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Sue's Views -- To all UMM students: We'll enjoy getting to know you

Growing up in Park Rapids, I never had to look at a calendar to know when it was the Friday of the state's fishing opener. I just had to try to make a left turn off Highway 34. It could take up to 10 minutes, waiting in bumper-to-propeller traffic, to turn onto Mill Road and drive the last four blocks home. Of course, living across the street from a public access had many challenges, and none were limited to the fishing opener. More than once, I had to unhook a boat trailer from a pickup and walk it out of the way so I could get out of the driveway and get to work.

Now that I live here, I never have to look at a calendar to know when it's opening day of classes at the University of Minnesota, Morris. I just have to try to find a parking spot in the North lot on campus. Granted, there were no boat trailers, but there are plenty of U-Hauls and even a motor home.

This is an exciting time of the year in Morris. How often does any small community like ours get such a rush of new residents? And the surge of enthusiasm that always accompanies a new year? It's like we all get a little younger just by proximity.

Today is the first day of classes at UMM. Today, every single student has a 4.0 grade-point average and every single professor is caught up on grading papers. Today, there is nothing but potential for the upcoming semester.

I envy the students on this day.

But I am not so old that I've forgotten just how quickly you can burn through your financial aid and the food you brought from home. Or when you look up and realize you're three days behind in your classes. Or being so wrapped up in trying to figure out the rest of your life that you cut someone off trying to take a left turn off Fifth Street, push past a slower patron at the store or forget that your neighbors get up early and throw a party on a Wednesday night.

There is more traffic, both on the street and on the sidewalks. There are folks I don't know sitting at my favorite table at the coffee shop or diner. There is more noise.

But there are also more events. Living next door to a University of Minnesota campus has a lot of benefits such as the Performing Arts Series, student theatre and music performances, interesting speakers, art exhibitions, not to mention the long list of athletic competitions with outstanding accommodations.

This is all part of living in a college town.

All in all, though, having the students here somehow seems to keep us all a little more interested in life, a little more focused on what the future might hold.

Jessie Sherman, a UMM student from Montana, wrote an essay on arriving in Morris and her views on the community. Sherman's essay can be found on this Web site.

I hope that we will have the opportunity to get to know many of these students throughout the year. More importantly, I hope they get to know us, those lucky souls who call Morris home year round. I hope they find us so welcoming, so interesting, that they figure out a way to become a permanent part of our community. That 15 or 20 years from now, they are here to welcome the incoming students and let them know that there is lots to do, to see, to learn and to become in Morris.

Welcome to Morris, UMM students, faculty and staff. We're glad you're here.