Graduating senior raising money for lawn signs to honor Willmar Public Schools classmates

Abigail Mathiasen's idea to start a small business as a class assignment has grown into a fundraising project to place a Class of 2020 yard sign in every Willmar senior's yard.

Senior Abigail Mathiasen has launched a project to distribute Willmar Class of 2020 yard signs to all 264 seniors expected to graduate from Willmar Senior High School and the Area Learning Center. Submitted

WILLMAR — What started as a class project to start a small business has grown in just a few days into an effort to honor all the graduating seniors in Willmar Public Schools.

Senior Abigail Mathiasen started with the idea to sell lawn signs to honor seniors, a business is part of her Kandiyohi County Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities class.

Mathiasen got the idea from a Facebook page for parents of Willmar’s Class of 2020, where she saw a variety of similar signs.

Schools have been closed for the rest of the school year and activities canceled, including graduations, all due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been really hard to think about everything we’re missing,” she said. “It gets my emotions going when I think about it.”


The signs seemed to be a good idea for this year’s seniors, she said.

The red, black and white signs carry a cardinal logo and the hashtag #allinthistogether.

She had planned to sell the signs. “Then I decided I should do a pay-it-forward — someone could buy a sign for a student who couldn’t buy their own,” she said.

Discussions with KCEO and school officials led to a suggestion by Principal Paul Schmitz to give one to every senior at the high school and the Area Learning Center.

Mathiasen set up a GoFundMe account Thursday seeking $3,135, enough to provide a sign for all 264 seniors expected to graduate from the two schools. By Friday afternoon, the total was nearing $1,700.

Excess funds will be donated to the Willmar Public Schools Foundation in the name of the Class of 2020, she said.

Mathiasen hopes to recruit adult volunteers to do no-contact deliveries to seniors’ yards.

The GoFundMe page is named Support the Willmar Class of 2020.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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