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Minot Daily News – Friday, July 6, 2007 issue
Jim Hill students, teachers head down under
By Andrea Johnson
Twenty-eight students, parents, and Jim Hill Middle School teachers are about to say “G’day” to Australia.
Most of the group will leave Saturday for a three-week trip to Mackay, Queensland, Australia, where they will stay with host families and attend Whitsunday Anglican School. Students from Whitsunday visited Minot two years ago and asked Jim Hill families to return the favor, said Cindy Mau, assistant principal at Jim Hill.
It’s winter in Australia, but the temperature there is a balmy 75 degrees.
When one of her pen-pals in Australia e-mailed her, the Australian wrote, “Oh, it’s freezing here,” said Alexis Colbenson, who will be a freshman at Minot High School-Central Campus this fall.
“To us, that’s a nice summer day,” said Mau.
Alexis and fellow travelers Emily Veazey, Jordan Zietz and Marcy Buchholz said their Australian friends have promised to take them snorkeling and to see exotic animals such as kangaroos, koala bears, crocodiles and emus at a wildlife sanctuary. Alexis is looking forward to sampling the food in Australia, which she’s sure will be different from American food.
Marcy’s family hosted one of the Australian students when they were here in 2005. She and the other students are looking forward to seeing the Australian students they met two years ago, as well as the other students at Whitsunday.
All of the families are paying their own way, said Mau. It’s a private trip, not a trip funded by the school district. Some of the kids, like Emily, did some fundraising to help pay for the trip, while Marcy contributed her pocket money.
Even though it’s not a school-funded trip, Mau and the other students will be making school-related presentations. Mau will be teaching a Character Counts class to students at Whitsunday and students from Jill Hill have prepared a power point presentation to show to kids at the Australian school. The students will be attending classes at Whitsunday. One of the highlights will be a literature festival attended by some of Australia’s most well-known authors, said Mau. She said Whitsunday, a private school, has high quality academics. She’s interested in comparing its curriculum with that of Jim Hill.
This is a once in a life time opportunity for the students and their parents, said Mau.
People going on the trip are Todd Magnuson, Marlys Magnuson, eighth-grader Trevor Magnuson, and senior Sarah Magnuson; eighth-grader Maxwell Murphy; Shannon Hultz; Kimberly Buchholz, eighth-grader Marcy Buchholz; eighth-grader Alexis Colbenson and Kim Colbenson; Lisa Zietz; eighth-grader Jordan Zietz; Donna Beeter; Rachelle Veazey; eighth-grader Emily Veazey and senior Amber Veazey; Lori Burbach and eighth-grader Kaari Burbach; Kerry Beechie, Rebecca Beechie, junior Kelsey Beechie and eighth-grader Brooke Beechie; Jim Hill assistant principal Cindy Mau and Leslie Mau; Jim Hill English teacher Bill Irmen, Amy Irmen, eighth-grader Madison Irmen, and second-grader Ryley Irmen.
June 24, 2007
By ANDREA JOHNSON, Staff Writer
Minot Daily News
Teacher Linda Hill makes sun visors with preschoolers Hannah Houle, Rayna Rice, Ashlyn Guderjahn, Payton Howard, Tyler Anderson and Tyler Giroux, all of whom will be entering kindergarten this fall, at the Good Shepherd Day Care Center on June 20.
Many area administrators are enthusiastic about the prospect of full-day, every day kindergarten, even though the state won’t offer full funding for another year.
The Minot Public School District school board voted this spring to offer full-day kindergarten during the 2007-2008 school year at all of the district’s elementary schools. Superintendent David Looysen said plans have been in the works for expanding the program, but the district had held off while they waited to see whether the 2007 state Legislature would vote to fund full-day kindergarten for the coming school year.
The availability of space has also been a concern. When he asked for board approval for expansion of the program earlier this spring, Looysen said all but the principal at Perkett Elementary indicated there would be enough space for an expanded full-day kindergarten program at their schools. The space situation at Perkett has since been resolved, said Looysen.
“Is it going to be perfect? No,” acknowledged Looysen on Thursday. “Some schools are going to be stretched for space.”
On the other hand, said Looysen, there will be available classrooms for all of the kindergartners.
The district has added 11.5 additional full-time positions for the coming fall to accommodate the expanded kindergarten program, and has doubled the money for the kindergarten budget.
