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Patriot Perspective articles
Volleyball Team Kudos
“Pequot Lakes Volleyball Team”
Kurt Stumpf, Superintendent
Congratulations to the Pequot Lakes Volleyball Team on their 2023 MSHSL State Championship; the first volleyball state championship in school history. The volleyball team was runner-up at the 2022 MSHSL State Championship. As Superintendent, I wanted to share my thoughts and appreciation for the following groups of people:
Team Thank you for showing us how to play together and get through challenging times. Being down 0-2 sets in the state tournament quarterfinals and semifinals, you trusted each other and played together. Thank you for trusting the coaching staff to make decisions on what is best for the team. Player roles may have changed from game to game, yet the positive attitudes and team-first approach were constant. Thank you for representing our school-community with class.
Coaches Thank you for the time and extraordinary commitment to developing our student-athletes as people and volleyball players. The constant care you displayed for every player on the roster was evident. Thank you for being a consistent example to our volleyball players and community of what caring and outstanding leadership looks like. Finally, thank you for being the best volleyball coaching staff in the State of Minnesota, as the tactical moves and game strategy were more than anyone knows.
Parents Thank you for supporting the team and your child throughout the season. With the talent on this year’s team and a roster full of seniors, you were able to trust the coaching staff and appreciate the team approach.
Boosterthon, Conferences, Veterans Day, Oh My
“Boosterthon, Conferences, Veterans Day, Oh My”
Melissa Hesch, Eagle View Elementary Principal
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” Phil Jackson was very accurate with this quote, as it takes a team in all areas of life - your family team, team of friends, colleagues, or sports teams - your people. In this Patriot Perspective, we are celebrating some excellence in teamwork.
First off, we want to say congratulations to Eli Hall, Calia Chaney, and the PLS Cross Country Team on their successful season. We also want to recognize Patriot Football for another amazing season. Last week, we sent off the Patriot Volleyball team with all of our Eagle View Patriot energy and cheers (it’s quite the volume). We wished them luck as they were off to represent Pequot Lakes at the State Volleyball Tournament. Go Patriots!
There’s truly never any downtime at EV. That has never been more true than the past couple of weeks for the EV team. We rolled back from Fall Break kicking off the PTA Boosterthon fundraiser on October 23rd with a building goal of $25,000.
This year’s Boosterthon theme was World Changer Workshop. Lessons included identifying a need, coming up with a plan, gathering a team, launching the plan, and then gritting it out. Positive life lessons to remind us all that we can each make a difference. Sometimes, making a difference isn’t a big thing; it can also be a small act. After a week of activities and incentives, the Boosterthon wrapped up with a Glow Run on October 31st, held inside this year (due to snow).
As stated by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” There is no doubt that we have world changers here in ISD 186 and at Eagle View. Thank you to our families, community organizations, and businesses for your support of our school and district. With your help and support, Eagle View surpassed the goal of $25,000 to over $40,000. EV earned the reward of going to the movies! Other special rewards for earners go to the 4th grade for Top Grade, and Top Class is Mr. Kristenson’s 3rd grade class.
Following the Glow Run, families were invited to confer with classroom teachers on November 1st & 2nd. There is a unique and special partnership that is fostered by a team of parents, teachers, and students in an elementary setting. Conferences are an opportunity to celebrate each student’s positives and make a plan for areas of concern. We appreciate your attendance at conferences and your partnership throughout the year.
On Friday, November 10th, all of EV will be honoring Veterans Day by participating in the Pequot Lakes High School Veterans Day program. Thank you to each and every Veteran for your service and sacrifice.
We hope you all take the time to celebrate “your people,” your team, and if you have a chance, send the EV staff a thank you for all they do for EVery student, EVery day!
Benefits of Granite Ridge Conference
“Benefits of Granite Ridge Conference”
Byron Westrich, Activities Director
Pequot Lakes Public School has moved into the Granite Ridge Conference and is providing more opportunities for our Patriots to compete in a variety of activities. The conference has many additional activities that our previous students were not able to participate in. Playing similar-sized schools has given our students more levels of play that weren't previously possible.
