District 508 News and Notes

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

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 https://stpeterschoolsorg.finalsite.com/fs/admin/site/pages/685.

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)

Four chosen to be inducted into SPPS Hall of Fame
Kurt Hildebrandt

Four new members will be inducted into the Saint Peter Public Schools Hall of Fame at a special induction ceremony during Saint Peter High School’s Homecoming Weekend (Sept. 28-29).

Those four individuals chosen as the newest members of the Hall of Fame include alumni (year of graduation) -- Howard Hermel (1940), Bob Lambert (1963), Mary Pettis (1971); and staff -- Lester Hillger (former teacher, coach, athletic director, and principal).

“We are thrilled to honor the newest inductees into the Hall of Fame,” Saint Peter Superintendent Paul Peterson said. “Once again, the Selection Committee had a challenging task and the school district is grateful that they take their role seriously. The 2018 members have made significant contributions throughout their lives and are exceptional choices.”

The Saint Peter Public Schools Hall of Fame was established in 2008 to honor outstanding individuals who have earned significant distinction or achievement in their chosen field or volunteer endeavors. (To see a list of the previous Hall of Fame inductees please click here.)

Alumni are not required to have graduated from Saint Peter High School to be eligible, and staff eligibility is to those who worked at any of the schools in District 508.

Nominations for the Class of 2018 were received and reviewed by a selection committee comprising of the high school principal, high school guidance counselor, one member of the All-School Reunion Committee, one member of the Saint Peter Education Foundation, and one member of the Saint Peter School Board.

The following are brief bios on each of the Class of 2018 Hall of Fame inductees:

Howard Hermel

  Howard Hermel

Howard Hermel (Class of 1940) -- Howard, a retired local business leader and World War II veteran, has been long-time supporter of the St. Peter area and Saint Peter Public Schools. Howard, along with his wife, Myhra, helped build up the Hermel family’s candy selling business (A.H. Hermel Company). The company was started in 1935 by his late father, Adolph, here in St. Peter, with just a handful of employees. The iconic business, well known around south central Minnesota for its red delivery trucks, eventually grew to become a vending machine and wholesale food service distributor with offices in Mankato and New Ulm and warehouses at several locations. Howard’s son, Dave, and his grandson, Blake, eventually took over the four-generation, family-owned business, which now employs around 140 people. Howard still resides here in St. Peter.

Bob Lambert

  Bob Lambert

Bob Lambert  (Class of 1963) -- Bob, a Vietnam War veteran who logged 1,200 hours as a helicopter pilot there, was the long-time Director of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources for the city of Eden Prairie, and before that served in similar roles at Cottage Grove and St. Peter. While at Eden Prairie, Bob oversaw a department that went from four incomplete parks to 52 parks, recreation areas and conservation areas when he retired. He also was a big part of increased cooperation between the City of Eden Prairie and the Eden Prairie School District on sharing resources which led to similar partnerships across the Twin Cities metro area. He eventually returned to St. Peter where he served two terms on the Saint Peter School Board and also chaired the St Peter Area Veterans Memorial project which opened earlier this summer. Bob earned his bachelor’s degree from Mankato State College and a master’s degree from the University of Oregon.

Mary Pettis

  Mary Pettis

Mary Pettis (Class of 1971) -- Mary is a well known artist living in Taylors Falls, Minn., who has been juried into and won awards in national and international painting events and exhibitions from New York City to Scottsdale and from Maui to Barcelona. Designated in 2017 as an ARC Living Master by the Art Renewal Center, Mary is also a Signature Member of the American Impressionist Society and the American Society of Marine Artists. Her art has taken her all over the world including China, Russia, and much of Europe. She has exhibited widely, including the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland, and collectors of her work reach across the globe. Mary earned bachelor’s degrees in art and humanities, along with a French minor, from the College of St. Benedict (St. Joseph, Minn.), along with serving as a full-time student apprentice at Atelier Lack, a prestigious art school in Minneapolis started by famed artist, the late Richard Lack.

Lester Hillger

  Lester Hillger

Lester Hillger (Staff) -- Lester, who passed away in 1970, wore many hats during his time at Saint Peter Public Schools. He was a well-respected and well-liked educator who worked for the school district from 1948 to 1970 as a science teacher, coach, athletic director, and junior high principal. In addition, he also helped organize and run the City of St. Peter’s summer recreation program for many years during his tenure. A native of Morgan, Minn., Lester was a veteran of World War II, serving with Naval Intelligence in North Africa.  He eventually earned his teaching degree from Mankato State College and a master’s degree from Macalester College in St. Paul.