That will amount to an additional $883,000, said Looysen, which will come out of the interim budget. Looysen said some elementary teachers have asked to become kindergarten teachers, so there will also be some moving about of teachers. The positions added include two additional physical education teachers.
Both Looysen and Shila Wahlstrom, a kindergarten teacher at Sunnyside Elementary, said that full-day kindergarten is becoming the norm across the country. Available kindergarten curriculums are often written for full-day kindergarten programs. Half-day programs have to adapt the full-day curriculums for their use.
The full-day kindergarten program already in operation at Sunnyside Elementary has helped Minot teachers and administrators make plans for expanding full-day kindergarten to other schools in the district. Sunnyside’s full-day program was funded with a federal Reading First grant, as are several other full-day kindergarten classes at schools across the state. However, the Reading First grant wouldn’t cover the costs of full-day kindergarten at some of the other elementary schools. About half the elementaries in the district had full-day, alternating day kindergarten, during the last school year, said Looysen. Whether full-day kindergarten was offered on alternating days was left up to the discretion of the elementary principals and site committees at those schools.
Wahlstrom said she thinks the extra expenditures on a full-day, every day kindergarten program at all of the elementaries in the school district will be well worth it.
“It is fantastic,” she said. “I truly believe that it is the best thing for our kindergarten kids. It is amazing what that extra time does for them.”
Wahlstrom said school teachers are required to meet state and federal education standards. Trying to cram all that they must teach into a half-day kindergarten program is difficult, she said, while a full day program allows teachers to spend more time on academics as well as on some of the fun parts of kindergarten.
Curriculum coordinator Steve Joyal said kindergarten teachers spent about two days earlier this month planning and adjusting the kindergarten curriculum to adapt it for a longer day. Additional kindergarten teachers, physical education and music teachers are being hired.
“Otherwise, they’ll go further with the math and language,” said Joyal.
One common concern about expanding to a full-day kindergarten program is whether 5- and 6-year-olds will be able to handle a full day of classes.
Wahlstrom said she hasn’t seen any indications that this is a problem.
“Those kids can handle it,” she said. “They loved every minute of it … I didn’t see kids who were stressing.”
A full day is actually less stressful for kindergartners, Wahlstrom thinks, because teachers trying to fit in academics aren’t so rushed.
“They have more time in their day to just be kids,” she said.
Wahlstrom said she thinks the full-day program benefited kindergartners at Sunnyside academically and socially. She said she received nothing but positive comments from parents of kids in her class about the full-day program.
Two parents of children about to enter kindergarten this fall said they’re also in favor of the expanded program.
“I think it’s great, just because of so much they have to know before first grade,” said Delrae Wohlk, whose daughter, Lanie, will be a kindergartner at Lincoln Elementary in the fall. Wohlk estimates about 90 percent of her friends are also in favor of the move to full-day kindergarten. Another 10 percent are worried that a full-day program will be too long for children beginning school. No one she’s talked with has plans to enroll their kids in another district that has only a half-day kindergarten program, though, said Wohlk.
Shelly Giroux lives in the Burlington-Des Lacs School District, which won’t be offering full-day kindergarten this year. She thinks a full-day kindergarten is important enough that she’s considering enrolling her son, Tyler, in the Minot school district. Her sister-in-law lives across the street from Edison Elementary and will be able to watch Tyler after school, said Giroux.
Giroux said Tyler, who has been in day care since he was a year old, is ready for a full-day kindergarten program. He’s been well prepared by the activities he’s participated in at Good Shepherd Daycare for a full day of kindergarten. Giroux said she doesn’t think a half-day program gives teachers enough time to get things rolling. By the time children in a half-day kindergarten program have had their snack, played at recess, and are getting settled into the school day, it’s already time for them to leave, said Giroux.
Other school districts in the area are taking different approaches to full-day kindergarten for the 2007-2008 school year.
In the Bismarck school district, five elementary schools will offer full-day kindergarten this fall, said assistant superintendent Rick Buresh. Most of the schools where the full-day kindergarten will be offered are Title I schools, said Buresh. Title I funding is given to schools with a certain percentage of children who are eligible for free and reduced price lunches. Bismarck will spend about an additional $400,000 to expand the program this fall.
