School reunion held in Lake Henry Saturday

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 6/28/00.

All-school reunion The Lake Henry All School Reunion drew more than 240 people to the Lions Park in Lake Henry Saturday.

Registered attendance at the day-long event was 240 people, but the organizing committee estimated another 125 people came in the evening to socialize and listen to the polka band.

The festivities got started in the early afternoon. A program was held around 2 p.m.

During the program, former teachers and the organizing committee were recognized, former pupils sang a number of songs, and Lester Wuertz reflected on school days in Lake Henry.

The school in Lake Henry started in 1886 and closed in 1971. It began as a one-room school, but for most of its 85-year life it was a two-room school with eight grades.

A complete ledger of enrollment in the school is impossible because early records have been lost, but the school had 63 students in eight grades in 1921. In 1933, there were 53 students, almost the same as the 55 in 1943.

When it closed in 1971, the school still had 32 students in grades four, five, and six alone.

Wuertz recalled the daily lesson schedule and the daily chores at the country school. He also remembers the sound of the teacher's book flying in his direction, asking, "Do you dare to duck?" That drew nods and grins from the audience.

"I've got some pretty big ears," Wuertz added, "but I notice some of you do, too. I can personally attest that you don't need a pliers to pull someone to their feet."

The most dreaded words to be uttered at the country school, though, were, according to Wuertz: "If you don't behave, I'll tell your parents."

Rob Kraemer, the song leader for the program, still gets asked about attending country school, even though he attended school for only one year in Lake Henry before the school closed. He said his favorite part of country school were the morning, noon, and afternoon recesses. At the big school in Paynesville, they didn't get as many breaks, he said.

Kramer was helped in leading the songs by the Herb Schneider Band, led by another former Lake Henry student.

During the program, ten teachers were recognized. Kathleen Garvey Wuertz, Edna Young Brick, Florence Czech Detloff, Teckla Czech, Scegure, Berniece Lauerman Schwegel, Pat Murphy Hlebain, Ruth Mueller Vogt, Ruth Thelen Kramer, and Lenore Schrom Wilmes were recognized for teaching in Lake Henry. Mary Ann Ludwig Fasbender was recognized as a former Lake Henry student who went on to become a teacher.

Wuertz, who came to Lake Henry as a teacher over 50 years ago from Mannanah, taught in Lake Henry for 16 years. She taught 31 years total in country schools, where teachers had to cover the whole gamut of teaching subjects and administrative duties. She also substitute taught for 10 years.

For her the highlight was "just meeting old students and having them come back and talk to me and see if I know them."

At the program, the organizing committee for the reunion was recognized. Its members were John and Mary Horn, Bill and Martha Hopfer, Alvin and Mary Ann Meyer, Jim and Sue Brick, Ruth Kraemer, Kathleen Wuertz, and Mary Ann Fasbender.

Horn, who was given a captain's hat to wear for his organizational efforts for the reunion, said he and others have thought about an all-school reunion for ten years. He said they decided they needed to do it while students were still around and they were still able to undertake the organization of the event.

"Great day!" Horn exclaimed. "Everybody is happier than larks, and so are we. It's nice to get a good response when you put this much work into it."

"There are people here I haven't seen since grade school," he added.

In the afternoon, reunion goers had time to check out the display of class pictures, school rosters, penmanship samples, and various news stories and snapshots about Lake Henry.

A pork chop dinner was served at 5 p.m.

Father Leo Leisen led a polka mass at 8 p.m. with the assistance of Stan's Country Dutchmen. The band then played music until midnight.

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