MinnPost: Long Prairie’s growing immigrant population helps keep local schools vital

EXCERPT: “Not all that long ago, the central Minnesota community of Long Prairie was in a period of decline. The town, anchored for years by agriculture and local employers like Long Prairie Packing, and Dan’s Prize, was struggling. Many downtown businesses were closed, homes were up for sale and, at the local school district, always a bellwether of the economy, administrators watched as the number of enrolled children began to shrink.During her 15-year career as an educator, Luan Thomas-Brunkhorst, director of the Long Prairie Chamber of Commerce and a former German teacher at Long Prairie Grey Eagle Secondary School, had a front-row seat to her community’s shifting circumstances. ‘There were about 140 graduating seniors in a class when I came in,’ she said. ‘But over time those numbers started declining and declining.’ While plenty of older people still lived in Long Prairie, not enough families with young children were moving in. This can be a problem: A strong crop of kids is key to keeping a community healthy and vital. When there aren’t enough young people to populate schools and eventually grow up and fill jobs, a town’s ecosystem struggles.” FULLSTORY: http://bit.ly/2IlimY3