We are only three months into the new conference move but we have already found more chances for our students to compete. The best example might be in the sport of volleyball. Last season, only half of our opponents had four levels of volleyball like we do. This year, every conference contest has had four levels or teams. Some schools even gave us an extra set or two against the C squad level, giving more students playing time. In the middle-level volleyball programs, all of our conference schools played two teams with each grade. On many nights, we were playing six sets against each opponent. This gave the 50 girls we have participating in junior high volleyball more playing time. Tennis had a similar experience of teams having the same number of athletes. More playing time, more competition, and similar facilities will help our already strong programs to improve, grow, and compete at a higher level.
Fine arts activities offered in the GRC are One Act, Speech, Knowledge Bowl, Band, Choir, and Visual Arts. Previously, we had no conference opportunities in any of these activities. In January, our school will host the One Act festival one week before the subsection competition. The experience our school will have prior to entering section competition can be a major benefit. Band and Choir students can participate in a practice and produce a concert with the other seven conference schools, which will help our programs to grow along with allowing another opportunity to perform in front of others. Knowledge Bowl only had three regular season competitions last year, but will now have another date to compete with conference teams. These opportunities will give our students the ability to make connections with other students who have similar interests, and will provide great learning experiences that they can’t get from the classroom setting.
On November 1, all of our program advisors and coaches will meet during an activities summit. This night will provide a great chance for Patriots to connect, network and work with opposing advisors and coaches; bringing the coaches and advisors together to discuss how we can create the best possible experience for our children. Advisors and coaches will have the opportunity to review conference bylaws and can make suggestions on how we might be able to improve what we do as a conference. Coaches and advisors will also review varsity schedules, junior high schedules, awards, and procedures.
Looking ahead to winter and spring activities, we will find they will also bring similar opportunities as those experienced by our fall programs. Boys and girls basketball will have two levels of play in the middle level. Our C team will have the ability to play at the same time as our junior varsity, rather than playing earlier in the day. This will alleviate the need to depart from school earlier and reduce the transportation needed for each contest. Track season will give us two field houses to run indoor meets when a late spring arrival keeps us from competing outdoors. The GRC will also give us more track meets to help with scheduling needs.
We are excited for all of the new opportunities the Granite Ridge Conference will provide for Pequot Lakes students. We will find the GRC will continue to provide a better experience for our student-athletes.
An Ounce of Prevention
“An Ounce of Prevention”
Tracy Princivalli, RN, LSN, NCSN - School District Nurse
Benjamin Franklin famously advised fire-threatened Philadelphians in 1736 that, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In the case of vaccine-preventable diseases, the concept is the same.
According to MN law, to enroll in child care, early childhood programs, and school in Minnesota, children must show they’ve had the required immunizations or file a legal exemption. Parents may file a medical exemption signed by a health care provider or a non-medical exemption signed by a parent/guardian and notarized in lieu of the vaccines.
Schools are also required by the state of Minnesota to complete a report summarizing the immunization status of all students K-12 enrolled in school – the Annual Immunization Status Report (AISR). For Pequot Lakes, it is the responsibility of the District Nurse to complete and submit the AISR by December 1 of each year. Pre-pandemic (2017-2018 school year), the immunization rates of our kindergarten students who were fully vaccinated were between 97-99%.
As a result of missed primary care visits and vaccine hesitancy during the COVID-19 pandemic, childhood and adolescent vaccination rates have dropped significantly. In the most recent data from the Minnesota Department of Health, nearly 30% of our six-year-old students are not up to date on the vaccines required for kindergarten, and nearly 30% of our thirteen-year-olds are missing at least one Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis) and the MenACWY vaccine that prevents four different strains of the meningococcal bacteria that causes Meningitis. Those percentages represent children who are vulnerable to diseases that can be debilitating, or life-threatening, but also can be prevented.
The MN Department of Health has provided an immunization tool kit for School Nurses to utilize to overcome the immunization gaps and become compliant with the laws that keep our students safe at school. Those tools will be implemented in the health offices at Eagle View Elementary School and the Pequot Lakes High School and Middle School in order to ensure our compliance with state law and our responsibility to our students. For families that cannot, or choose not to vaccinate their children for medical, personal, or religious reasons, a medical objection signed by a medical provider, or a notarized conscientious objection form is required in lieu of the vaccinations.
Together with parents and guardians, we have the opportunity to regain our safe vaccination levels and prevent a recurrence of childhood illnesses that have essentially been eradicated. Equally important is to have the proper objection forms on file to protect those students who are not fully immunized in case of a breakout of disease in our area. Please check with your child's health care provider or your child’s School Nurse to ensure they are up to date with their vaccination series, or that we have the proper documentation on file to excuse the vaccination requirement. In the case of vaccine-preventable illnesses, a mL injection for disease prevention can be worth a lifetime of disease protection.
