When moving on to the real world from high school, graduates always hope they can stay close with their friends and see their children grow up together. A group of 1987 grads were fortunate enough to see that before their own eyes and it all came full circle on graduation day.
Tom and Christy (Schuler) Haire, Janel (Brudvik) Fredericksen, Brian “BK” Johnson and Steve “Harry” Arnhalt all watched their sons accept their diplomas on Sunday, June 2 at Breckenridge High School. The parents’ experience was enhanced because even their friends’ kids felt like their own.
“Whether it’s my son or my friend’s son, you treat everybody like it’s your son. Max (Johnson) is like my son,” Arnhalt said. “You pull for the same team whether it’s your son or not. It’s been a very fun ride. We’re optimistic the ride ain’t over yet.”
Along with getting to see their children have fun together like they used to, the parents also enjoy seeing their friends’ traits passed down to their children in a lot of different ways.
“As we went to different graduation parties it really hit home,” Tom Haire said. “A lot of the times when you look at our sons and daughters of our classmates, knowing the parents we could see those characteristics in the child – whether it was looks or whether it was actions.”
It can go either way when moving back to the hometown. If the journey wasn’t enjoyable, it would be like reliving the poor experience in high school. That wasn’t the case for the ’87 grads who were all close during their time at BHS.
“I feel really fortunate, because the guys and girls class of ’87 that have kids in this grade are some of the neatest people I’ve ever met in my life,” Fredericksen said. “That’s been the biggest blessing of this whole experience is just getting to do it with people you love to spend time with and love to see.”
The parents hope the tradition can continue with their children settling down in their hometown to raise a family.
“We love Breckenridge and this area and that’s why we moved back to this area. I don’t know where our kids will end up, but I know they have great memories here and they love the town,” Tom Haire said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they attempt to settle back here, but you know how it goes with the job market and stuff like that.”
Even if the Class of 2019 end up in a different area, the parents would like to see their friendships continue like theirs have.
“We were good friends as we rolled into this program and it’s just been a tremendous experience. Hopefully just like how all of us stayed together, we can teach our kids that same loyalty and friendship,” Arnhalt said.
The Haire family has been following their son Zach’s career in cross-country and wrestling, while the other three families have been on the football and basketball sidelines for the most part. Their love for following their sons’ football careers led to them partnering up with other football parents to buy a bus to take to the games in the fall.
“Football’s the best team sport out there. It was fun. The Fredericksens, Arnhalts and us bought the bus together along with the Wendorffs, Randalls, Boldinghs and Hasbargens,” Johnson said. “Just having that bus and being able to travel on the football side was a lot of fun.”
The three football players, Luke Arnhalt, Carter Fredericksen and Max Johnson, even had their graduation party together along with Michael Randall. His parents were also Breckenridge graduates that stuck around the area.
“(Being sports parents together) made it that much more special. Joe Randall wasn’t in our class, but same thing,” Fredericksen said. “Some of those expanded families that you got to watch run track and do well in those things and then getting to share that experience with some of your best friends, I’m just beyond blessed.”
Not only the Class of ’87, but a large bulk of the parents in this year’s graduating class were also from Breck.
“Tanner Differding and Sam Bakken’s parents both went to Breckenridge. Bruce Yaggie, Jeff Vizenor, the Gowins and it seemed like a lot of the kids who graduated had kids that were Breckenridge graduates,” Tom Haire said. “A lot of the times you hear people wanting to get out of this area, but when I think back to ’87 and the crew that graduated this year, even if they didn’t have someone that graduated this year, a lot of them did stick around.”