Full-day kindergarten won’t be added at all of the schools in the Bismarck school district during the coming year both because Buresh anticipates it might be difficult to hire so many kindergarten teachers when other districts might also be seeking to hire them and because of available space.
“We’re going to have some problems with having enough space to accommodate all of them,” said Buresh.
Still, Buresh, like Looysen, is enthusiastic about the academic advantages that a full-day kindergarten program can offer. He said children are like sponges at that age.
“We think this provides a great opportunity,” said Buresh. “It’s a whole half-year we’re gaining.”
Williston Public Schools had initially planned to make the transition to full-day kindergarten at some point in January, said superintendent Warren Larson, but the school board decided earlier this week to start full-day kindergarten in the fall instead.
“The problem isn’t planning, the problem is space,” said Larson. He said the oil boom going on in the Williston area makes it hard to find a contractor who can do the building work needed to get the program going.
Larson said expanding to a full-day, every day kindergarten program will cost about $300,000 to $400,000 and require the hiring of three more kindergarten teachers.
Larson, like other administrators, said he saw kindergartners make advances when they are enrolled in a full-day program.
“We did a pilot program on an all-day classroom last year with kids who were in need and we saw huge successes and growth,” said Larson. “They actually surpassed the half-day kids who weren’t at risk.”
Mike Ness, superintendent at Hazen, said the kindergarten program will be expanding a bit, but they won’t be going to full-day, every day kindergarten for the 2007-2008 school year.
“The funding was the factor,” he said.
Devils Lake has offered full-day kindergarten for several years at a couple of the elementaries, also using Reading First dollars, said superintendent Steve Swiontek. He said receiving funding from the state for the 2008-2009 school year will be extremely welcome. Swiontek said full-day kindergarten has clear advantages for children.
“It gave us a great deal more time to work with kids,” said Swiontek.
The program is so popular, said Swiontek, that “if we took it (away), I think I would be hung in effigy if I said we didn’t have the funding for it.”
Students from Minot High School went abroad this summer, touring France while staying with host families. Some of the students and their teacher Anne Olafson wrote to describe their French adventures below:
By Carly Schachtschneider
During my three weeks in France, I had countless amazing experiences. But my favorite experience would have to be my family stay.
My host family was so great. They were welcoming, kind and very patient, which was good because I had to have things repeated about 900 times. My host sister, Emeline, was amazing. She helped me out with everything, and she got me hooked on “Desperate Housewives”!
My favorite time during family stay would probably have to be la Fete de la Musique. It’s this huge music festival everywhere in France that practically everyone goes to, so I got to meet a bunch of her friends and just have a good time.
My funniest experience during family stay was when my host dad asked me to do something. Madame Olafson had told us earlier in the trip that we should say “Oui” to everything our family asks us to do, so I did, even though I had no idea what I was saying yes to. All I knew was that my host dad was asking me if I wanted to do something so of course, I said “Oui!”
Turns out I agreed to drive the family car home one night. I panicked, because I just don’t do French highways in the middle of the night. But thankfully Bethany’s host sister, Alice, talked to Emeline and convinced her it was a really bad idea. So I didn’t have to drive the car.
All in all, the experience was so great. If you get the chance to go on this trip, take it. You won’t regret it.
By Bethany Leyrer
The first day we were in Paris, the Language and Friendship group did something incredibly “dangerous.” We went on Fat Tire Bike Tour.
There were a bunch of bikes – with fat tires, of course – that were either red or blue and they all had their own names that ranged from Superwoman to Crazyhorse. Our tour guide let us pick out which bike we wanted and then we set off through the streets of Paris. It sounds simple enough, but in reality it was very difficult to navigate 27 people in and out of traffic. There were quite a few times where we made the cars stop and caused the noise level to increase from all the cars honking at us.
Although we were intimidated by all the crazy drivers, we still had fun and were able to see many famous buildings. Our tour guide would occasionally stop and tell us information about the buildings we were seeing, so it was educational as well as fun.
We rode past the Military Academy and saw bullet holes in the walls left over from World War II, then we biked past the Eiffel Tour and saw the Dome Church which housed Napoleon’s tomb. We kept biking around until our guide stopped us in front of a busy street, and once the light turned red we all got in the left turning lane and waited until the light turned green again. It was funny because among all these little European cars was a group of Americans on bikes making a left hand turn in the middle of the road.
