- Pequot Lakes Public Schools
- Patriot Perspective Articles
Patriot Perspective articles
Off to Work I Go
“Off to Work I Go”
Aaron Nelson, High School Principal
Recently, I sat in on a candidate forum where the topic of schools was discussed at length. The questions focused on a variety of topics, but the common concern raised was the focus of secondary education, high school, and how students were being prepared. “Not every student is a college student” was the phrase that was offered frequently by some candidates who recalled their own experiences in school, some decades ago, and the feeling that high schools push college entry as the mark of success. While this accusation is often leveled against high schools, it fails to accurately reflect the focus and mission of the modern high school.
Pequot Lakes High School is required to achieve student preparation in a number of ways identified in the World's Best Workforce legislation that measures a school’s effectiveness through data collected by the Minnesota Department of Education. Saving readers all the boring details of this legislation, we are required to ensure every graduate has a postsecondary plan for what they wish to achieve after graduating from high school, along with details on how they will achieve that plan. These plans include military, workforce, trades schools, community colleges, and university options chosen by students based on their academic skills and interests.
At Pequot Lakes High School, about 70% of our students enroll in post-secondary education. This means that of our 148 graduating seniors, 103 of them will choose to continue their education through an institution of higher learning. What it does not mean is that these students are “college bound” in the general sense of the word. Many will choose to attend a four-year university in the fall after graduation from high school, but nearly as many will choose trade schools or technical programs. Another 5% of our graduates will choose to enroll in a branch of the military, while the remaining 25% of our students seek options in the workforce.
At Pequot Lakes High School, we offer 30 separate courses in our Career Technical Education (CTE) offerings. Students at PLHS are required to take 16 credits of core classes and 10 credits of electives to earn a diploma. At PLHS, we offer 30 course options for students to fill those 10 credits just in career fields focused on CTE or the trades. A student who has no interest in college would never have to choose a college-focused elective in any of their four years of high school and still have numerous options for classes that would prepare them for the workforce.
Beyond our CTE course offerings, PLHS has partnered with several local businesses to offer our students an opportunity to earn credit through internships. Over the past five years, we average 11 students per semester who choose an internship in their career field of interest and have the opportunity to earn credit through this job-embedded work experience for up to two hours per day of their school day. Just this fall, these experiences include manufacturing, welding, auto repair, heavy equipment repair, teaching, dock services, construction, cosmetology, equestrian services, broadcasting, and child care.
It is safe to say that high school graduates have many post-secondary options and those choices can be overwhelming. Many seniors are stricken with indecision as they consider the extensive options to choose from as they create their plan for life after graduation. At PLHS, we require students to create a plan that gives them options best suited to their academic skills and interests. For most of our graduates, that plan has been years in the making as they explored the world of work through the many CTE courses and experiences offered to them as a student at Pequot Lakes High School.
Mindi Brill and Kathie Harman, Literacy Interventionists
Have you ever wondered how schools provide assistance for students who need support with reading? How are students selected to receive additional help? Read on to find out how Eagle View supports every child, every day.
During the first week of school, all first through fourth-grade students at Eagle View are screened individually using a one-minute FAST (Formative Assessment System for Teachers) fluency probe at each grade level. All Kindergartners are assessed on letter names and sounds using ESGI (Educational Software for Guiding Instruction). A median score for each classroom is determined and if more than 50% of the students are below the fall benchmark for that grade level, the teacher is given materials to implement a classwide fluency intervention for ten to twelve days. For classes whose median was above the benchmark, the PRESS (Path to Reading Excellence in School Sites developed by the University of Minnesota) Phonics Inventory was administered to students who fell below the fall benchmark to determine which particular phonics skill needs targeted services.
Using that data, we create small groups based on the following skills: letter names, letter sounds, short vowels, digraphs, blends, long vowels, vowel teams, and variant vowels. Once a week, skills are progress-monitored. Once students show mastery of the phonics skill by twice scoring 90% or higher, they are moved to the next skill group needed, based on the PRESS inventory. Our groups are flexible, based on the weekly data.
