(For Spotlight "District" stories from the 2013-14 school year click here)
St. Peter Read and Feed program open to local youth
St. Peter School District is sponsoring free lunches and reading activities for children this summer through the annual St. Peter Read and Feed program, which begins Wednesday, June 10, and runs through July 30, in the St. Peter High School cafeteria (100 Lincoln Drive).
The program is open to all children ages 1-18. Free lunch is available for all children who attend and there are no income guidelines required. No registration is required -- everyone is welcome to attend! Children ages 7 and under need to be accompanied by a responsible caregiver. Adults may choose to purchase a lunch for $3.75 or bring their own lunch.
Activities are scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to noon on Mondays through Thursdays (through July 30), with lunch being served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on those days.
All children are invited to participate in the free reading activities scheduled during the program. Activities include -- story time, books to read and more! (Reading activities are not required)
Free Transit is available. A reminder to please be at the bus stop no later than the times listed below:
* - Marway-10:15 a.m. (at the mailboxes)
* - Nicollet Meadows -10:20 (Daniels St.)
* - Fairview Apartment Area - 10:30 (alley behind the playground)
* - Maplewood Apartment Area - 10:35 (parking lot)
* - Summit - 10:40 (office)
* - Green Valley -10:50 (mail boxes)
Return routes will begin at noon to those areas listed above.
Mary Powers wins Distinguished Service Award
School nurse Mary Powers was selected as this year’s winner of the Distinguished Service Award for Saint Peter Public Schools.
Powers, who has been with the Saint Peter Public School District for 20 years, was recognized as the 2015 winner during the annual Staff Recognition Open House, held on Wednesday at Gustavus Adolphus College’s Jackson Campus Center.
In an effort to emphasize the importance of “excellence” in the Saint Peter Public School District, the Distinguished Service Award was established during the 2010-11 school year. Each year the award recognizes a staff member who exemplifies excellence in their job and for their commitment to the students and staff at Saint Peter Public Schools.
The nomination letter for Powers perhaps summed up her importance to the district best in the closing statements: “What trust one must have to send their child off to school each day knowing that their health and life is in the hands of another. Mary often says she wishes she could ‘wrap students in bubble wrap’ to keep them safe...Mary Powers is our very own, human bubble wrap.”
Other staff recognition/honors
During the Staff Recogntion Open House, school administration and school board members also recognized the four staff members that will be retiring after the 2014-15 school year, eight staff members who have served 25-years with the district, and two who recently resigned with at least 10 consecutive years of service.
Those retirees honored include school social worker Rebecca Arsenault, art teachers Kathy Klatt and Donna Krohn, and elementary teacher Terry Pederson. Those staff members receiving 25-year plaques include Sarah Annexstad, Mary Behrends, Monica Bresnahan, Brenda Guappone, Dave Kennedy, Wendy Severns, Kim Wilking, and Robyn Woods. Those honored after resigning with at least 10 consecutive years of service were Robert Shoemaker and Kim Wilking.
The following is a brief biography of the four staff members who are retiring after the current school year (listed alphabetically):
Rebecca Arsenault (1986-2015) -- Arsenault, a native of Burnsville, has worked with the school district for 29 years as a social worker through MVED (Minnesota Valley Education District). During her time here she also earned her graduate degree in Social Work and has also worked in private practice during the evenings for the Jonas Center.
Prior to moving to St. Peter, Arsenault worked as a social worker in Cass County (Minn.).
Her future plans include continuing to work in some capacity as a therapist doing individual therapy. She also hopes to find time for her other passions -- gardening, doing art, and visiting friends and family as well as “just discovering new places and especially finding the new me,” Arsenault said.
She and her husband, Ron, have two daughters, Emily and Sarette.
Kathy Klatt (1980-2015) -- Born in Sacramento, Cal., and raised in Rochester, Klatt has taught art to a wide-range of students in the Saint Peter School District during her 35-year career. She most recently has worked with students at North Intermediate and South Elementary, but over the years has also taught art classes at the eighth grade level, high school level and at the former Central Elementary facility. She had previously worked with schools in Holmen (Wis.), Henderson, and Watertown-Mayer as well as serving as an adjunct instructor with Minnesota State University-Mankato.
Her future plans include spending more time with her family, being active and having more time for music, again.
Klatt and her husband, Joe, have two daughters, Anna and Laura.
Donna Krohn (1996-2015) -- A Mankato native, Krohn has worked for the school district as high school/middle school art teacher for 19 years. Prior to her teaching career, she ran the Children’s Central Child Care Center in St. Peter.
Her future plans include travel and spending time with her children and grandchildren.
Krohn and her husband, Wade, will celebrate their 40th anniversary this September. They have three grown children, Kyra, Kami and Luke, who all graduated from St. Peter High School.
