Volunteers helped hang the graduating senior banners along the Main Avenue fence.

By Barbie Porter


As Frazee High School seniors prepare to enter into their adult lives, they are learning one final lesson from a community member, that one person can make a difference.

Seniors are being gifted a banner to commemorate the conclusion of their high school career, and with it, community applause for earning a high school diploma. The concept was created and carried to fruition by Frazee resident (and Councilwoman) Nicole Strand.

Seniors Dani Piche and Sam Winn plan to display their banners at their graduation party. 

“When it is over, I will stick it in my school scrapbook,” Piche said.

Winn said after his grad party the banner will be kept safe for years to come, so that he will have it to appreciate when he is “old.”

Senior Broden Fleisher plans to put the banner on display in his room after he receives it.

The three seniors all shared they were appreciative for the banner, and thanked Strand as well as the businesses that donated to have the banners made.

“I really appreciate what (they) are doing for us during this pandemic,” Fleisher said.

“I would like to say thank you 1,000 times (to Strand),” Piche said. “It is such a wonderful gift from her and the community! Then since it is such an awesome thing, I would hope it continues to be a tradition for future graduates.”

Winn added the gesture “made the senior class feel more important to the community.”

The idea to recognize the graduates from the Frazee-Vergas School District with a keepsake came about in 2020. The schools had shifted to distance learning due to COVID-19 and seniors of 2020 were missing out on milestone events, such as prom and graduation ceremonies were even questionable. (Graduation was held outdoors, with graduates and families attending in their vehicles).

During that time, schools began recognizing graduates with yard signs and other mementos in the community. Strand thought that would be a great idea, even when the health crisis passed. 

“I would like to honor our seniors every year, not just during COVID,” Strand said. 

Her vision was to have banners made and put on public display. On the banner would be the student’s senior portrait, name, school initials and year they graduated.  

Strand brought the idea to the school board and city council. Both entities gave her the thumbs up. Her next step was to look for donations and businesses to print the color banners.

Strand said she received two quotes from local sign makers. Brushmarks Signs came in with the low bid, which Strand said was about $30 per banner.

“I thought that was very reasonable and Brushmarks has been amazing to work with,” Strand said.  

With a price point in mind, Strand contacted area businesses to fundraise. The support was there, and Strand was able to raise more than anticipated. While some businesses were struggling due to financial impacts from COVID-19 regulations put in place by the state government, Strand said there were others who stepped in to make the vision a reality.

United Community Bank, Daggett Trucking, the Frazee Lions Club, Frazee Area Community Club, Bell Bank, Frazee Sportsman’s Club, the Tyler Shipman Foundation,  Twisted Yoga and OK Hardware & Lumber all chipped in, she said.

“There is still money left, and that will carry over for next year’s class,” she said. “I will still need to fundraise every year, but hopefully won’t need as big of donations.”

Donations can be made at any time, either by stopping at the United Community Bank and depositing funds into the Senior Banner Fund, under the community club account, or by contacting Strand, (701) 793-6942.

Strand then contacted the yearbook advisor Kaitlyn Hoekstra and her help (and the administration) a form was sent to students and their parents. There was no cost to the families, but a signature was needed to release the senior portrait to be used for the banners. Once the signatures were collected, the portraits were sent to Brushmarks and the banners were made.

Strand noted it was important to her to not pass the cost onto the families or the seniors.

“It is a community thank you to the kids for working hard in school and completing their high school career there,” she said.

Once the banners were in the process of being made, the final location of where they would be installed needed to be identified. 

“While driving home with my daughter, we were coming down Main Street and I  stopped the car,” she recalled, noting the city-owned fence at the duck pond stood out as a perfect location to hang the banners. “It is downtown, a great way to welcome people to downtown and was nice to have the entire class in one location.”

From the idea’s conception to reality it only took a few months. When the banners came in, Strand had no problem finding helpers to attach them to the fence.

“I’d like them to be on display through the end of May, and then they will be taken down and brought to city hall,” Strand said. “Students or parents can stop by city hall and pick up their banner then.”