SPOTLIGHT

    • MonNov25 ECFE classes, Creative Play Center closed
    • MonNov25 Early Childhood Screening 10:00 AM to 5:00 PMFCC
    • TueNov26 ECFE classes, Creative Play Center closed
    • TueNov26 Early Childhood Screening 11:00 AM to 6:00 PMFCC
    • WedNov27 ECFE Classes, Creative Play Center closed

  

Fridley Middle School (FMS) held its 33rd annual Veterans Day program on November 11, 2019. The program honors United States military veterans and also serves as an opportunity to teach students about the dedication and sacrifice of service members.  Veterans from the community, including members of the Fridley American Legion and Fridley Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 363, were present and received recognition during the ceremony.

The program’s keynote speaker was Spc. Paul Walczak who served in the National Guard 257th Military Police Unit. Walczak joined the Guard in 1986 and served in active duty in the Desert Shield/Desert Storm operation of the Gulf War. 

Walczak said he made great friendships along the way, and noted the bonds shared among fellow service members are like no other. “You place your life in the hands of another person,” said Walczak. “It was that commitment of veterans looking out for each other, that saved my life.”

The two main lessons that Walczak stressed to students were accountability and teamwork. “You must be accountable. You are the one who is responsible for your own actions, and your decisions are your own,” he said. “Teamwork means working well with others, and it can be difficult when you don’t see eye to eye with someone, but you must always follow through with the task.”

Three 8th grade students shared stories about the veterans in their lives. Emily Duba spoke of her grandfather, Denny Sibinski. At 20 years old, he was drafted into the army to fight in the Vietnam War.

Ethan Andler spoke about his grandfather, Dale McJunkin, who was in the army and was also drafted into the Vietnam War. McJunkin was trained to be a helicopter pilot, and served a year transporting supplies back and forth from the front line. During a particularly high-risk mission, the team’s helicopter was shot, caught fire, and landed roughly, breaking the aircraft in half and twisting its front end. As the co-pilot of the mission, McJunkin received the Purple Heart for helping land the helicopter in the safest manner possible, protecting the lives of his fellow soldiers.

Alexis Bright shared a story about her father, Michael William Pulju, who served in the Navy. Pulju worked on and repaired jet engines and aircraft fuel systems on airplanes, such as the F-14 and A7E Corsair. He was deployed a total of six times, was involved in several conflicts and wars, and received many medals for his service.

Following the ceremony, community members and veterans enjoyed cookies and punch in the FMS cafeteria, which was decorated by the Student Council. The students designed “Thank You” posters and personally thanked each veteran who attended.

  



  

  

 

  

Eleven 4th grade students from Stevenson Elementary had the opportunity to program, control and interact with robots at the University of Minnesota (U of M) College of Science and Engineering on October 28, 2019. The students visited the college campus to learn from current U of M engineering undergrad and graduate students. 

“It's so important for our young scholars to have the opportunity to envision themselves at a college campus,” said district equity and inclusion specialist Hope Laroche, who is based out of Stevenson Elementary. “Our students loved meeting these college students and learning about computer science, engineering and robotics. We want to expose our students to these possibilities early so we can help provide the resources and additional opportunities to get to where they want to be.”

During the field trip, the Stevenson scholars were led through a series of robotics stations. Students began with a sequencing exercise to program and code a robot based on color-coded markings on a sheet of paper. Students then learned how to program a robot to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“They realized how many details and steps that robots need to put together a sandwich,” said Laroche. “There is so much to sequencing because you can’t finish the following steps until the first ones are completed.”

The 4th graders also learned about amphibious and aerial drones, observing and learning about advanced robotics and their capabilities.

“Particularly, the students loved seeing the amphibian robot in action,” said Laroche. “It could dive underwater, pick up samples at the bottom of a pond, and swim up and crawl onto the land. They were able to see, touch and interact with the robot.”

After the trip, Laroche conducted a survey with the students. Eight of the 11 said they want to become an engineer when they grow older.  “It was awesome for our students to imagine the possibilities, especially those who have never been exposed to engineering before,” she said.

The field trip was provided to Stevenson students by Northwest Suburban Integration School District (NWSISD), a seven-district magnet school consortium in the northwest metro. As an International Baccalaureate World School district, Fridley Public Schools is a member of NWSISD.

