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

Student Confidence, Courage, and Competence

June 2011

The Osseo Boys’ Golf team finished as runner-up in sectional competition and three golfers qualified for state. Dayton Federley, Ross Miller, and Dalton Charboneau competed at the state golf tournament in mid-June; Dalton tied for 20th place and Ross Miller placed among the top 30.

Ashanti Nyame-Gyebi earned first place in the 1st-3rd grade division in the second annual A-Mon-Nue Sports and Social Association Spelling Bee held at Zanewood Community School. Isaiah Zarzar also participated in the 4th-6th grade division.

Maple Grove Senior High is a three-time winner of the Norwick Cup, an award given annually to a Northwest Suburban Conference school for outstanding performance in athletics. Maple Grove is one of only three schools (out of 10 in the conference) that have earned the award since it was created in 2001.

Stephanie Davison, a member of the Class of 2011 at Maple Grove Senior High, was named a finalist in the Advanced Economics division of the 23rd Annual Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Student Essay Contest. Davison’s essay topic examined “What role, if any, should the government play in job creation?”

The Crimson baseball team made its sixth appearance at the state championship series at Target Field on June 22.

Approximately 1400 students were awarded diplomas at commencement ceremonies on June 12 at Target Center. The ceremonies featured the presentation of high honors students, student speakers, vocal and instrumental performances, and the presentation of diplomas.

Congratulations to the Park Center Fastpitch Softball Team on its first place finish at the state tournament for the second consecutive year.

Maple Grove Senior High lacrosse goalie Nate Johnson was named a finalist in the 2011 Mr. Goalie division of the Minnesota Lacrosse Award competition. The Crimson lacrosse coach, Gig Willson, was named Lacrosse Coach of the Year by the Minnesota State High School Boys Lacrosse Coaches Association.

Osseo Junior High 8th grade economics students learned how to be entrepreneurs by designing their own lemonade stands. Students and staff voted for the group with the best tasting lemonade, the best stand design and best overall business. M.A. Rosko from the Fox 9 morning show was there to promote the annual business education event.

May 2011

Art students at ACHIEVE were issued a challenge to express themselves through art on a grand scale this trimester, and the results have been larger than life! Students are creating amazing sculptures, paintings and murals to showcase their creativity in a big way. 

Congratulations to Garden City sixth-grader Long Vang who, on April 20, was awarded the Dennis Winfield Leadership Award at the Brooklyn Center Police & Citizens Awards Ceremony. The Dennis Winfield Leadership Award is given annually to one student from each of Brooklyn Center’s elementary schools who goes beyond expectations to help others.

Four District ISD 279 students from Woodland, Cedar Island, Edinbrook and Weaver Lake won gift cards in the "Build it for a Song" contest sponsored by A to G Music, a local business. The contest challenged students to build an instrument out of recycled materials and perform a song on the instrument before a panel of judges. Contest judges were Wendy Barden, District 279 Music Coordinator, and Dave Kiser of Channel 12; Osseo Mayor Al Lindquist handled the honors.

Congratulations to Park Center senior Alicia Stromberg, who was recently named a Channel 12 Standout Student for her innate leadership skills, her ability to connect with other students from all walks of life, and her commitment to academics as an honors student and president of the student council. 

District 279 elementary students excelled in the WordMasters Challenge competition in February. Rush Creek fifth graders placed 5th out of 705 teams nationally, with students Suchet Ketkar. Katie Adams, and Isabella Balder among only 51 fifth-graders in the country (out of more than 37,000 competitors) who earned perfect scores in the meet. Third grader Emily Carlson also earned a perfect score!

Paige Horwood of Maple Grove Senior High and Matthew Bennett of Osseo Senior High were each awarded a $1,000 “Service Above Self” scholarship from the Maple Grove Rotary. The scholarship is awarded annually to high school seniors who have made a difference in the lives of others by clearly demonstrating selflessness and commitment to others in alignment with the Rotary motto, “Service Above Self.”

Crest View fifth-graders Lacaija Hines and Khyla Taylor are winners of the 2011 Young Writers of America poetry contest. Their writings were selected from thousands of entries in the Midwest regional contest, and will be featured in the prestigious annual student anthology,Award-Winning Young Writers of America.

Congratulations to the 2011 Osseo Area Retired Educators scholarship recipients: Taylor McWilliams of Maple Grove Senior High; Matthew Bennett of Osseo Senior High; and Tamnet Kidanu of Park Center Senior High. Each student will receive a $1,500 scholarship to help pay for post-secondary education plans. The awards are funded by the organization’s annual community scholarship breakfast. 

More than 40 Woodland Elementary students participated in Minnesota PTA Reflections contest, featuring student-created works of art in dance choreography, film production, literature, musical composition, photography, and the visual arts. Eight Woodland students won state-level awards, including Anna Heltemes and Maleeya Raza, who each received an Outstanding Interpretation Award. Anna and Maleeya will go on to compete in the national competition.

April 2011

Congratulations to Cedar Island and Fair Oaks Elementary Schools for being recognized by the Minnesota Center for Reading Research at the University of Minnesota for “making significant progress in teaching students to read over consecutive years, 2008-2009 and 2009-2010.”

Rush Creek sixth grade students, Anna Fix, second place, and Jack Bergstrom, third place, were chosen as state-level winners in the 2011 Letters about Literature contest. Anna and Jack were chosen from a pool of 2,000 entrants from across the state.

Students from Osseo Senior High’s AP French class and Park Center Senior High’s IB program recently attended French Day at the Minnesota Zoo to learn more about wildlife in the French speaking countries of the Central African Republic and Guadeloupe, countries the students have been studying. The visit was funded by the District 279 Foundation.

Gifted Education students at Crest View Elementary took part in a special crime scene investigation activity to explore scientific clues and the art of using data to draw conclusions. On hand to judge students’ deductions was head building engineer Steve Ericson.

Approximately 600 family members and friends turned out for Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts’ annual musical. This year’s production was “Once Upon a Mattress,” a “fractured fairytale” based on The Princess and the Pea.

Park Center Senior High IB World School students participated in an event on March 4 that brought culinary arts and performing arts students together for dinner and a performance of Seussical The Musical for 10th grade English students. Students also received a behind-the-scenes and backstage tour before the show. The project was funded by a District 279 Foundation grant.

March 2011

Congratulations to the North View Junior High students who competed at the 2011 World Affairs Challenge at Macalester College March 5, taking home two second- and two third-place awards. The World Affairs Challenge is a global awareness competition challenging participants from across the country to demonstrate understanding of complex social issues.

Schools across our system took part in “Read Across America” February 25, a national video conference bringing students together virtually to participate in activities promoting literacy. For example, Zanewood Community School sixth graders wrote about the roaring ‘20s and performed it for their peers in Michigan.

Three of the 14 Osseo Destination ImagiNation teams that competed at the West Metro Regional competition are advancing to the state tournament. Teams representing Oak View Elementary, Fernbrook Elementary, and Osseo Junior High will showcase their creativity and problem-solving skills at state in mid-April.

Congratulations to the Woodland Elementary PTA, voted “The Best PTA in Brooklyn Park” in the Sun-Post’s “Best of Brooklyn Park” Awards.

Maple Grove Junior High seventh-grader Erik Tillman is the school’s 2011 Geography Bee champion. Erik will soon take a qualifying test for the state bee, which will be held April 1 at St. Cloud State University. 

Minnesota Viking Cedric Griffin recently met with students from Brooklyn Junior High, providing a message of encouragement through his nonprofit organization, Stand Up for Kids. Interacting with staff and foundation representatives, students sang karaoke and engaged in discussions about how to achieve their dreams. Stand Up for Kids is conducting similar programs for students in three other District 279 schools: North View Junior High, Park Center Senior High and Zanewood Community School.

Congratulations to ISD 279’s Magnet Schools of America Merit Award winners: Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math and Technology School was one of five Minnesota schools recognized as Schools of Excellence, and Park Center Senior IB World School was recognized as a School of Distinction. This is the fourth consecutive year that our elementary STEM program has been honored nationally, and it’s the third consecutive year for Park Center.

