This is an ongoing list of just some of the many accomplishments of ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools students and staff. Additional submissions always welcome; send to CommunityRelations@district279.org
POINTS OF PRIDE
The Maple Grove Ambassadors visited Cedar Island Elementary and Oak View Elementary on January 5, where they read to students and talked about the importance of dreaming big. Two of the ambassadors are Osseo Area Schools alumnae: Megan Nelson, a graduate of Osseo Senior High, and Ellie Brimeyer, a graduate of Maple Grove Senior High.
Osseo Senior High’s Adam Larson was featured as a Standout Student on CCX News. Larson manages the boys’ basketball team; hosts several weekly shows for the school channel; and is active in theatre. This year, he was awarded a Hennepin Theatre Trust SpotLight Award for his role in the school’s fall musical, “Once Upon a Mattress.”
Rush Creek Elementary student Brooke Berglin is the grand prize winner in the Maple Grove Fire and Rescue’s 2016 Fire Prevention Poster contest. There were nearly eleven-hundred entrants in the contest, which was open to fourth grade students at both public and private elementary schools in Maple Grove.
Maple Grove Senior High’s Taylor Wente, shown in the center of this photo, is a member of Team USA, which topped Canada to win its third straight gold medal at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women’s World Championship on January 14.
CONTRIBUTING TO COMMUNITY
A number of community partnerships have resulted in financial and programmatic collaborations that benefit students in Osseo Area Schools. Some highlights of those partnerships include:
Fair Oaks Elementary was awarded the HealthierUS School Challenge Award for providing nutritious food choices for students and enhancing physical activity programs. Nationwide, only 221 schools received this honor in the current award cycle. Fair Oaks will use its $1,000 award to create more before- and after-school fitness activities for students.
Park Brook Elementary students were recently featured in two publications produced by longtime community partners of the school, The Loppet Foundation and Three Rivers Park District. Photos of Park Brook students appeared in The Loppet Foundation’s 2016 Annual Report and the Three Rivers Park District’s 2017 summer camp guide.
The Osseo Lions and the Maple Grove Lions each awarded Elm Creek Elementary $500 to help the school create The Eagles’ Roost, a room that will provide a calming atmosphere and help students get back into a ready-to-learn state.
Elm Creek Elementary was also awarded $10,000 through Campbell’s Grand Stand for Schools program. The school plans to use the money to fund field trips for each classroom and to purchase reading support materials. Elm Creek is one of only 100 schools nationwide that received the Sweepstakes Grand Prize.
Over the past two months, nearly a dozen community organizations donated winter-related items to students at Crest View Elementary. From coats and snow pants to gloves, scarves and hats, the generous donations will help keep Crest View students safe, healthy and warm this winter.
Students at Woodland Elementary made 310 blankets and 125 pillows for patients at Gillette Children’s Hospital. This is the 12th year that Woodland students have partnered with Gillette. During that time, they have made more than 1,900 blankets and 1,000 pillows. District 279 Foundation sponsored the project.
Maple Grove Middle School’s Student Council recently hosted a Generosity Drive, supporting the Humane Society, the American Red Cross, and Toys for Tots. In total, students raised more than $5,000 for those organizations.
Kirsten Anderson, a Four Star Express instructor at Rush Creek Elementary, was recently honored as KS95’s Teacher of the Week for the support she provides her students. Anderson is one of approximately 30 local teachers who will be recognized by KS95 this school year.
District General Counsel Margaret Westin was elected chairperson of the Minnesota School Boards Association Council of School Attorneys in early January. At the continuing legal education seminar held in conjunction with the annual meeting, she gave a presentation entitled: Public Employee Free Speech Rights—Pickering and Ceballos [seh-BYE-ohs] in the Digital Age.
Woodland Elementary was awarded the 2017 Readers’ Choice Award for Best Public School by Brooklyn Park Sun Post readers. Hundreds of readers voted in the local awards program over the summer.
Osseo Area Schools, in partnership with Brooklyn Center Schools and Hennepin Technical College, is the recipient of a $35,000 grant from the Bosch Community Fund. The grant will help our district expand STEM and robotics opportunities to students. A STEM summer camp is planned for this summer.
