Swedish School begins June 12 in Stanton
Students in grades first through sixth grade who are interested in learning more about Swedish history are encouraged to participate in this year’s Svenska Skolan (Swedish School) classes.
Classes will be held June 12-16 from 9 a.m. to noon at Stanton’s Swedish Heritage & Cultural Center at 410 Hilltop Ave. The classes are led by Yvonne Johnson, who said she started the classes in 1996.
“At that time, I moved back from Minneapolis, Minn. I had retired after teaching music at public school and moved back to the family farm. They had a similar program at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, and I patterned the class after that,” Johnson said. “I wanted to start this in Stanton because all of my ancestors are from Sweden, and my mother instilled in me a love of Sweden and the Swedish culture,” Johnson said.
John Mainquist teaches the culture class, Diane Campbell teaches the beginning language class and Sheila Mainquist teaches the dancing. Johnson teaches the Swedish songs and dances and a language class. Jonas Borg, a native Swede, also assists. Several other volunteers in the area do crafts with the children
Participants who take part in the school will learn about a variety of subjects during the week-long course.
“We teach the kids Swedish songs and dances. We have a culture class. We introduce them to the Swedish language, and do Swedish crafts, and a lot of people from the area help teach,” Johnson commented.
All of the participating students are in one class except for the language class, when the students are split into two groups.
“We have a beginners section, and then a section for the kids that have been there before, as we have many children who come back year after year until they get too old,” stated Johnson.
Johnson added being able to teach the students on a subject she’s passionate about is a rewarding experience.
“It’s very exciting to be able to be teaching children again, and the kids love coming to it. They’re always excited to participate, and I get lots of good feedback from former students. In fact, we have some second-generation children who are coming to the class now.”
The class culminates with participation in the Swedish Heritage & Cultural Center’s Midsommer activities beginning at 5 p.m. on June 17.
“The kids dress in Swedish costume and perform the songs and dances that they’ve learned in class. Swedish pancakes are served, and the Maypole is raised, and everyone dances around the Maypole,” commented Johnson.
In the past, there has been a fee to participate in the class, but for the last several years, the class is taught for free, thanks to donations.
“There are two people that contribute money to the class so the kids don’t have to pay. They are two members of the community who want to see these classes continue and want the children to be able to attend,” said Johnson.
The class is open to kids both in and outside of Stanton, though enrollment is limited.