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Column: Vital schools are essential for students, community

It's the time of the year for a great transition for Rosemount and many of its families. Our children are completing another year of school. Nearly 600 of them will embark on their biggest transition yet, as they graduate from high school.

Some of the people who led their education are also making a change. Next week at the City Council meeting, we will give our commendation and best wishes to District 196 Superintendent Jane Berenz and RHS Principal John Wollersheim, who both will retire this summer.

City government doesn't run the schools, but we know they reflect our community and values. Throughout the 16 years I've served as Rosemount's mayor, Jane and her predecessor, John Currie, have maintained a wonderful record of accomplishment.

Jane's leadership has enhanced our area as a desirable destination for families seeking the best for their children. When Money magazine declared Rosemount the fourth best place in the country to be a kid, a major reason was because we are served by a "nationally recognized school district of choice."

We're also grateful that under Jane's leadership and with the support of the School Board and the voters, there has continued reinvestment in the school facilities in Rosemount. I especially value that part of the funding has gone to making our students safer, through more secure entrances, more security equipment, and better access for pedestrians and drivers. (Certainly, we'll all be pleased when the extensive project at the high school is completed this fall.)

As the principal at RHS, John has performed more than a full-time job, helping our young people achieve their goals. The community has marveled at the talent of Irish Marching Band, which carried the name of our city across the country and, through broadcasts, around the world. But music is just one of the forms of excellence at our high school. John has supported academic, athletic and artistic accomplishments.

All those ambitions make for extra work for administrators, but John and his staff have taken on the challenges. It has always been reassuring to see John when we've attended school events and discussed issues of mutual interest, and we appreciate the oversight and care he devoted to our students.

And there is another transition for one of Rosemount's educational institutions. The president of Dakota County Technical College, Tim Wynes, will retire this summer. The mission of the college is so important for our local businesses feeling the crunch of the demand for skilled workers.

Tim was already the president of Inver Hills when he took on the additional role at DCTC. While performing that double duty, he has kept DCTC strong, and has provided an additional option close to home for our graduates and for local industry.

But before those administrators clear out their desks, they will have conferred diplomas on a new round of graduates. I feel great optimism for this group of young people. I have gotten to know many of them, including the 12 students who are completing their service with the Rosemount Youth Commission. I have joined the rest of the community in cheering their commitment, including the 11 students honored by RHS this month at the ceremonial enlistment ceremony for military service.

Prospects in the job market appear a lot stronger than they were just a few years ago for some of the classes that went before. Still, Rosemount's graduates will face plenty of challenges in a world driven by technological change and political division.

For all they will experience and achieve, we hope that they will always cherish the hometown that loves them. Congratulations, and thanks to all who gave us the class of '18.