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Jon Gossett, Published May 15 2009

Thank you from Oak Grove to Fargo's South Campus II

Please allow me to thank the wonderful faculty and staff of South Campus II for the incredible hospitality and assistance shown to the Oak Grove Lutheran School students and staff during our stay at their facility.

When our campus flooded on March 29, we were devastated. Our principal, Morgan Forness, had already placed some contingencies in place as a worst-case scenario. Among these were sites for possible relocation. As a faculty we were so concerned about our students and what we were going to do to benefit them. How would we be able to bring “normalcy” back into their lives? Some of these students had already lost their residential homes to the flood. Fargo South Campus II offered to share its facility with us. A vacant wing at the school would be our new home for the remainder of the school year.

South Campus II Assistant Principal Lenny Ohlhauser made us immediately feel welcome. His genuine concern for our students and staff was quite visible and has shown through. Ohlhauser stated, “Our building is yours.”

He and Principal Marcy Blikre spent numerous hours working out the logistics of preparing for our arrival with 304 additional students. Classrooms were assigned as well as equipment needs seen to as soon as they were requested. These two spent many hours of their personal time being available to us even on weekends.

Countless others need to be thanked, including the custodial staff from this building and head engineer Keith Harrison, who did simply a phenomenal job at getting us acclimated and situated.

Media specialist Edie Thiel made it her responsibility to ensure our entire faculty was up and running with whatever technology needs we requested. What she didn’t have she found for us elsewhere in the district.

Gail Meyer and her exemplary food services staff quickly became a favorite with our students. Our two food service ladies were serving shoulder to shoulder with her staff to help with the multitude of extra hungry mouths.

The office staff with Debbie Clapp and Cathy Pauly made this one of the smoothest transitions possible. A cheery greeting and genuine offer to help every time we step into the office makes each day a true delight to be in the building.

The faculty here is a true inspiration as well. Not one day has gone by without a member of their teaching staff approaching me and numerous colleagues asking us if there is anything they could do to help us out. This is a tribute to these fine people and the lengths to which they will go to make outsiders feel comfortable.

When we began transitioning here, there was some true apprehension on the part of our students and staff. However, we were received with open arms and made to feel wanted. Even though at times we unintentionally complicated your system, created delays and slowed down the lunch runs, no complaints were ever heard by us. The people here genuinely care about us and are glad to see us. This is a testament to the quality of people our hosts are. They have shown us respect, friendship, empathy, and demonstrated true Christian compassion. For this and all you have given, we the students and staff of Oak Grove are forever grateful and in your debt.

We came as outsiders and formed new-found friendships. God bless you and thanks to each and every one of you for all you have done.

Gossett is a science teacher at Oak Grove Lutheran School, Fargo.