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Younghoe Koo: How the Atlanta Falcons kicker overcame the language barrier and was cut to thrive in the NFL

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Younghoe Koo: How The Atlanta Falcons Kicker Overcame The Language Barrier And Was Cut To Thrive In The Nfl
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Now Koo is the second-highest paid kicker in the league after signing a five-year contract extension with the Atlanta Falcons earlier this year.

But it hasn’t all been easy for the South Korean native.

Despite a collegiate career with Georgia Southern in which he converted a team-high 88.6% of his field goal attempts and was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award for the nation’s top kicker, Koo was not drafted in 2017 and signed a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Chargers soon after.

He quickly impressed, winning the starting role in pre-season against outgoing kicker Josh Lambo, but a long-term spot in the team proved elusive.

“I felt like I made it my rookie year when I got the job before the first week. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s it, I did it,’ you know? The next four weeks I was cut,” Koo tells CNN Sport’s Coy Wire.

It was that moment early in his career that taught the then 23-year-old rookie about life in the NFL.

“It taught me that it’s never over. You have to compete every day. You have to produce; it’s a production business. That’s what the head coach told me when I was released. It was a great learning experience for me.”

Younghoe Koo Will Face The Tampa Bay Buccaneers In November 2019.

With nowhere to go, Koo was forced to turn to rather familiar surroundings – a place he didn’t think he would ever find himself in.

“When I ran out of money with the Chargers, I went home to my mom and that’s when you’re just waiting for a phone call, waiting for a practice session,” he says.

“And when that comes, it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, good. I’m ready to go.’ Then he goes [the] out of season [and] two or three months pass [and] no phone call comes: ‘What am I doing with my life?’”

Football players, and sports people in general, are particularly conditioned to always have their daily activities planned for them, whether it’s watching movies, meals or training. Without it, Koo lost his sense of direction.

“I guess my football career, like high school, college and then the Chargers, I always had something to do, on a team. You almost feel empty because [when] you wake up, nobody tells you anything,” Koo says.

Connecting with other NFL free agents helped him regain that sense of team spirit and structure that he lacked.

“I learned a lot. I wasn’t the only one going through this. It was almost therapeutic for me to go to training [with] guys who are going through the same thing and we compete but also share our backgrounds,” Koo says.

Want to sound smart about the NFL?  Here's a glossary of football terms and jargon you'll need to incorporateWant To Sound Smart About The Nfl?  Here's A Glossary Of Football Terms And Jargon You'll Need To Incorporate

He credits those moments of early adversity with helping him become an even better professional and student of the game, although he says he still has a lot to learn as his career progresses.

“Coming out of college, I felt like I knew it all, but [in] reality, I didn’t know anything,” says Koo.

“I decided to let go of this ego [and] To ask questions. I wanted to learn, I wanted to see what was wrong, and very soon I realized I was a puppy in this business. I had to keep asking questions. I have a lot to learn and a long way to go, obviously.”

He signed his $24.5 million contract with the Falcons in March, officially making him the league’s second-highest-paid kicker in total dollars, behind Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker in average annual value, according to the NFL.

“Difficult” beginnings

Koo lived in South Korea until age 12 before moving to the United States to attend sixth grade.

“I grew up playing football for the school team. That was really my main goal. I wasn’t really good at school,” he says.

He describes the transition to the United States as “difficult”, an experience made worse by his lack of English. Koo cites sports as a catalyst for learning the language and making friends in an unfamiliar country.

Koo threw a field goal against the New York Jets last month. Koo Threw A Field Goal Against The New York Jets Last Month.

“I feel like I learned English much faster because I was doing sports,” says Koo. “I was forced to jump in and socialize with different groups of friends and meet different people. It definitely bridged that gap for me.”

Koo first learned about football through his friends, who noticed his footballing talent and wanted him to start or kick off in their matches.

“And that’s when everyone saw the strength in my leg because [of] football, so kicking came naturally to me. That’s when I was asked to sign up for football and I signed up that summer.”

The Buffalo Bills affirm their Super Bowl aspirations with an emphatic 31-10 victory over the defending champion LA Rams in the NFL season openerThe Buffalo Bills Affirm Their Super Bowl Aspirations With An Emphatic 31-10 Victory Over The Defending Champion La Rams In The Nfl Season Opener

Koo specifically remembers sitting in a car with teammates going to practice one day without even knowing how to communicate with them.

“I didn’t know how to ask, like, ‘Hey, what are you doing on the weekend?’ I didn’t know how to phrase that or even form a sentence at that point,” Koo explains.