The Osseo-Maple Grove Press recently named Rice Lake Elementary “Best Public School” in its Readers' Choice Awards, and the District 279 Kidstop was named “Best Child Care” in the Brooklyn Park Sun Post’s Readers' Choice Awards.

Osseo Area Learning Center students visited the state Capitol February 16 for Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs (MAAP) Legislative Day. Students met with legislators to promote alternative learning by sharing their personal stories, describing how their school and our district meet their individual learning needs, and toured the Capitol.

The Maple Grove Math Team finished its regular season winning the Twin Cities Suburban West division for the fourth straight year. The team will compete in the state tournament on March 14.

Birch Grove Elementary students were recently treated to a visit from harpist Laura Vosika, who performed a number of selections on two different harps for third graders. She also shared information about the history of the harp, answered students’ questions, and allowed each student to get an up-close experience with the instruments.

Congratulations to the Maple Grove Senior High Girls Hockey Team whose members, with a combined GPA of 3.907, were named the 2010-11 Class AA Team Academic State Champions.

11th grade Diploma Programme student Panya Yang is this year’s District 279 Art Show first place winner. Panya’s artwork will be showcased this month at the Maple Grove Government Center, and he is being honored at a reception tonight.

Paige Olson, senior at Osseo Senior High, has been named a Channel 12 Standout Student for her ability to balance and excel in both academics and extra-curricular activities.

Congratulations to our system’s Athena Award winners: Paige Olson from Osseo Senior High; Mary Krambeer from Park Center Senior IB World School; and Olivia Evanson from Maple Grove Senior High. All three will be recognized at the Athena Awards banquet at the Minneapolis Convention Center on May 6.

Congratulations to the Osseo Senior High Yearbook staff, whose 2010-11 Oriole has been selected by Balfour Publishing to be used nationwide as an exceptional yearbook sample—an honor given to fewer than 5% of Balfour publications.

Recent athletic achievements include:

  • The Maple Grove boys’ hockey team won the Northwest Suburban Conference title for the first time ever.
  • Tim Bonner, senior forward on the Osseo boys’ hockey team, scored his 30th goal of the year during the February 17 game against Coon Rapids, breaking the all-time Osseo career scoring record.
  • Brad Hartmann, Osseo junior, medaled at the state Nordic ski championships February 17, finishing 10th in the state.
  • The Maple Grove Senior High Dance Team won the Class AAA jazz state competition.
  • The Maple Grove boys’ swim team won the section 5AA title and will participate at the state meet this weekend.
  • The Osseo boys basketball team is champion of the Northwest Suburban Conference for the seventh time in 10 years

Cha Yang, a senior at Park Center, won a blue ribbon at the fourth annual High School Art Exhibition for his digital print, which is now on display at North Hennepin Community College.

Crest View Elementary debuted TV announcements this year, fully written and produced by students. Each broadcast focuses on school activities and events, the weather, and “a day in the life” of school staff.

February 2011

Two Park Center students, Isaac Flomo and Wesley Johnson, were awarded the prize for the Most Original and Creative Presentation Award in the 2010 Youth Against Race, Class and Place Disparities video contest sponsored by the University of Minnesota Center for Human Rights. Congressman Keith Ellison was on hand to congratulate the winners. 

Park Center senior Adam Mickelson has been appointed to the United States Military Academy in West Point. In addition to being in the top 1% of his class, Adam is an athlete, student leader, and founder of Operation Thoughts of Home, a local charity that sends care packages to US military personnel stationed overseas. 

The National Merit Scholarship Program has just named two Maple Grove Senior High students, Shubhendu Mishra and Jahon Rafian, National Merit Finalists. The students are now eligible to compete for Merit Scholarship awards.

On National Signing Day, seven District 279 athletes inked letters of intent to play college sports next year. Added to the six Maple Grove athletes who signed similar letters last fall, District 279 is sending 13 athletes to college with athletic scholarships.

Maple Grove Senior skiers Matt Jackels, Tom Gibson and Miranda Aarons qualified for the state Nordic meet this weekend in Biwabik.

Maple Grove senior Will Dehn is a Channel 12 Standout Student, recognized for his accomplishments inside and outside the classroom. Will plans to enter the Air Force Academy to become a pilot.

Osseo Senior High student authors Katy Gerber, Michael Himmerich, Anthea Yur and Ngoc Nguyen have had poems published in New Voices, a publication of Bemidji State University. Ngoc’s poem received the Editor’s Award.

For the first time in the school’s history, Osseo Senior claimed both the Men’s and Women’s Northwest Suburban Conference Nordic Ski titles. Brad Hartmann won the men’s title and Kaley Shagen was crowned conference champ in the women’s event.

Jillian Andresen and Jonathon Edstrom were selected as Park Center’s Academic, Athletic and Arts (or Triple A) Award winners. The Triple A Award is sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League and honors seniors who excel in the classroom, on the athletic field and in the fine arts.  

Park Center’s Sasha Davis has been named Female High School Athlete of the Year for USA Track and Field Minnesota. Sasha was one of 13 District 279 athletes who earned athletic scholarships; she will compete in track and field at the University of Minnesota.

Maple Grove Senior High’s Dance Team took first in Jazz and third in Kick at the Section 2AAA competition. Both teams will compete at the state meet this weekend.

The Maple Grove Boys’ Swim and Dive Team won the Northwest Suburban Conference Championship, and coach Ron Jacobson was named Conference Coach of the Year.

January 2011

The Park Center Mock Trial team earned runner-up honors at the 2011 Lakeville North Mock Trial Invitational.

More than 40 Woodland Elementary students participated in the school’s annual PTA Reflections program, which highlights the many artistic talents of Woodland students. Reflections is a national program that has been in practice for more than 40 years. Woodland’s PTA has been participating for three years and the number of students participating has increased each year. 

Seniors David Brateng and Paige Olson have been selected to represent Osseo Senior High in the Triple "A" Award program, sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League, Institute for Athletic Medicine and Minneapolis Sports Medicine Center. The award recognizes students who excel in academics and who participate in League-sponsored athletic and fine arts activities.

Three Osseo Senior High students have earned honors in the Minnesota Scholastic Art Awards program, which recognizes our state’s most creative teenagers and offers scholarship opportunities for high school seniors. Mackenzie Bartsch earned the Silver Key award and an Honorable Mention for photography; Kaitlyn Brown earned a Silver Key for photography; and Chantel Galvan earned an Honorable Mention for ceramics. Their pieces will be featured in an exhibit at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design opening January 21 and continuing through the awards ceremony on February 13.

Maple Grove Senior High student Tony Stec was named Outstanding Minister to the Chinese Politburo at the Chicago Model United Nations Conference in December. Stec and 17 other teammates from the school were among 750 students from the United States and abroad attending the four-day conference, where they engaged in debate and negotiation in historical and contemporary simulations.

The North Metro Stars girl’s JV hockey team won the Eden Prairie Mid Winter Meltdown Tournament. The North Metro Stars boy’s Varsity hockey team advanced to the championship game at the Xcel Energy Center and took second place in the open class division of the Schwan’s Cup Hockey Tournament.

Kaley Shagen, Osseo Senior Nordic Skier, won the Northwest Suburban Conference sprint title at a recent conference ski meet.

Seventeen Crest View Elementary students were chosen to have a Dilly Bar ice cream treat with Principal Suzette Erickson and Assistant Principal Derek Branton.  Students were nominated by staff members for demonstrating any of seven character traits that are the focus of Crest View’s character education program.  Those traits are Cooperation, Assertion and Academic Achievement, Responsibility, Empathy and Self-Control. So far, 70 students have received the “Dilly of a Student” award.

The Maple Grove Senior High boy’s swim team won the section 5AA True Team title last Saturday. They will compete in the State True Team meet this Saturday at the University of Minnesota.