Terry Pedersen (2000-2013) -- Pedersen began her teaching career in 2000 working with English Language Learners and reading intervention. She shifted to first grade in 2005 where she worked until the end of the 2012-13 school year. For the past two school years she has been teaching in Denmark and this coming year will be teaching third grade at the American International School in Kuwait.
Prior to coming to St. Peter she taught a variety of grade levels at school districts in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Idaho. She also worked as Assistant Director for Residence Life at Gustavus Adolphus College from 1993 to 1996.
Pedersen has three grown children, Paul, Hans, and Meghan. In addition to her teaching duties in Kuwait for this coming school year, she is completing her studies for her Masters in Education degree through Bethel University. She also hopes to spend time continuing to teach knitting and sewing classes, walking, traveling, and solving computer puzzles.
SPHS/MS principal finalists are named
Two finalists have emerged as the search process for a new Saint Peter Middle/High School Principal moves into its next phase, starting on Monday.
This search is being conducted to find a replacement for current principal Paul Preimesberger who resigned from his position, effective at the end of the 2014-15 school year.
Those finalists are (listed alphabetically) Annette Engeldinger, currently the Assistant Principal for Saint Peter High School/Middle School, and Todd Halvorsen, currently the Assistant Principal and Activities Director at Plattsmouth (Neb.) Community Middle School.
Those two were selected out of a pool of six candidates who were interviewed by the search committee earlier this week. The search committee consisted of 18 district stakeholders, including Saint Peter Public School administrators, staff and students as well as district residents.
The next round of interviews will take place with the administrative team on Monday, May 11, and Tuesday, May 12. The two finalists will also have lunch with students on those two days and an after school meet-and-greet session with school staff. The final interview with Superintendent Paul Peterson will take place later in the week.
The following are brief profiles of the two finalists:
Todd Halvorsen --- He began his career in education in 2000 at Centennial Public Schools in Utica, Neb., where he taught Physical Education (grades 7-12) until 2003. After attending graduate school for the next two years, Halvorsen moved on to Ravenna (Neb.) Public Schools in 2005 where he served as K-6 Principal and Athletic Director for the next three years. In 2008, he was hired by the Plattsmouth (Neb.) Community School District as Assistant Middle School Principal/Activities Director, which is his current position.
Halvorsen earned his undergraduate teaching degree in physical education from Peru State (Neb.) College and received his Master of Education degree from Concordia University (Seward, Neb.).
Annette Engeldinger -- She has worked with the Saint Peter Public School District since 2000. Engeldinger began her career here as an English teacher before taking over as Saint Peter Middle School Dean of Students in 2008. She held that position until 2011 when she was hired for her current position as Saint Peter Middle/High School Assistant Principal.
Engeldinger received her undergraduate teaching degree in English (grades 7-12) from Gustavus Adolphus College and went on to earn a Master of Arts in teaching as well as a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership, K-12 Principal Licensure, from Mankato State University.
SPHS Spanish teacher part of local group that visited Petatlán, Mexico
St. Peter High School/Middle School Spanish teacher David Hamilton recently had the opportunity to travel to St. Peter’s Sister City of Petatlán, Mexico, from March 20 to April 4, with a group of 18 other local representatives.
Those representatives included St. Peter community members as well as faculty, students, and staff from Gustavus Adolphus College.
One of the purposes of the trip was for the St. Peter contingent to build relationships with the people of Petatlan, including their host families. During their trip the group participated in three different service projects with Petatlán residents. According to Hamilton, those three projects included:
* - Partnering with local university students, the
team worked to investigate a variety of culturally-relevant topics with the goal of collaborating on a storybook that would teach people here in St. Peter more about its sister city of Petatlán.
* - Teaching English classes to the public, with more and more people arriving each day. The Petatlecos (people from Petatlán) spent all morning and all afternoon with our group to learn English through games, storytelling, skits, and arts and crafts. They even learned the Gustie Rouser!
* - Volunteering at the local hospital in Petatlán. Projects at the hospital ranged from assisting with taking blood pressure and heart rates, to posting posters about current health-related topics, to conversing with patients and observing procedures.
“Our community also donated a large amount of
medical supplies to the hospital in Petatlán, as well as a number of children’s books to be used in our English classes before being donated to the community,” Hamilton said.
Among the other activities the group took part in were a visit to Sea Turtle camps on the beach & Sand Castle Building Contest and an excursion to Xihuacán La Chole archeological site with a historical tour of the pyramid discovered there.
“Near the end of our trip, we helped organize a formal fiesta to show our thanks to our homestay families, with traditional dances, delicious food (of course!), and personalized letters to each family we stayed with,” Hamilton said. “We also held a public ceremony in the central plaza of Petatlán in which we gave thanks by presenting a set of banners centered around Saint Peter, and that portray the importance of our Sister City relationship. The local fire department was in attendance, along with the fire truck that had been donated by Saint Peter on display."
