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Fancy footwork: Drummond dancer to compete nationally
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When 11-year-old Emma Nelson-Ludzack watched her mom ballroom dance for the first time, it triggered a passion inside of her.

The more Emma watched people dance, the more she wanted to give it a go. So her mom, Stephany Arndt, signed her up for a lesson.

Since then, while her peers have been playing video games or sports, the Drummond girl has been pursuing her own sport: dancing at North Shore Ballroom in Duluth.

“I like it. It’s fun to dance,” she said.

Thus far, her moves on the dancefloor have helped her score wins in regional competitions. But her instructors, Ben Welch and Rae Lyons, think Emma is ready to go bigger — much bigger. She’s set to compete in December’s Dance Vision National Championships in Orlando, Florida.

As a mom, Arndt was a little anxious about how her daughter would do at her first competition. But her worries quickly turned to tears of joy when she watched her daughter move around the floor.

“It’s really fun to watch. It’s so special to see her compete. I cry a lot watching her,” she said.

When competing, Emma dances the foxtrot, waltz, tango and the Viennese waltz. With every move she makes, judges grade not only her moves, but her emotion and personality as well.

Her dancing skills have not gone unnoticed.

“Pro dancers at competitions will come up to her and comment on her dancing. Her partner (Welch) has told me before people would compliment her to him often,” her mom said.

Getting ready to compete in such a high-level competition has required “a lot of practice and hard work,” Emma said.

Even while watching people dance, Emma meticulously takes mental notes on ways she can get better.

Emma Nelson-Ludzack has been taking lessons with ballroom dance instructors Ben Welch and Rae Lyons for two years. (Contributed photo)

At the Dance Vision competition, Emma will compete in the bronze category for new dancers. She may only be 11, but the young star is just as good as anyone on the dance floor, placing less than a point away overall from the top three dancers, all of whom were much older than her, at a recent competition.

In Florida, Emma will get to showcase her skills at the national level for the first time. But it won’t all be hard work and competition; the mother-daughter duo look forward to spending time together at Disney World and Universal Studios.

“I’ve always wanted to go to,” Emma said.

It will be an expensive trip, but Arndt said it’s definitely worth it.

“It’s kind of surreal, I guess. It makes me a proud mommy,” she said.

The Florida competition also could launch Emma into the next stage of her dancing career.

“I’m excited to be a pro one day,” she said.

Mom is excited to see Emma chase her dream.

“It’s surreal to be 11 and find something you’re passionate about and good at. It’s all up to her,” Arndt said.


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He builds car shows a piece at a time
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Editor's note: This story has been edited to correctly say when Jim Bodin ran previous car shows. 

Jim Bodin doesn’t spend hours before a car show polishing the fender of his 1965 Plymouth Barracuda in the hopes that it will win a trophy.

He instead spends those hours assembling the trophies themselves.

“I order pieces, cut them and put them all together. It takes an hour to make each trophy,” he said, presenting a two-foot-tall award topped with a replica vintage gasoline pump.

That trophy will be the top prize for the Sept. 10 Mural Fest and Car show in downtown Ashland.

Bodin will help run that show, registering all the competitors, tallying all the votes and handing out all the prizes. He even selects the music that will be played while the cars are being shown.

“I play music from the 1950s-1960s — that’s what sets the mood,” he said. “I think I’m 18 when I’m there.”

The music and trophies are key parts of the show, but it’s the cars that drive it, so to speak. After all the work is done, Bodin enjoys standing back and watching crowds oooh and ahh over their favorites.

“People go, ‘I remember that one,’ or, ‘My dad had one of those,’” he said.

His wife, Linda, likes to attend car shows with him and enjoys talking to attendees, learning more and more about the cars they bring.

“It’s unbelievable the cars you see,” she said.

The Mural Fest and Car Show is one of several Bodin has been hosting in the area for decades. He also ran the North Coast Car Show in Washburn and Bay Days show in Ashland.

Jim Bodin has earned his share of trophies, too, with his 1965 Plymouth Barracuda.

His passion for car shows started the moment he set eyes on a 1955 Ford Thunderbird.

“My dad wanted one, too. It’s a terribly unique car. I just love it. It’s beautiful,” he said.

The local classic car enthusiast now has not only his dream car, but also several other classics in his collection — the 1965 Barracuda, a few Ford Mustangs, a restored 1948 Packard, a 1954 Pontiac Star Chief and a 1955 El Camino, among others.

Larry Lee's Ford Model A took home a trophy of its own at the North Coast Car Show earlier this summer. (Tom Stankard/Staff photo)

Fellow collector Larry Lee’s passions run a bit older. He recently displayed his Ford Model A at the North Coast Car Show.