U.S. Representative Erik Paulsen visited two second grade classrooms at Cedar Island Elementary on January 17. Paulsen read the book “House Mouse Senate Mouse” to students and answered their questions about what it’s like to work as a congressman.
Thirty-nine Osseo Area Schools students were honored at the Star Student Awards, presented by the Business Education Partnership Committee of North Hennepin Area Chamber of Commerce. These students were recognized for their outstanding achievements in career advancement, employment or volunteerism.
Maple Grove Senior High’s Sikai Yang was featured on Channel 12 as a Standout Student. Sikai is a National Merit Semifinalist and a National AP Scholar, is fluent in Chinese, and served as a tutor in South Africa as part of the school’s global outreach program.
Maple Grove Crimson Robotics team members, along with community partner Boston Scientific, mentored First Lego League Junior teams at Basswood, Fernbrook, Garden City and Palmer Lake. The teams showcased their hard work at a First Lego League Expo where many of the teams won awards.
CONTRIBUTING TO COMMUNITY
Several of our schools are contributing to community this winter season with various charitable giving events:
- Fernbrook Elementary students are collecting toys, food, hats and mittens to donate to CROSS.
- Basswood Elementary School is participating in a toy drive.
- Elm Creek Elementary’s student council is sponsoring a hat and mitten drive.
- Osseo Middle is collecting coats, hats, gloves, scarves and socks for the homeless.
Family Book Club is a new activity offered at Birch Grove Elementary. Families join their students to listen to a featured book that is read aloud. Afterwards, they participate in teacher-led activities related to the book. The club fosters stronger relationships between staff and families while allowing students and their families to enjoy quality time together.
Students from Park Brook Elementary who produce the school’s morning newscast visited the WCCO-TV studios in Minneapolis. Students learned how a professional news studio looks and works, and learned about career opportunities in television.
Osseo Senior High hosted a VEX Robotics Qualifying tournament with more than 40 teams competing for a bid to state.
Students at several of our schools participated in the Hour of Code, which is a global initiative that provides an opportunity to expose students to important 21st-century computer science and programming skills.
Staff at Garden City have been offering after school clubs for nearly 100 students. Staff introduced clubs based on their passions such as art, Lego League, drama, community engagement, super hero comics and cooking.
Photography students at Park Center studied historical works of art created specifically to voice social change. They were inspired to create their own empowering statements by combining photographs and quotes that depict their values and beliefs.
Fair Oaks Elementary partnered with Hennepin County Library to host a Family Library Night at the new Brooklyn Park Library. Those in attendance enjoyed literacy-based activities and children received free books courtesy of District 279 Foundation grants, Brooklyn Center Lions, and Half Price Books.
Jessica Skolnick [SKOL-nick], a first grade teacher at Palmer Lake Elementary, and Elie Bengston, a science teacher and health sciences program coordinator at Osseo Senior High, were honored as TIES Exceptional Teachers at the TIES conference. They were recognized for their commitment to making a positive impact on student learning through technology.
Osseo’s Dakota Culture and Language Specialist Ethan Neerdaels was named the state’s Outstanding Dakota Language Teacher of the Year by the Minnesota Indian Education Association.
District staff are often requested by local, state and national organizations to share their expertise as education leaders. Some recent examples include:
- Osseo Senior High Emergency Services Instructors Dave Casella and Gary Leafblad delivered a presentation at a national career tech conference.
- Palmer Lake Elementary Principal Billy Chan facilitated a conversation about race and its impact on student achievement at an event for Scholia, which is a Minnesota education organization.
- Twelve staff members were presenters at the TIES Conference on technology in education.
Our students had many opportunities to achieve their dreams this fall. The following are just a few fall season highlights provided by each high school's activities department:
At MAPLE GROVE SENIOR HIGH —
- The boys’ cross country team finished first in the conference, first in sections and third at state. Alex Miley finished 5th at state, the highest state placement in the sport in school history. More than ten male and female cross country athletes earned All-Conference honors and/or competed at state. Coach Matt Gifford was named Section 5AA Coach of the Year.
