News & Notes

Graduate Portrait
Darin Doherty

Saint Peter Public Schools is committed to developing career, college, and life readiness skills in our PreK-12 students to prepare them for their future. 

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Nominees are being sought for SPPS Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018
Kurt Hildebrandt

Induction ceremony set for SPHS Homecoming Weekend this fall

Nominations are being sought, from now through June 30, for the 2018 class of inductees into the Saint Peter Public Schools Hall of Fame. 

The Saint Peter Public Schools Hall of Fame induction ceremony and events will take place during this fall's SPHS Homecoming weekend (Sept. 28-29). More details on the newest inductees and ceremony will be released as they become available.

The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to honor those alumni and former employees who have attained exceptional personal and professional achievements and who have made significant contributions in either their careers, community, nation, and/or world. By induction into the Saint Peter Public Schools Hall of Fame, they will be forever recognized as representing District 508’s best.

Those interested in obtaining a Hall of Fame nomination form can download a copy at the following link →[1].pdf

Just a reminder, nominations will remain on file for anyone who has previously been nominated for the Hall of Fame, but has yet been chosen for induction. Those applications along with any new nominations will receive consideration for induction.

The criteria for selection into the Saint Peter Public Schools Hall of Fame includes:

  1. The Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding and exceptional professional and/or humanitarian achievement, such as to bring unusual honor to an individual

  2. A Hall of Fame member must be alumni of Saint Peter Public Schools, attending twenty (20) years prior to induction, or a retired staff, having served a minimum of ten (10) years in the District. Employees will be considered as candidates five (5) years after ending service with Saint Peter Public Schools.

Once the nomination deadline has passed, the SPPS Hall of Fame Selection Committee will review those new nominations and the previously submitted applications for possible induction.

For more information on the SPPS Hall of Fame please contact the District 508 office at 934-5703 or go to


District 508 hosts annual Staff Recognition Reception
Kurt Hildebrandt

Five SPPS retirees among those honored at annual event

  Among those honored at the District 508 Staff Recognition
  event included: front row (l to r), Lois Warren, Joanne Smith,
  Richie Wright, Cindy Hauer, Wendy Gruss Severns, Bob 
  Ploog; back row, Keith Hanson, Kellie Satrom, Deb Vetter,
  Mary Thompson, Deb Hentges, and Marc Bachman. Not 
  pictured are Kari Keller and Charlie Potts.

Saint Peter Public Schools honored several of its employees for their achievements and years of service during the annual Staff Recognition Reception on May 2 at the Gustavus Adolphus College Jackson Campus Center.

One of the highlights of the reception was honoring  the five retiring staff members, who were recognized by Saint Peter Superintendent Paul Peterson during the reception.  Those five retirees represent 140 years of experience working in the district.

Those retirees, with a brief profile on each, include:

Lois Warren --  Lois, a 1972 graduate of Saint Peter High School, started working with District 508 as a Title I para, but a short time later transitioned to her current position as the principal’s secretary at South Elementary. Prior to her current position, she also baked cookies at Saint Peter High School.

She and her husband, Casey, have been married for nearly 42 years and have three children -- Eli, Shane, and Libby. Her plans for retirement include traveling and reconnecting with old friends, helping her daughter at the Pie Shop, and subbing from time to time.

Richie Wright -- Richie, who was born and raised in Saint Peter, earned two degrees from St. Cloud State University, one in sociology and the other in psychology, and did her internship at the Brainerd Learning Center which led to her becoming a behavior analyst. She began working with District 508 in 1977 and worked the first two years at the Central Annex and Central School. The next eight years she worked for the district at Bartlett Hall and the past 31 years at the Hoffmann Learning Center.

She and her husband, Bob, will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in June. Although she is retiring, Richie plans to continue scoring for high school volleyball games and gymnastics and keep timing for track and field.

