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


Achieving Results


June 2010

International Baccalaureate physics students at Park Center Senior High undertook a special project to identify the best design for crumple zones on cars to reduce the effects of a crash. Students followed lines of inquiry and employed graphic analysis and computer-monitored pressure measurements to pinpoint the most effective form of protection. Students investigated, planned, created, and evaluated each aspect of their design, leading to continuous self-guided improvement—an example of IB learning at its best.

Osseo Senior High’s 10HP English class set a record for the number of student works recognized and published in a single year in professional publications and through contests. To date, writings of 207 students have been published in A Celebration of Young Poets, Anthology of Poetry, Calliope, and others.

Park Brook students enjoyed a special tea party on June 9 to share the stories they wrote during this year’s Writers Workshop with teachers and their peers.

Weaver Lake sixth grade teacher Mary Moran decided to turn the school’s summer tuckpointing project into a math challenge by asking students to calculate how many miles of mortar will be replaced. The students used every math skill they had learned during the year to complete this challenge.  They accounted for the area of the windows, determined the areas of various surface area shapes, calculated the ratio of mortar to brick, used proportions to complete the estimation, used formulas for areas of parallelograms and triangles, interviewed staff to gather additional information, and used Google Earth to validate measurements and measure the parts of the building they couldn’t see.  They used altimeters to measure the height of the building.  Ms. Moran said the students were highly engaged and excited about developing the process and solving this real world math problem. Students determined that the project will require 7.63 miles of mortar.

Eleven Osseo Area Learning Center students earned “Workplace Readiness” certificates by completing required curriculum and activities in the College & Career Readiness Seminar and/or a work-based learning experience such as a community internship. The Workplace Readiness program is a collaboration between ISD 279 and the North Hennepin Area Chamber of Commerce Business Education Partnership Committee.

Three students from Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math and Technology School received Honorable Mention—scoring in the top 10% in the nation—in the WordMasters Challenge, a national competition that encourages growth in vocabulary and verbal reasoning.

Brooklyn Junior High was awarded the 2010 “Wellness by Design” award from Hennepin County, recognizing the school for going above and beyond in creating a healthy environment for staff and students. 2010 marks the third year Brooklyn Junior has earned this award.

The Maple Grove Girl’s Softball team won the Northwest Suburban Conference title for its outstanding performance during the 2010 softball season.

More than 170 Osseo Senior High students participated in a paper airplane contest May 21 incorporating elements of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM. The activity was a proactive effort to help students experience STEM, which will be part of the new Minnesota science standards to be implemented during the 2011-2012 school year.

On May 26, Brooklyn Junior High celebrated “Honors Night,” a special event recognizing 184 junior high students who maintained an “A” average for the first two trimesters of the 2009–2010 school year.

Congratulations to Nick Bergstrom, fifth-grader at Woodland Elementary, who was one of only 140 students nationwide to receive a perfect score on this year’s WordMasters Challenge.

May 2010

285 students were on hand when Birch Grove principal Jeff Zastrow (and Packers fan) donned Vikings attire as one of the rewards he offered when he challenged students to read nine books outside of class and write a creative report about each. At the end of the celebration, each student took home a free book courtesy of Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and the District 279 Foundation.

For the second year in a row, ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools was named one of the nation’s “Best Communities for Music Education” by the NAMM Foundation. ISD 279 was one of only two districts in Minnesota to receive this honor.

On April 27, Elm Creek Elementary fifth-graders toured the Minnesota State Capitol and the Minnesota History Center for a special hands-on civics and history lesson. Students also spent time with Representative Kurt Zellers and Senator Warren Limmer, who greeted students and answered questions about life in politics.

54 Park Center students became the first group of ISD 279 students to take International Baccalaureate exams earlier this month. Students took exams in Business Management and Physics, marking the first testing season of the new IB Diploma Programme at Park Center.

On behalf of Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts, Principal Jeff Zastrow and Birch Grove colleague Stephanie Vleck accepted the 2010 Magnet Schools of America Award of Excellence at the organization’s national conference in early May. They were joined by North View Junior High and Park Center Senior High who accepted a joint School of Excellence Award. Weaver Lake Elementary accepted a School of Distinction Award.

Students in Mr. Wallace’s fifth-grade class at Basswood Elementary participated in 2010 Brain Awareness Week activities sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s graduate program in neuroscience. Students participated in interactive demonstrations of brain functions and observed a real human brain.

Congratulations to Park Brook sixth-grader Da'sha'nae Pharms, winner of a recent spelling bee hosted by the A-mon-nue Sport & Social Association, a local organization that provides sports, education, and civic engagement opportunities for youth ages 7-18. More than 125 parents and community members cheered on contestants from area schools. Representing our district were Board member Laura Cottington, Palmer Lake principal Tommy Watson, and Zanewood student learning advocate Kendra Kuhlmann.

April 2010

Osseo Junior High students competed in a lemonade stand contest April 29, where they marketed and sold their individual lemonade recipes to staff. The contest helped students gear up for "Twin Cities Lemonade Day," which took place May 2. On Lemonade Day, students hosted their lemonade stands in the community to learn about the process of starting and operating a small business.

Garden City students wrote more than 350 letters to crew members of the USS Miami in hopes of developing a pen pal relationship to learn more about life aboard a submarine.

On April 23, Palmer Lake students played a baseball game against school staff as the reward for exceeding their reading goals during "I Love to Read Month" in February.

On April 30, Park Center Senior High hosted the Minnesota International Baccalaureate Showcase, a community event spotlighting the learning and achievements of IB students from across the state. Approximately 900 attendees enjoyed a keynote address from author Kao Kalia Yang, arts performances by students, and culminating personal projects and Creativity-Action-Service projects.

Hundreds attended American Indian Education Day & Wacipi on April 24. Attendees enjoyed artisan exhibits, demonstrations, Native American dance, a celebration of local graduates, food, and more. Educators also received curriculum materials providing ideas for infusing American Indian history and culture into lesson plans.

The Maple Grove Senior High Model United Nations team earned 15 separate honors at the state conference hosted by Macalester College on April 9.

The poetry of 28 Weaver Lake Elementary fourth graders was recently selected for publication in the 2010 Edition of the Young American Poetry Digest.

The Park Center Robotics team won third place at the Minnesota North Star Regional FIRST Robotics Competition at the University of Minnesota April 1-3. Park Center was also named the Highest Ranking Rookie Team.

Twelve Osseo Senior High students earned honors for their works of art at the Minnesota State High School League’s Regional Arts Competition at the Perpich Center on April 17.

The Minnesota Safety Council has awarded Osseo Area Schools a Governor’s Safety Award for superior performance in workplace safety and health. ISD 279 is one of 256 employers—and the only school district in Minnesota—to be recognized at the Governor’s Safety Awards luncheon on May 14.

Inspired to launch a book discussion pen pal program, Promise Fellow Rosie Chang and Principal Rob Mendolia challenged students to raise money at a recent Book Fair so the school could purchase reading material for the program. When students surpassed the $1,000 fundraising goal, Principal Mendolia allowed students to shave his infamous sideburns. Now 30 students are in a pen pal relationship with their peers in Hopkins, reading books together and discussing them through correspondence.

Garden City hosted its Second Trimester Celebration with a school-wide assembly that celebrated students’ academic accomplishments and contributions to the Garden City learning community through a commitment to positive character traits.

In only its second full year, Park Center’s IB Programme has almost doubled the number of students seeking the full IB Diploma. Sixty-six students are enrolled in the rigorous full Diploma Programme in 2010-11, and another 400 students are taking at least one IB course next year. Fifty six students will take IB tests this spring (the first opportunity) and over 400 tests will be given in May 2011.

In March, Fair Oaks Elementary hosted two successful Family Literacy Night events for students and their families. Every Fair Oaks family participated in sessions where they learned activities they can do at home to promote reading and writing. Thanks to a 279 Foundation grant and Title I parent involvement funds, each family took home a book bag with the directions and materials for all activities as well as two free books per child.

Park Center Senior High students, under the guidance of mentor Linda Yang, have brought the CLIMB High Achievers program to Garden City Elementary. Twice a week after school, high school students work with 50 third- through sixth-grade students to help them develop self-confidence and leadership skills, and tutor them in math and reading. 

Osseo Senior High’s Opportunities in Emergency Health Care program took fourth place at the 24th Annual State Emergency Care Competition on February 27. The competition consists of three scenarios that involve a medical or trauma accident and test students’ medical skills along with problem solving, teamwork, and dedication.

The Woodland Elementary sixth-grade Math Masters team, under the leadership of Mrs. Landers, earned tenth and eleventh place in the state competition March 13 at Robbinsdale Middle School. Two team members also earned individual honors.

March 2010

The Woodland Elementary Spelling Bee took place on February 19 with 26 students from grades 4-6 participating as finalists from their classrooms. The champion of this year’s Bee was 4th grader Afton Aiken, who advanced to the Metro Area Spelling Bee at the Minnesota History Center on March 13. 

Tora Husar, fourth-grader at Fernbrook Elementary, earned a perfect score in the Blue Division of the WordMasters Challenge—a competition focused on vocabulary, analytical skills, and critical thinking. More than 200,000 U.S. students competed in the competition, and Tora was one of only 132 fourth-graders to earn a perfect score.

Two North View Junior High students received Honorable Mention honors at the History Day regional competition earlier this month. Tunmise Fawole was recognized for her exhibit about Muckraker Ida Tarbell; and Lacy Myrman was honored for her exhibit about birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger. Six other North View students participated in the History Day competition.

Rush Creek students read 303,342 minutes during February as part of “I Love to Read Month.” Rush Creek students were challenged to read 201,000 minutes as a student body. As a reward for surpassing that goal, students celebrated by enjoying an Olympic-themed event filled with team-building and cooperative play activities.

The Minnesota Bar Association honored Park Center’s Mock Trial team by giving it the 2010 Team Professionalism Performance Award at a banquet on March 10.  The award recognizes high professional standards; to be considered, participants must demonstrate civility and courtesy; respect and fairness; honesty; integrity; and trustworthiness. The award is presented to only one Mock Trial team per year, and it is a great honor.

Emily Ford, a senior at Osseo Senior High, is a Channel 12’s most recent Standout Student. A vice president of the National Honor Society and a Junior Rotarian with the Maple Grove/Osseo Rotary, Emily was commended for her leadership in the classroom and the community. Emily has been accepted to three colleges so far, and hopes to learn soon of her acceptance to the military academies at Annapolis or West Point, where she aspires to study engineering.

The Palmer Lake Future Problem Solvers team, The Hippy Chickens, recently participated in a regional competition and won the coveted 2-6 Award, took first place in the written competition, and first place in the oral presentation, which earned them a spot in next month’s state competition.

Woodland Elementary hosted its third annual Cultural Celebration on February 26, welcoming more than 320 students and family members to enjoy dinner and performances by students, the Chinese Dance Theater and the Titambe African Drummers. This event was co-sponsored by the Woodland PTA, ISD 279 and the District 279 Foundation.