For more photos of the St. Peter contingent’s visit to Petatlán go the their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/833515790017104/
Learning to Serve 2015
Jeffrey Rathlef - Program Director
David Hamilton - Storybook Project Director
Carlos Mario Mejía Suárez - Language & Culture Project Director
(Carlos was in charge of the English Classes, as well as the creation and
presentation of our Sister City Banners, and served as a translator and group
representative during many events on this trip.)
Heather Dale - Health Project Director
Nate Friedley - Program Coordinator
Gustavus students & St. Peter community members:
Nancy and Issac Altmann
Alina Bachman (SPHS alum)
Child Development class visits with ECFE preschool kids
April 7th brought more than spring showers as the Saint Peter High School Senior High Child Development class dropped in on Joanie Anderson’s ECFE preschool class. The goal for the Child Development students was to make a nutritious snack with the preschoolers to take home.
This year they made small cars out of apple slices and grapes. Sophomore Taylor McCarthy stated, “This has been one of the highlights of our class to date.” After their visit, Alyson Deegan said, “I am anxious to begin the Service Learning portion of the class.”
Service Learning is embedded in the course requirements for Child Development students. Kids Corner, South Elementary, St. Peter Daycare Center, and John Ireland School are some of the participating locations. Mrs. Kreft, the course instructor, scheduled the outing with ECFE for the second year now and has observed great benefits for both classes.
The senior high students returned to class talking about their visit and transferred what they had observed in class to their visit. The preschoolers always welcome the visit and enjoyed the one on one interaction with senior high students. Obviously a win–win situation!
SPHS to host Section 2A Speech Meet this Friday
St. Peter High School will host the annual Section 2A Speech Meet starting at around 3:45 p.m. this Friday (April 10) at various locations throughout the building.
State tournament berths will be on the line in 13 different categories and the Saints will be well represented among those vying for those state trips. St. Peter will have 22 or 23 entries competing at the Section 2A meet with the top three in each category advancing to state, depending upon how many of their sub-section alternates get a chance to compete.
Spectators are welcome to attend the Section 2A meet and there is no admission cost. The following is a schedule of events for Friday’s meet:
* Preliminary rounds take place at 3:45 and 5 p.m.
* Finals, around 6:45 and 7:45 p.m., depending upon the category
* Awards ceremony is slated to begin around 9 p.m. in SPHS/MS gym.
(Note: A limited concession stand will be available throughout the event)
“I was very pleased with our effort at sub-sections as we went head-to-head against Mankato Loyola, which is always one of the top schools in the area, and only lost by a few points (for the team title),” St. Peter speech coach Tom Fish said. “Our sub-section always has great competition and to make it to sections is a great accomplishment.”
Loyola edged St. Peter 170-164 to win the Section 2A North Sub-Section title last week in Janesville and those two perennial powers along with another strong program such as Fairmont, from the South Sub-Section, helps make the Section 2A meet one of the toughest in the state.
Despite the tough field in Section 2A, Fish is optimistic the Saints will have some of their speakers get into the top three to earn a trip to state.
“Ever since I’ve been involved with the speech program here we’ve always been fortunate to have at least a couple students advance to state and I’m optimistic that we’ll have some state qualifiers this year as well,” Fish said. “We have some exceptionally good speakers this year who have won some big tournaments and some other that have really come on this season.
“Spectators are welcome to attend the section meet and it’s always interesting to see how the kids respond when you have a large crowd in the room. I always like to see a lot of people in each of the rooms not just to support these kids who work so hard but also to help those students who may go on to state. If they make it to state they will have to speak in front of large crowds there, so this is good preparation for them.”
SPPS receives $2,000 donation from Shopko Foundation
For the second straight year, Shopko Hometown donated $2,000 to Saint Peter Public Schools as part of its Help Us Give Back initiative, a program that was run in all 178 store locations across the country including here in St. Peter.
This past holiday season (November 30-December 24), Shopko Hometown collected signatures from customers as part of its Help Us Give Back initiative and for every signature the Shopko Foundation donated $1 (up to $2,000). Thanks to the community’s support, the donation amount reached the maximum amount of $2,000.
“At Shopko, we are excited to be part of St. Peter business community, and are proud to support kids and their efforts to excel academically,” Cheri Pelzel, St. Peter’s Shopko Hometown store manager, said “Shopko believes in the local community, and we are here to meet your needs,”
The Shopko Foundation supports accredited schools and 501(c)3 organizations. Grants are awarded throughout the year to support programs which further the Foundation’s purpose of promoting the health and education of Shopko teammates and customers. Over all of its 178 stores, the Shopko Foundation will donate more than $300,000 to school districts across America.
