News & Notes

SPHS has two foreign exchange students for 2018-19 school year
Kurt Hildebrandt

Saint Peter High School has a long tradition of having foreign exchange students spend the school year here and this year that tradition continues with two exchange students attending classes here at SPHS..

Tom Boerner from Hamburg, Germany, and Mario Ciancio Sanfilippo, from Catania, Italy, are members of this year’s senior class. The following is a Q&A profile of those two students:  

 SPHS exchange students Tom Boerner (left) and Mario Ciancio (right).

   SPHS exchange students Tom Boerner (left) and Mario 
   Ciancio Sanfilippo (right).


Host family -- Kris & James Sack of St. Peter

Family members -- father, Jan; mother, Claudia, and sister, Lina, 20.

Parents’ occupation(s) -- My father is director of parts for Jungheinrich, the third-largest forklift truck company in the world, and my mother is a nurse for a doctor.

How many people live in your hometown? Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany with approximately 1.8 million people

How many times have you been to the U.S. prior to your stay here in St. Peter?  I have been to the U.S. four other times -- visiting Florida, New York and Boston, California, and Las Vegas.

What are your impressions of life at Saint Peter High School now that you have been here for more than a month? The school is beautiful and most lessons are very exciting. The students are all really friendly and helpful and the the teachers and all other staff have been great as well. This is the best school I have ever been to!

What are your favorite classes and who are some of your favorite teachers here at SPHS? My favorite class here, at the moment, is personal finance. Back in Germany it was chemistry. My favorite teachers here, so far, are Mr. Schoenborn and Mrs. Annexstad.

What other activities will you participate in during your time here at SPHS? In fall I played goalkeeper for the Saints’ C squad soccer team. In winter I will play basketball and in the spring I’m thinking about trying trapshooting or baseball.

What are some of your favorite activities/hobbies outside of school? Back in Germany, I was a firefighter, which was really the only activity I did outside of the school.

Is there any particular activity you would like to do or place you’d like to visit during your time here in Minnesota? Yes, I would like to try ice fishing and deer hunting. I would also like to visit Duluth.

What do you miss most about your life back home? Actually I am surprised about how little I miss from back home. I do miss my dog and my parents and also my fire department because they are very nice and we have a lot of fun.

How often do you stay in touch with your family/friends back home? I stay in contact with my parents and some friends every day through messages over an app called WhatsApp. I also Skype every month with my parents, my grandparents, and some friends, but I try not use Skype too much.


Host family -- Mike & Karen Leeb of rural Kasota.

Family members -- father, Domenico; mother, Paola; brother Alberto, 13; and sister, Ada, 8; and pet dog, Pedro!

Parents’ occupation(s) --  My father is editor of the local newspaper in Sicily and my mother is a doctor.

How many people live in your hometown? My hometown of Catania has about one million people and is located on the Italian island of Sicily. Catania is near the volcano ‘Etna’, the biggest active volcano in all of Europe.

How many times have you been to the U.S. prior to your stay here in St. Peter? I visited the U.S. one other time, four years ago when we visited New York City and Boston.

What are your impressions of life at Saint Peter High School now that you have been here for more than a month? Here, I really love the school, the people and my classes. It’s really different from those in Italy.

What are your favorite classes/teachers here at SPHS? It’s very hard to say which are my favorite teachers and my favorite classes, but I really like my AP chemistry class with Mrs. Roehrkasse and math class with Mr. Kennedy.

What other activities will you participate in during your time here at SPHS? I played soccer with Mr. Bollum as a fall sport and I will probably play basketball in winter.

What are some of your favorite activities/hobbies outside of school?  I really like to watch and to support the football team on Friday night with my school friends because it’s a good way to spend some time together.

Is there any particular activity you would like to do or place you’d like to visit during your time here in Minnesota? This winter I really want to go to ice fishing because it’s something new and unusual for me.

What do you miss most about your life back home? Naturally, I miss my life back home and in particular my family and the warm weather, but I’m having a good time here also, thanks to all people that support me everyday from here and from Sicily.

How often do you stay in touch with your family/friends back home?  I really don’t know how often I stay in touch with my family and my friends, but, we call each other approximately once a week with Skype or message through WhatsApp. 


Large crowd turns out for community forum on teen drug use
Kurt Hildebrandt

Event held at Saint Peter High School was hosted by MN Adult & Teen Challenge

A large crowd turned out for "A Night To Know The Truth" community forum on teen drug use, held at Saint Peter High School on Wednesday evening.

