Local Nonprofit at White House
College Possible Joins National Leaders to Solve the Degree Divide
Jim McCorkell, Founder and CEO of College Possible, an organization working in local communities to coach low-income students to and through college, attended a meeting at the White House in January convened by First Lady Michelle Obama, joining university presidents, higher education leaders and White House officials. The day-long summit was designed to chart a path to higher education for more low-income students across the county. The summit was jointly led by the First Lady’s office and officials from the National Economic Council, the Domestic Policy Council and the Department of Education.
“We’re pleased to join this critical conversation. We’ve devoted the last 13 years to studying the problem of education inequality and we’ve found strong, cost-effective solutions,” said College Possible Twin Cities Executive Director Sara Dziuk. “Educating our capable low-income students is not only the right thing to do; it is the only way to maintain our country’s strong workforce in a competitive global economy.”
Higher education leaders at the summit called for the growth of proven solutions to America’s degree divide. As a result, College Possible launched a new program in Philadelphia in February, in partnership with four Philadelphia high schools, and plans to begin serving students this fall.
“Over the last year, we’ve carefully studied the challenges and opportunities faced by Philadelphia’s students and listened to the perspectives of community and education leaders,” said McCorkell, who attended the summit. “We are so grateful to have found prospective partners and supporters who share our vision of helping more low-income Philadelphia students become college graduates.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney described the Summit as part of an effort to ensure that “we reach disadvantaged students early enough so that they are on a path to succeed in college and in their careers, and to help them wherever possible to match to the colleges where they are most likely to succeed.”
College Possible received attention last November when Harvard University released historic results from a study using randomized controls, considered to be the gold standard of evaluation. The findings show that College Possible’s approach to unlocking the potential of low-income students is effective and that students served are significantly more likely to enroll in a four year college.
Lead researcher, Dr. Chris Avery explained, “While there are many organizations working to promote college access for low-income students, to my knowledge, College Possible is the only program that has demonstrated its success in increasing applications and enrollment at four-year colleges in a randomized trial.” Dr. Avery’s analysis estimates that the College Possible program increases enrollment in four-year colleges by 15 percentage points, and this result is statistically significant.
College Possible’s approach is designed to connect students to the college that best matches their abilities at a fraction of the cost of other college success programs. Addressing “undermatching,” or the pervasive funneling of low-income students to colleges that do not challenge them, is a core focus of College Possible and of the White House’s new initiative.
College Possible™ is a nationally-growing nonprofit organization making college admission and success possible for low-income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support. Founded in Minnesota in 2000, College Possible is serving 15,000 Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon and Wisconsin students in 2013-14 with plans to reach more than 20,000 students annually in ten locations across the country by 2020. More information is available at CollegePossible.org.
On May 17, Twin Cities College Possible sends off its college-going seniors, celebrates our hard-working juniors and welcomes sophomores to College Possible. All are welcome to attend at the Mariucci Arena on the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. A keynote speech by Generation Next’s executive director and former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is featured.
College Possible Twin Cities, 540 Fairview Ave. N., Suite 201. Phone: 651.917.3525.
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Linwood-Monroe Student Wins Poster Contest
The city of St. Paul will plant a tree at Linwood-Monroe Arts Plus in honor of a student who won an annual poster contest held by the city’s Tree Advisory Panel.
Grace Hogan created the winning poster, the best of 400 applicants, according to Karl Mueller, an Urban Forester with the city. “Her poster displayed fine artwork (and) relevance to the theme,” he said. The poster now will become a magnet.
The city plans to hold a ceremony in May, naming the occasion Arbor Day in St. Paul. A date for the ceremony has yet to be scheduled. Prizes and magnets from the contest will be delivered in early May. For updates see spps.org.
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Linwood Monroe presents Fourth Grade Opera
In February, for the nineteenth year, Linwood Monroe Arts Plus School’s fourth grade students created their own original opera. The Fourth Grade Opera is a rich example of arts infusion at its best. Over the course of eighteen days, students created an original story, composed songs, choreographed movement, designed sets, auditioned, rehearsed and performed their own opera. This arts residency is an annual rite-of-passage for fourth graders, who collaborated with classroom teachers, art specialists, family volunteers, composer in residence Stephen Houtz and visual artist Malia Burkhart. Funding for the project comes from the Twin Cities Opera Guild, School Funds and Linwood-Monroe’s PTA.
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West End Runner Invited to Compete Down-Under
Tianna DuCloux-Potter, a West End resident who is a sophomore at Highland Park Senior High, was invited to represent Minnesota on the North Central Conference Track and Field team competing in the 26th Annual Down Under Sports Tournament on the Gold Coast of Australia this coming summer. She was invited based on both academic and athletic accomplishments. In addition to being a track and field athlete, she is also on the cross-country team, Nordic ski team and in the philanthropy club, while holding a part time job for School Space Media.
In order to make this journey, Tianna needs help through sponsorship. Anyone interested in supporting her can contact Sarah DuCloux-Potter at 612-207-4852 or e-mail email@example.com.
After many track and field accomplishments in seventh and eighth grades, she received the invitation to Australia. She is excited for the opportunity to represent her family, school, community, state, and country in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
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Strong Schools, Strong Communities 2.0
St. Paul Public Schools is working on the next phase of its strategic plan, to be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year. The goal is to have as much community involvement and participation at meetings as possible to provide information to and input from families with children in school.
Attend SPPS information sessions:
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- School Choice Fair. 1/11, 9:30am-2pm. St. Paul RiverCentre, St. Paul RiverCentre Booth, 175 Kellogg Blvd.
- State Of The District Evening session 1/30, with families, students and community. 6:30-8pm at Washington Technology Magnet (event live-streamed on TV 16 and website), 1495 Rice St.
St. Francis-St. James United School is closing
by Gail Rappé, SFSJ Principal
After 129 years, dwindling enrollment forces the oldest remaining Catholic school in St. Paul to close its doors.
