Many hands go into putting our grad section together

By Chuck Kajer

This week is our annual Graduation Souvenir Section, which salutes the members of the New Prague High School Class of 2006.

Have you ever tried to gather 200-plus photographs and questionnaires from a group of high school seniors? It’s not an easy process.

Jan Wann has been in charge of this task for the past seven years. Before that, it was my job. There is really no problem with about 95 percent of the seniors. We distribute the questionnaires to them, they fill them out and turn them in. We used to have them attach their senior photo to the form also, but now we work with the school yearbook staff. Advisor Terry Odenthal did a great job in getting those photos to us.

But there are still a handful of seniors who, for various reasons, don’t get us the photos on deadline. We work very hard to get photos of everyone This year, I made two separate trips to the school offering to take photos for the seniors who didn’t have one or forgot to turn one in.

One year, in the mid-1990s, I made it my life’s mission to get all the photos. Repeated trips were made to the school, and we managed to track down each and every student and get a photo. I don’t remember for sure, but I think we did it. But a lot of extra time was spent in getting them, and we decided we weren’t going to make more than a couple of trips to take photos.

The questionnaires themselves are an interesting project. We go through everyone looking at their “future plans.” One thing we need to do is make sure the schools have the correct names. This isn’t always easy. Take, for example, Minnesota State University-Mankato. We get some students who write in Mankato State, which is the old name of the school, and some fill out University of Minnesota Mankato. It takes a lot of time to get everything set up just right.

This is one project that we couldn’t do without the help of the office staff at the high school. Ann Marie Smisek and Connie Tupy have been putting up with us for years in our quest to get as much information as possible. Their help is always appreciated. Cheryl Turek and Lisa Giesen in the guidance office also help us “fill in the blanks.”

Of course, we could never do anything without our advertisers. Many of the local businesses are eager to sponsor the senior that works for them, or whose parent works for them. Our ad department makes hundreds of calls to make sure that every graduate has a sponsor.

These special sections become keepsakes. My mother, even before I worked at the paper, was one of many people who kept each section, going back to when they started, which was in the late 1960s.

We hope you enjoy this year’s efforts!

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