May 26, 2006


Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen


My wife and I have been practicing for the approaching Ely Memorial Graduation Ceremony by attending a couple of college graduation ceremonies these last two weeks. Not that it was a chore, mind you. We did have two children who participated in the ceremonies.

The first was our second child, Adria, whom graduated from St. Scholastica with a BA in Biology. The second was our first child, Alexa, whom graduated from the University of Wisconsin/Superior with a BA in music education. It was only by chance and choice that they both graduated within one week of each other. Adria was able to catch up to her older sister by chance that her older sister's music degree is a five-year degree. Alexa had the pleasure of seeing her younger sister graduate six days before her due to Adria taking advantage of Minnesota's program for the academically ambitious. I am referring to PSEO (Post Secondary Education Opportunity) where high school students can get up to two years of college while still in high school.

Not only did we enjoy watching our two daughters graduate with honors from there respective institutions, but we saw other graduates from Ely's fine high school also grace a stage wearing a mortarboard upon their brow.

At St. Scholastica there were four in total that graduated from Ely. Of those four Elyites, two graduated as Webster Scholars, which is Scholastica's more demanding honors program. These bright kids needed not only to maintain at least a 3.5 average in their course work, but also take honor classes and achieve superior grades in those as well. Out of some 460 graduates at Scholastica there were only 15 Webster scholars. Ely can be proud that two of these scholars were from Ely. No other small town came close to that. One was our Adria and the other was a two year PSEO student who has graduated two years ahead of his high school classmates. His name is Joe Manlove. Joe will be going onto graduate school this fall, as will Adria. The other graduates from St. Scholastica were Tina Jonas and Jacob Dahlin. Jacob was also a PSEO student and graduates before his fellow Ely classmates as well.

This last Saturday we saw Alexa fulfill her dream of graduating as an instrumental music teacher from UWS. She will be moving later this summer to Alaska to take a position as a band teacher in a state that has even more bears and wolves than Minnesota. Also, graduating from Ely with honors was Jeremy Niscola.

All these Ely scholars are to be congratulated for their accomplishments. Sadly, we have seen some Ely High School alumni drop out of college for one reason or another. It is no easy task to graduate. Only 27% of adults in the United States graduate from college with a bachelor's degree. Of those who enter college in the United States sadly about a third drop out and never return.

I do not know if Ely's college aspirants echo that of the United States in general, but my gut feeling is that those who thrived in high school academically will thrive in college as well. And those from Ely who have the focus and thirst for knowledge to partake of PSEO seem to have a very high success rate to graduate from college.

As we all know, most of these gifted people never return to our fair city due to a lack of employment opportunities for their exceptional skills. However, we should take pride that Ely more than adds to the pool of educated talent in this great country. It reminds me of when Ely lead the country in men who joined the armed forces based on % of the population. Ely is definitely providing more than its share of scholars. If you are lucky enough to be going to this year's graduation of Ely Memorial seniors, I hope you realize you are looking at our country's shining future.



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