When classwide interventions are completed, interventionists rescreen the class and determine which students need to take the PRESS Phonics Inventory, based on the fall benchmark.
This process is repeated again in January, so we ensure no students are missed who need to master phonics skills. We currently service approximately 100 students on a daily basis, meeting with small groups of four to six students for twenty minutes each. Students read, write, and engage in an activity for each lesson, working to strengthen their skills and read more fluently.
What is our advice for parents with young readers? For beginning readers, let your child see you read, make a routine of reading such as before bedtime or right after supper, and be encouraging. It is important that each reading is a positive experience. For reluctant readers, take turns reading aloud, share your experiences with the topic you’re reading about to generate interest, or read a chapter book together and then watch the movie to compare and contrast. Every book is a gift and you don’t know what’s inside until you open it up and give it a try.
Continuous Improvement Planning
“Continuous Improvement Planning”
Kurt Stumpf, Superintendent
The Pequot Lakes School District is committed to improving student learning outcomes. Each school building, as well as the District, has created action steps that align with increasing student achievement. Below are the highlights of the plan:
Continue the Science curriculum and instruction review process, since the state has adopted new standards and will be implemented for the 2024-2025 school year.
Perform a comprehensive internal audit of the PreK-grade 12 curriculum and instructional materials in order to determine short- and long-term goals.
Provide support and professional development relating to the newly adopted Teacher Growth Plan.
Utilize data tracking processes to collect and analyze data monthly in order to identify student strengths and supports.
Implement the Pyramid Model through professional development and support for Early Childhood staff.
Implement additional instruction on phonics and word work while increasing reading practice to build students’ literacy skills.
Increase and improve number sense instruction and practice to build students’ numeracy skills.
Create homeroom connections through Connection Meetings and intentional team building activities.
Evaluate and improve progress monitoring in Math and Reading for all students.
Provide intervention time for 5th and 6th grade students to receive literacy skills instruction with an English-Language Arts teacher.
Implement a daily homeroom Math intervention and additional instruction for 5th and 6th grade students to build students’ numeracy skills.
Continuously review achievement data in Math and Reading in order to impact classroom instruction and improve student achievement.
Develop a comprehensive overview of systems of support for students to ensure students are making academic progress and are on track with credit requirements.
Continue implementing a Post Graduate Plan for all students and determining the necessary resources and programming to support students.
These action steps were developed by Building Leadership Teams including administration and classroom teachers. We look forward to reporting on our goals and action steps as the year progresses.
Positive Fan Behavior
“Positive Fan Behavior”
Byron Westrich, Activities Director
Patriot students have shown greatness this fall. Patriot fans traveled to Brainerd to support our volleyball team, chanting “We Love Conner” in support of Brainerd’s football player who suffered an injury in a football game at Moorhead. A similar setting took place at Pierz when students from Pierz came across the gym floor and shook our students' hands as they were impressed with our volleyball team’s performance.
To encourage this positive support, the Minnesota State High School League is offering meetings across the state called “Together We Make a Difference.” The purpose of these meetings is to support an action plan to provide leadership opportunities for all students to attend school, learn and participate in safe, respectful environments free from poor fan behavior. The meetings are designed to engage students to elevate their voices in creating these safe, supportive school environments where students learn and participate in their activities. Students participate in round-table discussions about how we can make sure our student fan sections are cheering positively for our teams and not shouting negative comments toward the opposition.
It is so fun to see a town rally behind their school during an event and to show their support during the season. A team can bring people together to cheer, support, show up to watch and enjoy the fun experience. I always ask our students to “Cheer for our Team!” Cheering for our team doesn’t include singling out a player on the opposing team. Cheering for our team means we don’t boo the officials, players, or coaches that represent the opposing team. Cheering for our team should include celebrating our successes and tipping our hat to the opposing team when a great play is made. Sporting events are so fun to attend as our emotions run high and low as our teams compete. These emotions are why people love sports.