Shopko, which was founded in 1962 and headquartered in Green Bay, Wis., is owned by an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners, Inc., a leading private investment firm. Shopko Stores Operating Co., LLC operates 320 stores in 21 states throughout the Midwest, Mountain, North Central and Pacific Northwest regions. For more information, visitwww.shopko.com.
SPPS snow removal crew works hard to keep sidewalks and road safe
Snow removal is one task that can take up a lot of time during the winter months for any school’s buildings and grounds staff and here at Saint Peter Public Schools that is no different.
The building and grounds crew does its part to stay up to date on the latest rules and regulations as well as the most recent technology. This helps them keep the walkways and roadways around the school buildings as safe as possible for foot and vehicle traffic, according to Marc Bachman, the district’s operations and maintenance supervisor.
Earlier this year Bachman and two of his staff members, Chris Braun and Bill Blashack, who handle most of the district’s snow removal, attended training sessions offered through the MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) and MnDOT (Minnesota Department of Transportation) on the latest in snow removal methods and technology.
“These sessions are voluntary, but I encourage our staff, especially because of the influence of the Minnesota River being close by, to educate themselves on the best way to remove snow and ice,” Bachman said. “This training provides a valuable resource for our crew, especially since we are mostly new this year.”
Sometime it also takes a little ingenuity to get the job done right and one piece of equipment at the snow removal crew’s disposal in combating snow and ice is tanker truck that is used to apply a saline solution before the rain or ice starts to fall. That solution helps keep the snow and ice from building up making traction for pedestrians and vehicles better.
“Chris Braun did a lot of the work on putting that tanker truck together, which is modeled after one commonly used by MnDOT,” Bachman said. “Chris rigged up a tank to one of school’s plow trucks which allows us to apply the saline solution to the road or sidewalk. It took some tinkering to find the right combination of saline, but once he did that it has been working great.
“The saline works great until temperatures gets down to about 4 degree below zero or get up to about 30 degrees and warmer. It also doesn’t work well if we get rain first, because the rain washes it away, but it is very effective most of the time and helps us save on labor.”
If the area gets just a dusting of snow (less than a 1/2 inch) Braun is in charge of snow removal for each of the district’s five buildings (High School/Middle School, North Intermediate, South Elementary, MVED and Hoffman Center). When the snowfall total goes higher than that Braun does SPHS/MS, Hoffman Center and South while Blashack helps with North and MVED. If the snowfall tops five inches or more then Dave Peters is called in to run the blower and other custodial staff to help out as needed. The custodians at each building are in charge of clearing the stairways and entry ways to speed up the process.
“The biggest thing when getting a major snowfall is for all our staff members to communicate with each other,” Bachman said. “Our goal when we have snow overnight is to have snow removed by 6:45 a.m. so students and staff can get to their buildings safely. Of course, the snow doesn’t always cooperate on when it falls, but our guys have been doing a great job getting out as quickly as possible.”
School district to host series of Driveway Meet-Ups to discuss March 10 referendum
Saint Peter Public School District officials are giving district residents several opportunities over the next two months to learn about the March 10 building referendum vote.
One of the unique ways Saint Peter Superintendent Paul Peterson is hoping to touch base with voters is through a series of Driveway Meet-ups that have been set up over six Sundays between now and the March 10 vote. Peterson will be the school district’s representative at each of the meet-ups.
“Saint Peter is a very connected community with great neighborhoods and we felt this was just another way to get information out to people in a way that might have more appeal,” Peterson said. “We’re inviting people to stop at whichever of these driveway meet-ups that fits into their schedule.
“We’re also holding Saturday morning coffee conversations at the local coffee shops, setting up information tables at special events and winter sports activities, presenting to numerous groups throughout the community, and hosting a public meeting on February 23. The driveway meet-ups are another way to provide information to the district residents about the upcoming school referendum.”
Five of these driveway meet-ups have already been determined for both Sunday, Jan. 11, and Sunday, Jan. 18. (See list below for those locations.) Door hanger invites will be distributed in neighborhoods noting meeting locations and times, but Peterson stressed the public is invited to attend any of the meet-ups..
“We’ll provide a general overview of the bond referendum at the start of each meet-up, but the main purpose is to be there to answer questions and dialogue about our schools,” Peterson said.
