"I'm moving to Crookston, Minnesota." Those weren't exactly the first words I wanted to tell my friends in the middle of my sophomore year.

    After a long chat and a visit to northwestern Minnesota, my family made the informed decision to move to Crookston. My father accepted a new job as the executive director of Tri-County Corrections and moved out there while my mother and I stayed in Rapid City, South Dakota, to finish the school year.

    "I'm moving to Crookston, Minnesota."

    Those weren’t exactly the first words I wanted to tell my friends in the middle of my sophomore year. I was  a teenage girl, for starters; I was established in a high school I actually liked, involved in outstanding programs, had a great and sturdy group of friends – and suddenly I was going to have to leave them to move to what I thought would be a po-dunk town that was closer to Canada than I ever wished to be and would have absolutely nothing to offer.

    I finished my sophomore year with a fiery flare, gushing sentimentals to friends and throwing my birthday party a whole two months early so I could celebrate and enjoy with people I knew. I said a teary goodbye to the Black Hills. It was the beginning of June and it was time to leave.

    Knowing that the sun would, contrary to my popular belief, come out the next morning, I stuck out my chin and trudged forward, confident that I was going to make my second move – and the first one with a new high school in the near distance – the best thing that ever happened to me.

    While I was correct on the first two assumptions that a.) Crookston was a po-dunk town compared to Rapid City and Kansas City, my first two cities, and b.) It was closer to Canada than I ever wished to be, I was completely wrong on the last assumption that Crookston had nothing to offer.

    A few days after moving into our house on Memorial Drive, I found myself at the Presbyterian Church auditioning for a Community Theatre performance with people I had never met. I have always been infatuated with theatre and musicals; when we heard from a friend about “The Love Boat” being put on by the local community theatre, I knew by auditioning I would be forced to introduce myself to new people and start the process of establishing myself in Crookston while enjoying something I loved.  I ended up being cast in the show and suddenly I had rehearsals and lines and songs to memorize, filling up what had previously been a void of empty time and, inevitably, boredom.

    While practicing and performing in “The Love Boat” I made two very good friends; I was ecstatic that they were high school age girls and would actually talk to me. Those of you who have been a new kid know that irrational fears, such as “What if nobody talks to me?” or “What if they think my hair is weird?” or even “Will they like me?” fill your head in new situations. It was hard for me to not be confident in myself, but it happened.

    They continue to be my friends today and have helped me to establish my array of extracurricular activities, as well as introduce me to their friends, who are my core group of girlfriends today.

    “The Love Boat” ended, the school year started and I walked into my junior year a sweaty, nervous mess, knowing hardly a soul save for a few people. As the year commenced I went to dances and signed up for speech, a new and completely unknown activity to me. My bond with people continued to grow until I had an extensive group of friends and a good rapport with most everyone. I auditioned and was cast in both the one act play and three act play as well as pop choir. I joined the prom planning committee, went to my first prom, joined GSA and was inducted into the National Honor Society.

    It suddenly seemed that every week night and nearly every weekend I was busy and involved in some school-related activity. My junior year was the busiest year I’ve had in my high school career, and I give credit to the small-town atmosphere here for that. Because of the small-town atmosphere, I have met and now know nearly everyone, joined and heard of multiple activities and have kept busy and established and happy. Crookston definitely has a lot to offer.

    I sometimes think about what my life would be like if I would have never moved to Crookston. While I still chuckle at the occasion “uffdah,” I’ve found that I actually enjoy the small-town feel and everything Crookston has going for it.

    Living in a small town has been a good experience for me, opening my eyes to things that big cities just don’t have. I will be forever grateful that I moved to Crookston, Minnesota. It seems like life always has a quirky way of working out, and while a situation presents itself as one thing, and can turn out to be completely different.