Congratulations to the Osseo Junior High Destination Imagination teams for a great showing at the regional tournament last month. The Middle Level team placed second in the Instant Challenge portion of the competition, and fourth overall. The Secondary Level team of placed second overall and will be advancing to the state tournament in April.

Maple Grove Senior High’s “Little Shop of Horrors” was one of 39 Minnesota high school productions receiving awards in the Hennepin Theatre Trust's Spotlight Musical Theatre Program. The musical was cited for outstanding accomplishment by a chorus and Sharayah Bunce received the award for outstanding performance in a leading role. Kevin Kriz also received honorable mention in a leading role.

February 2010

On January 8, more than 200 Brooklyn Junior “A” honor roll students were invited to the school’s Bulldog Café for a special Honor Roll Breakfast sponsored by the Rotary Club of Brooklyn Park. Students received certificates and enjoyed a celebratory breakfast. In addition to school administrators and staff, special guests Gina Smith and Brian Bourassa of the Rotary Club were on hand to offer their congratulations.

The February 2 Business Beat segment on Channel 12 showed how students in the Osseo Area Schools Community Based Vocational Assessment and Training program help local businesses. The feature story described the success students have had obtaining jobs, earning an income, and learning valuable life skills through the program.

For the 20th consecutive year, Osseo Area Schools has received the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Association of School Business Officials International. The certificate is awarded to school districts that demonstrate quality and clarity in the preparation and issuance of their comprehensive annual financial reports, and is the highest recognition offered by the organization.

On January 29, ISD 279 Early Childhood program staff collaborated with other community partners and neighboring school districts to host the annual Family Resource Fair, showcasing educational programs and services available to families in our communities. More than 50 families attended and learned how to support their children’s education. Families also enjoyed music, activities, and lunch, and each child received a free book to promote early literacy.

January 2010

Edinbrook Elementary hosted a Family Literacy event at the Brooklyn Park Library January 6 to equip parents with the tools, confidence and know-how to support reading habits at home. More than 400 students and their family members were in attendance at this community event, where each gained insight about literacy, enjoyed student performances and stories read aloud, and played games together.

December 2009

The Birch Grove Media Arts Troupe visited the studios of local cable news Channel 12, where students got a tour of the news station and the public access facility where community members can create their own cable programs. Troupe members learned about the equipment needed to produce a television program, toured the cable truck that travels around our community to capture news in action, chatted with news anchors, and observed a live newscast right from the studio.

60 sixth grade scientists from Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math & Technology School presented their scientific investigations at the Insect Fair at the University of Minnesota on December 12. The students had conducted science inquiry, designed and completed investigations, and created displays that highlighted their work with a variety of invertebrates.  At the fair, all students presented their work and answered questions from interviewers and the public.  Students also attended break-out sessions on various science topics.  Weaver Lake’s group was the largest from a single school;  29 schools and 300 students from Minnesota and Wisconsin participating in the Insect Fair.

In concert with monarch studies taking place on the space shuttle Atlantis, Weaver Lake Elementary is conducting a space chamber simulation and antigravity investigations in the classroom. Students are learning about the intricacies of monarch biology, and how living organisms function in a microgravity environment where near-weightlessness is the prevailing condition.

Twenty-one fourth-graders from Basswood, Elm Creek, Fernbrook, Oak View, Rice Lake, Rush Creek and Weaver Lake Elementaries each won first, second or third place trophies in the Maple Grove Fire Department Fire Safety Poster Contest. Each student’s poster can be found on the Maple Grove Fire Department website and will be entered into the statewide fire safety poster contest.

Third-grade students at Elm Creek Elementary were treated with a visit by a Minnesota Historical Society history player portraying Minnesota author, Maud Hart Lovelace. Students learned about Maud Hart Lovelace and what it was like to grow up in Mankato, Minnesota in the early 1900s. The stories were captivating and inspired many students to check out Betsy-Tacybooks from the library.

Eric Paulsen recently paid two visits to ISD 279 classrooms to teach kids about how a bill becomes a law. On November 20, the congressman read a book to first-graders at Birch Grove Elementary and toured the school with principal Jeff Zastrow; and on November 25, he discussed democracy with a fifth-grade classroom at Weaver Lake and learned about the school from principal Gretchen Peel.

Four Maple Grove Junior High students have been selected to participate in the 2009 Anacrusis Honor Choir, which consists of 100 boys and 100 girls from across Minnesota. The singers were selected from several hundred auditioning students throughout the state of Minnesota, and will perform under the direction of guest conductors from St. Olaf and Northwestern Colleges. 

November 2009

Emergency health care training currently available only at Osseo Senior High is being extended to two junior high schools through a pilot program. Students at Osseo Junior and Maple Grove Junior will practice artificial ventilation and administering defibrillators on manikins that provide students with feedback about their performance. Students also have the option of obtaining official AED and CPR certification through the American Heart Association. If the pilot program proves successful, the goal is to expand this training to all district junior high schools so all incoming high school students will have had the opportunity to gain critical life-saving skills.

Woodland Elementary is one of four schools in the state honored with the Family-Friendly Schools award. As part of Minnesota Parent Involvement Month, parents were encouraged to nominate their child’s school in a statewide contest hosted by the Minnesota Parent Center. Woodland was chosen for the close relationship staff members have with each family and child, and for the outstanding communication between administration and parents. Principal Linda Perdaems accepted the award on behalf of the school.

October 2009

As examples of our efforts to accelerate learning for all students:

  • Almost 300 elementary students district-wide are participating in accelerated math programs that allow high achievers to study math at a higher grade level. The majority are sixth-grade students at Basswood, Rush Creek, Edinbrook, Oak View, Woodland, Fernbrook, and Elm Creek Elementaries who are taking seventh-grade math.
  • Basswood Elementary received a District 279 Foundation grant that funded the purchase of books and learning materials that challenge advanced readers.

As a certified monarch waystation, Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math and Technology School, received 800 eggs and caterpillars from the University of Minnesota this year. Weaver Lake students tagged each monarch, then released them into the wild. Students will track the butterflies along their winter migration trek.

The Osseo Area Schools Adult Education Center and its builder, ATS&R, was recognized for Outstanding Design in the August 2009 American School and University magazine. The magazine noted that ATS&R’s design for the Enrollment Center’s common areas uses daylight, warm colors and patterns on the floors and walls to make the center feel welcoming.

September 2009 

62 ISD 279 students were named 2009 AP Scholars, based on their achievement on Advanced Placement exams taken last spring. In 2008, 46 students district-wide earned the honor. This year’s increase is driven primarily by a surge in the number of students who took the rigorous college-level exams: in 2008, 689 exams were taken, while in 2009, that number jumped to 1290. AP Scholar counts by building are: Maple Grove Senior High (43); Osseo Senior High (17); and Park Center Senior IB World School (2).

ISD 279 has been recognized for achieving approximately $500,000 in energy savings over a 12-month period through the Schools for Energy Efficiency (SEE) program. The energy savings program seeks to achieve energy reduction through operational strategies, behavioral awareness campaigns, and improved use of data.

The September issue of Maple Grove Magazine includes a cover story about magnet school excellence at Weaver Lake Elementary, and another article profiling extraordinary ISD 279 athletes.

In an article about English Language Learners in the workforce, Minnesota Lawyer Magazine published a feature spotlighting customized training provided to local businesses through the ISD 279 Adult Basic Education program.

ISD 279 students nearly doubled the number of college-level AP exams taken last spring, jumping from a total of 689 exams taken in 2008 to 1290 exams taken in 2009. A state grant helped participating high schools increase both the number of college-level courses offered and student participation in those classes. More than half of all the exams taken earned scores eligible for college credit, representing a significant tuition savings to those college-bound students. 

August 2009 

2009 Adequate Yearly Progress reports released by the Minnesota Department of Education showed significant improvement for our system over the previous year. One example was the percentage of student subgroups that met their targets, which jumped from 64% in 2008 to 79% in 2009.

Approximately 1,000 high school students were served this summer through academic programs coordinated by the Osseo Area Learning Center:

More than 400 students earned credits through a seven-week Independent Study Program.

More than 100 students earned credit to replace a failing grade previously earned in a 9th grade core subject class.

More than 200 students participated in BST-MCA/GRAD Prep and Test courses. According to principal James Hill, our system may have been the only district to offer summer instruction prior to the summer test dates (others may have offered the tests without a corresponding refresher course). The reading results are in, and nearly 70% of the students who received instruction and retook the reading test improved their score. Of those students, nearly 40% earned a passing score.

July 2009

Spring MCA-II results reflected a mixture of news to celebrate and 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, 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.

Student Confidence, Courage and Competence

July 2010

Students in the Community-Based Vocational Assessment and Training (or CBVAT) program have been gaining work experience at Brothers Office Furniture over the past school year. An office manager at Brothers Office Furniture recently wrote a glowing letter to staff about how much Brothers employees enjoy working with CBVAT students and how valuable the program has been to the furniture company’s business. She wrote, “We have appreciated the help they have brought to our company as well as the personalities we have gotten to enjoy! For all we have given to the students, we have received ten-fold in return by getting to know these kids and sharing a small part of their lives with them. Thank you for letting us be a part of your program.”

June 2010

Congratulations to Leah VanHale Gervais, recent graduate of the Osseo Area Learning Center, who was recognized as a Channel 12 Standout Student for her initiative and persistence to learn, and her ability to overcome obstacles.

Congratulations to the Park Center Fastpitch Softball team on winning the State 2AA Softball Tournament on June 10 and 11 in Mankato. Coach Steve Ericson was also named “Section Coach of the Year.”

The Oak View 6th grade chorus helped kick off the Twins game vs. Kansas City on June 8 by singing the national anthem to a packed stadium of baseball fans.

The Maple Grove Senior High girls softball team won the section 5AAA title to earn a spot in the state tournament, where they took 4th place.

Cedar Island Elementary held its second annual Vocabulary Parade on June 4. Through this event, students celebrate the vocabulary words they learned this year by dressing up in a way that demonstrates the meaning of their assigned word. More than 500 parents, grandparents, and siblings attended the Vocabulary Parade.

Osseo Senior High’s super-star pitcher Becca Girvan was recently featured in the Star Tribune for achieving the rare feat of 1000 strikeouts in her career.

Alex Veldhuis of the Maple Grove Boys Lacrosse team is one of 12 finalists for the Mr. Lacrosse Award, recognizing the top senior lacrosse player in Minnesota. The award winner will be announced at a June 6 reception at the St. Paul RiverCentre.

The ISD 279 sixth grade Sinfonia Orchestra performed at Birch Grove Elementary on May 14, demonstrating for students the musical skills they acquired throughout the school year.

May 2010

Adam Jacobs and Tyler Olson, ninth-graders at Brooklyn Junior High, took top honors as “Best in Fest” in the narrative film category at the .EDU Film Festival held May 14-15, entering a film they created in HP English class. Another film by Adam was named a finalist in the documentary category. A film by Jonah Reid, of Maple Grove Junior High, also was accepted into the juried competition. The .EDU Film Festival is the only school-sponsored student film festival in Minnesota, and students from our school district were participating for the very first time.

