Dorr: Start of school can be an emotional time for parents and kids

In the last few days I’ve talked to a few parents whose children have gone off to college. One went with his daughter just a state away and found that a very emotional experience. Another set of parents drove their child halfway across the country to go to school.

I can remember saying goodbye the morning of the first day of kindergarten for my children. That was a gut-wrenching experience even though school was just a few blocks away. It’s not easy to let go. In fact, that’s one of the hardest – but often, best – things a parent can do.

A mother asked me a couple weeks ago what she should get for her son as he went off to college. I told her one of the best things would be some stamped, addressed envelopes and some writing paper. She told me later it didn’t sound like very good advice at the time but that, the more she thought about it, the better the idea sounded.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 parents, will feel that tug on their heartstrings this week when kindergartners begin school in the Princeton district. And some will feel the same when their child has to make the jump from North Elementary (can’t get used to that new name) to the middle school, or middle school to high school. Those are big steps, more so for some students than others. To go from being on top (fifth grade at North) to last in the pecking order (sixth at the middle school) can be quite an emotional experience at that age.

Going away for the first time to kindergarten is perhaps the hardest. While working as a playground assistant at South Elementary a few years ago I felt badly fir a girl who cried daily and asked for her mother. Three weeks later she had become a social butterfly. You will likely find as many parents as kids that find it hard to let go when their kindergarteners start school this week.

I think it’s the realization that life has forever changed that hits parents the hardest. That child will still depend on you but now other people are helping shape his or her life. And you wonder what that will bring.

There will be new friends for your daughter of son and you wonder what effect that will have. Will they be good friends or will there, somewhere along the line, be someone who will be a bad influence?

Will your child’s teacher, that year and the next and the next, be someone who will help bring your child along and be truly caring about that child’s future?

We ask our educational system to do too much these days, you know. The love and affection and nurturing that should come at home is left, in many cases, to the schools. For some reason, many parents seem to think that once their child reaches five years old, it’s the duty of the schools to raise that child.

It should be the other way around. When a five-year-old has all these new challenges thrust upon him or her, that’s the time parents should make a special effort to help their children through the difficult time of adjusting to a new world.

And that’s just as true when an 18-year-old begins college, whether it’s only a few miles away in a nearby community college, way across the state, or 1,500 miles away halfway across the country. The first days and weeks and months of college, especially away from the comfort zone of home, can be terrifying. You want to call home and ask for help but you want to show you can make it on your own. It’s hard to find that happy medium, both for parents and students, just as it is when you don’t want to be too protective those first few days of kindergarten.

I know that mother who plans to give her son stamped envelopes and paper will be hoping for a letter soon. And other mothers and fathers will be waiting this week to see if the tears of the morning turn into smiles in the afternoon on that first day of school.

It’s a scary time and it’s a happy time. The best thing you can do – be they 5 or 18 – is make sure they know they’ve got your support. They may not acknowledge it but that support is appreciated and necessary.

And then pray a lot.


(Note: This is a series that began with the year 1967 and will continue through 2017.)

Princeton teachers reached accord with the school district in January, the contract giving a 1 percent raise the first year and 3.6 the second.

Long-time Princeton auctioneer Wayne Pike joined his father Al Pike in the Minnesota State Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame.

The prison sentence of Casey Ramirez, convicted in 1984 of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine, and three months later of tax evasion, was t0 end March 31. Ramirez received concurrent sentences of 20 years. Ramirez, however, did not get out on the planned released date because he had paid only $1,810 of a $50,000 fine. He was still in a Rochester prison in June.

Princeton Bank foreclosed on Princeton Mall, known originally as George Mall, meaning the city would not collect on a $325,000 loan to developers of the mall which opened in 1981.

Rehabbing the city water tower near Mark Park, constructed in 1964, was going to cost about $202,000. (The water tower is undergoing another facelift now in September 2017.)

The graduating class at Princeton High School numbered 209,

Sales of gas ended at Park Alignment (Hy-Tech today), leaving the Cenex station (no there today) as the town’s only full-service station.

It was announced in July that Holiday Foods in Princeton (Family Pathways today) would become a Coborn’s Supermarket on Aug. 5.

Deb Peters of Princeton was named president of the national Women of Today organization which had 228 chapters in 17 states.

Mille Lacs County Sheriff Jules Zimmer, a former Princeton policeman, resigned to become police chief in North Branch. Investigator Dennis Boser was named the new sheriff in September.

Marie Kapsner and Fran Barg, both of Princeton, were chosen as the outstanding senior citizens in Mille Lacs County. They received the honor at the county fair in Princeton.

First-day enrollment in Princeton schools was 3,020, the second straight year over 3,000.

Signal lights at the intersection on LaGrande Avenue near McDonald’s went into operation, although a computer failure caused many, many delays for the first few days.

A study showed that Princeton was fourth in the state  for property taxes among non-metro communities with a population of 2,500 or more. Cambridge was 10th, Mora 25th. Taxes here averaged $1,129 on a $65,000 home. In Elk River, rated 116th, taxes averaged $707.