The census of 1849 reported only six German individuals in the St. Paul area, yet the influx of new immigrants such as Germans, Serbs, Czechs and Irish had begun and communities of these new Americans began to settle along the road between the new State Capitol and Fort Snelling.
Today, the trip from Ft. Snelling to downtown is but a few minutes. In the 1800s, the German speaking Assumption Church downtown was a full day Sunday wagon trip. A German language church nearby was needed, and St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church and school opened in 1884. (It was not until 1905 that the first non-German students enrolled and classes were taught in English rather than German.)
As the local communities grew and West Seventh Street evolved from farms into neighborhoods, by 1935 St. Francis de Sales school grew to a peak enrollment of 700. St. Stanislaus, serving Serbs and Bohemians (Czechs) and St. James (Irish) also oprated schools. Families were typically large in these times and the result was three thriving Catholic churches and schools serving more than 1,000 children within three blocks of one another.
Now in its 6th generation of students, St. Francis School’s alumni include many recognized family names. Some students can show you their great grandparents’ St. Francis class photos, and space prevents even a partial list of St. Paulites with a connection to the school.
But times change. St. Stan’s school closed, and in 1990 St. James School merged with St. Francis to become St. Francis-St. James United School. Changing neighborhood demographics mean fewer children and those students have both public and charter school options.
Despite a deserved reputation for innovation and excellence in education that draws students from across all of St. Paul, lower enrollments and rising operating costs along with too few neighborhood children, and sadly, the history of St. Paul and the West Seventh Street neighborhoods turns another page.
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Victoria Park Advisory Open House
May 14, 6-8pm. Nova Classical Academy, 1455 Victoria Street S., St. Paul. The St. Paul Department of Parks and Recreation has been working with a design advisory committee to develop a master plan for Victoria Park — a new 35 acre park located off Shepard Road and Otto Avenue. As part of the planning effort, the Design Advisory Committee is inviting local residents, business owners, community leaders, and other interested stakeholders to attend an open house event. At this public open house, the conceptual plans for Victoria Park will be reviewed, with the purpose of receiving public comment on the conceptual plans developed for the site. Representatives from the Design Advisory Committee and City of St. Paul will be available to answer questions and provide clarification. No formal presentation will be given. The committee’s work can be reviewed on the project website at stpaul.gov/victoriapark.
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Nova Classical Academy Wins State Mock Trial Competition
Nova Classical Academy announced that its Mock Trial team has won the Minnesota State Bar Association’s 2013 High School State Mock Trial Tournament. The team won three rounds in the state tournament before beating Lakeview High School in the championship round. Captained by junior Jake Henke, team members are Chase Adelsman, Jake Henke, Lydia Behling-Hess, Michaela Johnson, Peter Jones, Anya Magnuson, Liza Michaeli, and Linda Stack-Nelson. Liza Michaeli was named All-State Attorney at the tournament, and Nova’s Chase Adelsman was named All-State Witness. The team will compete at the 2013 National Mock Trial High School Championship in Indianapolis May 8-12, 2013.
Nova had four teams advance to the Mock Trial Region 8 semifinal round in February ─ the only school in the state to have four teams sweep regional semifinals. Last year Nova had three teams advance to regional playoffs, with the winning team moving on to place second in the 2012 State Mock Trial Tournament. The 2013 Mock Trial tournament season was only Nova’s third year to have a Mock Trial team and first year the school had a full 9-12 high school.
Dr. Susan Whalen, Forensics Director and teacher of Classical Rhetoric at Nova, said, “Nova’s mock trial students embody the best of the school’s culture and curriculum. They like to speak, like to argue, know how to develop and evidence claims, are sensitive to the nuances of logic/illogic, are comfortable developing question sequences and are comfortable with correction. Memorizing large amounts of text is something many of them have been doing for school for years. They are very good in the mock trial setting, and that has so much to do with the school in which the teams are situated.”
Nova Classical Academy’s Executive Director, Brian Bloomfield, said, “Nearly half of Nova’s high school students joined a mock trial team this year. Many schools with much larger student bodies field only one mock trial team in order to maximize their chances of success. Having four of our teams reach the regional semifinals, two teams advance to playoffs, and one team win the state championship is a testament to both the depth of Nova’s talent and the school’s commitment to teaching classically driven critical thinking and speaking skills to every student. We are very proud of their accomplishments.”
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Three Views of Justice
At Nova Classical Academy, virtue education is fully integrated into academic and social life. The school bases itself on the classical, cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. One way students explore virtuous living is for freshmen to write, practice, and deliver speeches based on one of the virtues. These speeches are then given to the Upper School student body at monthly virtue assemblies.
It was a cold winter morning. I would usually take the city bus to school. My mother decided to drive me to school because my bus was very late. As we were driving, I passed by a girl who went to my school and took the same bus as me. She was about two years younger than me and I did not know her that well. My mother told me that where she is from, which was the country of Cameroon, a country in central Africa, she would have picked up that girl any day. That confused me because why would I pick up somebody I hardly knew? My mother told me that knowing her a little bit is enough to help someone. To this day what she said sticks in my head.
If one were to think about it, couldn’t anyone say that they had witnessed an injustice or a person in need and ended up doing nothing at all? Silent collaborators are an example. If the only one to stop you were you then why would you not help said person? It is because as people, we are imperfect, imbalanced and impure. We all care about what others think, value nonimportant objects such as our personal feelings, and put those personal feelings first. For those reasons, justice is the hardest virtue to master.
One does not just become just easily. To truly be just, one needs to embody the other cardinal virtues, which are prudence, temperance, and fortitude. To be just does not mean that you help a person in need, but it means you apply sympathy and empathy and have good intentions. You need to trust your heart and personal ability to make hard decisions. That is why justice is a virtue that is godlike to master and most commonly used in moderation. To truly feel and embody sympathy and empathy, you need the will and optimism from fortitude, the experience from prudence, the patience from temperance and the heart, which comes from them all, to do the right thing consistently.