We survived the turn and ended up in a little court where the guillotine once was. It was a little creepy knowing that we were standing in a place where thousands of people were beheaded during the Revolution.
We followed our tour guide to the Louvre, and once we got inside the court, the noise from the city was blocked off and all you could hear was the water from the fountain nearby. We all just rode around the pyramid and had fun. We crossed the Champs-Elysees and the Place de la Concorde and passed the Musee Rodin.
Afterward we made our way back to the Fat Tire Bike Tour headquarters and parked our bikes again. The bike tour made learning more interesting because we could see the buildings that our tour guide was talking about and we were able to remember the information better. In the end, it was one of my favorite parts of the trip because how many people can say they rode a bike around the Louvre?
By Trey Welstad
I studied French in high school for four years, and I thought it would be exciting to practice all that I had learned in class. Getting to use my French to communicate in average day situation was very cool, but the places where I got to use it may have been even better. With all the history of France, there are many historical sites to visit. My favorite is the Pont du Gard. You may not recognize the name, but you have probably seen a picture of the structure. It is part of a 31-mile long aqueduct built by the Romans about 2,000 years ago to carry water to the great public baths of the city of N’mes. We watched a video about its construction and the images didn’t do justice to its truly magnificent size. From the river running below to the top of the third row, it measures 49 meters, which is a little over one half of a football field. Looking down at the water from the walkway, I was surprised to see kayaks and swimmers in the water. There was a small beach area just a few yards away from the Pont du Gard, and I soon made my way down to it with my fellow travelers Bethany, Carly, Chris and Kristjan. Luckily we did bring our swimsuits and jumped into the water. It was one of the most fun moments of the trip. Having fun in the river on a hot day with a giant, beautiful and historical monument just a few yards away was so cool. We didn’t get too much time to swim, but I will never forget the time I had at the Pont du Gard.
By Chris Peck
This June, my classmates and I traveled to France for what would be the cultural experience of our lives with our fantastic teacher Madame Olafson. We traveled for a week , then spent eight days with a family in Grenoble where we lived as one of the family members, than enjoyed a week of paradise and pampering in Paris. Of the 21 days I was in France, it is really hard for me to distinguish my favorite experience of the trip. With the Pont du Gard, Grenoble and the Eiffel Tower, I’m still amazed with the fact that I experienced as much as I did, period. However, if I had to choose my favorite experience of this adventure, I would have to say the family stay was the most beneficial and culturally enlightening for me.
The time I spent with my family was my most important experience for a variety of reasons. One reason was how we were thrown into the situation as a whole. We got off a bus and were introduced to our families, with whom we had exchanged letters and e-mails, said our goodbyes to our friends and left with our families to wherever they felt like taking us. I really realized how different it was from traveling with our teachers because our families didn’t speak hardly any English, and our teachers will in an emergency. Although we expected this and tried our best to prepare for it, there is no way to explain how it felt to have to rely only on my three years of French to make myself understood, let alone the enormous task of having to understand the verbal slang and speed they spoke to me. This was by far the hardest task of the trip, which was the main reason I feel it was the most important. My classmates and I would only joke about how fast they spoke and how they mixed two or three words into one, but having to live with it and decipher it for more than a week was more than a lesson in French for me. Learning their styles of speaking and slang and having to respond just as quickly was the experience of my life and taught me so much more than what I had learned in class. Every single piece of my French knowledge has increased because of the family stay from comprehension, to grammar, to my ability to understand and respond quicker to French in general.
The second reason I felt the family stay was the most important experience for me was the amount of knowledge I gained about the French culture. For instance, every day my host family would have breakfast containing a slice or two of bread with honey and a bowl of black coffee, or maybe cafe’ au lait. After this, my host brother, Evariste, and I would usually hang out at one of his friend’s house for a few hours and then go home and have lunch. Our lunch was far from an American lunch, including salad, lots of fruit and vegetables, mineral water, and some bread with goat cheese (usually for dessert). After this, we would go either to the movies, or the lake, or to do anything our friends could think of doing, always taking a tram from one destination to the next. We would usually head back and have dinner with the family around 7-8 p.m., which consisted of two or three vegetables, some meat, bread again and usually fruit for dessert. After this, we would either go to an event held in town, or go to a friend’s house and hang out there until around midnight, when we would head home, sleep and start our day over at 9 a.m. the next day. This was an average day in the life that was remarkably different from the American lifestyle for many reasons, the major one being the healthy lifestyle and nutrition they enjoyed. Our meals consisted mainly of vegetables and bread, rather than Hardee’s and McDonald’s. Our days were filled with activities, yet time never seemed to be an issue until it turned pitch black outside. People were much more leisurely, relaxed and overall much nicer than many Americans, nowadays. I felt my being with the family helped me realize the true culture of France and the benefits of France rather than the negative stereotypes about the French culture that our media feels they must portray.
