Editor's column: Hancock graduate headed back to Kansas
Now that she's graduated from Hancock High School, Grace Ogren plans to return to one of her homes.
Ogren will attend Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas, in the fall for dental hygiene. Ogren spent nearly 13 years in the Wichita area before she moved with her family to Minnesota.
During the 2018-2019 school year she told her mom Carly "I wanted to be back home," Ogren said.
Although at home in Morris and in Hancock Schools, Ogren wanted to return to her other home.
The recent graduate didn't talk to me in a recent interview about being homesick as much as she wanted to return to a place where she felt comfortable.
It's possible to be at home in two different states, Ogren said. When she heard she was moving to Minnesota roughly five years ago, she was excited. Her dad Dave's family lived in the Brainerd area. Minnesota meant summers with family, riding a four-wheeler and other fun stuff. She's liked living and working in Morris and attending school in Hancock. The area has felt like home, Ogren said.
But Kansas also meant fun with friends and other special times.
There are things about Minnesota that remind her of Kansas. "The other day when it was really windy, I thought 'This reminds me of Kansas.'"
Even the wind can trigger a good memory of Kansas. But that doesn't necessarily include memories of tornado winds and storm warnings which forced the family into the basement more than once in Kansas.
"Lots of tornados. Lots of running to the basement, Lots of severe weather," Ogren said. She laughed when she said this. A sign, I would assume, of being a tough Kansas weather kid.
Now, stormy weather in Minnesota is kind of exciting, she said.
While her family visits Kansas once a year, Ogren knows returning to an area where she grew up will be a change.
"Wichita is about 400,000 (people) so it's going to be a big difference," she said. Although her family lived about 25 minutes from Wichita, she is still familiar with the metropolitan area. "I don't think it will take me too long to get used to it," Ogren said.
Ogren has been through changes before. She was home-schooled in Kansas. Her family moved to the Brainerd area before Morris. She attended a small Christian school for one year in the Brainerd area before starting in the Hancock School District.
I didn't do any official checking but I'd say it's a good bet that Ogren would be the first Hancock graduate to attend college at Wichita State.
But she isn't the first Ogren to venture more than several hundred miles away from home after graduation.
Her older sister Hannah, a 2017 graduate of Hancock High School, left Minnesota for Connecticut where she takes online classes at Arizona State University and attends a local community college. Younger brother Lincoln is a freshman but he's already leaning toward returning to Kansas for college, Ogren said.
Ogren said she enjoyed her time at Hancock High School. She was impressed with how well 18 students became friends. "Just to see how much the class enjoyed each other," she said is one of her good memories.
After she starts college this fall, she has plans to do friend stuff with a close friend in Kansas.
I'm pretty sure Ogren will be pleased if there at least a breeze on that first day when she and her friend are having coffee in Wichita, because that will feel like home.