- Pequot Lakes Public Schools
- Patriot Perspective Articles
Patriot Perspective articles
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
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. These past few months have been busy with activities and learning. During the school day, classes have been making the most of the snow with snowshoeing, sledding, curling and cross country skiing. Here are a few other highlights:
Schoolwide Winter BINGO
On the last day of January, Eagle View students participated in a schoolwide Winter Bingo. Winter items were called using Google Meet for students to mark on their Bingo cards. Students ran to the game tables on each floor when they had a bingo. We are so very thankful to our staff and volunteers for helping us with this activity. Lots of fun was had and many prizes were given out!
STEM Innovation Award
Eagle View’s E-STEM program was nominated and chosen to receive the 2023 MESPA STEM Innovation award. This award was presented to Ms. Hesch and Mrs. Trottier in early February. The award is given by MESPA and the Science Museum of MN. Congrats to Mrs. Trottier and Eagle View!
I Love to Read Month!
Eagle View is reading The World According to Humphrey as a school. A variety of school staff, community members, and students helped by recording a chapter as part of our I LOVE TO READ celebrations. Pequot Lakes PTA supported this by purchasing books for each student, items for raffles, and even a huge hamster wheel. Classrooms are playing a chapter a day spread over three weeks. Eagle View also had some special readers from the Northern Lakes Hockey team visit on February 10. Thank you for supporting the love of reading!
EV Title I Student & Family Game Night
On March 14, we will hold a Title I Student and Family Night. Students will be invited along with their families to a Game Night focused on math skills and fun. Look for upcoming information to be sent with your child if they have been part of Title I services at Eagle View this year.
Kindergarten Info Night
The incoming class of Patriot Kindergarteners (2022-23) are invited with parents to an information night on March 2. Students will participate in activities in the classroom and a scavenger hunt around the building. Parents will have information sessions about traditional Kindergarten programming or Patriot Academy. If you have an incoming Kindergartener or if you want more information about Kindergarten or Patriot Academy, please contact the EV office at 218-562-6100.
Donor Opportunity - Weight Room Renovations
“Donor Opportunity - Weight Room Renovations”
Byron Westrich, Activities Director
With student use at an all-time high, Pequot Lakes High School is looking to update its weight room equipment. In addition to use by physical education classes, the weight room is open for students every morning before school, with typically 10-20 students in attendance. The weight room is also open after school and, depending on the season, there are between 25-80 students utilizing this space after school. We have recently started to open up the weight room on Saturday mornings to allow more access for students. During the summer, the Community Education summer strength training program typically serves over 150 students.
The first update to this space would be to rename it from the weight room to the Fitness Center, as it incorporates more than strictly weight lifting. Not only is the Center used by physical education classes and student-athletes during their seasons, it is also used by students who may not be participating in any specific activity.
The second piece to this is selling most of our existing equipment and updating it with equipment from Dynamic Fitness. The new equipment would give us a state-of-the-art performance and training center to better serve our students. The updated setup would allow a student to enter one area and complete all of their lifts rather than traveling around the room in order to work on different pieces of equipment. This will speed up the process for students to get in a great workout, allowing more students to lift at once. This would also allow for two physical education classes in the space simultaneously, as well as multiple teams lifting after school, and still have room for our regulars who work out each day.
Currently, the space has four places to bench, squat, and clean lift. These are the three most common lifts we ask our students and athletes to perform. The new equipment will give us 16 stations to perform these lifts. There is currently one machine to complete a seated row or lat pulldown exercise, while the new equipment will allow 8 places to perform these. The new setup will include Patriot branding on the floor, weights, and equipment to enhance and create an exciting culture while working out.
The benefits of a fitness center renovation include improved mental health, enhanced training methods for our student-athletes, and promoting wellness for all of our students. The estimated cost to provide these benefits to our students is $300,000. In order to accomplish this, the school district is requesting donations to complete this project. There are various donation levels that businesses and individuals can rally behind, with each including various levels of recognition.
A brochure detailing the project and the donation levels is available. For more information, contact Byron Westrich, Activities Director, at email@example.com or 218-568-9213. Thank you for your support. Go Patriots!