The third reason the family stay was most important for me was the personal and lasting friendships that were made. My host’s friends, Maud, Alizee and Baptiste also hosted three Americans from our group. Their names were Andrew, Elizabeth and Amber. By the time the family stay was over, not only had we all exchanged cell phone numbers and personal information, but we also exchanged farewells and hopes of visiting next year and even hosting ourselves. Evariste and I have kept in contact through e-mail and I have even kept in touch with my host parents throughout the few weeks I have been back. Maud, Aliz’e and I also keep in touch through MSN and e-mail and Maud is visiting Canada next month and is possibly coming down to visit North Dakota and stay in Minot for a week or two so I can show her around. I made an American friendship with Andrew, who is from Wisconsin, and we are already talking about flying back and staying in Grenoble for 21 days next year. The amount of new people we had the opportunity to meet, get to know and befriend is one of the most important reasons I feel the family stay was beneficial for everyone, including myself.
I could have told you a story about Paris or Nice or a variety of other places we visited while in France, but I feel the amount I learned, as a whole about French culture and the amount of education the family stay has instilled in me was by far more important than any building or monument seen in France. One can spend a million years in France and never know its true culture or way of life. The ability for teenagers like ourselves with molding minds to have the opportunity to go to France and experience the culture in every-day life firsthand still amazes me. We knew just enough to understand the happenings around us and at the same time learned so much and became amazed by the smallest things that many overlook in everyday life. But this is why we went to France in the first place — to learn about the people, the country and their way of life as a whole, and most of all to improve our personal knowledge and comprehension of the French language.
By Anne Olafson
In the late spring of 1989, I got a letter from my host family for that summer’s France trip. It was from a retired couple, and in broken English, because learning English was one of their projects. Let’s see – they had a dog named Whisky and a pig named Ursula. A guinea pig, I thought, something lost in the translation. They seemed interesting, but I thought, a retired couple? That’s going to be boring.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. They took me everywhere during my family stay week—horseback riding in the Alps to mountain villages and Monaco. They wanted to vote, so I went along to the polls and came away with posters of all the candidates. I remember fabulous meals of fresh produce and card games with the grandma, (who cheated).
Ursula, by the way, was a full-sized pig. She lived in the backyard and came in after meals for treats from the table.
What’s up for the weekend? A senior citizens gastronomic bus tour to Italy. OK. A bus full of senior citizens and me. Thirty-six courses later, I felt about as huge as Ursula!
Spring forward to 2007. I’ve kept in touch with this couple for all these years and our trip included a stop in Nice once again. We met for lunch, and though we have all aged, we had a great afternoon sharing pictures and reminiscing. The moral of this story is: keep in touch with the families who are so eager to host you. You never know what’s going to happen as the years go by.
Nine students from Jim Hill Middle School visited Whitsunday Anglican School, Jim Hill’s sister school in Mackay, Queensland in Australia last month. They left for Australia July 10 and returned last week. In 2005, 38 students and three teachers from the Australian school visited Jim Hill and stayed with host families in Minot. They invited Jim Hill students to visit them there.
Jim Hill was represented by assistant principal Cindy Mau, teachers Bill Irmen and Todd Magnuson, and students Brooke Beechie, Marcy Buchholz, Kaari Burbach, Alexis Colbenson, Madison Irmen, Trevor Magnuson, Max Murphy, Emily Veazey, and Jordan Zietz. Some of the students’ parents and siblings also made the trip.
Here are the impressions of the Jim Hill students, e-mailed from Australia July 20:
By Marcy Buchholz
Our first stop was Brisbane, Queensland’s capital. Brisbane is a beautiful city of 2 million. We couldn’t get over how clean the city was and how easy it was to get around. We strolled through the Botanical Gardens, taking many pictures and buying fresh fruits from a vendor.