   The Q&A discussion at the Know The Truth
   community forum featured an 11-member panel.

The event was hosted by representatives from Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge and featured a program in the SPHS Performing Arts Center for parents. There, representatives from Saint Peter Public Schools, local law enforcement agencies and chemical health professionals shared information on the drug issues young people are currently facing. Two recent graduates of the Adult & Teen Challenge treatment program (Aubrey and Sam) shared their stories on their battle with addiction and Patty Ahl of Mankato, who lost her son, Alex, at age 21 to a fentanyl overdose in 2014, also spoke of her family's tragedy and how it affected their lives.

An emotional and meaningful half-hour long Q&A panel discussion wrapped up the event.

A program geared toward students, which was held in conjunction with the parent event, took place in the commons area and activities were also held in the gym. A hot dog lunch was also served prior to the parent and student programs.

Local organizations which helped put on the event, in addition to the Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge, included Saint Peter Public Schools, Nicollet County Attorney's Office, Nicollet County Sheriff's Office, St. Peter Police Department, Minnesota River Valley Drug Task Force, Saint Peter Ambassador's, Saint Peter Area Ministerial Association, and St. Peter Lion's Club.

Saint Peter Public Schools collaborates on work-based learning coordinator position
Kurt Hildebrandt

District 508 works with Tri-City United and Le Sueur-Henderson districts to create grant-funded position

A collaborative effort between Saint Peter, Tri-City United and Le Sueur-Henderson school districts, was recently awarded a grant that will provide funding to hire a work-based learning coordinator that will be shared by the three districts over the next two years.

Funding for the position is part of a larger grant awarded by the Greater Twin Cities United Way to a project called South Central Guided Pathways to Success (GPS) of which these three districts, as well as Mankato Public Schools and St. James Public Schools, are a part along with Minnesota Valley Action Council, South Central College, and the South Central Service Cooperative.

The purpose of the grant is to increase equity and access for the underrepresented population in their pursuit of long-term careers, either through work experiences and/or the opportunities to earn college credit and college-like experiences. According to the grant application, “The ongoing partnership among these organizations has already resulted in positive outcomes for students and workers, and created strong collaborative ties that are particularly helpful in serving the largely rural population in our service area and addressing low-incidence barriers to career development.”  

“College and career readiness is a top priority for our school district, so we are very excited to be a part of this collaboration with Tri-City United and Le Sueur-Henderson,” Saint Peter Superintendent Paul Peterson said. “Work-based learning opportunities add to the richness of the school experience, and Saint Peter High School’s academies provide a solid academic foundation for authentic work-based learning to occur within the Saint Peter community.”

“Our goal for creating this new, multi-district position is to help deepen the connections between the high schools in our districts and our business communities.  There are tremendous learning opportunities for students all around the region, and it has become really apparent that an active liaison between schools and the business community is a key ingredient in these dynamic partnerships.”

Tri-City United Superintendent Teri Preisler and Peterson had initial discussions about creating a position like this for the three districts when the South Central Guided Pathways to Success was awarded a grant in early 2017 of $420,000, but at the time the idea wasn’t pursued any further because of other project needs. However, when an additional $300,000 of grant funding was provided to the project to support the work it was doing, the three districts moved ahead with a request for two years of funding for this new position.

“It’s not just about the money aspect that helped move our request forward, it was the timing of it as well,” Preisler said. “There is an immediate need to have someone within our schools with a dedicated focus on making connections with our local business community, nurturing those relationships, and serving as a liaison to create meaningful experiences for our students in their pursuits of long-term careers.”

“We have always had a good relationship with our business community here in St. Peter, as they do at Tri-City United and Le Sueur-Henderson with their respective business communities, but there are always ways we can improve that and we feel strongly this is a good step in that direction,” Peterson said. “The three districts involved in this position also have a very positive relationship and being able to work together on this project is only going to strengthen that connection.”

With funding secured for the next two years for this new position, the next step for the three districts involved will be to finalize the job description and eventually post the position with the goal of having someone hired around the start of 2019.

“Grant funded positions can pose a challenge, but we are hopeful that the data collected over the next two years and the results that we see in terms of student learning and business connections help all our districts consider whether to continue the position once grant funding ends,” Peterson said.

