When the Yellow Medicine East Class of 2017 receives their diplomas this Friday evening, it will mark the 125th year since high school graduations have taken place in this school district. The first graduating class from Granite Falls High School received their diplomas in 1892. According to Carl and Amy Narvestad’s 1979 Granite Falls history book, there were four graduates that year and they were all girls.

The following year there were only two graduates and both were girls. In 1894, there apparently were no graduates but thereafter every year has a listing of graduates. Apparently finishing high school was more of a priority for girls than boys back then but finally that changed in 1895 when two of the six graduates were boys. The next year, 1896, the number graduating from high school fell to just one girl. 1897 had one boy out of six graduates, while the 1898 list shows three girls and no boys.

In 1899 there were six girls and two boys and in 1900 there were four girls and three boys. In 1901, the tenth year since local high school graduations started there were four girls and two boys. In the span of ten years, the local high school graduates numbered 34 girls and just 10 boys. In the following years, with the exception of 1904 and 1906, the number of graduates was ten or more and the number of boys and girls become much more even. Those graduating classes began to grow steadily through the years as the population grew and the number of boys finished high school. The Clarkfield School Centennial history book, published in 2005 lists the first Clarkfield High School graduating class, in 1905, was one girl.

In 1906, there were three girls and one boy. The list of graduates shows even numbers of girls and boys in classes that number two in 1907, four in 1908 but there was only one boy out of seven graduates in 1909 and one boy out of four graduates in 1910. In 1911 there were seven girls and four boys graduating and in 1912 there were four girls and two boys. 1913 had only two girls and one boy and 1914 listed one girl and one boy. The number of Clarkfield graduates increased to double digits in 1916, fell back to eight in 1917 but was again ten or more thereafter. Still, the number of boys was smaller than the number of girls for several more years. The listing in Narvestad’s Granite Falls history book shows that every year from 1971 through 1976, there were at least 100 Granite Falls High School graduates with a peak number of 110 graduates in 1974.

The Clarkfield School Centennial history book shows that 1976 had the highest number of graduates of Clarkfield High School with 63 students receiving their diplomas. That same year, Granite Falls High School had 105 graduates. Together, the two school districts had a whopping 168 graduates that year. That number is quite a contrast to the 49 students who will graduate from Yellow Medicine East this Friday evening. Never-the-less, high school graduation is a fine tradition and one that we are always happy to observe.

Congratulations to each and every one of the graduates and their families and best wishes in the coming years. We hope that, after getting further education, a good number of them will stay in our area or return here for good jobs and the great community that we are fortunate to have.

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The meeting room at the Kilowatt Community Center was nearly full with students and their families on May 14 as they eagerly awaited the announcement of scholarship awards from Scholarship YME. The majority of our area high school graduates are going on to colleges or technical schools next fall. To support that higher education, Scholarship YME awarded over $60,000 to 39 students who applied for scholarships this year. Many generous contributions from area businesses and community members make these wonderful scholarships possible.

It’s a great program that rewards students not only for their academic achievement but also for their community involvement and even for being employed during their high school years. Students who excel by those measures are rewarded and once again, every student who applied this year, received scholarship money. Congratulations to each of these students and thanks to the many contributors who make this great program such a strong success.

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After the Memorial Day program and in between cemetery runs, we noticed that the area campgrounds were full this past weekend. The staff at Upper Sioux Agency State Park told us that the main campground was full and that there were only a couple of open spots available in the horse campground this weekend. They also said that they could have had more campers in the lower riverside campground but that was closed due to high water on the Minnesota River earlier in the week. The camping spots at Memorial Park looked to be full. too. and the Prairie View Campground at Prairie’s Edge Casino looked to be full when we drove by. Memorial Day weekend was once again very busy. It’s great to see all those visitors to our area.