Someone from Minnesota was Time magazine’s very first person of year in 1927. Can you guess who it might have been? It was Charles Lindbergh. In May of 1927 he flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

As you probably know, Greta Thunberg, of Sweden, won Time magazine’s 2019 person of the year award. The 16-year-old climate and environmental activist is the youngest to ever win. Prior to her winning, the youngest person was, coincidently, Charles Lindbergh.

If you were to award the person of the year to someone you know and who was influential in your life this past year, who would you select? Here is my list. They are not in any order.

Kids. The older I become the more I am amazed at our youth. I am not sure if it is because they have access to more information, if their parents value education more, or maybe our educational system is responsible. Whatever the reason, kids like Greta Thunberg seem to be taking over the world in wonderful ways.

Alicia. My two-year-old granddaughter, Alicia, gives us the impression she is ready to take over the world. She learned how to walk and is now saying a few words. Her activity level is through the roof. It’s as if her brain never shuts down and rests. She’s into this and into that and walking here and walking there and touching this and touching that. I get my exercise just by watching her. I think I told you that I will be 92 when she graduates from high school. I think she is now ready to graduate.

Small business. Citizen’s State Bank of the Midwest is the most recent business to endorse our 100% graduation rate movement. As I make my way to all of the small businesses in Beltrami County, in Clearbrook and in Northome, I am impressed by their hopefulness and entrepreneurial spirit. They all believe they can make it and this is why it is so important to have them support the 100% graduation rate. They pass along a message of hope to young people and for the rest of us too. Don’t forget to support them.

Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi gives me hope for a brighter future. Regardless of whether you are a democrat or republican, you have to admire her chutzpah. She is what this country is all about in terms of fighting for democracy. If she had been around in the days of Washington and Jefferson and Franklin, she would have been right in the middle of any debate and not taking “no” for an answer.

Boards of Education. I had the privilege of visiting with almost every board of education in Beltrami County and Clearbrook this past fall. Boards of Education often get the blame but not too many thank you’s. They, too, have to have chutzpah when it comes to making tough decisions. Yes, the superintendents and administrators run the show but it’s the board of ed that makes sure all systems are “go."

Don Glines. I have mentioned my mentor, Don Glines, before in my columns. He is in his upper 80s but every time I talk to him I feel I need to give him a stipend for his over the phone lecture. He keeps me going. If every administrator had his inspiring energy and creativity, the sky would be the limit in terms of what we could do in education and we would graduate 100% of our students every year.

Advisory Boards. I have advisory boards in Bemidji and Red Lake that offer suggestions for the 100% movement. I don’t have them do too much because I initially promised that they wouldn’t be working boards, just advisory boards. I rely on them a lot for inspiration, new ideas, challenges and just being present. They are a smart bunch and I appreciate them a great deal. All of them are activists in some way.

Volunteers. Speaking of activists, what would we do without our volunteers? People in churches, fraternal groups, youth groups, social service groups, schools, you name it, we have volunteers that keep everyone moving forward. Whether you volunteer once or twice or regularly, you are appreciated. Schools realize the importance of volunteerism and serving the community and more and more schools have their students involved in helping others. This is learning at its best.

Kelly. Kelly is the best at keeping Kathy’s flower gardens looking like they should be in the next Better Homes and Gardens magazine. She has the green thumb, the yellow thumb, the red thumb and purple thumb. Kathy couldn’t be happier than looking out the window to see her flowers being cared for in such a caring way. It helps make her days, great days.

Kathy. See, we all can find a person of the year to pay tribute to. I hope you take time to think about who they are and say a little prayer to continue to bless their work. Kathy prays for me every day and that’s why I am able to still select my persons of the year. Funny, she makes my list every year.

Riddle: What did the girl battery say to the boy battery? (I get a big charge out of you.) Tell some people you put them on your persons of the year list and they will get a big charge out of it and you will too.


Thanks to Citizens State Bank of Midwest for being 351 on our list of supporters. If you don’t think you are on the list, let me know. Also, thanks to Lueken's Family Foods for putting a reminder of our 100% goal on their electronic flashing sign. The same is true of Lakes Market. You can help kids graduate when you:

  • Remind them to volunteer and think of others first.
  • Remind your kids that they are on your list of people of the year.
  • Have your kids make out their list of person’s of the year and then comment on whether or not they graduated from high school.

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.