When we coach, we always remind our athletes that when they put that jersey on, they not only represent themselves but also the team, the school, the town, and the community. The expectation is similar for our fans. We want to make sure we represent ourselves in such a positive way that people will be left with an impression of greatness. We want others to see our passion, to hear our energy and enthusiasm. We want them to leave the event with a positive feeling of the environment. We want teams and communities to be left with a wow factor from our teams and our supportive fans. Together we can make a positive influence that will represent our community.
No Cell Phones in the Classroom: An Update on How It’s Going
“No Cell Phones in the Classroom: An Update on How It's Going”
Mike O'Neil, Middle School Principal
It’s been a phenomenal start to the 2022-23 school year. With over 50 new students entering our system (150 districtwide), we are eager to welcome our new Patriots to the Pequot Lakes Middle School.
“Back to School” is an exciting time period for everyone. Like many schools throughout the region, our PLMS team is entering the year with anticipation of greater levels of clarity and structure for our students, bringing back procedures and expectations that were at the core of our building climate before the pandemic. Shifting the focal point back to students in classrooms has our team of school staff energized and excited to dive into the school year.
In alignment with bringing greater clarity for all, our PLMS team enacted a policy for the 2022-23 school year requiring all cell phones to be in student lockers during the school day. As we wrap up this second week, we can say with fidelity that our students have had a great start and followed through with this expectation. Thanks students!
In addition to our appreciation directed at our student body, we would also like to say thank you to our parents and guardians. As we gradually rolled out this change, as a principal I was apprehensive about how some families might respond to not having immediate communication access to their child while they were at school. Prior to our Open House meetings with families, I personally spent time preparing myself for rebuttals regarding this policy. The interesting thing is, all of that preparation was for not; not a single parent or student challenged our policy shift. What I prepared for, hands being raised and families asking a lot of questions, was instead an auditorium full of parents nodding in agreement and quietly clapping their hands regarding this shift in policy.
Why is that? Why was I so wrong in my initial thinking? In reflecting on those Back to School interactions with parents: the emails, phone calls and conversations in appreciation of the cell phone policy change, I think the answer is that the adults in our students’ lives “get it”. They get it because they have found themselves frustrated in settings where our kids are choosing screens and technology over human or family connection. They are fearful of what kids might be accessing on their device, even despite our best intentions in monitoring. Many of us have experienced those feelings of disconnection at the dinner table or unstructured time at home, or have witnessed families out to eat with their faces buried in their phones. Now, take those same levels of distraction and transpose them into the classroom setting with 25-30 teens/pre-teens. I think people share in the concern with how phones have crept into and impacted our lives and the urgency in making a change.
We’re only two weeks into this journey, but our Middle School team hopes this policy shift helps our students to spend more time living in the moment, connecting directly with their classmates, and leads to them more intently focused on the learning opportunities that are in front of them.
To all of our families, we are saying thank you for a phenomenal great first two weeks of school. Our partnership between school and home is a critical one and we appreciate our high levels of engagement from families thus far.
In closing, our PLMS team would love to challenge our families to consider setting the phones aside at home as well. Once your family makes it through the withdrawal process, you might enjoy what comes of it!
Welcome New Students and Staff
“Welcome New Students and Staff”
Kurt Stumpf, Superintendent
Kicking off another school year brings excitement and energy. This school year the Pequot Lakes School District community welcomed 19 new staff members, including teachers, clerical staff, a long-term substitute, student teachers and the Director of Teaching & Learning. We are excited about the talent and leadership that our new staff will bring to the district. The only opening prior to the school year starting was a regular route bus driver, although back-plans are in place ensuring all routes are covered.
Along with 19 new staff members, the District is also the new home to roughly 151 new students in grades 1-12. Our district is fortunate to attract new families by having an outstanding staff, students who care for each other, and a supportive community.
