Quasquincentennial Essay Contest first place winners “What I like most about Maple Lake”

John Northenscold Jr. Adult, 1st place

Austin Woolridge High School, 1st place

Kayla Hanson K-6th grade, 1st place


By John Northenscold Jr.
Adult, 1st place
As we celebrate Maple Lake's 125th birthday, many will reminisce and recall family stories about relatives with roots that reach back to the very founding of the town. But not me. My family moved in from "The Cities" to an old farmstead when I was 13 years old. That was 43 years ago this summer. When I think back to that summer, I remember missing all my friends "back home" and the adventures my patrol buddies were enjoying in the Boy Scout troop I left behind. Being the oldest of five brothers, I had baby-sitting added to the new chores my dad kept calling "Fun on the Farm!" It was quite a jolt.
I loved the wide-open country, though, the farm fields, the woods and most of all, the lakes. This Maple Lake area is beautiful country. When I started the eighth grade I didn't know a single person in my class. I was hoping it was going to be better than the previous fall when my parents enrolled me in another school because they were buying a house in that district. I was glad the purchase agreement fell through and I only had that one-day scare and was back with my old friends for the remainder of seventh grade. I was thinking of that experience and rather nervous that first day of class. But something happened that day that changed my life forever. I met a friend. A bold classmate who took a chance and welcomed this new kid to his circle of friends. And what a great circle it was!
Today I still count that bold classmate as my best friend, and most of the others have remained in my current circle of friends. I am happily  married to the sister of one of those friends I met that first day of school. This first school day experience was the exact opposite of my previous first day experience. As the years went on, I noticed a difference between Maple Lake and the surrounding towns. This town has heart! And I was glad to be a part of it.
I continue to thank God and my parents for choosing Maple Lake, the small town with a big heart! That is what I like best about Maple Lake. The people who live here have big hearts. All around the county Maple Lake is known for being a town with generous and charitable people. The Outstanding Senior Citizen of Wright County award has gone to a Maple Lake citizen at least a dozen times. Many times I have seen an out-of-town worthy cause having its benefit fundraiser here because they know it will be well-received. Three generations ago the members of St. Timothy's parish took up Fr. O'Brien's challenge and sacrificed to build a worthy, sacred house of God. Today it stands as a witness to their generosity and faith, providing ample space to inspire a generation of their great-great-grandchildren. In my own time a friend and 1978 Maple Lake graduate, Carol McBrady, saw the extreme needs among the homeless street children in Zambia, realized she could not look away, and literally became a mother to dozens. Today she brings to Zambia what she learned at home, and now our town has become one of her biggest supporters in bringing hope to so many children. What is the source of this charity? Why do I love Maple Lake?
True humility leaves little footprints of charitable acts. You won't find brass plaques and monuments trumpeting true acts of selfless generosity. You will find their descendants, though, and the seeds of their charity have grown trees yielding good fruit.
Take, for example, the courage of a local farmer, Richard Jude, who was seeking to defend his property from damage during the Indian Uprising of 1862. When he spotted two Indians near his farm, he and a neighbors tracked them down, gun in hand, only to discover they were crying and starving. He took pity on them, taking them back to his cabin where he fed them and sent them on their way. Homes and cabins were burned to the ground that day in Silver Creek, Albion and Corinna, but not in Maple Lake.
And there is the generosity of Patrick and Catherine Cannole, selling for only $2 a prime portion of their lake-view land in old East Maple Lake to Bishop Thomas Grace in 1866 for the building of Maple Lake's first Catholic church. Today the East Maple Lake Cemetery is still there.
Close to my heart is the civic dedication of Herb Bolduan, a New Ulm native, who took a job at the bank in town, fell in love with the people here, and never left. He made time to serve as village treasurer for 42 years and was also the treasurer for the Boy Scout troop for 20 years. Today the Lakers baseball stadium, Bolduan Park and Jude Hall, are all located on the old hobby farm Herb shared with his wife, Florence Kotilinek.
