Schmitt, Boehm named Richland 44 King and Queen

Richland 44 High School's homecoming court for fall 2020. From left, Ellie Storbakken, Samantha Hendrickson, Rylee Hendrickson, Kiersten Boehm, Chase Schmitt, Kaden Schroeder, Tommy Zander and Gunnar Miller.

Chase Schmitt and Kiersten Boehm received their crowns Friday, Sept. 11.

Seniors at Richland 44 High School in Colfax, North Dakota, the pair were named Homecoming King and Queen. Richland 44 was originally slated to hold its homecoming week from Monday, Sept. 21-Friday, Sept. 25, but changing the dates to the second week of school turned out to be a good thing.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Dr. Britney Gandhi, Richland 44 Public Schools’ superintendent. “We got to have some of our usual activities, including dress up days, poster contests and some fun with the court.”

The coronation ceremony was held according to best practices against the COVID-19 pandemic. Students were separated by grades and there was a limited audience. The annual homecoming parade, hosted by Dollars for Schools, was not held this year.

“We had a special feature the day before, a get to know you kind of a thing that we livestreamed into the classrooms. We also didn’t hold our powder puff football or volleyball games,” Gandhi said.

Despite the changes, Gandhi said it was a successful homecoming week for the students of Richland 44 High School and Richland Elementary in Abercrombie, North Dakota. The district began the 2020-2021 education year Monday, Aug. 31.

“This was a fun way to show our school spirit as soon as we came back to school,” Gandhi said. “We had a good time, given the circumstances.”

While homecoming ceremonies are fun for students, staff and community members alike, Richland 44 has not forgotten about the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Store 44,” providing student and community support, is now open in both Richland 44 High School and Richland Elementary. The store offers school supplies and household goods at no cost to any student or family.

Students can pop in to pick up supplies, Gandhi said. Parents can also request items to be sent home. Requests are only seen by school administrators.

“When COVID-19 first hit us in March, our PTO came to me,” Gandhi said. “They said they’d like to do something to help families.”

Store 44 is a spinoff of the PTO family support program, where families shared their needs through surveys. Gandhi was the only person who knew the names of participants.

“The PTO would supply what we needed and we’d have pickup days in Abercrombie. We knew we wanted to sustain this program, so we decided to have an in-person store in both buildings. It allows for storage of bigger items. But we do still have the survey option for any family who wishes,” Gandhi said.

Store 44 organizers are also seeking donations of new or gently used winter gear. Donation bins are located at Richland Elementary’s north door and Richland 44 High School’s east door. It is preferred that apparel donations be made by Friday, Oct. 9.

Funding for Store 44 is made possible through the Richland 44 PTO. Donations are accepted and can be made by visiting

“Their goal is $5,000 worth of donations and they’ve raised over $2,000 so far,” Gandhi said.

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