As we welcome the new students and staff to the Pequot Lakes School District community, it’s important to be intentional in creating a supportive environment. Please take time to welcome and connect with our new families and staff. Invite and encourage our new staff and families to take advantage of all the awesome opportunities in the District and area. The more we are connected as a school-community, the better off our students will be. Go Patriots!
It's More Than a School Meal Application
“It’s More Than a School Meal Application”
Patty Buell, Food Services Director
Since the start of the pandemic, we have been proud to serve all students breakfast and lunch at no cost through Federal funding, regardless of family income. As of this writing, the USDA has not extended the free meal waivers. Effective the start of the 2022-2023 school year, we will be returning to free, reduced, or full-price meals. We are asking for all families to submit a school meal application now to ensure all students have continued access to our nutritious meals.
The school meal applications are used for so much more than just certifying students for free or reduced-priced meals. Filling out an application can help you and our school in several ways:
Provide additional funding for state and federal programs and services at our school
May result in free or discounted activity fees
May qualify your family for discounted rates on home internet service
May qualify you for reduced registration fees for AP, SAT and/or ACT tests
May qualify you for discounted rates associated with college admissions
Every eligible form counts and adds valuable resources to our school. Submitting your school meal application helps ensure that all students and their families can access these key benefits.
How to apply, you ask? It’s easy! Applications and instructions on how to complete the form are mailed to every household on August 1st of each year. Watch for it in your mailbox! Forms are also available on the school district website under Departments>Food Services.
Completing an application takes less than 10 minutes and you only need to complete one application per family. Applications are completely confidential and will not be shared outside of the schools’ district office. Only the last four digits of your social security number are required. Since your family’s financial situation may change from year to year, you must fill out a new application each school year.
Thank you for taking the time to submit your application.
Kurt Stumpf, Superintendent
An organization is only as good as its people - and the Pequot Lakes School District is fortunate to have an outstanding staff who are dedicated to students and this community. On May 25, 2022, the District hosted an Employee Recognition Celebration at the Breezy Point Resort. The following staff were honored at the event:
Kelly Crosby (Eagle View) - Region 5 Educator of Excellence
Kyle Spray (Middle School) - Region 5 Educator of Excellence
Megan Johnson (High School) - Region 5 Educator of Excellence
Megan Johnson (High School) - Teacher of the Year
Mike O’Neil (Middle School) - MASSP 2022 Minnesota Middle Level Principal of the Year
Brian Alt (High School ) - 20 Years of Service
Jessica Mudgett (Early Childhood) - 20 Years of Service
Rachel Sullivan (Eagle View) - 20 Years of Service
Mindi Brill (Eagle View) - 25 Years of Service
Anna Larson (Middle School) - 25 Years of Service
Andrea Neva (Eagle View) - 25 Years of Service
Lynn Smith (High School) - 25 Years of Service
Debra Buckner, High School Paraprofessional, 5 years of service from 2016-2021
Mark Rieschl, High School/Middle School Custodian, 5.5 years of service from 2016-2021
Janet Durham, High School Paraprofessional, 23 years of service from 1998-2021
Eileen Nelson, Eagle View Social Worker, 24 years of service from 1998-2022
Tom Smith, High School Physical Education Teacher, 31.5 years of service from 1991-2022
Barb Wallace, High School Secretary, 33 years of service from 1989-2022
Wade Hoppe, Middle School Math Teacher, 37 years of service from 1985-2022
A video showcasing the seven retirees' careers is now posted on the District website. Please join us in thanking and honoring these and all staff members.
Summer Time: The Importance of Staying Active and Engaged
"Summer time: The importance of staying active and engaged!"
Joell Tvedt, Community Education Director
Believe it or not, summer break is just around the corner! Does that mean long days on the water, gardening, sports, family vacations…transitioning to summer break can have a real impact on both children and adults.
