MS-HS News and Notes

The Saint Peter Public Schools Logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

School board officially accepts $42,000 gift to be used for French immersion experiences

A gift from the estate of the late Jeffrey Rosoff, a former math professor at Gustavus Adolphus College, will help ensure students from Saint Peter Public Schools will continue to benefit, from experiences at the Lac Du Bois French immersion camps at Concordia Language Villages, long into the future.

  This group of SPHS & SPMS students were the most
  recent to visit the Lac Du Bois French immersion
  camp in early November.

The Saint Peter School Board officially accepted the gift of $41,957.80 from Rosoff’s estate at their November 19 meeting, and, according to Saint Peter High School French teacher Mary Behrends, this gift will pay $100 for each French camp weekend participant moving forward. Additional support is planned for students interested in CLV’s summer Lac du Bois programs.  Rosoff, who was a professor at Gustavus since 1981, passed away on May 16, 2018. During all these years, the Rosoff and Behrends families maintained a close friendship.

Rosoff, whose son David was a 2004 SPHS graduate and very active in the school’s French program, was a strong supporter of Behrends’ program during his son’s time as a student at Saint Peter Public Schools. David Rosoff died in the summer of 2004 from injuries sustained in a car accident, and his father continued to honor his memory by continuing to support the SPHS French program financially as well as endowing the David C. Rosoff Memorial Scholarship given annually to an SPHS graduating senior.

This school year alone, more than 60 students have already benefited from his legacy grants by attending weekend French camps at Lac Du Bois.

“Jeff was a mathematician and a bit of a renaissance man who loved speaking French, and it was a big part of his life,” Behrends said “He loved music as well as woodworking, and was an amazing conversationalist.

“David was a very smart student who was very active with our (SPHS) French department, and Jeff got very involved as well and remained that way long after David passed away and this gift will continue that support probably long past I’m retired.”

Colleen Jacks, who was Jeff’s long-time partner and is currently a biology professor at Gustavus, saw first-hand how much of a supporter he was of the SPHS French program.

 “Jeff was a strong supporter of language study and believed that the earlier it was started, the stronger the outcomes were for students,” Jacks said. “Jeff studied several languages himself (German, a little Italian and Spanish), but was always drawn to French, a language he continued to study and speak as an adult - he was a true Francophile.

“He appreciated the cultural and language immersion experience that Lac du Bois of the Concordia Language Villages provided students, including his son David. Jeff appreciated all that Mary Behrends did/does to encourage French study at all levels, including taking groups of students from North, the middle school and high school for weekend immersion camps at Lac du Bois during the school year.  

“He was very aware that the cost of this experience was beyond the reach of many families, and he didn't want financial constraints to rob St. Peter students of an experience that he believed would expand their worlds.  For a number of years he made an annual donation to the school district to assist students with the tuition for the weekend experiences. His high regard for Mary and her willingness to make these opportunities available to so many students led him to include this bequest to help continue funding students at Lac du Bois in his estate plan.”

Middle school logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Education Minnesota celebrated American Education Week by honoring Melissa Terpstra, Saint Peter Middle School’s thinking room supervisor, as the 2018 Education Minnesota Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year.

  Missy Terpstra (middle) recently received Education 
  Minnesota's Education Support Professional of the 
  Year Award. She is shown here with Education MN 
  Vice President Paul Mueller (left) and SPMS Principal
  Jon Graff (right). 

Terpstra has worked in St. Peter Public Schools since 2003, first as a special education paraprofessional at South Elementary and then as a thinking room supervisor at South Elementary and now at St. Peter Middle School. She also serves as the local president of the Education Minnesota Paraprofessional Educators of Saint Peter union.

“Missy is a whatever-you-need kind of person who is always so supportive and helpful for all of us at the middle school,” Principal Jon Graff said. “We started the Thinking Room during the middle of the first quarter in the fall of 2017, and she was the perfect person to supervise that area.”

As a thinking room supervisor, Terpstra is the first point of contact for students experiencing behavior issues in the classroom, lunchroom, hallways or during recess. In her award nomination materials, Terpstra’s colleagues describe her as authentic, impressive, dedicated and award-worthy.

“I love what I do and I do what I love,” said Terpstra. “I’m not sure what our school would look like without ESPs. We go hand-in-hand with the teachers.”

Terpstra also works tirelessly to make sure ESPs are supported and valued members of the district. As local union president, she makes sure all ESPs know the value of the union. She advocates for ESPs to receive professional development, attend conferences and be a part of the larger labor movement.

