Okoboji Middle School students help set Guinness record

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) project became the instrument for Okoboji Middle School sixth and seventh grade students to set a Guinness world record.

Mary Thunhorst brought the idea to their attention a year ago when they were in fifth and sixth grade.

"Me being a teacher and the new regent for the Ladies of the Lake DAR chapter, I thought we should participate and the kids agreed," she said.

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DAR chapters all over the United States were asked to help set a record to present the most letters written to military servicemen and women in one month.

"I thought it was a good project for two reasons," Okoboji Middle School Principal Ryan Cunningham said. "They realized we need to thank military personnel for their service. They found out how hard it can be for the service people to be away from their homes and families. Then, they also learned how you can accomplish big things when you work together."

Thurnhorst was touched by the students and their enthusiasm.

"No one grouched about it," she said. "They all wanted to help the DAR to break the record. It was a fun thing for those kids to do."

Thunhorst, now retired, was the social studies teacher for all of the sixth grade sections and two of fifth grade sections last year. "Kristen Jostand taught the other two fifth-grade classes and helped by having her students participate as well," she said. "We got 165 letters from our school that were written in late March."

The students, area adults and DAR members, their families and friends all contributed letters for the project.

The National DAR collected a grand total of 100,906 letters to set the world record. The local letters were shipped to the Continental Congress in Washington, D.C. where all the letters from across the country were counted and verified, according to Thunhorst.

The campaign was successful and the Guinness Book of World Records certified the accomplishment. Thunhorst received the participation certificate in January and presented it to the Okoboji Middle Schoolers in a ceremony Feb. 6. It is currently on display in the school office but will soon be exhibited in the school's trophy case.

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