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Learning Solo

Many high school seniors complain about feeling lost in the crowd by the time graduation rolls around. But 18-year-old April Kleinschmidt, a senior at Harrold High School in Harrold, S.D., is in a class all by herself—literally.

April Kleinschmidt

Ms. Kleinschmidt is the 15-student high school's only 2002 senior-class member, and she'll be celebrating her unique graduation in May by making a guest appearance on the "Late Show With David Letterman."

Representatives of the CBS television program got in touch with her early this month after the high school's play director wrote them about her solo status. "I was waiting for someone to say 'April fools,'" she said of the invitation.

The idea of going on Mr. Letterman's show has been a running joke that Ms. Kleinschmidt has tossed about for years, but when a Letterman spokesman told her that the show was interested in having her come to New York City to talk about her experience, she was stunned.

"I'm excited," she said of her planned May 22 spot.

With a population of 209 residents, the city of Harrold has one of the lowest enrollment rates in the country. Ms. Kleinschmidt has been learning on her own since kindergarten. She didn't have any classmates until she reached the 9th grade, and the largest class she's ever had contained a mere three students.

Ms. Kleinschmidt takes two distance learning classes. Her other classes are hourlong, one-on-one sessions. It's more like having a group of private tutors, she said.

"The only thing I think I've missed is getting to ask other kids questions in class," she said.

Despite the difficulties, Ms. Kleinschmidt has enjoyed her education, and next fall she plans to attend Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D., where she'll pursue a degree in special education.

—Marianne D. Hurst

Vol. 21, Issue 32, Page 3

Published in Print: April 24, 2002, as Take Note

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