The MGSH Dance Team took first place in both Jazz and Kick competitions and was named Team Champion at the Northwest Suburban Conference meet last weekend. They now prepare for sections in early February.

Maple Grove Senior High athletes competed successfully in several meets over winter break. Boys’ basketball won the Bethel Tournament; boys’ hockey took 3rd at the St. Louis Park Tournament; and girls’ hockey took the consolation title at the Eden Prairie Tournament.

Two District 279 students were recently named Channel 12 Standout Students. Maple Grove senior Samantha Kollasch was recognized for her work as a snowboard instructor at Elm Creek Park; having just picked up the sport two years ago, she persisted in her learning until she was skilled enough to teach it to others. Osseo senior Riley Haynes was featured for the leadership skills he uses to benefit Osseo’s football team and student government.

The Park Brook Choir, which meets once a week after school, has nearly 60 student members.  

December 2010

Park Center senior Katie Lind was named a candidate in the 2011 competition for a Special Scholarship based on her performance on the 2009 PSAT exam. Administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, Special Scholarships are provided by corporate sponsors who also fund Merit Scholarship awards.

Another Park Center senior, Joseph Kelly, was chosen out of more than one million entrants as an Artist of the Week on the Artsonia website. Artsonia is the largest student art museum in the world, with the mission that all students would have an online art gallery to preserve their masterpieces for all time.

On December 4, 55 Weaver Lake 6th graders presented the results of their scientific investigations at the University of Minnesota’s Insect Fair, “Celebrating Insect Biology and Student Achievement.” University professors and graduate students judged the student presentations, noting that the Weaver Lake students had a thorough understanding of the scientific process. The students also attended various breakout sessions focused on entomology.  

The Park Center PI Adapted Soccer team earned a 3rd place finish at the state tournament held in mid-November.

The Maple Grove girls’ tennis team wrapped up a successful season, finishing 4th in the conference with three All-Conference selections (Taryn Stromback, Allison Juda and Hannah Schutte).    

November 2010

The Maple Grove Senior High Model United Nations team recently participated in a simulation hosted by Macalester College on world food aid programs. Tony Stec and Kendall Clement received the Top Delegation award for their diplomatic work with 60 other participants; Sasha Silko and Aniket Ketkar received Honorable Mention.

Sixth grade scientists presented the results of their insect investigations at the 2nd annual Insect Fair at Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math & Technology School. Students used visual displays and explained their hypotheses, research, procedures, data, and conclusions to judges. The judges were scientists from education and state natural resource agencies, as well as private enterprise. In December, the sixth grade scientists will present their investigations at the University of Minnesota Insect Fair.

Congratulations to Channel 12 “Standout Student” Christopher Heitzig, one of 14 Park Center students who will be the first graduates from the school’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

Carson MacLeod, a fourth-grader at Fernbrook Elementary, created the Grand Prize winning entry in the Maple Grove Fire-Rescue’s Fire Prevention Poster Contest. Carson earned an individual trophy and a ride to school in a fire truck with his family on a date of his choice. He also won a traveling trophy to display at Fernbrook all year long.

Park Center senior Adam Mickelson was featured as a KARE 11 Academic All Star.  He is ranked #1 in the class of 2011 and his non-profit organization, “Operation Thoughts of Home,” was featured in the segment.

Elm Creek kindergartners held their fourth annual Pumpkin Math Day in late October.  Dads and grandpas were encouraged to come to school with a pumpkin in hand, ready to work with a small group of kindergartners walking them through several activities involving pumpkins and math.  Students answered questions about the pumpkin’s weight, circumference, vertical lines and quantity of seeds. Each student then took home a bag of seeds with a recipe for how to bake them.

Weaver Lake Elementary’s annual Monarch Fair drew about 900 people who saw a wide variety of student work on the monarch theme, including monarch illustrations, research exhibits, video presentations about the life of the monarch butterfly. All students, grades kindergarten through six, presented work during the fair.

Osseo Senior High and Maple Grove Senior High hosted the Class 5A (which is the largest enrollment class) state football quarterfinals on November 12. Sponsored by the State High School League, the quarterfinals drew attendees from all over the state. The host schools are chosen based on several factors, including neutral sites, sufficient seating for fans, and fields with artificial turf.

For the fourth season in a row, the MGSH swimmers and divers captured the Section 8AA swimming and diving championship. Individual section champs Erin Buck, Olivia Evanson and Elaine Boosalis advanced to the state championships and the team celebrated a total of seven Top 10 finishes in various team and individual events.

The Park Center Pirates made a valiant attempt to win their third straight CI adapted soccer state title last weekend. While they were overcome by Anoka-Hennepin in the final game, the team celebrated an outstanding finish as second in state.

Seven Park Center athletes were named All Conference in fall sports, including girls cross country, football, volleyball, girls and boys soccer, and girls tennis. An additional 22 students earned Honorable Mention in a variety of sports.

The Osseo Senior High swimming and diving team took fourth in the Section 5AA finals on November 13. All three of Osseo’s relays ended up with a top five finish.

Congratulations to Park Center’s Mary Krambeer for being named All State First Team in girl’s soccer.

Rice Lake Elementary recently held an all-school assembly called “The NED Show,” which stands for Never give up, Encourage others, and Do your best! Through some dazzling yo-yo tricks, presenters reinforced some of the efficacious learner attributes, including responsibility, problem-solving, and skilled communication.

The Maple Grove Senior High girl’s swimming team won the Northwest Suburban Conference, the Minnesota True Team Section and finished 4th at the State True Team Swimming Meet.

Maple Grove’s boy’s cross country team qualified for the state meet last weekend. They finished 2nd in the Northwest Suburban Conference and had four all-conference runners: Alex Johnson, Tyler Olson, Connor Olson and Nathan Rausch. 

Congratulations to Park Center sophomore Ugonna Ojiaku on her 3rd place finish at tennis sections, and for earning All-Conference and All-Section honors in 1st singles.

Two Maple Grove boy’s soccer team members were named to the All-State Team:  David Lilly was All-State and T.J. Peplinski was All-State honorable mention. David Lilly was also on the All-Metro Star Tribune Team and Northwest Suburban Conference Most Valuable Player. 

Maple Grove football player Karl Sorenson was the named the Defensive Player of the Year for the Northwest Suburban Conference.

Maple Grove Junior High is preparing for its fall play, “Fiddler on the Roof Jr,” with performances set for this weekend. Tickets are available at the school.

October 2010

Congratulations to the Opportunities in Emergency Care (OEC) teams from Osseo Senior High who won first, second and third place at the International Rescue and Emergency Care Association’s Basic Life Support competition in Louisville, Kentucky last summer. Students competed in a written test and three hands-on scenarios testing their life-saving skills and knowledge. 2010 was the first time that both the first and second place youth teams scored higher than the first place adult team.

Park Brook Elementary has launched a new before-school program called “Morning Move,” where students participate in physical fitness games twice a week. The purpose of “Morning Move” is to promote healthy activity and to have a positive impact on attendance and attentiveness at school.

On October 7, Congressman Erik Paulsen visited Birch Grove School for the Arts kindergartners to read House Mouse, Senate Mouse, giving students an introductory civics lesson about lawmakers and how a bill becomes a law.

Zanewood Community School has established a relationship with the Reading Education Assistance Dogs or “READ” program. First- and third-grade Zanewood students will read to therapy dog Sophie every Wednesday during the school year to practice communication and literacy skills.

model that greatly streamlined the process of testing all students. By using the more efficient model, students and teachers are regaining six days of uninterrupted instruction over the full school year. 

98 District 279 students have earned AP Scholar Awards from the College Board in recognition of their exceptional achievement on the college-level AP Exams:

  • Fourteen students qualified for the AP Scholar with Distinction Award; two of which were named AP National Scholars
  • Twenty-two students qualified for the AP Scholar with Honor Award, and
  • Sixty-two students qualified for the AP Scholar Award

The 2010 results marked a nearly 60% increase over 2009, when 62 students district-wide earned similar recognition.