Our favorite way to get around Brisbane was to take the City Cats, catamarans that ferry passengers from one stop to another on the Brisbane River. It’s a great way to relax and view the scenery of the city. There were also free shuttle buses that go through downtown Brisbane. It was a short bus ride to a Koala Sanctuary, the river front and the shopping district.
By Max Murphy
Some of the world’s best surfing beaches can be found along Australia’s Gold Coast, south of Brisbane. A few of us took the opportunity to get surfing lessons at Surfers’ Paradise. Our instructor, Ryan, was a good teacher and Australia-cool. He broke surfing down to small steps so we’d be able to learn to hop on, balance on our knees and finally stand up. I think everyone got up at least one time. Some were able to get up several times, but only for a few seconds at a time before we’d wipe out.
Another thing that impressed me was the beauty of the Gold Coast. The weather was sunny and in the low 70s. As this is their winter, the Aussies consider this to be very chilly. But to us, it was very comfortable, a nice break from the 90s we had been having in Minot. The water was as clear as can be, and all the pretty birds and palm trees along the beach are not what you would hear and see in North Dakota.
By Jordan Zietz
Some of us set off for the Australia Zoo. The zoo was started in the 1970s by the parents of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. Even though Irwin died last year, his wife, Terri, keeps the zoo going in his honor. They have wonderful exhibits for crocs, koalas, kangaroos, venomous snakes, elephants, tigers and other animals and birds from Australia. There was a memorial to Irwin, with photographs, stuffed animals, flowers, and letters. A few of us got to meet Terri Irwin, but his daughter, Bindi, wasn’t on hand. The Australia Zoo was a great chance for us to see Australia’s wildlife, and we had a blast.
Welcome to Mackay!
By Kaari Burbach
Finally we were off to Mackay! We were very excited and nervous on the plane ride from Brisbane to Mackay. hen we walked into the airport, we were shocked! They had a chorus singing, a band playing, and school children in grass skirts dancing. We were greeted by staff, students, and old friends from Whitsunday Anglican School. It was an exciting moment for us all, the moment we’d been awaiting for two years.
Home Away From Home
By Emily Veazey
While in Mackay, we were all assigned to host families with whom we’d be staying. From the first time we met them at the airport to now, they have been very generous. They have not only let us sleep and eat in their homes, but they have planned activities for us and driven us to where we’ve needed to be. They have been very kind and have given us memories I will never forget. Our thanks go out to them.
By Madison Irmen
Whitsunday Anglican School is a parochial school for grades kindergarten through grade 12. Some of the students board at the school during the week. When we arrived at Whitsunday Anglican School the first day, we were surprised to see how open the school is. Unlike Jim Hill Middle School, the hallways are open air with stilts and a ceiling. Even the lunch areas and gymnasium are open air.
The Whitsunday students also wear uniforms. The girls wear red, gray, and white button-up shirts with gray skirts and socks. The boys wear gray button-up shirts with black Bermuda shorts and red neckties. Both boys and girls can also wear a red jumper, or sweater, as we’d call it. Jeans, open-toed shoes and dyed hair are not allowed in the school.
Aussies and Americans both speak English, but there are obvious differences. The “bubbler” is what we would call a drinking fountain. A “snag” is what we’d get when our fishing hook gets caught on a rock, but to the Aussies a snag is a sausage. Breakfast is simply “brekky” and supper is “tea.” Also, some words we would consider cuss words and would be unsuitable to print are also used in casual conversation in Australia.
While at Whitsunday, we gave a Power Point presentation about Minot and North Dakota. The students and staff were very curious about our home and asked many interesting questions. Being from a tropical climate, they were most interested about our cold, snowy winters.
The students and staff of Whitsunday Anglican School have been very hospitable. One of our first projects was to build a nine-man cardboard boat for their boat race. They were very helpful and gave us supplies and advice. For the race, we made a North Dakota-themed boat. The race is not in the water, thank goodness, but a footrace. We will all get in it and run for the finish line. From what we understand, crossing the line before your boat gets wrecked is the biggest challenge. Winning would be nice, but we’re hoping to just finish the race.