On May 12, 16 Maple Grove Senior High Future Educators Club students were joined by 16 guest staff members at the club’s year-end banquet. Each student stood before the group and read a story reflecting gratitude for the special memories of how the educator touched the student’s life. Students planned and managed all aspects of the banquet, including fundraising efforts to pay the costs.

The ninth-grade Model United Nations team at North View Junior High participated in a senior-level simulation of a United Nations conference on April 27 at Hamline University. The team competed earned accolades for best position paper, best delegation, and honorable mention.

Park Center sophomore Marissa Tarr was selected from a group of more than 2,000 Minnesota students to participate in the Minnesota Music Educators Association All-State Band this summer. Marissa will join several hundred other student musicians at a week-long summer camp, and will perform at a mid-winter clinic next February.

April 2010

Jessica Fife is Osseo Senior High’s Athena Award winner, recognizing a female athlete who excels in individual and team sports. Jessica will be honored for her achievements in volleyball, basketball, and track at a banquet at the Minneapolis Convention Center later this month.

Julia Winkelman, sixth-grader at Garden City Elementary, was awarded the Dennis Winfield Award at the Brooklyn Center Annual Police and Citizens Awards Ceremony April 21. Julia was recognized for her leadership and service as a kindergarten bus helper and as a student who consistently demonstrates kindness to others. 

Congratulations to Park Center’s Fastpitch Softball team on its first place finish at the Richfield Vance Crosby Softball Invitational, and to the JV Girls Golf team on its second place finish at the Glen Lake Girls’ Golf Invitational.

Maple Grove Senior High student John Belk is one of 27 students in the upper Midwest to receive the prestigious Schubert Club Bruce P. Carlson Student Scholarship. The award recognizes the two most talented student musicians in junior high, senior high, and graduate school categories, awarding scholarship money and public performance opportunities to help students pursue their musical aspirations.

Jennifer St. Peter, senior at Park Center Senior High, received a $2,000 scholarship in the Young Epidemiology Scholars Competition for her research on weight, nutrition, and exercise.

52 ISD 279 high school students were honored as Star Students at the 14th annual recognition program sponsored by the North Hennepin Area Chamber of Commerce Business Education Partnership Committee. Students from Maple Grove Senior High, Osseo Senior High, the Osseo Area Learning Center, and Park Center Senior High were recognized in four categories: academic achievement, employment skills, student activities, and volunteer service. The Chamber awarded college scholarships to four students: Jonathan Bennett from Osseo Senior; Juhee Kwon from Maple Grove; Kehnyeh Momoh from Park Center; and Leah VanHale from Osseo Area Learning Center.

Students in the after-school book club at North View Junior High participated in a fun camp-out in the school’s media center to learn some of the survival skills utilized in the book Memory Boy. Before discussing the story as a group, students worked together to set up a campsite, a tent, stove, and learned how to filter water.

Abbie Weigel is Maple Grove Senior High’s Athena Award winner, recognizing a female athlete who excels in individual and team sports. Abbie will be honored for her achievements in cross country and track at a banquet at the Minneapolis Convention Center in May.

Austin Ruud, a senior at Park Center Senior High, was recently recognized as a Channel 12 Standout Student for his outstanding academic achievements and his leadership roles in several extra-curricular activities. In addition to his full course load at Park Center, Ruud is currently enrolled in night classes at the University of Minnesota where he has earned a full scholarship to attend the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology in 2010-11.

Three males and three females were recently chosen to represent Park Center at Girls’ and Boys’ State this summer. The students will spend one week at a local college campus participating in  “hands-on” government activities, including operating their own city, county and state governments; electing their own officials; and debating their own bills at the state legislature. 

Sixth-grader Abbey Petersen from Rice Lake Elementary graced the March cover of Maple Grove Magazine, which features an article about Irish dance lessons provided at a studio in Maple Grove.

On March 18, Channel 12 featured Maple Grove Senior High’s new show choir and the comeback of the modern-day glee club.

More than 700 people turned out for Birch Grove’s 5th annual spring musical, “Dear Edwina, Jr.,” with performances on March 12 and 13. The matinee and evening shows were all sold-out performances.

The Woodland Elementary Parent Teacher Association participated in the  National PTA’s 2010 Reflections Art Program. Four Woodland students won state-level awards: Emily Anderson, a fourth-grader, won the Award of Outstanding Interpretation (the top award) in Film Production.  Awards of Merit went to Jacqueline Crockett, a sixth-grader, in Literature; Emily Grant, a fourth-grader, in Photography; and Adrienne Manders, a second-grader, in Visual Arts.

The Maple Grove Senior High Dance Team won first place in the High Kick division and second place in the Jazz Funk portion of the Class AAA state competition.

MGSH junior Paige Horwood won a National Danceline competition in California. This summer, she will represent the United States in an international competition in Japan.

Rebekah Holten, senior at Osseo Senior High, was named a KARE 11 Academic All Star. Rebekah was recognized for her academic excellence and her participation in the National Honor Society, Girl’s State (where she was elected governor by her peers), the Nordic ski team, and various volunteer efforts.

March 2010

Congratulations to the Park Center Boys’ swim team on its 6th-place finish in the section meet.

In Maple Grove Senior High athletics:

  • The girls’ basketball team won the section title and will compete in the state tournament this week.
  • The wrestling team finished 6th in its first appearance at the state tournament.
  • Both the CI and PI floor hockey teams will play in the state tournament this weekend at Bloomington Jefferson.
  • The boys’ swimming team finished sixth at the state swim meet.
  • The boys’ hockey team was runner-up in the Section 5AA hockey tournament
  • The MGSH boys swim team won the Section 5AA championship with 14 swimmers advancing to state. Coach Ron Jacobsen was awarded Section 5AA Coach of the Year and Stacy Benjamin was named Section 5AA Diving Coach of the Year.
  • The Maple Grove Senior High girls’ basketball team won the Northwest Suburban Conference for the first time in school history.
  • Maple Grove Senior High placed second in state at the recent Academic Decathlon, bringing home 19 total gold, silver and bronze medals.

Congratulations to Keelie Sorensen for being named Park Center’s Athena Award winner. This award is for an outstanding female athlete based on excellence in team or individual sports. She will be recognized at the Athena Awards luncheon on May 7 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

February 2010

Maple Grove Senior High wrestlers are heading to state for the first time in school history. After a nail-biter heavyweight match at sectionals, the team defeated defending sectional champion and top seed Centennial, ensuring a berth at the state tournament. Congratulations to the team, head coach Troy Seubert, and the rest of the coaching staff.

Five engineering technology students at Maple Grove Senior High (four of whom are pictured) recently attended a National Engineering Week event hosted by BAE Systems. Students experienced an electronic propulsion experiment, observed armament design and development, and heard a panel of engineering professionals share their career paths. The day also included a team activity in which students had 30 minutes to build a marshmallow launcher from a bag of miscellaneous parts.  Our students’ launcher propelled a marshmallow more than 30 feet. The students’ next focus, along with their entire engineering club, is to complete their robot for competition in early April.

Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts students are busy preparing for their annual musical production. This year’s musical is “Dear Edwina, Jr”, with performances scheduled for March 12 and 13. Ticket information is available by contacting the school office.

Osseo Junior High’s MATHCOUNTS team placed fourth out of 14 schools in regional competition earlier this month. Team member Allen Miller placed 6th in the individual competition and first in the Countdown Round; Christian Becker placed 10th; and Bryan Hulse placed 18th out of 77 competitors. MATHCOUNTS is a nationwide program that seeks to improve students’ mathematical skills, improve the quality of math education and increase student interest in math.

Elm Creek Elementary is hosting a Family Reading Night tonight, featuring WCCO’s Jason DeRusha as a special guest reader. Mr. DeRusha is an ISD 279 resident and journalist who is well known for his “Good Question” segments on WCCO-TV. Elm Creek students are working toward a goal of 200,000 reading minutes during February, which is I Love to Read Month.

As part of the Singers in Accord concert series, North View Junior High and Osseo Senior High Choirs will welcome guest conductor Nick Page on February 18 to learn about community sing-a-longs. That same evening, at 7 p.m. in the Osseo Senior High auditorium, students will perform a free community sing-along concert called, “The World in Six Songs,” inspired by the Daniel Levitin book of the same title. Together, the choirs and audience will explore six fundamental song types: friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge and love.

Students in the ninth-grade choir at Brooklyn Junior High have the exceptional opportunity of learning directly from two professional jazz vocalists with local ties: Timotha Lanae, a Park Center Senior High graduate and former American Idol contestant whose photo is on the screen; and Gwen Matthews, one of the Twin Cities’ favorite jazz and R&B vocalists. Lanae and Matthews are conducting six jazz clinics at Brooklyn Junior as members of Minnesota Artists for Youth Arts. The clinics will culminate in a concert at the Park Center Senior High auditorium on March 25, which will include performances by the Brooklyn Junior High Jazz band, 9th grade choir, and a special performance by Lanae and Matthews.

Park Center’s gymnastics team took second place in the “Think Pink” Columbia Heights Gymnastic Invitational on January 23. They also won they award for “Top Fundraiser”, raising more than $200 in the fight against breast cancer.

District 279 athletes earned high marks in recent Northwest Suburban Conference Nordic Ski meets. In the Nordic boys’ team competition, the Osseo Orioles took the meet title; and in the girls’ team competition, the Maple Grove Crimson took top honors. Matt Jackels of Maple Grove was the individual pursuit champion. Park Center Senior High students Jennifer St. Peter, Nicole Ball and Kayla Ampe earned All Conference Honors, while Gina Tonn and Andy Fenske earned All Conference Honorable Mention.

The Maple Grove Senior High Math Team is advancing to the state competition, having won the Twin Cities Suburban West Division title. Seven of the top 15 placing individuals in the divisional competition—including first, second and third place winners—were Maple Grove students. We wish the team good luck at state on March 8.

January 2010

Nearly 400 students, parents and community members attended Zanewood’s Multicultural Night on November 17. Attendees enjoyed multicultural food, visited booths hosted by community organizations, enjoyed entertainment by a Zanewood staff member, and visited the Media Center to sign up for a library card and receive a free Reading is Fundamental book. The evening also included a student talent show and a display of traditional clothing from many cultures, while members of the sixth-grade diversity team explained to the audience the significance of the clothing and where it is worn.

After winning the section True Team title, the Maple Grove boys’ swim team went on to win the True Team State Meet on January 23.

Congratulations to the Park Center Music Listening Team 1 for earning a spot at the state music composition contest in February. The team qualified by taking second place out of 18 teams at the regional competition. The winning team consists of seniors Annie Gabriel and Stephanie Morse-Noland, and junior Emily Notturno.

Adam Mickelson, a junior at Park Center Senior High, has been accepted to the Summer Leaders Seminar at the United States Military Academy at West Point next summer. The week-long program of academic classes, military training, physical fitness and intramural athletics allows students to experience cadet life at West Point. Adam is one of only 1,000 high school juniors in the nation to attend the program in 2010. 

