Note: This is an ongoing list of just some of the many accomplishments of ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools students and staff. Additional submissions always welcome; send to 


Spring MCA-II results reflected a mixture of news to celebrate, as well as opportunities for additional work. There were several improvements over the previous year, including increased proficiency rates, more students performing at the highest proficiency level and fewer students performing at the lowest proficiency level. These are important improvements, and we want to recognize the work that students and staff did to earn them. At the same time, though, we are dissatisfied with the overall math and reading proficiency rates compared to state averages. We are also concerned that the performance of students in higher poverty schools lags behind that of their peers in higher-income schools.

Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math & Technology School, has been certified as a Monarch Waystation by Monarch Watch, an outreach program based at the University of Kansas. As an official Waystation, Weaver Lake maintains a robust monarch habitat and pledges to teach students about the science of the monarch. Weaver Lake’s monarch project involves K-6 students in various scientific investigations focused on these fascinating migrating creatures.

Sixteen Oak View Elementary sixth-graders received the 2009 Presidential Academic Award for academic excellence demonstrated throughout grades 4-6.

During the third trimester at Elm Creek Elementary, 25 students in grades 4-6 made the A honor roll, and 100 students made the B honor roll.

Four Park Center Senior High IB World School students have earned college scholarships from the Wallin Education Partners:

  • Jordan Graen and Alexander Pierce were named 2009 Medtronic Scholars and were honored at a reception at Medtronic World Headquarters last week 
  • Jacob Marette was named a 2009 Alpha Kappa Psi Scholar and a 2009 Wallin Scholar, and 
  • Kelsey LeRoy was named a 2009 Wallin Scholar. Kelsey and Jacob were honored at a reception sponsored by the Wallin Education Partners in late May

Our school district is hosting a national conference on Professional Learning Communities this week. More than 1200 educators from across the nation will attend, including about 250 ISD 279 educators and system leaders.

Congressman Erik Paulsen visited fifth grade students at Oak View Elementary in late May to share his perspectives on the role of Congress, how bills become laws, and the importance of education in achieving dreams. Congressman Paulsen also toured Oak View Elementary along with Principal Nancy Wavrin and Superintendent Susan Hintz to experience first-hand how ISD 279 is meeting children’s specialized education needs.

Thirty-five Birch Grove students helped film a bus safety video that will be used throughout our system and will be offered to other Minnesota school districts, as well.

Maple Grove Senior High senior Eric Scudder was recently awarded a full one-year scholarship to study in Germany, courtesy of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program, which prepares young people for life in a global society. Eric was chosen as one of only 250 scholars nationwide to participate in this prestigious program.

About 400 parents attended Cedar Island’s recent Vocabulary Parade. The idea for a vocabulary parade began with visiting author Debra Frasier who wrote the book Miss Aleaneus: A Vocabulary Disaster. Every child chose a vocabulary word and created a costume that represented the word. The children then paraded around the building so other students and parents could read the word that each costume represented.

Isabella Balder, a Rush Creek third-grader, was one of six finalists to read an original poem at the Maple Grove Barnes & Noble Kid’s Poetry Contest and Reading. Bruce Lansky, a local author, served as judge.

Park Brook Elementary is encouraging students to reach for their dreams and engage in a lifetime of learning. More than a dozen business people participated in a career fair for sixth-graders, answering questions about their work, the education they needed for their jobs, what they like and don’t like about their work, etc. Visiting professionals included managers from Cub Foods and Trader Joe’s, a financial planner, a computer technician, a karate instructor, a nurse, a pastor, and others.

At the Magnet Schools of America Conference in late April, three ISD 279 received the organization’s highest honor, “Magnet Schools of Excellence”. The three award-winning schools are Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts, Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math and Technology School, and Park Center IB World School. North View Junior High IB World School and Park Center shared a “Magnet School of Distinction” award.

Two Park Brook Elementary students recently won highest honors in the WordMasters Challenge, a national language arts competition. In the difficult Blue Division of the contest, sixth-graders Alisa Chede and Aziza Wako both earned perfect scores. In the entire country, only 67 sixth-graders earned perfect scores.

The Woodland PTA is participating in the National PTA program called Reflections, a program that recognizes students for their talents in the arts, such as photography, writing, painting, and drawing. Three Woodland students earned state-level honors for their artwork.

The 14th Annual Indian Education Day and Powwow was held April 25 at Osseo Junior High. The event is dedicated to learning about the culture and contributions of Native American people.

Congratulations to Park Center’s Gymnastics and Girls Nordic Ski teams on their respective awards as Section Team Academic Champions.

More than 430 people attended Edinbrook Elementary’s Family Night at the Brooklyn Park Library. Students participated in activities and families were able to check out books and get library cards. The library raffled off many books and library staff interacted with students throughout the evening.

Eighth-grade girls were offered a special opportunity in April to participate in the Girls Engineering Their Futures in Technology program at North Hennepin Community College. Students participated in workshops ranging from robotics, video editing and computer graphics to forensics, self-defense, and a ropes course.

ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools has been selected as one of the 2009 Best Communities for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation. The award letter congratulated K-12 music coordinator Wendy Barden for the example our school district sets in providing quality school-based music education programs to young people in our community.

Three Maple Grove Senior High students have earned National Merit scholarships. They were previously named National Merit Semi-Finalists, recognizing their outstanding academic achievement. The students and the colleges awarding the scholarships are: Ken Feng, University of Chicago; Phil Juda, Carleton College; and Sara C. Swenson, University of Minnesota.