Despite his fear of sounding “stupid”, he managed to come up with a phrase that changed his fortunes.

“I remember just saying ‘I’m bored’ and they were just asking [me] questions like: ‘Now? In the car to practice? I was like, ‘No, no, no, the weekend.’ So that weekend they called me to go out with me.”


As a South Korean immigrant to the United States, Koo says he noticed racism growing up, but chose not to “respond or react to it.” He didn’t take any racist comments to heart, knowing that everyone has their own opinions, valid or invalid.

“Everyone has something to say. Everyone can say something if they want to. It’s not really my responsibility to absorb all of this and absorb [it]. I choose what I want to pay attention to [and] what I don’t want to pay attention to. I think that’s also the mindset I had when I was younger,” Koo says.

As for how he now deals with negativity as one of the highest earning kickers in the NFL, Koo compares it to a diet where he chooses which comments he wants to eat and digest. He says his mindset needs to be ‘bulletproof’ when he steps onto the pitch; adversity from outside could hurt his performance.

Koo will start against the Carolina Panthers in October 2021.Koo Will Start Against The Carolina Panthers In October 2021.

“Whether it’s racism or adversity, we’ve thrown a ball…we have to go for it and next time we now have to focus on the next shot. It can’t stay with me because it will affect my next kick,” Koo says.

“My father taught me from an early age [that] if you are good enough, your talent speaks for itself,” he adds.

And when the kick is in the air, all that matters is the result.

“You are white, black, Asian or whatever. [The] football does not know who is kicking it. And when the ball flies, they don’t know who kicked it and they just see the results and they see the ball and they’re like, ‘Okay, that kick is good,’” Koo said.

“Make a plan and follow through with it”

Koo understands the place football can play in the world and what its history can mean for the next generation of Asian athletes looking to play in America’s top league.

“His [something] we talked a lot. It’s a very diverse group of people in that locker room. Everyone comes from different places, backgrounds, families, but we all have a common goal, and we are working on it together and this sacrifice to work hard not only for yourself, [but] for something bigger than you,” Koo recalled.

“I think representation is important because, growing up for me in football, there was nobody who looked like me. It was harder for me to visualize, [if] he does it, I can do it.

“If you look at my story, I didn’t speak English, I didn’t know what football was. I had a hard time saying, ‘What are you doing this weekend?’ I think anyone, if they have a dream, pursue it and work hard, can put a plan in place and pursue it.”


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470,000 people without power after Fiona causes ‘shocking’ damage in Canada

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470,000 People Without Power After Fiona Causes 'Shocking' Damage In Canada
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Hundreds of thousands of Canadians were without power on Saturday after former Hurricane Fiona hit the country’s Atlantic provinces, causing what officials said was shocking and devastating damage.

Trees were felled and utility poles were snapped in half, and roofs were torn from buildings and homes swept away after Fiona made landfall in eastern Nova Scotia around 3 a.m., said officials.

When Fiona made landfall near Whitehead, it was a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds of 90 mph, officials said.

“It’s shocking the damage we’re seeing,” Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said Saturday.

A storm surge of over 6 feet hit Prince Edward Island. The damage is likely the worst ever seen in the province, and recovery will take weeks or more, Premier Dennis King said.

No deaths associated with the storm had been reported as of Saturday afternoon.

More than 471,000 customers in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland were without power Saturday, according to utilities.

Nova Scotia Power CEO Peter Gregg said some would be without power for “several days.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has canceled plans to attend the state funeral in Japan for slain former prime minister Shinzo Abe. He said the storm had a “terrible impact”.

“We are seeing devastating images coming out of Port aux Basques,” Trudeau said. “PEI. (Prince Edward Island) suffered storm damage the likes of which they had never seen. Cape Breton is also hard hit, as is Quebec.

He said the country’s armed forces would be deployed to help in the aftermath and the federal government would be ready to help.

In Port aux Basques, on Newfoundland’s southwest coast, evacuations were ordered and Mayor Brian Button said “utter devastation” was occurring, CBC reported.

News agency video showed homes being swept away. Phil Boyles fled because of the storm surge. “I took out everything I could try to keep, and now it looks like I can’t even come back,” he said, according to CBC.

Fiona was a Category 4 hurricane as it approached Bermuda.

It caused major damage in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic earlier this week when it was a Category 1 storm. Fifteen deaths in Puerto Rico and two deaths in the Dominican Republic have been linked to the storm, officials said.

The hurricane was expected to be a historic weather event for eastern Canada.

