management. Faithbridge Church


Daughter of Vanessa Oien

Kelsey participated in FFA (president). She will attend Bemidji State University. Hubbard County DAC


No information provided.

Northway Insurance of Park Rapids

MADISON ROBBINS Daughter of Ryan and Kristin Robbins

Madison participated in volleyball (2019), swimming (2017), B honor roll and Park Rapids ALC (2020-2021). She plans to attend M State Community and Technical College in Moorhead for business management, marketing and sales. Citizens National Bank





No information provided.

RD Offutt Farms

KENDRA SCHOLZ Daughter of Mike and Carissa Scholz

Kendra participated in track and volleyball. She will be attending Bemidji State University to major in physical education and minor in health promotion and education.


Son of Shauna Schultz, Derek Schultz

Casey plans to work for two years, then go to college. Peloquin Jenson, PLLC Attorneys & Counselors


Son of Ray and Nicole Simpson

Blake participated in NHS, A honor roll (four years), golf (four years). He was an academic and athletic letter winner. He plans to attend M State in Wadena for HVAC. Faithbridge Church

Johnson’s On the Water Service


Daughter of Caroline and Carlton Smee

Analise participated in band (20142019), book club (2017-2021), academic letter winner (2017-2021), NHS (20192021), Mathletes, swimming and diving (2014-2020, Section 8A medalist, 2016-20, All Conference Honorable Mention 20162019, True Team Medalist 2016-2019, letter winner 2016-2020), track and field (20162021, Section 8A top six, sub-section top four 2016-20, letter winner 2016-2020). She will attend the University of Minnesota - Morris, majoring in either in medical laboratory, science, biology, chemistry or biochemistry and minoring in German. She wants to get her clinicals done in California to become a clinical laboratory scientist and to live a happy life. Heritage Senior Living



No information provided.

Citizens National Bank


No information provided.

Thielen Motors


Daughter of Kaaren Mikus and Ben Soderberg

Rian was involved in band (section leader). She plans to attend BSU in Criminal Psychology. State Farm Insurance - Patrick Sullivan



Daughter of Kelly Sowers

Kayla plans to work at T&M in Park Rapids and exploring for a while to see what life’s about.


No information provided.

Thielen Motors


No information provided.

Aunt Belle’s Confectionery



Daughter of Timothy and Michelle Ulvin

Ellie participated in swimming (state participant, All State), softball (captain), NHS (vice president), FFA, November student of the month, senior class president, student council, book club (vice president), A honor roll and was an Excel Award nominee. She plans to attend Montana State University and major in pre-med.

T&M Express

Ulving Plumbing & HVAC


Son of Tadd Usher, Alycia Usher

Tate participated in football and golf. He will play golf at Bemidji State University and major in business entrepreneurship. Headwaters Golf Club


No information provided.

RD Offutt Farms


Daughter of Jeff and Angie Voigt

Aleah participated in varsity swim team (four years, state participant), student council, varsity letter winner (2016-2020), Fellowship of Christian Athletes (two years), NHS and May student of the month. She will be attending the University of Sioux Falls, majoring in Business and Marketing. She will also be on their swimming team.


Son of Chris Wagner

Owen participated in cross country (letterwinner 2017-2021, captain, Triple A Award), trap shooting (letter winner in 2018-19), academic letter winner (four years); January student of the month, Eagle Scout and NHS. He plans to attend M State Wadena for the lineman program. Pine Cone Lodge

Park Rapids Aviation





Son Robin Walsh, Jodi Walsh

Kaiden participated in basketball (three-time varsity letter winner), academic letter winner (three times) and trap shooting (four-time letter winner, captain). He will be working with Laney’s Plumbing after high school.


Son of Kathy Weiss, Ron Weiss

Lukas is a B honor roll student and lettered his freshman year. He plans to attend Bemidji State University to become an optometrist.


No information provided.