The North View Junior High World Affairs Challenge Team competed recently at Macalester College and took second place in two categories: Most Creative Presentation and Best Formal Presentation in the Junior Division. The team prepared a newscast on the topic of human trafficking.  Advisers said the students were “articulate in their explanation of the problem, astute in their suggested solutions, and professional throughout.”

Ken Feng, a senior at Maple Grove Senior High, was recently named to the 2009 Minnesota All-State Math Team by the Minnesota State High School Mathematics League.  Ken will now compete for one of 12 spots on the American Regions Math League Team, which will travel to the University of Iowa for a competition.

Cedar Island Elementary and Maple Grove Junior High were featured on KARE-11’s “What’s Cool in Our School” program, airing May 7. The segment focused on the Reading Adventures Program, a coordinated project that pairs junior high students with elementary students to improve reading and writing skills. In addition, two classrooms were filmed for the Stump the Weather Guy segment.

Our district had a spotlight role at the Magnet Schools of America annual conference in April. All four of our district’s magnet schools received national awards at the conference, recognizing their commitment to high academic standards, curriculum innovation, successful desegregation/diversity efforts, and consistent delivery of high quality education to students. District staff from Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts presented on designing staff development for sustainability, and Park Center International Baccalaureate World School staff shared their successful parent engagement practices.

The Maple Grove Senior High math team won the Twin City Suburban West Division of the Minnesota State High School Math League, and for the seventh time in the past nine years qualified for the state meet. The eight-member team finished sixth at state – its highest finish in school history.

Students in grades four through six at Woodland Elementary participated in the Scripps Spelling Bee program for the first time ever, and sent Nathaniel Johnson to the regional contest, where he made it to the third round. As a first-time participant from a school in its first year of competition, this was an outstanding accomplishment.

Nearly 20 Maple Grove Senior High students will enter a robot they designed and built in the FIRST Robotics Competition in early April. This is the second year the school has participated in the competition, which seeks to inspire young people to pursue science and technology throughout their lives.

KARE-11’s “What’s Cool in our School” visited Cedar Island Elementary to tape a segment on the school’s Reading Adventures Program, which teams second-graders with students from Maple Grove Junior High to increase reading skills.

Jenna Bartunek, a Woodland Elementary fourth-grader, became the second ISD 279 student so far this year to earn a perfect score in a WordMasters Challenge meet. WordMasters Challenge is a national language arts competition that promotes critical thinking and logic skills. Only 40 fourth-graders in the country earned perfect scores.

Students at Palmer Lake Elementary exceeded their goal of 4,000 points in the Principal’s Reading Challenge last month.

More than 40 students at Brooklyn Junior High have indicated their interest in enrolling in next fall’s ninth-grade pilot of a college-level Advanced Placement course in Human Geography.

Cedar Island second-graders are reading books to preschoolers in the More for Threes program.

The Book Buddies activity helps the second-graders perfect their skills in oral reading, and promotes literacy skills in the preschoolers, as well.

180 Edinbrook Elementary students earned “All Star” backpacks for reading more than 1000 minutes over the summer, marking the largest participation rate since the program began.

Maple Grove Junior High School student Kirsten Johnsrud was recognized as a Student of Excellence in Science by the United States Achievement Academy. Fewer than 10% of all US high school students are honored by the Academy.

The ISD 279 Indian Education program has a 100% graduation rate, compared to the national average of 55%. Ninety percent (90%) of those graduates went on to attend post-secondary education.

Four ISD 279 students (three from Maple Grove Senior High and one from Park Center Senior High) were named 2009 National Merit Semifinalists, placing them among the state’s highest scorers who entered the competition by taking the 2007 PSAT.

Eleven ISD 279 students (seven from Maple Grove Senior High, two from Osseo Senior High, and two from Park Center Senior High) were named 2009 National Merit Commended Students, recognizing their “outstanding academic promise.”

Weaver Lake Elementary students celebrated Monarch Mania, which featured monarch studies ranging from displays to iMovies.

Birch Grove School for the Arts was awarded a “Rise and Shine!” grant from the Minnesota Dept. of Education and was highlighted in the Magnet Schools of America e-newsletter.

With support from CentrePoint Energy and Tree Trust (a non-profit), more than 600 students, parents, staff, and community members planted an outdoor learning area at Weaver Lake Elementary. Students will use the area as a living laboratory for environmental studies.

ACT average composite scores rose in 2008, increasing from 22.2 in 2007 to 22.5 in 2008, the highest average score for the district in the last five years. Over the same five-year period, there is a trend of more students taking the test, which implies that more students are considering post-secondary schooling as an option.

Twenty-eight teachers completed a full week of training in Responsive Classroom, an approach to elementary teaching that emphasizes social, emotional, and academic growth in a strong and safe school community.

Last summer, eight ISD 279 secondary students received scholarships to attend BestPrep’s Minnesota Business Venture program, a career planning and financial literacy program.

The Maple Grove Senior High Child Development Lab class offered a nine-week fall playschool program for children ages 3-5. During classtime, students planned and conducted activities with the children while studying child development theory.

Forty-six ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools students were named 2009 AP Scholars by the College Board, recognizing their outstanding achievement on college-level Advanced Placement tests. Of the 46 students honored, 28 were from Maple Grove Senior High, 16 from Osseo Senior High, and two from Park Center Senior High. Five students received “Scholar with Honor” recognition (three students from Maple Grove Senior High; two students from Osseo Senior High); five Maple Grove Senior High students earned “Scholar with Distinction” honors; and one Maple Grove Senior High student earned the program’s highest honor of “AP National Scholar.”