In Prince Edward Island, King, the premier, said Saturday the damage was likely the worst the province has ever seen.

“It was billed as one of the strongest storms to ever hit our province, and by all accounts, Hurricane Fiona lived up to that billing,” he said.

He was grateful there were no reports of serious injuries or worse, but said “our road to recovery will take weeks or more”.

As of 6 p.m. local time, Fiona was 80 miles northwest of Port aux Basques and moving northeast at 8 mph, the US National Hurricane Center said.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph and was expected to move across Labrador and the Labrador Sea late Saturday and Sunday. It will produce large swells and life-threatening rip currents, the center said.


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Gophers passing game succeeds without alpha Chris Autman-Bell

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Gophers Passing Game Succeeds Without Alpha Chris Autman-Bell
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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Chris Autman-Bell was live-tweeting during Saturday’s Gophers game from back home in Minnesota.

After being lost for the season due to a knee injury last week, the U’s No. 1 receiver who had surgery Wednesday was showing support from afar, and he had to mix in a lot of names during the 34-7 win over Michigan State at Spartan Stadium.

Quarterback Tanner Morgan connected with 10 pass-catchers and showed what the by-committee approach to replacing Autman-Bell might look like for the rest of the 2022 season.

On Saturday, Michael Brown-Stephens led the way with six receptions on six targets for 73 yards, but Dylan Wright, Daniel Jackson and Brevyn Spann-Ford each had three grabs and at least 40 yards apiece.

“We have a lot of guys that can go make plays for us,” said Morgan, who finished 23 for 26 for 268 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. “We saw that (Saturday), a lot of guys were involved in the game plan and made plays. It makes my job really easy.”

Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck said in the absence of a clear No. 1 target, they run an offense that goes through progressions, mixing in run-pass option, spreading people out, use different formations and personnel groups and keep a defense from focusing on only one or two primary pass-catchers.

The variety was most apparent when backup tight end Nick Kallerup caught his first career touchdown pass in the third quarter. The Gophers also checked down to running backs, with Mo Ibrahim having two receptions, while Bryce Wiliams and Trey Potts had one apiece.

Morgan said his progressions have been much improved this season in a reunion with offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca.

“When you know what you are looking for and you are confident with the play that’s called, good looks for it, bad looks for it, spacial awareness, you can move through the progression faster,” Morgan said. “…I felt really good with that. I do need to continue to improve on it.”

Minnesota also took advantage of a Spartans pass defense that allowed nearly 400 yards and four passing touchdowns in a 39-28 loss to Washington last week. They were dead last in pass defense in 2021 and are struggling again.

Jackson, who missed the first two games this seasons with an ankle injury, had his first two touchdown receptions of the season.

“We have (Autman-Bell) with us the whole time,” Jackson said. “He is in all of our hearts. The goal is to be consistent and execute the game plan, and I felt like we did that pretty well.”

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Senators urge Biden to increase pressure on North Korea

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Senators Urge Biden To Increase Pressure On North Korea
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Two Republican senators have expressed concern to the Biden administration over growing cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“We are troubled by reports that Russia and North Korea are strengthening their relationship, which will help [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s unjust and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Hagerty said in their letter dated Thursday.

“North Korea and Russia have recently agreed to send North Korean workers to areas of Ukraine seized by Russia,” their letter continues. “We also learned that Russia was trying to buy millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea.”

Rubio and Hagerty urged the Biden administration “to fully implement congressional and multilateral sanctions to increase pressure on the Kim regime.”

The senators sent the letter Thursday to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Rubio is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Hagerty is a member of the Senate Banking Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee.

In response to the senators’ letter, a State Department spokesperson told VOA’s Korea Service on Saturday that “it is important that the international community sends a strong and unified message that the DPRK must end its illegal actions, uphold its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions, and engage in serious and sustained negotiations with the United States.”

North Korea’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The spokesperson continued, “The UN sanctions against the DPRK remain in place and we will continue to encourage all member states to implement them, including through diplomacy at the United Nations and with the DPRK’s neighbors. “.

VOA Korean Service contacted North Korea’s UN mission in New York to seek comment on the senators’ letter, but did not receive a response. The service also contacted the Russian embassy in Washington and its UN mission in New York, but received no response.

The UN Security Council has sanctioned North Korea for arms exports in several resolutions dating back to 2006, and in December 2017 it passed a resolution banning member states from hiring North Korean workers. in response to Pyongyang’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile a month earlier.

