A recipe for a better Minnesota: Be more Willmar

The student body at Willmar Senior High School is 57 percent white, 23 percent Hispanic, 18 percent black and 2 percent Asian, and it wasn’t a big deal at all to the kids when Anisa Abdulahi was named the first Somali-American homecoming queen at the school, West Central Tribune’s Linda Vanderwerf writes.

“From the outside, it looks kind of cool for other schools to see,” Sophie Schmitz, another candidate for queen, told her. “This is Willmar; this is what we represent; this is what we have.”

Sit up and notice, Minnesota. Willmar’s got something going there.

“I feel like they don’t judge you on your color, on your race or religion or where you came from,” she said. “They treat you the way they would want to be treated.”

She felt good when she was crowned, she said. “I think it says a lot. Being the first Somali girl, I think, is huge.”

It’s good for students to have a chance to get to know each other, because “you’re able to realize that they’re awesome just because of who they are,” Tyler said. ” … Maybe they’re funny.”

High School Principal Paul Schmitz said people who aren’t connected to the schools may not realize “it’s just what’s normal” for kids who have gone to school together for years.

Students of all backgrounds rise to prominent positions in the school, Schmitz said. “To me, it isn’t a surprise; it just seems like a natural progression. That’s just the way our school is,” he said.

Students recognize the cultural and racial backgrounds of their classmates but “they really see each other as individuals,” Schmitz said.

(h/t: Mike Worcester)