The Hamilton Islands
By Alexis Colbenson
Our Aussie hosts have taken us on a couple of day trips to see the area. We spent one day on the beautiful tropical paradise of Hamilton Island. After a choppy ferry ride, we set off to explore all parts of the island. Some went snorkeling, some went kayaking. We spent time on the beach making sand sculptures. One of the hotels had a glass elevator, and from the 16th floor we got a wonderful view of the island. We rented golf carts to drive around the island (stay in the left lane!) While Hamilton Island is a hot celebrity vacation site. We didn’t see any, but we did have a wonderful day!
By Trevor Magnuson
The Illawong Wildlife Sanctuary is home to many of Australia’s birds, snakes, reptiles, and marsupials. Whle Illawong has many of the same animals as the Australia Zoo, we were able to have a more personal experience at Illawong. We fed and cuddled kangaroos. We also fed emus while they tried to cuddle us. They have a forest area full of tropical birds. Also on display were crocs, who seem lazy until you get close to their water holes. Then they become very fierce.
After surviving the crocs, it was on to the koalas. Koalas are often incorrectly called “koala bears,” but they are not related to bears; they’re marsupials, or pouched animals. They are by far everyone’s favorite. They look cute and cuddly, but they do scratch and have a habit of taking a bathroom break while being held.
Next up was a trip to the Eungella National Park. For many, this was the favorite stop so far. Eungella is up in the mountains in the rain forest. There are miles of trails winding through the rain forest to explore. One of the Aussie boys found a brown snake, which is poisonous but not deadly. This future Steve Irwin showed us how to handle the snake and didn’t seem too worried about being bitten.
The star of Eungella is the duck-billed platypus. The platypus is a very rare, shy creature, but if you wait quietly by a pool, you may be lucky enough to see one. We were very fortunate to make a couple of platypus sightings. They are much smaller than we expected, about the size of a cat. Many Aussies we spoke to said that they have been to Eungella several times and have yet to see a platypus. He must have known we were there!
Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival
By Brooke Beechie
The Whitsunday Anglican School held the Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival the third week in July. Some of Australia’s top authors were featured, including best selling mystery author Tara Moss, Mem Fox, Andrew Daddo, and Aboriginal author Boori Pryor, among others. The authors gave writing, art and cartooning workshops. Some 5,000 students from all over the Mackay area attended. We enjoyed listening to the authors talk about what inspired them to become writers and they gave us great advice on how to write better.
Our time in Australia has gone by fast, even though we’ve been on the move since leaving Minot. We’ve made tons of new friends, and we hope to continue our sister-school relationship with Whitsunday Anglican School staff and students. We are already planning to have the Aussies back at Jim Hill in the fall of 2008. This sister school exchange has been amazing for the staff and especially the students of both schools, and hopefully it is something we can keep going. G’day!
This past year Minot Public Schools received $375,000 through a class action lawsuit settlement with Microsoft. Of this money, $300,000 was made available to schools for purchase of specific technologies, other than computers, that would enhance classroom teaching. The primary focus was on video projectors and SMART Boards. The rest of the money was used for district network and technology.
The equipment was distributed throughout the district, trying to be as equitable as possible to various buildings, through an informal grant opportunity. This allowed us to help decide where the equipment would be best utilized.
After the grant deadline tentative counts of requested equipment were gathered, and bids for the equpiment were accepted from vendors. Because of the volume specified in the bids (200 or more video projectors), we were able to get very good pricing, which allowed the purchasing of even more equipment.
Classroom Enhancement Grants have been awarded for close to 200 Epson 82c Video Projectors, close to 100 SMART Boards, 21 Qwizdom Classroom Response Systems, 30 Document Cameras, and 15 Phonic Ear Sound Systems. Over 200 classrooms will benefit from one or more of these items.
This equipment will be ordered soon, as the funds need to be spent before June 30. However, installation of the equipment will be done over the course of the next school year.
District Technology Coordinator
MHS-Central Campus students write children’s books using computer applications
By Andrea Johnson
Children’s storybooks went high tech last semester in a computer applications class at Minot High School-Central Campus.
Freshmen and sophomores in the classes wrote their own children’s stories, sought out art work from free clip art on Internet Web sites, and then recorded them using iPods. Teacher Sandi Larson said the recordings are featured on the Central Campus Web site.