That is why I became confused with what my mother told me. I do not possess all of those things. The purpose of justice is to help one another, putting aside for the moment all issues of personal benefit. It is something we all are reminded of everyday but it tends to pass by our brains like simple rules. Now I know that justice is not just a virtue, but a trait required to make a person truly virtuous and it is the virtue that is the most neglected by us all. A person who robs a bank can have wisdom, cleverness, patience and optimism. That does not make that robber virtuous, because those virtues are incorrectly applied to make justice.
Rochelle van der Merwe
It was the eve of the French Revolution. People were starving, desperate, miserable. A hungry man walked the streets alone — he had no money. He passed by a store window and saw a loaf of bread. All that was between him and the bread was a window, just a sheet of glass. The street was quiet and no one was watching, or so he thought. He broke the window, snatched the bread, and ran home.
But he didn’t eat the bread. Instead he gave it to his sister’s starving children. Suddenly there was a banging at the door: the police! He was chained and dragged away to prison. He had broken the law and he had to pay the price — 20 years in a labor camp.
That was the law, but was it justice? Is there a difference between law and justice? I say there is and the difference is mercy.
This man, Jean Valjean, whose story is told in Les Misérables, stole. He was a thief, so he deserved to be punished. But 20 years in a labor camp? What this situation lacked was mercy, empathy, humanity, understanding. Law must be balanced with mercy in order to achieve justice. For Jean Valjean, the law was deaf to his plight, deaf to his pleas — it was grotesque, without mercy, without compassion.
When Jean Valjean finally got out of the prison camp, he tried to escape his past — the stain of being a criminal. He rose up through society as a model citizen; kind, generous and loving. But one of the guards from his labor camp, Javert, recognized him as the former convict. He made it his mission to recapture Valjean because he was a thief and deserved to be treated as a criminal. The Law was the Law.
But Javert’s world was turned upside down when Jean Valjean showed him mercy when he didn’t deserve it under the law. Javert could not reconcile himself to mercy as a concept of justice, and rather than live with the contradiction, he killed himself.
According to Cicero, the principle of choosing what is just and true inheres in the very definition of the term law. Law therefore, “is the distinction between things just and unjust...to inflict punishment upon the wicked but defend and protect the
By definition then, the laws, which Jean Valjean broke and was punished for, were not just and true and cannot be considered laws. The punishment did not fit the crime. Jean Valjean wasn’t wicked, he was good, and the law failed to protect him.
When 98% of the French population was starving while the nobility lived lavishly, the wealthy had an obligation to be merciful to their people. But imprisoning parents for acts of desperation, trying to feed their children in the only way possible, was not just. It failed to protect the weak and defend the good.
But then again, good people don’t always get what they deserve. There are those who take the law into their own hands, those who pervert justice, and those who show no mercy. So we have atrocities like Hitler’s Holocaust and mass killings in our shopping malls, our churches, our movie theaters, and in our schools, like what happened just before Christmas at Sandy Hook Elementary.
In our justice system today, there are many cases where innocent people are imprisoned and guilty people go free. If mercy were to override justice, and everyone were to go free, this would not be justice either. People would not get what they deserve, there would be no order and the result would be chaos. Therefore it can be said that mercy without law has no head, and law without mercy has no heart.
The great symbol of justice, Lady Justice, who holds the scales of justice in one hand and a sword in the other, is blindfolded. She is blind to all forms of discrimination based on appearance. But she is not deaf and she is not mute and she has a heart. She is not deaf to our pleas for mercy; she knows what is just and true, and she can speak out against injustice. Her sword represents punishment but her scales represent justice achieved when laws are balanced with mercy.
So justice is what happens when we balance laws with mercy. In this imperfect world of human frailty, where the strictest laws can result in the greatest injustice, it is imperative that we have empathy, understanding and mercy.
It is a fine balance: to uphold the law, to show mercy, but still insure that justice prevails. As Lady Justice shows us, mercy without law has no head; law without mercy has no heart.
Imagine for a moment that you are on a faraway planet. A utopia. No one ever breaks laws, everything is perfect and everyone always gets along. Hard to believe, eh?
But imagine it. You are a visitor and intrigued that no one ever commits crime, so you ask, only to find out that this society was once running rampant with atrocities left and right, but now no one commits them, for the punishment for every crime is death, and no one wants to get executed.
Fascinated, you decide to explore the beautiful planet. You meet some people your own age and spend some time with them, but as you all are taking a walk, you slip and ruin someone’s flower bed in the process. You have just committed a crime and the punishment is death — but is that truly a just punishment?
This question was brought up in an episode of Star Trek, aptly titled “Justice,” where the previous scenario happened to a young boy, a visitor on the planet. Was that truly justice being served? Of course, in the end of the episode, he was rescued, with the conclusion of “true justice is only true if it has exceptions.”
Justice is what happens when people get what they truly deserve, not treating everyone fairly. If everyone on that planet, or really any planet, was killed whenever they committed a crime, no matter how small, no one would exist. Giving people what they deserve is giving them a punishment that suits the crime. That is justice.
Let’s imagine again for a moment that we are in Ancient Babylonia and we happened to get into a fist fight and knock someone’s eye out. What would that mean?
It means that our eye should be taken out as well. “An eye for an eye,” as it says in Hammurabi’s Code. You may think that that seems harsh, and maybe it is, but it’s justice. It’s us getting what we deserve for knocking someone’s eye out.
Lastly, another perspective on justice is that of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama (an idol of mine) preaches a life of nonviolence and says in one of his books, a favorite of mine, that if someone is rude or harsh towards you, you should be patient with them and not respond. Is that truly justice? Are you giving the person who offended you what he or she truly deserves? Are you being just if you don’t fight back?
Maybe you’re not being just and giving them what they deserve, but you’re certainly being nicer than a lot of the people in this room would be, myself included.
And lastly, I ask you to examine our own justice system. Is it really and truly just? We may have courts of law where justice should be served, but it is really? There have been countless cases where the innocent are put in prison, and the guilty are set free. I ask you; examine these different views of justice. Analyze justice in your own life. Is it truly there? Or does it seem that way?
Justice is when people get what they deserve, not when people get more or less than their fair share.
