News & Notes

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Kurt Hildebrandt

Two grants were awarded recently by the Saint Peter Education Foundation in the amount of $7,385. Those two grants were awarded to the following projects:

  • The Nintendo, Design and Cardboard-Nintendo Labo (North Elementary) - $3,660.00
  • The Nintendo, Design and Cardboard-Nintendo RIGAMAJIG (South Elementary) - $3,725.00

“We are extremely grateful for the Saint Peter Education Foundation and the grant funds they provide,” Saint Peter Superintendent Dr. Jeff Olson said. “The funds we receive through these grants help support innovative educational opportunities for our students. We look forward to putting in place the programs that were funded and in evaluating their success on behalf of the students of District 508.”

The following is more information on where the grant money is being used:

North Elementary Grant: Nintendo, Design and Cardboard

Students will use the Nintendo Labo software to build a cardboard fishing rod, RC car, or motorbike.  After completing the build, students use the Nintendo switch screen and controllers to bring their cardboard creation to life.  Students follow Labo software instructions to program their cardboard for fishing or racing adventures. Once students feel comfortable with the initial program, they will be able to experiment and explore the many ways they can alter their cardboard build.

“The Nintendo Labo program gives students an opportunity to read nonfiction, technical writing, follow directions, program, code, build, and work through the design thinking process,” Angie Potts, STEM teacher for North and South, said. “It is an awesome opportunity that I had a chance to pilot this past year with the support of Nintendo and the Institute of Play in New York.  After piloting this program with two of the six third grade classrooms, I’d love to provide the opportunity, each year, to all third graders.  

South Elementary Grant: Rig-A-Ma-Jig

The RIGAMAJIG provides students with a safe way to design and build like an engineer, according to Potts.  They are able to use tools and materials that are age appropriate. They are able to create objects that move, explore simple machines, and build large scale models.

“Students in both kindergarten and first grade will have the opportunity to participate in introductory lessons with the RIGAMAJIG,” Potts said. Students will go through lessons to learn expectations of the materials as well as practice how to build with the materials.  We will have several mini challenges for students to work together to build with RIGAMAJIG.”

After the introductory lessons, students in both grades will continue to use the RIGAMAJIG as extensions to their projects.  Kindergarteners and first graders will use RIGAMAJIG to build a variety of structures, as well as things such as letters of the alphabet, or a bridge that will be able to support a variety of bigger weights.

About the Saint Peter Education Foundation 

The Saint Peter Education Foundation provides funding to support innovative, creative and experimental teaching and student learning experiences in Saint Peter Public Schools.

Individuals, groups, and organizations wishing to contribute to the Saint Peter Educational Foundation should go to www.stpeterschools.org/about/education-foundation or contact Dr. Olson at jolson@stpeterschools.org.

Saint Peter Public Schools logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Eight newcomers and two incumbents among those who filed as board candidates

A total of 10 candidates have filed for the four seats on the Saint Peter School Board that will be up for election on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The four seats up for election, which are each four-year terms, are currently held by Ben Leonard, Tim Lokensgard, Mark Karlsrud, and Bob Meeks. Leonard and Lokensgard have field for reelection while Karlsrud and Meeks opted not to run again. 

Other candidates who filed include (listed alphabetically by last name), Mohamed Abdulkadir, Julie Carlblom, Bill Kautt, Bill Soderlund, Tracy Stuewe, Andrew Vander Linden, Bernadette Volk, and Molly Wendroth.

Saint Peter Public Schools logo
Kurt Hildebrandt,

Kurt Hildebrandt, School Information Coordinator


One hundred and forty-five members of the Saint Peter High School senior class received their diplomas on the evening of May 31 during the annual Graduation Commencement at the SPHS gym.

This year’s graduation is the second ever to graduate from the current Saint Peter High School building, which opened in the fall of 2017.

Senior class president Lauren Mayer provided the welcome on behalf of her classmates while fellow seniors Isaac Peterson, Momo Abdi, and Kaiden Burmeister also spoke during the event.

Jordan Paula, who just completed his first year as SPHS Activities Director, served as the guest speaker for this year’s graduation.

The evening included the traditional playing of “Pomp and Circumstance” by the SPHS Concert Band, under the direction of Dave Haugh, along with the SPHS Concert Choir’s performance of “Omnia Sol (Let Your Heart Be Staid)”, which was directed by Scott Hermanson. The SPHS Concert Band closed the evening out with “Fanfare and Recessional” in which the SPHS Class of 2019 made its final walk through the gym, this time as the newest graduates of Saint Peter High School.

Students walking to graduation

SPHS Principal Annette Engeldinger leads the Class of 2019 to the west entrance of the building before graduation commencement begins. 

Graduate Hat Toss

The Class of 2019 does the traditional tossing of the graduation caps after receiving their diplomas.

