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What makes Perham schools tick?

All the things that make the Perham-Dent public schools tick were on display and in the spotlight March 28.

Both staff and community members who contribute to the success of the school were honored at the annual Honey Bee Gala.

Teacher, coach and radio sports director Mike Peterson was honored with the "Activities Department Investment Award."

"The kids give me more than I give them by a long shot," said Peterson. "You get to see them on game day, but I get to see them at practice every day. Our kids are unbelievable."

The presentation to Peterson was made by Activities Director Fred Sailer, but the accolades were a two-way street--as Peterson also complimented Sailer highly.

"I go to a lot of games, and people ask me 'what's going on in Perham; why is Perham so successful; who drives that train?'" said Peterson. "I respond with a four-letter word: Fred....I would go through a wall for Fred. He's the one who makes it all go."

One of the surprise honors of the evening went to Brian Mort, a past president of the 549 Family Foundation and a diligent fundraiser for the organization.

"He's got a million ideas on how to raise money," said current Foundation President Dean Bahls, adding with a laugh, "the hard thing is figuring out which ones are legal."

Mort was honored with the Perham High School "Community Investment Award."

At Heart of the Lakes Elementary School, Virginia Von Ruden received the "Investment Award."

In presenting the honor to Von Ruden, teacher Sue Kostynick commended the volunteer for her "special way of dealing with kids."

Earning the "Investment Award" at the middle school was Pat Nordick, who was a leader in the "Vote Yes Together for Kids" campaign. He is also a strong supporter of the arts, athletics and academics.

Honored teachers in each school were:

Math teacher Diane Porath, Perham High School, who will be retiring after this year.

Nick Courneya, a young teacher who has taught three years at Perham's Prairie Wind Middle School.

Darla Guehna, elementary teacher. In presenting the honor, Superintendent Tamara Uselman told a few stories about Darla--who was a childhood classmate of hers in New York Mills. In fact, the two "played school" together as kids and--years later--they both continue fulfilling careers in education.

Students were also in the spotlight during the evening, with the swing choir, individual vocalists, and a hilarious performance of her speech team entry by Megan Shipman.