Cedar Island Elementary is holding three “Reading is Fundamental” free book distributions. All students at Cedar Island can choose a book to take home to read and add to their personal library.

Fernbrook Elementary’s Veteran’s Day program honored relatives and family friends of Fernbrook students and staff who are veterans or are currently serving in the armed forces.

More than 100 post-secondary educational institutions, career and military organizations participated in the District 279 Minnesota Education Fair. The fair was sponsored by the Minnesota Association of College Admissions Counselors and was attended by more than 2000 ISD 279 students.

Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math & Technology School serves as a model for other schools in the nation. Weaver Lake staff members were contacted by an elementary school in San Francisco, seeking to model its bird watching curriculum after Weaver Lake’s. The request concluded with, “Your school looks absolutely wonderful. I wish every school could be set up that way.”

A student at Park Center High School was featured on WCCO-TV as one of twenty metro area students who received college scholarships from local entrepreneur, Paul Jones.

Students from Colombia spent a week in the homes of host students at Maple Grove Senior High School. The students were from a girls’ school in Colombia and were visiting Minnesota to learn more about U.S. culture while sharing about Colombian culture and history. The local Spanish-language paper, Latino Midwest News, ran a feature on the visit.

Two ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools elementary students (one from Edinbrook Elementary, the other from Woodland Elementary) have earned perfect scores in the WordMaster Challenge, a national program that promotes critical thinking skills. Few than 50 students per grade among about 230,000 competitors nationwide earn perfect scores.

The Junior Foundations classes at Maple Grove Senior High organized a “Leave a Legacy” project that built teamwork among students through a strength and endurance competition.

Through the Reading Adventures Program, a partnership between Cedar Island Elementary and Maple Grove Junior High, junior high students work in small groups with second-graders to help build reading and writing skills. Teachers report that students in both schools are excited to participate in the program and are eager for the weekly sessions to arrive.

North View Junior High IB World School’s “Goalden Sunville” team earned third place at the Regional Future City Competition. The team also received the “Most Innovative City Setting” award, sponsored by the 3M Foundation, for locating their city on the Planet Dihn in the Andromeda galaxy.

Three ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools magnet schools were named “2009 Magnet Schools of Excellence”, the top category of awards given by Magnet Schools of America. A fourth ISD 279 school shared “School of Distinction” honors.

More than 2000 magnet schools in the country were eligible to compete for the national awards. Fifty-three schools across the nation were named Magnet Schools of Excellence, and seven of those 53 are located in Minnesota. Three of the seven Minnesota schools named Magnet Schools of Excellence are located in ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools.

Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts, Park Center Senior High International Baccalaureate World School, and Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math & Technology School were honored for their commitment to high academic standards, curriculum innovation, successful desegregation/diversity efforts, and consistent delivery of high quality education to students.

North View Junior High International Baccalaureate World School shared “2009 Magnet School of Distinction” honors with Park Center Senior High IB World School, recognizing their combined work as International Baccalaureate magnet schools. Only two other Minnesota magnet schools earned similar honors.

The “I Love to Read Celebration and Open House” at North View Junior High IB World School featured storytelling and a school tour with student ambassadors.


Maple Grove Senior High golfer Kelly O’Brien played in the girl’s state golf tournament at Bunker Hills golf course earlier this month and placed sixth overall in the AAA division.

Four MGSH track athletes participated in the state tournament at Hamline University June 5-6.

Nearly 25 ISD 279 athletes will compete in the state track and field competition this week: Park Center Senior High will send six; Osseo Senior High will send 13; and Osseo Junior High will send four students to compete in various races and events at Hamline University this week.

Two athletes qualified for the state high school golf tournament at Bunker Hills: Alicia Eckman from Park Center and Dalton Charboneau from Osseo Senior High.

For the eighth time since 2000, the ISD 279 Cognitive Impairment (CI) team took first place in the Minnesota Adapted Softball Tournament! Four athletes were named All Conference, and two received Honorable Mention. Three athletes received All Tournament Team honors, and student George Watkins was named Minnesota Adapted Athletics Most Valuable Player (MVP award). It’s important to note that in the eight-year history of the MVP award, Osseo has won it 4 times. This year’s championship win is especially rewarding, as 2009 marks the 15th anniversary of our system’s CI program.

Maple Grove Senior High won the 2009 Norwick Cup, a Northwest Suburban Conference all-sports trophy, for excellence in athletics. 

Congratulations to the Osseo Senior High School girls’ track team, 2009 Northwest Suburban Conference Champions.

The Osseo Senior High girls’ softball team qualified to represent Region 5AAA in the state softball tournament to be held this week in Mankato.

Osseo Senior High junior David Erickson qualified for the state tennis tournament in the singles division.

Osseo Senior High School’s Girls’ Track Team won the True Team Meet for the first time in 23 years, and the Boys’ Team came in 4th.

The Maple Grove Senior High baseball team won the Northwest Suburban Conference title.

At Park Center High School’s Awards Night, Amy VanHulzen was named Female Athlete of the Year and Ryan Wold was named Male Athlete of the Year.

Park Center’s fast-pitch softball team won the Fridley “Tigers” Varsity Invitational Tournament.

Park Center Senior Sam Dower was recognized by the MN Timberwolves as one of their “Timberwolves Ten,” recognizing the top ten basketball players in the state.''

Osseo Senior High activities coordinator Ray Kirch was appointed to the Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors.

