News & Notes

Saint Peter Public Schools logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Sean Keating, a science teacher here at Saint Peter High School, was surprised April 15 with the news that he is a recipient of a 2021 WEM Outstanding Educator Award, an honor that is accompanied by a $15,000 award.

Keating is one of six educators being honored by the WEM Foundation and Synergy & Leadership Exchange for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to student learning. His recognition comes in the Athletic Coach category, which recognizes teachers who are exemplary coaches of athletic teams.

Sean has been teaching and coaching for 11 years. Keating’s vision is to build character first and educate everyone that winning is short term, but character building is the long-term goal. He feels a focus on character traits is more important than wins, points, statistics, or any other transactional measurement. The most important trait of that being empathy.

“I am extremely honored to receive this prestigious award,” Keating said. “My family always supports me in all my endeavors and to have them present for this honor made it extremely special.  I want to thank all of the students and players I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. It's hard to put into words. This community and school mean so much to me and I'm proud to be a St. Peter Saint.”

“While this award was for his work as an outstanding coach, the same attributes are reflected in his classroom,” SPHS Principal Annette Engeldinger said. “All of his students, whether members of his basketball team or not, are taught not only the content of the course but also about being responsible and resilient members of our school community.”

Keating believes if they teach kids to put themselves into other people’s shoes, they will create compassionate, humble and servant leaders. One example of how they incorporate this goal, is to have students put phones away on bus rides and pair up with other players. The players are then given questions to ask each other or topics to dive deeper. All of this is calculated, planned and done with the purpose of helping players grow as people which in turn grows their team.

“You can really feel how much Coach Keating cares about his players by the way he interacts with us,” said Wyatt Olson, a former Saints player. “Conversations with Coach went beyond basketball, he cared about the person before the player. He always put an emphasis on being a team and being selfless which helped bring the team closer together.”

In addition to coaching and teaching, two years ago Keating started a club at the high school called the Mental Warriors. He saw that many high school kids were stressed out about school and the expectations that their parents and society put on them, so the vision for the club was to educate teenagers on the importance of their mindset to handle the stresses of life. Mental Warriors has now grown to more than 100 students and meets bi-weekly. These meetings give students time to express themselves, talk to other students and share their feelings within the community. It’s a safe space where people all share the common goal of growing together.

“His ability to operate as a coach and mentor simultaneously, while seeing each players’ individual strengths and weaknesses, allows for tremendous development and growth for each athlete,” shared community member Bill Soderlund. “This focus translates into a strong, balanced and outstanding team. He isn’t just coaching basketball, he is building a team of responsible, resilient and ethical young men.”

In addition to the Athletic Coach Award, other educators are being honored with the Academic Challenge Coach Award (teachers who are exemplary coaches of student teams that participate and compete in academic challenges), Ethics in Education Award (exemplary educators who embody ethical behavior and promote ethical development for students through classroom or school activities, policies or curriculum) and the Teacher Achievement Award (exemplary teachers who support, inspire, and assist students to attain greater learning as evidenced by student achievement).

Educators are first nominated for the WEM Outstanding Educator Awards program by students, parents, colleagues or community members. Those who accept the nomination provide additional information for consideration by Synergy & Leadership Exchange and a blue ribbon selection panel, which reviews and ranks the nominees. In addition to the six statewide honorees, additional educators have been selected as regional honorees for 2021. These names will be announced in May.

Synergy & Leadership Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering collaboration to advance the development of ethical citizens, providing educational resources, and celebrating achievement and best practices in Minnesota schools, businesses and communities. For more information on the WEM Outstanding Educator Awards Program and Synergy & Leadership Exchange, visit: www.synergyexchange.org.

The Saint Peter Public Schools Logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

 Shea Roehrkasse is SPHS/MS's 
 new Activities Director

Saint Peter Public Schools has hired Shea Roehrkasse as Activities Director for the district’s grade 7-12 co-curricular programs. Roehrkasse currently teaches health at Saint Peter Middle School as well as serving as head hockey coach for the Minnesota River Bulldogs’ boys hockey team and the advisor for Saint Peter High School’s Project 4 Teens organization.

Roehrkasse will officially take over as activities director on July 1 from Jordan Paula, who announced earlier this spring that he would be moving at the end of the school year to take an assistant principal position at Brandon Valley High School in Brandon, S.D.

Roehrkasse is originally from Jackson Hole, Wyo., and earned his teaching degree from Gustavus Adolphus College as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato. He has been teaching at Saint Peter Public Schools for seven years and actually started his career at Saint Peter Middle/High School as a study hall and lunchroom supervisor. 

“This is an important position for our district, and I am confident that we have found the right person for the job,” Saint Peter High School Principal Annette Engeldinger said. “His commitment to relationship-building and both character and skill development through activities came across loud and clear from his references and during his interviews.”