 

Saint Peter Public Schools logo
Kurt Hildebrandt
Paul Peterson

Paul Peterson, Superintendent of Schools

The end of the 2018-2019 school year provides us with a chance to reflect on the tremendous work of our faculty, staff and School Board to inspire a passion for learning in all students.  The wide-ranging, personalized, innovative and student-centered learning experiences on display throughout the year were nothing short of amazing; everyone involved is rightfully exhausted and deserves a fun and relaxing summer!

Each summer, the School Board sets the strategic priorities that provide district-wide focus throughout the school year.  For 2018-2019, the priority areas were safety and security, core instruction, leadership development, and financial stabilization.  Here is a sampling of just some of the work completed in these four areas:

  • Safety and Security
    • Implementation of enhanced lock-down protocols (ALICE) throughout the PreK-12 system
    • Review of the police liaison services program resulting in the hiring of an additional school resource officer  
  • Core Instruction
    • Ongoing faculty development in a professional learning community model focused on academic standards, learning targets and common assessment
    • Review of PreK-12 English/Language Arts and Mathematics curricular areas leading to faculty development on small group instruction, resource selection and differentiated learning for all students
  • Leadership Development
    • School Board member development related to contract negotiations, equity and its continued commitment to building strong community relationships.
    • Principal participation in the Institute for Courageous Leadership, a series focused on cultivating principals’ ability to lead with racial competence and advance student achievement for all.  
  • Financial Stabilization
    • Legislative advocacy in St. Paul that articulates Saint Peter’s commitment to public education and the resources needed to deliver the high-quality educational services that our community expects and our kids deserve.
    • Long-term budget planning that includes a November 2020 operating referendum renewal, student enrollment projections, and school district priorities.  

It’s been a busy year, but busyness isn’t an indicator of success.  Each of these areas aligns to the school district’s vision, mission and core commitment to ensuring high levels of learning for all students.  Student learning can be and is measured in a variety of ways, and our faculty and administrators embrace the accountability that comes with having high learning expectations for all.  Moving forward, Saint Peter schools will continue to strive for and achieve great things, and as our School Board chair likes to say, “Keep the main thing the main thing”.  Onward, Saints!

Saint Peter Public Schools logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Move gives school board more time in search for full-time replacement

Dr. Jeff Olson was officially hired as interim superintendent of Saint Peter Public Schools after the Saint Peter School Board unanimously approved his contract for the 2019-20 school year at Monday’s regular meeting.

  Dr. Jeff Olson

Olson, who served as superintendent here from 2003 to 2014 and still resides in St. Peter, will shift into the role, held by current superintendent, Paul Peterson, on July 1. Peterson, who was recently hired as the new superintendent for Mankato Public Schools, has been the top administrator for Saint Peter Public Schools since replacing Olson at the start of the 2014-15 school year.

“I’m very excited and energized with the opportunity to serve as interim superintendent and also assist the district in their search for a new superintendent,” Olson said. “When the news came out about Paul being named superintendent at Mankato, given the timing of the situation, I wondered if the board here would be considering the interim route. Once I heard they were, I contacted the board chair (Mark Karlsrud) offering to help out in any way I could and he was very receptive to my call.

“I have a lot of good reasons to take this one-year position, including seven really good ones -- my wife (Judy) and I have seven school-aged grandchildren living here in the Saint Peter School District, so I’m really looking forward to the year ahead.”

Since his retirement, Olson has kept connected to education through the consulting firm, True North Consulting Partners, which he co-owns with long-time friend and retired Alexandria superintendent, Dr. Terry Quist. True North Consulting Partners focuses on educational planning and reform, leadership development, strategic planning, school facility planning and management consultation for about 60 school districts across the state of Minnesota. Included in that work, Dr. Olson assisted in superintendent searches with the Moorhead, Morris, Willmar, La Crescent, and Annandale school districts.

During his time as superintendent for Saint Peter Public Schools, Olson was named as Minnesota Superintendent of the Year in 2013. Prior to becoming Saint Peter’s superintendent, he served as Saint Peter High School principal from 1993 to 2003 and also taught social studies at SPHS from 1975 to 1993. He received B.A. degrees in history and political science from Concordia College (Moorhead) and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Mankato State University. He also holds a specialist degree in educational administration and a Ph.D in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota.

“We are just delighted to be able to coax Dr. Olson out of retirement for this one-year appointment to help us continue the excellent work Dr. Peterson has done for us,” Mark Karlsrud, Saint Peter School Board chair, said. “Because of Dr. Olson’s continued connection with this community and the work he has continued to do, since his retirement, with his consulting work, we are so fortunate to have someone in this role with his experience and networking ability available to us. It really shifts the timeline for us and really gives us the chance to gain some momentum moving forward as we will have some big decisions to make, as a board, coming up including hiring a new superintendent.”

Karlsrud stated Dr. Olson’s hiring will provide the board with time the rest of this calendar year to have thorough discussions on what the district will be looking for in potential superintendent candidates so that when 2020 rolls around the district will be ready to start identifying and, eventually, interviewing candidates. He feels confident a new superintendent will be hired by next spring and ready to start on July 1, 2020.