Christian Thompson, Park Center senior, was recently named a Channel 12 Standout Student, recognizing his accomplishments in academics and extracurricular activities. Christian is an honor roll student, president of the National Honor Society, and a member of the senior class cabinet and he participates on the math team and Mock Trial. Currently, he is preparing for the lead role in the spring musical, “The Pajama Game.”

The Park Center Pirates girls’ basketball team has joined forces with the American Cancer Society, National Association of Basketball Coaches, and the Minnesota Girls’ Basketball Coaches Association in the fight against cancer. During their game against the Blaine Bengals, parents, fans and community members will have the opportunity to purchase a t-shirt or bracelet, with all proceeds benefitting colon cancer research and awareness. Donations will be accepted throughout the game, and all fans will receive a blue ribbon to commemorate the fight against colon cancer.

Two seniors from each of our high schools have been nominated for the Minnesota State High School League’s AAA award acknowledging males and females who excel in Arts, Academics, and Athletics:

  • Park Center’s Triple A athletes are Christian Thompson and Gina Tonn;
  • Osseo Senior’s Triple A athletes are Becca Girvan and Michael Scheffler; and Maple Grove Senior’s Triple A athletes are Hahn Chang and Anne Michael

In partnership with the American Heart Association, Crest View Elementary’s Jump Team performed double-dutch for students at Breck Lower School to promote physical fitness and heart health. The Crest View Jump Team is made up of 16 girls from grades 4-6 who practice twice a week for the 20 demonstrations they have scheduled this year.

December 2009

Maple Grove senior Hahn Chang is one of two Minnesota students named scholarship winners in the 2010 United States Senate Youth Program. In addition to receiving a $5,000 college scholarship, Chang will participate in an intensive week of activities in Washington DC designed to deepen student delegates' understanding of the federal government and give them direct access to those who lead it. Events include meeting with President Barack Obama; Senate leaders; a Supreme Court Justice; officials from executive agencies; an ambassador; and senior members of the media.

The Maple Grove Senior High girls’ swim team won the Section 8AA swimming title and took seventh place at the state tournament. Team member Tess Behrens won first place in the 100 yard backstroke at the same event.

Two Park Center students were recently selected by the Northwest Suburban Integration School District Future Educators Association to represent the organization at the National Conference in San Antonio, Texas in February.

Jameer Jackson, junior at Osseo Senior High, was named to the first team All-Metro football squad, an honor typically reserved for seniors. Jameer was recognized in the Star Tribune on November 24 along with other exceptional high school athletes from across the state.

The Park Center Pirates CI Soccer team recently won the state championship for the second year in a row. The team entered the championship as the third seed in the North Division but upset both number one and two seeds to win. Two Pirates were named All Tournament recipients, three received All Conference Honorable Mention, and three were named All Conference.

Fernbrook Elementary kindergartners were featured in a special video on coaching others how to cook their Thanksgiving turkey. 

November 2009

The Maple Grove girls swim team won the Northwest Suburban Conference title.

Patty Zhao is the first Maple Grove female to compete in the state tennis tournament, where she took fourth place on October 29.

The Osseo Senior High varsity soccer Orange Squad placed third in the State Sideline Cheering Competition, and the Football Squad placed second. Three athletes participating in the competition were named 2009 all-state cheerleaders.  

The Osseo Boys Cross Country team was named Northwest Suburban Conference champions, with three team members receiving all-conference honors.

The Osseo Volleyball Team tied for first place at the Northwest Suburban Conference.

Three Osseo Senior High students have signed letters of intent to play sports at various post-secondary institutions in the Midwest next year.

Congratulations to the Park Center Girls Soccer Team for finishing as runner-up in the Section 5A championship. One team member was named an all-state athlete.

Two Park Center Cross Country athletes will compete in the state cross country meet at St. Olaf College November 7.

At Boys Nation in Washington, D.C. this summer, Maple Grove Senior High student senior Hahn Chang ranked third out of 98 students nationwide in assessments determining individual leadership potential and knowledge of government.

October 2009

The Maple Grove Senior High Girl’s Swim Team won the True Team swimming and diving sectionals this month to earn a spot in the True Team swimming and diving championship where they placed 4th overall out of 12 Minnesota high school teams. One team member also won the overall competition in the 100-meter backstroke.

Park Center Senior IB World School is hosting a special ceremony on October 22 to showcase and dedicate a large mosaic composed of symbols made by art students to represent their individual heritage, culture, and ethnicity.

Congratulations to the following Maple Grove Senior High students who were selected as Junior Rotarians after a rigorous screening and interview process: Ryan Kamphuis, Angie Lockwood, Lauren Lynch, Adam Mann, Ayushi Narayan, and Rachel Smardich.

Late last summer, 12 junior- and senior-level students from ISD 279 high schools participated in the Northwest Suburban Conference Leadership Day, which kicked off a year-long effort to build leadership and team-building skills. The students will serve as advisory council members on various issues affecting extra-curricular activities this school year.  

September 2009 

Park Center senior Jeanel Mouelle was one of two Minnesota “senators” who attended the American Legion Girls Nation, a week-long citizenship and government program in our nation's capital. While in Washington, D.C., Mouelle participated in mock election activities, caucuses, senate sessions, bill hearings and field trips to federal agencies, institutions, memorials and historical sites. We are extremely proud that two of the four Minnesotans participating in this prestigious national leadership program came from Osseo Area Schools. 

July 2009

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.

Achieving Dreams

July 2010

Tyler Erickson and Tippaket Thammavong, 2010 graduates of Park Center Senior High, each received a four-year, $16,000 scholarship from the Medtronic Foundation to help achieve their dreams of post-secondary education. Tyler will attend the University of Minnesota and Tippaket will attend St. Catherine University this fall.

Former Park Center student Lakita Davis and her mentor, Park Center English teacher Janet Freeberg-Lawson, were featured in the spring edition of Brooklyn Park’s resident newsletter,Park Pages. The story describes the impact of caring adults in young people’s lives, as evidenced by Lakita’s success in contributing to community and obtaining a teacher’s license to teach English. Lakita credits Freeberg-Lawson with providing the inspiration and encouragement necessary to help her achieve her dreams.

April 2010

Artists Philip Blackburn and JD Steele partnered with ACHIEVE students and children from the Shangilia orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya to create a musical composition made up of recorded sounds and voices of both student groups. “The Magic Mirror of Life” composition involves students reciting personal proverbs and words to live by that encourage listeners to overcome obstacles in order to achieve their dreams. Next month, ACHIEVE students will have the opportunity to meet their Kenyan peers at a concert at the Ordway Theater, and the composition will be featured at the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival this June in St. Paul.

The Osseo Senior High wrestling team drafted letters and compiled care packages for troops in Afghanistan in honor of a fellow teammate’s brother who was deployed earlier this year.

1999 Park Center grad and Pirates pitcher Pat Neshek has been named a relief pitcher for the Minnesota Twins for the 2010 season.

February 2010

Congratulations to Corbin Gillen, senior at Maple Grove Senior High, who was awarded a $500 scholarship from the Minnesota Chapter of the Germanic-American Institute. He won the scholarship by writing an essay—completely in German--that explained how he would use the scholarship to advance his study of the language. Corbin, along with his parents and German teacher, Carolyn Tischer, will attend an award ceremony in mid-February.

January 2010

2009 Park Center High School graduate Ashlee Kephart was one of only 20 Americans—and the only Minnesota teenager--chosen to help carry the Olympic Torch on its way to Vancouver. Ashlee was nominated through the Cola Cola “Living Positively” program, which recognizes individuals who model positive leadership, volunteerism, and commitment to community.

September 2009 

The Osseo Area Learning Center is celebrating 10 years of service to area youth this year. Watch for more details over the coming weeks as we publicize this milestone in the OALC’s work to help students achieve their dreams of graduation.

July 2009

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.

Contributing to Community

July 2010

School Board member Lin Myszkowski served as the Grand Marshal of the 2010 Osseo Marching Band Festival on June 26, which featured performances by the finest high school marching bands from across the state.

June 2010

Zanewood Community School hosted its annual end-of-year BBQ picnic on June 3, bringing together students and families to celebrate another successful school year. The Blue Lake Dance project, featuring Zanewood students, performed hip hop dances for entertainment. The event also served as a launch party for a partnership between Zanewood, CEAP, and Target to provide Zanewood families with food assistance.

Weaver Lake third-graders recently donated $1,200 to Feed My Starving Children. The donation was funded by the profits from the “Math at the Snack Shop” project, where 3rd graders applied their math skills by managing the snack shop, controlling inventory, ordering new products, and selling healthy snacks to students and staff.

Basswood Elementary participated in the annual Minnesota FoodShare campaign this spring by hosting a school-wide food drive, which produced 2,624 donated items for CEAP.

Eight students from the Osseo Area Learning Center’s student leadership team visited the Berkshire assisted living home on May 20 to demonstrate commitment to community. Students and seniors had a great time together, visiting and participating in a bowling activity.

Led by head building engineer Steve Ericson, Crest View students have been contributing to the Crest View community by forming The Green Team. Two to three times per week, this hard-working crew collects all classroom recyclables and takes on the task of keeping the outside grounds clean.

The results are in: Maple Grove Senior High students raised $10,200 through their “Hope for Haiti” campaign this school year—well above the original goal of $5,000. On May 28, students celebrated their success with an all-school ice cream social.

May 2010

Fernbrook Elementary students raised $10,824 in the school’s 2010 Walk for the Cure. Each year, students collect donations from friends and family to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation in honor of parent volunteer, Laurie Whitt, who lost her battle with breast cancer. The event takes place during phy ed class, during which students walk for 25 minutes along a track decorated with cancer awareness posters. Since 2001, Fernbrook families have raised more than $76,000 for the cause.

The second annual Maple Grove Run for Darfur took place on May 15. This event was created, organized, and staffed entirely by ISD 279 student volunteers who wish to aid those affected by the ongoing violence, political unrest, and poverty in Darfur, Sudan. Students are still counting the proceeds, but expect that the funds raised at this year’s run will meet, if not exceed, last year’s total. All proceeds will benefit the American Refugee Committee.

25 members of the Park Center Asian Club recently gave up a Saturday to volunteer at Feed My Starving Children to package, weigh, and box meals. By contributing to community, students learned how their hard work will directly improve the lives of overseas children living in poverty.

On May 14, Rice Lake Elementary students collected trash outdoors as part of a good citizen project teaching kids how to care for their community.

April 2010

More than 100 community members attended Cedar Island’s first Summer Spectacular Information Fair on April 22 hosted by the Campus Schools PTO. The event provided parents with information about low-cost or free summer activities for kids, and strategies for supporting learning throughout the summer.

On March 15, 16, and 17, sixth-graders from Elm Creek Elementary volunteered Feed My Starving Children and packaged a total of 202 boxes of food, which will provide approximately 71,344 meals for the hungry.

Park Center junior Eugenia Conneh was one of five youth awarded the 2009 Rising Star Volunteer Award from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board at a ceremony held April 7. The Rising Star Award is presented to youth ages 13-17 who have been instrumental in creating better communities through volunteerism.

