• WedApr24 ECFE Baby Class session 3 ends
    • WedApr24 Spring Play 7:00 PMFHS Auditorium
    • ThuApr25 Spring Play 7:00 PMFHS Auditorium
    • FriApr26 Stevenson Box Tops due
    • FriApr26 Spring Play 7:00 PMFHS Auditorium


For 20 years, the Fridley Schools Foundation has been enriching educational opportunities for Fridley Public School students and supporting their higher academic aspirations as they build their individual roads to success. To continue its support and commemorate these successes, the Foundation held its second Black & Gold Gala on March 28, 2019 at Jax Café in Minneapolis. More than 150 community and staff members attended the event, participating in silent and live auctions and donating to support the mission of the foundation.

As the largest Fridley Schools Foundation fundraising event of the year, the gala plays an essential role in raising money to support educator innovation grants and student scholarships for graduating seniors. This year, over $27,000 was raised to enhance opportunities for district students.

“We had such a successful event filled with energy and ‘Tiger Pride,’” said Foundation President Renee VanGorp. “It was energizing to see so many alumni, current staff, as well as retired employees. We are so grateful for a community that not only supports our schools, but sees our schools as the central figure within the Fridley community.”

This year, Gordon Backlund, a founding member who was instrumental in the genesis of the nonprofit, was recognized at the gala with the Golden Apple Award. The award is given to a member of the Fridley Public Schools community who has made a significant impact through years of service.


Backlund honored with Golden Apple Award

Backlund served on the Fridley School Board for 24 years, from 1989 to 2013. It was in 1999, after discussion with the board and then superintendent Mary Ann Nelson, that Backlund took it upon himself to organize and establish the beginnings of the Fridley Schools Foundation. He also served as the Foundation’s first president. In addition to being one of the founding members, Backlund has worked to benefit the school district in many ways, including as a board member supporting and championing the district’s journey to all schools becoming International Baccalaureate World Schools.

Backlund has also made many contributions to the Fridley community at large. He has served as a state representative for Fridley, as well as serving in several civic organizations including the City Charter Commission and HRA Commission. He was also inducted as a member of the Fridley Hall of Fame, and is a member of a number of community organizations, including the Fridley/Columbia Heights Rotary Club.

“We are proud to honor the contributions of Gordon Backlund as this year’s Golden Apple recipient,” said VanGorp. “As we are celebrating 20 years, it is fitting to thank and honor one of the founding members of the Foundation.”

Backlund thanked all present and past school board members, superintendents, and staff that he had the opportunity to work with during his 24 years on the Fridley School Board.

“It’s been such a privilege to work with such wonderful and talented people over these years. It has enabled me to grow and gain experience and gain an understanding of what makes our lives worthwhile,” said Backlund. “It will always be our mission to benefit and fulfil the needs of the students at Fridley Public Schools and I am honored to have been a part of that.”

The Fridley Schools Foundation would like to thank event sponsors ATS&R, architecture and engineering firm, as well as the Fridley Lions Club, a local organization that also supports Fridley Public Schools through scholarships, district events, and more.

The Fridley Schools Foundation is an independent 501c3 nonprofit that supports the mission of Fridley Public Schools by enriching educational opportunities throughout the school district. Please visit to learn more.


Don't miss the Fridley High School spring play, The Wall, on April 24-26, 2019 at 7 PM in the Fridley District Auditorium. Please note: this production is recommended for mature audiences only.

Over 40 Fridley High School (FHS) students attended the Westminster Town Hall Forum in Minneapolis on March 19, 2019 to hear from activist David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 mass shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He is among twenty Parkland students who founded Never Again MSD (Marjory Stoneman Douglas), a gun control advocacy group, and is a founding member of March for Our Lives, one of the largest youth-led movements around the world.

Students who attended the field trip are part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Theory of Knowledge (ToK) class. The Westminster Town Hall Forum is a frequent field trip for ToK, as each speaker provides dialogue on key issues impacting our society.

“David Hogg’s passion for student activism was inspiring and he is a great example of the power that students have to impact the world,” said ToK teacher Tim Leistikow. “It was also exciting for students to see and hear Hogg speak because he is a 2018 high school graduate, a peer to all our students who attended.”

FHS senior Audrey Zeleny was incredibly inspired by Hogg. “The most important thing we can do as a society, especially as young people, is to educate ourselves and educate others,” said Zeleny. “David Hogg talked about being open-minded to all sides, and to never be seen as someone who doesn’t have a stance on an issue or that you don’t care. It’s important to make your own opinions, know the reasons why, but also learn from and value other perspectives.”

According to FHS senior Eli Paton, David Hogg emphasized the importance of learning from different perspectives.

“Gun violence can affect anyone, and we need to spread more awareness about it,” said Paton. “He talked about not wanting to try to take away weapons, but just to make better laws.”

The forum fit well into lessons in the ToK class, an IB class that provides students the opportunity to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and how “we know what we claim to know.” Students benefit by gaining a greater awareness of their personal and ideological assumptions, as well as developing an appreciation of the diversity and richness that are different from their own.

Purchasing products with “market money,” excited Hayes Elementary School third grade students bought and sold their homemade wares at the school’s annual Market Day on March 27, 2019. Market Day is a culminating International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) project for the school’s third graders that teaches students entrepreneurship, production and consumption, and the laws of supply and demand.

Teaming up with their classmates, students came up with their own ideas for products to sell, which included slime, book decorations, hand warmers, calming jars and more. Students also learned how to market products effectively through different advertising avenues, such as commercials and posters. This year, with the help of Hayes music teacher Andrea Orem, students created a jingle for their products in music class.

During the event, products were purchased with “market money,” which was handed out to all third graders throughout the course of the unit. The money was earned through good behavior. Students also learned how to manage their money by paying “rent” for their store space or purchasing “supplies” for their products. Students had the opportunity to work in the store to sell their handmade products, as well as shop around to explore the different products made by their fellow students.

The IB PYP challenges students to explore local and global issues, as well as learn from opportunities in real-life contexts. The purpose of Market Day is to bring real world experiences into the classroom in a fun and engaging way, while teaching students about the economy and global markets.

“Students love Market Day and look forward to it every year,” said Hayes third grade teacher Heidi Hall. “We run a Market Day preview the day prior to the event, when our second graders visit to purchase goods. This allows our third graders to practice running their stores and using their marketing strategies, and our second graders get a chance to see what Market Day is all about.”

Hall added that this method of teaching is effective because it allows students to work hands-on while practicing group work skills and communication skills.

“It’s also transdisciplinary, as they write about their products during writing time, create jingles in music, create logos in art, and work as a team in the classroom during production,” said Hall. “They learn through real-world lessons and spark early interests in marketing and entrepreneurship.”

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