Have It Your Way
“Have It Your Way”
Aaron Nelson, High School Principal
Burger King’s motto “have it your way” began in the 1970s and speaks to the franchise’s goal of tailoring their product to the wishes of their customers. In the decades since, more and more businesses have reworked their business model to offer a more customer-driven product that allows individual customers to customize their purchases to better fit their needs. Today the concept of “have it your way” is nothing new and actually an expectation of the customer. Imagine ordering a coffee at Starbucks and being told “sorry, we only have coffee with a choice of cream and sugar.” It is hard to imagine that business model will result in many satisfied customers.
Education is not exempt from this same trend of a customized experience. In the past few decades, we have introduced options such as College In the Schools, Post Secondary Enrollment Options, Advance Placement, AA Degrees, online learning, and Internships that give our students a customized experience that allows them to tailor their education to their postsecondary ambitions. These options and more have enabled students and families to create learning experiences that better prepare them for expected careers or learning styles.
Pequot Lakes High School is uniquely positioned to offer many customizable options for students while still offering a small town experience. We have expanded our elective options, partnered with colleges to offer college credits to our students, partnered with local businesses to offer internships for interested students, expanded our technology to integrate curriculums that represent high growth areas of the economy, and hired high-quality staff to ensure our students are getting the best education possible.
There are limitations to customization. While we work hard to build schedules that benefit students and their ambitions, we are limited by the same realities that students experience at the postsecondary level: class size, teacher availability, teacher certification, and student scheduling. Our priority is to provide students with a schedule that gives them their courses requested in February the year before. This means that other factors such as teacher choice, class period, and ensuring their friends are in their classes are not able to be accommodated. Given our familiarity with individualizing everything else in our lives, it can be challenging to accept a schedule that is not customized to our every desire. In spite of this reality, PLHS continues to provide our students with the preparation they need to succeed after graduation.
At the core of our success are highly qualified teachers and two remarkable counselors who support 620 students. Our staff continues to learn about trends that impact our students and prepare them for a world that may be very different from the one their parents experienced when they turned 18. Pequot Lakes High School offers our students options for their education that rival much larger schools while providing a setting where most people know each other on a first-name basis and feel connected to our small Patriot community. Check out our website to learn more about how our offerings can help you “have it your way.”
Amazing Community Support - Wolf Ridge
“Amazing Community Support - Wolf Ridge”
Mike O'Neil, Middle School Principal
PLMS is excited to send the class of 2029 to Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland MN next week. This second annual 6th-grade field trip is due in large part to the amazing support present in the ISD 186 community.
Let’s start with our funding partners. We are beyond grateful for the overwhelming support demonstrated by these local non-profit organizations: Knights of Columbus, Pelican Lakes Conservation Club, Ideal Community Service Organization, Whitefish Area Property Owners Association, Crow Wing Power, Nisswa Lions, Pequot Lakes Legion, Pequot Lakes PTA, and our very own Patriot Foundation. Let’s be reminded that many of these organizations are the same groups that are read aloud each month when our School Board reads the long list of donations that have funneled through our district office in support of our schools. Whether you’re a pull-tab player or a hard-working volunteer at a pancake breakfast, we are so fortunate to have a community that is vested in giving back to our schools.
To our parents and guardians, we know that this trip represents potential “firsts” for your child. For some, there may be apprehension. This might be the first time your child has left on an overnight without a parent. Other adults might be concerned about how their child is going to do without access to Snapchat or TikTok via their phone. For some families, this trip might bring excitement. This excursion might represent the first time a child has seen Lake Superior and the 36+ inches of lake effect snow they have at the facility. How about viewing constellations without light pollution or doing Kitchen Patrol Duty without complaining? From rock climbing to high ropes courses framed against the backdrop of beautiful Lake Superior, we’re extremely excited to bring these opportunities forward for our 6th-grade students.
Lastly, we’d like to celebrate our staff and the handful of parent chaperones embarking on the trip with us. Our appreciation surrounding this trip isn’t just about donations of money, it is also about those who are giving of their time and talents on behalf of our 6th graders. Countless hours and manpower have been put into ensuring this trip goes off without a hitch. PLMS staff and chaperones, we see your commitment and we thank you for it.
As always, PLMS is feeling truly blessed to be a part of this amazing community. Thank you to those who have contributed to our trip. We’ll make sure to share all the amazing stories and images when we get back!
