Archiving our lives: celebrating the 100th year

Posted: March 2, 2012

Documenting the past

Pauline Ojambo, Talon staff writer

After a long eight-hour workday as director of special academics at Minnehaha, Elaine Ekstedt drives over to the archive house. There she meets her son, Justin Ekstedt, who is already hard at work: searching and writing.  Inside, the incoming Minnehaha memorabilia piles emerge from every corner.

According to Justin Ekstedt, researching/penetrating through Minnehaha’s vast history wasn’t fun, but that’s what was needed in order for him to accurately acknowledge and know all of the school’s history.

Justin and Elaine undertake the grueling task of telling Minnehaha’s history. The slow and steady progress of the historical archive house is their obligation.

For the archival process, past students were asked to make some predictions for the future; they included the addition of younger students and a place to keep the school’s history.

These two predictions happened to come true. In 1981 South Campus was purchased, in 1982 it became the lower school (grades 1-5), in 1985 Kindergarten began and in 1995 came preschool. As for a place to keep our school’s history, Minnehaha’s archive house is a work in progress.

Some predictions seemed to never come true. One included the speculation of dormitories. In the 1930’s, Minnehaha was in a rural area and the neighborhood began sending in money to the school, that money became the dormitory fund. In the 1950’s, a house was looked at, but the idea was dropped.

Some developments concerning faith included the chapel style.

“Chapel changes to what’s relevant to students,” said Elaine Ekstedt.

In the past, Minnehaha chapel was more church like, Ekstedt thought. Chapel included sermons, an organ and hymnals and now chapel includes guitars and

modernized music with an incorporation of music videos.

All the hard work is for the centennial celebration of this upcoming school year (2012-2013). Ekstedt and Justin have been working hard on a book about Minnehaha’s history. The working title is Minnehaha Academy: A Century of Faith and Learning. The 128-page book is due to the publishing company by the end of February.

Ekstedt’s interest in history and her experience helped when she was asked to

be chair of the history committee. As an English major, Justin was enthusiastic to write.

Like these two, many other staff and volunteers were willing to help with the upcoming celebration.

“Even the centennial, which is a major achievement, is only a moment in time,” Justin Ekstedt said.

Justin Ekstedt was able to use his experience and strengths. To him the hardest part about writing the book was the condensation. Essentially, he had to crunch 100 years into 128 pages. He worked over this past summer reading through yearbooks and newspapers. Through all his research, he was most intrigued by the extreme metamorphosis of Minnehaha from its humble beginnings as a small Swedish immigrant school to now a “very highly developed educational institution.”

The steady stream of successful individuals emerged from Minnehaha and were given to the world.

Written in the Centennial Vision,

“Today Minnehaha’s legacy is its nearly 12,000 alumni scattered across the globe – scientists, missionaries, teachers, doctors, business leaders and other professionals who are using their gifts and talents to make a positive impact in our world.”

Through the many years, Minnehaha has seen different presidents, atmospheres, enrollment rates, and technology but one thing stayed the same; integrating Christian faith.

“The hope is to pass it [faith] on to the next generation and build a community of believers,” said Gayle Gilreath director of stewardship and planned giving.

A centennial Bible verse, Hebrews 13:8, was chosen to reflect the past, present and future, with the intent of celebration: “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.”



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