Lee has fancied the Model A since he was a little boy.

“I’m proud to show it and people enjoy it. It’s a piece of history. It takes them back,” he said.

Bodin can appreciate cars like the Model A, built in the late 1920s. But he also appreciates the art and beauty of some of today’s cars.

“There are some collectors who might reject to this, but we have a class in every show for modern cars,” he said. “New Corvettes, Mustangs, Camaros —we want them in the show, too. We’re going to fade away if don’t welcome them, too.”

New and old Mustangs and Camaros will always be popular. The latest vehicles to take center stage at shows have been vintage trucks.

“It’s become popular to have a truck that is really fast and loud,” Jim said.

“That’s the part I don’t like,” Linda joked.


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Summer schooling: A Q&A with Ashland’s new superintendent
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The Ashland School District is embarking on a new year with a new leader in place.

Robert Prater is preparing to guide the school district after School Board members parted ways with former Superintendent Erik Olson, reportedly because the two parties didn’t see eye-to-eye on how the district should operate during the COVID 19-pandemic.

Now that the pandemic has subsided, the former superintendent for the Hinckley-Finlayson School District in Minnesota has big plans in mind for Ashland. The Daily Press sat down with the Prater to discuss his background, goals and what kids and parents should expect from him.

Question: Tell me how you got to this point and why you want to be in the education field.

Answer: I always liked history and people. I worked in behavioral science when I was in the military. I decided when I was getting out of the military that I would go back to college and try out the education thing. I was a middle school teacher and the principal had to be out for a while, so she asked if I would sub for her. I enjoyed it and next year she asked if I would apply for a position. I enjoyed that, so I kept moving up. I’ve been a superintendent for 11 years. My son lives here now and my daughter is moving to northern Michigan, so we thought we would move farther north to be near family.

Q: How have things been going so far?

Prater

A: I love it here — (we have a) really dedicated staff. Everyone has been really welcoming and really helpful. Everyone has been making time for me and everyone has been really supportive. I’ve been really busy learning the new language as Wisconsin and Minnesota speak education language a little differently. Things are very similar, but have very subtle differences.

Q: What are some of your immediate and long-term goals for the district?

A: Immediate goals: I want to support the school’s mission of making sure every child feels like they belong here and all the children feel like this is a place they can get a top-notch education. Long term, I want to see us raise our graduation rates, test scores and all the ways we provide whatever each kid needs.

Q: How do you want to make sure every child feels like they’re welcome?

A: It starts with a lot of communication — a lot of family engagement and making sure we provide what the community thinks we need to provide. There is a lot of programming out there for each child. There’s great Indian education programming. There’s solid alternative education programming. There’s solid college-prep programming. At the elementary grades, we’re working on some new pieces for math. Math scores were a weak point last year.

Q: How are you going to tackle the graduation rates?

A: I hope by telling every kid they have a space to fit in here and belong here — whether they are an alternative student or a college bound student, or whether they’re looking for a career in technical options that we have programming for. We have really good extracurriculars going on. There’s a full range of sports. There’s a ton of music and drama offerings. I want to get kids involved in things that are not necessarily in the classroom as well. I think being involved in the whole school community by doing things outside the classroom is really important as well.

Q: A lot of schools are dealing with a teacher shortage. Is that something Ashland is dealing with? If so, how is the district dealing with that?

A: Absolutely we are dealing with a teacher shortage. We have been hiring all summer. We had about a 25% turnover rate this past year. That’s actually a little lower than the national average of 29%, but it’s in the same ballpark. As of today, we think we’re going to be fully staffed. But it has not been easy. Some of the things we want to do are looking at all the ways we can creatively incentivize to get people to want to work here. Most of those are in the idea stage right now. We have revamped the mentoring program and on-boarding program so that teachers who get here feel that they know how to do their jobs well and understand what the community mission is. We hope to put some pieces in place for recruitment and retention.

Q: What has the district been up to ahead of the upcoming school year?

A: We have new teachers here. We have three days that we spend with them — including a tour of the community and giving them time to work with their mentors. Next week is teacher in-service; we’ve been laying out plans for that. The administrative team has been taking a lot of time looking at teacher and community feedback. I hope to get to meet a lot of families, because open house is next Thursday and Friday.

Q: What do you like to do for fun and what do you hope to do in the area?

A: I want to do everything in the area. I love being outside, so taking walks, going for hikes, riding my bike. My wife and I are trying to discover all the restaurants in town. We’ve already been to a lot of them. We are still moving in. We’ve bought an old house that needs fixing up; we’re working on that a lot.


Pulcher Edming


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