The Empty Bowls event on March 25 was a huge success. Approximately 650 people attended and purchased more than 700 bowls created by ISD 279 students, staff and Northern Clay Center employees. Empty Bowls raised more than $10,000 to benefit the local CROSS Food Shelf.

As part of the “2010 Students Connected Through International Service Project” at Rice Lake, Park Brook, Edinbrook, Oak View, Elm Creek and Weaver Lake Elementaries, students raised more than $6,800 to purchase school supplies and instructional materials for a school in Sasabe, Sonora, Mexico. A group of 6 fifth-graders, including one representative from each participating school, will travel to Mexico in late April to deliver the supplies and promote cultural understanding with their peers in Sasabe.

On March 23, Zanewood’s Math/Bingo night was attended by more than 200 parents and students who enjoyed pizza and played bingo to win backpacks full of school supplies and gift cards, all donated by staff members. The event kicked off with a lively dance performance by Zanewood students who participate in an afterschool program at the Brooklyn Park Rec Center.

On February 25, the Brooklyn Junior High Jazz 1 Ensemble was invited to entertain guests at the Brooklyn Park Rotary Wild Game Fundraiser held at Edinburgh USA Country Club.

March 2010

On March 3, a group of Early Childhood Family Education and Special Education staff, family and friends packaged more than 1,600 meals at Feed My Starving Children. They also collected $100 in donations to benefit the charity.

21 staff members from Park Center Senior High and North View Junior High IB World Schools participated in the Minneapolis Polar Plunge on March 6 to raise money for Special Olympics and to model for students the importance of contributing to community, which is a key concept in our system’s mission. The I.B. Chillin' team dedicated its chilly adventure to students and raised a total of $2,967.

Eight Park Center students are serving on two of the City of Brooklyn Park’s strategic planning teams, helping build a bright future for their community. Using a planning model similar to the one used in our system, Brooklyn Park created a Core Planning Team, Measurement Team, and Action Teams to develop a mission statement and strategic plan for eventual approval by the Brooklyn Park City Council.

The Future Educators Club at Park Center Senior High collected more than 2,000 new and used children’s books during a book drive last month. All books will be donated to Oxbow Elementary in Champlin, where the team shadows other educators.

Maple Grove Junior High recently learned that the Community Emergency Assistance Program needed sturdy bags for its clients to transport food in as they traveled from the food shelf on city buses. Students in the school’s Textile Art & Design class decided they could use the skills and information they learned in class while helping others in the community. By recycling scraps of fabric left over from previous projects, students crafted durable, reusable grocery bags and donated them to CEAP. 

Elm Creek PTO hosted “Rock On,” the annual Family Dance on February 19 where students were invited to dress up in clothing representing the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.  In lieu of admission, families donated food shelf items and money to benefit CEAP. Donations added up to $246 and 320 food items for the hungry in our communities.

The 10th annual Park Center Hoops for Heart basketball game between students and staff netted $2,100 to benefit the American Heart Association.

Zanewood Community School hosted a waffle breakfast for families on February 11 attended by more than 100 parents. The breakfast was followed by a short data presentation informing parents of the school’s growth goals and the strategies being employed to help all students succeed. The event concluded with a 30-minute program to celebrate all cultures in recognition of Black History month.

February 2010

The Maple Grove cheerleaders were recently honored by the Maple Grove City Council, led by Mayor Mark Steffenson. The Council issued a proclamation recognizing the students for their volunteer efforts and school and community spirit

ISD 279 students are continuing to help earthquake victims in Haiti:

  • Responding to their class theme of “working together,” students in Rush Creek’s Four Star Express preschool and child care program hosted a penny drive to raise money for Kids Against Hunger, an organization helping earthquake victims. The students raised more than 10,000 pennies and learned that they can help fight hunger in the world.
  • Elm Creek sixth-graders raised more than $125 in donations from their families, neighbors, and friends. The AFL-CIO Union Fund matched the funds, resulting in a total of $250 that will be used to provide food and temporary shelter for earthquake victims.
  • Zanewood sixth-graders packaged meals at Feed My Starving Children on February 8.
  • The Woodland Student Council is collecting donations in hopes of raising $1,000 for the American Red Cross

In a spirit of community partnership, the After-School Art Club students at Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts created decorations for the Brooklyn Park/Brooklyn Center Youth Council’s Blue Jean Ball held on January 22 at Embassy Suites in Brooklyn Center. Student volunteers from Park Center Senior High and Brooklyn Junior High also helped, and Triarco Arts and Crafts donated materials. The Birch Grove students’ hard work culminated in a field trip to the event location to see their decorations on display.

On February 18, Park Center Senior High will host its annual Hoops for Heart charity event, a fun basketball game between students and staff. Money is raised through a raffle for the chance to win one of 250 donated prizes. All proceeds benefit the American Heart Association.

January 2010

Many students across our system are engaging in fundraising and volunteer projects to help earthquake victims in Haiti:

  • Two schools are partnering with Feed My Starving Children to help meet the needs of disaster victims in Haiti. Sixth-graders at Zanewood Community School will pack meals in early February, and the Student Council at Rush Creek Elementary has designated March 15 –19 to raise money to help Feed My Starving Children meet the country’s basic food needs;
  • Joni Sutton’s French class at Maple Grove Junior High is collecting money for the Red Cross to help aid disaster victims;
  • Maple Grove Senior High is taking a multi-pronged approach to fundraising during their Sno-Daze celebration February 1-6:
  • In exchange for online donations made at a special web site,, students will dye their hair wild and crazy colors, showcasing their creativity at a student assembly on February 5;
  • A benefit concert will also take place on February 5 featuring three different Maple Grove student bands or groups;
  • Tee-shirts are for sale with all proceeds benefitting Haiti disaster relief;
  • And, in a remarkable gesture of generosity, an anonymous donor has agreed to match ALL funds raised.

North View Junior High students participated in the “Mother Bear” service learning project, which provides teddy bears for children with HIVV/AIDS in emerging nations. Students volunteered their time to help stuff the bears and add a signature fleece scarf to each one, similar to the scarves they made for children in Guatemala last month. 

Elm Creek Kidstop hosted a donut/coffee/hot chocolate sale on January 20 and raised more than $200 for the KS95 Change for Kids campaign, which benefits the Children’s Cancer Research Fund and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.

During Zanewood’s Multicultural Night in November, the sixth-grade boys leadership team collected 129 pounds of food for the Emergency Foodshelf Network.

Throughout the month of December, Kidstop students at Woodland Elementary collected 250 pairs of athletic socks as a gesture of support for soldiers stationed in Iraq. They also collected and decorated more than 100 pairs of children’s socks for the soldiers to give as gifts to children in Iraq. The service project culminated on December 28, when students participated in a Skype session with Chad McNiesh, stationed with the 34th Infantry Division, to learn about life and culture in Iraq.

First-, second-, and third-graders at Woodland Elementary participated in “Operation: Soldiers Phone Home” last month, where each of the students created a greeting card for a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq. Thanks to donations from General Mills employees, each student’s greeting card will be sent overseas accompanied by a calling card so soldiers can phone loved ones here in the States.

Toro Corporation generously provided gifts for 13 Crest View Elementary families this holiday season. Toro reps and employees presented gifts both to the parents and children of each family, as well as a wreath and a box of cookies.

The Maple Grove 9th and 10th grade girls basketball teams took time during winter break to help those less fortunate by spending several hours at CROSS in Rogers organizing and stocking the food shelf. The Maple Grove girls basketball team also collected donations for CROSS at its home game against Andover on January 5.

Residents at Maranatha Care Center in Brooklyn Center enjoyed a visit from Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts Show Choirs on December 15. The choirs performed several musical pieces, choreographed performances, and sing-a-longs.

December 2009

The Osseo Senior High Motet singing group, along with the Maple Grove Senior High Jazz Band and Crimson Harmony, entertained thousands of community members at the grand opening of the Maple Grove Hospital on December 12. Student musicians performed jazz and a cappella music, traditional holiday carols, and others.

Boston Scientific teamed up with Osseo Area Schools in an extraordinary way this season to meet the needs of families in our community. Boston Scientific sponsored 180 individuals in 48 families by purchasing and wrapping gifts, clothing and more, and arranging for pro bono delivery of the gifts by Barrett Moving. Boston Scientific also donated 200 t-shirts and a large quantity of hygiene items to be distributed to students as needed. ISD 279 staff members joined the effort by donating ingredients and volunteering their time to bake 1,200 cookies that were distributed among the sponsored families.

Fifth and sixth grade members of the Woodland Elementary Eagles Choir entertained seniors at St. Therese at Oxbow on December 8 with a choral concert, performing holiday and folk songs from around the globe.

The Maple Grove Crimson Cabinet will be featured on the 10 pm newscast on KARE-11 on December 18. Crimson Cabinet representatives will be on the air to celebrate the success of the school’s Toys for Tots drive.

In a long-standing tradition, Elm Creek Elementary celebrates student birthdays each month by inviting students to have lunch with Principal Jim Meyer. Mr. Meyer helped ten students celebrate their December birthdays with lunch, an ice cream treat and a special birthday card.

A Zanewood second-grade class raised approximately $88 in cash donations, and with additional support from their teacher Melissa Uecker, students bought more than $120 in supplies needed to make 10 fleece blankets for an orphanage in Ethiopia.

North View Junior High students are taking part in an international community service project by making fleece scarves for children in the mountainous regions of Guatemala. Students are learning about the histories and cultures of countries in Central America, and Spanish language students will write notes to the scarf recipients in hopes of beginning a pen-pal relationship.

Weaver Lake served more than 500 parents, students, and staff at its annual Waffle Breakfast on November 20. 

Fair Oaks Elementary hosted two family math nights in November: one for preschool, kindergarten, and first-grade students and their parents; and another for second- and third-grade students and their families. Nearly 200 people representing 71 families attended over the two-night period to learn math games and tips for building their child’s math skills at home. Each family was given a gift bag with all the materials needed to play the math games at home, along with directions in both English and Spanish.

The Positive Leadership class at Osseo Senior High demonstrated what it means to lead with their hearts by nominating a fellow classmate for a holiday wish from the KDWB radio station. The class asked the station to do something special for their classmate to lift her spirits after the loss of a parent. KDWB paid a special visit to the school on November 30 to grant the wish and present the student with a laptop computer, printer, and accessories. To encourage her post-secondary aspirations, classmates also presented her with a check for $1,800, donated by OSH students and their families, to be put toward college tuition, room and board.

November 2009

For the sixth year in a row, Basswood fifth graders are participating in the Maple Grove Parks and Recreation Department’s Adopt-a-Park program. This fall, students picked up litter on and around the Basswood Community playfield as part of their commitment to community and to reinforce the concept of citizen responsibility.

Edinbrook is launching a new program called Watch DOGS, or Dads of Great Students. Watch DOGS is a National Center for Fathering initiative that invites fathers and father figures of Edinbrook students to spend at least one day per year volunteering at the school. The initiative seeks to increase parent involvement in schools and to provide students with positive role models. Watch DOGS will launch in mid-November with a pizza party for students and their fathers.

