1. Women in Business: Our special section featuring area women in business is inside today’s edition.
2. A public tree trimming workshop will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28 at Hughes Shelter and surrounding grounds, Chahinkapa Park, Wahpeton. Soup and sandwich will be served. Please pre-register by calling 701-642-2811.
3. Photos from community events are just a click away when you visit www.wahpetondailynews.com. Our albums and pics are available by clicking on the “Photos on Flickr” tab.
4. Today’s Birthdays include Curly Howard of the Three Stooges (1903-1952), Academy Award winner Joan Fontaine (1917-2013), actor Christopher Lloyd (1938-), original Mousketeer Annette Funicello (1942-2013) and actor Jeff Goldblum.
Results of the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey (MSS) reveal alarming findings regarding feelings toward school and mental health.
The results were released Thursday, Oct. 17 by the Minnesota Department of Health. The MSS is administered every three years to fifth, eighth, ninth, and 11th-grade students to evaluate youth behaviors, including alcohol and drug use, violence, sexual activity, positive behaviors, and connection to family, school, and community.
The results show that fewer students feel engaged in school, believe their school provides a supportive place for learning, report good health, or feel safe. Additionally, data shows more students than ever are experiencing long-term mental health, behavioral or emotional problems.
“Our students are talking to us and we must listen,” said Minnesota Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker. “We must make sure that they feel supported, safe, and welcomed when they’re in the classroom so they can succeed academically. My fellow commissioners and I will be working with our school communities so we can better meet the needs of all of our students.”
The four major pillars of concerning data are health, safety, engagement, and support.
The 2019 MSS revealed 65 percent of surveyed students reported excellent or very good health. This number is down from 69 percent reported in 2016. However, smoking, alcohol use, sexual activity, and marijuana rates have fallen. Rates of long-term mental health or emotional problems have risen.
While smoking rates are down, vaping or the use of an e-cigarette has increased. One in four Minnesota 11th graders reporting using an e-cigarette in the last 30 days. That is a 54 percent increase from the 2016 survey. Nearly twice as many eighth-grade students reported the use of an e-cigarette in the past 30 days compared to 2016.
Reports of mental health, emotional or behavioral rates have increased for all grades and genders, but the increase is more pronounced among female students. Female students were nearly twice as likely as male students in all grades to report problems.
“Girls deserve to grow up seeing the boundless possibilities that lie before them, that so many are instead buried in stress and anxiety is unacceptable,” said Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “This survey shows that we need to continue to support efforts to bring mental health services to students at school, like the school-linked mental health program.”
Reports of suicide ideation has increased for all grade levels in the last six years. Twenty-percent of 11th-graders reported considering suicide in 2013, compared to 24 percent in 2019. Numbers in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students are more staggering. Students of the LGBTQ community are three times more likely as heterosexual students to report seriously considering suicide and four times as likely to attempt suicide.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, in Minnesota, there are only 11 child and adolescent psychiatrists per 100,000 children below the age, well below the recommended numbers. There are no child and adolescent psychiatrists in Wilkin County, Minnesota.
In 2016, 90 percent of students reported feeling safe at home, school, in their neighborhood and going to and from school. In 2019, that number dropped to 87 percent. Bullying and harassment have increased for fifth, eighth, and ninth-graders, while it has decreased slightly for 11th-graders. Cyberbullying rates have remained relatively the same between 2016 and 2019.
Students report decreased engagement in school in 2019 compared to 2016. This year showed that 73 percent of students feel highly engaged whereas, in 2016, 78 percent of students reported high engagement.
Seventy-one percent of students believe their school provides a supportive place for learning in 2019. Whereas in 2016, 75 percent of students believed their school provided a supportive place for learning.
The survey is administered through a partnership of participating schools and the Minnesota departments of education, health, human services and public safety.
The MSS is optional for school districts to take part in and students have the option to decline participation. More than 170,000 students participated in the 2019 survey.
Daily News will continue to follow this story.
Editor’s Note: This month’s Point of View salutes the fans in the stands.
It’s an amazing experience to see full attendance at a high school sporting event, the Pithey family, Wahpeton, agrees. Even when the community can’t make it to the arena, its support is apparent.
“We saw it this summer, when the 14U Babe Ruth baseball team left for Alabama. The community support is just something. We saw it during Daniel’s time, too,” Pat Pithey said.
The Pitheys include father Pat, mother Lori and daughters Sam and Caitlyn. Sam Pithey, 18, is a senior at Wahpeton High School. Caitlyn Pithey, 15, is a sophomore. The family is completed by son Daniel, 20, a sophomore at North Dakota State University, and their 12-year-old yellow lab, Duce.
“We have tremendous community backing,” Pat Pithey said. “We’ve got the administrators and coaches who are engaged and really care about the kids.”
The community is the backbone of Wahpeton Public Schools, Lori Pithey said. The district includes a fair share of multi-sport athletes.
“It’s fun to see them go from one season to another. It’s just a great experience for youth and families,” Lori Pithey said.
Sam Pithey’s high school career has seen her play with numerous young women, including her sister. Many players have remained with their sports throughout their education.
“I’ll miss our team bonding, the coaches and all the fun times that come with that,” Sam Pithey said.
Due to a broken wrist, Caitlyn Pithey couldn’t play as much as she liked with her sister during her milestone senior year. Caitlyn’s on the mend, though, and should be ready for basketball next year.
“Every family with a kid in sports goes through some type of learning curve, whether it’s about injuries, soreness or nicks,” Pat Pithey said. “Our school system, from the coaches, trainers and tremendous staff members, does a great job of watching out for the kids and helping them.”