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Center for School Change Innovates Improvements
by Jerry Rothstein
For almost 25 years, the Center for School Change (CSC) has been a source of ideas and a catalyst for new ways of organizing and delivering K-12 education.
Founder Joe Nathan had been a St. Paul teacher and administrator, frustrated by aspects of the system that blocked him from being the teacher he was capable of being. Published in 1983, his book Free to Teach: Achieving Equity and Excellence in Schools, attracted national attention, and he was hired by the National Governor’s Association to work nationwide for school improvement. “This was a great opportunity,” he says, “but after a while the disruption of my family life became too great.” Instead, in 1988, he started the CSC and since then they have raised more than $25 million from foundations, state and federal governments to pursue many innovative directions.
Nathan calls the CSC “small and nimble — this makes it easier to get results!” In their new location at the Higher Ground Academy there are three staff people — Joe himself, Associate Director Kabo Yang, and an Outreach Coordinator — and it is amazing to see how much activity they generate. CSC works in partnerships, acting as a catalyst, a resource developer and a provider for the community of public relations in many media.
CSC has five major projects going now. Each effort relates to the overall goal of helping to transform young people’s lives. For example, the programs designed to improve college readiness help students envision themselves as heading for college, and then work to prepare them for that level. The Jump Start program encompasses different ways to earn college credits while still in high school (with text and materials costs covered) and thus reduce the total cost in time and money of a college education.
While Nathan’s ideas played a significant role in the development of the charter school movement, CSC’s materials often include information from and about district and charter schools, private and parochial schools. His desire is to have good ideas emerge from all sources so that they can be discussed and tried in many contexts — “We ought to be learning from the most effective schools,” he adds.
One highlight of CSC’s advocacy work for Dual Credit (high school/college) classes can be found in a series of 16 Dual Credit You Tube videos (see centerforschoolchange.org/dual-credit to watch them all). The videos describe the Dual Credit idea in English, Arabic, Hmong, Spanish, Somali and Karen, and feature interviews with Dual Credit students describing their experience with the program.
The video project is typical of the way CSC puts focused partnerships together. With funding from a Minnesota Department of Education Voluntary Public School Choice grant, the CSC collaborated with MIGIZI Communications, Neighborhood House, PACER Center and the High School of Recording Arts to produce the materials.
Contact CSC at 612-309-6571.
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St. Francis-St. James Greenhouse Project
By Sarah Anderson
Kids in the middle school of St. Francis-St. James United have begun to build the greenhouse. First, we had to measure the wood and bring it outside to cut. The greenhouse we were building came in a box and all we had to do was assemble it. It was a giant puzzle. Some people were putting walls together, but my job was to build the base with the help of other people. Unfortunately, we ended up not having enough wood. We had to stop and the base was finished the next day.
The base was constructed as a huge wooden platform, almost like a deck, to place the greenhouse on. “I guess this has to do with the drainage of the water, the sturdiness of the greenhouse, the weight of the dirt and plants and the safety of the students when they walk inside the greenhouse,” Principal Gail Rappé said.
Then it started to rain. We had to put all of the leftover plants together and fold the remaining tables up and bring them inside. We put the greenhouse pieces back into the box to bring inside as well.
The greenhouse was never finished. The kids in grades five through eight built greenhouse “tabletop models” instead. We did experiments to see how much humidity and heat each one could hold. We also did experiments inside them by growing the same plant in two different ways. In each greenhouse we grew seeds from a packet and seeds that were dried out from an actual plant.
I am not sure when the greenhouse will be finished but when it is finished, it will be something we hope the whole community can enjoy.
On May 5, we held a plant sale. We made about $1100. The profits are going to the Greenhouse project.
Junior Reporter Sarah Anderson graduated this spring and may go to St. Agnes for high school. Her favorite sports are soccer and volleyball. Her parents are Brian and Liz. She has a cat, Iggy, and two dogs, Buster and Boomer.
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FOCUS BEYOND: Students embody spirit of peace
In the spirit of Service Learning, the students and staff at Focus Beyond Transition Services (340 Colborne St.) took it upon themselves to put on a show for the community in the name of PEACE.
Through outreach into the community as well as personal journeys within themselves, the students of Focus Beyond Transition Services spread not just the word of peace but its true meaning. With the current events of war creating global unrest, the need for a celebration of peace and a peace rally became overwhelmingly apparent.
Editor’s Note: For the full story, see next month’s Community Reporter.
Nova Mock Trial Team Places Second in State
by Jerry Rothstein
In just two academic years, Mock Trial has become the paradigm special activity for Nova Classical Academy’s high school students. Approximately half of the school’s current students — encompassing grades nine through eleven — are involved, and there are four active teams. For 2012-13, as the school inaugurates its new campus at Victoria Park and provides a full K-12 program, there may be as many as six active teams in play.
Photo: (l-r) Samantha Burr, Linda-Stack-Nelson, Chloe Kirk, Grace Burns, co-captains Michaela Johnson and Jacob Henke, Chase Adelsman and Alex Wolf.
In March, one of Nova’s teams placed second in the Minnesota State Bar Association’s state championship tournament, losing by the slimmest of margins to two-time defending champion Breck School. To reach the championships, Nova had to prevail in five rounds of regional competition (defeating Nova Red in the semifinal round and Nova Blue in the final round to win at that level) and three preliminary rounds at the state level. Nova was the only school in Minnesota to advance three teams to the regional playoffs.
The team members, as you would expect, were articulate about the process and meaning of Mock Trial for them. We met after the total effort and final disappointment of the results had settled, but the ideas and values of the experience remained clear.
The team receives a complex resource package to start the season. It contains rules of evidence and various kinds of evidence pertaining to the case — shared by all the competing teams — including witness affidavits. The evidence provided seems overwhelming at first. It must be sifted and sorted to allow for preparation of arguments well-grounded in the evidence. In the course of the competition, each team will argue both sides of the issue—prosecution and defense—so must prepare the entire range of thinking about the case. An especially challenging aspect of trial preparation involves mastery of specific case law. High school mock trial cases alternate between civil and criminal litigation each year, and the different types require attorneys and witnesses to learn intricate processes of witness impeachment and evidence objections that are specific to the type of litigation at hand. Lacking proper study or practice, mock attorneys and witnesses can easily crumble when faced with judges who are well-versed in such matters in real life.