“I am looking forward to the challenge ahead,” Roehrkasse said. “I am really excited about the opportunity to work with all of our amazing coaches, directors and advisors that lead all of our programs.  Continuing to promote and find ways to get all students in our district involved in extracurricular activities, as I truly believe they are a vital part of the education system.”

Roehrkasse and his wife, Dani, who teaches science at SPHS, reside in St. Peter and are the parents of Ellie (3), Kenley (3), and a boy coming in July.

More comments from Shea Roehrkasse on his new position:

"My time with the district has been nothing but amazing. St. Peter as a district and community has truly embraced my family and I. We feel so fortunate to be a part of St. Peter. When I first started working here in 2009 I instantly felt at home and loved the students and staff. When the opportunity came up to return in 2014 I was beyond excited to be hired. Since then it has been a wonderful experience and I have had the opportunity to be involved in a lot of different programs. Coaching multiple sports to helping start and now run our Project For Teens program, all of it has helped to prepare me for this position.

Jordan (Paula) has done an amazing job these last 3 years with all of our activities. He has had three years here that are unlike any other. Working with him as a coach has really allowed me to see all the time and effort that he put in to all of our programs to help make a difference. He put in a lot of time behind the scenes to make sure we were all as prepared as we could be to do our job as program leaders.  My goal is to continue that dedication and work ethic to keep pushing our programs in the direction he and the ADs before him have pushed our department. 

Following Jordan will be a great challenge that I look forward to taking on. I feel that my enthusiasm and true enjoyment of watching students participate in their passions will help to step in and take on this new challenge. I look forward to working with all of the coaches, directors and advisors that I know and have great relationships with from my time here. 

My family and I are beyond excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to continue to work in this district and grow our family here in St. Peter."

The Saint Peter Public Schools Logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

  SPHS Mock Trial team members, shown above in
  Zoom practice session from this past season,   
  included top row (l to r), Autumn Pauly, Erin Hill,
  Anna Lofaro, Vera Berglund; middle row, Paige
  Meyer, John Borgmeier, Sophie Matarrese, Miranda
  Seham; bottom row, Kiera Dunn and Rahima
  Jamac.

Saint Peter High School’s Mock Trial team earned a repeat trip to the Minnesota State Mock Trial Tournament by winning the Region 5 virtual contest over Northfield on Wednesday, Feb. 10. The win propelled the Saints into the state tourney, held virtually on March 3 and 4, where the Saints placed 11th out of 16 teams.

At state, the Saints defeated Nova Classical Academy but dropped close contests to state runner-up Apple Valley and sixth-place finisher Hill-Murray to end up in 11th place. SPHS also had two team members garner All-State honors, with senior Rahima Jamac named as an All-State Attorney while senior Miranda Seham was chosen as an All-State Witness.

Members of the Saints’ Mock Trial state team included John Borgmeier, Rahima Jamac, Paige Meyer, Sophie Matarrese, Vera Berglund, Anna Lofaro, Erin Hill, Autumn Pauly, Miranda Seham, and Kiera Dunn. SPHS coaches for the team are Dan Clark and Kyle Hilding, while Judge Alison Krehbiel and local attorney James Dunn serve as assistant coaches for the team.

This year’s case for Mock Trial competitions statewide was the fictional Payton Knox v. Nixon Lodge & Catering, Inc., which was a contract dispute involving a wedding venue and a couple that had hoped to get married on July 4th, 2020, but plans had to be changed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

There were enough participants in Mock Trial this season to form a second team, the SPHS White team. Those team members included -- Drake Portner, Nabiil Jamac, Najma Jamac, Amelia Hildebrandt, Isabel Avant, Christiaan Hajos, Raina Roemhildt, Sydney Marthaler, TC Hopp, Jaxen Sandland, Adrik Rojas-Malledo, and Ellie Letts.

The Saints have a history of faring well at the state competition, including last year’s fourth-place finish at the state meet. This will be SPHS’s seventh state tournament trip in Mock Trial. The Saints also went in 2016 (9th), 2015 (5th), 2012 (tie for 3rd), 2011 (10th), and 2010 (12th).

For more information on the MN State Mock Trial Tournament, please click HERE!

 

DSC_0083 -- SPHS Mock Trial state team members included: front row (l to r), Vera Berglund, Kiera Dunn, Sophie Matarrese; back row, Autumn Pauly, Paige Meyer, Rahima Jamac, Miranda Seham, Erin Hill, John Borgmeier, and Anna Lofaro.  

 

Zoom pic -- SPHS Mock Trial team members, shown here in a recent Zoom practice session, includes top row (l to r), Autumn Pauly, Erin Hill, Anna Lofaro, Vera Berglund; middle row, Paige Meyer, John Borgmeier, Sophie Matarrese, Miranda Seham; bottom row, Kiera Dunn and Rahima Jamac.