- In tennis, Zoe Adkins placed first in sections and advanced to the state tournament.
- In soccer, the girls’ team placed second in sections, and Ryan DeBois was named a Mr. Soccer finalist.
- Crimson football advanced to the state tournament, and quarterback Brad Davison was named Metro Player of the Year by the Star Tribune.
- The girls’ swim and dive team earned second at sections, and Stacy Backstrom was named Section 8AA Coach of the Year. Rose Gallagher was named Section 8AA Swimmer of the Year and took 7th place at state in the 500 free. Several other athletes also qualified for state.
At OSSEO SENIOR HIGH —
- Volleyball finished 2nd in conference and advanced to section semi-finals. Tina Boe was named to the All-State, All-Metro, and All-Conference teams.
- Nash Jensen will play in the Minnesota Football Showcase All-Star Game in December.
- The cheer team earned a trip to the National Competition that will take place in Florida.
- Corey Moody and Vaughn Thomas earned All-Conference honors in cross country, and Corey Moody advanced to the state meet.
At PARK CENTER SENIOR HIGH —
- Brenton Brakke was named to the First All-State Team and Fuad Tahir was named to Second All-State Team for boys’ soccer.
- In adapted soccer, the PI team placed 4th in the state tournament, and the CI team finished the regular season undefeated and became back-to-back state champs with another state tournament win.
Six students earned National Merit Commended Student status in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program. From Maple Grove Senior High, Commended Students include Jennifer Galloway, Alyssa Gjervold, and Kevin Nguyen. Students from Osseo Senior High are Samara Strootman, Zachary Pedersen, and Kaylee Anderson
Imane Chatri and Hiran Patel earned first place in Park Center Senior High’s first debate competition of the season.
Thirteen students throughout the district signed national letters of intent to play their respective sport in college. Each of our comprehensive high schools provided opportunities for students to experience academic and athletic success as they pursued their dreams to become collegiate athletes.
Park Center Senior High student Judith Marquez Duran was featured on Channel 12 as a standout student for using her multilingual skills to help others.
Maple Grove Senior High students Ryan Hankins and Fariza Hassan qualified for debate nationals in the Public Forum category. Nina Mudgett and Shruthi Srinivasan earned first alternate for nationals. Alex Chun earned second alternate to Nationals in the Lincoln Douglas Debate category.
CONTRIBUTING TO COMMUNITY
Osseo Senior High hockey players helped others in the community with fall yard clean up. This annual service event promotes teamwork, community service and relationship building.
North View Middle School students Keilah Lopez-Pantoja and Lisa Cole-Harris were recognized with Random Acts of Kindness awards by Brooklyn Center City Council for assisting with office work at school and mentoring younger students.
On Veterans Day, Fernbrook students performed a musical tribute and recognized veteran guests. Edinbrook students greeted veterans with handshakes, carnations and patriotic songs at Hy-Vee as part of the store’s Veterans Day celebration.
Several Osseo Senior High cheerleaders raised money for breast cancer research and participated in the American Cancer Society Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at U.S. Bank Stadium.
A group of Maple Grove Middle School students and staff shared their positive experiences partnering with a University of Minnesota graduate student on a Science and Social Studies pilot program. The hands-on, exploratory learning program, which was funded by grants and implemented at Maple Grove Middle last spring, was popular with both teachers and students.
Osseo Senior High students encouraged reading with Osseo Reads Bookmark Day. High school students went to 14 of our elementary schools to give bookmarks and high fives to encourage a love a reading in younger students.
Oak View fifth graders honed their teamwork and leadership skills while exploring rock climbing, archery and other activities at Fort Snelling’s Base Camp.
Weaver Lake Elementary hosted a STEM in Action Fair where students showcased their scientific expertise to their families. Nearly 325 families attended and learned about topics like insects, pollinators and engineering
Student leaders from Maple Grove and Osseo Senior High Schools participated in a Rotary Ethics Workshop to learn how to identify an ethical dilemma, use tools to deal with them, and apply ethical thinking to the world around them.
Edinbrook Elementary and Fair Oaks Elementary received “Game On” grants for health and wellness programming. With the funds, Edinbrook will purchase fitness testing equipment and Fair Oaks will implement structured brain break activities.