Student Keelee Foster wrote a children’s story called “Mean Mr. Alligator and Little Monkey,” which, like other stories, was accompanied by a graphic she found on the Internet. The stories were printed out and laminated as well.
The funny monkey picture was one of the things she liked best about her story.
Freshman Deanna Morin said she read her book to her little brother, who liked it because she put his name in the title.
Larson said she had also intended that students read their children’s books aloud to a class of young children, but ran out of time during the fall semester.
Two sections of the class were held.
The final writing project, which was one of the most popular with the students, gave Larson a chance to teach creative writing in the Internet age, but she also covered other topics.
Students learned that they couldn’t just lift graphics off any site, but had to make sure they were not subject to copyright law.
Students learned how to conduct Internet research at the same time they learned how to use the cool-looking iPods to record an accompaniment to the text and graphics.
The students also tried out voice recognition software in the class and were given a chance to put entries on Web logs, or blogs.
“It was a great class,” said freshman Alex Wohl, who demonstrated use of the voice recognition software. When he spoke into a machine, text appeared on the screen. It is technology that is helpful for the disabled.
Larson said students also did other assignments such as creating spread sheets and writing letters.
Speaker: School levy needed
Rostad tells Kiwanis: Building fund levy needed for schools’ upkeep
By ANDREA JOHNSON
Staff Writer,Minot Daily News
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
A dedicated building fund is necessary to keep Minot’s schools in good shape, school board member Jim Rostad told the Kiwanis Tuesday.
“We’ve got problems in virtually every building in the district,” said Rostad.
Minot voters narrowly defeated a proposed building fund levy in May, but school board members said last week they plan to revisit the proposal next year. At the same time, they would likely also ask voters to approve a mill levy to renovate the old Medical Arts building the district plans to purchase.
Rostad said board members aren’t sure why voters defeated the building fund levy, as board members thought they had a good chance to win. A 2002 buildings and grounds study showed there are $16 million in needed repairs on the district’s school buildings, yet the district asked for just $8 million in May.
Rostad said he heard from some people after the election, but thinks many people who voted “no” aren’t voicing their opinion out of their own circles.
Rostad did recall that board president Nancy Langseth heard one voter express suspicion about “that sneaky school board” prior to the election. Langseth was making calls for the “Yes Committee” asking voters to support the building fund levy. The caller didn’t know who Langseth was, Rostad said.
However, Rostad said few people showed up for the public information presentations given by school superintendent David Looysen prior to the election.
Kiwanis member Gary Holum suggested that the school board members visit PTA groups prior to a future building fund levy election. Many people are too busy to attend an evening presentation, Holum said.
Rostad told the Kiwanis that the board members believe the building will be a good replacement for Washington Elementary School and will also help ease overcrowding at Sunnyside Elementary. He said Washington Elementary could not be renovated successfully.
Kiwanis member Earl Allen said he is skeptical that Washington Elementary is in as bad shape as board members say it is.
Allen recalled that school officials said years ago that Central Campus was in terrible shape and needed to be replaced. Central Campus has since been renovated and school board members said the district saved millions by renovating instead of building a new school.
Other Kiwanis members disagreed with Allen and said they think Washington does need to be replaced.
Rostad said the school cannot be renovated because it is built on a small site and because of the way the 1930s-era building was designed. The 2002 buildings and grounds study said Washington’s split entry type of design and the limited space availability made it a poor candidate for restoration. The building’s heating and ventilation system also couldn’t be renovated to bring it in line with today’s standards, Rostad said.
Overcrowding is also an issue at other Minot schools, said Kiwanis member Kari Conrad. Conrad said she thinks Sunnyside Elementary School, for instance, is still suffering from the school board’s decision to close Jefferson Elementary a few years ago and bus children from the neighborhood to Sunnyside. Sunnyside Elementary School currently has four portable classrooms in use, one for music and others for fourth- and fifth-grade class sections.
Conrad said many children from the Jefferson neighborhood are among the poorest in the community. She wonders how it makes them feel to attend classes in portables.
Sunnyside Elementary School principal Cindy Cook said there was an increase in school enrollment when school started this fall. She said the school size is manageable. However, Cook said she likes the idea of renovating Medical Arts Clinic into an elementary school and sending some children from the Sunnyside neighborhood there.