K-4 News and Notes

The logo for south elementary
Kurt Hildebrandt

South Elementary students have been participating in a butterfly release project the past few years using Painted Lady caterpillars and they recently released the butterflies to mark the completion of the project.

   Mrs. Depuydt's kindergarten class at South
   re​​​​leases a Painted Lady butterfly on May 18.

“We have been doing this project as a whole school for the past 3 or 4 years,” South kindergarten teacher Kim Depuydt said. “We purchased butterfly habitats for each classroom teacher, and that's all we needed besides the caterpillars. For the past few years, (retired long-time South secretary) Lois Warren has been funding this project and we’re very grateful for that!” 

“I’m just so happy to be able to continue to be part of the fun at South!” Warren said.

When the Painted Lady caterpillars arrive, they are about one centimeter long and it takes about one week to grow before they make their chrysalis and then another week and a half to two weeks to hatch as butterflies.  

   Students in Mrs. Wolfe's class got a close up look     at the Painted Lady butterfly before it flew off. 

“The students' excitement about the process is incredible as they walk into the classroom each morning to check for changes in the status of the butterflies,” Depuydt said. “Some classrooms journal the whole experience while others find books and videos to learn more about the life cycle of a Painted Lady butterfly.” 

When the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis, the excitement grows even more.  The students are always eager to help with releasing the butterflies in nature, and their amazement and wonder as they fly off into the world is a joy to witness. 

In the fall, South classes often release Monarch butterflies as well if there are any remaining at the beginning of the school year.  The transformation from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly ignites students' sense of wonder as they make predictions, observe changes, and share their learning with their classmates and families.

The logo for south elementary
Kurt Hildebrandt

South Elementary is the lucky recipient of a SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Partnership) grant. The goal of this grant is to strengthen social-emotional and literacy skills in both families’ primary language and English, as well as build family connections, according to Laura Zender, Saint Peter Public Schools Elementary Counselor. 

Every two weeks from May to August, identified Spanish-speaking families will receive a social-emotional-themed children’s book written in Spanish with a note identifying key points to discuss with their children and extension activities (such as art, games, listening to the book online). All materials needed for the extension activities will also be given to the family. Families will receive a total of seven books.

“Literacy skills in a primary language correlate to literacy skills in English,” Zender said. “Promoting literacy skills within our Spanish speaking families will not only influence positive family relationships and social emotional skills; it will also influence these children’s learning experiences within our school system.  With additional literacy experiences in their primary language, students will likely develop literacy skills in the English language more quickly. By educating families on the value of literacy experiences and social emotional skills for students, families will better understand and be able to better participate in conversations about their children’s experiences at school. 

“This will support families’ comfort with practices such as parent teacher conferences and discussions of ways to support their children at home. This project will also highlight the value of children’s primary language supporting their learning in schools. Both educators and families will be able to see the value of families’ primary language in the development of social skills and literacy skills. This will lead educators to better value the influence of families’ primary languages.”

“What a gift this grant has been! This is such a fantastic opportunity for our Spanish speaking families to engage in literacy activities as a family. Our students are so excited to take books and materials home to share,” South Principal Doreen Oelke said. 

The logo for south elementary
Kurt Hildebrandt

  The St. Peter Kiwanis Club recently donated 150
  children’s books to South Elementary and the
  Early Childhood Center as well as $250 to St. Peter
  Community & Family Education to be used for          scholarships for summer programming. Shown        here are St. Peter Kiwanis member Dr. Keith              Stelter, South Principal Doreen Oelke, Kiwanis          member Rich Helgeson, and Community & Family    Education Coordinator Tami Skinner.

Kiwanis International’s mission is to change and improve the lives of children all over the world, with providing reading opportunities being an important part of that work. With that in mind, the Kiwanis Club of St. Peter recently made a significant donation to District 508 to continue that mission.

The group recently donated 150 children’s books to South Elementary and the Early Childhood Center. In addition, the Kiwanis Club of St. Peter also contributed $250 to Saint Peter Community and Family Education to provide scholarships for local youth to participate in summer programming.

“Kiwanis International sends us books that we, as a District, can donate to local elementary and preschool students,” Dr. Keith Stelter, a member of the Kiwanis Club of St. Peter, said. “We are also donating $250 from our funds that will go to the scholarship program for Community Education’s summer programs. We know how the pandemic has affected families financially, and we hope this donation will provide an opportunity for children from these families to participate in these summer programs.”

“We very much appreciate the support of our local Kiwanis Club,” Doreen Oelke, South Elementary Principal said, “These books will be divided between our Kindergarten and first grade building and the St. Peter Early Childhood program. What a beautiful gift.”

“We are so grateful for this donation from the Kiwanis Club,” Tami Skinner, Saint Peter Community and Family Education Coordinator, said. “This donation will provide tuition assistance for children to attend these programs for free or at a reduced cost.”

North elementary logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Mrs. Koepp’s second graders at North Elementary got the chance to perform for their classmates with their production of “The Blind Men and the Elephant: A Tale from India” on March 12 in their classroom.

The students got involved in all facets of the production, in addition to rehearsing and performing, as they created a class play brochure as well as a poster for the play the kids. (See cast photos below)

“We had three groups performing it, and it was only a few minutes for each section to perform,” Mrs. Koepp said. “Many of my students had never been in a play before, so I really jazzed this up to make them feel special.”

Team 1 cast members include: (l to r) Rowan Fischer,Cece Waller, Brooklynn Francis, Daphne Lano, Kenadee Conroy and Mallory Coe.












Team 2 cast members include: (l to r) Laila Butterfield, Abdirhaman Ismail, Muntas Abdisalan, Zain Muhdin, Michelle Ramos Ramierez, Vivian Winkler.












Team 3 cast members include: (l to r), Dreysen Seys, Donovan Thompson, Trevon Fredick, Henry Stonekind, Kaden Stauff, Munaser Ali, Lucas Martinez.


The logo for south elementary
Kurt Hildebrandt

Motivating students to read is vital for schools at all levels, but it has its challenges, too, especially during the middle of the school year. To help inspire its students to read at South Elementary, the staff there recently created a “Secret Library” in a special labeled area in the school’s Book Nook room, which is usually a teachers’ area.

“The secret library was created because we hoped to spark a mid-year excitement for reading,” Instructional Coach Lori Pierret said.  And it seems to be doing just that! We are calling it "secret" to create excitement and a level of mystique. The students sneak in, crawl through our little tunnel entrance, choose a book, and sneak back out. 

“We have received some feedback from families saying their children are talking about it and are motivated to read their book and come back for a new one. Even if it motivates one student, it’s a win in my mind.”

Students can use the Secret Library for their book bags or take-home books, or anything that works for their classroom routines. 

“My students are loving the secret library! They are so excited to read, which makes my teacher’s heart happy,” North first grade teacher Bridget Powell said. “Many of my students bring their book back daily as they just can't wait to exchange their book for a new one. Students are building their confidence as readers because the books they are checking out are at their independent reading level, which means they can read these books at home to family members with little to no help. 

“Reading independently combined with the fact that the Secret Library is designed with fun in mind keeps them coming back for more! I have had several families reach out and tell me how impressed they are with the secret library as their children are coming home asking to read! We as teachers strive to instill a love for reading within our students, and I think the Secret Library helps us do just that.”

Once inside the Secret Library, students will find a colored bin for each level range of books. Students are encouraged to pick books from the bin that best matches their reading level. Then, students are allowed to take the books back to their room or home with them, and they are encouraged to return them in order to choose new ones. 

“We have such a nice collection of books, and it's great to have another way to get them into the hands of our students,” Pierret said.