Boston Scientific hosted Osseo Senior High students to teach them about careers in medical manufacturing. Students visited company facilities and participated in a video created by Greater Minneapolis St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership.
Many students throughout the district expressed their creative, technical, and leadership talents through musical performances:
- Woodland Elementary performed “The Lion King Kids”
- Maple Grove Middle performed “The Wizard of Oz”
- Maple Grove Senior High performed “Pippin” and
- Osseo Senior High performed “Once Upon a Mattress”
MISSION DRIVEN EMPLOYEES
Maple Grove Girls' Hockey Coach Amber Hegland was inducted into the University of Minnesota’s ‘M’ Club Hall of Fame. She was an All-American in 1996 and an Academic All-American in 1998 for the Gophers.
In partnership with Chef Marshall O'Brien, Osseo Area Schools held a training for the nutrition staff from several of our elementary schools, preparing and testing new vegetable recipes.
Brooklyn Center City Council recognized Garden City’s Principal David Branch and former library media specialist Sally Mays with a Random Acts of Kindness award for creating a Little Free Library at Garden City Elementary last spring.
A record number of 164 district students earned AP Scholar recognition from the College Board, based on exams taken during the 2015-2016 school year. Additionally, Four Maple Grove Senior High students earned National AP Scholar achievement. Our National AP Scholars for 2015-2016 are Michael Lu, Arpan Pal, Evan Skaja, and Sikai Yang.
A record number 72 students became members of the “30 Club” at Osseo Senior High by scoring a 30 or higher in one or more sections of the ACT.
Palmer Lake Elementary is one of only nine Minnesota schools to receive the Let’s Move! Active Schools National Award, which celebrates a school’s commitment to providing students with at least 60 minutes a day of before-, during-, or after-school physical activity.
A strong foundation in math and science led Maple Grove Senior High grads Michael and Sean Wegerson to co-found Open Space Frontier Technologies. They are working on creating a cube satellite that can hold a small payload to bring experiments into space.
Osseo Senior High recently inducted 12 former athletes into the Osseo Senior High Hall of Fame.
CONTRIBUTING TO COMMUNITY
In celebration of their community service efforts, students from seven of our schools participated in We Day Minnesota, a concert-style event with motivational speakers and singers. The movement aligns with our district’s mission to inspire students to contribute to community.
Osseo Senior High Opportunities in Emergency Care volunteered at the Twin Cities Marathon where they enjoyed the opportunity to use their skills in a hands-on environment alongside doctors and paramedics.
Osseo Senior High grad Alison Rusche participated in the Chicago Marathon as part of a group that raises money to support youth cancer patients at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. She has raised over $1,000 and will continue fundraising as she prepares to participate in the Big Event, a 24-hour Dance Marathon fundraiser in February.
Students at Park Brook Elementary celebrated International Walk to School Day by walking three blocks to school with Principal Scott Taylor and volunteers from Safe Kids Northwest Metro Minneapolis, FedEx and North Memorial Health Care. The event promoted pedestrian safety and showed students the importance of driver visibility and pedestrian awareness.
Five Park Center students participated in the SAP Social Innovation Series, where they worked with mentors to design and pitch a project in a shark tank style competition about health and wellness in school. The opportunity exposed students to brainstorming, collaborating, formulating a pitch and presentation skills.
Osseo Senior High’s Opportunities in Emergency Care Health Sciences students visited Boston Scientific and learned about the different kinds of career opportunities available for someone with a medical background.
Osseo Area Schools’ three high school girls and boys cross country teams partnered to host a District 279 Running Series for students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The three one-mile races promoted healthy lifestyles through being active and offered relationship-building opportunities for students in our district.
Several of our schools are focusing on kindness activities during October, which is Bullying Prevention Month. A few examples include:
- Several of our schools participated in the Kindness in Chalk movement. Positive messages of acceptance and inspiration were written on the sidewalks at schools for students and staff to read and absorb as they entered and exited school.
- Fair Oaks students learned about Kindness and using their smile as a way to connect to others in a positive way. They also created artwork to reflect what they learned.