Corborn’s Marketplace

Weiss Logging


Megan participated in drama for three years and was stage manager for one year. She will be attending Morris for a bachelor’s degree in business management. Bearly Used Thrift Shop

Dick Walsh Forest Products

No information provided.


Daughter of Nancy Westby


Brenda plans to work and eventually study to be an OB/GYN in Mexico and the U.S. RD Offutt Farms


Son of David and Stacie Zinniel

Jacob participated in NHS (two years), boys swimming (six years, fourtime letterwinner), trap shooting (four years, two-time letter winner) and Lamp of Knowledge (three years). He will be attending M State Detroit Lakes to get his generals. Dustin Lof Repair


Home School Graduates



Daughter of David and Rita Blake

Laura lived in Kalimantan, Indonesia, for the first three years of her life, followed by six years in Davao City, Philippines, and another year and a half in Malang, Indonesia. She treasures memories of sunny Pacific beaches, friendly neighbors, and international classmates. She has enjoyed working at Aunt Belle’s Confectionery for the last couple years and attending PRAHSA on and off since kindergarten. Laura has taken PSEO classes from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul for two years, earning 34 credits. She plans to attend Capernwray Bible School in Burradoo, New South Wales, Australia, next year for a short-term Bible Discipleship Mission program. Following that, she plans to attend University of Northwestern-St. Paul to study intercultural studies and possibly minor in special education.


Son of Nick and Tara David

Caleb participated in varsity football (MBP, All District), choir and theatre. He plans to attend MSUM for construction management. RD Offutt Farms


Daughter of Jeffrey and Jessica Lange

Sydney participated in varsity volleyball all four years, playing for Park Rapids senior year and ran track her senior year for Park Rapids. She made the presidents list for Minnesota State PSEO, and is graduating with honors. She plans to finish her AA degree at M State and then go into a nursing program. Faithbridge Church

Thielen Motors


Son of Larry and Tay Odor


Son of Lyn and Terry Wilmot

Josiah participated in theatre, choir, drums, Friends, weight lifting and serving on staff at Pine Haven Christian Assembly. He plans to attend the Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing in Waynesboro, VA.

Peter participated in PRAHS theatre and earned 40 college credits through M State Community and Technical College. He plans to finish his AAS with M-State, and then figure things out from there.

RD Offutt Farms

Hugo’s Family Marketplace


Daughter of Tanja and Jermiah Dwire, Brad Ziegler

Madelyn is graduating from Beyond Borders Academy and also M State with her AA degree. She participated in PRAHS theatre and choir programs, volunteered with 7:10 Foundation, and served as a short-term missionary on several trips to Haiti. She has been accepted at MSUM in Moorhead as a sophomore in their social work program. She plans to achieve a Bachelor of Social Work. She will continue mission work. Zenergy, LLC - Sebeka, MN


Various ways to pay off

student loan debt Students and families invest heavily in higher education. Many students rely on student loans to finance their education. In fact, students amassed $1.56 trillion in student loan debt by 2020. According to Forbes, American student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category, exceeded only by mortgage debt. The Institute for College Access and Success says the average student loan debt is $32,731, while the median student loan monthly payment is $222. Some students feel like paying off student loan debt is impossible. Many loan repayment schedules kick in shortly after graduation, and certain borrowers may not yet be making enough money to afford even the minimum payments on their student loans. Thankfully, there are ways to get out from under student loan pressure. • Investigate income-driven repayment. IDR will lower student loan payments based on your income, and some plans even promise to forgive any remaining balance once the repayment period is up. That period can take between 20 and 25 years. • Work in public service. A Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, or PLSF, enables student loan forgiveness in exchange for working for a nonprofit or working in government. • Refinance the loans. Graduates may not be aware that they can refinance their student loans at


a lower rate or choose new loan terms, including variable or fixed rates. Maturity dates can even be renegotiated in certain instances. It’s possible to save thousands of dollars in interest by refinancing, particularly if borrowers have a credit score of at least 650. • Make more than the minimum payment. Making the minimum payments on student loans will not get them paid off fast, and the interest could pile up as well. By paying more than the minimum payments, you can pay down the principal more quickly. Designate tax refunds and salary increases to pay down student loan debt.

