K-4 News and Notes

The logo for south elementary
Kurt Hildebrandt

   South first graders use virtual reality headsets to
​​​​​​​   explore the International Space Station. 

First grade students at South Elementary are currently learning about space, astronauts, and tools that are used in space to help astronauts live in zero gravity.  Students have watched a variety of short video clips of Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut who creates videos of astronauts doing everyday things in the International Space Station (like brushing teeth or sleeping).  

Beyond watching astronauts in action, students have created astronaut helmets and paper rockets. Students will soon launch their paper rockets with straws and build an astronaut tool.  With these objects, the students will create a class green screen video of all of them using their tools in outer space.  

“To help bring all the perspective and mind-blowing thought of what space travel would be like to life, the students utilize their virtual reality headsets to explore the International Space Station,”  Angie Potts, South’s STEM teacher, said. “As students work in stations, they rotate through to the virtual reality headsets and get to see an up close experience of a real module and all the tools and equipment inside.  Students feel as if they can reach out and touch the astronauts.”


North elementary logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

The third annual North Elementary Clothes Closet event was held on November 23 and around 50 people came to the school to pick out cold-weather clothing. Donations of gently used coats, hats, mittens, and boots were collected at North Elementary, South Elementary, and the Middle School. 

  Around 50 people turned out at the third annual
  North Elementary's Clothes Closet event on
  Nov. 23 to pick up free cold weather clothing in
  preparation for this year's winter season.

The event was started two years ago by Quinn Rassbach, then a fourth grader at North and now a sixth grader at Saint Peter Middle School, who was motivated to help out after she saw kids on the playground at North without warm-weather clothes. She was assisted by her former third grade teacher, Breanna Steele, and some of her classmates with each of the clothing drives.

Recently, several volunteers including the Gustavus softball team, teachers, friends and family members of Quinn's, helped get all of the donated items set up in the North gym for the event. 

“We probably had about 50 or so people attend,” Breanna Steele said. “We got comments like ‘that is was an awesome idea!’ and ‘everyone should get involved in this the way kids grow out of clothes.’ It is nice to know people appreciate the event. It takes a lot of planning and prepping to make it successful!”

North elementary logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Children’s author Mary Bleckwehl visited North Elementary School in late November and she will also be doing a presentation for students at South Elementary in mid-December.

 Children's book author Mary Bleckwehl (seated)
 signed copies of one of her books for some 
 North Elementary students.

Bleckwehl, who penned such children’s books as Claire’s Hair, Henry You’re Hungry Again, and Henry You’re Late Again,  did a presentation for each grade level at both North and South. She included info in her presentation about she became an author and how long it takes to write and publish a children’s book. 

During her time with the students, Bleckwehl involved kids in coming up with the worst things that ever happened to them and as a group they brainstormed how to turn those events into the central problem in a book. She also had samples and photos of the whole book production process including photos artists at work using both traditional materials and digital tools and samples of pages and covers before they are cut and bound.

Bleckwehl’s books are printed right at a printing business in Mankato and she had pictures of how the printing press used just four colors to make all the different color variations in her books. 

The logo for south elementary
Kurt Hildebrandt

  The South Read A Thon Reading Bear
  sits in Mrs. Borchert's doorway letting
  people know that students were reading

South Elementary students took part in a reading relay on Friday, Nov. 8, as part of their annual Read A Thon event. 

“Our goal was to have someone in our school reading all day long and we had a schedule set up throughout the day where all of the classrooms got the chance to participate,” Heidi Wenner, South kindergarten teacher and one of the event’s organizers, said.

The traditional Reading Bear was brought to each participating classroom and the Bear sat just outside the door alerting those walking by that the students inside were taking part in the Read A Thon.

Students were encouraged to wear shirts with words on them, which prompted a discussion in many classrooms about the meaning of those words. Students also obtained sponsors/pledges for the event with the money going to support Star Pride activities at South Elementary.

North elementary logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

  Tri County Solid Waste Director Al Christensen talks 
  to Mrs. Nixon's second graders about the importance 
  of recycling inside Dem-Con's Mobile Education Center.

North Elementary students learned more about how the recycling process works when Dem-Con Companies brought its Mobile Education Center trailer to the school on October 25. The trailer’s appearance at North was made possible with the help of Tri-County Solid Waste and the visit is sponsored by Davis Family Dairies.

The Mobile Education Center gives students the unique opportunity to see first hand how recycling happens at Dem-Con’s materials recovery facility (MRF). Among the discussion topics included what is and is not recyclable, as well as what products are created using recycled materials. Those working with the students included Al Christensen, Tri-County Solid Waste director, and Jennifer Potter, Dem-Com Companies education coordinator. 

“We usually coincide these visits to schools throughout the three counties we cover (Nicollet, Le Sueur and Sibley) with either Earth Day in the spring or American Recycling Day, which is coming up on November 15,” Christensen said. “The students at North Elementary are right in our target audience for sharing information with the about recycling and teaching them early on about good recycling habits. We are very thankful to Davis Family Dairies for making this program possible through their financial support.”

Dem-Con Companies, LLC is a third-generation family owned company that has been servicing the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota since 1965. What started as an MSW (multiple solid waste) landfill in the 1960s has evolved through three generations into an integrated solid waste processing company that can meet the needs of Dem-Con’s customers and communities.