Setting Goals at PLMS
“Setting Goals at PLMS”
Mike O'Neil, Middle School Principal
Goal setting is a way of life in the public school setting. Districts set goals, buildings set goals, teachers set goals, and we challenge our students to do so as well. Pequot Lakes Middle School enters the 2023-24 school year with our eyes focused on improvement in three core areas.
Our first goal on the 5-8 campus is associated with helping our grade-level cohorts to increase the trajectory of their academic success. What we mean by that is, research tells us that for every day that goes by on the calendar, students will grow. Point toward the impact of maturation, or learning to navigate the world around us; everyone becomes a bit more wise with every day that passes. Our academic goal for PLMS in 2023-24 is set to increase student achievement in each cohort’s (e.g. the graduating class of 2031) Math and Reading scores on both our statewide MCA and also on our in-house assessment series called the STAR test. We hope to create a positive inflection point of 3% growth, or more, in their achievement through intense support during Homeroom and best first instructional practices in our core classroom settings.
The second goal for this school year is anchored in some feedback our students shared last spring. In polling our student body, 87% of our students report that they feel supported by our staff. Though we feel great about this data, we aim to improve this metric to 90% when we ask that same question later this year. A more concerning data point came from the same question with one word adjusted. When asked the prompt about “I feel supported by my peers,” our student body poll showed that only 63% of our kids feel supported by their classmates. We can blame adolescent development; we can blame phones or social media; we can point the finger in a multitude of directions. Regardless, this data is something that we need to work on. In response, PLMS is doubling down on our existing structures built around character education, and adding some new components to help this number to climb to what we hope will be 70% or more in the spring.
Our last goal focuses on the strategic use of our Homeroom period of the day. The Middle School Model is anchored in a portion of the day called “Homeroom” or “Advisory.” By design, this time period is intended to create time and space for students and staff to make a strong connection.
From their interests and hobbies to their learning profile, it is our hope that this 25-minute period of each day gives kids what they need to be successful. In 2023-24, we are looking to revamp the student experience in Homeroom. From growing the love of reading through quiet reading in a book of student choice for all, to diving in on a reteaching of a Math lesson a kid didn’t quite get the first time, we are hoping to make this window of the school day even more impactful than it already is.
The Pequot Lakes Schools take deep pride in growing our students. We unite with our parents and guardians to accept the enormous role that we both play in the development of the kids in our community.
GLAPA's 40th Season: A look back at our start
“GLAPA's 40th Season: A look back at our start”
Joell Tvedt, Community Education Director
This Fall marks the 40th season of Pequot Lakes Community Theatre. We are kicking off this milestone with a very special production called Enchanted April. Opening the evening of Thursday, October 5 in the Pequot Lakes High School Auditorium, this charming, romantic comedy is the story of two London housewives feeling lost in the shadows of marriage and forgotten in the rush of the 1920s post-war society. Together with a pair of difficult upper-class women, they pool their savings to rent a villa in Italy for a ladies-only holiday.
Forty years is a long time for a community theatre to thrive. Just think about the dedication, commitment, and number of volunteer hours, not to mention the tens of thousands of people who have enjoyed our shows!
To celebrate this historic occasion, we have brought back some of the key people who were there from the beginning. Cumulatively, with hundreds of years of performing arts experience, the cast and crew involved with this production are simply magnificent! In addition, we will be showcasing costumes, favorite memories, and photos from the past 40 seasons throughout the run of Enchanted April.
Our community theatre has sparked countless interest in young actors over the years. It has been the place where people have gotten their start in theater and honed their artistic craft. It has proven to be a place where our community finds quality entertainment right in their backyard.
Getting its start back in 1984, the Pequot Lakes Community Theatre was born after conversations about the high school auditorium being underutilized. A relatively new auditorium at the time, built in 1979, it only made sense to fill the space with something that would benefit the community. So, the school district contacted Judy Larsen and others who put together the very first Pequot Lakes Community Theatre production called Bits of Broadway.