  

 



Facilitating conversations and igniting potential for change, nearly 30 Fridley High School (FHS) and Fridley Moore Lake Area Learning Center (ALC) students contributed their voices to the 2019 Student Conference on October 21, 2019. Over 2,000 students from 50 school districts across the state came together at the Minneapolis Convention Center to collectively address the question: How could we design and build a school system that offers ALL children with an education that provides equal access, opportunity and equity in an integrated environment by 2030?

A student-planned and led event, Fridley students were facilitators of two break-out sessions which centered around health and wellness (mental health) and school safety.

“The mental health topic kept coming up in the school safety session, because it’s the first issue to address when we want to keep all kids safe,” said Amaya Jefferson, ALC student. “We agreed that we all need to be more self-aware, be open-minded, and raise more understanding and awareness about mental health.”

ALC student Sarah Alzayadi said mental health and maintaining a balanced lifestyle is essential, particularly for youth today. “I think our generation is more prone to suffering from mental health issues, due to social media, different trends, and the uprise of technology. Some people find ways to cope, but a lot of the time, they aren’t healthy ways. It’s important to proactively start having those conversations and teach students how to be healthy. Mental health is a part of that.”

According to FHS senior Coco Nolen, it is important to teach students and staff about how to approach others who may be going through mental health issues. To address this, students came up with the ideas of updating health curriculum or host a “Mental Health Day” for everyone at the school to be involved in.

Nolen said she enjoyed being a part of the student conference experience, as students from districts around the metro area came together to collectively address issues that will affect students generations from now. “It was interesting to hear from all students. With each group [break-out session] that we went to, listening to what students were coming up with, it was a good experience to come together and learn about how we are all different, but we are collectively the same in what we want to each other and the future.”

FHS senior Mykell Engle agreed - he was happy to contribute as the conference had a purpose. “It was more than just getting your feelings out,” said Engle. “What we talked about in our sessions will be reviewed and considered by [the Reimagine Minnesota team] and put out there for change.”

Fridley students were inspired, particularly from the mental health conversations, to continue the conversations and bring awareness within both schools. ALC students will be continuing to meet and will present conference topics and feedback to fellow classmates. At Fridley High School, students who attended the conference will bring feedback to Tigers United, as well as additional clubs and student groups, to involve the entire student body.

ALC sophomore Karar Algezi added change doesn’t happen overnight, and to advocate for and initiate change, additional steps need to be taken. “There should be more meetings, both among Fridley students and state-wide,” said Algezi. “These issues can’t just go through your head one time, it needs to be a movement, rather than just a small protest.”

Additional subject topics that were discussed at the conference included physical spaces; curriculum and subject area classes; college and career; leaders, teachers and staff; school culture; technology; among others. The information and data gathered from the 2019 Student Conference will help to further inform the Reimagine Minnesota work that districts are collectively working on through the continued and generous support of The Association of Metropolitan School Districts.

   

  



The Fridley Youth In Government (YIG) delegation hosted a statewide training event on Saturday, November 2, 2019 at Fridley High School to prepare for the upcoming state legislative simulation, the Model Assembly. Operated by the Minnesota YMCA, YIG is an experiential learning program for middle school and high school students, and teaches students about how state and world government function through an interactive and realistic simulation. The program features two large annual events: Model Assembly, which simulates a state government legislative session and occurs in January; and Model United Nations, a simulation of students representing different countries to solve global problems that takes place in March.

Over 1,000 YIG students from around the state attended the event, called LAUNCH, at Fridley High School. The day-long training session allowed students to prepare for their program areas at the Model Assembly in January. Program areas include: Leadership Corps, Legislatures, Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, Trial Court and District Court, National Issues Forum, Media, Lobbyists, and Executive Branch.

According to advisor and FHS history teacher Steve Holt, YIG is a valuable experiential learning opportunity, teaching students through interactive, hands-on experiences in the roles of all parts of government. “This is not a traditional academic exercise, but a simulation that truly mirrors our democratic processes,” said Holt. “Students who participate in YIG are not only more likely to vote, but they are more likely to actively participate in government.”

Holt added that YIG offers benefits beyond an education in government. “By participating in YIG, our students greatly benefit from learning responsibility, leadership, self-confidence, and public speaking skills.”

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