Joanne Smith - Joanne, who is originally from Harrisburg, Penn., moved to Minnesota with her family during her teenage years and graduated from Kellogg Senior High School in Roseville.  She earned her special education degree from St. Cloud State University and started her teaching career in St. Paul. While her children (Joe, Laurel and Mark) were young, she stayed at home and worked part-time at the Le Sueur library.  She worked for two years as an ECFE teacher in Le Sueur before being hired by District 508 in 1994.

Joanne’s retirement plans include traveling and spending time with family and friends.  

Cindy Hauer -- Cindy’s career in education, which started at District 508 in 1994, has taken her from All Saints School in Madison Lake, to South Elementary and North Elementary School.  Originally from Hibbing, she earned her BA degree in social work and psychology from St. Cloud State University and her BS in elementary and special education from Mankato State University.  

She has been married for almost 39 years and has two children (Gabriel and Olivia) and three grandsons.  Her future plans include travel, reading books, and, as she said, “enjoy the freedom!”

Wendy Gruss Severns -- Wendy, a native of Worthington, earned her BA from Concordia College in Moorhead and her MA from Minnesota State University-Mankato.  Along with teaching English and Communications at Saint Peter High School since 1990, she also taught at Cambridge High School, Northfield High School and in the Education Department at Minnesota State University-Mankato.  She was the head speech coach in all three high schools she has worked. Over the course of her career, she has hosted over 20 student teachers, coached volleyball and track, and has served three different stints on the building leadership team.  

Wendy and her husband, Roger, have a daughter, Elisabeth, and also lay claim to Henry David the Cat and Gatsby the Dog.  They have recently purchased a cottage, so time up north and a winter cruise are part of their future plans.

The following are the list of the other 2018 Staff Recognition honorees:

Distinguished Service Award:

  • Joanne Smith -- Hoffmann Learning Center
  • Bob Ploog -- Head Custodian at Saint Peter High School
    (Note: More info on this award will be coming soon!)

Retiring School Board Member:

  • Charlie Potts (2014-2018)

Resigned with 10 Consecutive Years of Service:

  • Kari Keller, Middle School Dean of Students (1999-2018)

25-Year Plaques: 

  • Marc Bachman, Operations & Maintenance, Saint Peter Public Schools
  • Keith Hanson, Physical Education, Saint Peter High School
  • Debbie Hentges, Social Worker, Saint Peter Middle School
  • Kellie Satrom, Early Childhood Special Education, Saint Peter Early Childhood Center
  • Mary Thompson, Head Cook, Saint Peter Middle School
  • Deb Vetter, Media Center Assistant, Saint Peter Middle School


SPHS agri-science students take part in State FFA Convention
Kurt Hildebrandt

Several members of the South Central Agri-Science Academy/Saint Peter High School FFA chapter attended the Minnesota State FFA Convention in the Twin Cities on April 22-24.

The local chapter earned several awards for their efforts, including the following:

South Central Agri-Science Academy/SPHS FFA members
attending the recent Minnesota State FFA Convention included:
front row (l to ​​​​r), Olivia Stevens, Carrigan Miller, Megan Erickson, Xe'Anna Willaert, Regan Kelly, Grace Pehrson, Noah Klaseus,
Landon Gran; middle row, Mitchell Pettis, Jacob Pehrson,
Emma Johnson, Mari DeBleick, Cole Pankratz, Jacob Lorentz,
Zac Spangenberg, Jasmine Witty; back row, Michael Moline,
Blake Rehnelt, Sean Miller, Jesse Tate, Ben Eide, Cole Degan,
Ethan Klaseus. Not pictured are Nick Seitzer, Leif Annexstad,
Matthias Annexstad, and Matt Strobel.

Gold National Chapter Award - 6th place out of the entire state, - The chapter's application will be submitted to National FFA Convention. 
Model of Innovation Award Winner - Local chapter was recognized for the chapter hosting unique and educational events for our students, in particular the CTE career fair in February 2018.

Those South Central Agri-Science Academy/SPHS FFA
members earning State Farmer Degrees includes (l to r)
Regan Kelly, Ethan Klaseus, and Nick Seitzer.