It has been found that children generally spend more time in sedentary activities over the summer than during the school year. A little surprising since one would think that the nice weather would get kids out and about. However, the lack of structure, organized events, and limited responsibility simply results in a less active lifestyle. Summer also contributes to student learning loss, which is not a big surprise. We’ve heard that for years. Many students experience a “summer slide''. Research has shown that participating in activities that include both body and mind keep kids healthier and sharper.
Pequot Lakes Community Education has more opportunities than ever for your child to participate in. Keeping your child involved and engaged this summer will keep your child healthy, active, and prepared for future learning!
BUT, staying active and involved is not only healthy for kids. It is also what keeps us adults young and connected. Pequot Lakes Community Education has a full lineup of adult classes and activities planned for this summer, including enrichment classes, recreation opportunities, presentations, and expert advice. Join us for art and music classes, history lessons, cooking demonstrations, pickleball and fitness instruction, and so much more!
EVEN BETTER, these fantastic youth and adult opportunities are happening right in your backyard. Check us out online at www.isd186.org/domain/63, give us a call at 218-568-9200, or stop by our office located in the Pequot Lakes High School, just inside door # 4. See you this summer!
Heidi Hagen, Health & Wellness Committee
The Pequot Lakes school district created and implemented a Health & Wellness Committee at the start of 2019, and kicked off the program with a professional development day for all staff during the Presidents’ Day school break. Other events were planned to be held each year and continue to this day.
The focal point of the Patriot Health & Wellness initiative centers on opportunities for employees to improve their health and well-being, empower staff with health education and lifestyle skills that enable them to achieve their best possible mental and physical health, positively affect employee morale and job satisfaction, optimize performance and productivity, and provide valued and tangible benefits. Professional development opportunities focus on overall well-being: mind, body, and spirit; and offer resources available in our community to foster living healthy lifestyles.
The focus on health and wellness is for all employees. Albeit more of a behind-the-scenes program, the committee feels strongly that the best opportunities for the students, families, and community members we serve is to first take care of our employees through outreach in a safe, health-conscious and collaborative work environment.
We believe our District is on the verge of something good that has the potential to be great with the support of community partners: The Patriot Foundation, Crow Wing Energized, Sourcewell, and Resource Training & Solutions. On behalf of the Pequot Lakes School District Health & Wellness Committee, thank you to these community partners and to our staff for making a commitment to the health and wellbeing of our community. We look forward to ongoing efforts and contributions from the Patriot Health & Wellness Committee and expect the program to evolve and thrive, and create a legacy that can be felt throughout Pequot Lakes and the surrounding communities.
"SNOW" Much Learning & Fun!
"SNOW" Much Learning & Fun!"
Melissa Hesch, Eagle View Elementary Principal
There’s “SNOW” much learning and fun going on at Eagle View The past few months have been busy with activities and learning. During the school day, specialist classes and recess have been making the most of the snow with snowshoeing, sledding and cross country skiing. Here are just a few of the highlights:
Eagle View staff give golden tickets to students for Respectful, Responsible, and Safe behaviors. Students then use their tickets to get individual rewards by shopping at the school store. After the shopping is complete, the tickets are collected into the clear collection bin at the entrance of our school, marked with a goal line. The goal was reached with ALL the Patriot Pride tickets and Kind Kids Notes from February. The reward for meeting the goal was that all Eagle View students got to participate in School Wide BINGO on March 4. Lots of fun was had and many prizes were given out!
ECFE “Snow” Much Fun
Early Childhood families were invited to an outdoor event on February 25. Students and families were able to spend some time outdoors and enjoy a variety of activities. Participants went sledding, snowshoeing, made s’mores, and got to warm up and read stories in the yurt.
A Night With the Stars - EV Title 1 Student & Family Night
On Thursday, March 3, students and their families participated in A Night With the Stars, which was organized by the Eagle View intervention team. The evening consisted of a Night Sky hike, a story read by flashlight in the Yurt, and songs around a campfire accompanied by a ukulele. Participants enjoyed hot dogs, chips, and a rice krispie treat as well.