In the beginning, actors purchased and made their own costumes. Directors paid for their own shows. Set supplies and props were donated by the community and stored in people's homes and outbuildings. Over time, the school district was able to offer storage for these items. Through community and individual donations, along with grants from the Five Wings Arts Council and other entities, our community theater eventually had a small budget, allowing production teams to be hired for each show and show-specific items to be purchased.
As the idea of a community theater evolved, contract shows with various artists helped to fill the auditorium. This is where the name Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts (GLAPA) emerged. We were more than just a theater, offering up to three theater productions each year, along with three to four contracted shows. People were coming from all over the area and state to enjoy the entertainment we provided. Not only were they coming for the show, but they were shopping in our town and eating in our restaurants.
As I reflect on the history of our community theatre and write this article, I am purposely leaving out the names of those involved in getting us to where we are today. There have simply been so many individuals who have positively made an impact on the success of our community theatre over the years and I don’t want to leave anyone out. If you are reading this and you are one of those people, THANK YOU. Your time, generosity, and commitment to the arts in this community is invaluable. Without your dedication and passion for performing arts, our community theater would not have made it to this remarkable milestone.
Kurt Stumpf, Superintendent
The Pequot Lakes School District has launched Patriot-Vision.org, a website to provide our community with information on the upcoming capital projects levy and facilities bond referendum. The website provides:
– A detailed list of improvements to support outstanding education and a positive learning experience.
– Information on the community-led process that helped inform the school board’s recommendation for the proposed plan.
– An overview of the plan and the two ballot questions the district is asking voters to consider on November 7.
– A tax calculator to determine your estimated monthly tax impact.
– Voting information and additional resources such as the site improvement plan and frequently asked questions.
A question that I have received from community members is, “What are the specific projects included in the bond referendum?” Below are some highlights of the projects:
Safety & Security - There is roughly $21 million budgeted for projects including roofing, HVAC units (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), electrical/mechanical system upgrades, sidewalks, enhanced secure entrances and door modifications at all campus facility entrances, moving the high school office to a more central location, fencing around playgrounds, improved zoning and a sidewalk from Oak Street to secondary campus by the baseball field, addressing County Road 11 concerns at the Eagle View site, and reconfiguring parking and traffic flow at both the elementary and secondary campus. Upgrades to the kitchen areas would include a remodeling of the secondary site serving area to increase efficiency and flow of student traffic during breakfast and lunch, and adding food storage space (freezer, cooler and dry) at both the elementary and secondary sites.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) - There is roughly $9 million budgeted for CTE projects that include new spaces for robotics, technology, woods/metals and culinary arts with updates to the current FACS (Family and Consumer Science) and woods/metals spaces.
Educational Upgrades - There is roughly $35 million budgeted for educational updates that include new Early Childhood spaces at Eagle View, additional classrooms at the grades 5-12 campus, a new 750-seat auditorium, remodeling and expanding of the grades 5-12 commons area, and a middle school multi-purpose area. Also included in the plan are updated outdoor spaces that include two new softball fields and two new baseball fields built off-site, resurfacing the track, relocating fields and track zones to better utilize outdoor spaces, a new tennis court, and new bleachers around the track.
I encourage everyone to visit Patriot-Vision.org to learn more about how the capital projects levy and bond referendum would invest in our students and our schools. Thank you for the continued support.
MN Free School Meals Program
“MN Free School Meals Program”
Patty Buell, Food Services Director
On March 17, 2023, Governor Walz signed the MN Free School Meals bill into law. The MN Free School Meals Program provides state reimbursement to schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program so that students can have one school breakfast and one school lunch at school per day at no cost. In simple terms, it means every student receives a free breakfast and lunch every day!
Even though meals are free for students, it is important for families to complete the Application for Educational Benefits form. Applications for Educational Benefits determine how much funding your child’s school receives for educational programs and supports. Additionally, eligible families can qualify for other benefits including waived deposits for Chromebooks, reduced sports fees, reduced fees for community education programs/classes as well as reduced fees for early childhood programs/classes.
Forms can be found on the school website (Departments>Food Services) and on the school’s student information system using your Infinite Campus Parent Portal. Paper versions are available in each school office.
Please fill out a form to help our schools receive funding and possibly qualify your family for additional benefits.
