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Lieutenant Governor-elect, journalist visit Park

Flanagan, Lahammer record interview in old gym, talk to students about experience

Back+home%3A+Lt.+Gov.-elect+Peggy+Flanagan+spoke%0Ato+civics+teacher+Brad+Brubaker%E2%80%99s+freshman+honors+civics+Nov.+15.+Flanagan+is+a+graduate+of+Park+and+returned+to+record+an+interview+with+Park+alumna+and+journalist+Mary+Lahammer.
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Lieutenant Governor-elect, journalist visit Park

Back home: Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan spoke
to civics teacher Brad Brubaker’s freshman honors civics Nov. 15. Flanagan is a graduate of Park and returned to record an interview with Park alumna and journalist Mary Lahammer.

Back home: Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan spoke to civics teacher Brad Brubaker’s freshman honors civics Nov. 15. Flanagan is a graduate of Park and returned to record an interview with Park alumna and journalist Mary Lahammer.

Grace Farley

Back home: Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan spoke to civics teacher Brad Brubaker’s freshman honors civics Nov. 15. Flanagan is a graduate of Park and returned to record an interview with Park alumna and journalist Mary Lahammer.

Grace Farley

Grace Farley

Back home: Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan spoke to civics teacher Brad Brubaker’s freshman honors civics Nov. 15. Flanagan is a graduate of Park and returned to record an interview with Park alumna and journalist Mary Lahammer.

Dani Orloff

Upon returning to the high school, Park alumna and Twin Cities Public Television journalist Mary Lahammer said she was emotional.

“I’ve been tweeting out photos all morning in my old basketball jersey. I ran cross country, and I went and visited the track and cried a little bit,” Lahammer said. “It was so hard, and it’s great to be back.”

According to social studies teacher Brad Brubaker, Lahammer visited Park Nov. 15 to conduct an interview with Park alumna and Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan, the first Native American female to be elected to this position ever, for her show, The Almanac. Brubaker said freshman students in his period four Honors Civics class and many other students attended the interview.    

According to Flanagan, she has been in the St. Louis Park community since she was a baby, living on a section eight housing voucher.

“My mother chose this community because she knew what a gem it was. My family relied on public programs like the child care assistance program, Snap and I was on Medicaid,” Flanagan said. “We used to have lunch tickets, and I was on free and reduced lunch.”

Flanagan attributes the various opportunities she received after graduating from Park to the community she grew up in.

“My family relied on public programs like the child care assistance program, Snap and I was on Medicaid. This community really wrapped their arms around us, and I was able to be lifted out of poverty,” Flanagan said. “This community means so much to me.”

According to Lahammer, her family was drawn to the excellent academics in the district.

“My parents are both former teachers and they picked St. Louis Park as the place to raise their family because of the education and now you the highest ranking Indigenous woman in the United States of America,” Lahammer said. “You guys don’t know how great you have it.”

Flanagan said she encourages students to embrace the diversity of Park and maintain the close-knit environment.

“Learn to be a free thinker and learn to be in a community that was diverse but also where we sort of valued each other, worked together across lines and difference and that’s something that I’ve tried to bring into the work that I’ve done since leaving Park,” Flanagan said.

Lahammer said she felt college was easier than high school because she had such an amazing experience at Park.

“At the time, we had three teachers with PhDs who did college level curriculum, AP, a lot of PSEO, all of that and so by the time you got to college, it was easy compared to St. Louis Park,” Lahammer said.

“This community really wrapped their arms around us, and I was able to be lifted out of poverty. This community means so much to me.”

— Peggy

Flanagan said her experience in the district provided the base for her success in politics.   

“I learned how to write a paper here like nobody’s business. I can’t tell you how important it is that you have a foundation of a lot of teachers at Park. When I got to college, and I went to the University of Minnesota, I knew how to write a paper in a way that other students did not,” Flanagan said. “So, pay attention to your teachers.”

According to Flanagan, she continues to feel honored to represent such an influential community.

“This is the community that raised me. This is the community that I am honored to represent in the legislature and now I am really excited to represent at the State Capitol,” Flanagan said.  

Brubaker said Flanagan and Lahammer are two role models for Park students because they have continued to pursue their careers and influence others.

“I think it is interesting they both have a role in politics but just a different angle on it; one is keeping the politicians in check and the other is a politician,” Brubaker said. “I think it is good for students to know that you can come from just being another kid at St. Louis Park high school and have a impact like that.”

Flanagan said she hopes everyone feels welcome in the State Capital because it is their house too.

“We need to see more young people. We need to see more indigenous people, more people of color, so that our government accurately reflects the folks that we represent so we can actually make policy that’s good for people,” Flanagan said.

According to Flanagan, she intends to stay in St. Louis Park and raise her family here.

“I live just a few blocks away from here,” Flanagan said. “My daughter is five and she just started kindergarten at Peter Hobart. She is really excited to be there.”

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About the Writer
Dani Orloff, Editor-in-Chief

Hey guys! My name is Dani and I’m the Editor-in-Chief this year! When I am not devoting my time to Echo, you can find me in the kitchen training to become...

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