Tri-County School History
Tri-County School was created through the consolidation of three school districts: Lake Bronson, Strandquist, and Karlstad. A fourth K-8 school existed in Halma, Minnesota with 9-12 grades attending Karlstad High School. Compiled below are histories of each of the schools that helped to form Tri-County School.
Strandquist School History
A petition for organizing a school district was headed by Swen Renstrom and A.P. Lundstrom. School District No. 65 was granted organization on April 2, 1892, and was comprised of all of Lincoln Township, Marshall County, Minnesota. The first teacher in the district was Miss Carrie Carlson, who taught a four-week term in 1892. There was no schoolhouse, and classes were held at the home of N. P. Sjodin.
A special school meeting was held at the Ingel Johnson home on February 18, 1893. The minutes (taken from the Lincoln Township secretary's notes) of this meeting are as follows:
The meeting was called to order by Swen Renstrom. It was resolved that we build two school houses in this town, the North Schoolhouse to be built on section 8 in the center of the west line. (This school became known as the Andrew Boen school.) The house is to be 16x20 feet large inside, 10 feet high from the bottom to the roof outside, and 8 feet from the floor to the ceiling inside and to have four windows 14x24 inches in size. The house is to be built out of logs, each settler to furnish 140 feet of timber not to be less than 6 inches through after it is barked, each settler to do his share of the work building the house, if not he is to pay one dollar a day and he is to work 10 hours a day. Lumber and shingles and doors and windows to be bought. The price of each foot of logs for the schoolhouse is set at two cents a foot. The house is to be built up and ready to shingle by the last of June, 1893. I.L. Strandberg was elected building boss. L. C. Nilson was to collect money to buy the lumber.
The South school house to be built on the northwest quarter of section 29 and to be 16x18 feet large on the inside and have four windows four feet in size each. And the house is to be 11 feet high from the bottom of the roof outside, and to be 9 feet high from the floor to the ceiling inside and to be built out of logs. Each settler is to furnish 8 logs full length if they can be found but no log to be smaller than 7 inches through. Shingles, lumber, doors, and windows to be bought. The house is to be built up ready to put on the roof by the last of June, 1893. J. Senstrom and E. A. Bloom were elected building bosses. Each settler is to work his share of the work and to work 10 hours a day at one dollar a day. These notes were written by S.C. Nilson, clerk and also signed by S. Renstrom, secretary of the meeting.
On April 27, 1893, another special school meeting was held at the J.M Johnson place to elect a school board. S. Renstrom was elected clerk, E. A. Bloom, treasurer, and G. Asplund. These three men made up the first school board of District No. 65, Lincoln Township, Marshall County, Minnesota.
On September 14, 1900, a petition for the organization of District No. 90 to be comprised of the east half of the township was granted by the county board. Carl Nelson, C.K. Koland, and Louis Nelson were elected as the first school board. The first classes were held at the home of K. K. Koland. Schoolhouses for District 90 were built on the northwest corner of section 11 and on the northwest corner of section 26.
By the early 1900's the village of Strandquist had come into existence and desired a school of its own. Accordingly, a petition for the organization of a school district to be comprised of the south half sections 15 and 16 and all of sections 21, 22, 27, 28, 33, and 34 in Lincoln Township was presented to the county board. The petition was granted and E. T. Hanlotti, C. M. Carlson, and Lewis Anderson were elected as the first board of directors of District No. 129.
A schoolhouse was built in 1905. This building was sold in 1916 to Erick Lefrooth for $530, and it was also the home of the Mission Covenant Church. This building was later purchased by Bertha Palm, and was her home for many years.
In 1915, the rural districts consolidated into the Strandquist Consolidated District No. 65. The board members at the time of consolidation were Lewis Anderson, director; James E. Paulson, clerk; and J. J. Oistad, treasurer. Also in 1915, a brick building was erected for the cost of $20,176 on the NW corner of the SE 1/4 of section 22. G. L. Netteland was superintendent at the time. In 1933, the school was free from debt after having paid the school bond. The taxes for the school were 27 mills for the rural districts and 44 mills for the city. The total number of pupils enrolled at that time was approximately 150.
SHS entered athletics in the 1920's. Basketball was the major sport throughout the years beginning in 1921. O. W. Yngve was superintendent and coach from 1921-1924. Early players were Alton Sjodin, Loyal Oistad, Kenneth Stennes, Bert Benson, Ole Koland, Herb Oistad, Joe Koland, Torben Johnson, and Laurence Raymond. The first winning season come in 1922-23 when they won five and lost four.