   SPHS welding students Dominic Olson (left) and Caleb Dunker (right) work on a project during a class this past spring. The new work-based learning coordinator position that Saint Peter will share with Tri-City United and Le Sueur-Henderson school districts will work with local businesses who may have needs for such skilled positions as welders, for which students an train for locally.


The Saint Peter Public Schools Logo
Kurt Hildebrandt


 Yana Burgess

Saint Peter High School senior Yana Burgess was recently named as a semifinalist for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship Program.

This is the 64th year of the program and Burgess was one of approximately 16,000 students from across the U.S. named as a semifinalist. Burgess, the daughter of Charles and Teresa Burgess, was selected as a semifinalist based on scores on a PSAT qualifying test. She will now compete with the other semifinalists for some 7,500 scholarships worth more than $31 million, to be awarded this spring.

“I am very excited to receive this honor, and grateful for the opportunities it could provide,” Burgess said. “Everybody wants to be good at something, and when I was in first and second grade I was determined to be one of the smart kids, and through a lot of hard work and support I have been able to achieve that goal.”

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. Over 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing. More than 1.6 million juniors from about 22,000 high schools entered the competition by taking the 2017 Preliminary SAT. The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

“We are so proud of Yana and her academic accomplishments,” SPHS Principal Annette Engeldinger said. “She has unlimited potential, and I can’t wait to see what she achieves!”

Burgess has her sights set on attending the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and majoring in materials engineering. During her time here at SPHS she has been involved in Math League, robotics as well as track and field. She also has served as a youth soccer coach with younger players.

This is the third year in a row that SPHS has had a student recognized by the National Merit Scholarship program. Karen Chen, a 2017 SPHS graduate, and Shannon Rao, a 2018 SPHS graduate, were named National Merit Scholarship finalists. Lilly Anderson, also a 2018 SPHS graduate, was named a National Merit Scholarship commended student last year.

To learn more about the National Merit Scholarship program go to

The Saint Peter Public Schools Logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Three alumni and a former teacher/administrator will be the newest inductees into the Saint Peter Public Schools Hall of Fame during a special ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 29, starting at 9 a.m. in the Saint Peter High School commons area.

Admission is $10, which includes breakfast, and tickets can be purchased in advance from the SPHS office (2121 W. Broadway Ave.) or at the door prior to the ceremony.

The latest group of inductees includes Saint Peter High School graduates Howard Hermel (class of 1940), Bob Lambert (1963), and Mary Pettis (1970) along with the late Lester Hillger (former teacher and administrator).

In addition to the induction ceremony on September 29, the inductees have been invited to participate in the annual SPHS Homecoming parade at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28. The parade route runs from the football field parking lot north onto Sunrise Drive, east onto Broadway Ave., south onto Third Street, and then west onto Grace Street back to the Saint Peter Middle School building.

The inductees will also be recognized during halftime of the Saints football game against New Ulm that Friday evening. Pre-game tailgate starts at 6 p.m. with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. at Floyd B. Johnson Field.

For more information on the Hall of Fame and bios on this year’s class go to

The following is a complete list of SPPS Hall of Fame inductees:

Howard Hermel (1940)
Bob Lambert (1963)
Mary Pettis (1970)
Lester Hillger (Faculty)

Donald Olmanson (1949)
John Lager (1958)
Gayle (Hanson) Olson (1973)
Jennipher Wiebold (1987)
Gil Carlson (Faculty)

Martin Menk (1941)
Steve Neils (1969)
Ed Drenttel (1977)
Rosemary Mickelson (Faculty)
Eunice Amos (Faculty)
Fran Braunger (Faculty)

Bill Pell (1957)
Marty Davis (1983)
Sushil Keswani (1985)

Carl Schmidt (1921)
Bob Wettergren (1938)
Stuart Johnson (1957)
Jack Dranttel (1959)
Don Nesheim (Faculty)

Gen. William H. Nutter (1920)
William Wettergren (1932)
Lyle Pearson - (1938)
Sam Gault (1948)
John Annexstad (1950)
James McPherson (1954)
Al Annexstad (1959)
Mark Davis (1959)
Richard Stippel (1960)
Vicki Davis (1967)
William Brekke (1969)
William Harvey (Faculty)


Check out the latest and previous editions of the Saint Peter Public Schools Highlights Newsletter!
October 2018
August 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017