Amy VanHulzen is Park Center Senior High’s 2009 Athena Award winner, recognizing excellence in athletics, and school and community achievements.

Seven Park Center athletes were named All-Conference in their respective winter season sports.

The Park Center boys and girls track teams took first place at the Henry Sibley Track Meet, and two athletes broke meet records.

The Park Center baseball team defeated the 2008 defending state champion Coon Rapids baseball team last week by a score of 12-8.

The Osseo Senior High School Boys’ Basketball Team appearance in the state tournament is cause for several celebrations. In its fifth tournament appearance (its first since 2003), the Orioles finished second in the state. Sam Dower, Aaron Anderson and Nick Djerf were named to the All-Tournament Team. Sam Dower was named First Team All-Metro, as well. The school’s student fan section was recognized with the Minnesota State High School League’s Sportsmanship Award, honoring their respectful behavior. Special recognition also goes to senior Alex Rebman, who did an outstanding job as student director of the Oriole Pep Band throughout the state tournament.

Chiamaka Okonkwo is Osseo Senior High’s 2009 Athena Award winner, recognizing excellence in athletics, and school and community achievements.

Maple Grove Senior High School’s athletes have done extremely well this season. The school’s Adaptive CI Hockey team finished second in state; the gymnastics team won the section and went to state; the powerhouse boy’s swim team won the conference for the 11th consecutive year, won the section and finished 13th at state; and John Wessling finished 13th in the state in the boys’ Nordic Pursuit competition.

Park Center athletes turned in strong performances at the Section Diving and Swim meets, earning 14 medals total. In Nordic Ski, Jennifer St. Peter was named All-Conference, and Kayla Ampe and Nicole Ball were named Honorable Mention All-Conference.

Osseo High School Orioles were section champs and eventual AA state champs in boys soccer.

Osseo High School volleyball team was section champs and took sixth in state.

Osseo High School cheerleaders were state champs.

The Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership has named Pam Hennen, teacher and longtime girls cross county coach and asst. girls softball coach at Maple Grove Senior High, a recipient of the “Breaking Barriers” Award. The award recognizes her positive impact and contributions towards providing athletic opportunities for girls and women of all races, all ages, and all levels of abilities. She received the award at a special presentation at the State Capitol in February.

Defending section and state champions Maple Grove Senior High Swim and Dive team dominated the Section 8 meet and took fourth at state.

OSH swimmers took fourth at the Section 5AA finals.

The district’s CI Soccer team won its first state title (14-0 season). Two team members were named to the CI Division All-Tournament Team. The PI team went to state, as well.

At least seven ISD 279 seniors have signed collegiate sports letters of intent for next year.

Three ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools individual athletes participated in the cross country state meet, with a North View Junior High runner earning tenth place.

Park Center’s Boys’ Cross Country team was Section 5AA Team Academic Champions.

Park Center’s Girls’ Swim and Dive Team was Section 5AA Team Academic Champions.

Osseo Senior High’s cross country boys’ team was section runner-up and took 12th in state.

Maple Grove Senior High’s girls’ varsity tennis took third in the Northwest Suburban conference.

Osseo Senior High’s Girls’ B Soccer team finished their most successful season in recent history, taking the regular season conference championship.

Fourteen Park Center athletes were named All-Conference in fall sports.

Two Park Center athletes were named to All-State Second Teams.

Two former Osseo High School sports standouts are back coaching at their alma mater. Mark Phenow and Kevin Willey were hockey stars when they were in high school and now share head coaching responsibilities for the boy’s hockey team at Osseo Senior High.

The Maple Grove Senior High Dance Team took second in state in the High Kick and Jazz/Funk competitions. Six Park Center High School students were named All Conference Musicians in orchestra.

2009 AAA Award winners included the following: from Park Center High school, Jordan Graen and Hannah Erickson; from Maple Grove Senior High, John Neumann and Rachel Biederman. John Neumann went on to win the Section 5AA Triple A award (marking three consecutive years that a male Maple Grove student has won the sectional award). The Minnesota State High School League sponsors the AAA Award, which recognizes high school seniors who excel in the arts, athletics, and academics.

The Osseo Senior High girls’ basketball team was named “Team of the Week” by the Minnesota Lynx.

Maple Grove Senior High boys’ swimming/diving team won the True Team Section meet and competed in True Team State.

ISD 279 was well represented at the state Nordic Ski competition. Osseo Senior High’s girls’ Nordic Ski team finished 8th in the state, and Maple Grove Senior High’s Brad Wessling took 12th place.


Fourteen Brooklyn Junior students recently participated in a week-long educational exchange in London to achieve a dream and share their Hmong heritage with others. CLIMB, which stands for Culture, Leadership, Integrity, Motivate and Build, is a collaborative program where students set goals and then plan how to attain them. While in London last month, the students received a history lesson, visited historic landmarks, and educated the Aylesbury, England Rotary Club members about their own Hmong culture.

Maple Grove Senior High student Hahn Chang has been named one of two Minnesota “senators” who will attend the American Legion Boys Nation, a week-long citizenship and government program in our nation's capital. While in Washington, D.C., Hahn will participate in mock election activities, caucuses, senate sessions, bill hearings and field trips to federal agencies, institutions, memorials and historical sites, including a tour of the White House and a scheduled meeting with President Obama.

The Park Center Marching Band ended its season on a high note with several commendations:

  • Grand Champion at the Lake Waconia Band Festival—for the tenth year in a row!
  • Grand Champion at Winona Steamboat Days
  • Grand Champion at Mason City Musicman parade
  • First place at Sauk Rapids River Days
  • Best Winds at an unofficial state championship parade in Alexandria

The Band recently returned from a tour to St. Louis where they were received with great enthusiasm in both Jefferson City and Webster Groves, MO.