STATE FARMER DEGREES: Reegan Kelly, Ethan Klaseus, Nick Seitzer

* - Horse Evaluation
Placing: 11th out of 57, Gold Ranking
High Individual - Mari DeBlieck, Placed 5th out of 196 students
Team members:  Mari DeBlieck, Noah Klaseus, Ethan Kasues, Emma Johnson, Olivia Stevens (alternate)
* - Agriculture Mechanics
Placing: 19th out of 37, Sliver Ranking
Team members:  Blake Rehnelt, Jesse Tate, Cole Deegan, Cole Pankratz, Ben Eide (alternate)
This is the first time our chapter has ever competed in this contest
* - Meats Evaluation
Placing: 17th out of 32, Silver Ranking
Team members: Michael Moline, Zac Spangenberg, Jasmine Witty, Landon Gran
This is the first time our chapter has ever competed in this contest
* - Soils Evaluation
Placing:  8th out of 43 teams, Gold Ranking
Team members: Leif Annexstad, Matthias Annexstad, Sean Miller, Mitch Pettis, Nick Seitzer (alternate)

OTHER HONORS:  Matthias Annexstad served on our State FFA Nominating Committee to elect the next State FFA Officer team.  He had to turn in application and be selected by state staff in order to be on the committee.


“Serving on the nominating committee was a great honor and an exciting way to have a strong influence on the future of our state association.” - Matthias Annexstad

“It (the ag mechanics CDE) was a very challenging yet enjoyable experience that covered a lot of content.  It was fun to take part in a lot of hands-on stations involving building trades, electrical wiring, engines, welding, combines, and a written test.” - Cole Deegan

“I enjoyed spending time together as a chapter as we attended the convention sessions, but also during the practices leading up to the event.  We even had a chance to compete at the Little International at SDSU last month.”  - Jasmine Witty  


Those South Central Agri-Science Academy/SPHS FFA members earning State Farmer Degrees includes (l to r) Regan Kelly, Ethan Klaseus, and Nick Seitzer.


District 508 awarded $21,000 grant for innovative curriculum & instruction
Kurt Hildebrandt

Saint Peter Public Schools was recently awarded a Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant of more than $21,000 which will be used for innovative curriculum and instruction practices.

The Minnesota Department of Education created a Title IV grant opportunity this summer that capitalized on three specific areas of need within districts: well rounded education opportunities, safe and healthy students, and technology enhancements.  The grant funds, specific to the well rounded education opportunities portion of the state’s grant program, awarded to District 508 will be used for makerspace and hands-on learning opportunities for elementary and middle level students.

Angie Potts, Saint Peter Schools’ Instructional Coach and Innovation Specialist, first learned of the grant opportunity during a coding cohort workshop in the Twin Cities in the summer of 2017.  

“The timing was perfect for Saint Peter Schools because the fall of 2017 saw the creation of dedicated makerspaces at both South and North Elementary,” Potts said. “In addition, the middle school was extending STEM time and the high school was embracing project-based learning.  Because of the continued push for innovation in the district, the grant was a perfect opportunity to seek outside funding to supplement these initiatives.”

With the support of Superintendent Dr. Paul Peterson and the help of Business Manager Tim Regner, the district submitted a grant application at the end of August to extend the innovative initiatives with state funding.  

"Creative and innovation learning are key parts to our graduate portrait, and we are really excited to accelerate this work with students and teachers,” Peterson said. "Angie's leadership in this area has been tremendous.  She is passionate about creating authentic learning for all kids and supporting teachers as they continue to transform their instructional practices to improve student learning."  

The grant provides opportunities for resources for students from primary to middle school to manipulate, code, and create.  Some of the grant materials include different age appropriate robots, 3D printers, building materials, and virtual reality field trip excursions.  The grant also creates opportunities for a variety of district professional development to support teachers and learners as well as private school collaboration to continue to extend innovative learning for all students.