Feel free to reach out to Patty Buell with any questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kurt Stumpf, Superintendent
The Pequot Lakes School Board is continuing to explore options in formulating a long-term facility plan. The main purpose of the facilities planning process is to ensure that the district has a comprehensive long-range facilities plan in order to be fiscally responsible and to meet the needs of our students. At the board meeting on May 15, 2023, the school board voted to direct the Superintendent to formulate a recommendation for a date, scope, amount, financing, and ballot language for a facilities bond election. The school board will spend the next board meetings discussing the recommendation. Below is an overview of the facility process timeline.
January 2022 - The Pequot Lakes School District published a Request for Proposals for facility planning. There were two main components of the facilities planning: (1) Facilities Assessment; and (2) Long-Range Facility Plan.
March - April 2022 - Six firms officially submitted a proposal in response to the RFP. Three firms were interviewed by a district committee of nine people, which included students, staff and community members, and a school board member. After the interview, reference checks and contract negotiations, the school district partnered with ATSR, an architectural and engineering firm.
May 2022 - ATSR representatives met with students from grades 3 - 12 as well as teams of staff from early childhood, elementary, middle school, and high school. All staff were also given the opportunity to answer facility survey questions.
June 2022 - August 2022 - ATSR engineers and architects conducted site visits evaluating the current conditions of all aspects of Pequot Lakes School District facilities.
August 2022 - ATSR presented their findings on facility maintenance and prioritized the maintenance needs based on the current buildings and facilities. There were about 7M in high priority, 12M in medium priority, and 3M in low priority needs.
September 2022 - The Facilities Planning Team (FPT) kicked off a 5-meeting series to review the current facility assessments and to work through a process in order to prioritize current and future facility needs. The FPT was charged with providing a recommendation for a long-range comprehensive plan for district-wide priorities and baseline needs for our facilities to the school board.
October 2022 - Hazel Reinhart presented an enrollment study to the school board.
January 2023 - Amelia Reynolds and Jobey Tvedt, two Pequot Lakes School District students on the FPT, presented the committee’s recommendation to the school board, which included 35 items ranging from maintenance needs, updating some current facility areas, and building some classrooms and an auditorium.
At the regular school board meeting on January 23, 2023, Michael Hart from PMA Securities presented financial information. PMA Securities is the District's financial advisor. The presentation included a review of the current tax base, outstanding bond debt, and options and information for facility upgrades.
March 2023 - The Pequot Lakes School Board received an update at the board meeting regarding the FPT recommendations. Additional follow-up information was requested from school board members on various aspects of the facilities plan. The school board meeting involved discussion only and no formal school board actions were taken.
April 2023 - At the regular board meeting on April 17, 2023, the School Board received updated cost estimates for the proposed facility improvements and updated financial information.
May 2023 - At the board work session on May 1, 2023, the School Board received a report on a Capital Projects Levy option and updated financial information prepared by Michael Hart, PMA Director.
Community members are encouraged to visit the District’s website to learn more about the facilities planning process (www.isd186.org → District → Facilities Study). Thank you for the continued support of Pequot Lakes School District students.
Support a Patriot Tradition - Fitness Center Improvement Project
“Support a Patriot Tradition - Fitness Center Improvement Project”
Byron Westrich, Activities Director
The Pequot Lakes School District is seeking donations to upgrade its weight room equipment. There has been a steady growth in the number of students who utilize the weight room. Increased enrollment and increased interest have created a need to update the equipment and layout so that more students can work out. The weight room is open every morning with roughly 15-25 students lifting before school even starts for the day. During the day, we often have at least one physical education class in the weight room. We do have enough room for two classes to lift at once but we don’t have enough equipment for those sixty students.
The size of the weight room does fit our needs and it is in a perfect location, near the locker rooms, access to the indoor running track, and close to the athletic center; however, with more student use needed during the day and the increased use before and after school, it is time to improve the layout and upgrade the equipment inside the room so that more students can work out at the same time. In addition, the vision for our Strength and Conditioning Coach is to work with all of our athletic teams so they can lift twice a week while they are in season. Currently, our teams find they must lift before school in order to have enough room for everyone to get in these twice-a-week sessions.
Our current weight room only has four places to bench press, squat and clean. These are the big-three lifts that students use when training. We also only have one dumbbell area, one place to use a lat pulldown or a seated cable row. These areas often have a line of students waiting to use these lifts. Many of our older students are starting to pay for memberships with area facilities because they are tired of waiting for equipment to open up. We need to change this so all of our students can lift within our facilities, to create a better sense of pride and cohesiveness by lifting together.
