February 23, 2024

THE LIST: Congratulations, graduates!

In the middle of March of this year, I was asked to be the guest speaker for Nodaway Valley High School’s National Honor Society induction. There were 16 students who joined the organization here that day. I was honored to be a part of the ceremony.

I want to share a story I shared with those kids, and their parents, at that event. It’s about a man named Abraham Wald.

Wald is a Hungarian mathematician who lived from 1902 to 1950. His story is long, however I keyed in on the part of it that was during World War II, in the early 1940s. The Statistical Research Group was a classified program that used American statisticians in the war effort. The SRG carried much weight at the time, and one report I read said that “When they made recommendations, frequently things happened.”

One of the most key things Wald is now known for is his work analyzing damage to bomber aircraft. He took into account survivorship bias when making his calculations. This means that while they started by looking at bombers that had been shot down and analyzing their damage, they more so studied damage to bombers that survived and returned, seeing where they were damaged and yet survived, presuming that damage in other areas would not fare as well for those planes.

While I tied in the four NHS pillars of service, character, scholarship and citizenship with the NHS kids, the main point I made was really one of integrity. I challenged them to think about how they will respond in life when they’re faced with a difficult decision to make, and to think about that now, rather than later.

Every school has issues. I believe ours are good ones for various reasons. The worksheets are complete, the tests taken, the laptops will soon be turned in (we didn’t have that when I was in school), the lockers are cleaned out.

As “Coach” Larry Riley says at every awards program, “Congratulations! Now you have to go to work the rest of your life.”

Our seniors this year can be proud of their accomplishments, and they should feel our pride in them as they walk into the next stages of their lives beginning this weekend. Congratulations, graduates!


If I didn’t know already, I found out this morning just how big of a deal it was that Nodaway Valley Archery had a team and three individuals make the eastern national archery shoot in Louisville, Kentucky over the weekend. A photo of the whole group is on the front page this week of both of our papers.

There were over 15,000 archers competing from fourth grade to seniors. Several of them were from Nodaway Valley. There were more than 14,000 who competed in bullseye, the competition Nodaway Valley’s kids were in. An estimate of more than 40,000 people came to watch them was reported.

This is a really big deal for these archers, their families, and their team. I love all of the things this sport teaches and the opportunities it uniquely offers any and all of our community’s kids. Orient-Macksburg had a really strong program also this year.

Great job to our archery teams in the area! You did us proud!

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson has served as News Editor of the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer since Oct. 2017. He and his wife Kilee live in Greenfield. In Greenfield and the greater Adair County area, he values the opportunity to tell peoples' stories, enjoys playing guitar, following all levels of sports, and being a part of his local church.