Paul Schierenbeck, retired music director at Osseo Senior High, has been named Grand Marshal of the 2009 Osseo Marching Band Festival, sponsored by the Osseo Band Boosters. The festival begins this Saturday, June 27, with a 7 a.m. breakfast buffet fundraiser at Osseo Junior High. The competition proper begins at noon, with bands marching through the streets of Osseo, stopping at four designated judging sites along the way (the route starts at the intersection of 6th Ave. NE and 2nd St. NE, and continues to Osseo Senior High). The awards ceremony begins at 3 p.m. in the Osseo Senior High stadium. All three ISD 279 high school marching bands will be participating, along with 14 others from Minnesota and Wisconsin, with about 1700 total students competing. The District 279 Foundation has been a key sponsor since the Festival began in 2007. The Osseo Band Festival is one of the top three band festivals in the state, and this year is tied for #1 in terms of the number of bands participating. Planners estimate a crowd of about 10,000 spectators, and the event will be broadcast live on Channel 12.

In a related note, at last week’s Lake Waconia Marching Band Festival, Park Center took top honors in its class. Osseo and Maple Grove Senior High Bands took third and fourth place in their class.

The North View Junior High Model United Nations Team competed with 350 other middle school students at a conference on the topic of the global food crisis at Hamline University in late April. One of our delegations represented the food crisis in Cuba and won Best Delegation in the General Assembly!

Maple Grove Junior High’s Destination Imagination is the largest DI program in the state and has earned international recognition. Seven teams made it to state finals this year, where the Project Outreach team of eighth-graders won first place and also took the DaVinci award. Three teams will advance to Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee. The team needs to raise $20,000 to attend the global competition.

Members of the Park Center High School choir and theater program just returned from a three-day trip to New York City. Students visited the Statue of Liberty, Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center and Central Park, and attended two Broadway shows.

Ten students from Maple Grove Senior High recently attended the model United Nations Program in Chicago.

Thirty-nine Maple Grove Senior High students were named All-Conference Musicians in the Northwest Suburban Conference. Honorees included 16 band students; 15 choir students; and eight orchestra students. The All-Conference Musicians performed in the Northwest Suburban Conference Festival Concert in February.

Eight MGSH sophomores were named to the 2009 Central Minnesota Band Director’s Association 9-10 Honor Band. They were selected from competitors from more than 50 high schools in the central Minnesota area, including the Twin Cities. 

Maple Grove Senior High is one of 26,000 schools and libraries nationwide chosen to participate in “Picturing America,” an innovative National Endowment for the Humanities initiative that uses high-quality reproductions of works of art by famous 18-20th century artists as a catalyst for the study of American history and culture. Teacher Susan Smith wrote the successful program application. The images will be displayed in the school for the rest of the school year.

Woodland Elementary exhibited artwork created as part of the school’s “Reflections Program.” The Reflections Program is a National PTA-sponsored art program that encourages students to pursue artistic expression.

Dozens of ISD 279 All-Conference musicians participated in the Northwest Suburban Conference 9th annual Music Festival. Park Center High School was represented by 13 choir students and 14 band students; Osseo Senior High was represented by 12 orchestra students, 13 band members and 12 choir members; Maple Grove Senior High sent 16 band students; 15 choir students; and eight orchestra students.

The Maple Grove Senior High fall musical, “The Will Rogers Follies” took honors in the Hennepin Theater Trust’s SpotLight Musical Program. The production earned honors in the categories of “Outstanding Performance by a Chorus Ensemble”, and “Outstanding Performance by a Dance Ensemble.” In addition, actors Jenna Boroughs and John Neumann were each recognized for “Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role.”

Faculty and Staff

The 2009 National Magnet Schools of America Conference is being held in Minneapolis this week, bringing educators from across the country together to learn about magnet school excellence in Minnesota. On July 13, staff from Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math & Technology School, were featured conference presenters and also hosted an afternoon site visit for conference participants. The visiting educators learned how Weaver Lake staff integrates technology and inquiry-based practices, along with citizen science, to create real world learning experiences for elementary students. Both of our district’s elementary magnet programs (along with Park Center Senior High) earned Magnet School of Excellence honors this year.

Congratulations to Cedar Island Elementary Four Star Express teachers Cathy Benson and Jean Cook who were honored at a recent Maple Grove City Council meeting for their participation in a Maple Grove Fire Department preschool injury prevention and fire safety program, GLOW (“Giving Little Ones Wisdom”).

Ternesha Burroughs, North View Junior High math teacher, was selected as one of only 15 educators in the country to attend a prestigious International Study Tour in Honduras this summer. The trip is a partnership between the National Education Association and non-profit Heifer International. Participants will learn first-hand about hunger in Honduras, and their study tour will be filmed and produced as curriculum. Melody Hahn-Merges, ELL School Social Worker, was named an alternate delegate on the same study tour.

We want to especially acknowledge and thank the 54 employees who are retiring from our system this year. They have contributed a total of 1,391 years (an average of nearly 26 years each) of dedicated service to the students and families in our schools, and they have had direct impact on the lives of literally tens of thousands of students. Nearly ¾ of them have worked in our organization for more than 20 years. We are grateful for their service and wish them well in their retirement.