The initial part of this project is to change the room name from our weight room to the Fitness Center. The name change is more user-friendly, and it seems more welcoming to all students to train and work out, rather than just those who want to lift weights. Our proposed plan will give us sixteen areas to bench, clean, and squat. Each station will be equipped with a bench that is mobile so students can bench, use dumbbells, and raise the bench for inclines, making these areas practical for a group of students to get in and work out in just one area. On the other side of this is either a lat pulldown and seated cable row or an inverse curl machine that is state-of-the-art for training explosive leg power. This setup with our equipment will allow more of our students to work out at the same time. We can have multiple classes at once during the day. We will be able to have all of our teams work out in this facility during the season, to create more competitive teams, to be better prepared for injury prevention, and to create that team atmosphere that is desired. The new equipment will be branded with school colors, with Patriot logos, creating more school pride. The new equipment layout will also facilitate our students that are handicapped or injured to be able to work out.
We are seeking donations from the community and businesses to support this outstanding improvement for our students. We know this improvement will help all of our students improve their mental health, increase physical strength, help prevent injuries, and give them an athletic edge when competing. The donation goal to improve the Fitness Center equipment is $300,000. There are various levels of sponsorships, from Patriot Level ($50,000 or more) to Barbell Level ($499 or less). All donations are welcome and can be submitted online through our District website (click on Payment Portal and then Donations), or mailed directly to Pequot Lakes Schools, Attn: Fitness Center Project, 30805 Olson Street, Pequot Lakes, MN 56472.
Thank you for your support! Go Patriots!
Naloxone in the School Setting
“Naloxone in the School Setting”
Tracy Princivalli, RN, LSN, NCSN - School District Nurse
In response to the rising opioid overdose deaths, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Education collaborated with School Nurse leaders across the state to develop a toolkit for schools to implement policies and procedures in school districts across the state to be better prepared to handle an opioid overdose emergency.
According to the MDH in 2021, an average of four Minnesotans died each day from a drug overdose. Opioid-involved overdose deaths among Minnesotans increased by 43% from 2020 to 2021, and the number of deaths has more than doubled since 2019. The continued increase in opioid-related deaths is thought to be driven by the availability of synthetic opioids (e.g., fentanyl), psychostimulants (e.g., methamphetamine), and cocaine. One might think that is only an inner-city problem; however, data shows that for the first time since 2014, a larger percent increase occurred in Greater Minnesota than in the Twin Cities metro area. Overdoses are most often accidental and can occur with the use of legally prescribed medications.
Naloxone or Narcan (brand name) is an opioid antagonist that will temporarily reverse deadly respiratory depression experienced by an opioid overdose. When administered quickly and effectively, Naloxone can immediately restore breathing to a victim experiencing an opioid overdose and prevent death. The medication can be given by intranasal spray (into the nose), intramuscular (into the muscle), subcutaneous (under the skin), or intravenous injection. There is no potential for addiction or other misuse of Naloxone. Naloxone is not a controlled substance.
While Naloxone is life-saving for suspected opioid overdose, there are other health conditions that may have similar symptoms in emergency situations, such as diabetic ketoacidosis, hypothermia, and stroke. If Naloxone is mistakenly given to someone not actually experiencing an opioid overdose, it will not harm them, but it also will not help the person, and 911 should always be called when Naloxone is given. Shallow or absent breathing is a hallmark sign of opioid overdose, leading to decreased oxygen in the body that can result in heart attack and eventually death. Opioid ingestion can be confirmed once the victim is alert, but Naloxone treatment can begin immediately anytime an opioid overdose is suspected, without fear of causing harm.
The new Naloxone toolkit provides Minnesota school districts with standard information and recommendations for policy and emergency procedure development, the role of medical providers for standing orders/protocols and prescriptions, resources for obtaining Naloxone medication, resources for education and training and recovery/referral resources to meet the needs of those who are at risk or who have experienced an overdose.
The Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) offers a sample of policy language for the administration of Naloxone in schools (MSBA Model Policy 516.5). Our school board is currently reviewing the information and collaborating with School Nursing staff, Superintendent Stumpf, and School Resource Officer Sheri Fyle to create and adopt a policy that will ensure Pequot Lakes Schools are the best prepared to treat opioid-related overdoses if they occur with our students, staff, or visitors.