When the trial itself begins, the team realizes that it has much more learning to do as the process continues. The style of teammates and opponents, witnesses and judges, requires a more subtle understanding. They needed to keep focused, stick to their preparation and yet be flexible enough to deal with surprises, such as very aggressive opposition, “stupid” witnesses, or unexpected tactics.
Nova students’ normal curricular training gives them a natural pathway into mock trial, notes Susan Whalen, a teacher of Rhetoric at Nova and the school’s mock trial organizer. Nova students intensively study formal logic in middle school and the great speeches of antiquity in high school, and thus develop a taste for public legal argument well before they’ve suited up for their first tournament.
In the finals, the team got great support form the other Nova teams and from each other. They had learned in subtle ways which team members were the best resources in different situations (like making sure the boys’ ties were beautifully knotted). The team lost by only one ballot and can’t really pin down the critical difference. They argued passionately and maintained their values of respectful listening, responding to ideas, and using their rhetorical and speaking skills. They are determined to go all the way next year.
Nova Classical Academy’s Executive Director, Brian Bloomfield, said, “I am proud of the students’ accomplishments. Having three of our teams reach the playoffs is a testament to both the depth of Nova’s talent and the school’s commitment to teaching classically driven critical thinking and speaking skills to every student.”
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St. Francis-St James United School News
Last spring, Brenda Brusegard, middle school science teacher at St. Francis-St. James was awarded a $6,000 grant through Minnesota Independent School Forum (MISF). The grant she wrote addressed STEM curriculum goals in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Her project was to create a school greenhouse where all students would utilize their knowledge and skills in STEM curriculum.
Throughout this school year, middle school students have utilized technology and engineering skills to design a portable greenhouse that would be built in May. Other classes have monitored the sun so placement of the greenhouse would be successful. Some students have been testing and growing various seeds in various environments.
Photo: Students involved in the greenhouse project with a mock-up in which they have
been testing plants. The finished greenhouse will be about 10 x 12 feet and six feet high.
The placement of the greenhouse will be near the present “for lease” sign on the corner of Randolph and View. With the construction of a permanent school by Nova Classical, the St. Francis school site on Osceola Avenue will be vacated this summer. Long-range plans have been to move the school and portions of Sandcastle Child Care back to the Osceola building. SFSJ is looking to lease the present school site at Randolph and View.
The greenhouse construction moves ahead. To help finance all costs the school is having a Spring Plant Sale through Gerten’s Garden Center on May 5th. This is just in time for Mother’s Day. The sale will offer annuals, perennials, hanging basket, fruits, herbs and vegetables. Please check it out from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in front of the school.
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Journeys Secondary School and The LAB
by Jerry Rothstein
With half the school year already past, I visited Journeys Secondary School to meet with Principal Hamilton Bell and to talk with staff members of The LAB, who had been gathering student art work and writing for this feature.
Bell’s office is clearly the school’s nerve center. With phones ringing, walkie-talkies static and barely coherent messages, staff members coming and going, we were clearly not going to have a quiet chat. But this dynamic and dedicated educator managed to convey many of his core messages, even as he dealt with a student arriving in person after some behavior that was too much for the classroom environment.
At first I thought it was odd that Bell’s initial remark to me was, “Kids are forced to grow up too early.” But when Student arrived — a 13 year old boy in seventh grade — I had a practical example of some of the factors behind his remark. Bell immediately engaged Student in the kind of conversation we all hope for — respectful, curious and, despite the circumstances, nonjudgmental. He noticed a small cut on the boy’s hand and got him a bandage and an extra. He wanted to know what had happened and learned that the boy had a reason for his behavior — he did not want to be in school. Perhaps he hoped to be sent home. More questions revealed some deeper thoughts. The boy wanted to learn at home, and “Being good won’t get me what I want.”
As the conversation continued it was clear that Student was comfortable in expressing his wants, just as Bell was comfortable in telling Student the kinds of things that would have to happen to make home schooling a real option. While not liking it, I sensed that the information had reached the boy.
In the few minutes we had left, Hamilton explained to me that kids can earn their way out of Journeys and back into the mainstream system. For some, it is like a transitional care unit in the health system — the expectation is that you will be able to return “home” after some special attention to get you over a hard patch. Many times, Bell believes, it is poor choices and their consequences that most need to be worked with.
As Hamilton Bell walked me down the hall to The LAB I asked him whether he felt that Journeys is meeting or exceeding the hopes he stated at the start of the year. His response: “Way ahead. We are the home of future leaders.”
Those leaders are bound to be inspired by their work in The LAB. Since relocating to Journeys last summer, important changes have improved the program and its value to students. Shay “Glo” Martin is The LAB’s Creative Arts Specialist. He explained that the “old” LAB (at Homecroft) made good connections and built relationships with students who were brought to the program for an hour a week (or with some, once a month) and then returned to their schools. This was disjointed, and lacked continuity for students and staff alike.
Now every student at Journeys is involved in The LAB, and staff members have the opportunity to support them not only when they are meeting their mentors or taking part in learning groups, but throughout the school day, in the halls and lunchroom and other classrooms. Glo says, “The LAB is a relationship vehicle using the arts to connect with the most basic of human components — creativity.” It is no longer an isolated “good thing” but rather is integral to each student’s experience at Journeys.
The relationship with a LAB staff member is determined by learning about each student’s talents and interests, so that the mentor is a good resource for the student’s development. That basic relationship helps cultivate self-awareness and confidence. The LAB also places students in a variety of learning groups; for example, performance arts, cooking, wellness, poetry, dance, music or visual arts.
Glo concludes, “The mentor and student relationship is built using the artistic method as a tool — the process of writing a poem or painting a picture can help the student generalize and learn about life, behavior and their sense of self.”