January 11 Driveway Meet-Up locations
* - Oeltjenbruns residence, 47923 Woodcock Drive, rural Kasota
* - Johnson residence, 1419 Winona Street, St. Peter
* - Dixon residence, 409 North Welco, St. Peter
* - Boyer residence, 116 4th Street North, St. Peter
* - Peterson residence, 508 Elm Street, St. Peter
January 18 Driveway Meet-Up locations
* - Powers residence, 612 Riverview Road, St. Peter
* - Fell residence, 225 College Avenue, St. Peter
* - Potts residence, 2001 Bunker Lane, St. Peter
* - Malphurs residence, 812 9th Street, St. Peter
* - Haukoos residence, 1105 Kristine Court, St. Peter
Exhibit commemorates Saint Peter Public School District’s 150th anniversary
Saint Peter Public School District is approaching a significant milestone, its 150th anniversary, and a collaborative effort between school staff and the Nicollet County Historical Society (NCHS) has created a historic exhibit commemorating the district’s sesquicentennial.
April 14, 1865, is officially recognized as the date when the Saint Peter Public School District, as we know it today, was organized. As a way to commemorate the district’s sesquicentennial a series of historic display panels was created by a six-person committee made up of school staff and NCHS members.
“This was a really nice collaborative project between the school board, school staff and the Nicollet County Historical Society to tell the history of education in St. Peter for the past 150 years,” committee member Ben Leonard, a St. Peter school board member and former NCHS executive director who now works for the Minnesota Historical Society, said. “It was fun for me to find out more about that history and what the district has accomplished all those years along with discovering how ambitious many of our graduates became once they moved on from here.
“It was also exciting to learn just how involved some people were not only in the history of this school but also in our state as well.” (Note: The board minutes which document when the school district was organized includes the names of three men who would go on to hold the office of Governor of Minnesota -- Henry A. Swift, Horace Austin, and Andrew R. McGill.)
In addition to Leonard, other 150th historic display committee members included Saint Peter Public School representatives Superintendent Paul Peterson and Kurt Hildebrandt, school information coordinator, and NCHS representatives Bob Sandeen, collections manager, and Alyssa Auten, executive director, and Eileen Holz, NCHS board member.
Holz, who owns her own graphic design business (eholz graphix), played a major role in the design and layout of the panels. Those panels, which measure about 7 feet in height and 39 inches in width, were printed by Imagine! Express of Minneapolis.
The committee first met in early summer to discuss the project and get an idea of how they would like to commemorate the district’s sesquicentennial. Based upon the success of similar previous historical displays that Holz had created for NCHS, it was decided to utilize her talents and expertise for the display.
“I have done several historic exhibits of this type, but I truly enjoyed being part of the planning and implementation of this one,” Eileen Holz said. “I am a ‘townie’ and was a student at Lincoln, Central, and SPHS; loved old "Central Annex" as a member of Arts and Heritage; and was in the classrooms and respected many of the educators highlighted in the exhibit.
“I hope the St. Peter Community learns much about District 508's history and the importance of education for everyone from the exhibit.”
The display consists of 10 panels which includes the following categories:
* 150 Years of Excellence -- An introduction to the display.
* The Early Days -- Information on the organization of the school district.
* A Growing Need -- A look at how the school district and community have grown.
* Bricks & Mortar -- A historical look at the school buildings of the district.
* From Slates to SMART Boards -- How school instruction has changed over the years.
* Community Togetherness -- A personal glimpse what life was like at Saint Peter Public Schools thru the eyes of a 1928 graduate and a 2014 graduate.
* Co-Curricular -- A glance at how the district has provided opportunities for students to express and develop themselves outside of the classroom.
* Leaving to Serve -- How students have gone on to make their mark after completing their studies at Saint Peter Public Schools.
* Working for the District -- A former teacher reflects on his long career at Saint Peter Public School and the importance of being part of the community.
* Forward to the Future -- A glimpse at what possibly is in store for future generations of students who attend Saint Peter Public Schools.
Charrettes provides valuable input for district’s long-range facilities planning
Eighty-four attend second public meeting on possible new building/repurposing project
A group of more than 80 parents, community members and school staff took time out of their busy schedules Wednesday night to attend the second of two charrette meetings, hosted by Saint Peter Public Schools, which focused on providing input for the district’s long-range facilities plans.
Of those 84 in attendance, 40 were parents of students attending Saint Peter Public Schools, 24 were community members and 18 were staff members of the district.
“Community input is so vital in a project of this scope and the charrette process, we hope, provided community members a chance to really be heard and offer their thoughts on all of this,” St. Peter Supt. Paul Peterson said. “The level of engagement we’ve seen from the community during this process has definitely exceeded our expectations.
“People that have participated have shown they have a real passion for schools. Every comment and concern we received during this process stemmed from that commitment to education and one of the reasons that makes St. Peter such a special place.”
During the first charrette meeting, back on October 29, those in attendance provided input into the possibility of building a new high school and repurposing the district’s three main buildings -- St. Peter Middle/High School, North Intermediate and South Elementary Early Learning Center.