Claudia Busch, Elm Creek first grade teacher, was nominated by a parent and selected as an Apples for Teachers recognition recipient on Lite 102.9 radio for the week of May 11. Two radio hosts presented Ms. Busch and her class with various gardening gifts and recognized her on a morning broadcast.

Three ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools teachers have been awarded grants from the Education Minnesota Foundation for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Stacy Grant and Donna Ohlgren from Oak View Elementary, and Kelli Waalk-Gilbertson from Osseo Senior High, received the grants.

Susan Smith, a social studies teacher at Maple Grove Senior High, was recently selected by Indiana University to participate in a China study tour next summer. Ms. Smith will visit historical sites and learn about Chinese culture, and will bring her experience back to her classroom.

Seven ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools teachers were session presenters at the Minnesota Educators of the Gifted and Talented conference, sharing excellent practices in the teaching of Gifted and Talented students in our schools.

Two ISD 279 teachers were named TIES Exceptional Teachers for their work in integrating technology into the classroom. Mary Moran teaches sixth grade at Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math & Technology School. Her students have created a digital insect collection; she has integrated Web 2.0 resources into her classroom; and she communicates with other classrooms around the world. Ross Winberg, a ninth-grade science teacher at Brooklyn Junior High, is teaching his students 21st century skills through the use of LEGO robotic cars.

Linda Rud, a math teacher at Brooklyn Junior was named Teacher of the Year by Brooklyn Park VFW.

June Mattson, an English teacher at Brooklyn Junior was named Teacher of the Year by Wal-Mart.

Palmer Lake Elementary Principal Tommy Watson was featured on “Life to the Max,” a program shown on WCCO Channel 4.

Melody Hahn-Merges, ELL School Social Worker, was nominated as the Minnesota School Social Worker of the Year and recognized at the Minnesota School Social Worker’s Association Fall Conference in St. Cloud. 

Bill Beckman, a social studies teacher at Maple Grove Junior High, has been named Minnesota Veterans of Foreign Wars Teacher of the Year – Grades 6-8. The state-level award follows his recognition as Teacher of the Year by the Palmer Lake V.F.W. Post 3915.

Two ISD 279 teachers were named KS95 “Teacher of the Week” during 2008-2009: Andrea Wagner, Woodland Elementary; and Stephanie Hanson, Fernbrook Elementary.

Garden City Elementary principal Todd Tischer will be honored with a Community Recognition Award at the 98th birthday celebration of the City of Brooklyn Center.

Maple Grove Senior High counselor Kathy Nelsen has been named a finalist in the North Hennepin Area Chamber of Commerce “Image of Excellence” awards, recognized the outstanding contributions of Chamber members to the economy and the overall development of the North Hennepin County area.

Brooklyn Junior High science teacher Ross Winberg is featured in the February 2009 issue ofMaple Grove Magazine. Winberg is a TIES Exceptional Teacher Award winner and a recipient of a District 279 Foundation classroom grant that funded an innovative LEGO Mindstorms project.

Health and Safety Coordinator Dean Olsen has earned the designation of Certified Safety Professional, the premier credential for safety professionals, by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.

The “Zone 79” Summer catalog received a Minnesota Parks and Recreation Association Award of Excellence.

Amy Brengman has received a national award from LERN for her work in marketing community education programs.

Contributing to Community

Players on the Osseo Senior High Hockey team volunteered earlier this year for an event called “Rake, Rattle, and Roll.”  Sponsored by the Handworks organization, the program helps more 150 elderly seniors and disabled adults live independently in their own homes. Team members raked and did yard clean-up for homeowners in the Minneapolis area.

A video that recaps the Students Connecting Through International Service trip to Sasabe, Mexico, is now available on the district Web site.

Six students from Maple Grove Senior High organized a 5K run/walk to raise funds for and awareness of the Darfur genocide. The fundraiser took place in late April, and with the help of ISD 279 faculty, staff and community members, our students raised more than $3,000. All proceeds will go to the American Refugee Committee.

Recently, 4th, 5th and 6th grade student members of the Cultural Connections group from Zanewood Community School took a field trip to Feed My Starving Children in Brooklyn Park and packaged 4,536 meals that will feed 13 children for an entire year. 

The Fourth Annual Senior Citizen’s Luncheon was held at Elm Creek Elementary this month. Before lunch, fourth-grade students performed vocal and recorder music for their senior citizen guests.

April 19-25 is National Volunteer Week. Every year more than 6,000 volunteers donate more than 130,000 hours of service to students and school programs in ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools. Volunteers assist in a variety of ways, and we are extremely grateful for their generosity with their time and talents. 

Maple Grove Junior High (in partnership with the Maple Grove Rotary, Junior Rotarians, and Osseo Senior High) has raised more than $6000 to provide water and restrooms for an elementary school in Mozambique. The project is called H2O for Life and, according to one of the project advisors, students find it gratifying to know that children they’ll never meet will get the chance to live because they have a clean water source and sanitary conditions at school.

Students at Fernbrook Elementary raised more than $12,500 for cancer research last week when they participated in the “Fernbrook Kids for the Cure Walk.” In the nine years the school has sponsored the Fernbrook Kids for the Cure Walk, more than $65,000 has been donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization.

Nine ISD 279 schools raised more than $6500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Pennies for Patients program. In a similar effort, students at Rice Lake Elementary raised more than $500 for Change for Kids, which helps support he Children's Cancer Research Fund and Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.

Students at Crest View Elementary helped design the school’s new playground that will be installed in June. A staff member from KaBOOM!, a national non-profit that empowers communities to build playgrounds, facilitated the design and planning session, with help from representatives of the Toro Company and the Minnesota Vikings. Crest View is the only Minnesota school to receive a new playground this year through this collaborative sponsorship program.