Originally from Verona, North Dakota, Pat Pithey moved to Jamestown during his later two years of high school. A former football and basketball player, he took on what was then known as the Wahpeton Wops.
“I didn’t think I would grow up and support Wahpeton, but I did have two of my five older siblings go to NDSCS,” Pithey said.
A native of the Harvey, North Dakota, area, Lori Pithey participated in track during her high school junior and senior years. Harvey was part of the North Star conference, with communities including Valley City, Rugby and Devils Lake, North Dakota, but not Wahpeton.
New arrivals to Wahpeton in the late ‘90s, the Pitheys started their family. When Daniel Pithey was an elementary student, he got involved with Wahpeton Parks and Recreation sports.
“We love sports and, well, you kind of follow and do what your kids love to do,” Pat Pithey said.
Pat Pithey picked up the role of basketball coach, part of a leadership team for Daniel Pithey and several young men for a three years before moving on to Sam Pithey and her teammates.
While her husband was coaching, Lori Pithey would support the athletics by driving her children and other youth to their events. The miles might have been plenty, but so were the memories.
“They were always in the stands, cheering us on,” Sam Pithey said.
When one of the Pithey children weren’t playing a sport, they were attending the other’s competition. Sam Pithey remembers playing basketball with her brother and picking up a couple pointers.
Caitlyn Pithey, whose athletic involvement includes volleyball, basketball and softball, said she got involved because she watched her older siblings playing and having fun.
The Pithey family, Wahpeton, have no trouble explaining what makes their community and school district so special.
It comes down to the people, they said.
It’s nice to see everyone out and supporting each other, Caitlyn Pithey said. That can mean underclassmen coming to upperclassmen’s matches, football players taking in volleyball games and Breckenridge Cowboys fans checking out the Wahpeton Huskies.
“It’s not just one side of the river,” Lori Pithey said. “We’re all in this together.”
After graduation this spring, Sam Pithey plans to attend NDSU and take a medical-related major. Daniel Pithey is studying retail apparel and design. Caitlyn Pithey is interested in elementary education.
When not at school events, the Pitheys enjoy hunting, golfing and having basketball games in their driveway. It’s not always a family affair.
“It depends on if our neighbors drive by and challenge us,” Pat Pithey said. “We were in our driveway and the Cornelius family drove by. Well, a few minutes later they came by. Our Sam played with their Gina and Daniel played with their son, Corbin. We ended up having a Friday night grudge match.”
You can take the athletes off the court, it seems, but you can’t take the sport from the athletes.
They were sons, husbands, brothers, friends … and heroes.
Three Twin Towns Area soldiers who died in the War on Terror were honored with a battle cross monument. It was dedicated Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Richland County Courthouse, 418 Second Ave. N. in Wahpeton.
“We thank the North Dakota Heroes Foundation and the North Dakota Patriot Guard,” said Wahpeton Councilman-at-large Lane Wateland, speaking on behalf of Mayor Steve Dale and the Wahpeton City Council. “As you can see from this monument and the monument at Wahpeton High School, our city has a tradition of honoring those who have served. We are an ND Cares community and we are here to welcome this newest monument.”
The monument commemorates the lives of U.S. Army Specialist Keenan Cooper, 1990-2010; Army Staff Sgt. David C. Kuehl, 1980-2007; and Army Specialist Christopher Kleinwachter, 1976-2006. Friends and loved ones spoke at the unveiling, sharing anecdotes both touching and humorous.
Organizers promised the unveiling would be held, rain or shine. It was held on a sunny day with pleasant temperatures. An ample crowd gathered at the courthouse, standing close to a large American flag supported by two Wahpeton Fire Department engines.
“Thank you for attending the fifth statue unveiling throughout the state,” retired U.S. Navy Cap. Duane Sand said. “This is our fifth statute in nine years, including ones in Williston, Dickinson, Carrington, Jamestown and now Wahpeton. I don’t care if it takes 10 more years, we’re going to have monuments for every solider in the War on Terror.”
It takes a team effort to hold a ceremony like Saturday’s, Sand said. He singled out individuals like Cindy Sabinash of the North Dakota Patriot Guard and Richland County Emergency Manager Brett Lambrecht.
Richland County, North Dakota, and Wahpeton felt the monument was a great way to remember its heroes and bring the community together, Lambrecht said previously.
“We are thankful for these three men and all who served and gave us our freedom,” he said.
Richland County Commissioner Dan Thompson, a Vietnam War veteran, highlighted many ways the county has continued to show its respect for its country and the American military. They include continued service — Commissioner Rollie Ehlert is also a veteran, having served in Iraq — and improved benefits through the Veterans Service Office.
“It’s unbelievable what’s happened in the last year,” Thompson said before thanking Veterans Service Officer Mary Vetter.
The three honored men were beloved by their family, friends and colleagues, Daily News previously reported.
Specialist Cooper was active in FFA and as an honor student at Wahpeton High School. Cooper was killed in combat while serving his country in Yakuta, Afghanistan, survived by his family and fiancée.
Staff Sgt. Kuehl immediately entered the U.S. Army upon graduating Wahpeton High School. During his second tour of duty in Iraq, Kuehl was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his unit in Taji, Iraq.
Specialist Kleinwachter, a graduate of Grand Forks Central High School, enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard while still a high school senior. He was killed in action in eastern Afghanistan when the vehicle he was riding in during convoy operations was involved in a rollover.
Additional photos from the ceremony are available at www.wahpetondailynews.com.