Sasha Shilko, sophomore at Maple Grove Senior High, was inspired to start the school’s first debate team this year, and her mother stepped up to serve as the team’s advisor. The team’s first regional competition took place at the end of September, where Sasha and fellow student Priya Posani earned fourth place out of 21 teams—an excellent accomplishment for a start-up team at its first competition!

Congratulations to Paige Horwood, of Maple Grove Senior High, who was recognized as a Channel 12 Standout Student for her passion for learning and positive, can-do attitude.

Congratulations to Birch Grove first-grader Emma Isaacson who was one of only 12 K-12 students across the country to be chosen as finalists for “Artist of the Week” by Artsonia. Artsonia is a virtual art gallery where student artworks are displayed and judged by art teachers across the country.

Last summer, Park Center senior Olivia Myszkowski was one of only two students in Minnesota--and 98 in the entire country--selected to visit Washington D.C. as part of the prestigious American Legion Girls Nation program. Girls Nation is week-long citizenship and government program that helps students gain a firsthand perspective on democracy, develop leadership skills, and create the foundation for responsible citizenship. The week included visits with President Obama, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Congressman Erik Paulsen, who invited Olivia to try out his desk. This marked the second year in a row that a Park Center student was one of the two chosen in the entire state for Girls Nation.

Park Center senior Obssa Bizuwork has been named an Outstanding Participant in the 2011 National Achievement Program for placing among the top three percent of more than 160,000 black Americans who took the 2009 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Cheyenne Richardson, senior at Osseo Senior High, was recently recognized as a Channel 12 Standout Student for her commitment to community, involvement in school activities, and excellence in the classroom.

September 2010

The American Indian Graduate magazine, a national publication, recently featured our system’s American Indian Education Program in an article titled, “Indian Education: A Culture-Based Intergenerational Approach.” Co-authored by Ramona Stately, one of our American Indian Education specialists, and Priscilla Buffalohead, a recent Osseo retiree, the article highlights our program’s many successes, including a 100% graduation rate among American Indian students over the past five years, as compared to the national rate of only 41%.

Congratulations to both of our elementary magnet schools for being named 2010 Magnet Schools of Merit by the Magnet Schools of Minnesota organization. Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts and Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math and Technology School will receive their awards at the Magnet Schools of Minnesota fall conference on October 6.

The United States Census Bureau awarded ISD 279 a certificate of appreciation for our support in raising awareness of and inspiring participation in the 2010 Census.

Congratulations to Park Center students Josie Thao and Hue Chee Vang for being recognized as Channel 12 Standout Students. Josie was recognized for her outstanding commitment to community and Hue Chee was recognized for embracing diverse perspectives during his trip last summer to China with the student leadership group called “CLIMB.” 

The Maple Grove Senior High Dance Team was featured on WCCO-TV last week, noting the team’s four state championships in the last six years, and members’ determination to win in both Jazz and High Kick at the 2011 state tournament.

August 2010

North View Junior High launched a new program called WEB, which stands for “Where Everyone Belongs.” The program pairs incoming 7th grade students with 9th graders to help ease the transition to junior high. The mentor-mentee pairs recently attended an orientation session together and participated in team-building activities at Camp Ihduhapi and will also engage in regular conversations throughout the school year.

North View Junior High is also launching a “School Community” class for all students that shares information about the ins and outs of junior high. Students will learn about conduct expectations, participate in meet-and-greet sessions with administrators and student support staff, and engage in instructional and team-building activities to help foster a positive school environment.

Over the summer, approximately 700 high school students were served through academic programs coordinated by the Osseo Area Learning Center:

  • More than 300 students earned a combined total of 380 credits through an eight-week Independent Study Program.
  • 148 students in the 9th grade credit recovery program replaced a failing grade previously earned in a core subject area.
  • More than 200 students participated in the BST-MCA/GRAD Prep and Test courses achieving the following outcomes:
    • 98% of students who retook the math MCA/GRAD test improved their score, and 54% earned a passing score.
    • 78% of students who retook the reading MCA/GRAD test improved their score, and 39% earned a passing score.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports released last week by the Minnesota Department of Education showed that the trend in our school district mirrors the rest of the state. Nearly 80% of Osseo’s eligible groups made AYP in 2010, exactly the same number that made AYP in 2009. The number of ISD 279 schools that made AYP across all groups grew from five in 2009 to six in 2010, including Cedar Island, Fair Oaks, Garden City, Maple Grove Senior High, Rush Creek and Zanewood. The 2010 results also showed that, according to Minnesota’s growth model, Osseo students are growing at levels greater than or comparable to neighboring school districts and charter schools.

Business students in Park Center’s IB Diploma Programme recently received the results from their first year of IB testing, and the results are excellent. 90% of the students who took the business test earned a passing score, which is equivalent to earning a 3 on an AP exam (a score generally considered eligible for college credit). In addition to an exceptional passing rate, the students’ average score was slightly higher than the worldwide average. Since last year was the very first year of the Diploma Programme at Park Center, these IB exam results are outstanding.

On August 11, twelve student athlete leaders from each of our three high schools attended the Northwest Suburban Conference Leadership Conference, a one-day event whose goal was to strengthen student leadership in schools. After the conference, Osseo Senior High student Justine Simon said, “We’re excited for the new school year to begin and to bring our ideas and enthusiasm to our school. We love Osseo and just want to keep making it better and more awesome.”

Congratulations to Maple Grove Senior High for placing among the top 10 state high schools in the Minnesota State High School League’s Challenge Cup. The Challenge Cup recognizes excellence in fine arts and athletics, as measured by each school’s participation in state competitions and events. Maple Grove Senior High’s ranking marks the first time a Northwest Suburban School has appeared in the top 10 list.

The August issue of Maple Grove magazine features 3 stories about ISD 279 student confidence, courage and competence: the Osseo Senior High’s cheer squad taking second place at the United Performing Association’s national competition; the successful Taste of Maple Grove fundraiser for the Maple Grove Dance Team; and a story profiling several outstanding student athletes.

On August 12, Osseo Senior High hosted its first annual Student Leadership Summit, inviting 170 student leaders to learn about what it means to inspire others with the confidence, courage and competence to lead and make a positive difference for others. Together, the student leaders will develop and execute a character education program during the 2010-11 school year emphasizing the attributes of attitude, integrity, self-control, courage, responsibility, honesty, respect and perseverance.

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.”

Achieving Dreams

May 2011

Woodland Elementary student and G Team Snowboard Team member Blake Borgeson recently returned from the 2011 USASA National Championship for snowboarding that was held in Colorado in early April. Blake was a top qualifier from our regional series held across Minnesota. During the championships, Blake qualified for the finals and finished 34th in Boardercross.

Park Center band and choir students achieved their dreams of touring Europe over spring break by taking part in an educational tour in Germany, Austria and Italy. Students were awed by famous landmarks and cultural sites such as Neuschwanstein castle, St. Mark's Cathedral, the Dachau concentration camp, and many others.

Two more District 279 student athletes have signed national letters of intent: Osseo Senior High’s Cy’erra Mills and Voneisha Harris will play college women’s basketball next year at the University of North Dakota and State Fair Community College in Missouri, respectively. To date, a total of 16 district student athletes have inked letters of intent to play college sports next year.

August 2010

Contributing to Community is helping one student come closer to achieving her dreams of becoming a zoo keeper. OALC student Angela Hansen has been a Como Zoo volunteer for the past five years preparing food for animals, testing the water quality of animal pools, and introducing zoo guests to different species of wildlife. Angela has recently accepted a zoo keeper assistant job, which she hopes will give her valuable experience as she anticipates a post-secondary education in zoology.

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.

Contributing to Community

June 2011

Two schools held drives to provide relief to North Minneapolis residents who were affected by the tornado last month. Donations included clothing, shoes, toiletries, diapers, food and water. Students at the Osseo Area Learning Center collected nearly $1,000 worth of goods, and North View Junior High students collected more than 500 items that helped meet the needs of tornado victims.

