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R.L. Stevenson Elementary School was recently awarded the Outdoor Learning on the Riverfront grant through the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. The $3,000 grant will allow the school to expand outdoor learning opportunities by creating a rain garden and butterfly garden in the center of the newly created turnaround area near the playground.
The grant will also fund a partnership with Heidi Ferris of Growing Green Hearts. Ferris is an environment STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education specialist who partners with schools and community groups to boost science literacy in programs and create on-site solutions for a number of today’s environmental issues. She will be helping to design the garden area, working STEM educational pieces into IB curriculum, visiting classrooms and teaching lessons.
These lessons will be incorporated into the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) units of inquiry. Students will enjoy various projects, regarding the life cycle and water cycle, throughout the spring and fall.
PYP Coordinator Veronica Mathison said the value in incorporating these hands-on lessons for students is endless.
“By participating in these projects, I think they can really start to see how their small actions can have long lasting effects on our environment, as well as working to create a place where learning can take place,” Mathison said. “They’re also making connections with what they are learning in textbooks and in the classroom because they are going to see their learning come to life. Seeing these plants and butterflies grow will be a great learning experience for our students.”
The grant is also inspiring this year’s annual Day of Action, which is a community service project for students and staff. Tentative plans include cleaning, de-weeding, and sprucing up the current outdoor learning area near the Mississippi River behind Stevenson.
The photos feature Heidi Ferris of Growing Green Hearts, teaching Stevenson Elementary first graders about seed germination. These plants will later be transplanted into the rain and butterfly garden in the center of the newly created turnaround area near the playground at Stevenson.
Congratulations to the members of the Fridley High School Speech Team who became the Tri-Metro Conference champions on March 8, 2018. The team also took home the championship title in the 2017 competition.
Five students who earned champion titles included: Andrew Wagner in Extemporaneous Reading, Darius Williams and Daniel Ajagbusi in Duo Interpretation, Elisa Strecker in Original Oratory, and Christen Doe in Drama. Additionally, BaoBai Xiong earned a second place finish in Storytelling, while Kenzie Swartz earned second in Extemporaneous Reading.
R.L. Stevenson Elementary School held an assembly on March 7, 2018 featuring four successful African Americans to inspire students to always work hard and do their best. The event was held in part to celebrate Black History Month, and in addition to students learning about African Americans who have shaped the past, they were presented with role models who can inspire their futures.
“It is important that all students are aware of various forms success can take,” Stevenson Family and Cultural Liaison Hope Laroche said. “Our guests talked about the importance of hard work, dedication, resilience, education, and following your dreams.”
The special guests included Minnesota Timberwolves player Jamal Crawford; Fridley alum Akeem Akway, a local entrepreneur and barber who cuts hair for many famous professional sports athletes; Fridley alum Jimmy Mireri, a current 4th grade teacher at Stevenson; and former Stevenson student Nathan Sheferaw, an entrepreneur who began his own food delivery business in the Twin Cities.
Laroche said, “We want students to realize that we as a staff at Stevenson are championing their success, regardless of the path that takes. It is important for students to hear that they are believed in and supported.”
As a former Stevenson student, Sheferaw wanted to give back to students since he had a similar experience when someone had given back to him as a young student. Due to Sheferaw’s generosity, students entered a “Pay It Forward” essay contest, where they wrote on how students would “pay it forward” to others if they were given $200.
“We received over 50 essays and had to narrow it down to the top eight finalists, which was difficult because all the essays were written with care and were bursting with empathy and compassion,” said Laroche.
Eight winners were announced during the assembly and were awarded with a pizza party and gift baskets, donated by Sheferaw. He also gave the contest winners the ability to pay it forward to Stevenson with toys for the gym and recess program that all students will be able to share.
Sheferaw said that he is glad to come back and have a platform where he can motivate students to do their best. He added that it’s important to remind students that the teachers and staff at school are there to support and help them.
“When I was a kid, I couldn’t fully comprehend the type of work ethic that these teachers had, and the support system that they offered me,” Sheferaw said. “I really started to appreciate it more as I started to grow older. It’s been a great experience coming back here and giving advice to our younger generation. You’re always going to get what you put in, and always give it your 100 percent effort for everything that you do in life.”
As a fourth grade teacher at Stevenson, Mieri was a familiar face to the students. He shared that he didn’t see a lot of teachers who looked like him when he attended school.
