Nathan's favorite stories of 2013School stories, bike stories are common in this year's list
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
I spend a lot of my reporting time covering Rosemount’s schools, and it’s a part of my job I like a lot. I?feel like there are a lot of great stories there that don’t get the attention they deserve. So it probably makes some sense that many of my favorite stories in 2012 took place in schools. Starting with this one:
Last year at this time I wrote about a group of Rosemount Middle School students and their success as world champions in Destination ImagiNation competition. At the end, I said I hoped to see them do more impressive things in 2012.
Well, they did. And here they are again.
The group of then-seventh graders didn’t bring home another global title – they finished third, which is nothing to sneeze at – but the project they took on is more than a little impressive. The six students held a 24-hour swim marathon last March that drew hundreds of swimmers – some from as far away as Atlanta – and raised more than $10,000 to fight muscular dystrophy. Each of the girls personally swam more than 500 lengths of the RMS pool.
They didn’t just want to do good. They wanted to break world records.
That’s a big job for a group of middle schoolers to take on, but I’m not shocked they had the kind of success they did. After two years of talking with this group I know they’re smart, energetic, outgoing and motivated. They have fun doing what they’re doing, and I have a lot of fun talking to them about it.
The girls are all in eighth grade now. I have no idea if they will be back for another round of DI. If they are, though, you just might see them in this space again next January.
We’ll stay at Rosemount Middle School for the second item on this year’s list. We’ll stay in the same month, too. We’ll even involve some of the same students doing some of the same activities, although in an entirely different context.
In 2011, RMS teacher Nathan Ilse launched a triathlon club at the school. For five weeks he led a group of interested students on runs through the RMS hallways or on swims in the school’s pool. In March, the group traveled to Maple Grove to compete in an indoor triathlon.
Ilse, who competes in triathlons himself, thought it might be fun to spread the activity among the students at RMS. He had no idea until the day of the competition just how much he would enjoy himself.
“This day has been about 10 times as fun as I thought it would be,” he said last March. “I’m on cloud nine.”
I had fun, too. We hear a lot of concern these days about obese children, so it was good to see students take an interest in getting out and getting active. It was even better to hear this wasn’t the first triathlon for many of the students. Three of the students finished in the top 10 among all entrants in the competition.
I can understand Ilse’s enthusiasm for the project. Being in that fitness club was probably the most fun I’ve had watching someone run on a treadmill.
Fighting in the family
Karter Holthusen is modest, soft-spoken, polite and not at all what I expected from someone whose hobby involves punching and choking other people into submission.
I don’t watch ultimate fighting. I don’t have any interest in it. But it’s a big deal for Holthusen, a student at Rosemount High School. He got involved two years ago and hopes to make it a profession once he’s old enough. When I talked to him last June he had a record of 42-10 as a 16-year-old fighting mostly against grown men. He hopes to get into full-fledged ultimate fighting once he turns 18.
Kasey Noll, Holthusen’s sister, has found a passion for the competitions too. She’s a photographer, and she’s found a niche taking pictures of people as they try to knock each other out.
For the pair, it’s become a unique, sometimes bloody form of sibling bonding. I don’t claim to understand it, but I can respect it. And I’m glad I got to see at least a little bit of it.
On the bike
I bike a lot. That shouldn’t be a surprise to any regular readers of the Town Pages. So, it also shouldn’t come as a surprise that two of my favorite stories from 2012 involved people riding bicycles. I’m lumping them together, but it’s my list so I can do that.
The first story involves a group of riders who gathers each week during the warmer months of the year on a little-used road behind Dakota County Technical College. There, working like a team in the Tour de France, they practice their sprints, the high-energy, high-speed bursts professionals use to finish a race. They ride back and forth for an hour or so. It’s a good workout, and a good chance to practice some little-used cycling skills. I haven’t had a chance yet to take part, but it looks like a lot of fun.
The other biking story is a little more formal. 2012 was the first year of mountain biking as an organized high school sport in Minnesota, and Independent School District 196 was one of several schools and districts to field a team.
The team itself wasn’t hugely successful, at least in terms of wins. But it was valuable because it introduced many young riders to the sport. Some team members, including two brothers from Rosemount, didn’t even own mountain bikes until they joined.
I don’t ride a mountain bike. I like having solid pavement under my wheels. But I can see a lot of value in having the team. It’s introducing students to an activity they can do for years. Whether the team wins or loses, that is worth something.
From RHS to …
I spend a lot of time each year writing about students at Rosemount schools. Every once in a while, I catch up with some RHS graduates a few years down the road.
This year, there were three RHS graduates who had interesting stories to tell.
The first was Bennett Olson, who gained attention around Minnesota and around the world when he took out a billboard in hopes of getting a job. It was a bold move by a young man not content to wait out the traditional job search process in a challenging economy, and it paid off. He had a job within a month.
The second was Jared Sipe, who traveled halfway around the world last July to play a game most people only know from the pages of Harry Potter novels. Sipe was a student at the University of Minnesota last year when he was chosen to represent the United States in an international quidditch tournament held in advance of the summer Olympics in London. His team won, and Sipe had a great time playing a game on the international stage just a couple of years after he picked it up on a whim.
Finally, there was Tone Hoeft, who graduated from RHS in 2005 with plans to become a minister. Plans change, though, and through a combination of hard work and luck, Hoeft found himself working for a production company in Los Angeles. Among other things, he has worked as head writer for the Hallmark Channel’s Hero Dog Awards. That job gave him the opportunity to write sketches for Betty White, who told him he was a very funny young man, then gave him a kiss on the cheek.
It also gave Hoeft a pretty good story to tell when he came home for Thanksgiving.
It’s always interesting to find out where students go once they leave Rosemount schools. These three students have had very different experiences, but they each had fascinating stories to tell.