Ribbon-CuttingGarden City Elementary was buzzing with excitement Wednesday, May 28 as some very special guests arrived to help unveil the great new library makeover courtesy of Target and The Heart of America Foundation.

Earlier this month, volunteers from Target and The Heart of America Foundation began renovating the library, which includes 2,000 new books; larger spaces with new carpet, furniture, artwork and technology; and seven new books for each student to take home. The library is decked out in bright blue, red and lime green hues. Special features include a chair made with a 3-D printer and 29 iPads outfitted in red protective cases.

In addition to representatives from Osseo Area Schools, Target and The Heart of America Foundation, and State Sen. Chris Eaton, two Major League Baseball players shared in the day’s excitement.

Minnesota Twins legend Tony Oliva told students to listen to their teachers, “because everything they say is gold.”

Former Minnesota Twins player Tim Laudner told the students Oliva was a teacher, coach and mentor to him who helped him achieve his dreams. He encouraged students to look to their teachers as partners and mentors that will help them achieve their dreams too. He told the students he makes time to read every day and encouraged the students to do likewise because it will help them with their grades and their futures. His message hit particularly close to home when he revealed he grew up only four blocks away from Garden City Elementary and is also a product of Osseo Area Schools. The students were very excited to learn that he attended Brooklyn Junior High and Park Center Senior High, just like many of them will go on to attend.

Additionally, through their Meals in Mind initiative, Target also provided food to school families that wish to receive it. They will continue to offer this once a month for a year.

Garden City is one of just 25 schools nationwide selected for a library makeover this year and the only one located in Minnesota. The makeover, which was funded by Target and The Heart of America, carries a $200,000 value. Two additional District 279 schools, Zanewood Elementary and Birch Grove School for the Arts, were finalists for the makeover. Each received $500 in new books for their libraries from the Target/The Heart of America partnership.

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-Published May 28, 2014

NavaehlunchwebIf you could pick any celebrity to have lunch with, who would it be?

Many of us have been asked this question but never expect it to happen. Thanks to a writing project and a little help from social media, this very dream came true for Rice Lake Elementary first grader, Nevaeh Torma.

Last month, teacher Drew Gernand's students were practicing writing, editing, revising and computer keyboarding skills. Since Nevaeh completed her work before the rest of the class, Gernand told her to write a letter to someone famous that she admires and he would send it.

Nevaeh chose to write to Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. She complimented him on his cleats and his ability to score touchdowns and invited him to come visit her and her classmates at school.

Gernand tweeted a photo of Nevaeh and her letter. Patterson saw the tweet and accepted Nevaeh’s offer. Several weeks later, Patterson joined Nevaeh for lunch at Rice Lake Elementary. He spent time in Gernand’s classroom answering questions, signing autographs and taking photos. He even went outside in the drizzling rain to throw around the football.

Rice Lake Elementary staff knows it’s important to inspire and prepare all students to achieve their dreams. So does Patterson.

 “Just working hard and having fun with what I do helped me achieve my goals and dreams. I always smile and try to make the most of every day,” Patterson said. “If I can help these students smile and enjoy their day, we all win and we all get better. It’s a blessing to be able to make these kids light up and enjoy their time.”

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-Published May 27, 2014