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Fridley High School International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Candidates.
Back row: Andrew Wagner, Caleb Brandt, Curtis Hanson, Wyatte Chaffee, Chad Haugstad, Christen Doe
Center row: Nic Fite, Frank Valtierrez, Jennifer Ollila, Cassandra Corraya, Benjamin Stevenson, Tristan Herder, Even Nelsen
Front row: Daegia Vang, Petra Owusu, Jasmine Pierce, Saralynn Ness, Andrew Buirge
Extended Essay Silver Platter Breakfast
Eighteen Fridley High School juniors and seniors submitted their International Baccalaureate (IB) Extended Essays at the eighth annual Silver Platter Breakfast Celebration on December 19, 2017.
These students are enrolled in the full IB Diploma Programme (DP) at Fridley High School, an IB World School. Students have the opportunity to earn an IB Diploma by completing DP core classes, assessments and exams during their junior and/or senior years of high school. The Extended Essay is a culminating project for those pursuing the IB Diploma. It is an in-depth study of a focused topic, chosen within a subject group, intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity. This 4,000-word essay encourages students to develop college-level independent research skills.
The Silver Platter Breakfast Celebration is an opportunity for students enrolled in the full DP to be recognized by their parents, teachers and peers for the high degree of academic rigor they have embarked on.
“The journey to an IB diploma is a challenging one," said IB Diploma Programme Coordinator Jessica Baker. "It’s important to stop and take the time to reflect and celebrate what our students have accomplished, as well as look forward and remember the reason for all this hard work.”
Although the DP track is challenging, Baker assured that the "learning that takes place and the character built will serve the students well for a lifetime."
This sentiment was echoed by guest speaker and class of 2011 Fridley High School graduate Chinyere Okwulehie, who was in the first Fridley High School graduating class to include IB Diploma candidates. From Fridley High School, Okwulehie attended North Dakota State University where she graduated in May 2015 with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Government. She is now pursuing a Doctor of Law Degree at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.
Okwulehie shared how her experience in the IB Diploma Programme helped her prepare for her postsecondary success. She focused on two main points: the importance of learning a second language and learning college-level writing skills.
"Knowing a second language is extremely important in our society because you’re constantly coming into contact with people who may not speak English," Okwulehie said. "It is beneficial to include a second language as part of the curriculum starting at a young age."
She added that through the experience of writing the Extended Essay and her time in DP classes, she learned invaluable writing skills and the importance of including different perspectives.
"I really learned how to challenge myself. Many times, you write what you believe, but what could you write if you interpret the subject in a different way? It is important to know how to change your perspective and know how to explain it in an essay," Okwulehie said.
Presentation of the IB Diplomas
In addition to the presentation of the Extended Essays, class of 2017 Fridley High School graduates and IB Diploma Programme candidates returned to receive their IB Diplomas. As final examinations and assessments of earning the IB Diploma extends into June, the candidates learn that they are official recipients after high school graduation. The following five students who are now college freshmen, earned the IB Diploma: Sumaya Alfath, Jennie Harris, Emma Helmer, Abigail Ladwig, and Maureen Zeleny.
Fridley High School Class of 2017 graduates returned to their Alma Mater to accept their International Baccalaureate (IB) Diplomas. From left to right, Maureen Zeleny, Jennie Harris, Sumaya Alfath, Emma Helmer and Abigail Ladwig
Longtime Fridley School Board member and current Board Chair Marcia Lindblad will retire from the board at the end of 2017. Lindblad, who did not run for re-election, will be succeeded by Avonna Starck who successfully bid for her seat.
The 29-year Fridley resident has three children, Kristofer, and twins Brent and Kort, all of whom attended Fridley Public Schools and graduated from Fridley High School in 2008 and 2011 respectively. Lindblad began her service to the school district as a parent volunteer at Hayes Elementary School, and later volunteered to support the 2005 referendum campaign.
That same year, following a resignation on the board, Lindblad successfully applied for and was appointed by the Fridley School Board to fill the open seat. She then ran her first successful campaign for the board in November 2005 and has been re-elected for three terms for a total of 12 years.