Weaver Lake sixth-grader Juliet Heinen earned the grand prize for her design of a greeting card in PACER’s 6th annual Creative Kids Contest. All proceeds from the sale of the cards will benefit PACER programs.

May 2011

Garden City Elementary is the proud recipient of a customized rug from Becker Brothers, Inc. Garden City was awarded the prize from a drawing of ISD 279 sites that achieved 100% participation in the District 279 Foundation’s Annual Giving Campaign. The rug was actually made possible by another example of commitment to community. Its original owner was Ed Kokkila, coordinator of custodial services, who won the rug at a trade show and donated it to the District 279 Foundation for use as a prize in this year’s Annual Giving Campaign.

Prudential employees have been volunteering at Oak View Elementary to help students improve their reading skills. Students and volunteers have read together twice a week since January, and every student who participated made reading gains during the year. Students and volunteers celebrated the increased student achievement together on April 28th.

April 2011

Maple Grove Junior High 8th grade Technology Education students contributed to community by building “lock & switch boards” for WorkAbilities, Inc., a non-profit organization serving adults with developmental disabilities. The boards are equipped with a variety of common, day-to-day activities such as light switches, faucets, and door locks that help the organization’s clients strengthen manual dexterity skills.

The Osseo Area Schools blood drive on March 11 resulted in 41 pints of blood. Because blood can be broken into three separate components of plasma, platelets and red blood cells, the 41 units collected can be used to save 123 lives!

To build community, North View Junior High hosted a carnival on March 10 for students and their families. More than 600 attendees enjoyed food, face painting, games created by the student Game Building Club, prize drawings and more.

Garden City Elementary hosted a school-wide food drive last month with the goal of collecting 500 pounds of food for CEAP. In a little more than a week, students nearly doubled their goal, collecting approximately 900 pounds of boxed and canned goods.

The Reading Adventures Program pairs 9th graders from Maple Grove Junior High with 1st and 2nd-graders at Cedar Island Elementary to work on reading strategies. In return, ninth graders receive volunteer hours recorded on their high school transcripts. Originating from a District 279 Foundation grant, the program is also in place at Brooklyn Junior High and Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts.

March 2011

Park Center’s Invisible Children group and the IB Program’s Theory of Knowledge class hosted a book drive last month, collecting more than 2,000 books for Park Center’s sister school in Gulu, Uganda.

On March 5, 11 teachers from across our system participated in the Minneapolis Polar Plunge, taking an icy dip into Lake Calhoun to benefit Special Olympics. The “Osseo Plunge Crew” raised nearly $3,000 for the cause.

On February 25, Cedar Island Elementary observed its 40th anniversary with two celebrations. During lunch, students enjoyed cupcakes for dessert and sang “happy birthday” to the CI Bobcat, and in the evening, students, families and staff enjoyed a Bobcat Bash Carnival.

February 2011

Learning about poverty, giving back and building teamwork skills, 50 students and staff volunteered their time to package food at Feed My Starving Children on February 12th. The volunteers packed 76 boxes of food, enough to feed 45 children three meals a day for an entire year.

Park Brook Elementary Student Council members organized a Basic Needs drive to collect personal self-care items such as toothpaste, deodorant, and shampoo to give to the homeless in our community.

North View Junior High students raised more than $1200 in the Pennies for Patients drive to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The Park Center girls’ basketball team hosted a “Coaches vs Cancer” game on January 21st and collected more than $500 for the American Cancer Society’s fight against colon cancer.

January 2011

Heidi Segedy, an active Early Childhood Special Education PTO leader, was featured on KARE 11 News recently providing her perspective on the controversy regarding autism and vaccinations. Ms. Segedy was also instrumental in helping orchestrate the first annual Winter Wonderland at the Maple Grove Community Center, which allowed families who have children with special needs to participate in traditional holiday activities in a less stressful environment than at a shopping mall.

Park Center’s National Honor Society recently completed the third of five blood drives scheduled for this school year. By the end of the school year, Park Center will be the only school in the history of Memorial Blood Drives that will have conducted five blood drives in one year. The three drives held so far have been extremely successful and have collected enough blood donations to help more than 450 people.

20 students from Park Center’s Invisible Children group volunteered after school hours on January 21 at Feed My Starving Children. They will return to volunteer again in February with students from Park Center’s Diploma Programme Biology classes.

Students and staff across our system provided thousands of items of warm clothes, gifts, and food for local families over the holidays. Many drives benefited the Community Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP) or District 279 schools that serve areas with a high concentration of poverty. Among the buildings that held drives were Park Center Senior High, Maple Grove Senior High, Osseo Junior High, and the Educational Service Center.

Organized by the school’s music teachers, Zanewood Community School performed its annual Winter Sing-along to a full house. Band, orchestra, and recorder groups gave special performances of holiday music from a variety of traditions.

In response to student interest in helping a local family that had experienced hardship, a fifth-grade class at Oak View Elementary organized a “Penny Challenge” with a friendly competition among grade levels to raise the most money. The drive was extremely successful, and students raised nearly $2,000 to help the family.

The Woodland Eagles Choir, a PTA-funded before-school choir of 5th and 6th graders, performed a mini-concert for the residents of St. Therese at Oxbow Lake Assisted Living Facility in Brooklyn Park in December. The performance has been an annual tradition for the school since it opened.

The web site for the Mother Bear Project, an organization that provides homemade bears to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations, features a video of North View Junior High students engaging in this community service project. The video was made by a North View staff member as a thank you to Judy Johnson, a local volunteer who provided hundreds of handmade bears for North View students to stuff and send to the Mother Bear Project.

Plans are underway for the annual spring international service project in Sasabe, Mexico. The six students selected to participate, along with their principals, enjoyed a Mexican dinner at the Maple Grove Don Pablo’s restaurant, which generously supports the costs of the meal each year. Board member and longtime volunteer leader of the project, Tammie Epley, will lead the group again this year.

December 2010

Three District 279 schools are selling note cards showcasing student artwork, with proceeds benefiting educational programs. Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts is selling note cards featuring the work of student artists; Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math & Technology School offers cards that feature student photography from the school’s fall Monarch study; and Park Center’s note cards also spotlight student artworks. Costs range from $5 to $14; for more information, contact each school.

North View Junior High hosted a “Let It Snow” family bingo night last week, attended by about 350 people who enjoyed a pizza dinner and fun activities. Art teacher Ellen Plum created special craft projects for younger children while their older siblings and parents played Bingo. This event is one of many family events North View is offering to building community among North View families and to support strong school/home relationships.

Park Brook Elementary Principal Scott Taylor is engaging parents at the school by inviting them to join him for “Coffee with the Principal.” This informal get-together provides an opportunity for parents to discuss annual school goals with the principal and to build community with other parents.

Every month, 3rd graders at Basswood Elementary sharpen their handwriting and letter writing skills by sharing news about school and local events with soldiers from Minnesota and Wisconsin. The letters are included with care packages put together by Marianne Schmidt, a Maple Grove resident. Over the past 8 years, Mrs. Schmidt has sent nearly 1500 care packages to soldiers serving overseas. The Basswood 3rd graders students have received many responses to their letters and even had a flag flown into a combat mission in Iraq in their honor. The flag was then sent to the school.

Over the past six years, students at Woodland Elementary have made and donated more than 1,000 blankets and hundreds of pillows to Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. Working with a “buddy classroom,” first through sixth grade students cut and tie fleece blankets to give to sick kids at the hospital.  Students in kindergarten and in the school’s Four Star Express preschool program stuff pillows that are used to rest heads, prop arms and legs, and give a little smile to patients. Funded by a generous grant from the District 279 foundation, this service project teaches students how to investigate and respond to a need within their community.  

The Osseo Senior High boys hockey team took advantage of a crisp fall weekend and went out in the community to rake and bag leaves from senior citizens yards. The team received much praise and appreciation from the senior citizens they helped.  