Eventually participants in the first charrette were asked to provide concerns and comments about the possible site plans they were shown for a potential new building and the repurposing of the current three buildings. Once those concerns and comments were collected meeting participants were asked to put “stickers” on the ones they felt were most important.
Out of all that information, school officials were able to come up with 13 “big ideas” that community members indicated were most important to them about a possible bond referendum and Peterson presented those findings at Wednesday’s charrette.
Here is a breakdown of those 13 big ideas (in no particular order) and the school district’s response and/or proposed action for each:
South Elementary traffic flow and parking -- Civil engineers are in the process of developing plans to address traffic flow and parking challenges at South. Plans include widening and lengthening drop-off and pick-up areas. Improvements to these areas are part of the $58.5 million bond package.
South Elementary fine arts space -- Plans include relocating the South music program to the first floor to be part of the STEAM area (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, Mathematics). The theatre floor (now used as an ECSE classroom) will be modified to increase the usable square footage. In the end, music space will be larger than space currently used for music at South.
The school’s current indoor pool -- The $58.5 bond referendum package includes $1.2 million to renovate the existing pool to address the following:
* Deepening the diving well to allow for competitive diving
* Digging out and adjusting the slope of the pool
* Remodeling the boys and girls locker rooms
* Lighting and cosmetic upgrades
* Water filtration system
It was also pointed out that building a new pool at the new high school and remodeling the current pool space for other use, as some had suggested at the first charrette meeting, has an estimated cost of $7.5 million, while building a new pool at the existing pool site, another idea that had been brought up, has an estimated cost of $5.5 million.
According to Peterson, any extra cost for a new pool, above the $1.2 million proposed to renovate the existing pool, would have to come out of the overall $58.5 million bond referendum package meaning other parts of the overall project would have to be cut or scaled back.
Outdoor play areas for middle school students (recess) -- The current middle/high school facility has green spaces and tennis courts for student access. However, “recess time” is not a component of model middle school schedules. Physical education classes for grades 5-8 will access both indoor and outdoor facilities. Schedule-permitting, it may be possible to use gymnasium space during lunch periods over the winter months. Plans do not include installing playground equipment at the middle school.
Addressing needs at all buildings; not just the new high school -- The overall budget for the bond referendum is $58.5 million. Input from building stakeholders has been collected. Needs have been identified, discussed and analyzed by the community task force, the Board of Education, the administrative team, faculty and staff members and the school district’s consultants Kraus-Anderson, ISG and True North Consulting Partners. Based on the information and input gathered from all groups, each school building is being re-purposed and/or updated and is included in the bond referendum package.
Gymnasium, locker and storage space at the new high school --
* Current plans are for three full-sized courts, with the center court used as the performance gym. With all bleachers extended, the varsity gym will seat approximately 2,000 spectators.
* The square footage of the gymnasium complex has been adjusted to allow for spectator seating between courts during tournaments or events where multiple courts are being used at the same time.
* The addition of an auxiliary gymnasium is planned for when the building requires expansion for a student-body of 1,000. This enhancement could also be made through a private capital campaign.
* Student-athlete health is a priority. We recognize the importance of having sufficient space for the proper storage of athletic equipment. Efficiency of design and modernized storage facilities will allow us to maximize the square footage alotted for equipment storage. Athletic storage space is allocated based on guidelines and specifications from the Minnesota Department of Education.
Fine arts rehearsal space at the new high school --Rehearsal space for vocal and instrumental music has increased 1,500 square feet from the schematics shown on October 29. Space allocations for the music area are over 6,000 square feet, including rehearsal space, a music classroom and ensemble practice rooms.
In order to increase fine arts rehearsal spaces, the Grill and School Store were eliminated from the new high school plans and 1,000 square feet was shifted from art and set design spaces.
Football and track stadium at the new high school -- The existing football and track complex was re-built after the 1998 tornado and is in good shape. A new stadium is not part of the $58.5 million bond package, however is an enhancement that could be part of a private capital campaign.
Safe walking routes to the new high school, Gustavus, and all schools in the district --
* Landscape architects have incorporated a sidewalk along the north side of County Road 5 and have connected it at the Nicollet Avenue intersection.
* A request will be made to install flashing lights and a pedestrian crosswalk from the County Road 5-Nicollet Avenue intersection to sidewalks connected to the south side of the school-city park campus.
* The school district has received a “Safe Routes to School” grant in recent years and will continue to re-apply.
Safe and multiple access points to the new school-city park site -- The site plan has been revised to move the primary entrance to the site further to the east, with a second access point connected to Meredian Street.
Adequate space for building expansion -- The new high school will be built for 850 students, with core facilities (commons, theatre, food service, etc.) built for 1,000 students. If/When student enrollments require increasing the academic areas, two-level expansion will be available at the ends of each academic wing. The footprint for such expansion is demonstrated on the site plan.