The United States and its allies and partners sanctioned Russia, barring it from the global financial system days after its Feb. 21 invasion of Ukraine.

After the setbacks of war, Moscow turned to Pyongyang for help.

In July, Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora said in an interview with the Russian newspaper Izvestia that Moscow was willing to hire North Korean workers to rebuild the Russian-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk republics in the Donbass region.

On July 14, North Korea recognized the republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

According to the US State Department, Russia wants to buy rockets and artillery shells from North Korea because it lacks weapons.

At a press briefing on September 6, Vedant Patel, deputy spokesman for the State Department, said: “The Russian Ministry of Defense is in the process of buying millions of rockets and shells from artillery to North Korea for use in Ukraine”.

He added: “This purchase indicates that the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages due in part to export controls and sanctions.”

Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya has said the US claim of Moscow buying arms from Pyongyang is “another fake”, according to Tass, a state-run news agency.

North Korea said on Thursday that it had “never exported arms or ammunition to Russia” and “did not plan to export any,” it said in a statement released by KCNA.

The North Korean statement did not mention sending workers to Donbass.

North Korea continued to say that it “never recognized” the “illegal UN Security Council sanctions resolutions” imposed on North Korea “that were concocted by the United States and their vassal forces”.

If Moscow hires workers and buys weapons from North Korea, it would violate the sanctions it imposed on the regime as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Such deals would also put North Korea in violation of sanctions aimed at preventing Pyongyang from earning much-needed hard currency to fund the development of nuclear missiles and ballistic missiles.


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Twins pull away from Angels to snap five-game losing streak

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Twins Pull Away From Angels To Snap Five-Game Losing Streak
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A losing streak that started Monday in Cleveland, continued in a trip to Kansas City and persisted once returning home, finally came to its conclusion on Saturday.

The Twins snapped their five-game skid with an 11-hit effort combined with strong performances from their bullpen in Saturday’s 8-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels at Target Field.

The Twins took the lead in the middle innings, breaking open a tied game with a Jermaine Palacios sacrifice fly in the fourth inning before Gary Sánchez launched a loud three-run home run to left-center field in the bottom of the fifth to help the Twins pull away for good.

Sánchez also drove in a run in the first inning, finishing the day with four runs batted in while Jose Miranda and Gio Urshela each had three hits in the win. Luis Arraez, who is in a race for the batting title alongside Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts and New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, finished the day with a pair of hits and two runs scored.

The Twins paired the offensive outburst with a nice night on the mound, as Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar, Michael Fulmer and Jorge López all put up zeroes after starter Joe Ryan’s early departure. Twins relievers at one point sent down 11 batters in a row before Jhoan Duran allowed a single to Mickey Moniak in the ninth inning. Duran was the only reliever to allow a hit  — and run — in the game. Mike Trout’s sacrifice fly plated the Angels’ fourth run before Duran retired Shohei Ohtani to end the game.

Ryan, who was pulled after four innings, marking one of his shortest starts of the season, allowed three runs on four hits. All three of those runs came in the third inning, knotting the game at 3-3. Angels stars Trout and Ohtani provided the offense, with Trout’s double off Ryan driving in the Angels’ first run of the night and Ohtani’s single right after plating two more runs.

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“CBS Weekend News” headlines for Saturday, September 24, 2022

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“Cbs Weekend News” Headlines For Saturday, September 24, 2022
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“CBS Weekend News” headlines Saturday, September 24, 2022 – CBS News

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Here’s a look at some of the top stories making the cover of “CBS’s Weekend News with Adriana Diaz.”

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‘A simpler time’: Students who attended Washington County Rural Schools reminisce at reunion

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A Woman Writes Notes At An Outdoor Table.
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When Sandra Lundin Valleen and her family moved to Scandia in 1960, it was like stepping back in time.

She went from an all-grades elementary school in Sauk Centre, Minn., to Goose Lake School, a one-room schoolhouse that was separated by a partition — a combined third- and fourth-grade class on one side, and her combined fifth- and sixth-grade class on the other.

“It was a simpler time,” Valleen said. “Kids are so over-scheduled now. They have many, many fun activities that they’re involved in, but they have very little downtime. It seemed less complicated back then. I would go home and ride my horse after school.”

Valleen, 73, of Chisago, was one of about 45 alumni of rural schools in Washington County who attended the first Rural School Reunion at Hay Lake School Museum in Scandia on Saturday. The event, sponsored by the Washington County Historical Society, was open to anyone who attended a one-room/two-room school anywhere in the county.