November 2010

As part of the Mother Bear Project, more than 60 North View Jr. High students recently helped provide over 400 teddy bears to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations. Judy Johnson, a former North View parent, knit the bears that were stuffed by North View students.

Students in an 8th grade family and consumer sciences class at Brooklyn Junior High recently turned their sewing project into a community service project. Using donated fabric, the students planned and produced handmade school kit bags, then donated the bags to a world relief organization that will pack them with school supplies and send them to children in other countries.

On November 4, more than 25 Woodland staff members packed meals at Feed My Starving Children.  Due to their efforts, nearly 50 children in Haiti will have food for a year.

October 2010

As part of their first trimester community service project, Rice Lake students participated in the Salvation Army and Eyewitness News “Coats for Kids” drive. Over the course of two weeks, students collected 145 new and gently used coats for those in need.

On October 5, Edinbrook kicked off its Watch DOGS program with a pizza night welcoming approximately 225 fathers and father figures to learn about the school’s mentorship and volunteer program. To date, 71 male role models have signed up to spend at least one day volunteering during the school year.

Fair Oaks hosted the first of three family nights at the Hennepin County Library in Brooklyn Center on October 8. Families were bused from Fair Oaks to the library where parents and students participated in story time, toured the library, and checked out books. Thanks to a District 279 Foundation grant, every student also chose three free books for their home libraries. 

Basswood Elementary recently held its 10th annual Fun Run, a PTO fundraiser where students collect donations in exchange for completing 30 minutes of physical fitness activities. Parents and volunteers were on hand to cheer for students and to celebrate the more than $15,500 in pledges that will fund student learning activities this year. 

Thanks to federal grant funds, more than $800 in children’s books was recently distributed to the waiting rooms of local businesses as part of the “While You Wait” project. Each book is imprinted with Early Childhood Screening and district contact information in hopes that the books will build community and increase awareness of our system’s child development resources.

Crest View hosted a community-building event September 9 to celebrate the opening of the 2010 football season. Students spent the day in Vikings apparel and received football-themed lessons in many subject areas, learned Vikings cheers and chants, participated in football drills during phy ed class, and posed for group photos. 
A story about last year’s Hair Dye for Haiti campaign at Maple Grove Senior High has earned local cable Channel 12 a regional Emmy Award. The Emmy-winning feature showcased Maple Grove students’ commitment to community.

On September 20, Maple Grove Senior High hosted its very first Learning Conferences. In response to parent requests for more involvement in their student’s education, school staff designed an event that took parents through an abbreviated version of their student’s school day, allowing them to meet teachers, understand course expectations and assessment practices, learn about resources available to support student learning, and pick up tips about how to stay involved in their child’s education throughout the school year. 

Zanewood Elementary hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 23 to unveil a new mural depicting heroes and symbols that represent the connection among families, the school community, and our system’s mission. The mural was made possible with grant funds, input from students, and the talents of Zanewood art teachers.

September 2010

ISD 279 Community Education is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Travel & Adventure film series, which kicks off today at Osseo Senior High with “Backroads and Byways of America.”

Park Center senior Adam Mickelson has created an organization called “Operation Thoughts of Home,” which collects donations and sends care packages to U.S. military personnel stationed around the world. To date, the group has sent care packages to approximately 2,300 service members. 

2010 Link Crew sophomore orientation took place at Maple Grove Senior High on September 1 to welcome new students to the school. 119 juniors and seniors completed 10 hours of training to prepare for orientation day, where students took part in various team-building activities.

August 2010

For their annual community service project, Rush Creek Kidstop students donated 1,236 pairs of shoes and $902 to Souls 4 Souls, a nonprofit that provides new and gently used footwear to children overseas. Cosmic Club students pitched in by selling cookies, doughnuts and coffee to raise money to mail the shoes. On August 10, students and staff were joined by Vikings cheerleaders in a Skype session to present their gift to Souls 4 Souls representatives in Nashville.

On August 12, Rush Creek students and parents assembled more than 1,000 sandwiches for 363 Days, an organization that distributes meals to the Twin Cities’ homeless. Special thanks to Rainbow, Cub and Target for donating the sandwich ingredients.

At the July 24 Osseo Concert in the Park, several Osseo students modeled contributing to community: they held a mini-bake sale whose proceeds went toward cancer research. Supt. Kate Maguire was also on hand to meet and greet concert attendees.

Thanks to Basswood PTO’s 2010 fundraising efforts, students this year will benefit from a $12,000 investment that enhanced the school’s leveled reading library.

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.

Leveraging Assets

June 2011

Nearly 300 people participated on the Osseo Area Schools team in the Step To It Challenge, a four-week physical activity campaign that motivates people of all ages and abilities to become more physically active.

The Minnesota Safety Council recognized Osseo Area Schools for superior performance in workplace safety and health by awarding the district the Meritorious Achievement Award for the second consecutive year. Applicants are judged on several years of injury data and on their progress toward implementing a comprehensive safety program. Only one other school district in the state received this honor.

Congratulations to Palmer Lake, recipient of the silver level 2011 Wellness by Design Award. Hennepin County awards Wellness by Design recognition to schools that go above and beyond in creating a healthy environment for students and staff. As reported at an earlier meeting, Maple Grove Junior High received the gold level award.

This year’s Reading is Fundamental (or RIF) distribution of books at Fair Oaks Elementary brought this year’s total distribution to more than 43,000 books given at no charge to District 279 students in 21 sites, K-12. The District 279 Foundation is the local representative for the RIF program.

April 2011

Children in Early Childhood Education are learning from CLIMB Theatre actors this year. Through the use of interactive theatre techniques and story telling, children are exploring social skills, taking turns, letter and number recognition, and doing a little acting themselves! Funding for the CLIMB Theatre partnership was made possible by the Minnesota State Arts Board.

March 2011

On February 16, Osseo Area Learning Center students leveraged technology by using Skype to engage in an interactive lesson on personal finances and budgeting hosted by Bobby Phillips from Greater Midwest Financial.

On February 24, Weaver Lake and Fernbrook Elementary Schools participated in the 2011 MegaConference Junior, a global video conference that allowed students to collaborate on learning activities with peers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, England, and several others states in our country.

Congratulations to Osseo Senior High educators David Casella and Gary Leafblad, 2011 Patriot Award recipients. David and Gary were nominated by Osseo colleague Matt Foy for their outstanding support of his involvement in the Navy. The Patriot Awards are hosted by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an organization of the US Defense Department.

January 2011

Park Brook Elementary has been selected by the Whole Foods Market to receive a salad bar in the company’s “Let’s Move Salad Bars 2 School” project. The salad bar will complement Park Brook’s other health and wellness activities, such as Morning Move (a before school exercise program) and encouraging students to eat healthy foods.

Maple Grove Magazine features Osseo Area Schools students or volunteers in nearly every issue. The January issue included an article about the valuable role Parent Teacher Organizations play in supporting strong schools. Previous issues have included profiles of individual students exemplifying academic and co-curricular success.

When Park Center Senior High language and literacy teacher Tim Field submitted a proposal to, the project was fully funded within 10 days. Field was able to replace dilapidated copies of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald with new books provided through gifts to the DonorsChoose organization.

One of the ways Park Brook Elementary is engaging families is through a Book Club for parents, now in its second year. Book club members are currently reading and discussing the book,Come On People by Bill Cosby.

As it permanently closes out its operations, the Brooklyn Center Charitable Foundation is making final distributions to support schools in Brooklyn Center, including Garden City Elementary. The Foundation presented a check in the amount of $32,670 to Principal Todd Tischer, who recognized Foundation members as “marvelous benefactors for the children of Brooklyn Center and inspirational role models as actively engaged and committed citizens in our communities.”

December 2010

On December 1st, 50 Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts 4th-6th grade orchestra students took the stage with the Minnesota Orchestra to play “Ode to Joy” for more than 4,000 audience members. Afterwards, the students also performed for the meeting of the Minnesota Orchestra Board of Directors. The concerts are an example of the close collaboration Birch Grove has with the Minnesota Orchestra and with Jim Bartsch, its educational director. The entire school attended one of the performances and audience members reported that the students performed beautifully.