Kindergarten Info Night
The incoming class of Patriot Kindergarteners (2022-23) were invited with parents to an info night on February 24. Students participated in activities in the classroom and a scavenger hunt around the building. Parents had information sessions about traditional Kindergarten programming and a new pathway for learning at Eagle View next year, Patriot Academy.
Patriot Academy will serve as a bridge between preschool and Kindergarten as an addition to our learning pathways for students at EV. This will be a FULL DAY program for kindergarten-age children. The program is designed as a bridge between preschool and traditional kindergarten to provide more time for learning with intentional social/emotional focus. Patriot Academy will be fully funded by the district - there is no cost to parents who choose to enroll in the program. To be eligible, a child must be Kindergarten Eligible for the 2022-23 school year - 5 years old by September 1, 2022. The class will be kept to around 10-15 students.
If you didn’t attend Kindergarten Info Night and wish to enroll or would like more information, please contact the EV office at 218-562-6100 or firstname.lastname@example.org
How Big is the Heart?
"How Big is the Heart?"
Aaron Nelson, High School Principal
It was my first year in Pequot Lakes as the High School Principal and I was given a warning by Barb Wallace, my secretary, “we need to sit down sometime and talk about the month of May.” Seems like a normal conversation in any high school, thoughts of graduation, end of the school year and summer school ran through my head. When she asked me what I knew about Day of Caring and Relay for Life, I had to admit I was not really familiar with either event. What I would soon learn is that the heart of mankind can be very large when it comes to caring for others in a community.
Each year for the past many years, our school has held a Day of Caring event for grades 9-12. This event is an opportunity for our students to practice the act of volunteering and giving back to the community. On the first Wednesday of May, we send over 600 students out to all areas of our school district to help the elderly, non-profit organizations, community groups, and families who have a special need to clear leaves, chop wood, paint fences, clean windows, and just general chores that would help to make a difference in our community. It is a single day for our students to give back to a community that has given so much to them over the past year. It is a chance for our students to know the rewarding feeling of volunteering, a chance for our students to give without receiving, for young and old to share a laugh while working side by side. The day has become a much anticipated event in our community both by students and adults.
The last time we held a Relay for Life event was in May of 2018. Organized by Nikki Stark, math teacher and passionate supporter of kids, this biennial event was like no other I had ever seen. The first Relay for Life event in the country hosted by a school and involving the whole student body and planned by the Interact Club, this activity involved 550 students organized into teams of 10 to fundraise, plan silly themed activities, dress in costume, and run an all-day relay. It involves a survivor's lap, tears of joy and sadness as cancer survivors and victims are recognized and remembered. Students camp out on the field inside the track and participate in activities throughout the day to raise their understanding of the many impacts of cancer and the strive for a cure. The last event in 2018 raised over $20,000 for cancer research, a remarkable result of the efforts of our students.
If you know someone who would benefit from the efforts of students on our Day of Caring on May 4th, please let our office know. We will be sharing a sign up form at the beginning of April for citizens of our school community and organizations to add their name to the list of people who request to receive help.
Perhaps you are of the mind to donate to our PLHS Relay for Life event on May 11th to help our students fund cancer research. If so, please consider reaching out to our Interact Club and letting them know you would like to assist in the efforts of our students in raising awareness of causes greater than self.
This May, I will be much more prepared for the experience of witnessing student efforts to bring hope and care to our community. I am looking forward to being filled with hope as I watch young and old alike join in efforts to unite as a community to show everyone how big the heart really is.
Reflecting Upon an Amazing Experience on the North Shore
"Reflecting Upon an Amazing Experience on the North Shore"
Mike O'Neil, Middle School Principal
Who in their right mind would willingly spend three days and two nights with over 140 eleven and twelve-year-olds? Better yet, throw in a four-hour bus ride, with over 50 inches of snow, unbroken trails, cold temps, unforgiving wind chill and a lodge full of preteens smelling like wet feet and campfire. Sounds like fun, right? Actually, it does!
