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Local firms, city honor grads

By Staff | May 8, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT Workers hang banners honoring members of Rugby High School's Class of 2020 on Main Avenue Monday.

While many Pierce County residents won’t have the chance to attend a graduation ceremony for Rugby High’s Class of 2020, they can still see tributes to the seniors on Rugby’s Main Avenue this month.

Local marketing firm I Design teamed up with local photographers, Mark Voeller of Otter Tail Power Company and the City of Rugby for the project. Voeller used a lift bucket to hang vinyl banners featuring the 43 graduates’ senior photos on light poles from the intersection of Main Avenue and Third Street Southwest, south past the high school.

I Design produced most of the banners and two photographers contributed banners of their own, according to I Design owner Daunne Heilman.

Heilman said parents learned of banner salutes to high school seniors in other towns and approached her with the idea.

“We started this project about a month ago,” Heilman said. “We’ve done banners of that nature before, never seniors, but we’ve done that style. They call them a boulevard banner.”

“I have a senior,” Heilman said of her daughter, Taylor Nelson. “We have a total of five seniors that work for us.”

“It was kind of a big deal for us,” Heilman said. “We’ve all seen it first hand how (closing Rugby High School and canceling spring activities) were affecting them.”

“We love to do cool projects like this,” Heilman added.

Heilman said most photographers who took the seniors’ photos released them to I Design so they could be printed on two sides of outdoor-quality vinyl with a large format printer. The vinyl sheets are then stitched with durable thread for attachment to poles on local streets.

Heilman enlisted the help of her daughter, Bailey Nelson, to take pictures of two graduates who hadn’t had senior pictures taken. “She just donated studio time to take a picture of them,” Heilman said.

I Design also produced banners and signs for high school grads in neighboring communities Bottineau and Belcourt.

“We did (banners for) Flasher,” Heilman said. “My old stomping ground, my old alma mater is Flasher High School so we’re doing theirs.”

“We’re doing banners, signs, whatever, because people want to (use yard signs, other materials) to let them know there’s a senior there,” she continued.

Heilman said I Design was “very busy between (the banner project) and our masks.”

“We’ve been shifting our whole production field into (masks and projects related to living under guidelines to combat COVID-19),” Heilman added. “But that’s kind of what we do. We’re a marketing-based company so we work with whatever’s going on in the community. We help get the word out, whatever it is.”

“We did 100 masks this weekend,” she said as she walked past a worker busy at a sewing machine to a table filled with masks bearing the First International Bank and Trust logo.

Heilman said I Design donated services and time for the senior banner project.

“We’ve had several people help us out by donating funds as well. If we had started an account, we would have waited for another two weeks to start this,” she explained. “So we just decided that we needed to get it done. If we cover our costs, we cover our costs. If we don’t, we don’t.”

“This is the fun part about being in a small town, the community support,” Heilman added.

“I just can’t imagine how it must be not to have your senior year,” Heilman said.

After pausing, she added, “Well, I can imagine. I have a senior. It’s just hard for them so I think this is a perfect way to honor them and give them a little recognition.”

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