The 1925 SHS baseball season was very successful. This team, coached by F. M. Pringle, challenged any baseball team in the state. That challenge was published in the Minneapolis Tribune.
The first band was organized in 1931 under the direction of Mr. Holje. There were nineteen members. Two other early directors were Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Vollum. The band was busy playing on many occasions, giving concerts, and playing at neighboring towns. The band existed until the late forties.
In the late 30's, a south addition to the school was constructed by the W. P. A for the total cost of $69, 415.69, with the W. P. A contributing $37,784.79 toward this cost. The addition doubled the size of the original building. School board members at this time were C. T. Gustafson, clerk; George R. Rasmussen, treasurer; Martin Myskowski, president; and O. J. Huset, Edward Boen, and L. Koland, directors. C. Holje was superintendent at this time.
1940 saw SHS taking part in several sports, including basketball, baseball, track, football, and volleyball. Some of the athletes at that time were Gordon Nelson, Philip Hourgard, Ed Youraway, Douglas Thun, Ardis Anderson, Laurel Holmland, Rudy Linstrom, G. B. Krantz, Rudolph Roner, Orville Madsen, Melford Boen, Warren Emery, Lloyd Lindstrom, Wallace Onger, Ivan Kimbrough, Pleasant Wayne, and Wilfred Smith.
1946 was one of the most challenging basketball seasons for the players. There was no coach, so the eight players coached themselves. Five of the eight were Andersons, only two of which were related. They had a successful season.
In 1951, the Sunnyside School was moved from District 130 into Strandquist. It served as a classroom for grades one and two. After the fire of 1959, it was the superintendent's office. When construction of the new school started, Sunnyside School was moved one block north of its present location. It was used for a band house for a number of years, then as a storage area. Sunnyside was completely restored by the shop classes during the 1989-1990 school year. Visitors can now go inside and see what the original one room school looked like.
In 1955, a new gymnasium was built on the north side of the school at the approximate cost of $90,000. Prior to the building of the new gym, the school had used the town hall for its activities. On February 3, 1956, the first basketball game was played in the new gym and the class of 1956 was the first class to graduate in it.
The 1955 basketball season ended with 14 wins and 6 losses. The team was able to finish the season in the new gym. It was during that season that the rivalry with Karlstad began. Strandquist lost to them in overtime in the first game, but won the second game by two points.
1958 and 1959 were successful seasons for the basketball team. The '58 season ended with 20 wins and 6 losses. The Warriors placed high in the sub-district and district tournaments in 1959. They were honored as "Team of the Week" on KNOX-TV that year. The team consisted of Jerry Carlson, Jim Larson, Robert Blazejewski, Roger Kasprowicz, Richard Kasprowicz, Robert Stennes, Doug Wikstrom, Donald Larson, Robert Kline, Jerry Szczepanski, Richard "Pete" Kasprowicz, Merril Stennes, and Coach Jim Musburger. Musburger was named "Coach of the Week" and James Larson was named "Player of the Week".
In 1958, a high school band was again organized. Mr. Earl Lindahl directed the 28 member group. A Band Mothers' Club was also formed. Shirley Lefrooth was the president and Lucille Haugen the treasurer. They were an active group, putting on bake sales, cake walks, raffles, and a minstrel show to raise money for uniforms. Another helpful person was Mrs. Florence Stennes, who sewed draperies for the band room and altered uniforms when necessary.
Tragedy struck the community on one of the coldest nights of 1959. On the night of January 31, defective wiring on the first floor of the oldest section of the school apparently shorted out. By the time the fire was discovered, it had gained such headway that the firemen from neighboring communities were devoted to saving the newest part of the school, the gymnasium.
Everything was lost in the building, including many personal possessions of teachers and pupils. The $350,000 loss was partially covered by $155,000 in insurance.
Within two weeks, classes were being held at various places in town. The gym had been divided into classrooms for grades one through eight. High school classes were held at the town hall (formerly the Mission Church), Catholic Hall, Sunnyside, and in a garage. Only the milk program continued, so students had to bring their own lunches. There was tremendous cooperation among the people and neighboring schools even loaned books and equipment they were not using.
In 1959, construction of the present school was started for the approximate cost of $175,000. Voters of the district approved a $30,000 bond issue. The State Department of Education gave $20,000 for the purchase of books, supplies, and equipment. Architects for the project were Wells and Denbrook, and the contractor was Dean L. Witcher. School board members at that time were Julius Kleinwachter, president; Paul Flaten, vice president; Ed Stennes, clerk; Severt Setten, treasurer; Daryl Haugen, director; and Isaac Thompson, director. Leon Orcutt was superintendent.
