Museum Staff, "Cardinals Charge Up," In The Midst Of, Cokato Historical Society (November, 2019) vol. 39 no. 4.
Dassel-Cokato School building ground breaking, 1971.
The union of the Dassel and Cokato High schools was made possible through the foresight of school administrators and both communities, who realized the financial and educational benefits of combining forces. Once the consolidation occurred in 1969, Dassel and Cokato students had three years at their individual high schools before joining forces--each waiting for the completion of the new building, school name, and mascot.
To this day, different rumors float around about how the order of the school name was determined (Dassel-Cokato vs Cokato-Dassel). The credit for the Chargers namesake, however, is directed towards Russ Johnson, a long-time schoolboard member and electrician.
By the time the new Dassel-Cokato High School building was near completion, the Cokato Public School was bursting at its seams. From 1968-1971 portable module school rooms were placed on the east side of the school for grades 4-6. By 1971, the Cokato first graders were sent to Stockholm Country School.
Cokato Public School, circa 1970. Notice the white and brown modules infront of the school building.
In addition to the cramped conditions, the high school section of the school was deteriorating. Former student Mark Peterson recalled how Cokato students could get the floors of the upstairs study hall to shake. In addition, snow blew in through closed windows, and once a piece of ceiling plaster almost fell on the principal’s head.
Gordy Erickson and Mark Peterson are members of the class of ‘72, the last class from Cokato High School. When interviewed, each spoke of their pride for graduating a Cardinal. However, both don’t recall if the Cokato Public School did anything special that year to recognize the last Cardinal class. Peterson felt the school focused more on gearing up the juniors for the transition to the new high school that would happen the following year.
First day at the new Dassel-Cokato High School, fall of 1972.
Dorene (Brandel) Erickson is a member of the class of ’73, the first graduating class of Dassel-Cokato High School. She remembers the transition from Cokato to D-C going really well—stating how the new football team going to state that year “seemed to prove it was a good thing to combine.” Students were also excited about how wonderful and modern the new building was.
Although the shift went well, according to Dorene, there still was some apprehension those first few days. She recalled how “kids from Cokato were excited about getting a Cokato teacher and nervous about getting a Dassel teacher.” In addition, she mentions how the class dynamic of the class of ’73 is a little different than most, as some former Dassel and Cokato classmates never really got to know one another well after only spending nine months together.
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