When the Reverend William Kanning was called to pastor Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Middleville Township in 1930, his family made Maple Lake their home. So impressed by the generosity and love of the townsfolk were the Kannings that after Rev. Kanning was called to South Carolina as a service pastor to military personnel, and later as chaplain in the U.S. Army, the rest of the family moved back so the children could finish high school here.
I could list many more acts of charity, sacrifice and cooperation performed by Maple Lake's early emigrants who were seeking in their new land the religious freedom they were denied in their old land. By living out their faith through love of God and neighbor they built a community with a big heart; passing on a  legacy that continues to this day. This is what I like most about Maple Lake.
By Austin Woolridge
High School, 1st place
Have you ever been to the one place where people recognize who you are, what you have achieved, and what you could become? This is Maple Lake, a small town tucked into the middle of Minnesota, in the heart of Wright County. Home to the Maple Lake Irish and about 130 employees, 421 elementary students, and 466 high school students as of the years 2013-14. Establishing the Maple Lake High School in 1966-67 brought education and moral values to the small town, and 24 years later the elementary school was built in order to give the younger generations a head start on life. With a population of over 2,150, Maple Lake is the safe haven for the young or the old. Whether you're seeking an influential education or a business opportunity, Maple Lake holds your wishes to be foremost. This town can come together to do great things and for 125 years it has!
What I like most about Maple Lake is the sense of well-being and home-town values. I've gone to school here for 11 years, ever since kindergarten, and still feel the warmth and compassion its citizens share as a whole. Maple Lake has been an inspiration to me and has helped shape my future goals, such as going to college, getting a job, and giving back to the community. Some people might be skeptical of living in a small town where everyone knows you, but from my perspective people knowing you brings a sense of security to me. Living in the small town of Maple Lake brings a sense of community. Community is where when something happens to you or someone else such as a death, the town rallies to boost that individual or family's down-fall. By doing this the individuals inherit a sense of belonging in that community, which promotes them to give back, which, in turn, brings the town together as one.
After living here for so long you begin to see deeper into what the citizens of this town hold to be important. If I could describe this town in two words they would be: picturesque and tight-knit. Picturesque because Maple Lake is a scene of a serene, simple-minded community that enforces its laws, supports its citizens, and runs at the hands of small-town business owners. Tight-knit describes Maple Lake's community where its decisions are made as a whole town, and nothing is changed, constructed or enforced until the town makes a decision one-mindedly. There is one thing that really stood out for me the moment I was able to see what this town was about. This was that unlike neighboring communities, like Buffalo, Monticello, and Annandale, the crime rate was very low. This surprised me because although I've lived here almost all my life, not one time have I heard of a convicted criminal from Maple Lake.
Maple Lake is a place where people recognize who you are, what you have achieved, and what you could become. Maple Lake is a town that gives me a sense of well-being and it also shares its home-town values. Maple Lake gives me a sense of security and belonging and there is not one other town I'd rather live in. Maple Lake has inspired me, guided me, and prompted me to be who I am today. Maple Lake has given me goals to strive for, inspirations to meet, and a legacy to fulfill. Thank you, Maple Lake, for all that has been given to me, all the support, and belonging. Happy 125th Birthday, Maple Lake!
By Kayla Hanson
K-6th grade, 1st place
One thing I like about Maple Lake is that our schools are not very large, so it makes it easy to recognize and know almost everybody. When we walk down the school hallways we frequently say hello to students or friends we may pass. I feel very grateful to know that I go to such a wonderful school and have amazing teachers who are not just there to hand out assignments but to help in so many different ways.
I love all the little shops in Maple Lake and while they might be small, they still have a lot to offer. Some of my favorite places to go to for example would have to be, The Costume Shop, The Bakery, or our town's library.
Another thing I enjoy about Maple Lake is when we have parades or "get togethers." It is always a blast when adults and children run the Irish Scamper. I am very entertained by the St. Patricks parade and The Gear Head Get Together! I love my town and the people in it!
2nd place - Brady Carlson
3rd place - MaryAnne Miller


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