Ten new Pelican school members inducted Oct. 15 

Pictured above, current and new members of the Pelican Rapids Chapter of the Minnesota Honor Society. In total, there are 12 current, and ten new members who were inducted Oct. 15.

By Louis Hoglund

Ten more Pelican Rapids High School students stepped up their commitment to leadership and community service—as members of the Minnesota Honor Society. 

The ceremonial induction program is just the beginning for these youth, who will be rolling up their sleeves in the classroom—and in visible roles around the area.

From minnow races to blood drives, Honor Society volunteers serve community

Pelican’s Honor Society entourage has participated in some of the most visible student volunteer activities. Among the service projects, as outlined by Karla Breen, honor society advisor:

• Picking up litter on Highway 59. 

• Assisting the Red Cross with two local blood drives 

• Serving at the Veterans Day program 

• Fighting hunger with the annual CROP Walk, and hauling freight at the Pelican area Food Shelf

• Reading to young learners at the Pelican Rapids Pelican Library during the summer Story Times. 

On top of all that, Honor Society kids are “ringside” for the weekly Pelican Chamber of Commerce minnow races. It’s a challenging service—working crowd control over rambunctious youngsters and keeping minnows on the track.

Candles representing the four Minnesota Honor Society Qualities were a part of the Minnesota Honor Society induction Oct. 15 at the Pelican Fine Arts Auditorium.
Left, Pelican Chapter officer Ellie Welch, foreground, with guest speaker Joe Clauson and Honor Society advisor Karla Breen, background.

Ten were inducted into the Honor Society, joining a dozen existing members. Welcoming the audience at the Fine Arts Auditorium was local chapter president Elizabeth Moe. Officers Allison Jensen, Ava Simpson, Kylee Holt, and Ellie Welch outlined the four pillars of the Society —scholarship, leadership, service, and character. 

Family are role models for Honor Society members 

Each new member was asked to share a statement about an important role model in their life—and each identified a parent or sibling. All were touching testimonies of the importance of family, but Brody Syverson’s was especially heartfelt. His father, Ryan, died in August from a long struggle with brain cancer.

Diagnosed in 2020, with the grim prospect of six months to live, Ryan Syverson “smiled” and held “his head high”—fighting for 42 months—much longer than the average expectancy. 

“He helped me believe that anything’s possible, even when the odds are against you,” said Brody Syverson. 

Another new member, Ariana Villagomez, reflected on her father, who immigrated from Mexico and found a new life in Pelican Rapids—and now with a daughter earning a role with the Honor Society. 

Guest speaker Clauson turned life around from rowdy high school days 

1985 Pelican Rapids High School graduate Joe Clauson was guest speaker—and by his own admission, was more likely a member of the “Dishonor Society.”

In a one-week span, Clauson accumulated a stack of 12 tickets from law enforcement—possibly a delinquency record unparalleled in Pelican school history.

Diagnosed as an alcoholic at age 18, the future came down to three choices: death, insanity, or recovery. “A powerful encounter with God,” combined with treatment, led him down a new path, and he hasn’t drunk for nearly 40 years. 

Clauson served in the ministry, from Frazee to Texas, before returning to his hometown to buy the Pelican Motel. He is also president of the Pelican Rapids Chamber of Commerce.

His story was a testimony to the fact that “nobody gets through life without scars…We all have temptations to do awful things,” said Clauson. But with grit and determination, those who fall can get back up. 

Clauson encouraged students to “know who you are… and your personality type, to help identify your strengths.”

Further, he encouraged students to form “durable relationships,” engage in service to the community, and also form a real connection to God.