• Make a move. The Rural Opportunity Zone program encourages Americans to move to rural Kansas to help discourage population decline and to give others the benefits of a lower cost of living. Seventy-seven Kansas counties have been authorized to offer student loan payment incentives. • Ask for help. Speak with your boss about whether he or she can help pay off student loans. Some employers offer conditional student loan repayment to employees. These are some of the ways that student loan debts can be repaid quickly, efficiently and creatively.

What is a gap year?

And should grads take one? Uncertainty has reigned over many students for the last year-plus. As the COVID-19 virus spread across the globe, schools were forced to transition to virtual learning. Some did so full-time, while others offered hybrid learning plans that combined virtual learning with in-person instruction. But students about to graduate from high school may be wondering if now isn’t an ideal time to take a gap year. Others may be intrigued by gap years, but not be entirely certain what they are. The following information can help students determine if a gap year is right for them.

What is a gap year?

The Gap Year Association (GYA) defines a gap year as “a semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and prior to career or post-secondary education, in order to deepen one’s practical, professional, and personal awareness.” The GYA notes that no two gap years are alike, though the spirit of a gap year is to afford students a chance to expand their comfort zones and have a cross-cultural experience while ensuring they have the time to reflect on those experiences.

Derails academic careers?

Parents might be concerned that a gap year will derail students’ academic careers by decreasing the likelihood that they will ultimately return to school. However, the GYA reports that 90 percent of students who take gap years enroll in a four-year institution within one year of completing their gap year. That can quell some of the concerns parents and even students may have about taking a year off from school at a time when many of their

peers may be moving forward with their education.

What do students do during gap years?

Gap years may once have been looked at unfavorably, but they have evolved from such perceptions into opportunities to volunteer abroad, learn a new language in a foreign land, visit one’s ancestral homeland or work as an intern. Though the GYA notes that some space and time to explore the unknown is vital to a gap year, students who think a gap year may be right for them should know that such years are most effective when students engage themselves in activities designed to expand their horizons. Many students spend their gap years volunteering with a service organization while others may accept an internship to see what life in a given profession may be like. Gap years are now seen as a way

to improve a curriculum vitae and gain relevant work experience in a particular field. According to GapYear.com, employers actively employ people who have taken a gap year, preferring candidates who have real-world experience. Preparation is necessary before diving head first into a gap year. Students can speak with people who have already taken gap years and ask questions. Graduates should approach the decision of whether or not take a gap year just as they would any other large, life-changing decision. Experts say that it can take between nine and 12 months to plan a gap-year itinerary. Finances are a consideration, and gap years require ample savings and a carefully constructed budget in order to be transformed from a dream into a reality. Gap years are a growing trend that can help students improve their résumé, see the world and gain invaluable experience. PRAHS GRADUATION 2021 | 21

Safety tips for parents of

teen travelers

Graduating from high school is a significant milestone in the lives of young people. The next step for many teenagers is to go off to college. But before teens make their way to college campuses, some may celebrate their graduations by traveling overseas without parental supervision for the first time. Whether it’s through a schoolsponsored program or a graduation gift, overseas trips can be life-changing experiences for young people. Doing so without mom and dad in tow allows them to experience the sense of independence they will soon enjoy as college students. While teenagers may look forward to traveling abroad, the parents they’ll leave behind will no doubt experience some anxiety as their children travel thousands of miles away. Parents can take certain steps to reduce that anxiety without making trips less enjoyable for their sons and daughters. • Stay in (digital) touch. Thanks to social media, parents no longer need to sit at home imagining what their wandering youngsters are doing in foreign countries. When sending children on overseas trips, parents can purchase international service for their children’s phones so kids have access to social media websites and apps via their phones. Parents can then communicate with their children through such apps, asking kids to check in at the end of each day through direct messaging.