A large painting caught my eye and I spoke with Kyle Johanson, an Americorps Vista staff person who lobbied, with his colleague Jason Rodney, to be able to stay with The LAB for a second year. Kyle facilitates arts programming and Jason does a lot of work with composers of poetry, whose work is included here. Other members of the team are Erin Weber, an Americorps Promise Fellow, focusing on the behavioral and academic achievement of 8th graders, and bringing service learning opportunities to the student body. Earlier in the year, she organized a successful field trip for students to participate in Feed My Starving Children. She is currently organizing the development of a community garden for Journeys Secondary School. The LAB is also host to four graduate social work students this year. They bring a variety of strengths and interests to the students, including experiential wellness, performing arts, group work, biking and bike repair, and gardening.
This year, 25 volunteers have each provided one-on-one mentorships for students, as well as tutoring support for students in classrooms.
Tess Pease and Mary Tinucci are both social workers at The LAB, driving the direct student services, program coordination, supervision and training aspects for the team.
Kyle explained that each art group begins with students working alone and evolves into collective work. The “I have a dream” mural began with six seventh grade students making stream of consciousness drawings accompanied by songs from the Civil Rights Movement and speeches of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The drawings were projected onto one canvas and painted. Inspiration for the mural came from Tim Rollins and the Kids of Survival (see fryemuseum.org/exhibition/3315).
Kyle went on, “Creativity is a tool, a way of thinking — a way of problem-solving and changing our realities.” For Journey’s students, who have experienced many life challenges, it seems that this tool must be among the most important. A new mural was started on Rev. King’s birthday using the Journey’s maxim — “Home of future leaders” — as a guide.
Glo, Kyle and Jason agreed that The LAB has found its footing and learned to meet Journey’s particular criteria. They have a much stronger relationship with students and a greater chance to advocate for them throughout the day. They are especially happy with the energy and flexibility in the school, and with the School District’s active encouragement and support.
[Editor’s Note: Within hours of completing the interview with Hamilton Bell, we learned that he had been appointed as the new principal of Farnsworth Aerospace PreK-8 Magnet School, beginning immediately. Theresa Neal was named principal at Journeys, and will also continue to serve as principal of the River East Day Treatment Program and Boys Totem Town.]
Clockwise: Life by Vershone, Silhouette by Pedro. I have a Dream collaboration. The LAB staff preparing for a group. (right) Mirror Mosaic by Krystal.
Some bad happened around here tonight. Police and coroners and firefighters in sight. Blood everywhere. Mothers falling to they knees, begging “God please” in the cold world where nobody sleeps. In a deep intense war police at the door looking for the person who shot the kid to the floor. Suffering pain; no weight to gain.
Throwing up flesh. Looking at death. Life behind bars while I’m reaching to the stars. Big fancy houses, jewelry, and cars. Dreams is like making a living. It’s a hint I keep looking for a turn, but it won’t flip. Life ain’t about a gun or a clip.
Manipulating. Anticipating. Waiting on a court date 25 to life can’t see your kids or wife tonite no lite living for the day in each way. I’m confident. Well intelligence that gun play is irrelevant. Don’t tell me about selling it. How you gone tell me I can’t win? Especially when I write poetry out of the little boxes it is so often hidden in. I WIN AGAIN!
Life long lessons
Struggles and regrets
Drugs and sex
Money and gangs
Life’s ain’t never tha same
Guns and knives
Killing people’s wives
Dis ain’t a game
I told my homie I’d take
The blame ridin for mine
I stayed the same cuz
I’ll neva change
No more times for da
Forget da past
Ima make it last
Keep my eyes
On the prize
Look deep inside
Do you see da fatherless child that walked 3 million miles
Just to see him smile
People say what don’t kill you makes you stringer
That’s why I take a little longer
Life is a Lesson
Live Laugh Love Life is a Lesson
Live Laugh Love Life is a Lesson
I have had my fill
So now I am spitting at will
Switch into overkill
Open mindedness and the power of string will
Times is hard, but still I’m keepin’ it real
Sometimes I feel
Like my problems are getting too hard to deal with right now.
This how I will lay it out.
Don’t give in to the doubt
I tried to speak, now I shout about
The problems they deal, I aced it.
Switch it, time for U to face it now
It’s you I’m testing
Life is a lesson
Live Laugh Love Life is a Lesson
Live Laugh Love Life is a Lesson
In my hood it’s kinda crazy
The state lets guys in who wanna molest babies
Loose dogs with rabies
Then the White folks move in calling the police every chance they get
Old Black men begging for cents for their rent
Bottle of gin
So I reach to the Lord so he can forgive me for my sins
Can’t leave the house without a gun
Cuz I can’t even trust my friends
Sometimes the hood can be dangerous
No fair, but in the end, everybody is in desperate need for money
It’s like sunflowers without the seed
Bees without the honey
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West 7th Community Center Works with Sprockets
Sprockets is a new out-of-school-time network comprised of more than 70 St. Paul organizations and growing. Sprockets provides a convenient place for parents and children to find effective and quality programming in their neighborhoods. In the near future, Sprockets will offer more ways for youth to get to programs and to find out about offerings near them. Through Sprockets, youth can participate in free or low-cost programs and activities to help them gain essential social, emotional and academic skills. With the launch of the website, parents are encouraged to do their part by visiting SprocketsSaintPaul.org and connecting their child with a quality out-of-school-time program.
Youth-serving organizations, the City and School District are developing a shared data system to help partners understand the effectiveness of their program offerings. Training and professional development for youth workers will help them build skills and self-assessments to create quality programs.
Partners in Sprockets get exposure to the community through a common website and social communications methods. Sprockets enables partners to learn from each other and demonstrate the effectiveness of their programming in coming years.
One of the programs that Sprockets is helping to sponsor is St. Paul Public Schools’ Community Collaborative Saturday School. Saturday School is a pilot effort between St. Paul Public Schools, Sprockets, and youth-serving community organizations. St. Paul Public Schools students in grades 1-6 are invited to attend based on need to improve and maintain academic skills and school engagement. Saturday School is voluntary and free of charge.
