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RHS North Dakota Studies Class to present findings of downtown Rugby in upcoming community forum, discuss Gov. Burgum’s Main Street Initiative

By Staff | Apr 21, 2017

Students in Mr. Kevin Leier’s North Dakota Studies Class at Rugby High School have been working on a history project that focused on the current buildings on Main Street in Rugby.

Throughout the process of visiting with business owners and touring buildings, however, the project has evolved to have a much larger focus, according to Leier.

The students visited around 18 downtown Rugby businesses and toured their buildings, spoke with prominent business owners in the downtown area, as well as spoke with some of Rugby’s oldest residents who have memories of what downtown used to be.

Classroom visitors such as Mayor Arland Geiszler, Dale Niewoehner, Terry Jelsing, Superintendent Dr. Mike McNeff and more were able to offer prospective on the history of Rugby and various roles that certain downtown businesses have played in the shaping of Main Street and the overall Rugby community.

The students are now putting together a documentary style video about the history of downtown Rugby, which will be shown at a community forum held on May 4.

The purpose of the forum is for the community to see what the students have discovered of the past history of Rugby and to open a discussion of what can be done in the present to preserve that history, as well as make for a better future in downtown Rugby.

The class has reached out to Governor Burgum’s office to attend the forum, as their project coincides with his recent Main Street Initiative. The governor’s office has confirmed that Lt. Governor Sanford will be attending the forum, which will allow for some additional information on the Main Street Initiative to be presented.

“I really have enjoyed looking at the history of the buildings and learning about the value that downtown holds and what it means to our community,” Sara Bourne said.

“It’s really been about the past, present and future,” Gabe Clements said. “We looked at the history of the buildings and what we can do in the present to make it better so that people will want to come to Rugby in the future.”

Leier explained that this project has been a learning experience for him, as well. “It isn’t a very traditional class,” he said. “It’s very student-centered, project-based learning, and I have never put this much emphasis on student-driven learning before.”

Multiple students said that they felt they learned a lot from this project about the history of Rugby. Some buildings they visited included The Tribune, The Lyric Theater, Rob St. Michel’s buildings, Joy Dental, Stylin’ You Salon, Merchant’s Bank, City Hall and more.

“Being a new student this year, going downtown and seeing all these buildings helped me to learn about Rugby because I didn’t know much before,” Ashlee Johnson said.

“I think it’s interesting that we talked to 18 business owners and they were all really into [the project],” Keaton Larson said.

“It was just so much fun,” Cody Schumacker said.

Leier explained that he and the class hopes that the community forum will help people recognize all that there is in Rugby’s downtown area and that there will be an emphasis on buying local.

“I’m proud of this class and what they have been able to accomplish. Student involvement has been a really big part of it for me. I wanted them to have some pride in where they live,” Leier said.

Both Leier and the students in his class invite all business owners, as well as community members and residents, to attend the community forum to see what they have learned and to discuss the past, current and future status of downtown Rugby.

The community forum will take place on Thursday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the Rugby High School Auditorium.

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