Pine River-Backus School yearbooks, trophies and news clippings are now available via a new interactive board

Some records go back to the 1940s

interactive board
Pine River-Backus teacher Michelle Holden and Technology Director Kevin Furst watch as a student attempts to spot Holden in a photo of the class of 1978 on a new interactive board in the Pine River-Backus School commons area Monday, Sept. 12, 2022.
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal
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PINE RIVER — Just in time for the new school year, students and visitors to the Pine River-Backus School commons area have a way to access the district's past in the form of an interactive touch screen.

Pine River, Backus and Pine River-Backus school yearbooks going back to 1940 are currently available to browse via a 75-inch touch screen in the area of the school where people often gather ahead of basketball games, caucuses, community events and school gatherings.

The board also shows an updated schedule of events, announcements, lunch menus, highlights, athletes of the week, maps of the campus and a weather radar.

Archival records are being added in addition to the yearbooks.

"One of the things we've always done is if an athlete or activity participant is featured in local news, we've made sure to post the articles," said Kevin Furst, Pine River-Backus technology director. "We used to do the physical newspaper clippings and now we're flipping over to digital. It's the same with our athlete of the week featured in the highlights area.


"As for our annual team photos, we've just posted recent ones but we're going to be able to go back over time so that the ones we ran out of space for that went into storage will be put up as well, similar to what we've done with the yearbook archive," Furst said.

student using interactive yearbook
Pine River-Backus student Dean Wynn points out his uncle, also Dean Wynn, using the archived yearbooks on an interactive touch screen board in the Pine River-Backus School commons area Sept. 12, 2022.
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

A digital trophy case displaying all Pine River, Backus and Pine River-Backus accolades with descriptions is in the works.

"Our athletics and activities director Tim Tungseth is working on a way of showing the activities, awards and trophies that we've gotten over time. We'll be able to go back in time and see those things, making sure we're honoring both schools," Furst said.

Furst said the goal is to get people to not only look at the screen, but to touch it and browse their files.

"We've been watching individuals come in and interact," Furst said. "A lot of people come in and watch, but nobody really touches it because that's just not something you normally do. We want them to interact with it as much as possible and try to highlight things as they come."

This is only one first step in a new Tiger Pride rebranding effort for the district. The same wall with the display also got a paint job, with large letters spelling out "This is Tiger Country" above a lighted relief of the school mascot.

On the other end of the hall, currently bare, there will be an aluminum display of the district's history, laid out in information and vintage photos. The goal is to eventually stretch that rebranding and new color scheme across most of the commons area, replacing the green-blue tiles seen on pillars and posts with the school's colors - black and orange.

"We've received feedback from community members as well as students that they really want to feel that Tiger Pride, that orange and black throughout our school," Furst said. "We have certain areas that are big for our events, but they don't necessarily reflect that."


So far the district has used budgeted funds for the project. It's all moving in stages to keep the costs reasonable and within that strict budget. Stages could happen faster, however, if community members want to join in, as is common in some districts.

"To be honest, we'd love to have help if there's interested alumni or organizations that want to help us with this transformation," Furst said.

In part, this rebranding was prompted by community, staff and student responses at strategic planning meetings in 2021. Many responses addressed a need for more local pride and excitement. This interactive board may help in that it is a big step in tying the current school to its past alumni through a little healthy reminiscing.

"It's for all ages, trying to get our community members, past Tigers, into our building to attend events and realize we are still thinking of them," Furst said.

There are other activities ongoing to increase community spirit. Teachers at a Sept. 12 regular school board meeting introduced a proposal to the board to bring back the cheerleading squad. There have been talks within the community about possibly bringing back the homecoming parade, though early planning fell flat when a recent meeting failed to attract committee volunteers.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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