St. Paul Schools congratulates West 7th Community Center and Project SPIRIT/Freedom School for being selected as the 2012 Saturday School providers. Each of these sites will provide academic support integrated with fun and engaging enrichment activities. The winter session will meet on four Saturdays in February.
At West 7th Community Center, licensed teachers and youth workers will provide instruction that models healthy living; “Food, Fitness, and Fun!” Licensed teachers and youth workers will teach math and reading skills through fun, hands-on cooking and sports activities that will motivate students to attend, improve academic skills, and live more healthy lifestyles.
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College Possible Access, Success Partnership Earns Community Award
Mutual of America has awarded Twin Cities nonprofit College Possible Access and Success Partnership the 2011 Governor Hugh L. Carey Award, presented annually through its Community Partnership Award competition.
College Possible (originally named Admission Possible), founded by Jim McCorkell in Minneapolis-St. Paul in 2000, helps economically disadvantaged high school students navigate the college admissions process and continues to work with them in college as they prepare for their chosen careers. College Possible’s primary partners include high schools in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, Milwaukee and Omaha; AmeriCorps and VISTA; and institutions of higher education across the country.
Since its founding, 98 percent of College Possible students have earned admission to college. “This year, College Possible will serve 8,700 students in 28 high schools in the major metropolitan areas of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Milwaukee and Omaha, and on nearly 150 college campuses across the country,” says Natalie Rule Burns, director of external relations for College Possible.
The Mutual of America Community Partnership Award annually honors the outstanding contributions that ten nonprofit organizations, in partnership with public, private and other social sector organizations, make to society. To learn more about the Community Partnership Award and the 2011 winners, visit mutualofamerica.com.
College Possible founder Jim McCorkell was also honored last fall by the Elfenworks Foundation, winning an In Harmony with Hope Award for social entrepreneurs for their “inspirational success in the face of difficult times.” The $25,000 award spotlights innovative change makers who have been successful at helping vulnerable individuals overcome daunting barriers and lead happier lives,” said Dr. Lauren Speeth, Elfenworks founding CEO. “Their unwavering dedication to solving society’s most pressing problems in their own backyards represents the inspirational power of hope in action that Elfenworks is committed to supporting.”
For more information on the 2011 In Harmony with Hope Award winners, visit elfenworksfoundation.org.
ABOUT COLLEGE POSSIBLE
College Possible will fill more than 100 AmeriCorps positions in the coming months. The organization is looking for talented, idealistic leaders with an interest in helping make college admission and success possible for low-income students. Ideal candidates will have demonstrated leadership, a high level of achievement in academics or employment and a commitment to the mission.
The application for AmeriCorps positions is now available at AdmissionPossible.org/AmeriCorps.html. The priority deadline is February 8 with interviews in late February/early March. The final deadline is March 7 with interviews in late March/early April.
Contact Anna Rockne or Paul McDivitt at 651-917-3525 for more information.
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| |Scholarships Available for Adult EducationThe West 7th Community Center announces the availability of the Oneida Scholarships for adult learners who are residents of the West Seventh neighborhood. The Oneida Scholarship provides opportunities for adults to advance their education. The scholarships are paid from money that remained after the closing of the Oneida Education Center that once operated in the West Seventh neighborhood.Two to four individual grants ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 are available for 2012. Grants must be used toward a certificate or degree-granting post-secondary education or training program. Applicants must be at least 18 years old by September 1, 2012 and reside in the West Seventh neighborhood.For complete information, application and recommendation forms, contact Julie Murphy at 651-298-5493, x.214 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are available on the Center’s website: west7th.org, or for pick-up at the center. Completed applications must be submitted no later than February 29, 2012, or postmarked by that date. Scholarship winners will be announced in May 2012.back to top
| |Saint Paul Public Schools Foundation Measures Progress“Justin went from one-and-one-half years below grade level in reading to two years above with the help of great teachers and tutors,” according to Mike Anderson, Executive Director of the Saint Paul Schools Foundation.The Saint Paul Public Schools Foundation’s Tutoring Partnership is making a difference for Justin and over 6,500 students in Saint Paul Public Schools.About the Tutoring Partnership for Academic Excellence: More than 6,500 students are being tutored by over 2,000 tutors from 30 community partners in 41 Saint Paul Public Schools.The Foundation recruits and trains tutors, evaluates results, trains organizations to implement best practice tutoring, and operates its own tutoring program called Believe*Achieve, which is tutoring 900 students in 13 schools.Evidence shows that tutoring works. A 2010 independent study showed that third grade Saint Paul Public School students who received tutoring outperformed students who did not receive tutoring: low-performing (lowest quartile) students (22 greater growth), English learners (27% greater growth), and students in poverty (22% great growth).Grants for Student SuccessIn order to support student success in the Saint Paul Public Schools, the Foundation has three grant programs that encourage innovation and academic excellence. The Foundation provides funding to support teachers, schools, district initiatives and community partners.For information and opportunities to participate as volunteer or donor, see sppsfoundation.org or call 651-325-4254.back to top
| |Friends of Education Award to Nova Classical AcademyEvery charter school requires an authorizer, the organization responsible for support in all aspects of the school operation. Friend of Education, authorizer of fourteen Minnesota charter schools, has awarded Nova Classical Academy $100,000 for “consistently superior academic performance and sound fiscal management.”As Nova enters a critical phase in the development of its new facility, this support is profoundly helpful and is a tangible acknowledgment of Nova’s academic success and sound management.When many schools are raising class sizes and/or cutting teacher salaries in response to the overall economic decline, Nova has been able to maintain its staff and class size goals.Nova is happy to have Friends of Education as its authorizer. Friends of Education has consistently been recognized as one of the best authorizers in the state. The organization has been a strong advocate for Nova’s programs and essential to its successes.In making this award, Friends of Education particularly praised Brian Bloomfield’s leadership as Executive Director. His dedication to excellence, his guidance and hard work, have prepared Nova for the enormous commitment to building a first-class high school and finding a permanent home. West Enders are also appreciative and excited at the prospect of having an educational leader in the community. Nova’s teachers and staff, parent volunteers who donate thousands of hours each year, board members who provide guidance and leadership, are all responsible for achieving the recognition represented by the Friends of Education award. back to top
| |RiverEast Students Share Their Creative Work
The RiverEast program located at the Homecroft Early Learning Center is a therapeutic program for grade 5-10 students with emotional or behavioral issues, who are referred from their schools and will return back to them at some point. With 17 staff for a maximum of 32 students, the program is rich in personal attention and support. A typical day includes three hours of a therapeutic program such as life skills, confidence-building and group therapy; three hours of academics focus on reading and math, and time in gym or recreational therapy where staff members look for “teachable moments” to help kids learn new ways of relating to their own feelings and to others. Using art as a medium for this work has obvious results, as these works clearly show.