 

The Saint Peter Public Schools Logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

  The 2021 Saint Peter High School Snow Week Queen &
  King candidates includes: front row (l to r - King) Konrad
  Wernsing, Nathan Fogal, Wesley Yang, Shale Young, Zach
  Taylor; back row, (Queen) Abby Haggenmiller, Emma
  Jones, Morgan Kelly, Emily Salfer, and Liz Mitchell.

Saint Peter High School will host its annual Snow Week celebration the week of February 8-11, with the SPHS Student Council having activities planned for each day that week, culminating with the coronation on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 2:40 p.m in the SPHS gym.

With SPHS students (gr. 9-12) still utilizing the hybrid learning model, the Student Council had to plan activities for both A day and B day students. Snow Week organizers also have a COVID preparedness plan in place to ensure proper social distancing and protocols will be followed during the fun-filled week. 

This year’s SPHS Snow Week Queen candidates includes (listed alphabetically by last name) Abby Haggenmiller, Emma Jones, Morgan Kelly, Liz Mitchell, and Emily Salfer, while the King candidates include Nathan Fogal, Zach Taylor, Konrad Wernsing, Wesley Yang, and Shale Young.

The following is a complete list of Snow Week activities/events: 

SNOW WEEK FESTIVITIES
Dress Up Days

Monday, Feb. 8 & Tuesday, Feb. 9 - Olympics/Sports
Wednesday, Feb. 10 & Thursday, Feb. 11 - Red Carpet/Met Gala

Activities

  • Snow week sculptures/Frozen Clothes Art  
  • Medallion Hunt - On school grounds throughout the week. Clues given in PLP classrooms & over the intercom.
  • Monday, Feb 8 & Tuesday, Feb. 9 - Pep Fest Video & Kahoot
  • Wednesday, Feb 10 & Thursday, Feb. 11
         * Candidate Videos - Showing candidate videos during lunch and voting based on rubric 
         * Compliment hearts 
         * Voting for class snow sculpture/frozen art 
  • Thursday, Feb. 11 - Snow Week Coronation, 2:40 p.m. at SPHS gym. This event is not open to the general public. It will only be open to SPHS seniors and juniors along with candidates’ parents.
Saint Peter Public Schools logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Saint Peter High School inducted its 36 newest members of the SPHS Chapter of the National Honor Society (NHS) at a special ceremony at the Performing Arts Center on October 26.
 

  The newest members of the SPHS National Honor
  Society chapter were inducted at a special
  ceremony at the Performing Arts Center on Oct. 26.

The National Honor Society is the nation's premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students. More than just an honor roll, the SPHS chapter of NHS serves to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership, and character. These characteristics have been associated with membership in the organization since its beginning in 1921.

In a normal school year, the NHS induction ceremony is held in late spring but due to the pandemic situation, the induction ceremony for most of the newest members was postponed to this fall.

SPHS school counselors and NHS co-advisors Jana Sykora and Maggie Carlson presided over the October 26th induction ceremony while Principal Annette Engeldinger provided the welcome. NHS leadership team members John Borgmeier and Rahima Jamac also spoke on the four qualities that serve as standards for NHS -- Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Character.

The newest member of the SPHS Chapter of the National Honor Society inducted on October 26 includes the following students (listed alphabetically by this year’s grade):

SENIORS - Megan Beran, Gergely Hajos, Alyssa Hrdlicka, Autumn Pauly, Seth Reicks, Aubree Volk, Wesley Yang, and Chase Yeager.

JUNIORS -- Luke Borowy, Sarah Busse, Sky Gassman, Katherine Gurrola, Bryan Harroun, Shea Hildebrandt, Anna Klatt, Eva Kracht, Jaiden Landsom, Elyssa Meixner, Makayla Moline, Lauren Odland, Bennett Olson, Morgan Petersen, Ryenne Pettis, Brooke Rehnelt, Grace Remmert, Lilly Ruffin, Salena Smit, Zachary Smith, Connor Snow, Lilian Sund, Maija Tollefson, Madelyn Tollefson, Molly Voeltz, Josephine Wiebusch, Eleanor Winterfeldt, and Hannah Wohlers.

The four new inductees from the SPHS Class of 2020, who were inducted in mid-May, included Matthew Witty-Frank, Allison Madden, Kaden Oeltjenbruns, and Marina Sawyer.

After the induction, Carlson also announced SPHS’s NHS leadership team for 2020-2021. Those included:

  • Senior class representatives - John Borgemeier & Rahima Jamac.
  • Junior class representatives - Shea Hildebrandt & Eva Kracht.
  • Secretary - Eleanor Winterfeldt.
  • Treasurer - Hannah Wohlers.