The Wow Factor--the aesthetics of the new building and site -- Ted Rozeboom is the educational design architect on the project. He has indicated that the building will have a “beacon on the hill” feel, with the main entrance being a prominent, lighted feature of the building and site.
Location of the building on the site -- The latest site plan moves the school building to the east.
Participants reaction to district's responses to 'big ideas'
After each of these topics and the school district’s response were shared with the charrette audience, participants were able to cast their vote (either “green” for agree, “yellow” for agree somewhat, and “red” for do not agree) via iPad using the PollEveryone program which showed real time results on the screen.
In each of the 13 topics that were presented, the majority of those in attendance voted “green” showing they were in favor of the district's response and/or changes the district had done with the public input from the first meeting.
Local veteran Bob Lambert to speak at Veterans Day program
St. Peter High School and Middle School will host its annual Veterans Day program on Tuesday, Nov. 11, starting at 9:35 a.m. in the school gym.
The school is hosting a special veterans recognition reception, which is open to all area veterans, starting at 9:15 a.m. Those wishing to attend should meet in the gym lobby area at that time. St. Peter Superintendent Paul Peterson and SPHS/MS Principal Paul Preimesberger will be on hand to greet the veterans at the reception and coffee and donuts will served to those veterans in attendance.
This year’s Veterans Day program will feature St. Peter resident and former school board member Bob Lambert as the guest speaker. Lambert served two years in the U.S. Army, from 1966 to 1968, including one year during the Vietnam War. A 1963 graduate of St. Peter High School, Lambert served as a helicopter pilot while in Vietnam and accumulated 1,200 flight hours during his combat time.
The Veterans Day program is put on each year by the St. Peter High School/Middle School Social Studies Department.
This year’s Veterans Day program order of events includes:
* Presentation of Colors - William R. Witty American Legion Post 37
* National Anthem - SPHS Music Department
* Welcome & Introduction of Speaker - Paul Preimesberger, St. Peter High School/Middle School Principal
* Guest Speaker - Bob Lambert
* Musical selection - SPHS Music Department
* Veteran Recognition - Paul Preimesberger, SPHS/MS Principal
* Retiring of Colors - William R. Witty American Legion Post 37
School district hopes additional changes will alleviate bus concerns
Amid recent concerns about student transportation issues, which came up on social media, Saint Peter Public Schools have taken additional steps to help alleviate some of those problems and to reduce overcrowding for one particular bus route.
Early in the school year, questions arose concerning bus capacity and ridership on the north end of town -- more specifically with Bus 6, which covers several stops on and around North Washington Avenue, going north of Highway 22/Dodd Avenue. Among those areas on that route include multiple stops in the Washington Terrace subdivision and the one main stop which covers the Vista View Townhomes and surrounding neighborhood.
“Some parents reported to us earlier this year that their children were sitting on the bus floor on that route,” St. Peter Schools Superintendent Paul Peterson said. “Obviously this is not acceptable and we contacted Saints Bus Service (the district’s transportation provider) right away.”
A change was made to that route near the start of the 2014-15 school year by shifting some of the older students at one of the later stops on that route to a nearby stop on a different route that had room for extra riders, which did alleviate some of the problem. However, in that time, concerns about capacity were raised once again through social media so the district took another look at the issue.
“Since that change was made we’ve had school officials follow up on that particular route, and no doubt, it is still packed on that bus,” Peterson said. “An additional solution we are working on with Saints Bus Service is rerouting Bus 9 to the Washington Terrace and Vista View area to pick up some of those students to ease the overcrowding on Bus 6.
“Once that process is finalized we will determine when to start this new schedule, where the pickups will be, and then identify those families which will be affected by this so we can begin to contact them as soon as possible to make them aware of the changes being made.”
School will continue to monitor situation
School officials want to assure district residents they take all concerns seriously and work closely with Saints Bus Service whenever any issues are brought to their attention.
“It’s really important that parents feel comfortable contacting any school official when there is a concern, whether it be on the bus or at the school.” Peterson said. “As soon as we heard there was a bus issue, we were in contact with Saints Bus immediately. At this time, we are in the process of re-checking information about which students are on which bus routes. Once this information is verified, it will allow us to track students and rider numbers even more closely.”
Peterson stresses to district residents that any time the district receives a question or a concern about busing issues the district has protocols in place for handling those concerns.
“We’ve been tracking the discussion on social media, and want to make sure our parents know we are all on the same page when it comes to student safety,” he said. “We will continue to work with Saints Bus Service to make sure there is room for students on their bus.”
Each bus has a maximum capacity, students are required to sit in seats, and when drivers see that bus rules aren't being followed (standing or sitting on the floor), drivers are required to take action.