- Throughout the year, Oak View students learn about using language to help be assertive and calm while standing up to bullying.
- Park Brook students were encouraged to leave a positive footprint and be an upstander instead of a bystander. Fifth graders taught a mini-lesson to first graders and helped them trace their foot on paper to create footprints that students then decorated with positive messages.
- Brooklyn Middle and Elm Creek Elementary will participate in Unity Day on October 19. Staff and students are encouraged to wear orange, which represents unity and support against bullying.
On National Manufacturing Day, students from Park Center Senior and Osseo Senior learned about career opportunities while visiting area manufacturing companies.
Forty-six students from Park Brook Elementary participated in the Twin Cities 5K thanks to a partnership with Twin Cities in Motion, a local nonprofit that sponsors and organizes the annual event. Students’ participation fees and transportation fees were covered by the group.
Maple Grove Senior High physics teacher and robotics coach, Erik Malm, was featured in WCCO’s segment on Excellence in Education. He said his favorite thing about his job as a teacher is seeing the moment of understanding on his students’ faces.
Kelli Waalk-Gilbertson was named Adapted Sports Coach of the Year by the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association. She coaches the district’s adapted floor hockey, soccer and softball teams.
Bob Davis celebrated his 47th year of employment with Osseo Area Schools. Davis works in the district warehouse and helps deliver the mail, bringing his smile and positive attitude to all of our sites daily. He also attended Osseo schools as a student.
Four students in the district have been named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists based on their junior year PSAT scores. They include Maple Grove Senior High students Alyssa Risch, Allan Khankari, and Sikai Yang and Osseo Senior High student Collin Sham. Semifinalists are among the highest scoring entrants in the state, representing less than one percent of all U.S. high school seniors.
CONTRIBUTING TO COMMUNITY
District 279 Foundation hosted a Fun Run for nearly 200 participants. All proceeds from the event will support media centers in all schools across the district.
The Maple Grove Girls Swim and Dive team recently volunteered at Feed My Starving Children. Collectively, they packed over 100 boxes of food which will provide 21,600 meals to children in countries such as Nicaragua and Haiti.
In an effort to make recess more enjoyable for all students, Elm Creek Elementary recently partnered with the Maple Grove Lowe’s Home Improvement store to install two “buddy benches” next to the school’s basketball court. Students are encouraged to invite someone sitting on the buddy bench to join them in their activities as an effort to foster new friendships and a greater sense of community at school.
Loyce Agboola displayed his grand prize winning exhibit from last spring’s Kidstop STEM Fair at the Minnesota State Fair this summer. Loyce was a student at Zanewood Community School last year and attends North View Middle this year.
The real-life "Rudy" Ruettiger, whose early life & football career at Notre Dame was the inspiration for the movie "Rudy," recently visited Osseo Senior High. Rudy encouraged students to strive to achieve their dreams by developing the qualities of character, courage, contribution and commitment.
Some of our Osseo and Maple Grove students were featured in a Maple Grove Magazine article on the high school competitive mountain biking league. Maple Grove student Zach Tracy was instrumental in getting other Crimson students involved in the sport, which now includes a team with about 30 students from Maple Grove, Osseo and Champlin.
Approximately 170 new teachers attended new teacher orientation at the end of August with more than two dozen of them claiming Osseo Area Schools as their alma mater.
Osseo Senior High Principal Michael Lehan was inducted into the Channel 12 Sports Hall of Fame for his leadership and athletic prowess as a football and track standout who went on to play in the NFL before pursuing a career as an educator.
Coordinator of Instructional Systems Lisa Sjogren was the Minnesota representative at the U.S. Department of Education’s EdCampUSA event in July. Sjogren also presented at the International Society for Technology in Education conference last summer and discussed how we are all architects of student learning. During the presentation, she shared some of the ways Osseo Area Schools supports student learning via technology.
Ten Class of 2016 Park Center students earned an International Baccalaureate Diploma from the International Baccalaureate Organization. The IB Diploma Program, for high school juniors and seniors, is an academically challenging and balanced program of education that prepares students for success at university and in life beyond.