After doing well in post-season play in 1959, the basketball team advanced to the district championship game in 1960. They played a tough Argyle team that beat them by a 43-42 score.
In 1960, a special band award was started for Strandquist students. It was the John Philip Sousa Band Award. Ina Lou Nelson was the first recipient. Following recipients were Richard Thomson, Robert Thompson, Elladean Wikstrom (64,68), Alva Flaten (65, 68) Orpha Flaten, Elaine Lefrooth, Emory Flaten, Deborah Haugen, Mary Ellen Flaten, Debra Thun, Becky Haugen, David Hendrickson, Michelle Boen, Robert Berggren, Patty Kuznia and Janeen Borowicz (79). The last John Philip Sousa Band Award was presented on May 23, 1991. The last student to receive this award was Jennifer Anderson.
The Strandquist High School Concert Band made the community proud in 1968-69. Under the direction of Mr. Paul Bacigalupi, the group recorded an LP album.
The basketball teams had their ups and downs during the sixties. The seventies brought better things for the teams. They placed second in the sub-district tournaments both in 1972 and in 1974. I 1976, sub-district tournaments were eliminated and changed to a district format. The 1977-78 Warrior team won their first ever conference championship.
On September 3, 1974, the community turned to watch the Warrior girls play their first game of basketball. After an exciting victory over Lancaster by a 34-17 score, the crowds at girls' games became as large as at boys' games. Those first "Lady Warriors" included Roberta Adamski, Martha Haugen, Debbie Holmstrom, Patty Kuznia, Carol Nelson, Lois Kleinwachter, Loretta Swanson, Karen Grochowski, Kathy Holmstrom, Patty Nelson, Becky Storeby, and Tammy Westman. The coach was Mark Rieger and the squad finished the season with a 10 win and 4 loss mark. From 1975 to 1979 their coach was John Rokke. In 1977-78, their best year, the girls finished the year with 15 wins and 2 losses and captured the Northern Lights Conference Championship with 10 wins and no losses.
During the 1987-88 season, the community watched the last Warrior girls basketball team play their games. Larina Berggren was the last "Lady Warrior" to be name a member of the All-Conference team.
The final girls' game that was played in the Strandquist gym was a victory over Lake of the Woods. It was also the last Parents' Night for the Strandquist Warriors girls' basketball team. The Lady Warrior tradition was over. The community that so loyally supported the girls since their first game would see no more of their Lady Warriors.
The 1988-89 season saw the last SHS boys' basketball team play. The varsity was coached by Kent Hanson and the assistant coach was Scott Brekke. Brian Larson, captain, made everyone proud of him by being the final "Strandquist Warrior" selected to the All-Conference team.
The final home game was played against a tough Hallock team. The boys lost a heartbreaker, but the loss wasn't felt on the scoreboard. The fans that watched and loyally cheered for the last time knew that the real loss was the Warrior tradition. They would no longer be able to show their support for their Strandquist Warriors. It was one of the hardest games for fans to wholeheartedly cheer for the boys. If one looked closely, tears were evident in many eyes. There were not many dry eyes after the final buzzer either. That game was also the final Parents' Night for SHS athletes. All parents were given roses and the cheerleaders served sweet rolls and coffee following the game.
The end of Strandquist's athletic teams was due to a sports cooperative with Karlstad. It was a tough change for many, knowing that long-time rivals would be teammates. The last Strandquist students to be named to All-Conference teams were Troy Storeby (1989-90) and Jennifer Anderson (1989-90, 90-91).
When all sports were shared, a new mascot, colors, and school song were chosen. The new name for the teams is "Wildcats"; the colors are red, black, and white; and the new school song is Ohio State Across the Field.
The music department did well through the years, receiving many star ratings in music festivals and state competitions from 1966-1991. They were known as a marching band for many years, but the reduced number of members forced them into performing only at concerts. The last song that the band ever played was a fitting one-Pomp and Circumstance at graduation.
Through the 1990-91 school year, the building was used for grades kindergarten through grade 12. The school has seen many changes in the past few years, the most obvious being the smaller and smaller classes. There have been 675 graduates from Strandquist schools. The 1990-91 enrollment was 81 students, K-12. Vocational classes have been made available for grades 10-12 by bussing to Thief River Falls. Through the halls and classrooms of Strandquist schools have come and gone many fine young men and women who have gone on to all walks of life. Strandquist School can hold her head high knowing that she has contributed growth and development of these young people and their endeavors, and touched the lives of so many people.
