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Army recruit prompts change in LP graduation ceremony
May 9, 2011
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By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

LESTER PRAIRIE, MN – When Lester Prairie senior Ben Price discovered that he’d have to miss his high school graduation to train for the Army, he was disappointed, but ready to make the sacrifice.

“I’m leaving for training the morning of June 2, and that was the day graduation was scheduled,” he said.

However, thanks to classmates, parents, and the Lester Prairie School Board, Price doesn’t have to miss out.

The board agreed to change the ceremony to Wednesday, June 1 at 7 p.m.

“If it makes it so one more kid and his family can enjoy the day, why not?” School Board Member Joe Miller said.

Because the diplomas were already printed, the official graduation date will still be Thursday, June 2.

Price said that when he found out about the training late last fall, he didn’t draw attention to it.

“I kind of kept it to myself for awhile,” he said. “I didn’t want anyone to feel like they had to do anything about it.”

Later on, though, when people were discussing the class song and other graduation details, Price told them why he wouldn’t be able to attend the ceremony.

“When some friends found out, they decided it was important to them to have everyone there for graduation,” Price said.

A few of them – Meagan Mahon, Ashley Maesse, Lincoln Yellick – were especially eager to get the ceremony date changed.

“The whole class was pretty enthusiastic, which was a nice feeling,” Price said.

Students made request forms in support of the change, which they took home for their parents to sign. All but two were on board right away.

Superintendent Mike McNulty and a few of the students met with those parents to discuss the situation, and those parents later agreed to the change, as well.

According to Miller, it can be difficult to find a graduation date that suits everyone.

“We try to base it off the calendar and what’s best for the class,” Miller said.

For years, the ceremonies were in the evenings, but some people said they’d rather have it earlier in the day. It was then changed to Sunday afternoons, but others weren’t happy to give up their weekend.

Miller said he thinks that having the graduation Wednesday evening this year will work well.

Price, who has attended Lester Prairie Public School since second grade, said he is happy to be able to celebrate with his class.

Throughout the years, he’s made countless memories at the school, participating in football, baseball, and the drama program.

He signed up for the Army in April 2010, after talking to recruiters who came to the school.

“I had been considering it for about a year, and it was something I wanted to do,” he said.

Price was inspired by his older brother, Ian, who is in the Air Force.

From June 2 until late October, Price will be in helicopter mechanic training for the Army.

“I’ve always had an interest in taking things apart and learning how things work, and also an interest in aviation,” said Price, the son of Belinda and David Storms of Lester Prairie.

In the spring of 2012, Price said he plans to start college, majoring in aerospace engineering.

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