St. Peter Superintendent Paul Peterson summarized what all her colleagues shared about Terpstra in his recommendation letter for her award nomination, “What I have found is the key ingredient to success within schools and working with students is authenticity, and this is something that Missy brings to her job every single day and every single year.”

As the new Minnesota ESP of the Year, Terpstra will receive a new Apple iPad and a $1,000 honorarium. She will also be nominated for the National Education Association’s ESP of the Year and will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas for the awards ceremony in March.

“ESPs are often the first people that interact with our students each day and the last ones to say goodbye,” said Education Minnesota Vice President Paul Mueller, who presented Terpstra with her award. “A big piece of our students’ successes is the personal interaction that ESPs can give them, in and out of the classroom. I don’t think anyone knows that more than our 2018 Education Support Professional of the Year, Melissa Terpstra.”

American Education Week, a national celebration of public education, runs from Nov. 12 through Nov. 16. Wednesday had been designated as Education Support Professionals Day to honor the people who keep schools running and students safe, healthy and ready to learn.

The winner of the Education Support Professional of the Year award is selected by a five-member selection committee that includes three leaders of Education Minnesota, the winner in the previous year and a representative of an external organization, which was United Educators Credit Union this year.

About Education Minnesota

Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO. More information about Education Minnesota is available


FFA chapter earns National 3-Star Chapter Award
Kurt Hildebrandt

SPHS FFA members presented award at national convention in Indianapolis

   SPHS FFA members received the prestigious National
   FFA 3-Star Chapter Award during the recent National 
   FFA Convention in Indianapolis.

The South Central Agri-Science Academy’s FFA chapter, which is based here at Saint Peter High School, was recently awarded the National FFA 3-Star Chapter Award during the 91st annual National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind.

The National Chapter Award Program is designed to recognize FFA chapters that actively implement the mission and strategies of the organization. These chapters improve chapter operations using the National Quality Chapter Standards (NQCS) and a Program of Activiteis (POA) that emphasize growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture.

Chapters are rewarded for providing educational experiences for the entire membership.In order to qualify for a state or national award, your chapter must complete at least 15 activities: one for each of the five quality standards in each of the three divisions. Additionally, the chapter must meet the minimum requirements as outlined in the National Quality Chapter Standards.

Chapters that receive a gold rating by their state FFA associations are eligible to compete for National FFA 3-star, 2-star or 1-star ratings. Each chapter that competes for these awards will receive a multi-year plaque and a spur designating their 3-star, 2-star or 1-star rating. They will receive additional spurs for each year they compete and receive a rating from the National FFA Organization. Chapters that receive a national 3-star chapter rating will be eligible to compete for the National Premier Chapter Awards, Models of Excellence and Middle School Models of Excellence Awards.

Saint Peter High School senior FFA members Mitch Pettis and Jasmine Witty received the school’s National Chapter Award on stage during the second general session at the National FFA Convention on Thursday (Oct. 25). SPHS FFA advisors are Gena Lilienthal and Michael Reeser. Other FFA members attending the convention were Cole Deegan, Hayden Thole, Blake Rehnelt and Olivia Stevens.

The Saint Peter Public Schools Logo
Kurt Hildebrandt

Class of 2018’s composite score is .5 points better than Minnesota’s average

For the fourth consecutive year, the Saint Peter High School senior class has scored above the state average for composite score in the ACT College Readiness Test. The 152 members of the SPHS class of 2018 who took the test tallied a composite score of 21.8, compared to the state average of 21.3. 

In related news, this past year’s senior class finished above the state average in the four specific testing areas as well. Those average scores (and state averages) included -- English - 21.4 (20.2); math - 21.8 (21.4); reading - 22.1 (21.7); and science - 21.6 (21.4).

“We are always anxious to get our ACT results,” SPHS Principal Annette Engeldinger said. “I believe they’re a great indicator of how well our teachers are preparing SPHS students for success in college, and, once again, our teachers and students should be proud!”

Last year’s senior class tallied a score of 21.4 in English, well ahead of the state average of 20.2, and a score of 21.8 in Math, which was four-tenths better than the state score of 21.4. The SPHS class of 2018 also posted a 22.1 score for Reading, compared to a 21.7 for the state average, and a 21.6 in science, two-tenths better than the state average of 21.4.

Below is a graphic showing a five-year comparison of Saint Peter High School’s ACT scores and the corresponding state averages for those respective senior classes.

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.