Lindblad has served in all positions on the school board, including Chair, Vice Chair, Clerk, Treasurer and Director. She has also represented Fridley as a school board member in various organizations, including the Fridley Public Schools Foundation, Northeast Metro School District 916, Technology and Information Educational Services (TIES) Joint Board and the advisory committee for Special Education.
As Lindblad reflected back on her many years of service, she said one of the most positive and prominent changes has been the implementation of the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.
“Every one of our students benefits from IB,” Lindblad said. “The Learner Profile works well in terms of character development in young students. It teaches international mindedness that really helps to mold our youth into global citizens.”
Lindblad said she is happy to be part of a community that strongly supports its schools. From voting to support referendums, volunteering in classrooms, or providing school supplies, it is clear that the Fridley community cares about its students and schools.
Lindblad added she is thankful to the Fridley school district and community for allowing her all these years to positively contribute.
“I was an involved parent and volunteer,” Lindblad said. “Volunteering and then serving on the board gave me a great opportunity to give back to the community.”
Lindblad’s final school board meeting was on December 19, 2017.
During the week of Dec. 4-8, 2017, students at Stevenson Elementary School celebrated Computer Science Education Week by participating in an Hour of Code. The Hour of Code is a global initiative which was designed to introduce students to computer science, learn the basics of coding through tutorials and activities, and get excited about emerging technology. The initiative was launched by Code.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding access to computer science and increasing participation of girls and underrepresented students of color.
All Stevenson students, from kindergarten to 4th grade, had the opportunity to learn more about coding in the media center. The youngest students coded on Bee-Bots, a programmable floor robot in the shape of a bee. Coding a Bee-Bot to move in programmed directions teaches students about sequencing, estimation and problem solving. Older students learn coding fundamentals through courses on the computer. The interactive and fun games work to increase computer-literacy in young students.
Many students at Stevenson have previous experience in coding. In 2015, English Language (EL) teacher Dianne Rae introduced students to coding in Code Camp, an after-school program. Initially, the club began with Rae’s EL students and was immediately a hit.
“They loved it and did so well, so I knew I had to figure out how to have an Hour of Code for the entire school,” Rae said.
After the first Hour of Code was held in 2015, students filled out an “interest questionnaire” which indicated that over 200 students were interested in participating in Code Camp. The program has now grown to a total of four after-school Code Camps with a different group of students each night during Learning Academy, an after school educational support program. Rae has also started a t-shirt initiative, where students can earn different colored t-shirts as they advance in their coding courses.
Coding has been growing in popularity among young students across the country, and the benefits that coding provides for students is virtually endless.
“Students learn computational thinking. They learn how to ponder a problem and then reduce it to small, efficient steps,” Rae said. “This is a coveted higher order thinking skill.”
Rae added that coding fosters creativity and allows students to build fluency in basic technology. According to the Tech Edvocate, a news organization that focuses on digital technology, in the future “not knowing how to code may be comparable to not knowing how to read.”
“Knowing the basics of coding will be beneficial for every job in the future,” Rae said. “By starting students early, they will have a foundation for success in any 21st century career they choose. This can definitely open doors to higher paying jobs for our students.”
Rae said all students can find success and satisfaction in coding. “I know this is good for the kids in so many ways and I hope to keep promoting this and see computer science grow throughout our entire district.”
On December 15, nearly 60 Fridley Middle School 6th graders participated in a grade-wide community service project. The students each handmade one no-sew scarf to donate to St. Phillips Church in Fridley, which will be distributed to those in need during the holiday season.
“We just wanted to provide our students with an opportunity and space to do something nice for somebody else," said Joel Weingart, 6th grade math teacher. “It’s all about giving back.”
The lesson of “giving back” isn’t necessarily taught in a regular curriculum, but the addition of a community service project ties into the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme. Part of the IB curriculum framework is to teach students to develop civic responsibility through kind acts and volunteering.
Weingart said it’s important for students to learn the satisfaction that can come from helping others.
“It’s been great to watch their faces while they work on this project. They’re communicating, collaborating and working together, all for the good of others,” Weingart said. “I think that’s pretty special.”