Eighteen Osseo Hockey Team members partnered with Community Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP) this fall to help senior citizens in Osseo and Dayton rake and clean up their yards before the coming winter. 

October 2009

Elm Creek Elementary hosted its annual Family BBQ Lunch on October 8. More than 240 guests joined students to build community and enjoy a delicious lunch prepared by the talented kitchen staff and Chef Tom Pellegrino.

A community rally against racism and hate crimes was hosted by the cities of Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park on October 1. Several ISD 279 representatives attended as a gesture of support for the victims of a recent hate crime, and to demonstrate our system’s core belief that everyone has equal intrinsic value.

Volunteers from Target performed a Media Center Makeover at Zanewood Community School on September 25, donating nearly 300 books and materials to create a reading nook. Twenty Target employees from the Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park stores also built a book bin, designed and installed three bulletin board displays, and performed cleaning and organization tasks.

September 2009 

The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve has recognized Supt. Susan Hintz and Osseo Area Schools as a “Patriotic Employer.” The award recognizes the district for “contributing to national security and protecting liberty and freedom by supporting employee participation in America’s National Guard and Reserve Force.”

Zanewood Community School hosted a family BBQ on September 11 with more than 100 parents in attendance.

The Maple Grove Rotary Club donated hundreds of school supply items to Rice Lake Elementary to support student learning this school year.

Living Word Christian Center also donated a generous number of school supplies to Crest View Elementary. You can see the supplies and hear Principal Suzette Erickson’s thank you message to Living Word, which was posted by Living Word on YouTube (find it by searching for the phrase “School Supplies for Crest View Elementary”).

On August 31, the MOMS club of Maple Grove generously donated nearly 400 school supply items for the students of Garden City Elementary.

Park Center junior Austin Hafner and his family were featured in a Star Tribune newspaper article describing the Hafner family’s involvement with the Brooklyn Park Champions for Youth organization, whose goal is to give youth a voice and to provide positive opportunities encouraging youth to become productive adults.

On August 27, 27 Target employees volunteered their afternoon to help prepare Zanewood Community School for the new school year by sorting and collating materials, cleaning windows, assembling bookshelves, and packing backpacks with school supplies they donated. 

August 2009 

Beach Blanket Blast, the summer family celebration for Kidstop, Cosmic Club, and the SPOT program, drew about 675 students and parents who enjoyed a penny carnival, outdoor BBQ, games, music, dancing, and more. Participants contributed more than 525 pounds of food items that were delivered to the CROSS food shelf.

Students in the Kidstop child care program at Woodland, Weaver Lake, Rice Lake and Basswood Elementary Schools collected more than $5,000 in toys, electronics, art supplies and gift cards, and more than $900 in cash to benefit Children’s Hospitals and Clinics.

Target Corporation contributed books valued at $500 to the Zanewood Elementary library, and is assisting with a “media makeover” to enhance a reading nook for all students at the school.

Champions for Youth of Brooklyn Park, an organization of which District 279 is a co-sponsor, will host Teen Stock 2009, a free concert for area youth, from 2-6 p.m. August 29 at the Brooklyn Park Central Park Pavilion.

Overcoming Obstacles

July 2009 

Palmer Lake Elementary principal Tommy Watson will be featured as a keynote speaker at the 2010 Minnesota School Boards Association Summer Seminar, where he will share his personal story of overcoming obstacles to become an elementary principal in one of the state’s largest school systems.

September 2009 

Through federal Title I dollars, preschool opportunities were expanded at three elementary schools this fall. The response to this--and all other district preschool opportunities--has been overwhelming, and every seat in the Title I preschool program will be filled within the next few days. Zanewood Community, Fair Oaks, and Crest View Elementary Schools are hosting the Title I preschool program.

This summer, approximately 300 students who tested below grade level in reading and/or math participated in a free, 7-week, half-day summer school program at Zanewood Community School, thanks to funding from Targeted Services and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Leveraging Assets

June 2010

On June 10, Osseo Junior High unveiled a mosaic made up of ceramic tiles 9th grade students designed to interpret the Bill of Rights, patriotism, and the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens. Special thanks to former ISD 279 custodian Bill Yarco of Yarco Ceramic Tile for providing materials and donating his time to install the mosaic.

With the help of a grant from the District 279 Foundation, Zanewood Community School provided an outdoor education experience for 5th and 6th grade anglers. For three weeks, students attended class after school to learn fish identification, equipment use, lure selection, and fishing ethics. Each student received a fishing pole, a tackle box filled with lures, and a fishing hat. The final meeting included a field trip to Moore Lake where students practiced what they learned by casting, catching, and safely removing fish from their lines.

The Maple Grove Senior High Music Boosters Club generously awarded three $500 scholarships to music students this year.

With the help of a $2,000 Tree Trust grant from Cargill, Fernbrook Elementary students and families installed an outdoor learning area on May 19. To celebrate the completion of the Tree Trust Nature Area, Fernbrook hosted a community event on May 25, inviting families to tour the outdoor classroom and learn about animals and the nature through presentations from the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Raptor Center, and a local naturalist.

The Park Center TV Morning Announcements crew toured the KARE 11 studios with reporter Jeff Olsen May 18 in celebration of their first full year producing daily video announcements for their school. During the visit, students watched the 5 p.m. news live from the set, and met several KARE 11 anchors and reporters.

Students at Garden City Elementary were ecstatic when they heard about a major donation to their school. Representatives of the Brooklyn Center Charitable Foundation presented a $3,600 check to Principal Todd Tischer at a special assembly May 21. The Foundation makes an annual gift to Garden City to be used to help pay for school needs and to purchase school supplies for low-income students.

May 2010

On May 7, Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts hosted its annual “Spotlight on the Arts” event to raise money to sustain and enhance arts programming. More than 200 attendees enjoyed student demonstrations by the media and visual arts troupes, as well as dance, drama, and show choir performances.

Osseo Area Schools recently received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug Free Schools Program. The three-year grant will enable the expansion of counseling services, programming, and intervention strategies to support academic success for students at nine elementary buildings.

April 2010

On April 14, Ronald McDonald House Charities sponsored a mobile dental unit that provided $4,400 worth of dental care and exams for approximately 12 of our system’s uninsured elementary and junior high students.

On April 19, Woodland Elementary partnered with General Mills and Hands-on Twin Cities to clean up the Woodland Environmental Trail, or WET lab. More than 30 volunteers were on hand to pick up litter, weed the trail, cut back overgrown plants, and prepare a gardening site for planting. One group of volunteers also worked with students to create stepping stones to beautify the area.

Our employees are demonstrating that safety pays—in a very literal sense. Due to our system’s excellent claim loss ratio for 2009, we will receive a dividend in the amount of $56,064.77 from our workers compensation insurance company.

On March 24, Park Center Senior High 11th grade English classes learned about life for children in war-torn northern Uganda through a presentation by the non-profit, Invisible Children. Students watched a documentary film that followed American high school students who traveled to Uganda to get to know some of the youth affected by war. One of the Ugandan students featured in the film was present in person to share his personal story.

During the week of March 22-26, Oak View fifth-graders participated in a Music and Phy Ed residency with the Titambe Dance Company. Students learned dances and drumming techniques, which they performed for the entire Oak View student body on March 26. It was an amazing performance, and it will be performed again during the Fine Arts Multicultural Event on May 6.

March 2010

Thanks to coordination by the North Hennepin Area Chamber of Commerce Business Education Partnership Committee and BestPrep, employees from Caterpillar, Inc. have been mentoring International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme business and management students at Park Center Senior High. The mentors and mentees corresponded via email for six weeks on topics such as college/post-secondary experience, career experience, ethics, attendance issues in the workplace, leadership roles, workplace communications, and teamwork. Students were able to meet their mentors when Caterpillar came to Park Center for a recent meet and greet. 

Volunteers from TopLine Federal Credit Union hosted two financial literacy and personal money management training sessions for students at Park Center Senior High earlier this month. Nearly 80 juniors and seniors in the school’s Family and Consumer Science “Real Life 101” classes participated. Students learned valuable lessons about topics such as financial planning and goal setting, saving, using credit wisely, and preventing identity theft.

To help Fernbrook Elementary students celebrate “I Love to Read Month” and to reinforce the importance of science and scientific reading, the Fernbrook PTO sponsored a visit by the Science Museum of Minnesota's ExploraDome Planetarium. The ExploraDome is a portable, immersive learning environment where students experience "hands-on, minds-on" learning. Through guided inquiry based on the Minnesota state science standards, students traveled virtually to the edge of the known universe.

On March 2, Crest View Elementary kicked off its Watch D.O.G.S. program with a pizza party. Approximately 19 fathers or father-figures and their students shared a meal, participated in fun learning activities, and learned more about volunteer opportunities at the school. The fathers demonstrated a high level of enthusiasm at the opportunity to contribute to the school community.

Current and prospective students in Park Center’s High Achievers Program attended a meet and greet with their mentors at Boston Scientific on February 26. The students and mentors have been emailing each other weekly for nine weeks about guided topics such as post-secondary education, career advice, and more. The day-long event was initiated by Boston Scientific’s director of community relations, who visited Park Center last year during the International Baccalaureate showcase and was impressed with the great things being done for students at the school.

The annual Future Professionals Luncheon was held at Park Center on February 25. The event is designed for students to meet and learn from professionals and leaders in our community who work in fields where minorities and women are underrepresented.

February 2010

For the fifth consecutive year, the Minnesota Department of Education has recognized Osseo Area Schools with the School Finance Award. The Department of Education gives the award “in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in financial management, including compliance with state statutes.”

The Watch DOGS volunteer program at Edinbrook Elementary has brought more than 100 fathers and father figures into the school, where they have committed more than 85 days of volunteer service this school year. Following Edinbrook’s model, Crest View Elementary is also launching a Watch DOGS program. Watch DOG volunteers play an influential role as positive role models, greeting students as they enter the building, helping in the lunchroom, reading to small groups, helping in the classroom, and mentoring students.

January 2010

As part of the Reading is Fundamental program and supported by the District 279 Foundation, students at the Osseo Area Learning Center were given the opportunity to select free paperback books for leisure reading at a December 17 event. Attending the event was Timberwolves mascot, Crunch, who reinforced the importance of literacy by demonstrating his own love of books.

The District 279 Foundation has secured a $15,000 grant from the Prudential Foundation for “Prudential Arts Grants – Connecting Youth and Community through the Arts.” The grant will provide students in our system the opportunity to expand their learning and appreciation of the arts through trips to art museums, centers, and institutes, as well as theaters and performing arts centers.

December 2009

Baseball fields at Zanewood Community School and Edinbrook Elementary will be converted to soccer fields this summer thanks to a $435,000 grant earned through a partnership between ISD 279 and the City of Brooklyn Park. The grants are funded by Target Stadium sales tax revenue. Similar awards totaling $2.5 million have been distributed across Hennepin County.

Wal-Mart donated 80 copies of the children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Crest View Elementary on December 2.

