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Arriving in style: Cottage Grove kids earn police car, fire truck rides

On the left, fundraising winner Ella Nienow is waving, Her friends, Annabelle Lee (center) and Amelia LaCroix. On the right is Cottage Grove Fire Chief Rick Redinius who drove the girls to Armstrong Elementary School. Submitted photo

Two Armstrong Elementary School students arrived at school on the last day of year in style.

Like famous people arriving at the Oscars on the red carpet, Jada Walsh and Ella Nienow were greeted by their friends and classmates.

The reaction was due to the fact that Walsh arrived with two friends in a Cottage Grove squad car driven by police officer Gail Griffith.

Nienow arrived in a Cottage Grove fire truck driven by Fire Chief Rick Redinius.

Both girls earned the honor by being top fundraisers in a spell-a-thon sponsored by the school's parent teacher organization.

Walsh, a first-grader, raised $240.50 and, as the top winner, got to choose her ride. She picked the squad car and asked her friends Colin Maher and Sam Nienow, brother of Ella, to ride with her.

Picked up at 7:40 a.m. with lots of pictures taken by their families, the three arrived at school promptly at 8 a.m.

Ella Nienow, a fourth-grader, raised $200 and asked her friends Isabelle Lee and Amelia LaCroix to ride with her.

The total money raised by Armstrong students was $3,733. It completed the PTA's goal of getting a SMART computer board in each classroom.

Walsh said it was exciting to ride in the front passenger seat with her two friends in the back as the lights flashed on the squad car and a siren blared as they arrived at school.

Nienow was still talking about her fire truck ride at the end of the school day.

"I didn't think it would be as exciting as it was," Nienow said.

The high points of the day, however, included being the center of attention. Throughout the day, Nienow said, her classmates teased her and asked her what the ride was like.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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