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60 chairs built for St. Henry's celebration

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60 chairs built for St. Henry's celebration
Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson 56482

Take a pile of surplus lumber, most of it needing sanding and a good cleaning...a guy with the right idea at the right time--along with the equipment to carry it out...the creativity of 60 kids and families...and a commitment to Catholic education; and what do you get?

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One of the most unique fundraising ideas in the 125-year history of St. Henry's Catholic Church school. Actually, it may be one of the most novel fundraisers for the Perham area in general.

Sixty child-size "Adirondack" chairs have been built by John Kratzke. The chairs will be auctioned at the official 125th anniversary celebration.

"I'd been tripping over that pile of scrap wood for about 24 years," laughed Kratzke, of Kratzke Swings in Dent. "When you work alone and the wood-working machinery is running, you have a lot of time to think. And this is what I came up with."

But construction of the chairs is really only "Phase I" of the fundraiser.

These quaint, knotty-pine chairs will go through a transformation before they get to the auction block. Families will be taking them home to decorate and paint them, with their own imaginative ideas. Then, the original art creations will be auctioned.

One family is already talking about decorating their chair in a Minnesota Twins theme--possibly with Twins' autographs right on the chair, according to St. Henry's Principal Mary Kloster.

There has also been talk of patriotic red, white and blue themes; northwoods scenes; and a purple Minnesota Vikings motif.

"Families can design them for indoors or outdoors, in any way they want....There are no rules, and the sky is the limit," said Principal Kloster.

"We're trying not to give them too many ideas, so it can be a creative, fun activity and a way for the families to showcase their talents," said Kratzke.

Appropriately, the chairs were delivered to the school and distributed to families Jan. 28--the start of National Catholic Education Week.

John Kratzke, his parents, and his three kids are all alumni of St. Henry's.

"A person's not always in a position to donate the kind of dollars and cents to the school that they would like to. But if you have talents and skills you can contribute--it can come out the same in the end," said Kratzke. His wife Kathy has also been instrumental in organizing and promoting the fundriaser.

"John just walked into my office with what he was thinking...and I said 'oh my goodness, what an idea,'" said Kloster. "He really is a visionary. We decided to go with it for our 125th anniversary."

All School Reunion planned for St. Henry's 125th

It is a red-letter year for St. Henry's Catholic School, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2008.

Observances will culminate Saturday, June 21, for the 125th Anniversary Celebration and All School Reunion. The event is scheduled during Perham's "Turtle Fest" weekend.

The event includes a 4 p.m. open house; with a Mass, program, dinner and auction to follow.

For more information contact St. Henry's Area School at 346-6190.

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