Language is an Asset
“Language is an Asset”
Megan Zierden, HRS Coach & EL Teacher
Multilingual Learner (ML) refers to all children and youth who are, or have been, consistently exposed to multiple languages. This asset-based term comes from the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) consortium. The state of Minnesota uses the term English Learner (EL) in reference to the learner or instructional program, so ML and EL are often used interchangeably in place of other terminology used in the past (LEP, ESL, ELL).
The work done with multilingual learners is based on WIDA standards and these standards are rooted in WIDA’s Can Do Philosophy. Can Do Descriptors are a tool to help educators meet students where they are in their language development. They are set up like steps so each proficiency level includes and builds on previous levels. The goal is to build towards independence.
The Pequot Lakes School district historically has had fewer than 10 students each year who receive English Learner (EL) services. As an EL teacher, I ask myself, “What can the student do and what does he/she need in order to reach the next step?” If students have similar needs at similar ages, I group them together. If this isn’t the case, then I support students individually. Much of our time together focuses on vocabulary and language structures that build listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. The important thing is to do this work while still staying relevant to the students’ grade level and content. As students get into high school, we also work on building confidence and self-advocacy. Here are some comments students made about our time together: “It’s helpful ‘cause I can get a lot more work done.”; “Good. I like the word games.”; “It’s great. It’s very helpful and you pretty much build a bond before we work on studying”.
Along with asset-based and Can Do approaches, we must remember that students who continue to be fluent in their first language do better with English proficiency as well. Because of this, students and their families are encouraged to use their home languages, including but not limited to the following: telling stories, singing, reading, or having discussions. These types of activities support student language development. As stated on the WIDA Family Connections through Home Languages flier, “Rich cultural and linguistic interactions can bolster children’s sense of themselves and their primary language skills. Children can master a language and academic learning when their primary language and culture are stronger.” These types of fliers are available in several languages so educators, like myself, can send home resources that families will understand.
All of these things are important, but we must be willing to embrace the idea that language, any language, is an asset. When students come to us with a limited experience in English, we must remember that the language they do have is a foundation to build on and so are the experiences that come from that language. Being a multilingual learner is truly a gift and I remind my students of this often.
April is Testing Season in Minnesota Schools
“April is Testing Season in Minnesota Schools”
Travis Raske, Director of Teaching & Learning
Pequot Lakes School District students will be taking the MCA and ACT tests this month alongside other districts throughout the state. Schools utilize the MCA test to monitor and measure student progress towards the Minnesota state academic standards. The purpose of the ACT test is to measure a student’s readiness for college and it is one component of the application process.
While recognizing that a single test score does not define or completely measure a student's capabilities, testing has become an integral part of the educational process, providing students and teachers with valuable feedback on effective curriculum, instructional practices, and learning.
For schools, testing is an important way to measure student learning and evaluate the effectiveness of educational programs. It can help identify areas where additional resources or services may be needed, and it can also provide data that can be used to set school and building-level goals. Standardized tests are valuable for tracking overall student achievement at the school level. Many school districts use these tests to compare student performance on a state or national level, helping to identify both strengths and weaknesses across different schools.
For students, testing provides a way to measure their academic progress, which can be used to help them set goals and assess their strengths or areas of needed support. The score can help to demonstrate a student’s academic progress and can also be used as a measure of college and career readiness. ACT scores are shared to students’ accounts a month after testing; MCA scores are shared with families in August.
The MCA test is given in grades 3 through 8 and 10 in reading, grades 3 through 8 and 11 in math, and grades 5, 8, and 10 in science. The ACT test is offered to 11th graders within our school and students are encouraged to take it more than once in preparation for college entrance.
Did you know that Minnesota statute has capped districtwide testing at 11 hours or less per year, depending on grade level? This equates to students spending less than 1% of their time on tests each year.
While testing is a valuable comparison tool, it is important to remember that tests do not measure the whole child. They do not measure a student's creativity, work ethic, social skills, or other important qualities essential to be a productive member of the community. Therefore, it is important to recognize that Pequot Lakes schools do not rely solely on the score from one test. Rather, we look to foster strengths in many areas and recognize students for their talents.
Overall, these are summative assessments and we triangulate this data with many other forms of assessment to best understand the academic needs of the student and respond to what they know, what they don't know, and how we can best meet their needs to reach state standards. Standardized tests are a valuable resource for measuring student achievement and helping to guide academic decisions. By providing a consistent and objective assessment of student performance, these tests can be a powerful tool for educators, administrators, and families.
