Mingo Barracks #3247

The Mingo Barracks of World War I Veterans was organized and chartered in 1963 to serve the Great War veterans who lived in the southwestern corner of Goodhue County. Members were from the Kenyon, Wanamingo, and Zumbrota area.

The Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A. was a national organization whose purpose was to help World War I veterans be recognized for their service and receive better pensions and hospitalization assistance. First, organized in 1948, Congress incorporated the WWI veterans in 1958.

Barracks was the name given to local chapters, with the official name for members being “Buddies.”

The local barracks held meetings into the early 1980s before disbanding as members passed away, and membership dwindled.

American Education Week

American Education, a celebration of our public school community, is annually celebrated the week before Thanksgiving, with each day of the week having its theme. During the week, administrative staff, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, classroom teachers, custodians, and paraprofessional staff are honored for their dedication to providing students a high-quality education.

In 1919, the National Education Association and the American Legion members met to generate support for public education after finding out that 25% of the World War I draftees were illiterate.

A resolution drafted in 1921 by the NEA called for: “An educational week to be observed in all communities annually for the purpose of informing the public of the accomplishments and needs of public schools and to secure the cooperation and support of the public in meeting those needs.” The American Legion and the NEA were cosponsors of the first observance of American Education Week in 1921.

Monday of American Education Week is designated as a day to kick off a week of celebrating education excellence.

Tuesday is Parents Day. Parents, their child’s first teachers, must take an active role in their children’s education. Research shows that parental involvement in school improves student achievement.

Educational Support Professionals are celebrated on Wednesday. This year, this group of people has helped keep students safe, healthy, and ready to learn amid a pandemic.

Thursday is scheduled for Visiting Educator Day, although it is doubtful that it will occur this year.

Typically, on this day, a visiting educator would perform the duties of a regular school employee, whether teaching a class, working in the cafeteria, or other responsibilities.

Substitute teachers are recognized on Friday for their vital role in maintaining a continuity of daily education in the absence of the regular classroom teacher.

More than any other year, educators and support staff need to be honored this year with so many changes in how our young people’s education is being delivered to them. Starting last spring, when everything in education was turned upside down because of the pandemic to this school year, changes in the school format have been forced to change to protect students’ safety.

Cookie sale

After an extended brainstorming session at the November Kenyon Area Historical Society meeting, it was decided to have the annual cookie and holiday treat sale on Dec. 5, from 9 a.m. to noon.

In this day and age, there will be changes to the way this fundraiser is done. In the past, people selected cookies displayed on platters and tins in the Gunderson House. This year, due to the virus, cookies may be preordered and picked up the day of the sale.

Information concerning the types of cookies available for sale and how to place orders will be announced later.

Reenie Bars

Within a few days last week, Marlin and Oryen “Reenie” Benrud passed away after being married for over 57 years.

Reenie grew-up in Cherry Grove Township and attended Dale Lutheran Church. She was a graduate of St. Olaf College and taught music at Stillwater High School. During those years, her high school choir often made trips to give concerts at Wanamingo High School. She also directed numerous Sunday School Christmas programs at Dale Church.

Many people will remember Reenie as the Norseman Chorus director made up of singers from Kenyon, Wanamingo, West Concord and Zumbrota. The group did not have a designated place to practice and were known to hold rehearsals sitting on feed sacks in the Bellechester Supply Feed Store owned by the Benruds. In addition to their annual concert, the Norseman also sang at churches, senior care facilities, and other outdoor programs during the summer.

For the staff at Kenyon-Wanamingo Elementary School, Reenie was famous for “Reenie Bars.”

A large jelly roll pan of these bars magically appeared in the teacher’s lounge on the days of the KWES Christmas Concert and in the spring for the Grandparents Day program. Even retired teachers who attended those programs were known to sneak downstairs to the lounge to enjoy a Reenie Bar.

Kevin Anderson is a guest columnist for The Kenyon Leader.

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