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M State gears up for second semester in Park Rapids

Steve Werner, Park Rapids M State Task Force chairman, emceed a celebration luncheon Friday afternoon. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)1 / 2
Tom Whelihan, M State Detroit Lakes campus interim provost, speaks about the importance of partnerships in bringing educational opportunities to Park Rapids. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)2 / 2

M State has successfully launched classes in Park Rapids and is already gearing up for next semester.

A celebration luncheon Friday afternoon brought stakeholders together to share accomplishments and look toward the future.

M State is offering four classes in Park Rapids this fall and 33 students are enrolled.

Steve Werner, chairman of the Park Rapids M State Task Force, emceed the event.

He explained that in his family each generation has pushed their children to further their education more than the previous generation and it has worked.

"We made education a priority and it worked," he said.

Kathy Grell, Hubbard County Commissioner and chairwoman of the Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission, said that education is key to a successful future.

"We need to continue to spread the message and put pressure on new hires to continue and further their education," she said. "Not getting an education is not an option."

She encouraged the community not to take their eyes off the goal to have a secondary education presence in Park Rapids.

Dr. Peggy Kennedy, interim president of M State, read off a statistic: By the year 2018, 70 percent of jobs will require at least some higher education.

Kennedy said that although funding for higher education has decreased over the years she and other administrators are working to keep tuitions down. She is excited about the initiative to create an M State presence in Park Rapids and encourages working more with the high school.

Tom Whelihan, Detroit Lakes campus interim provost, said partnerships, such as the one between M State and the Park Rapids community, bring opportunities.

"I look forward to a long relationship," he said.

Helene Hedlund, dean of students at M State - Detroit Lakes campus, applauded the Park Rapids community and task force members for making this a reality.

"The community recognized the need and made it happen," she said.

The M State faculty who are teaching these Park Rapids classes are "going above and beyond," Hedlund said.

"I want to celebrate the students who are the true heroes and made this happen," she said.

Mark Nelson, academic advisor for M State, said his job has been to work out individual plans for students and figure out what class options work best. Some students are taking a variety of classes, including a course in Park Rapids along with an online course, he said.

"The benefit of having classes here is saving at least two hours in driving time, daycare and more," Nelson said.

He would eventually like to see a destination program in Park Rapids. Baudette offers an electrical lineman program, for example.

Rory Palm, task force member and Park Rapids Enterprise publisher, said he thought recently about the rising costs for education and the need to have a local, affordable option for students.

"We need to be in this together, talk to people and get the word out," he said.

He challenged everyone at the luncheon to find one person that could benefit from taking classes through M State and put them in touch with advisor Mark Nelson.

"We would be way ahead of the curve on filling next semester's classes," Palm said.

Werner wrapped up the event with a thank you to businesses that responded to a fundraising campaign.

"I was blown away by the response," Werner said. "So many people understood that education matters."

M State is offering the following classes in Park Rapids for the second semester:

Intro to Leadership: 6-8:50 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 19-May 3.

Intro to Public Speaking: 6-8:50 p.m. Mondays, Jan. 16-April 30.

Power and Communication in Human Relations: 6-8:50 p.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 18-May 2.

Intro to Computer: 6-8:50 p.m. Tuesdays, Jan. 17-May 3.

Financial Accounting I: 6-7:20 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, Jan. 16-May 2.

Financial Accounting I Lab: 7:30-8:20 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, Jan. 16-May 2.

Spreadsheet Applications: 5-8:50 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 19-May 3.

Make an appointment with an M State advisor by calling 218-255-4881 or e-mailing

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561