Growing up in District 196
March 18, 2016
Mr. Degenaar had a humble early beginning; greatness does not always start in great places. He grew up next door to us, in Rosemount.
“Rosemount was a rural, small-town, middle-of-nowhere, so my memories are going out and playing in the farm fields that were across the street from the school,” Mr. Degenaar recalls. “We spent the whole day running around outside.”
School is a tough transition for everyone. One moment we’re playing outside from dawn to dusk, and the next…we’re stuck behind a desk.
“I started kindergarten at Rosemount Elementary in 1961,” Degenaar says. “There were only three schools in District 196. First, Rosemount Middle (which was middle school and high school combined), Rosemount Elementary, and an identical school in Eagan called Northview Elementary.”
55 years ago, the district didn’t even have a full high school! Everyone in Apple Valley, Eagan, and Rosemount went to the same school all 13 years.
Mr. Degenaar says, “I remember kindergarten well: we had nap time and milk-and-cookie time, but it was full-day every other day. The total class size was in the low 20s. After that, I spent eight years at St. Joe’s Catholic school in Rosemount. I went to eight years of school with the same 23 kids.” For high school, he went to Rosemount High, graduating in 1974.
In 1976, Apple Valley High School opened. Mr. Degenaar was already in college, but his mom, dad and two brothers were around to see the drama that unfolded around the opening of a whole new school.
“My brother was a senior at Rosemount, and graduated in ‘77. He was involved in what was very traumatic at the time: having the seniors come to the new school.”
The entire graduating class had to attend the new high school and separate from Rosemount High. “What makes it more interesting,” he says, “my father was on the school board from 1973 to 1978, when this school was being designed. He was part of the decision to split the senior class.”
From a very young age the education system influenced Mr. Degenaar. “My dad was a teacher. He would drag me to the athletic events and I grew up with that lifestyle. I knew in high school I wanted to be a teacher because I had a great experience at Rosemount High.”