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Class of ’72 donates bench to Outdoor Learning Center

The 129 surviving alumni contributed to a legacy gift at their 50th reunion in memory of their 32 classmates who have passed away.

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Members of the Park Rapids Area High School Class of 1972 presented a bench to the school as a legacy gift in honor of their 50th class reunion. Celebrating its arrival with a parade and party on Oct. 19, 2022 are, seated from left, classmates Vicki (Bishop) Walters, Violet (James) Richards, Kathy (Skoe) Tande; standing from left, Arla Wright, William Wright, Connie (Knobloch) Ball, Carey Yliniemi, Beth Yliniemi and Jim Tande.
Contributed / Vicki Walters
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The Park Rapids Area High School Class of 1972 revisited its 50th class reunion last week with the delivery of their legacy gift to their old school.

According to a release from classmate Vicki Walters, 70 classmates attended the four-day reunion last August. Among other festivities, classmates had an opportunity to help purchase a legacy gift for the high school.

Principal Jeff Johnson supported the idea, Walters said. “He requested a low-maintenance bench of neutral color. This 280-pound bench will be utilized in an Outdoor Learning Center at the high school.”

One classmate who could not attend the reunion, Randy Giese, reportedly said, “Of course I’ll donate to the legacy gift bench for our school. They gave so much to us.”

The 36-inch wide, 96” long, 45” high bench was custom-manufactured by John’s Welding of Tomah, Wis. Cut out of the bench’s backrest are the words “Park Rapids Panthers Class of 1972.”

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The bench was delivered Wednesday, Oct. 19, with classmates gathering on Main Ave. to celebrate its arrival with a parade following the traditional route of the 1970s where, according to Walters, “endless cars would ‘drag main,’ with windows rolled down, to wave at and see who’s in town that night.”

After various stops along the way to shoot pictures, the group finally arrived near the football field concession stand to dedicate the bench prior to the home football game against Thief River Falls.

“The bench is given to the school by the 129 living classmates of the Class of ’72, in honor and remembrance of the 32 classmates who have passed on to glory,” Walters said, adding that the class hopes to inspire future reunions to coordinate with the school to donate a legacy gift from their class.

To see more photos from the Class of ’72 reunion, visit the Facebook group “Park Rapids Area High School - Class of ’72” or www.classreport.org/usa/mn/park_rapids/prahs/1972.

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