AVON, SD -
George McGovern was born in the town of Avon. This week, he's being remembered there as a hometown hero where students are getting a special lesson in politics and humanity.
In Mel Fathke's social science class, these students use their enrichment period to work on the day's school work, including an assignment McGovern.
"He didn't like war and stuff and he did a lot for world hunger," 7th Grader Hannah VanGerpen said.
For years, Fathke would mention the former senator's career as part of the curriculum surrounding the Democratic Party.
But after McGovern's death on Sunday, Fathke was compelled to teach students more about the political icon born in their hometown back in 1922.
"I think it is fascinating that you have someone with his values and morals and friendships that he brings to everyone," Fathke said. "Everyone can easily identify with him."
And knowing such a strong political figure was born in Avon means a lot to the students.
"Not that bad knowing that someone that high up in Washington, D.C. came from a small town like ours," 12th Grader Taylor Hento said.
"It makes me feel not so unimportant," VanGerpen said.
"(I am) proud that we're not such a small town," 7th Grader Livi Jurrens said.
And as McGovern's influence leaves a lasting impact on South Dakota, the country and the world, these students say they're learning anything is possible, no matter where you're born.
McGovern was born in Avon and later moved to Mitchell, where he attended school.
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