Last January, Pequot Lakes Middle School took our 6th-grade students to Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, MN. Nestled against the backdrop of majestic snow-covered pines, rock outcrops, and the pristine shores of Lake Superior, our students were immersed in a three-day field trip exploring our natural world. From Beaver Ecology to Winter Survival Skills, our middle schoolers dove into a deeper understanding of our natural resources. While at the camp, they were also exposed to the concept of sustainability and personal responsibility. From Kitchen Patrol (KP) to room-by-room energy consumption monitoring, our students took an active role in understanding the foundational concepts of “conservation”.
Beyond experiential learning about our living and nonliving world, our kids learned a lot about themselves. They learned that serving others is important. They learned that they can challenge themselves. They learned that they can successfully get a bus full of kids to scream at the top of their lungs as they go through the tunnels near Two Harbors and so much more!
Bringing each night to a close, our chaperone group would sit down and talk about the successes of the day. Needless to say, our kids gave us a lot of material. I too have been reflecting a lot lately upon the necessary ingredients of a great experience at school. Sure, it starts with phenomenal kids and families, but I’d also like to highlight that it is anchored in the teachers that set foot in front of our kids that truly makes the difference. In regard to our field trip to Wolf Ridge and our 6th-grade team, I’m incredibly thankful for educators who are willing to take a chance and do something different on behalf of our students. I’m appreciative of the time they were willing to take away from their own families, so as to make a difference for someone else’s child.
In addition to the teachers and the kids that make PLMS such a wonderful place to learn, I also want to take a moment to express our gratitude to the funding partners that helped to pull off this incredible Wolf Ridge opportunity. Our PLMS Patriots would like to extend a sincere thank you to: Dan and Janet Dryer & Friends, The Patriot Foundation, Whitefish Area Property Owners Association, The Pelican Lake Conservation Club, and others. We’d also like to thank the Freking family for dropping off twelve dozen donuts the morning of our trip! We are proud to say that, between gracious donations and district support, not a single dime was spent by our student body to participate in this event ... no bake sales, no fundraisers, nothing. Join our PLMS team in celebrating that every kid had an equal opportunity to go on the trip without cost. Again, we are so grateful for a supportive community.
In the end, we’d really like to circle back to our students. We all know that the last two school years have been a challenge for many. I had the good fortune of spending much of my time at Wolf Ridge in a climbing harness amongst the tall pines, helping our students through the high ropes confidence course. The mantra we instilled in our kids on the course was “take a step toward challenging yourself … and then take one or two more”. What a great life lesson that we as adults could benefit from as well.
Found somewhere in this edition of the Pine and Lakes Journal you’ll find a list of our A and B Honor Roll students. Whether it’s kids who tackled their fears on a zip line at Wolf Ridge, or a middle schooler grinding through homework at the kitchen table, we want to say “thank you” to all of the kids at PLMS for a great start to the year. We’re proud of you, and you should be proud of yourself!
A New Look at the Pequot Lakes School District's 'Vision'
"A New Look at the Pequot Lakes School District’s” Vision”
Tracy Princivalli, District Nurse
There is no doubt that Pequot Lakes Public Schools inspire a passion for learning to ensure success for every student, and the district has added a new piece of technology to help support students on their journey to success.
When it comes to the vision, I mean literally the vision of its students, Pequot has hit one out of the park with its newly acquired Welch Allyn Spot Screener. The Welch Allyn Spot Screening system allows for quick, no-touch, no-subjectivity assessment of vision using a handheld, portable device that can quickly and easily detect vision issues in adults and children, even as young as six months old.
The Spot Screener is a photorefractor that uses an infrared camera that captures and analyzes images of the pupils to assess the correct alignment of each eye and estimate the eye refractive error. It looks a little bit like an old polaroid camera, it is held three feet from the eyes, has lights and sounds that help engage children to look where they need to for the measurement to occur, and it happens in less than a minute! The results are either “Screening Complete, all measurements in range” or “Complete Eye Exam Recommended” and are instantly displayed on the screen, along with the actual measurements that are out-of-normal range. Those results can be saved, sent wirelessly to a printer to be printed out, and sent with a vision referral to assist the provider with identifying possible treatments.