On May 23, 1991 the gym that firefighters fought to save in 1959 saw the last SHS graduates walk down the aisle and receive their diplomas.
Karlstad School History
Records available indicate that Karlstad was incorporated as a Village on Aug. 28, 1905. On June 5th, the residents of the aspiring Village drew up a petition requesting the formation of a new school district which would include lands not in any existing school district and also part of District No. 21 and would relieve the crowding in District No. 21 and give the children in town a chance to attend a school closer to home. After a series of notices and public hearings, the petition was presented to the Board of County Commissioners and approved by them on July 11, 1905. The approval statement was signed by: A. Arneson, Chairman of the Board, and G. A. Gunnarson, County Auditor.
Anticipating favorable action by the Board of County Commissioners, K. Hodne, S. A. Hanson, and C. J. Forsberg posted a notice on July 5th for a school meeting to be held in the Karlstad Advocate Office Aug. 5th. This meeting then became the organizational meeting for the new Common School District No. 73. In the election of the school board members, K. Hodne was elected clerk, S. A. Hanson, director, and C. J. Forsberg, treasurer, a position he held until 1925.
Karlstad/Tri-County School System
The village of Karlstad was settled and incorporated by Scandinavian immigrants on Aug. 28,1905. Even then, education was important to the pioneers as the first school was built in 1906. The town population has been as high as 1,028, but is now estimated to be less than 700. During the 1940s and through the 1960s, Karlstad had many locally owned and operated businesses that have come and gone. Most of the population is now made up of elderly, retired people. The younger (working age) population mainly works out of town at several large manufacturing plants within an hour's drive. The Karlstad area used to support a broad agriculture-based economy, but now most farm land is in CRP or is rented out to a few large area farmers, instead of small family farms as was typical in the past.
Tri-County School is so named because it presently includes students from three counties: Roseau, Kittson, and Marshall. It began as District No. 21, which had 46 children of school age residing within its territory. After several rural districts joined, it became the new Common School District No. 73 in Karlstad and a new two-room building was constructed. There was a county superintendent and two teachers were hired, one for the primary grades and one for the upper grades. By 1908, 55 students were enrolled and teacher salaries were $55.00 per month.
In 1918, school was closed in November and was not reopened until early spring 1919, because of the "Spanish Flu" epidemic.
A one-room addition was added in 1921, and an entirely new building was erected in 1924 and put into use in 1925. It was comprised of six classrooms, a library, office, science room, and playroom. The first high school graduation occurred in 1928.
In 1935, the first school band was organized and, in 1939, the Karlstad High School "Rabbit Tales" began as the official school newspaper. Extracurricular activities included: football, basketball (both boys and girls), junior and senior class plays, declamation and debate, girls and boys glee clubs, golf, track, oratory and band.
A new gymnasium and addition was added in 1940. The hot lunch program was started in 1943, with a charge of ten cents per lunch.
Football was dropped in 1943 as one of the war casualties. In 1946, school did not start until Sept. 23 because of the polio emergency.
Many will remember the two small one-room schoolhouses which stood where the paved parking lot is now; one of them was moved in from Pelan in 1948 and another moved in the same year. This housed the fifth and sixth grades as enrollment grew in the 40s and 50s.
Eight-man football was introduced in the 50s, moving up from the six-man as enrollment increased.
In the spring of 1956, the new elementary wing was ready for use. The whole addition, including the new gymnasium, and science and home economics wing was ready for use in 1957.
In 1962, Karlstad switched from eight-man to eleven-man football. As of 2010, Tri-County is paired with Marshall County Central HS and is a Class 9-man football team.
The 1968-69 school term marked the successful merger of the Lake Bronson and Karlstad schools, increasing the enrollment and making it possible to provide a wider range of services.
In 1982, a new music department, library, business/computer department, kitchen, cafeteria, art and industrial technology departments, locker rooms, and south entrance were added and/or remodeled.
The name was changed from Karlstad School in the early 1980s and the mascot was changed from "Rabbits" to "Wildcats" and the colors from blue and white to red, black and white in 1990.
The Karlstad School consolidated in 1991 with the Strandquist School. The Strandquist School building housed the first, second and third grades for a few years, with kindergarten and fourth, fifth and sixth grades at the Karlstad Elementary School. The Strandquist building was closed in 1998.