In only its first year, Park Brook Elementary’s Morning Move program is attracting approximately 50 students who come to school early twice each week to have fun and exercise.  With grant support from the District 279 Foundation, the popular Dance Dance Revolution activity will be incorporated into the program.

With grant support from the District 279 Foundation, 40 Park Center students attended the Mixed Blood Theatre’s bilingual performance of La casa de los espíritus / House of the Spirits. The play incorporated elements that are relevant to the students’ International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme courses, such as Spanish, history, and English. The students had great comprehension of the Spanish dialogue, and many students agreed that they “didn’t even notice the switch between Spanish and English” throughout the performance. It was an unexpected treat to see Ricardo Vázquez, a Park Center graduate, play three different roles in the performance.

November 2010

Park Center IB Business and Management students are participating in an E-Mentors program connecting them with business professionals from TopLine Federal Credit Union. Over an eight-week period, students and mentors correspond on topics such as Ethics in Business, Workplace Communications, Problem Solving, Teamwork, and Post Secondary and Career Experience. On November 10, students met with their e-mentors for some face to face networking. 

Thanks to a partnership with Boston Scientific, Palmer Lake Elementary recently hosted a two-day visit by the Minnesota Planetarium’s ExploraDome. The ExploraDome is a portable, immersive learning environment where students experience hands-on, minds-on learning. Through guided inquiry, under a 25-foot diameter dome, students engage in virtual travel from inside of the subatomic realm to the edge of the known universe.

Preschool parent/child activity nights were held at Fair Oaks Elementary last month. Parents and children worked together to decorate plastic shoe boxes for the children, and then filled it with writing supplies.  Parents learned about writing with young children and had an opportunity to discuss other areas of the child’s school progress and support at home. Nearly 90% of the invited families attended.

Sixteen schools were used as polling places on General Election Day, providing an opportunity for voters to come into their local schools and for students to learn about the democratic process. At Elm Creek Elementary, the head election judge provided tours of the voting area to several student classrooms.   

On October 30, hundreds of people gathered at Cedar Island Elementary for its second annual Fall Family Festival.  The event, sponsored by the Cedar Island PTO, featured craft stations, games, a Monster Mash dancing area, and a photo studio for pictures of students in costume.  Principal Dan Wald noted that one of the reasons the festival is such a success is that it builds community among early childhood and elementary students and families.  

October 2010

On October 7, the Osseo Lions Club continued its tradition of distributing a free dictionary to third-grade students in our community, including students at Elm Creek and Fernbrook Elementary Schools. In the six years since the program began, the Lions have distributed dictionaries that have helped nearly 2,000 kids learn.

Woodland Elementary students are making the best of our beautiful fall weather in their new and improved outdoor classroom, the Woodland Eagle Trail Lab. First-graders have been busy learning about minerals by sifting rocks into sand, pebbles, and gravel.

ISD 279 Adult Basic Education was recently awarded a two-year, $120,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to fund courses to help students learn job skills, prepare for college and attain computer literacy. The grant provides additional opportunities for students to participate in job shadowing and internships. 

Crest View Elementary recently earned a $46,000 Reading First grant, which was used to purchase 20,000 new books for a guided reading library. This is the second consecutive year Crest View has received a Reading First grant to help increase students’ literacy skills.

Lifelong Learning

June 2011

Osseo Senior High’s Class of 2011 earned more than $2.6 million in scholarships. 19 students who each earned at least $50,000 in scholarship offers were honored at Osseo’s first annual Scholarship Recognition Celebration.

April 2011

Zanewood Community School hosted a Multicultural Night on March 24, where 350 students and their families sampled ethnic foods, visited community resource tables, enjoyed face painting, a cultural fashion show, chose a free Reading is Fundamental book, and enjoyed musical performances and skits performed by student groups. The event also featured a K9 presentation by the Brooklyn Park Police.

March 2011

Schools across our system celebrated “I Love to Read Month” in February. Here’s a sample of the festivities: 

  • *Elm Creek Elementary hosted a Family Reading Night where more than 150 students and their family members gathered in the Media Center to share their love of reading with special guests from Early Childhood Education and the Maple Grove Rotary, and to listen to a book reading.
  • *Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts welcomed special guests who read to students. Among them was Supt. Kate Maguire, who also took the mic during the school’s morning announcements to encourage all students to adopt a love of reading.

The Osseo Area Learning Center celebrated Black History Month with a book reading where students and staff read works by African American authors. The event was part of the 22nd National African American Read-In, sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English.

First, second and third graders at Park Brook Elementary learned about the importance of manners and practiced dining etiquette during a special white linen lunch on February 17. The etiquette lesson is part of the school’s Kids Connect program which aims to strengthen relationships between students and staff.

February 2011

Weaver Lake Elementary Four Star Express preschool students recently visited the State Capitol where they met Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers, sat in his chair and pretended to gavel the House of Representatives to order. They also met Governor Dayton in the Governor’s Reception Room. The visit was part of some weeklong activities that help preschoolers learn about “Community Helpers.”

January 2010

U.S. Representative Erik Paulsen visited three District 279 elementary schools in the past two weeks: Crest View, Fair Oaks, and Park Brook. Congressman Paulsen has a goal of visiting every elementary school in his congressional district and, according to his staff, he has visited 14 of the 17 elementary schools in our school district. His visits usually include a school tour and an opportunity for Q&A with older students or reading “House Mouse, Senate Mouse” with younger students.

Members of the University of Minnesota Men's Wrestling Team have returned to Palmer Lake Elementary to partner with Principal and alumnus Tommy Watson in the “Readers Are Leaders” literacy program. Top athletes from the U of M spend numerous hours every month reading with and mentoring Palmer Lake students, showing them that becoming a star athlete begins with being a star learner, and reading is the key to achieving success.

The legislative session has begun and our local legislators are fully immersed in their work. At our recent legislative coffee, we learned that many of our legislators have longtime connections to our schools. For example, State Representative Mike Nelson, who represents a portion of Brooklyn Park, was a member of the first kindergarten class at Garden City and the first graduating class at Park Center Senior High.

December 2010

Several community education staff members shared their expertise at the National Community Education Association Conference earlier this month. Carrie Larson trained other community educators on Effective Community Use of School Facilities, and Mike Looby presented on strategic planning, using District 279's plan as an example of focusing an entire system on increasing academic achievement for all students. A highlight of the conference was when District 279’s Gail Maus and Mike Looby received the organization’s highest award recognizing the national accreditation of 13 District 279 sites that provide out-of-school-time programs and service to children in our community.

November 2010

Seven athletes from Maple Grove and Osseo Senior High schools have made commitments to their universities of choice by signing letters of intent. The athletes have chosen schools including the University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, University of Minnesota, Wayne State University, Colorado School of Mines, and Syracuse University.

Enrollment Services coordinator Adam LeClair recently completed the year-long Minnesota Association of School Business Officials Certification program. Mr. LeClair is among the first group of professionals to complete the new competency-based certification program.

October 2010

Last month, 100 college and vocational school representatives hosted a post-secondary education fair at each of our three high schools. Participating schools ranged from local two-year and trade options, such as Anoka-Ramsey Community College and Empire Beauty Schools, to four-year private and public colleges such as Augsburg College and Southwest Minnesota State, along with out-of-state institutions such as West Point, Creighton, and Luther. At the fair, juniors and seniors were able to gather information about how they can pursue their lifelong learning goals after high school.

Mission-Driven Employees

May 2011

Bill Bauman and Shari Benson, social studies teachers at Osseo Senior High, were chosen to participate in prestigious educational seminars this summer. Mr. Bauman will take part in a seminar titled, “A Revolution in Government: Philadelphia, American Independence, and the Constitution, 1765-1791” in Philadelphia, and Ms. Benson will take part in a Civil Rights seminar at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

April 2011

John Rieser, special education teacher at Osseo Junior High and assistant girls’ basketball coach at Osseo Senior High, was recently named “State Assistant Coach of the Year” in Class 4A by the Minnesota Girls’ Basketball Coaches Association. John was also named section 7A Coach of the Year along with Osseo Senior head coaches Joey Waters (Girls Basketball) and Tim Theisen (Boys Basketball).

