Four vie for two seats on Wakonda School Board

Four vie for two seats on Wakonda School Board Voters residing in the Wakonda School District will go to the polls Tuesday, June 19 to elect two new members to the Wakonda School Board.

Incumbents Teresa Donahue, president of the board, and Linda Jorgensen have decided not to seek re-election.

A slate of four candidates � Linda Anderson, Daryl Henriksen, Beth Melstad and Ron Nelson � are vying for the two upcoming vacancies on the board.

The top two vote-getters Tuesday will each serve three-year terms.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the day of the election. The polling place is the small Wakonda School gymnasium.

Voters with disabilities may contact Business Manager Carol Mayer for information and special assistance in absentee voting or polling place accessibility by calling 605-267-2644.

Following are the responses of the four school board candidates to a Plain Talk questionnaire.

Beth (Nelsen) Melstad

Age: 27

Family: Husband Brad; Daughters Kyleigh, 3 and Haleigh, 1

Occupation: Human resources assistant, The University of South Dakota

Education: K-12, Wakonda Public School; Nettleton Junior College

Hobbies/Interests: Camping, boating, walking and attending sporting events

Why are you running for election to the Wakonda School Board?

As someone who grew up in the community and has now moved back to raise a family here, I am especially interested in making sure my children, as well as the other children of the community, receive a well rounded education at Wakonda. I also believe that in order to explore all sides of an issue a school board should represent a broad spectrum of the district. As a female and a younger member of the community I could bring an additional view to the board.

What kind of school board member would you be?

I would like to be a member that the community feels comfortable asking questions to. If someone wants to know why the board decided to do something a certain way I want them to come ask me. If everyone is informed why a decision was made, it eliminates misunderstandings.

What are the biggest challenges facing the Wakonda School District?

With open enrollment, Wakonda, as well as other small schools, faces the possibility that the same students may not return from year to year. As the students reach high school age they may think that they are missing out on some classes that they could be receiving at a larger school. I believe this is totally false. With Long Distance Learning, not to mention the Internet, the children (elementary and high school) at Wakonda have an undiscovered "gold mine" in their own back yard. If there is sincere interest by the child there is not a subject that cannot be learned with these tools. I think with more awareness of what could be an "expanded" curriculum as well as the building and updating of the current facilities, Wakonda is well on its way to overcoming some of its biggest challenges.

If you could change something about the Wakonda School system tomorrow, what would it be?

It would be to find a way to pay our faculty more so we can attract and keep good teachers. Too many times small schools get used as a stepping stone because we can't afford to pay them what they can make elsewhere.

What is your number one goal if elected?

My main goal would be to make decisions that will have a positive effect on the school as well as the community.

Ronald L. Nelson

Age: 47

Family: My wife, Cyndi and two children, Heath and Lindsay

Occupation: Farmer and livestock producer

Education: Graduate of Wakonda High School and attended South Dakota State University for two years

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy golf, hunting, sports and school and community activities.

Why are you running for election to the Wakonda School Board?

Because there are many difficult questions facing our small schools with even tougher answers and decisions. I don't pretend to know what those answers should be, but I am not afraid to take the challenge.

What kind of school board member would you be?

I have been a member of the Star Township Board for several years, served on the SD Pork Council Executive Board, Clay County Pork Producers Council, Clay County Fair Board, SD Value Added Ag Committee and I am a member of the Wakonda Development Board. I feel my background as an active member in these diverse groups will aid me in serving as a fair and responsible representative for the Wakonda School District.

What are the biggest challenges facing the Wakonda School District?

I feel the biggest challenge facing the district is to maintain and increase enrollment so that we may continue to offer quality education with adequate funding to our students.

If you could change something about the Wakonda School system tomorrow, what would it be?

To encourage and insure a working relationship with other schools to share teachers and technology to be able to remain competitive with larger schools.

What is your number one goal if elected?

To bring pride and spirit back to the Wakonda community by improving our school facilities and continuance of providing quality education.