Five test-taking tips that will help students perform at their best: 1) get a good night’s sleep; 2) eat a healthy breakfast; 3) dress confidently; 4) arrive early with necessary materials; and 5) smile, you are going to do great!
Achievements and Opportunities
“Achievements & Opportunities”
Kurt Stumpf, Superintendent
It’s hard to believe but we are already making plans for end-of-year activities. There has been, continues to be, and we are still planning many activities and exciting opportunities for our students and community. Below are some highlights.
Pequot Lakes students have competed and achieved at impressive levels, such as: Minnesota Class AA State Runner-up in Volleyball; One-Act Play advancing from Sub-sections to Sections for the first time in many years; Robotics team winning Regionals again and advancing to the World Competition and the State Tournament; the Roadcrew Wrestling team and individuals earning a trip to the State Tournament; and the Boys Basketball team advancing to State competition.
Pequot Lakes students have enjoyed many opportunities provided by dedicated staff who plan events, as well as supportive parents and community. Some of these awesome opportunities include: all 6th-grade students having the opportunity to attend a 3-day overnight Wolf Ridge trip; elementary students participating in the PTA Color Run; high school students taking part in a Career Fair; elementary students having an all-school Bingo with prizes from PTA; middle school students taking a day trip to Nisswa on their bikes; as well as many other field trips and awesome classroom experiences.
The school district is partnering with ATSR for an educational facility assessment and long-range planning services. The educational facility assessment provides a district inventory of all assets, including roofing, HVAC, electrical, and interior finishes. The inventory includes a cost and timeline for replacement. The second component of the facilities study, long-range planning, has included stakeholder input on future educational needs and long-range planning. The school board continues to receive and discuss information relating to facilities planning. Please view the Facilities Study webpage (www.isd186.org → District → Facilities Study) for up-to-date information.
Safe Routes to School
A group of roughly 15 school, city, county, and community members have met monthly to evaluate the ways our students get to and from school, as well as how to improve the safety of those walking and biking routes. There have been multiple surveys, observations, walk audits, and other ways to gather information throughout the process. The committee will be finalizing a plan in May that will be shared with the community, school board, and local city councils.
Thank you for the continued support of the Pequot Lakes School District this year.
American Indian Education Program Celebrates Indigenous Culture
“American Indian Education Program Celebrates Indigenous Culture”
Lisa Christensen, AIE Coordinator
The MN Department of Education established the American Indian Education (AIE) Act in 1972 with a mission “to strengthen and promote positive experiences and educational outcomes for American Indian students statewide.” In addition, they provide funding and guidance for school districts across the state.
The Pequot Lakes AIE Program focuses on academic support, college and career readiness opportunities, and cultural experiences that affirm and value students’ Indigenous identity. Most recently, students and their families were invited to a Family Night where they built an Anishinaabe drum set made from real cowhide.
The drums are more than a percussion instrument to the Anishinaabe peoples; in particular, the Ojibwe consider them “the heartbeat of the people.”
The Family Nights help provide a sense of community and an opportunity for families either to feel affirmed about one of their cultural traditions or to learn more about it. The next Family Night will celebrate the seniors graduating from the program. In addition, they will learn more about Indigenous cooking and prepare an authentic American Indian dish.
Other program offerings include the following: secondary luncheons, field trips, tutoring, Homework Hangout, and an Eagle View Book Club (upcoming event), among other things.
Approximately every month or two, the secondary students meet for a luncheon where they have the opportunity to develop some close connections with their AIE peers and explore a cultural lesson. This year we have learned more about uses for birch bark, powwows, Ojibwe winter games, and college tuition.
This is my first year as the AIE Coordinator. Thus far, my favorite part of the program is making connections with students and their families, along with learning more about Native American culture myself. Students shared some of their favorite parts about the program:
“The program helps us establish a strong sense of community and love.”
“I like all of the different hands-on activities.”
“My favorite part was making the drums.”
“I like just hanging out.”
“I enjoyed attending the Native American College Fair.”
“My favorite part was the Snow Snake game.”
“I like all of the Family Nights.”
“My favorite part is learning about different cultural foods.”
“AIE helps me learn more about the traditions.”
One of my goals is to establish annual traditions that students will look fondly back upon. So far, they are off to a good start.
Photo Courtesy of University of Minnesota