Every year, members of the Chamber of Commerce and other groups, along with ISD 279 staff, conduct mock job interviews with every member of the senior class at each of our three high schools and the Osseo Area Learning Center. According to Career and Technology Education coordinator Julie Halverson, the career preparation curriculum also includes the development of a professional resume for every participating student.

The annual Wastebasket Revue variety show will be held April 16-19, and 23-25. The Wastebasket Revue has provided more than $800,000 in scholarships to ISD 279 students over the past 41 years. All seats are reserved and many shows sell out, so tickets should be purchased as soon as possible.

The Maple Grove Senior High Food Service Student Advisory Council packed 1,500 homemade cookies for volunteers fighting the floodwaters near Fargo-Moorhead. A member of the advisory council who has relatives in the area will deliver them personally. This effort is an excellent example of our district’s strategic objective, “All students will choose to contribute to community in a mutually meaningful way.” School food service staff were also heavily involved in this project.

KARE-11 featured Rice Lake’s Birthday Buddies program, which provides low-income families with the supplies needed to put on a child’s birthday party.

Student gardeners at North View Junior High’s Legacy Garden raised more than 100 lbs of food that was donated to local food shelves and ended up on the tables of people right in our community.

North View students raise flowers in perennial beds and create bouquets that are given to residents at the local Maranatha Care Facility.

Fernbrook Elementary’s “Fernbrook Families Helping Families” is in its fifth year of raising money to help meet the needs of Fernbrook student families. Support ranges from winter clothing and hospital parking passes to gift cards and other items. Members are Fernbrook staff members.

Woodland Elementary students reached a milestone this year by making their 1000th fleece blanket to be given to young patients at Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. With financial assistance from the District 279 Foundation, the project helps students see that their community extends beyond the school walls, and that they can have a meaningful impact on others through community service.

Many student groups sponsor drives for food, toys, clothing, and/or monetary donations to support families in need in our local community. A primary beneficiary of these fund and gift drives is CEAP (Community Emergency Assistance Program).

Districtwide, ISD 279 employees contributed nearly $76,000 to the United Way campaign. 80% of the employees at the Educational Service Center participated in the campaign.

Ms. Pender’s Family and Consumer Science class at Osseo Junior High made mittens and donated them to students at Garden City.

Students at Elm Creek Elementary’s Kidstop program volunteered at Feed My Starving Children, packing 10,152 meals for hungry children around the world. Those meals will feed 28 children for an entire year.

Under the leadership of teacher Alicia Fischer, members of the Osseo Area Learning Center Future Educators Club collected more than 100 items to donate to Bridging, a non-profit organization that provides furniture and household goods to families in need. The students also volunteered in the Bridging warehouse, helping organize donated materials.

Students in Kidstop programs across the district donated 747 pounds of food to Community Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP) over the holidays.

Lifelong Learning

Kao Kalia Yang, author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, was the keynote speaker at a staff development program for ISD 279 English teachers in late April. The next day, her book won two Minnesota Book Awards: Best Memoir/Creative Fiction and the Readers’ Choice. Ms. Yang discussed her writing process and helped teachers explore topics related to student writing instruction.

Leveraging Assets

For the 19th consecutive year, ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools has been awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting award from the Association of School Business Officials International. The award recognizes our system’s “commitment to the highest standards of school system financial reporting.”

The Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program has been awarded a $3,000 grant from the Hennepin County Department of Environmental Services to implement a curriculum on environmental stewardship.

Through various fundraising efforts, the Rice Lake Elementary PTO donated $24,000 to purchase updated instructional technology, including 28 new document cameras and 20 projectors to enhance teacher instruction and student learning.

The District 279 Foundation has provided grant funds for sixth-graders at Park Brook Elementary to attend Camp St. Croix. Students will participate in a low ropes course, night hike, orienteering, and outdoor survival, among other activities. 

KPMG Accounting has provided books to all the students at Park Brook Elementary four times this year, and always sends volunteer readers, as well. Following one of the book distributions, some sixth-graders enjoyed the book so much that they decided to have a book club with their teacher during recess. KPMG will continue the partnership with Park Brook next year.

Medtronic employees have volunteered faithfully every week to read with second grade students during recess at Park Brook Elementary. In addition to the benefits of having an adult read to and have lunch with students, Medtronic also provides for the school financially.

ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools was the only school district in Minnesota to be awarded an Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Grant by the U.S. Department of Education. The amount of the grant was nearly $400,000, and it will be used to support counseling programs in schools.

ISD 279 is one of four school districts partnering with St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development in a project that was recently awarded a $300,000 grant to provide early childhood mental health services to families that are underserved and underinsured.

With grant support from three main sponsors and contributions from many metro area restaurants, Woodland Elementary recently hosted its annual Cultural Celebration, featuring student artwork and research about various cultures, along with appetizers and performances from around the world.

Nearly 65 students, staff members, retirees, and/or community volunteers were honored at the District 279 Foundation’s Investment in Youth awards program. The program honors individuals who have demonstrated investments in several categories: their own learning; modeling for youth; overcoming adversity; the betterment of education; and helping the community.

Dedicated retirees volunteer every year to raise money for scholarships through the OARE Breakfast.

Tens of thousands of dollars and volunteer hours are contributed to schools every year.

The Maple Grove Rotary Club donated 700 sets of hats and fleece gloves for distribution to students and families in ISD 279’s English Language Learner program. This is the Rotary’s fourth year of donating hats and glove sets.

