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- WedOct25 Hayes Spirit Day: Whacky Wednesday Hayes Elementary
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Minnesota College Knowledge Month is well underway and in like of the statewide effort, the Student Success Agency (SSA) visited Fridley High School on October 17, 2017 to offer a unique opportunity to seniors. SSA is an online mentoring program that connects students with “agents,” or advising peers who are college students or young professionals. These agents offer support to students, giving advice on college applications, scholarships, financial aid and more.
A total of 50 Fridley High School seniors have the opportunity to get their own agent, thanks to the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant which funds support services for the class of 2018. The GEAR UP grant is offered through a partnership with Hennepin Technical College.
SSA is just one of the many college education opportunities that is accessible to this soon-to-be graduating class. The program allows mentors to easily fit into students’ lives. Students are assigned to an agent based on interests and career choice. These agents are simply a phone call or text away to address any question a student may have about college preparation.
“Our program gives students that extra support outside of school,” CEO of SSA EJ Carrion said. “Our agents are also near peers that are close enough in age and have recently gone through the whole process of getting into college.”
The access and accountability are important pieces that add to this mentorship program. Agents check in with their students three to four times a week to get updates on their progress.
Carrion added that one in every four agent received a full-ride scholarship to a college or university.
“They’ve done it for themselves and they are determine to help other students succeed,” Carrion said. “Particularly first-gen, low-income or minority students. We are here to support them in everything that they might need.”
Carrion was a first-generation college graduate and Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient, a scholarship program for minority students. He said that although his grades were in the middle of the pack, he was very involved and determine to be successful.
“I just really wanted to focus on what I can do for students that were much like myself that maybe just need a little more help and attention,” Carrion said. “People focus on the IQ, but we really focus on the ‘I will.’”
College Knowledge Month is a busy time for seniors at Fridley High. It is a time to take advantage of the many opportunities that GEAR UP has been presenting and finalize college plans.
Interim GEAR UP Director Rebecca Walker said there are weekly activities and college plan discussions going on at Fridley High. During conference week, parents and their senior student are also able to get help with submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to help pay for college and make plans attainable. Coming up in the final week of October is Free Application Week, when Fridley High students will be able to get assistance with applications in the media center and submit applications for free via fee waivers.
“We know that this can be a big barrier for a lot of students so we are going to capitalize on that time,” Walker said. “That’s also one of the ways that we can encourage students to get those applications in.”
Congratulations to Krysta Landry, Payroll Specialist at Fridley Public Schools, who earned the October Employee of the Month Award! She has been working for the district since October 2016.
In the fall of 2016, the district was in the process of implementing Skyward, a new human resource management system for employees.
“With any implementation there are challenges that have to be overcome,” said Matthew Hammer, Director of Finance and Krysta’s direct supervisor. “With Krysta coming onboard right before implementation, she needed to not only learn her role, but work through the challenges that come with onboarding a new accounting information system.”
Krysta rose to the challenge, proving to be knowledgeable, helpful and responsive to all district employees.
“She has done an outstanding job identifying implementation problems, as well as working on solutions to create efficiencies as we move forward,” Hammer said.
Facilities, Adult & Youth Enrichment, Aquatics & Budget Coordinator Stephen Keeler nominated Krysta for the award. Keeler said her work really stood out during this implementation process. He added that Krysta was always impressively responsive and timely with any issues that the employees at Fridley Community Education had.
“She always works quickly to find a solution and remains balanced and caring in her response,” Keeler said. “She also communicates in a clear fashion what the issue was and how it was resolved.”
Hammer said that Krysta displays many IB Learner Profile characteristics, including being a risk taker, inquirer, thinker, open-minded and reflective.
“Krysta is an asset to our team,” Hammer said. “She is trying new things to try to make the payroll process for the district more efficient and effective."
On October 17, 2017, Fridley students at the Area Learning Center (ALC) volunteered to carve 30 pumpkins to contribute to “Pumpkin Night in the Park” at Springbrook Nature Center which will take place this weekend.
Every year, Springbrook Nature Center invites community members to help carve a total of 1,000 pumpkins for the Halloween event. Former ALC Principal Dr. Rob Smith started the tradition of carving pumpkins at the school 8 years ago.
ALC teacher Josh Thurston said the ALC has continued to volunteer because it is a unique experience that builds community within the building. He added that it serves as an opportunity to give back to others in the Fridley community.
“Our students really enjoy doing something different during the school day that is meaningful and fun,” Thurston said. “Many of them have been to Springbrook in the past and remember the experiences that they have had there as middle school or elementary students at the 'Pumpkin Night in the Park.' They want others to have similar experiences that they have had.”
See the ALC students’ creativity shine through the candlelight glow of freshly carved jack-o-lanterns at “Pumpkin Night in the Park,” occurring this Saturday, October 21, 2017 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Springbrook Nature Center, 100 85th Ave NW, Fridley.
The Fridley High School music department students were treated to a special performance by Cantus on October 11, 2017. Cantus is an internationally known eight-member men’s vocal a cappella ensemble based in Minneapolis.
Each year, the artists of Cantus share their love of singing with thousands of students through workshops and master classes to ensure the future of choral arts. The “Cantus High School Residency” is a program that is awarded to three high schools in the Twin Cities metro area each year. Fridley Public Schools was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the three high schools to receive this program for the 2017-18 school year.
The residency is a multi-faceted, year-long program which includes master classes and collaborations with the singers of Cantus, a free in-school concert, free tickets to Cantus home concerts, a “festival day” where schools and directors work together to rehearse and learn, and a culminating concert in spring 2018 featuring the high school choirs and Cantus.
When asked what this experience means to her students, choir director Nikki Zeleny said, “This is everything, to have our amazing Fridley singers get to work with this caliber of talent is beyond cool. We happen to be so lucky that this international touring a cappella group is based here in the cities -- getting to see my students ask insightful questions about these professional singers, and next time sing with them, is a dream.”
Zeleny shared that Cantus had a great selection of pieces. “From classics like Eric Whitacre’s ‘Lux Aurumque’, a choral staple that they also performed at Carnegie Hall, a beautiful arrangement of ‘Wanting Memories’, a Japanese classic ‘Hotaru Koi’, and my personal favorite of the concert, an amazing 8 part arrangement of ‘True Colors’,” said Zeleny.