Community Education: Here for you!
“Community Education: Here for You!”
Joell Tvedt, Community Education Director
As 2022 closes and we look forward to the new year, we want you to know that Community Education is here for you!
Over this past year, we were here for thousands of youth and adults as they participated in our programs. Kids learned how to be safe at home, acquired new skills in sports and the arts, and had fun learning about science and technology. They discovered important safety lessons in swimming and snowmobiling. Adults grasped knitting and pickleball skills, learned about beautiful travel destinations, and participated in health & wellness classes. They enjoyed finding out about Minnesota history and attending our outstanding theater productions.
If nothing else, this past year has taught us that people need people. We crave conversation. We want to share experiences and stories. We long for laughter and to see each other's smiles. One of my favorite things about Community Education is how it brings the community together. I’ve been witness to people becoming friends over the course of an art class. I’ve seen early childhood families connect and become a trusted resource for one another. I’ve watched partnerships grow between local organizations to better serve our community.
Looking ahead to 2023, Pequot Lakes Community Education will continue to be there for you! If you are new to town and need to connect with others who share similar interests, we are here for you! If you are looking to learn a new skill or teach others about one you have, we are here for you! If you have a new business or organization and are looking for ways to promote your mission, we are here for you! Community Education will continue to meet the needs of the community by bringing impactful programming and access to quality opportunities and resources.
We will be kicking off 2023 with a few exciting events. First off, our winter brochure will be hitting your mailboxes the second week of January. It is packed full of new and exciting events and opportunities to socialize, connect and learn. Secondly, on January 7, we are having a Scandinavian showcase. This event is a smorgasbord of Scandinavian singing, traditional Nordic music, comedic acting, and Scandinavian storytelling. Tickets for this event can be purchased online through the Pequot Lakes Community Education website or over the phone at 218-568-9200. Lastly, if you are looking for a winter birthday party option for your child, give us a call. We offer a variety of fun options, including dodgeball, floor hockey, basketball and Little Tikes Games/activities.
Wherever you are, whatever stage of life you are in, Community Education is here to create opportunities for growth, education and belonging that connect you a bit more closely. We are here for you!
Shout Out to the Team
“Shout Out to the Team”
Heidi Hagen, Finance Director
The school district’s annual audit ensures frameworks, regulations, and policies and procedures that define the path for operational effectiveness and financial accountability are demonstrated in the work of the district office. By following the guidelines and managing risk effectively, the likelihood of success increases.
Recently, the district completed the fiscal year 2022 audit and the results are in. A successful audit! So, what about our success? Every year a budget is created with the expectation that at the end of the year the actual outcome is within 1-2% of the budget and the fund balance remains stable at 15-17%. The FY22 variance comparing final budget to actual for revenue and expense was 0.2% and 0.5%, respectively. Considering a total budget in the general fund of over $21M, ending the year within percentages less than a 1% variance is remarkable. Another positive was the FY22 audit produced only one finding, segregation of duties, which is a finding that is most common in smaller school districts. This finding will always be present in a school district our size.
There is a lot that goes into a successful audit, most notably the staff that does the work. Technical skills are essential for what we do every day at work. We need to know about accounting, finance, process improvement, information technology and cybersecurity, risk management and fraud schemes. Many of our stakeholders don’t understand what we do, how we do it, and why it matters to them.
There is greatness within each team member in the district and a commitment to a lifetime of learning, improving and supporting one another is important. Having the right employees who support each other, demonstrate confidence and have positive attitudes is a great place to be.
Jim Collins’ quote, “I don’t really know where we should take this bus. But I know this much: If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great,” comes to mind. Everything done with care and in a way that reflects the high standards that support the vision, mission and values of the district with a team full of optimism, confidence, forward-thinking and open-minded individuals who support and encourage each other is what brings the level up from “good-to-great.”
Together we must possess or obtain the knowledge, skills, and other competencies needed to perform the established responsibilities. When each of us sets high goals and works diligently towards their achievement, we elevate the quality and results of our work. The results will not only include a satisfying list of achievements now, including an almost perfect audit in FY22, but also in the future. We will continue to appreciate the satisfaction that success brings when it is the result of a great team doing the hard work. Impeccable results are a reflection of a great team! GO PATRIOTS!
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!