Superintendent News

I rarely title articles that I write, but this article is an exception.  Welcome to “Great Expectations!”

I have been asked recently about expectations.  It is something that I think about a lot.  As an organization dedicated to providing our community’s children with an exemplary educational experience, what expectations should we hold ourselves accountable for as a district?  Our slogan is, “Committed to Excellence!”  That’s a high bar, but it also supports our mission to ensure that we create an environment where all students can reach their potential.  

What do we expect of kids?  Through the course of developing my philosophies over the years,  I decided that it would be a far greater travesty to set expectations too low for children than to keep the bar high.  They excel when provided with clear boundaries, unconditional love and support and when they know that the adults in their lives have trust and faith in them.  One need look no further than the honorees recognized at the recent 2022 Fergus Falls High School Hall of Fame Ceremony to appreciate the results.  

Gary Schuler served as a role model for kids over the course of a 46-year career in education.  A teacher, coach, and later athletic director/dean of students - working with kids was his life’s passion.  While my career in Fergus Falls only crossed Gary’s briefly, it didn’t take long to see that his interactions with kids in the cafeteria meant something special to him and to them.

David Lundeen was a graduate of Fergus Falls High School in 1950.  He served his country as a member of the armed forces before establishing a highly distinguished career in law. Community focused, his presence on various boards and committees were a testament to his dedication to serve the Fergus Falls community.  He was a founding member of the 544 Foundation whose work continues to have a positive impact on every child in our school system.

Phil Arneson graduated from Fergus Falls High School in 1958.  His impact on the world centered around agriculture and his expertise covers challenges including plant pathology and pest control.  His contributions have had a marked impact on small villages in Honduras where he utilized his expertise to advance subsistence farming techniques.

Finally, the 2011 Minnesota Boys Class A swimming and diving state champion team was recognized.  They are the only team in Fergus Falls school history to win a state championship defeating the perennial metro power St. Thomas Academy by the thinnest of margins which emphasized the importance of every contribution each team member made towards that victory.  Coach Tom Uvaas, a Fergus Falls High School Hall of Fame member himself, spoke about this group of young men - both as they were then as students and teammates - and the men they are now.  It is easy to be proud of this team.  Each spoke of their commitment and bond as teammates.  A parent told me afterwards that the team had such respect for Coach Uvaas that they would have followed him anywhere.  One honoree went through each of his teammates who were unable to attend the ceremony and provided an update on where each was living and what they were doing with their lives.  It was impressive.  Their success continues to follow them.  It was a proud night for our school and community that reinforced the phrase, Otters Are Always Otters!  

As a native of Michigan, my allegiance to the Michigan Wolverine football team goes back decades to the Bo Schembechler era.  Coach Schembechler hung a banner in Michigan Stadium that reads, “Those Who Stay Will Be Champions.”  It’s a simple phrase, but one that represents the hard work, determination, perseverance and dedication to reaching one’s potential.  The combination of great expectations and personal commitment works every time. The end result is the creation of a future generation of Otter graduates whose legacies will impact our community and the world.