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SFSJ United School Awarded $6,000 Grant
by Sarah Anderson, Grade 7, John Tschida, Grade 8
St. Francis-St. James United School was honored to receive a $6,000 grant from the Minnesota Independent Schools Forum for a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) project. The grant will be used to construct a greenhouse designed and built by students in fifth through eighth grades.
During the fall and winter, the students will work on the design. The final drawing will be created on the computer. Then, after the snow melts in the spring, the actual construction will begin with the help of parents and local community members.
Middle school science teacher, Brenda Brusegard, accepted the grant at a formal dinner on May 5 on behalf of math teacher Diane Amble and herself. SFSJUS was one of 15 recipients of the grant.
When asked what effect Ms. Brusegard was hoping this project would have on her students, she responded, “I’m excited about this new project, and I’m hoping to get the students engaged and interested in STEM projects so that in the future they might choose a career in one of those areas. There is a shortage of people going into those professions.”
The greenhouse will be placed in the parking lot in front of the school on the corner of Randolph and View. The students will choose the plants to be put in the greenhouse. They will conduct experiments on those plants. Any remaining space will be used for vegetables for school lunch.
SFSJUS is contacting local businesses in the area for their support. The Community Reporter will be following this story as it develops over the year ahead.
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| |Open World Students Gain History Day Honors
| 6.11On May 1 for the State History Day competition, Open World Learning Community’s 10th graders Jennifer Lor and Evie Harper-Godderz won first place in senior group documentary for their work on the role of eugenicists in the 1924 debate on immigration restriction. They also won the prize for the best project on the history of immigration sponsored by the University of Minn. As a result of these successes, they go to the national competition in June in Maryland. This is Jennifer’s third trip to Nationals.Peng Thao, Ricky Yang and Yeng Yang won honorable mention at State History Day for their exhibit on the tactics of the civil rights movement and the debate between those who wanted separation and those who wanted integration.For information about Minnesota History Day, including student presenters and their topics, call 651-259-3425 or see www.mnhs.org/school/historyday.back to top
Kids Against Hunger at Open World Learning Community | 4.11
by TIM -LEONE-GETTEN
In the spring of 2008, Open School began a partnership with ImpactLives, a nonprofit organization that provides nutrient-rich, high protein food as emergency relief to starving people around the world. We hosted a food packing event for our entire K-12 student body. It was extremely successful as we packed over 47,000 meals. Our students were so energized by this service project that in 2008-2009, we expanded it to include two days of packing at Open School as well as tying in our work to our curriculum, K-12. We also brought this great opportunity to other district schools. We set up the project at Adams and Groveland in May 2009 during Open School’s interim week. This school year we plan to continue our relationship with Adams as well as to include students from Nokomis Montessori.
Twenty-five students are on the OWL Against Hunger team as well as over 1,500 students and hundreds of parent and community volunteers from the other elementary schools with which we partner.
We would like students to become aware of and knowledgeable about world hunger. We want students to experience that through our actions as individuals and a community, we can make a real difference in the world and learn how to “be the change we want to see in the world.” This will be done in elementary classrooms and in secondary geography courses. We have developed a series of lesson plans used in the elementary schools during morning meeting time. Lesson titles are What is Hunger? Who is Hungry? and The Power of a Penny. In addition, classrooms participate in a “Hunger Banquet” activity facilitated by staff and the OWL team. The secondary students at OWL also engage in crew (advisory) lessons and in their geography classes, where teachers are focusing on hunger and the countries to which help is being sent.
The third packing day of this school year is in May. Students on the OWL Team work 40 hours each. Additionally, there is a small core group of three to four students that put in 50-80 additional hours each in planning for the Kids Against Hunger. These events require a great deal of precise advance work to make sure we are ready for the hundreds of volunteers each day. With three packing days during the school year, we have a project of very long duration and high intensity, but extremely rewarding and worthwhile.
Students study causes and perceptions of world hunger from a variety of perspectives. They also focus on the history and culture of Haiti, where the majority of the food will go. We are very clear that this is an action based in solidarity, not charity, making it clear that there are many complex reasons for hunger, but that it is an entirely solvable problem.
This project provides students with an excellent opportunity to do something real to make the world a better place. Often kids feel helpless when faced with the huge problems of the world today, but this project has been a way for them to learn and be of service at the same time. Many students have told us that it is a highlight of their year and one of the best things they have ever done.
The packing day that had been scheduled for March has been postponed until May. This year, without corporate sponsors, the OWLC Kids Against Hunger project is faced with raising about $5,000 in order to make the packing possible — they have raised $1,100 already and would welcome any contributions. Call Open World Learning Community to get involved: 651- 293-8670 or visit OWLC at 90 Western Ave. S.
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International Student Exchange Seeks Host Families
| 4.11Students between the ages of 15-18, from a variety of countries, are placed with host families in communities all over the country, by the International Student Exchange organization. The students learn about our culture and teach about theirs. They speak English, bring their spending money and are fully insured. They may stay for a semester or a full year, and are enrolled in school.Info: Kathleen, 651-330-3140.
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