The North Bend Eagle


Last of the Minaricks: Graduation ends family's 32-year run in North Bend schools

by Nathan Arneal
Published 5/17/17

What began at the Tower School, ended at the Tower School.

On a fall day in 1985 Jim and Ann Minarick dropped off their oldest child, Suzanne, for her first day of kindergarten at District 92. The country school, more affectionately known as “the Tower School,” sits five miles northwest of North Bend.

This past Sunday, 32 years later, they returned to the Tower School – which had long ago stopped hosting classes – to celebrate the graduation of their youngest child, Jacki.

NBC graduation
Jacki Minarick walks out of NBC commencement exercises with former classmate Jake Wietfeld.

From Suzanne to Jacki, the Minaricks have put eight children through North Bend schools: Suzanne (class of ‘98), Mitch (‘99), Lynn (‘01), Carol (‘04), Betsy (‘07), Julia (‘10), Andrew (‘14) and finally Jacki (‘17). Jacki will also be the eighth one to go to college at University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

“I guess when you have eight kids, you don’t go to Ivy League schools,” Jim Minarick said.

Not that they couldn’t have handled the Ivy League. Five of the Minarick kids were valedictorian or salutatorian of their high school class. Jim said the secret to raising smart kids is simple.

“I married a valedictorian,” he said.

Anne, the valedictorian of the NBC Class of 1974, said there might be more to it.

“I loved to read to the kids,” she said. “They loved to read. I think that’s the secret.”

When Mitch was a student at the Tower School, he read every book in the school library. After that, the teacher brought him books from the Fremont library.

“We never allowed video games in the house,” Jim said. “Our kids really respect us for that now, I think. They complained that we were the worst parents in the world at the time. We encouraged outside time and very little TV.”

Learning conditions weren’t always perfect in the Minarick family, however. Keeping up with older siblings’ activities often meant late nights for the young ones.

“We did not get them to bed at 8 o’clock at night because we were gone,” Ann said. “Julia was sharp, but there were times in about fourth or fifth grade where she was too tired to do her best. But I wasn’t going to stay home and miss the game, so they had to tough it out.”

Julia found a way to tough it out. She ended up as one of three valedictorians among the Minarick kids.

Jacki got an early hint of how hectic life was going to be as the youngest of eight. A very early hint. The day after she was born, Jim and Ann took her from the hospital to a friend’s house. They dropped baby Jacki off and hustled to NBC for Mitch’s senior basketball parents night.

“We never even brought her home,” Jim said. “We went to a ball game.”

“I didn’t want to miss parents night,” Ann said.

As the house started emptying with one child after another heading for college, Jacki said things settled down a bit.


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