The war against sophomores (5×8 – 5/16/12)

A prom is just a dance, on Carl Platou, North Dakotans want property taxes, preventing Alzheimer’s, and getting things done in Granite Falls.


Is there any school tradition in the land that inspires as much consistent controversy as a prom? It’s just a dance, and yet school administrators have a solid history of botching it. The latest example is Southwest High, which has banned sophomores from the formal, the Star Tribune reports.

It profiles Max Horn, who invited his date by spelling out the invitation in tea lights on the lawn. She spent money on a dress, he spent money on a tux, and together they found out the school would enforce the rule this year, despite allowing sophomores into the dance a year ago.

Associate Superintendent Theresa Battle denied the Horn family’s formal request for a waiver from the policy.

“I am unwilling to make an exception for rules that are included in the student handbook,” Battle told him in an e-mail.

“It’s such a shame that over 30 students will finish the school year with so much disappointment and anger about this,” said Max’s father, Ben Horn.

Smith said he thought all students knew of the junior and senior rule. “It was a tad surprising. Communication is always a problem,” he said. “I’m sorry if some people were inconvenienced or made plans that didn’t seem consistent with what was going on, but I don’t know how to deal with that.”

If only there were a way for school to make announcements on a public address system months in advance of a dance.

Proms bring out the best and worst. In Louisville, the Grammy-award-winning group Lady Antebellum wasn’t able to play at the Henryville (Indiana) High School prom, so it’s hosting all the juniors and seniors (note: no sophomores) at a mini-prom concert and then playing at a fundraiser for the town that was nearly destroyed by a tornado.

The kids entered a video in a contest to win the honor…

Of course, once the kids are at their prom, the “dirty dancing” patrol will start doing its thing. In Manitou Springs, Colorado, two women are charged with spraying Lysol on kids dancing too close and too suggestively, while calling them “sluts” and “whores.”

It’s just a dance. Or is it? In the Ft. Lauderdale area, kids went to the prom without spending a buck. All of the festivities were provided free of charge including hair and makeup, wardrobe and limousine service, food, music and dancing. They’re kids with cancer and no sophomores were turned away.

And in the Fort Wayne area, when kids found out one of their classmate’s mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, they brought out the pink.

And in Ohio, a young woman’s date backed out of the prom. Luckily, there was an NFL cornerback with a little more class…


Former Gov. Arne Carlson pens a tribute to Carl Platou, who has just been honored for “building the nation’s first satellite hospital system while the head of Fairview to creating the University of Minnesota Biomedical Discovery District that occupies the vast space just north of the new football stadium.”

Platou is a member of the Greatest Generation:

Like so many of his time, he was born of immigrant parents, endured poverty during the depression, lost his mother at an early age, and enlisted in the Army after the outbreak of World War II. All those events clearly impact a young person.

However, I cannot imagine a more sustaining and painful imprint than being trapped behind enemy lines in the Philippines and enduring nightly Banzai attacks from a fanatically dedicated enemy. And the conditions in the jungle were just as challenging. Carl described it as a “stinking mess.”

One hundred paratroopers went in and ten came out. Carl, wounded and malnourished, was one of the ten. But seared in his memory was the overpowering realization that in combat one is totally dependent on others. Teamwork and complete interdependence were not just rah rah phrases but the difference between life and death. It is the realization that life is about we not I.


The anti-tax movement seems to have hit a wall in North Dakota. The state will vote next month on a constitutional amendment to ban property taxes. A poll out this week shows three out of four North Dakotans surveyed don’t like the idea.

Says the Grand Forks Herald…

Proponents of Measure 2, which would amend the state constitution to eliminate property taxes, say they must do a better job of getting their message out to voters — particularly explaining what revenues would replace the key means of paying for local government.

But opponents of the proposal, a broad coalition of local governments, business and civic groups, say voters understand very well the implications of abruptly eliminating the primary funding source for school districts, counties, cities, townships and other units of local government.


What if you could prevent Alzheimer’s?

What if there were a national consensus to want to?

Watch U.S. Launches National Strategy to Combat Alzheimer’s on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.


Sometimes it feels like the whole state is like the Minnesota Legislature, but outside of Saint Paul, things really do get done. In Granite Falls, for example, people wanted a disk golf course and a solution to a really bad portage on the river.

Patrick Moore at CURE in Montevideo says Granite Falls is the “civic engagement capital of the world.” There’s a lesson here.

Bonus I: In Thiensville, Wisc., a man is picketing a restaurant after he was cut off from an all-you-can-eat fish fry.

Bonus II: I’ll be darned. Until last night, I had no idea that a photo I took had been alleged to have been an “Internet hoax.”

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Bonus III: New Jersey Republican Gov. Christie takes on the legend of Mayor Booker in this video for a New Jersey legislative press dinner. (h/t: Elaine Love)


A poll conducted just before Facebook’s public stock offering suggests that half of Americans think the social network is a passing fad. Today’s Question: Do you think Facebook is a passing fad?

Related: What happened when a couple of pizza guys bought an ad on Facebook? (NPR)


A poll conducted just before Facebook’s public stock offering suggests that half of Americans think the social network is a passing fad. Today’s Question: Do you think Facebook is a passing fad?

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Rutgers’ study on unemployment and the classes of 2006-2011.

Second hour: The new telescopes.

Third hour: Deni Bechard, who won the 2007 Commonwealth Prize winner for his first novel, Vandal Love. His new memoir is Cures for Hunger.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): A debate from NPR’s Intelligence Squared series, “Should we ban college football?” Debaters include Buzz Bissinger, Malcolm Gladwell and former NFL player Tim Green.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The Political Junkie.

Second hour: Facing cancer in your twenties.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – A Fargo researchers studying the effects of the BP oil spill on migrating birds(loon and pelicans) will soon take to the fields to gather blood samples and check nesting success. MPR’s Dan Gunderson will have the story.

For several years, University of Minnesota sociologist Ben Winchester has been arguing that even though many rural areas are losing population, they are actually gaining more people in their 30s and 40s than you would expect. Now his analysis of the 2010 census shows how and where this trend is continuing and changing in Minnesota. Jennifer Vogel will tell his story.

Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Not for a photographer whose work was appropriated by another visual artist — Richard Prince. Prince created paintings that used the other man’s photos, and was found liable for copyright infringement. Now the matter is being taken up by a federal appeals court. The final decision could send waves through the art world. NPR will explain why.

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