Not only does this device reduce the amount of time it takes to screen a student’s vision, but it also allows us to include every student in our school-wide screenings. It eliminates the subjectivity of whether or not a young student knows their shapes or letters, and it allows students with disabilities in communication and cognition to be screened along with their peers.
Vision screenings at school are not used to diagnose vision problems, but they are used to identify and treat preventable visual impairment at the earliest possible age. The most common eye disorders in children include:
~ Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye. Children with amblyopia have blurry or reduced vision in one eye. Early detection is especially important because often, this condition does not have symptoms, so it is difficult to identify in time to treat.
~ Strabismus, also known as crossed eyes. In this disorder, the eyes don't line up correctly and point in different directions.
Both of these disorders can be treated when found early.
Other vision conditions that are found during screenings can include nearsightedness (myopia), a condition that makes far away things look blurry; farsightedness (hyperopia), a condition that makes close-up things look blurry; and astigmatism, a condition that makes both close-up and far-away things look blurry.
The Spot Screener does not completely replace the more well-known SLOAN or LEA vision charts for screening, as those are the standard screening tests for visual acuity, but the MDH and the American Academy of Pediatrics do recognize the important contribution to the screening process made by the new technology. And, now, thanks in part to a generous grant from the Patriot Foundation, we are fortunate to have both measures available to our students.
Pequot Lakes Schools’ own Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener will be an invaluable tool to help ensure the success of its students by helping with the early detection and treatment of eye conditions that could impact our student’s success.
Byron Westrich, Activities Director
It is always great to see our alumni back in the school attending our events and supporting our Patriots. “The Patriot Family” is a phrase we use often to describe the closeness of our community and the support we receive from alumni. This means people notice the little things that impact the connections between our current students and the history of our success as Patriots. If you have entered our middle school/high school building in the past couple of years, you may have noticed the Pequot Lakes School District has been working on a branding theme. The district continues to collaborate with a company to create branding items that are high quality, professional-looking, and student-centered. Some examples of this work are as follows:
We have taken down banners that represent state champions and installed a board that recognizes all of them in a more professional manner. The wall will include hall of fame individuals along with state tournament individuals.
Slides have been installed in the athletic hallway to replace news articles with team photos. The photos replace the banners that hung on the railings inside our athletic center. This allows us to recognize more teams and give all activities a chance to be recognized. We have also captured pictures of fans and students in action and placed them in our tuck-in areas. We continue to add photos from additional activities so all of our student activities have representation in our school. The plan is to replace these every five to seven years so our more recent Patriots are shown in these areas.
The leaderboard banners that showcase basketball 1,000-point scorers, tennis 100-win club, and volleyball record leaders are being updated and will be moved to the north wall by the east bleachers, right above the doorway where our home fans enter and exit the Athletic Center. This location change will be easier for our fans to see and will lay flat on the wall rather than hanging from the railings.
All of the trophies have been photographed and added to the touch screen located in the student commons area. This project took place this past summer. If you go to the touch screen you will see trophies located in the menu items. Currently, they are displayed by the year the trophy was earned. Another touch screen was purchased and will be placed by the Community Education office across the hall from the ticket booth. Fans will enjoy the ability to view trophies, hall of fame information, and senior graduation photos with this touch screen.
Additional branding with our Patriot logo can be found in our senior hallway. The art hallway has also been updated to showcase current work by art and tech ed students using our branding images with the Patriot logo. This is another way to create pride in our student body while showing off their talents.
We believe these branding changes around the building are improvements that will showcase our past and current talented Patriots. They will help to show the passion our Patriot alumni demonstrated during their tenure and encourage our current Patriots to strive for the same levels of excellence.