“That’s what motivated me to become a teacher,” Mieri said. “It’s important to have all kinds of representation within our education system.”
He told students that it’s important to follow your dreams and don’t let others bring them down. He added that sweat equity is an important aspect to everyday life and hard work.
“Everyday is a great day to get better and just reach where you can go,” Mieri said.
Crawford said he enjoyed visiting Stevenson to visit with the students and show them what can be possible if you commit to working hard.
“This means everything,” Crawford said. “When I was a kid, I thought it was the end all be all by just making it to the NBA, but now I know that the coolest thing about being where I am today is being able to do things like this and give back to the next generation. It’s great to see the energy and passion of the students here at Stevenson.”
Akway graduated from Fridley High School in 2009 where he got his start by cutting his basketball teammates’ hair. Following high school, Akway attended barber school and worked at a local shop before opening his own business, Akway’s Sports Barbershop in Spring Lake Park.
Akway said his business does a “giving back” event each year to thank the community and inspire the younger generation.
“It feels great to be back here and offer motivation to these young students,” Akway said. “I’m glad I’m able to share my story and maybe inspire students to follow their dreams and find something their passionate about. It’s all about practice and finding something you really enjoy doing.”
Top left: Minnesota Timberwolves player Jamal Crawford. Top right: Fridley alum Akeem Akway, a local entrepreneur and barber who cuts hair for many famous professional sports athletes. Bottom left: Fridley alum Jimmy Mireri, a current 4th grade teacher at Stevenson. Bottom right: former Stevenson student Nathan Sheferaw, an entrepreneur who began his own food delivery business in the Twin Cities. Sheferaw donated recess equipment, as well as gift bags and a pizza party to the student winners of the "Pay It Forward" essay contest.
Several Fridley Public Schools students successfully presented their National History Day competition projects and have advanced to the Metro Junior East regional competition. This year, the theme of the National History Day competition is Conflict & Compromise In History and students used their creativity and research skills to create and present projects in the form of exhibits, documentaries, websites and performances. All the middle school’s eighth grade students presented their projects on February 15, 2018 to their peers, staff, parents, community members, and various judges who evaluated and judged each presentation. Congratulations to the following students who won and will be advancing to the regional competition to be held on March 24, 2018 at White Bear Lake High School.
Category: Individual Websites
Advancing to Regionals: Kanree Vang, Akshay Rai, Anthony Helmer and Elias Sheikdon.
Honorable Mention: Miriam Alfahed.
Category: Group Websites
Advancing to Regionals: Greta McCoy and Sophie Pehl, Kaylie Johnson and Tim Yocum, Caleb Trapp and Francisco Pena.
Honorable Mention: Adam Fohrenkam and Jacob Wolfe.
Category: Individual Exhibits
Advancing to Regionals: Manal Ahmed, Elyssa Daniels-Carlson, Karly Daniels-Carson, Ryken Farr, Meadow Gillispie, Ellie Hinnenkamp, Acharie Jefferson, Crystal Analco Morales, Ayden Reeves and Wyatt Scott.
Honorable Mentions: Aqsa Khatoon, Kunga Namgyal and Emerson Romer.
Category: Group Exhibits
Advancing to Regionals: Marin Riddle and Madison Peterson, Anika Johnson and Nia Randle-James, Anesa Bihi and Filsan Rufai, Tim Dircks and Freddy Rochac Cabezas, Devika Ramnarine and Vanessa Lor, Blake Berger and Riley Olson, Mohamed Dabaleh and Danile Juarez Diaz.
Honorable Mentions: Yusuf Yusuf and Hassan Ahmed, Yusuf Mohamed and Afrah Adow.
Category: Individual Documentary
Advancing to Regionals: Halimo Ali, West Mohn and Eddie Nordin.
Honorable Mention: Chashme Zahra.
Category: Group Documentary
Advancing to Regionals: Andy Ramirez and Andy Stevenson, Naomy Acosta Hernandez and Michele Martinez-Rosales, Eric Rogich and Joshua Ochoa Martinez, Emily Hill and Maia Love.
Honorable Mentions: Antu Mohamed and Nadira Haji, Isabel Brown and Jasmyn Wolsfed.
Category: Group Performance
Advancing to Regionals: Savanna Ayers, Helen Riddle and Anita Vang.
Top left: Muna Ahman discusses her project on Emmeline Pankhurst with judges during the History Day event at Fridley Middle School.