“Dan regularly contacts parents or community members who raise questions,” Peterson said.
Who to contact about busing concerns
When parents have a question or concern about bus safety, they are urged to contact the principal’s office of the school their student attends (St. Peter Middle School/High School, North Intermediate School or South Elementary Early Learning Center).
Contact information for the principal’s office at those school is as follows:
* St. Peter High School/Middle School -- (507) 934-4210, ext. 413
* North Intermediate School -- (507) 934-3260, ext. 602
* South Elementary ELC -- (507) 934-2754, ext. 222
Administrators at each of those school stress the importance for parents to let their respective school office know when problems or issues do arise.
* -"The safe transportation of our students to and from school is paramount,” St. Peter Middle/High School Principal Paul Preimesberger said. “We work closely with Saints Bus Service to monitor and maintain bus safety standards. Any school community member who is aware of an unsafe situation should report it immediately. We will act swiftly to correct the matter."
* - “Every day we have two to three teachers supervising on bus duty after school,” North Intermediate Principal Darin Doherty said. “Not only are they making sure kids are staying safe around the buses, but they are also watching the students find seats on the bus. Buses do not leave North until all kids have a safe seated position.
“North teachers have also been reminding students that they should stay on their regularly scheduled buses and not ride on friends' buses while going to the high school to transfer. It has never been reported to me by students that they are forced to sit on the floor of a bus because there are no seats available.”
* - “The communication between Saint Peter Schools and the Saints Bus Service is excellent,” South Elementary Early Learning Center Principal Doreen Oelke said. “If there are issues on the bus or if questions arise, we do not hesitate to contact each other and immediately do what needs to be done to resolve the issue. It is important to everyone that our students arrive to school and back home again in a safe manner.
“Representatives from the Saints Bus Service and our administrative team meet regularly throughout the year to review current laws and board policies and to ensure that the correct safety protocol is being followed.”
By Kurt Hildebrandt
SPPS School Information Coordinator
From the time talks first began two years ago about the long-range facility needs of the Saint Peter Public School District, it was always the intention of the school board and administration to get as much public input as possible during that process.
After enlisting the public’s help as part of the Facilities Task Force and seeking public opinion through last winter’s phone survey, the school district is set to take the next step through the use of a charrette process through two public meetings. Those meetings are set for Wednesday, Oct. 29, and Wednesday, Nov. 19, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. both days at the SPMS/HS theater and cafeteria.
By definition, a charrette is an intense period of designing or planning and, in the case of Saint Peter Public Schools, it pertains to site plan and space/property use for a possible future high school and the current three buildings (St. Peter Middle/High School, North Intermediate and South Elementary).
“These meeting are open to the public and we encourage people to get involved,” St. Peter Superintendent Paul Peterson said. “From the very beginning (of our long-range facilities plan), our board of education has always said that any sort of large-scale facilities planning must be geared towards community-designed, multi-use space.”
Current and projected enrollment increases for Saint Peter Public Schools well into the future have caused the district to take a closer look at the need for a new high school building and for repurposing the district’s existing three main buildings.
Peterson explained during these charrette meetings, those in attendance will start in the theater as one large group and eventually move into the cafeteria for smaller group discussions. These will be stations that have a specific focus area -- for example, academic learning in a new high school building and the co-curricular needs of the school and St. Peter community
“Our big picture goal for the charrette is two-fold,” Peterson said. “First, we want to provide an update on where we are at in our facilities planning process. There has been a lot of progress since the Facilities Task Force completed their work in the summer of 2013, and it’s important that our community sees that progress.
“Second, it’s crucial that we engage our stakeholders in discussions about our community’s vision for a new high school facility. Our commitment is to a community-centered space and collecting community-wide input and insight is the next step in our process.”
Those interested in taking part in the charrette process is asked to contact the Superintendent’s Office at 934-5703.
“This is a ‘all hands on deck’ endeavor’. We welcome all comments, questions and concerns and our plan is to use this process to develop consensus on the vision for public education in St. Peter,” Peterson said.
MCA test results are good news for SPPS
It was very good news for Saint Peter Public Schools in regards to the recent Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) results, which were released by the Minnesota Department of Education in late August.
The percentage of District 508 students who scored proficient in reading, math and science MCAs scored above the state average in 16 out of 17 categories which were broken down by age group.
The MCAs are given each year to students statewide in grades 3-8 (reading and math), grades 5, 8 and high school (science), grade 10 (reading) and grade 11 (math). More than 1,100 students took the MCAs last spring.
The following chart shows the percentage of Saint Peter Public School students (enrolled October 1, 2013) who scored proficient in the reading, math and science MCAs in 2014 compared to the statewide averages:
(Chart courtesy of North Intermediate Principal Darin Doherty)