General comment:

I commend the school board for having the courage to go forward with the current building project for our students (present and future) and teaching faculty. We, as a community, need to look at all of our assets as a viable tool to keep the community alive and growing in the future.

Daryl W. Henriksen

Age: 46

Family: Wife, Donna; three children, Katrina, 2001 graduate of Wakonda High School, Kimberly, a sophomore, and Kevin, a fifth-grader at Wakonda

Occupation: Farmer

Education: 1972 graduate of Wakonda High School

Hobbies/Interests: Member of Pleasant Valley Lutheran Church; Supervisor for Riverside Township; Clay County Weed Board member

Why are you running for election to the Wakonda School Board?

I'm running for the school board because I feel my opinions and ideas could help solve many of the tough decisions that will have to be made in the future.

What kind of school board member would you be?

I would have an open mind and listen to all sides of the problems and concerns we would be facing. Then I would try to find the right and best possible answer.

What are the biggest challenges facing the Wakonda School District?

1) The building project; 2) Open enrollment; 3) The possibility of consolidation; 4) Keeping and hiring qualified staff; 5) Working with the system the state has for funding schools; 6) The mascot. I feel these are just a few of the challenges.

If you could change something about the Wakonda School system tomorrow, what would it be?

To undo the hard feelings that have come between members of the community over the school bond issue.

What is your number one goal if elected?

Make sure the students have the opportunity for the best education possible.

General comment:

The Wakonda School District is and will be faced with many challenges, but so is every other school district in the state. I feel there is an answer to these challenges and concerns if we all work together as school board, staff and community.

Linda "Denzin"

Anderson

Age: 41

Family: Bruce Anderson, husband, Adam Anderson, 17, son, Ashley Anderson, 13, daughter

Occupation: Manager of human resources for Harker's Distribution, Inc.

Education: Wakonda High School graduate, recipient of bachelor of science degree in human resource management

Hobbies/Interests: The most important hobby/interest is spending time with my family, following our children's activities, golfing and reading.

Why are you running for election to the Wakonda School Board?

I believe that basic principles should guide a school and community � principles that will make a promise or commitment to our children! Our children are our number one priority! As a parent and community member, I recognize the importance and that our responsibility is to provide the best education we can to our families and community in which we live. To view education as an investment, as the students today are our future tomorrow. I believe these basic principles must be the guide for the future decisions as a school board member.

What kind of school board member would you be?

I believe I would be a member with a "beginner's mind." Our intellect, which is our "original mind," includes everything within itself. I would like to think, that it does not mean a closed mind. Instead a ready mind. If your mind is ready, it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities. Having had the opportunity to work in the business office for a large school, I believe that has provided me with the knowledge and ability to ask questions, for the community as well as for myself.

What are the biggest challenges facing the Wakonda School District?

Obviously, one of the major challenges facing the Wakonda School District is the future direction of education within the school district. We all have been captivated by the elections surrounding the school bond vote. Many of us glued in conversations, listening to each person's view, speaking their opinions as to why they voted yes or no. Just as the stock market, which dislikes uncertainty, our community is experiencing some real life lessons. It is imperative, however, for all of us to have an understanding and respect whatever the path may be for the Wakonda School District. I am confident that we as a community will unite together and adapt to whatever the direction may present for the future.

If you could change something about the Wakonda School system tomorrow, what would it be?

These last few months, many within the community have been asked to change their view and opinion in looking ahead at the Wakonda School System of tomorrow. Transformation is not easy, nor is it smooth. Our community is adjusting to a new view in the windshield. There will be those that resist change and those that will embrace it. Ultimately, we must not forget that our children are the priority, which must benefit from our efforts. Don't get caught looking in the rear view mirror because the road ahead is full of opportunity and requires "clear" vision.

What is your number one goal if elected?

Maybe there will be no change, but if elected I certainly believe in the cause and want to bring whatever change there may be in a pro-active way. Like you, I believe in education and am willing to give it all I can.

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