Incumbents Bonnie Broda and Phil Lingle, and first-time candidate Mike Ehman, were elected to three-year terms on the school board in a seven-candidate race. Voters turned down, by a 6-5 margin with more than 5,000 voting, an excess levy referendum

LeRoy Koppendrayer, a Republican from Princeton, and Leslie Schumacher, a Democrat from Princeton, were elected to the Minnesota Houses of Representatives. Incumbent Dan Stevens of Mora, a Republican, beat challenger Mardi Lacher of Princeton, a Democrat, in the Minnesota Senate race for this area. Brian Humphrey and Russell Vance were elected as City Council members for Princeton.

Todd Rust, former mayor of Princeton, died in November at age 43 of pancreatic cancer. He served two terms. Rust was also, at age 12, the youngest in the U.S. to obtain a third-class radio broadcasting license and began working at radio station WKPM in Princeton as a high school student when it opened in 1969.

As the year ended, the fate of Princeton’s 83-year-old armory was about to be decided as bids were to be opened. The city was going to purchase the building for $35,000 and then sell it to the successful bidder.



Sept. 12, 1957 – Dick Southard scored twice in a 26-6 win over Sauk Rapids in the football opener . . .  Russ Fischer, a 1955 PHS grad, came home after pitching for the Cleveland Indians farm team in North Platte, Neb. He had been offered a contract for 1955 but waited until after his sophomore year at St. John’s University to sign.

Sept. 13, 1962 – Larry Wilhelm of Princeton finished second in his class at the national drag race championship in Indianapolis with a 1957 Chevrolet, and then stopped at Minnesota Dragways in Anoka on the way home and won his class there . . . A Minneapolis man won the annual shortstop tournament at Rum River Golf Club with a 106 as Tom Peterson of Princeton tied for third in the 90-man field with a 110.

Sept. 13, 1967 – Princeton beat Sauk Rapids 38-0, outgaining the Indians 644-36 and holding a 517-13 edge in rushing yardage. Quarterback Dennis Sternquist ran for three TDs and passed for one as halfback Don McAlpine led the rushing statistics.

Sept. 13, 1972 – Anoka had a yardage edge of 490-120 in a 43-0 win over Princeton . . . When Valley City State of North Dakota played Bemidji State, former PHS players Roger Steinbrecher and Steve Carlson started for Valley City and former PHS player Tom Enger was in his fourth year as a starting running back for Bemidji.

Sept. 15, 1977 –  Princeton outgained North Branch 366-151 as Dan Murphy ran for 185 yards. But the Tigers had five turnovers and lost 21-12. A touchdown in the third quarter was the first in 20 quarters, dating back to the previous season.

Sept. 9, 1982 – Morris Schutz rolled a 755 at Kenby Lanes, breaking the 1961 record of 703 by Swede Johnson . . . Brad Wesloh (84 yards), Erik Soule (68) and Brian Dorr (52) led the PHS rushing game in a 21-12 win over Foley. Dorr also threw a touchdown pass.

Sept. 10, 1987 – Troy Scheffel made a diving catch of a Jason Miller pass to beat Chisago Lakes 13-7 in overtime . . . Kristen Koski was part of three first places as Princeton beat St. Cloud Cathedral 106-64 in swimming.

Sept. 10, 1992 – Duane Davis ran for 171 yards in 17 carries and Brad Peterson had 55 in 7 carries as Princeton beet Mahtomedi 28-14 . . . Corrine Lundell had 29 kills as Princeton beat Roseville in five sets to open the volleyball season.

Sept. 18, 1997 – Chad Carlson threw for 209 yards and Tony Stay caught 5 passes for 64 yards in a 34-21 win over Chisago Lakes . . . Nine former PHS players were on college football rosters.

Sept. 5, 2002 – An overtime fake kick that turned into a touchdown helped give Foley a 22-20 win over Princeton as Mike Patnode ran for 91 yards and a touchdown . . . The PHS volleyball team beat Cambridge as Steph Drews had 5 ace serves and 6 kills.

Sept. 6, 2007 – The Princeton Panthers (31-7), after two wins at the state tournament, lost 7-4 to Sauk Rapids as Brian Dorr had 2 of the team’s 6 hits. He led hitters at the state with a .364 average, Mark Beattie was at .286 and Jesse Zimmer at .273. The Panthers had made it to state 9 times in 10 years, missing only in 2006 . . . Phillip Klaphake threw for 189 yards and 3 touchdowns but lost 35-22 to Mankato East. Klaphake also ran for 54 yards. Ryan Fay caught 2 passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns.

Sept. 1, 2016 – Maggie Peterson scored 3 goals as Princeton beat Sartell 6-2 in the soccer season opener . . . The girls tennis team beat Brainerd 5-2, Minnewaska 4-3 and Staples-Motley 6-1 at the Brainerd Quadrangular.