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Klisch earns first pitch; sixth-grader wins statewide D.A.R.E. contest

Julia Klisch, a sixth-grader at St. Philip’s School, is honored for her first-place win in the Minnesota D.A.R.E. 2013 Poster Contest. Pictured are, from left, St. Philip’s Principal Carol Rettinger, Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin, Klisch, and local D.A.R.E. Officer John Hunt. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
Julia Klisch’s first-place poster will be displayed at high-profile locations such as the Mall of America and Minnesota State Fair. Submitted Photo2 / 2

BEMIDJI – A local sixth-grader will throw out the first pitch at a Minnesota Twins game later this month.

Julia Klisch, a student in Sue Swartz’s class at St. Philip’s School, secured the honor by winning first place in the statewide Minnesota D.A.R.E. 2013 Poster Contest.

“I am excited,” said Klisch, who has not yet begun practicing her pitching skills.

Klisch, the daughter of Sam and Kari Klisch, will attend the Twins game that afternoon with her mom, aunt Tami and sister Lucy.

Her poster, a bright mix of yellows, oranges and greens, spelled out the theme of this year’s contest, “Safe, Healthy and Responsible Choices,” while including images reflecting positive choices, such as a text message declining a friend’s suggestion to skip class.

“I probably worked on it for about three nights,” Klisch said.

She was honored Tuesday as Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin and D.A.R.E. Officer John Hunt presented her with a certificate and a duffel bag full of prizes.

“This is a great achievement,” said Mastin, making the presentation in her classrooms before her peers.

Klisch wants to be an actor when she’s an adult and already has appeared on stage in several Bemidji Community Theater/ Paul Bunyan Playhouse collaborations, including “Oliver,” “The Magical Pied Piper” and “The Christmas Carol.”

Art has always been something she enjoys in school, she said.

“Everybody always says I’m the best at drawing in my class,” she said.

The poster contest is open to fifth- and sixth-grade D.A.R.E. students. Hunt, with the Bemidji Police Department, encouraged his students in mid-January to take part in the contest.

He learned Klisch won before she did. Fighting time – spring break was about to start – Klisch gathered together the priest at St. Philip’s, the Rev. Don Braukmann, and Principal Carol Rettinger as they all went to congratulate Klisch in class.

“My friends said I jumped up and yelled (excitedly),” Klisch said.

“She came right off her chair,” Hunt agreed.

Hunt said Klisch’s win is the first first-place win from Bemidji.

Her poster will be part of D.A.R.E.’s promotional activities and be displayed at high-profile locations such as the Mall of America, Minnesota State Fair, Twins games and Minnesota Wild games.

Two local poster-contest submissions placed this year. In addition to Klisch’s first-place win, Anna Enquist, a Delta Pod student at Bemidji Middle School, placed 12th in the state.

“This is just wonderful,” Rettinger said.

‘extra special’

Klisch will toss the first pitch during the 1 p.m. game April 28 against the Texas Rangers.

But, as icing on the cake, her classmates will be there right along with her.

Coincidentally, the sixth-graders opted earlier this year to take a class trip to Target Field to take part in D.A.R.E. Day with the Twins, a major sponsor this year of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

Hunt said all D.A.R.E. students who participate throughout the state that day will convene for a picnic and then get to walk on and around the ballfield prior to the start of the Twins game.

The trip already was scheduled for April 28, long before Klisch won the poster contest and learned she would toss the first pitch that afternoon.

The other first-place winner in the poster contest, a student at Kasson-Mantorville Middle School, was selected to throw the first pitch in the April 14 Twins game, but that was delayed until August due to weather.

“I’m glad I got the 28th and not the 14th because then my friends wouldn’t have gotten to go with me,” Klisch said.