The Basswood Elementary PTO recently provided $25,000 worth of new technology for classrooms at the school. As a result, all kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms received both a document camera and projector. In addition, the PTO gift enabled the school to mount a Smart Board and projector in the media center and to purchase and mount a new LCD screen in the entry area of the school.

Two Rotary organizations are helping keep students warm this winter. Maple Grove Rotary donated 1,000 hat and glove sets to be distributed to students as needed throughout our system, and Brooklyn Park Rotary donated 400 hat and glove sets to students at Crest View Elementary. The Brooklyn Park Rotary also provided a dictionary to each third grader at the school.

Living Word Christian Center set up a Holiday Toy Store with more than 1,000 donated items so families could select holiday gifts for their children free of charge. Sixty-two families participated and were able to choose two items per child from an abundance of age-appropriate gifts.

The Maple Grove Rotary hosted a fundraising silent auction/dinner November 21 to raise money for the STRIVE program, which serves seniors at Osseo and Maple Grove Senior Highs. The fundraising goal was $3,000, but in less than 15 minutes, they raised about $10,000. All funds will be used to award scholarships to graduating Osseo and Maple Grove seniors.

Living Word Christian Center provided approximately 80 Thanksgiving meal baskets to brighten the holiday season for Crest View families in need this year.

Many of our elementary schools hosted Turkey Bingo around Thanksgiving and we want to thank the community donors who help make such events possible. For example, more than 500 people attended Elm Creek Elementary’s Turkey Bingo Night, which was supported by local businesses including Kid’s Hair, Cub Foods, Rainbow Foods, Timber Lodge Steak House, The Kopper Kettle, Main Street Pharmacy, Barnes and Noble, Brunswick Zone, Minnesota Timberwolves, Wells Fargo, Sundance, Sam’s Club and more.

November 2009

Palmer Lake Elementary is partnering with Boston Scientific and The Works, an educational non-profit, to host a Family Fun Night December 3. The Works museum will be on site offering "hands-on, minds-on" interactive games and activities that make learning about engineering, science and technology interesting, understandable, and fun. The event will help students get a jump start on topics related to the STEM science standards being implemented in 2011.

Owners of the Mobil service and gas station across the street from Woodland Elementary have graciously donated $750 to Woodland through Exxon Mobil Corporation's Educational Alliance Program to support math and science in schools. The funds will be used to support Woodland’s Fast Math program, which builds math fact fluency for 1st-6th graders.

On November 1st, the Brooklyn Park Athletic Association (BPAA) Football Program held an end-of-season event at PCHS stadium. The event ran smoothly and student athletes and parents were excited to be using the stadium and its new field turf. Five games were scheduled throughout the afternoon and the event was a huge success. A great team of district staff supported the Association by setting up the field and the press box equipment and assisting Association members throughout the day.  Park Center Booster members ran concessions, and Brooklyn Park police officers provided security. Stadium use guidelines, fees and staffing structure will be finalized this fall and we will be ready to welcome community users in 2010. Staff of the Community Education and Services Department will be processing permit requests as we welcome our community use of all three district stadiums.

October 2009

Thanks to its partnership with Orchestra Hall, Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts hosted world-renowned musician/composer Bernard Woma from Ghana, along with dancers and other musicians. The troupe performed its “Percussion Spectacular!” concert featuring Woma on the xylophone.

Palmer Lake Elementary is receiving volunteer support from members of Lord of Life Church this year. Approximately 25 volunteers have stepped forward to help in classrooms, read to kids, and provide other support as needed. Earlier this fall, Lord of Life Church also donated approximately $2,000 in school supplies to Palmer Lake students. 

Palmer Lake Elementary is teaming up with University of Minnesota Gopher athletes who will be volunteering in classrooms for two hours each month as part of their Maroon and Gold Impacting the Community (MAGIC) service program.

ISD 279 and Brooklyn Center Schools have jointly been awarded the ARRA McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Grant. The grant will help ensure that homeless students enroll, attend, and succeed in school.

Project Lead the Way, a technology and engineering education program offered in our system’s secondary schools, has received the 2009 Education Commission of the States Corporate Award. The award honors organizations for sustained commitment to and investment in improving public education. Project Lead The Way courses help create future generations of successful engineers and technology-savvy graduates. 

September 2009 

ISD 279 Community Education, along with community partners TreeHouse, Brooklyn Park Recreation, and the Osseo Area Schools, received a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant in the amount of $899,000. A portion of the grant will help serve students at Brooklyn Junior High and North View Junior IB World School over the next three years through programs that help students become more connected to school, achieve at higher levels, and become productive adults. 

July 2009

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. 

Lifelong Learning

March 2010

Up With People visited Zanewood and Crest View Elementary Schools on March 2 to deliver the “Stand for Peace” program, teaching students about diversity, how to embrace differences, and how to resolve conflict peacefully. The lively program was conducted in individual classrooms using discussion, song and dance, and culminated with a school-wide assembly. Traveling with the 2010 Up With People cast is Kyle DeGraff, 2007 graduate of Maple Grove Senior High.

Garden City hosted a Multicultural Family Literacy Night on March 4, inviting students and their families to celebrate books, participate in educational workshops and craft activities, and learn about American Indian, Hmong, Mexican and Turkish cultures. Students were encouraged to dress to reflect their individual heritage and culture. More than 150 people turned out for the event.

TC Bear from the Minnesota Twins visited Palmer Lake on February 22 to encourage lifelong reading habits during “I Love to Read Month.”

Fifteen male students from Park Center attended an overnight leadership retreat at Camp Ripley February 19-20. They worked on team building, integrity, and trust in order to attain a more global worldview as International Baccalaureate students. The female students will attend a similar leadership retreat in April.

Students from Wellstone Elementary in St. Paul visited Park Center Senior High on February 19 to perform a drum routine in honor of Black History month. The Wellstone students learned about life in high school and, through their moving performance, inspired Park Center students to achieve their dreams. 

Palmer Lake 4th graders participated in the Coming to America project, which explores the reasons people came to America, the challenges they faced, and the impact immigration had on their families. Students specifically examined the immigration of Sudanese-, Somali-, Irish- and Japanese-Americans. By putting themselves in others’ shoes, students gained empathy and a deeper understanding of the challenges experienced by immigrants.

February 2010

At the Sno-Daze assembly on February 5, Maple Grove Senior High students watched an excerpt of the “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In observance of Black History Month and in support of our mission for all students to achieve their dreams, students were challenged to ponder their individual dreams and declare them in writing on a paper globe that will be displayed in the school.

Students in North View Junior High’s after-school Sewing Club have been busy learning the lifelong skill of designing and making different kinds of hats and mittens this month. Club members were previously recognized for making and donating scarves to children in Guatemala.

At the February 1st Maple Grove City Council meeting, Kidstop students from Basswood, Elm Creek, Fernbrook and Rice Lake received trophies for completing the Maple Grove Fire Safety G.L.O.W. (Giving Little Ones Wisdom) program. Students learned about fire prevention and safety, toured the fire station, climbed aboard a fire truck and met with fire fighters. Four Star students at Woodland, Cedar Island, Weaver Lake and Rush Creek are currently participating in the G.L.O.W. program.

January 2010

IB students at North View Junior High participated in a live videoconference with Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein on January 14. North View was the only school in our state selected to participate in the videoconference, during which students heard a first-hand account of what it was like to be a prisoner at Auschwitz. Student participants gained invaluable life lessons about hope, thanksgiving, perseverance, and giving back.

The acclaimed Minnesota choral group, VocalEssence, is a regular partner with Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts, and most recently collaborated with the school as part of a national initiative to celebrate the contributions of African-Americans and to learn about our shared heritage through studies of the arts. Patricia Brown, an artist with VocalEssence’s WITNESS project, taught students a folk song from Ghana. The Birch Grove students will also attend a VocalEssence WITNESS Young People’s Concert at the Ordway in mid-February.

As part of their character and culture studies, Kidstop students at Zanewood Community School focused on the themes of peace and justice by participating in a peace march on January 22. Leading up to the project, students observed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and studied the devastation in Haiti, compiling relevant quotes and writing poetry about peace. During the march, children circled the halls carrying signs promoting peace and sharing good wishes and kind words with everyone they passed.

Zanewood sixth-graders visited the University of Minnesota in November to participate in the Kids Connect program, designed to engage community youth in university life and foster an interest in higher education. This opportunity helps students gain the confidence and courage to pursue their academic goals and career aspirations.

December 2009

Osseo Senior High observed Chemical Health Week November 16-20. Students learned about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol, made pledges to always wear a seat belt and to stop/refrain from smoking, and were given statistics about drunk driving fatalities, all intended to influence good choices throughout life.

November 2009

During fall conferences, 32 Fair Oaks families participated in a special craft project to create a writing box. Parents were provided information about early writing with children, then parents and children worked together to decorate and fill the boxes with many types of writing tools to encourage practice at home.

Sixty student leaders from Osseo Senior High and Maple Grove Senior High explored the topic of corporate ethics at a university-level “Got Ethics?” workshop on October 29. The program was hosted by Maple Grove Rotary, with corporate sponsorship by Great River Energy and Liberty Mutual. ISD 279 was chosen as the first district in the state to participate in the “Got Ethics?” expansion, after 16 years of exclusivity at Eagan High School.

October 2009

Oak View Elementary is hosting two teachers from Berlin, Germany this month as part of an international teacher mentorship program coordinated by the University of Minnesota. The German instructors will shadow Oak View 6th grade teachers to gain a better understanding of team teaching, to share culture, and to build relationships.

Oak View, Fair Oaks, and Cedar Island Elementary Schools hosted their first-ever all-campus PTO meeting on October 19, focusing on helping parents understand their child’s MCA-II test scores. Parents were given a packet with their child’s individual scores, and received helpful information about the test from Don Pascoe, Director of Research, Assessment and Accountability.

On September 29, more than 3,000 ISD 279 juniors and seniors from all three high schools attended the Minnesota Education Fair to learn more about opportunities that can help them achieve their dreams after high school. Representatives from more than 100 public and private colleges and universities, community and technical colleges, career schools and military organizations were available to help students consider their post-secondary options. This year’s event broke all previous attendance records for student and educational institution attendance.

Robin Mueller, substitute physical education teacher, modeled a passion for lifelong learning when she was featured on KARE 11’s Showcase Minnesota for her artwork. 

Crest View Elementary hosted its fourth annual Family Math Night and Ice Cream Social on October 1. About 75 families learned a variety of fun and easy math games that students and parents can play at home. 

September 2009

Jodi Hartwig’s fifth grade class at Zanewood Elementary is engaging in a pen pal program with students from Ghana. Zanewood students have already received letters from their pals in Africa, and are exchanging details about their school, class schedules, and extra-curricular activities in order to get acquainted and learn more about each other’s culture.

Mission-Driven Employees

July 2010

Congratulations to Maple Grove Senior High’s Food and Nutrition team members, who earned a perfect score on their recent inspection by Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Services.

