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A message to seniors from 1941

I came across some letters from Park Rapids High School Principal Miss Vida Lewis and Superintendent Andrew Mevig. They were principal and superintendent from the mid-1930s to the mid-1940s. Both were highly respected and Miss Lewis held a position of special affection among all Park Rapids “Panthers.” Here are their messages to the senior class of 1941, a time between the Great Depression and the start of World War II.

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To the Seniors - By Miss Lewis

"It seems such a little time since you were freshmen, all scrubbed and shiny for the first day of school. How Jean’s and Ruth’s heads shone against the windowless east wall. How sharply set was Carlos’ chin.

You were closed books to us. We saw only the covers whose striking feature was the eyes, a little frightened, a little mischievous, but very, very ambitious.

Page by page, those books have opened. Dramatic episodes are revealed, such as burning school houses; triumphant scenes appear, as the class of ‘41 helps bring old PR through; but most interesting of all are those little footnotes, easily missed by many, which tell of some personal victory, some course of action set and determinedly followed in the face of obstacles. Some pages we might wish to pass over. They tell us of lost opportunities; what might have been.

It can’t be possible that now the time has come to close these volumes. On this last page I lay a flower - not an exotic one which fades in a day - but a simple virtue - your common sense. It has made you easy to live with for four years. And as we close the cover with a sigh, our minds move ahead to the future. We await, with interest, the sequel you will write."

To the seniors - By A.M. Mevig

"Adults may worry about war, profits and politics, but the important question in your minds probably is, “What’s next? Where do we go from here?”

For those of you who have planned to continue your education and are fortunate enough to have the financial backing to realize your ambition, the immediate future is fairly clear. The blueprint for the next few years will be found in school curriculum and college catalogs.

The majority of you may not be so fortunately situated, however. Your problem is to get started in some occupation or career which holds promise for the future. The question is how to get started.

Good positions are not, as a rule, open to the inexperienced. If you wait for someone to offer you a position, you will have to wait a long time unless you are extremely lucky. The best way to get started is to go work - at any job that offers, no matter how humble, provided only that it is honest. The important thing is to do something so as to keep in trim for that next job or the better opportunity, which is sure to come if you give the job you are now doing all your brains, interest and energy. It isn’t a question of how important the job, but rather, how well you are doing it, no matter how humble the task.

A famous Greek philosopher, who had made a number of enemies because he had opinions and defended them, was elected dog catcher of Athens by his enemies, who intended thereby to disgrace him. When his friends advised him to refuse the office, he replied, “If the office does not reflect credit on me, I will reflect credit on the office.”

The humblest task can be made to serve the purpose of preparing you for the next step up. Give it all you have and good luck to you.”

These letters came from the school paper, “Panther Prints” dated May 14, 1941. Classmate Dave Konshok gave me a small stack of school papers during our recent visit.

Ray Pearson

Park Rapids Class of 1944

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