Nov. 13, 2006

LP agrees to pairing if Holy Trinity will become Bulldogs

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

It took four tries by the Lester Prairie School Board before it was finally able to pass a motion on a possible future pairing agreement with Holy Trinity School of Winsted at last Monday’s special meeting.

The motion was made by Board Chairman Fred Blaser, and seconded by board member Jim Jorgenson, to allow further pairing with Winsted Holy Trinity with the understanding that they can pair and participate as Bulldogs and wear Lester Prairie School colors.

The motion squeaked by with four members voting yes, one no, and one board member, Melissa Williams, abstaining from the vote.

Another motion was required to designate the school year as 2007/08, making the pairing effective for two years.

Information was provided by Superintendent Joe Miller on Holy Trinity class size, information asked for at the previous pairing meeting. Miller also informed the large crowd attending the meeting that the recent fifth through 12th grade student survey had 29 percent of the students wanting to continue pairing, and 71 percent of them indicating they did not want to pair.

Approximately 20 people shared their concerns on the possible sports pairing. Of those, including board members, only four spoke in favor of pairing.

Toward the end of the meeting, someone accused the board members of having made up its mind about sports pairing prior to the meeting.

Blaser asked for someone to give the board another solution to the declining numbers in sports because he felt the numbers were not going to change and he wanted Lester Prairie sports to be viable over the next few years.

A Lester Prairie parent responded by telling the board, coaches need to be less worried about winning and only playing the best athletes.

The father continued by saying, if the coaches would give all of the students a chance to play, and let them learn the sport and gain confidence, they would build good student athletes who would want to go out for sports.

His comments ended with applause.

Additionally, the following views were given in regards to pairing:

• “Lester Prairie is the bigger school. We should be allowed to retain our school colors and mascot.”

• “Holy Trinity is a private Catholic school with private funding and Catholic school philosophy.” The parent added, “I do not know if I want my kid praying before a game.”

• “There are not enough kids with pairing this year. What will change next year?”

• “Fundraising from concessions would be much more difficult since there would be two schools involved” (after prom party was mentioned).

• “Why fix something that is not broken? The majority is upset by the process. We feel that this is getting shoved down our throats.”

• “Bulldog pride and spirit are the things that bring this community together.”

• “More games are not a better life for students. Pair only as necessary.”

• “In the newspaper article this week, it sounded like Fr. Paul and Holy Trinity were not on the same page as Lester Prairie.”

• “What is the sense of urgency?”

• Moving up a class level in some sports would not be determined until February 2007.

Secondary Principal Ron Erpenbach did his best to answer questions on the sports conference and class issues, but admitted that he really did not know the answers.

He ended by saying, “No one is trying to hurt the kids. All of us feel we are proposing what is best for the kids. Maybe just pairing in certain sports would be a more comfortable level for everyone.”

Miller contacted Fr. Paul Wolf, superintendent of Holy Trinity School, Tuesday morning, telling him what the school board’s proposal was in regard to its school pairing in sports with Holy Trinity.

In a phone call made by the Herald Journal to Wolf asking if Lester Prairie’s offer for pairing sports was being considered, he replied, “I wish Lester Prairie School would have come to a more agreeable pairing offer with Holy Trinity. However, we have not closed any doors or burned any bridges.”

Wolf plans to speak to Holy Trinity parents next week at its parent/teacher conferences to see how they would like to see Holy Trinity proceed. Holy Trinity has not made any decision at this time, he said.

“We need to continue communicating between Holy Trinity and Lester Prairie,” Supt. Joe Miller commented Friday. “We need to still provide opportunities for kids.”

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