Five members of our system’s Instructional and Information Technology Team developed and conducted a technology seminar on June 22 for more than 75 educators from around the state. Dawn Nelson, Sean Beaverson, Dan Henry, Andi Bodeau and Lisa Sjogren taught colleagues from other school districts and the Minnesota Department of Education how to use Google Apps as a tool for promoting collaboration. Held here in our school district, the seminar provided local examples of how we are using Osseo Apps, which is our version of Google Apps, to promote collaboration in order to increase student learning.

Another group of Instructional and Information Technology Team members attended the International Society for Technology in Education conference in Denver June 25-30. Four members had roles at the conference that recognized their expertise in technology integration:

Lisa Sjogren was recognized as a national finalist for the “Outstanding Young Educator Award;”

Tim Wilson presented as part of a panel on Web 2.0 and portable technology;

Dawn Nelson moderated a discussion group on the National Education Technology Standards for students and presented as part of a panel focusing on interactive tools for student learning; and

Sean Beaverson, Google Certified Teacher, presented a session about Google’s online learning resources.

June 2010

Adult Basic Education instructor Paula Freiermuth has completed national certification for STAR—Strategies for Achievement in Reading. STAR is a national evidence-based reading instruction initiative to teach reading to the approximately 50% of the adults in the U.S. who read below the 8th grade level. Nationally certified trainers are able to provide training, coaching, and technical assistance to adult education programs throughout the United States.

At the annual retiree recognition reception, our system honored 61 retiring employees. Their years of service totaled 1,450, an average of nearly 24 years per retiree. Many of their parting “words of wisdom” focused on the importance of the teacher/student relationship and the inspiration that comes from helping students learn.

Lisa Sjogren, technology integration specialist, was named a 2010 "Emerging Leader" by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Lisa will be honored during ISTE's annual conference and exposition in Denver in late June.

May 2010

May 3-7 was officially Teacher Appreciation Week, but many schools in our system took the opportunity to celebrate all employees, including teachers, administrative ESPs, lunchroom staff, bus drivers, nurses, and other support staff. In activities organized by PTOs, volunteer coordinators, students and principals, staff members enjoyed special treats, notes of encouragement, full breakfasts and luncheons, and other gestures of appreciation, often provided with support from local businesses. Even Brooklyn Park Mayor Steve Lampi got in the act with a proclamation honoring all teachers and staff.

April 2010

Amy Blake Field, communications specialist in the Community Relations department, received the Bruce Bauer New Professional Scholarship from the Minnesota School Public Relations Association. The competitive scholarship provides funds to attend the annual seminar for the National School Public Relations Association this summer.

Melody Hahn-Merges, a social worker at Maple Grove Junior and Park Center Senior, has been selected to participate in the National Education Association-Heifer International Study Tour in Honduras this summer. While abroad, Hahn-Merges will learn first-hand about global poverty and hunger, and will be able to use her experiences to help ISD 279 students understand the importance of helping those in need.

Deane Brown, humanities teacher at Park Center Senior High, received the 2009 Remarkable Volunteer Service Award presented by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board on April 7. He was honored for his roles as educator, coach and community advocate.

Donna Speake, Maple Grove Senior High guidance counselor, was honored with Education Minnesota’s Human Rights Award at the organization’s Representative Convention. The award recognizes Education Minnesota members who protect and advance the civil and human rights of students and educators.

March 2010

Dr. Wendy Barden, music curriculum coordinator, has completed a case study of math and reading achievement in grades 3-5 at Birch Grove Elementary. The multi-year study looked at possible patterns in achievement relative to participation in rigorous arts experiences. Dr. Barden presented her findings at the American String Teachers Association conference on February 19, and a summary of the study will be included in the spring issue of Interval, the publication of the Minnesota Music Educators Association.

Pam Hennen, science teacher and coach at Maple Grove Senior High, is being inducted into the Minnesota Fast Pitch Softball Hall of Fame sponsored by the Minnesota Fast Pitch Coaches Association.

Maple Grove Senior High social studies teacher, Susan Smith, is the first vice president of the Midwest World History Association. The association forges links between the secondary and post-secondary teachers and professors of world history. Maple Grove Senior High is an affiliate of the Association, whose mission includes promoting the study of world history through the engagement of research, teaching and publication.

Congratulations to Kip Sackett, College and Career Readiness teacher at the Osseo Area Learning Center, who was recently named Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs Staff Member of the Year for his dedication to students and his involvement with the association at the state and local level.

The Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA) recently awarded Rice Lake principal Mark French the 2010 MESPA Division Leadership Achievement Award. The award honors principals whose exemplary leadership and sustained efforts have made noteworthy contributions to the operation of effective school learning programs, thereby improving education, their communities, and their profession.

February 2010

Senior players and managers of the Osseo Senior High basketball team took part in a special recognition of mission-driven employees at the February 18 game against Andover. Each player or manager on the team identified an Osseo educator who had particularly inspired or influenced the student over his or her years in ISD 279. The honored educators were introduced and recognized before all attendees at the game.

Maple Grove coaches Mark Cook and Ellen Wiese have been named Section 5AAAA Girls’ Basketball Coach and Assistant Coach of the Year.

Rachel Arntson, speech language pathologist at Fair Oaks Elementary, recently published a book entitled, “We Can Talk: Tips for Enhancing Your Child’s Speech and Language.” The book is based upon Ms. Arntson’s extensive experience working with children and families, helping children improve their communication skills.

January 2010

Palmer Lake Elementary Principal Tommy Watson is featured on the University of Minnesota’s home page, describing his life story of overcoming obstacles in order to find success. The U of M web feature also includes an audio clip of students singing the Palmer Lake school song.

Congratulations to Barbara Rose, fourth-grade teacher at Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts, who illustrated a recently published children’s book called The Adventures of Sandora about a stick figure that comes to life. The book was written by Alice Goertzen, the mother of Mrs. Rose’s best friend, and Sandora’s adventures are based on stories from Mrs. Rose’s childhood with Mrs. Goertzen’s daughter.

Marti Micks, Social Studies Teacher at BJH, has been awarded the 2010 Minnesota VFW Teacher of the Year award in the 6-8th grade category. The VFW's Citizenship Education Teachers' Award recognizes the nation's top elementary, junior high and high school teachers who teach citizenship education topics regularly and promote America's history and traditions. Ms. Micks will be recognized at a banquet on January 16.

Two ISD 279 educators, Bill Huston and Jill Simon, received the 2009 TIES Exceptional Teacher Award on December 15. Since 2004, TIES has recognized teachers in member districts who model successful practices in using classroom technology and engage students in learning. In total, 65 Minnesota teachers from 33 districts were given the Exceptional Teacher Award.

Dawn Nelson, Instructional Media and Technology Coordinator, is presenting a break-out session at the “Internet@Schools East 2010!” conference in Arlington, Virginia in April. Ms. Nelson will share how ISD 279 teachers are using Project Copernicus to leverage students’ personal technology, such as iPods and cell phones, with other equipment and online resources to teach 21st century skills in a variety of creative and engaging formats.

December 2009

The Fair Oaks Elementary PTO received an Honorable Mention from the PTO Today organization in its national 2009 Parent Group of the Year competition. The national spotlight follows a statewide feature in the 2008 Education Guide produced by Minnesota Parent magazine. Fair Oaks volunteer coordinator Ana Markowski was featured in the article.

Carrie Larson, Amy Brengman and Lisa Greene have earned distinction as National Community Education Association (NCEA) Fellows. The NCEA Fellow designation is conferred to members who have demonstrated the highest degree of professional competency in the field of Community Education, as determined by NCEA’s Professional Endorsement Committee. Only 35 individuals in the nation have earned the NCEA Fellow endorsement, and four of them (the three above plus Mike Looby, Executive Director of Community Engagement) are employed in ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools.

Joni Hodsdon, second grade teacher at Woodland, received the Lite 102.9 “Apples for Teachers Award” November 23. She was nominated by a parent whose child was diagnosed with diabetes after Ms. Hodsdon shared some observations of symptoms with the student’s parent.

Three ISD 279 teachers have been selected to present at the international convention of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages to be held in Boston March 24-27. The presentation topics focus on helping students acquire the math language needed to increase student achievement and participation in math.

November 2009

Park Brook Elementary special education teacher Linda Chambers become the second ISD 279 teacher surprised by OfficeMax volunteers who presented her with $1,000 in classroom equipment and supplies as part of the “A Day Made Better: Working to Erase Teacher-Funded Classrooms” teacher recognition program.

The Minnesota High Tech Association has awarded the 2009 Innovation in Teaching Award to Laurie Toll, a Technology Integration Collaborative Teacher at Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math and Technology School. The award honors organizations and individuals who merit special recognition for their outstanding contributions to Minnesota’s technology-based economy.

Three Weaver Lake Elementary teachers presented a course about integrating technology and outdoor education at the regional conference of the National Science Teachers Association on October 30.

Music Coordinator Wendy Barden recently published a book entitled Performance Assessment in Band, which focuses on giving band teachers pragmatic ways to assess student progress and deliver feedback to students in a large ensemble. Performance Assessment in Band is the first book in a series of six, and is on sale now in music stores. 

Career Resource Specialists Diane Ahlberg, Michelle Mazanec, Kathy Nelson have been credentialed as Global Career Development Facilitators by the Center for Credentialing and Education. Only 411 individuals in the state have received this prestigious designation, and we are proud that our high schools have credentialed professionals who are well equipped to help students achieve their post-secondary dreams.

October 2009

Crest View Elementary Licensed Media Specialist Holly Thompson received a scholarship to attend a conference for librarians where she was inspired by the use of Web 2.0 tools, such as blogs, to reinforce a book’s storylines and to get students excited about swapping book recommendations. She also left the conference with new favorite titles and authors to share with students. The scholarship was provided by Metronet, one of seven state-funded multi-type library networks in Minnesota.

Ashley Mathews, a North View Junior IB World School Spanish teacher, was surprised by OfficeMax volunteers with $1,000 in classroom equipment and supplies as part of the “A Day Made Better: Working to Erase Teacher-Funded Classrooms” teacher recognition program. Ms. Mathews was nominated by North View secretary Rita Humble in recognition of her excellent teaching, dedication to her students, and commitment to the mission of the International Baccalaureate Programme.

August 2009 

Woodland Elementary’s Rojanne Brown, a Technology Integration Coordination Teacher, was one of only 51 educators selected through a national competitive process to participate in an intensive Google Teacher Academy. Mrs. Brown is now a “Google Certified Teacher,” with access to a network of other innovative educators, free education technology resources, and special professional development opportunities.

Rice Lake Elementary principal Mark French will be a featured author in Principal magazine, the journal for the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Mr. French’s article provides insights on including non-traditional families in the school community. 

The fourth annual Macy’s Spelling Bee, hosted by Reading is Fundamental, took place at the Mall of America. In addition to District 279 Foundation staff support, four other ISD 279 staff helped judge and manage the contest.

ISD 279 School Board chair John Nelson was elected chair of the TIES board of directors. TIES is an education technology collaborative serving 39 Minnesota member districts, including the Osseo Area Schools. 

July 2009

The 2009 National Magnet Schools of America Conference is being held in Minneapolis this month, 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.