In 1996, a new front entry was installed with the steps inside the building instead of outside. They also go a handicapped washroom and an elevator and lifts to conform to disability codes.
The school is well equipped with computers and audio/visual/technology aids. They have an interactive television system (Moose Country ITV) which enables them to both send and receive class from other school/colleges. This allows them to offer a wider range of classes in school that could not otherwise offer them to their students. All the classroom teachers have a computer on their desk, where all their grading systems are kept. They have three large computer labs and two mobile labs available, as well as several rooms equipped with student computers. Students may use computers in any of the labs or the library during their fee periods if they are not already in use. Students regularly use computers for research. There are laser printers in all wings of the building, as well as about a half-dozen copy machines. The Nova Net computer curriculum is used to supplement remedial and hard to schedule courses that enables the students to make up classes which they would not ordinarily be able to schedule or attend.
Tri-County provides athletic competition by "pairing" with several other schools in the area. These include: volleyball, football, boys and girls basketball, track, golf, and softball. The school has band and choir for its students, as well as drama in its fine arts department.
Karlstad/Tri-County has had 13 superintendents and 22 principals, as well as hundreds of teachers and support personnel since 1906.
The school enrollment has been over 500, but is now about 220.
There are several service organizations that support the school system in many areas. The Eagles, Lions and American Legion are very generous to the school. They (as well as about 20 other organizations and businesses) provide the senior class with scholarships each spring. The community education classes are well attended each year and there is a Curricular Advisory Committee, which spans a diverse age group. The mission statement is "Working Together; Learning for Life."
Halma School District #40 History
In 1890 a school district was organized and officers elected as follows: Otto Larson-Clerk, Ole Tangen-Treasurer, and Knute Folland-Director.
Halma started with a one-room schoolhouse located across the road on the south side of where the Eidsvold Church now stands. The teacher also did the janitor work.
In 1912, a bonding election was held to build a new school in district #40. The proposition was carried out by a majority of 27 to 8. Isaac Helseth had secured the contract and began work on the new building immediately. The district had been reorganized under the Holmberg Act which would increase the efficiency of the school and also increased the attendance. The new building was made of cement blocks and when completed was the finest schoolhouse on the Soo Line.
School opened at Halma in September 1913 in their splendid new school building. This was the first consolidated district north of Crookston to organize and build under the Holmberg Act.
The school had two elegant well lit schoolrooms, an office, library, halls, and cloak rooms on the main floor. It had a full basement part of which was used for the heating plant, while a manual training room was on the east side.
Prof. J. J. Johnsrud of St. Louis County was the principal and Miss Austrid Kinseth of Red Lake Falls had charge of the primary grades.
By 1919, a janitor and plumbing had been added. There were 30 pupils in each room. The teachers were Helen Loen and Cora Thompson. There was a very active band under the leadership of G. C. Lee, also a choir. A bandstand was built for summer use.
In the early days when there was no snow they drove their cars. When there was snow they drove horses and caboose. Some students walked. In 1938 they bought the first school bus after the building of better roads.
Some of the drivers were... Gailey Souder, Thom Spilde, Severt Spilde, Louis H. Spilde, J. C. Sandelin, Joe Spilde, Arthur Oberg, Melvin Flaten, Raymond Davis, Ferdie Martinson, and Harvey Johnson.
The Final Years of the Halma School
The Halma school district consolidated with the Karlstad School district in 1950. A complete renovating program had been carried on throughout the summer. The interior of the Halma school was reconditioned and redecorated making a pleasant environment for the students attending. One of the major improvements at the Halma school was the construction of a kitchenette. It was built in the hallway downstairs. It made a modern up to date school with a hot lunch program. The dining room was in the gym. (Years ago this area was the manual training room.)
The change was there would be only six elementary grades instead of eight grades. The teachers hired were Mrs. Sarah Johnson 4th, 5th, and 6th grades and also principal and Miss Doris Souder 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades.
Annabelle Davis was hired to be the cook for the new hot lunch program. The janitor was Oscar Oberg who had already been in the school for a number of years. He retired in 1953. Ferdie and Evelyn Martinson became the janitors and were there until the school closed in the spring of 1963.
The elementary, grades one-six, were sent to Karlstad School the fall of 1961. The Special Ed students from Karlstad were sent over to the Halma School for the next two years.
The Halma School was sold to Jeff Folland for private use.
Lake Bronson School History
Currently being complied.