North Centennial gears up

In North St. Paul, North High School has for 100 years been the centerpiece of the community - and now it’s time to pay tribute. The North High School Centennial Celebration is scheduled from Aug. 12-14.

The oldest parts of the school, first established in 1905, didn’t last long during the original “boom” of the freestanding city; a 1916 replacement building did much better. Portions of that building were still in use - as well as various later eras’ additions - in the mid-1990s, when the “New North” was built.

Generations of students walked to North, rode horseback or sledge to the school, and later rode buses and drove cars as the decades moved on. Even through the changing times, alumni can look back to a similar experience that prepared them for their later roles.

“We’re finding lots of North alums still live in the area, have friends they’ve kept since high school or married other North alumni,” reunion coordinator Shannon Slaikeu Horstman says. She graduated from North in 1995 and is heading up communications for a committee of alums.

The group has contacted members of every class they can, but are still looking for information on a number of classes (listed below). They’ve put together a schedule of events to appeal to a variety of interests, with the emphasis on participation.

On the slate of events are:

Friday, Aug. 12

7 a.m.: A prayer breakfast to kick off the three-day weekend. Longtime North St. Paul Mayor Bill Sandberg will host the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in the North High School cafeteria. Breakfast will be provided by K & J Catering and the North High Alumni Choir’s “Chorale Du Nord” will provide music. No RSVPs are needed; the cost is $10 at the door.

For information on the alumni choir, call Chuck Thysell at 645-6755.

10 a.m.: A golf tournament at the Gem Lake Golf Course. The cost of $25 per golfer includes prizes; register your foursome by calling 770-0742.

1 to 5 p.m.: The North St. Paul Historical Society Museum Open House. The museum boasts the world’s largest collection of North High School mementos, from old yearbooks to the marching shoes worn in parades by the late Palmer Rauk, North’s longtime band instructor. Stop in to refresh your memories; admission is free.

6 to 9 p.m.: A Men’s and Women’s Slow-Pitch Softball Tournament will be held at McKnight Fields, northeast of Highway 36 and McKnight Road. To register a team, call 770-0742; there will be cash prizes.

6 p.m. on: The Classic Car Show will take over downtown North St. Paul, with everything from the Model Ts enjoyed by early Polars to the street rods and muscle cars that rev up younger ones’ memories. This edition of the Friday Night History Cruze will be highlighted by the “Polar Crawl”; make your way from the VFW Post to the Legion Hall and all points in between, enjoying special food and deals from vendors, perhaps a meal or refreshment midway at a catering establishment or bar, and don’t forget to stop in at one of the many antique stores along East Seventh Avenue to pick up some memorabilia.

Saturday, Aug. 13

9 a.m. to noon: The finals of the softball tournament, at McKnight Fields.

9 a.m. to noon: Conduct yourself on a self-tour of the North St. Paul Community Center at 2290 First St. N., and the new City Hall at 2400 Margaret St. The Community Center has undergone new renovations in order to offer a coffee shop and library branch, as well as updating its fitness, meeting and recreation offerings. The new City Hall, housing enough space to grow and meet future challenges, has become a point of pride for local residents.

11:30 a.m.: Line up for the People’s Parade at the Community Center. Commemorative Centennial T-shirts, $10 each, will be available for purchase at the Community Center.

12:30 p.m.: The People’s Parade will take off from the North St. Paul Community Center, with alums parading by class.

Organizers are pulling together an alumni band for the event; call John Seppala at 644-6755 for information.

1 to 5 p.m.: North High School will be open for an open house. Visit the “Coaches’ Corner” to reminisce with former coaches and athletes, tour the school, and pick up some Polar memorabilia or a $10 commemorative T-shirt at the school store.

2:30 p.m.: Just a little more than a year after his death, Hal Norgard will be remembered in a special ceremony to rename the North High gymnasium for him. Norgard coached decades of basketball games - and generations of players - in the former North gym.

3 to 4 p.m.: A school program with alumni speakers, performances by the North alumni choir and band and a presentation by the drama club will be showcased in the North High Auditorium.

7 to 11 p.m.: Head to downtown North St. Paul for the special Centennial Street Dance.

Sunday, Aug. 14

8:30 a.m.: Registration for the District 622 Education Foundation’s Fun Run. The 5K run, which will wind through North St. Paul, will raise funds for “above and beyond” projects by students, teachers and staff in the district. Register in advance for $15 by calling Laura Hawkins at 777-7298. Registration “on the day” is $20. Each participant will get a T-shirt and there will be prizes given. Volunteers to help with the Fun Run are also being sought.

9:30 a.m.: Shotgun start for 5K Fun Run in downtown North St. Paul. Runners and walkers of all ability levels are welcome.

11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: The North St. Paul Historical Society’s annual Ice Cream Social will take place on the shores of Silver Lake. As well as ice cream, the annual affair boasts one of the best attended water-ski shows in the area, lots of food vendors, activities for the kids and classic cars on display.

Special features of this year’s social are a birthday cake for Olga Bowman, North High’s oldest living graduate, and an award ceremony for the earlier golf tournament.

Another feature of the Centennial will be the compilation of an updated North High School Alumni Directory. The Harris Publishing Company is sending out postcards requesting current contact information; alums are encouraged to respond to get their information in the updated book. The hardback books will be available for sale later in 2005.

Centennial Coordinator Shannon Slaikeu Horstman reports that planners are still looking for people willing to be class contacts for the following years: 1935, ‘39, ‘45, ‘48, ‘55, ‘58, ‘60, ‘61, ‘66, and 2001. Call her at 693-6175 if you can help.

The planning committee is also trying to secure yearbooks from all graduating classes, to be displayed and returned in good condition, but they have some gaps in the lineup. Call Joe Simms at 648-6107 if you have the yearbooks from 1963, 1973 or 1979.

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