Minnehaha Academy Blog

Nick Tofteland

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Zoey (Cohen) Leege '97

Posted by Nick Tofteland on Aug 19, 2019

After working with people with disabilities for 18 years, Zoey’s life completely changed last January when she was diagnosed with a disability herself.  Right after the new year, she got the chills like a cold or the flu.  First it started in her arms and she thought nothing of it (it waswinter in Minnesota!), then it went away.  Soon after, her pinky fingers started getting numb and tingly.  She thought, “that is odd--maybe it’s a pinched nerve related to my back pain?”  She spoke to her father who is a retired doctor.  When hewas concerned--then shewas concerned!  He recommended going to the ER and getting an MRI done immediately.  After a series of symptoms and subsequent appointments, she was told by a neurologist they were “surprised she was even walking,” and diagnosed her with a rare, neurological disorder called Neuro Sarcoidoisis.  It was this condition which led to damage in her spinal cord and nerve damage, known as Transverse Myelitis.  Zoey is expected to recover slowly over the next 2-5 years and is hopeful that her condition will not turn out to be progressive.

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Topics: Alumni Stories

Elaine Ekstedt '69

Posted by Nick Tofteland on Aug 19, 2019

Elaine Ekstedt began as a student at MA in ‘66, graduated in ‘69, and has been a faculty member at the School since she began teaching English in the fall of ‘73!  Her job at Minnehaha is theonly job she has ever formally applied for in her life.  She graduated from Augsburg College with a secondary education degree in English and had hoped to be a teacher but was hired as a faculty secretary.  A week before school started, Arlene Anderson called Elaine into her office and asked her if she was disappointed that she didn’t get a teaching position. Elaine said, “No! I know it’s going to be a lot of work.”   Arlene went on to share that Geri DeVries had decided to take a sabbatical. “How would you like to take her position with a full time English contract?”  In about two hours Elaine’s whole life changed.  She had one week to get ready.  “God just came along and pushed me head first. I didn’t have time to be worried about it.” 

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Topics: Alumni Stories

Kirk Militzer '80

Posted by Nick Tofteland on Aug 2, 2019

“My education at Minnehaha in the late 70’s offered a Christian worldview that has made a huge difference in my life.” A Christian worldview refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs, or a lens, through which a follower of Jesus interprets the world and interacts with it.  

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Topics: Alumni Stories

Nate Stromberg '96

Posted by Nick Tofteland on Aug 2, 2019

“I never anticipated that I would be a faculty member at Minnehaha. I was excited to graduate and be independent. I never would have anticipated coming back.”   

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Topics: Alumni Stories

Linda (Swanson) Wismer '70

Posted by Nick Tofteland on Jul 18, 2019

When Stephen Wismer (‘68) and Linda Swanson (‘70) stood before the pastor on their wedding day in 1973, his final prayer ended with these words, ‘‘until one shall lay the other into the arms of God.” At 21 years old, Linda had no idea what she was committing to, nor did she imagine how soon that would happen. Seven years later, when Linda was only 29 and their two sons were four and two, Stephen was walking in downtown Minneapolis when he was struck and killed by a careening car.  “Everything about my life changed in an instant, and I learned what it meant to live by faith.” 

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Topics: Alumni Stories

Preston Anderson '07

Posted by Nick Tofteland on Jul 18, 2019

“This is an exciting time for Minnehaha Academy.  I’m most excited about the new history that will be made--Minnehaha does an excellent job of building from the past, and creating a legacy. These last few years have not been easy--it’s been very hard. But the Lord has blessed MA and brought good from it.  Minnehaha has done a great job of bringing new people in through their doors-- thousands of people have been blessed by MA, and that will only continue. It will be great to see how the new building is used. But we should remember that the school is not about the building--it’s the people, the spirit, the community that will continue.”

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Topics: Alumni Stories

Sora Oh '03

Posted by Nick Tofteland on Jul 2, 2019

Sora and her family left Korea when she was 15. She didn’t speak any English, but her family came to Minnesota for better educational opportunities and a better environment. That fall, her brother went to the University of Minnesota, and she started her sophomore year at MA.  

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Topics: Alumni Stories

Tom Kamp '79

Posted by Nick Tofteland on Jul 2, 2019

“MA had such a big impact on my life. I had an excellent experience as a student, made lifelong friends, and had huge respect for my teachers.  It was incredibly formative for me. Being on the capital campaign committee was an opportunity for me to get involved and to try to help encourage others to recognize the impact that MA had in their lives--and indicate that we should be stepping up like the people of MA did 100 years ago…in forming the school, giving sacrificially to enable the school to be formed, and ultimately serve us.  In the same way, we should be stepping up today so that we can be putting in place the buildings, facilities, programs and endowments that can carry the school forward for the next 100 years.”

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Topics: Alumni Stories

Don DuBois '82

Posted by Nick Tofteland on Jun 19, 2019

Don DuBois was in the Upper School the day of the explosion, as he is the Upper School Campus Maintenance and Building Supervisor. His class had a reunion the fall after the explosion, and there were a lot of people he had not seen in years. Everyone expressed so much caring and sadness over what had happened. But as he reflects, “The buildings were nice, and it’s sad that the buildings are gone--there is nothing left from when we were students there. But it is not the building that makes MA. We still have those memories, and we still have the relationships.”

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Topics: Alumni Stories

Jack Albinson '50

Posted by Nick Tofteland on Jun 19, 2019

“I may be one of the only surviving classmates of the class of 1950—that generation has mainly passed.“ Jack was born in 1932 and he is now 87 years old. The average man who entered the workforce in the early 1900’s lived to be 52 years old. His Minnehaha Academy and Wheaton College friends are mostly gone. 

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Topics: Alumni Stories

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