The Elm Creek Elementary PTO was given Special Recognition for General Excellence in the national PTO Today Parent Group of the Year search. One of the key factors for recognition was a demonstration of strong parent involvement.
Maple Grove Magazine interviewed three of our students as they are about to embark on their senior year. Maple Grove’s Bubba Charlie Horton and Osseo Senior High’s Corey Moody and Tina Boe were featured for their academics, leadership, activities and goals for the future.
School district students Samantha Swensson and Julia Mitchell, not pictured, were among the state’s school bus safety poster contest winners who helped raise awareness to Stop On Red. The Minnesota Pupil Transportation Association and the Minnesota State Patrol recognized winners at a recent Minnesota Twins game. Samantha attended Basswood Elementary when she created the poster and will enter Maple Grove Middle this fall. Julia attended Fernbrook and is heading to Osseo Middle.
CONTRIBUTING TO COMMUNITY
As part of their summer-long service-learning project, Kidstop students throughout the district partnered with University of Minnesota Gopher athletes to raise funds for the Pinky Swear Foundation, which helps families with children battling cancer. The hosted charity car washes, lemonade stands and collected more than $1,800 for the Foundation.
Park Center cheerleaders brightened children’s spirits when they visited the hospital’s Star Studio to co-host “Kids Clubhouse,” which is broadcast to hospital rooms in Children’s Hospitals of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Osseo and Park Center Senior High students participated in Beneath the Skins, a multicultural show hosted by Junior Brooklyn Interact Club, which is overseen by the City of Brooklyn Park. The goal of the event was to educate, create understanding between different cultures, and to connect through similarities. Students celebrated their cultures through performing, modeling, and sharing food. 100 percent of the proceeds from the event will be used to acquire clean medical supplies and school supplies for a leprosy village in Cameroon, West Africa.
Community Education’s SPOT students and Osseo Middle School's O-Zone students partnered for a summer Community Service Day. Service activities included: putting together packages for Brooklyn Park’s Avenues for Homeless Youth; writing thank you cards to local police officers, firefighters, and city council members; making fleece tie blankets for Maple Grove Hospital’s pediatric patients; and making coasters for staff members at Osseo Middle School, Maple Grove Middle School, and the Educational Service Center.
Two hundred students participated in Freedom School this summer at Birch Grove Elementary and Park Brook Elementary. Freedom School builds strong, literate, and empowered children through academic enrichment, cultural experiences and positive attitudes through affirmation. Freedom School programming has curbed summer learning loss and is helping to close the achievement gap by accelerating student achievement.
This summer, Osseo Area Schools hosted 10 local student interns as part of BrookLynk, an initiative of the Twin Cities-based Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth. With assignments in human resources, community education, information technology, custodial services and the Freedom Schools program, the teens had an opportunity to explore potential careers, hone their skills and contribute to department and district wide projects.
Osseo Senior High Opportunities in Emergency Care students used the health care skills they've learned while providing first aid support at the Soccer USA Cup in Blaine this summer.
The Loppet Foundation joined forces with Park Brook Elementary to send some of our students to Loppet Adventure Camp. As featured on WCCO, the experience encourages youth to be active while introducing them to outdoor recreation activities. Research suggests that regular physical activity helps students focus, learn and perform better in class. Park Brook integrates a Focus on Fitness throughout the school day to help students find their path to be healthy, well prepared and ready to learn.
Osseo Senior High social studies teacher Bill Baumann was invited to Washington, D.C. to learn creative strategies to integrate C-SPAN programming into classroom activities, connecting students with public affairs content and cultivating a better understanding of how federal government works.
Osseo Area Schools’ food and nutrition staff was featured in Maple Grove Magazine for their focus on creating healthy and tasty vegetable recipes that our students enjoy. For the past three years, staff have trained with Chef Marshal and collaborated in creating attractive vegetable recipes.
Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest named Maple Grove Senior High teacher Jeff Rush High School Educator of the Year. This award is presented to an educator who has performed outstanding service in making Junior Achievement’s high school programs available for their students.
Basswood Elementary Principal Patrick Smith was featured on Channel 12 News sharing back-to-school tips for students and families. He touched on establishing routines, homework study habits, and more.