Karen Patton of Boston Scientific, Maple Grove, coordinated the Adopt-A-Family Program for nine Osseo English Language Learner families.  Boston Scientific employees contributed an entire mini-van full of wrapped gifts and groceries and $2400 in gift cards for local grocery, electronic, book and Wal-Mart stores.

For the second year in a row, Cedar Island Elementary was the recipient of a $2,000 grant from Target that allowed students to attend five performances sponsored by Young Audiences of Minnesota.

ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools is partnering with the cities of Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park, along with two other school districts and two community colleges, to create the Brooklyn Bridge for Youth Alliance. The Alliance will focus on providing activities, job skills and employment opportunities for youth in our community.

Osseo Senior High gymnastics Booster parents and student volunteers purchased and installed a new spring floor in the gymnastics area. The cost would have been $10,000-$11,000 if it had been purchased and installed by a vendor.

A new scoreboard has been installed in the Osseo Junior High swimming pool, mostly paid for by Boosters.

The Cargill Foundation has awarded more than $50,000 in grant funds to ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools through Project Lead the Way, a national non-profit organization established to help schools give middle and high school students the rigorous, relevant and reality-based education they need to develop strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math. The grant will allow our school district to implement Project Lead the Way’s Gateway to Technology program in all four of our junior high schools.

Every week, more than 30 Target Corporation employees volunteer at Woodland Elementary.

The District 279 Community Education Tutoring Program received a $5,000 grant from the Brooklyn Park Wal-Mart.

Woodland Elementary received a $3,000 grant (one of 30 nationwide) from the National Association of Elementary School Principals to implement a school-wide discipline program based on research of best practices in the field.

ISD 279 has moved to a cost-saving paperless system for records and data retention in several administrative departments.

Crest View Elementary will replace a dilapidated playground with all new equipment this June, thanks to donations from many individuals and groups, including Brooklyn Park Rotary Club and the City of Brooklyn Park. The Toro Company and the Minnesota Vikings have committed $30,000 each, and a community member who attended Crest View as a child pledged $5,000.

Osseo Area Schools received a $25,000 grant for a Character Education in Action program for the 2008-2009 school year from the Sprint Foundation. The district was one of 19 school districts in the country to receive the grant. The program will reach children in all 17 elementary schools, with three main goals: (1) improving school climate; (2) providing adult role modeling; and (3) implementation of research based lesson activities.

The Partnership for Change Coalition, of which Osseo Area Schools is a member, received a $625,000 “Drug Free Communities” grant from the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Coalition seeks to reduce illegal substance use by addressing the factors that increase the risk of use among youth and mobilizing parents, youth and community leaders to take a stand against substance use.

The District received a clean FY 2008 audit, with the auditor noting that financial information for the district was in excellent condition. The auditor also stated that, in the context of some new in-depth auditing standards, ISD 279’s audit was “even more exemplary.”

For the 18th consecutive year, the Osseo School District was awarded the Association of School Business Officials International’s Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting.

For the 4th consecutive year, District 279 received the Minnesota Department of Education School Finance Award

From January 1 through December 31, 2008, about $400,000 in energy savings had been achieved through the Schools for Energy Efficiency program. Compared to the same time period the previous year, total energy use was reduced by 7%. The goal for the program is to achieve an annual 10% reduction in energy use districtwide.

More Points of Pride

Three administrators from the GlenBard, Illinois school district recently visited ISD 279 to study our successful implementation of the ATPPS program (the local version of Q Comp). The Illinois administrators plan to replicate parts of our program and have requested to maintain contact with colleagues here.

Four Maple Grove Senior High students (Katie Hazen, Kelly Marschalk, Kaitlin Hofman, and Breanna Begin) recently earned the Gold Award, the highest award that a Girl Scout may earn. Each also won the school’s Crimson of the Week Award.

Elm Creek Elementary has two fifth-grade semi-finalists in the 2009 Father of the Year contest sponsored by the Minnesota Twins.

Lily Vang, a student at Garden City Elementary, has been awarded the Dennis Winfield Leadership Award by the Brooklyn Center Police Department. The award recognizes students who go beyond the expectations set by their schools with regard to helping others.

The Liberian Minister of Education recently wrote a letter to thank our district for donating books and computers that had exceeded their useful life in classrooms. The Education Minister noted that the materials will be helpful in equipping schools following Liberia’s civil war.

Ashlee Kephart, a senior at Park Center Senior High School, was named a Distinguished Finalist in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national program that recognizes young people who are role models in making a positive difference in their communities. Ashlee helped start a child development center in rural Liberia that provides more than 250 child soldiers with a safe place, food, and educational services.

Emily Larson was named a Channel 12 “Standout Student.” Her interview featured Emily’s accomplishments in language arts and journalism, and can be viewed from a link on the district web site.

A group of fifth-graders at Zanewood Community School is organizing intramural sports for their grade level, including basketball, soccer, double Dutch, and an obstacle course. The intramurals are all student-led, under the supervision of an educational support professional.

Maple Grove Senior High girls’ hockey team was named Milk’s Valuable Players and awarded a $1000 grant from the National Milk Mustache Body By Milk campaign.

Lauren Lynch, a junior at MGSH, was one of 50 participants from around the country selected to attend the Future Leaders Forum at Walt Disney World, an intensive leadership program for young golfers.

Park Center students participated in Spoken Word performances at the Brookdale Barnes and Noble store.

Participation rates in the school nutrition services program have increased over last year.