Washington County had 79 rural school districts and one joint district with Chisago County that were slowly consolidated during the 1940s and 1950s. By the early 1960s, all of them had closed, said Brent Peterson, the society’s executive director.

Valleen, who taught at Scandia Elementary School for 44 years, every spring brought her fifth-grade students on a field trip to the Hay Lake School Museum. They would dress in old-fashioned clothes, play games like Red Rover at recess and attend class in the one-room schoolhouse, which was heated by a wood stove.

Valleen said she always had to arrive early to light the stove. “I’d keep my fingers crossed that the flue was open and all would go well because I didn’t want to be the one who burned down Hay Lake School,” she said. “There was no phone at the school back then and no cellphones, so if something went wrong, it would be really hard to alert anyone.”

Former Hay Lake students John Johnson, Roger Lindell and Jim Lindberg swapped stories on the school’s front porch.

“The outhouse was out back,” said Lindell, 77, of Scandia, who attended the school from 1953-1958. “The boys were on the right, and the girls were on the left, and there was a woodshed in between.”

Lindell said he sat at the second desk from the front on the right-hand side of the schoolhouse. There was a bigger desk in the back for Billy Lind, who needed the extra room, he said.

“When we had our lessons, we went up front with the teacher,” he said. “We learned a lot of basic stuff here. I liked everything about going to school here, but I didn’t have a choice. I lived here.”

The main “gym” activity was softball in the field behind the school; the field is gone now, Lindell said, replaced by mature trees.

“When I went to Forest Lake, they laughed at me,” he said. “Because out there they only played baseball, and we played softball.”

Some alumni brought photos and mementos to share with other attendees. Mary Pierre Anderson, 81, of Forest Lake brought a black-and-white photo of Hudson Road School’s 1950-1951 class. The Oakdale school’s teacher that year was Miss Gonzalez, she said.

Mary Anderson, 81, of Forest Lake, shares memories of attending the Hudson Road School in Oakdale during the late 1940s and early 1950s during the Rural School Reunion sponsored by the Washington Count Historical Society at the Hay Lake School Museum in Scandia on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (Mary Divine / Pioneer Press)

“When you were done with your schoolwork, you went into the library and you did flash cards with the younger children,” she said. “You just helped them do things. Everything was just so organized. We went outside. We played ball when it was warm. We went sliding in the winter. It was just heavenly.”

Anderson’s siblings went to the same school, and their family knew all of the other families in the area, she said. “It was a tight-knit community,” she said. “Most of us went to Guardian Angels Church, and we were just all really close.”

Rita Palmen Haim, 81, of New Richmond, said she read about the reunion online and decided to attend. “I loved my school,” said Haim, who attended Valley Creek School in Afton in the late 1940s and early 1950s. “We had such a good time playing in the snow. I remember kids chasing us with snakes. I lived about two miles from school, and we would walk every day. I’d pick up my friends as I went along. We had a great time.”

Once, she and her best friend got caught in a rainstorm on the way to school, and their teacher made them strip down to their undergarments and hang the rest of their “sopping wet” clothes on a clothesline by the wood stove. “We had to take off our long socks and as many clothes as we could without getting naked,” Haim said. “She’d hang them up over the stove, and our little legs were there blowing in the wind. We were like a couple of little damp rats.”

Haim said that as she and her classmates moved up in grades, they would help the younger children learn to read and help care for the school. “We all felt a sense of ownership,” she said.

During the winter, when the snow was so deep it was difficult to walk, Jim Lindberg’s father, Randolph Lindberg, would pull out his horse-drawn bobsled to take the kids to Hay Lake School. “We sat there on the hay, under a horse-hair blanket, and we would pick up the other kids along the way,” said Lindberg, 76, of Scandia.

Lindberg’s favorite teacher, Marjorie Holt, taught from 1946 to 1955; she was paid $1,800 a year when she started. “She was unbelievable,” he said. “She was able to maintain order, but she wasn’t mean. She was very, very interesting and always had our attention.”

Holt prepared the Hay Lake students for Forest Lake High School, said Duane Erickson, 84, of Maple Grove, who attended Hay Lake from 1944-1952. “She did a good job,” he said. “When I went to Forest Lake, I wasn’t lacking anything. I had everything I needed.”

During the gathering on Saturday, Erickson took the opportunity to ring the school’s bell — a chore he used to do decades ago.

“I like to tell people that my grade school is now a museum,” he said. “I brought some visitors here from Taiwan recently, and they were shocked that we had eight grades all together with one teacher. I told them, ‘It worked fine. You just get used to it.’”

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