Southland has reasons to be proud

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 30, 2002

Pardon Larry Tompkins for boasting.

The affable Southland superintendent of schools was asked at last Sunday's commencement, "What makes the Southland class of 2002 stand out?"

Mr. Tompkins replied, "Just like in Lake Woebegone, all our kids are above average and this class is no exception."

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Can you imagine that? A funny school superintendent.

Sixty-two Southland seniors received their diplomas Sunday afternoon.

The school district was the first this spring to graduate its seniors in Mower County.

This weekend, it's time for Grand Meadow, Lyle, and LeRoy-Ostrander to hold commencements.

Sad, but true, this would have been Kayla Wolterman's graduating class. The seniors remembered their classmate who was killed in a tragic auto accident with a tribute. They showed everyone a power point slide show that chronicled the class of 2002 from kindergarten days to present, including Miss Wolterman through the years.

All that sniffling in the dark wasn't an epidemic of summer colds. When one of their own dies ahead of their time, Southland takes it personally.

One of my favorite graduates, Cristy Sathre, daughter of Lynn and Lane Sathre, was a member of the Southland class of 2002.

Cristy had her official senior picture taken with a friend: her favorite dairy cow. It's a classic.

I have been privileged to milk Miss Sathre's dairy cow, although the results were nothing to brag about.

It's things like that -- a picture of a high school graduate, who happens to be the 2002 Mower County Dairy Princess, and a black and white Holstein cow -- that remind us of how special high school is to everyone.

There ain't no experience like it. Bar none.

Southland's proud families filled the gymnasium Sunday afternoon for commencement exercises as they do every spring.

One of the reasons so many former graduates returned could have been Larry Croker.

The legendary Southland principal is retiring after over three decades as an educator.

Let's not forget the beautiful Mrs. Croker, Joanne. She's retiring, too, as a teacher and most recently principal at Sacred Heart Catholic School.

Jon Ellerbusch of South Dakota has been hired to replace Mr. Croker. It's an unenviable task and I wish Mr. Ellerbusch well.

I tried to interview Mr. Croker Sunday afternoon and ask him if this, his last Southland commencement, was more emotional than any other.

True to form, he replied, "I'm too busy to even think about something like that."

Mr. Tompkins does this every year. After welcoming everyone to the commencement exercise, he speaks directly to the graduates. "We always say around here, once a Rebel always a Rebel. You're always welcome to come back here and we'll try to help you any way we can."

Who knows? Maybe, Adams is like Lake Woebegone, where all the women are beautiful, all the men strong and all the children are above average.

Nahhhhhhhh ……. I was thinking of Dexter.

It must have been a slow news day last week for the Monitor Review in order to run that Tom Cruise look-alike picture on the front page.