• Make copies of travel documents. Before teens head overseas, parents should make multiple copies of important travel documents, including passports, travel itineraries, travel reservations (i.e., flight, hotel, etc.), and any bank and/ or credit cards teens will be using while overseas. This can help local authorities track travelers who have gone missing or help those travelers who have been victimized by thieves 22 | PRAHS GRADUATION 2021

or criminals. Keep a copy of these documents at home and give teens a copy of each document to take with them as well. • Document your teenager’s medical history, including medications. Parents no doubt know their children’s medical histories backwards and forwards, but teenagers may not be so familiar, and, even if they are, that familiarity won’t be too useful if kids are unconscious. Create a file that documents your child’s medical history, including all medications the child takes and any allergies he or she has, and make sure kids travel with it at all times. Medical practitioners overseas will find this invaluable if they need to treat teens. • Discuss safety and overseas laws. Before kids head off, parents should have a lengthy discussion about safe travel and the importance of obeying laws in their destination countries. Make sure youngsters know to avoid walking alone at night and to resist

strangers’ offers of food or drinks. In addition, teenagers should abstain from consuming alcohol, even if it’s legal for them to do so in their destination countries, as their low tolerance for alcohol can put them in precarious positions. • Enroll youngsters in STEP. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is free to U.S. citizens and nationals. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the service is invaluable to overseas travelers who, once enrolled, will receive important information about safety conditions from the embassy in their destination countries. It also makes it easier for embassies to contact travelers in case of emergencies like natural disasters, civil unrest or family emergencies. Overseas travel can change the lives of young people for the better. But parents of teens traveling abroad without parental supervision for the first time should work with their children to ensure they’re safe for the duration of their trips.

How to save on

college housing costs

College is expensive, and the costs are only rising. Scholarships and grants can help mitigate the costs of higher education, but even students who receive such aid could find themselves scrambling for ways to make college more affordable. Housing is one of the more expensive costs for college students and their families. According to the College Board, the average cost for room and board was about $11,000 at four-year public schools and $12,000 at private colleges and universities. And those costs typically cover housing for just the school year, which may last anywhere from six to eight months. However, there are ways for students and their families to reduce those costs.

• Examine your dormitory options. Many schools assign students to dormitories for their freshman years, giving students little say with regard to where they will live. However, students might have more input in their housing come their sophomore, junior and senior years. Some dorms might be more attractive and offer more amenities than others, but students and families looking to save money on housing costs should opt to live in the most budget-friendly dorms available to them. In addition, choose to live with a roommate rather than in a single room, as singles tend to cost substantially more than double rooms. • Sign up to be a resident advisor. Resident advisors, or RAs, often

receive free housing in exchange for living in dormitories when they are upperclassmen or graduate students. RAs help newly enrolled or younger students adjust to campus life while also ensuring nothing untoward happens on the floors they’re tasked with looking after. Students who may want to apply for RA positions should first confirm if serving as an RA will affect their overall financial aid package and how great that impact might be. • Live with roommates even after leaving the dorms. Due to limited space, many colleges insist dorm residents live with roommates. Upperclassmen who are moving out of the dorms and into university

or off-campus apartments can save money by continuing to live with roommates. This can be especially beneficial to students who will be living in off-campus housing where amenities such as electricity, cable television and water are unlikely to be included in the cost of the rent. • Commute to school. While it might not be ideal, commuting to school can save college students and their families substantial amounts of money. That’s money that can be used to pay tuition or finance postgraduate education. College housing costs can be considerable, but budget-conscious students and families can save on such costs in various ways.


Congratulations on your graduation. Take your next step with M State!

minnesota.edu • 877.450.3322 Minnesota State Community and Technical College, a member of Minnesota State, is an affirmative action, equal opportunity educator and employer.







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2021 Graduation Keepsake  

2021 Graduation Keepsake  

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