Congratulations to Pam Richards, district math curriculum specialist, who is one of four math experts in the state invited to present at the 2011 Symposium for Mathematics Education and Leadership. Other presenters include the former executive director of SciMath Minnesota, a professor from the University of Minnesota, and the math specialist for the State of Minnesota.

March 2011

Dawn Nelson, I2T2 Coordinator, was recently featured in Teacher Librarian Magazine sharing how our school district’s Instructional and Information Technology Team collaborates with teachers and librarians across our system to help students learn by integrating technology into the classroom.

February 2011

Andi Bodeau, a technology integration specialist, recently earned her Google Apps Trainer certification, which involves a rigorous process of six tests and a written essay. Bodeau is one of only about 10 certified Google Apps Trainers in the state.

Paul Strand, pictured here in 1963 with his student teaching class at Park Brook Elementary, has come back to Park Brook as a volunteer woodworking teacher. He is working with third- through sixth-graders, helping them use their math skills to make tool boxes. Mr. Strand retired from the Osseo Area Schools in 1998.  

January 2011

As part of a partnership between the organizations Peace Together Uganda and the Starkey Hearing Foundation, Park Center Senior High employees Morgan Kingstedt and Tyler Holte recently spent 10 days in northern Uganda training and assisting Ugandan doctors in making ear molds for people with hearing impairments. More than 350 molds were brought back to the Starkey Labs here in the Twin Cities so that personalized hearing aids could be made and delivered in the spring. While in Uganda, Kingstedt and Holte also visited Gulu Senior Secondary, Park Center Senior High’s partner school through the non-profit organization, Invisible Children.

Two Education Service Professionals in our school district have been awarded professional development grants from Education Minnesota. Lisa McQuerter, an ESP at Woodland Elementary, received a grant for training in Responsive Classroom, an effective student behavior management approach used in elementary schools in our school district. Karen Piepho, an ESP at Edinbrook Elementary, used her grant to provide training to about ten ESPs at her school in the effective use of classroom technology, including the SmartBoard, document camera, and digital projector.

Park Center administrative assistant and former Minnesota Vikings player John Turner was recently featured on KARE 11 as a “Vikings Great.” The video is available on the KARE-11 Web site and is linked from our school district’s Facebook page.

December 2010

Park Brook food service staff members are connecting with kids in a whole new way this year. Once a month during lunch, kitchen staff members lead activities in the cafeteria while other school employees serve lunch.  At the first activity of the year, food service employees planned an engaging game that focused on food-related vocabulary.  The game was a hit, and students are already looking forward to the next activity.

Two Osseo teachers were recognized at the annual TIES conference as 2010 TIES Exceptional Teachers, recognizing their modeling of best practices in using technology in their classroom and engaging students in learning:  Kris Campea, from Osseo Junior High, and Mary Litwinzcuk, from Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math & Technology School.

November 2010

Elm Creek first grade teacher, Gloria Singh, is helping motivate avid readers through a grant from the District 279 Foundation that allowed her to purchase almost $400 in new books to be used in newly formed book clubs. Students will choose areas of interest and have opportunities for discussion with book club peers.

Birch Grove drama teacher Kris Holsen has been elected President of Art Educators of Minnesota. Our school district has a number of employees who serve in state leadership roles within their professional associations, which contributes to our statewide reputation as being a system that other school districts look to for leadership in a variety of areas.

Two Osseo educators participated in an international study tour to Honduras last summer to learn how the Heifer organization helps empower people who are experiencing poverty. Ternesha Burroughs and Melody Hahn-Merges, both of whom work with English Language Learners, were among 14 educators from around the country who participated in the study tour.

Maple Grove Senior High math teacher Carol Spetch uses her creativity and commitment to student achievement to ensure that Halloween festivities don’t distract from learning. This year, she created nine Spetchylvania tourist attractions that helped teach math concepts including coordinate geometry, algebraic systems of equations, vectors, powers of 2, Pascal’s triangle, polynomial functions and problem solving.  Ms. Spetch reported that students love the break from the ordinary routine and really work hard on the math problems.

Maple Grove Senior High science teacher Marlene Barton was honored as KS95’s Teacher of the Week. Mrs. Barton was nominated by a former student, which makes it an especially high honor. Melissa Moore, a KS95 radio personality, made a personal visit to present Mrs. Barton with a plaque.

October 2010

Katie Leuer, first-grade teacher at Cedar Island, was recently recognized as a KS95 Teacher of the Week. Ms. Leuer received a surprise on-air visit by KS95 radio personality Trey, who presented a plaque and thanked her for her commitment to student learning.

On October 7, music teachers from across the Northwest Suburban Conference met in our school district to plan the 2011 conference music festival, to be held at Maple Grove Senior High in February. The conference will welcome more than 1600 metro-area students to participate in music clinics and combined practices, and to perform a finale concert.

Seven ISD 279 library media specialists hosted break-out sessions at the annual Minnesota Educational Media Organization conference this fall, sharing their expertise on subjects such as grant writing, integrating technology into reading instruction, and more.

The fall 2010 issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine features an article by Dave Warner, counselor at Oak View and Fair Oaks Elementary Schools, sharing an activity called “Compliment Tag.” The game encourages children to look for the good in others and to verbalize their appreciation of others’ equal intrinsic value.

In spite of pouring rain, the Food and Nutrition team demonstrated true commitment to our system’s key strategy to “do whatever it takes to guarantee that all employees support, contribute to, and sustain the achievement of our mission and strategic objectives” by grilling nearly 900 hamburgers for a Cedar Island family BBQ.

Three teachers were surprised this morning with $1,000 each in classroom supplies as part of Office Max’s teacher recognition program, “A Day Made Better: Working to Erase Teacher-Funded Classrooms.” Office Max volunteers delivered the supplies to Michael Whiteman, science teacher at North View Junior High; Kris Campea, language arts teacher at Osseo Junior High; and Pamela Brandt, reading facilitator at Zanewood Elementary. Each was nominated for the award in recognition of the teacher’s hard work and dedication to students.

September 2010

Maple Grove Senior High softball coach Pam Hennen was inducted into the Minnesota Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame this summer. Pam also coached girls’ softball at Park Center for 14 years before making the move to Maple Grove Senior High, where she teaches biology and anatomy.

Michelle VandenPlas, English Language Learner teacher at Fair Oaks Elementary, received a second-place award in the elementary division of the 2010 Personal Finance Educator Award sponsored by Thrivent. This honor recognizes Ms. VandenPlas’ efforts to create and implement innovative ways to teach personal finance.

August 2010

On August 23rd and 24th, more than 60 educators from the Campus schools participated in a Learning Institute to master skills and strategies to help ensure all students learn.

Congratulations to Kip Sackett, College and Career Readiness teacher at the Osseo Area Learning Center, who was awarded “Staff Member of the Year” by the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs.

Over the summer, our district grounds crew planted more than 50 trees on Woodland Elementary grounds. The Woodland PTA will plant additional trees this fall to provide shade for the playground, and to beautify the Woodland Eagle Trail, an outdoor learning area that was greatly enhanced last spring by school and community volunteers.

More than 150 ISD 279 educators attended the Summer Assessment and Leadership Institute in late July to learn about successful practices in grading and assessment in order to provide meaningful feedback regarding student learning.

Congratulations to our system’s Community Education staff, who completed a rigorous process to achieve national accreditation for after-school programming from the National Community Education Association. NCEA praised our district’s programming in its report, stating, “Certainly the out-of-school programs provided by Community Education in District 279 are among the strongest and best managed programs that have ever participated in the NCEA accreditation process. District 279 has fully embraced a systems approach to school management that has permeated throughout the district.”

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.