The horizons have expanded for students at Maple Lake High School thanks to a computer lab stocked with 28 state-of-the-art machines. And the extent of those horizons was put to the test last week when students explored the vast Center of Holocaust and Genocide website at the University of Minnesota.
At the invitation of high school English teacher Naomi Durst, Vicky Knickerbocker, an outreach educator from the University of Minnesota, traveled to Maple Lake to guide students through the website. “My job is to come and show the teachers and students what’s available,” Knickerbocker said.
In her introduction to 10th grade English students and participants in the Holocaust/WW II class taught by Durst and Lisa Elfmann, Knickerbocker said over a million students visit the Center of Holocaust and Genocide website at www.chgs.unm.edu and called the site “too big to comprehend.”
One year after canceling the marching season, the Maple Lake Irish Marching Band has come back in a big way.
The band won its division at the Annandale Fourth of July Parade last week, placed third overall, and brought home three trophies in a season slated to be a rebuilding year.
Band Director Tony Mazzone was hired at the end of the 2001-2002 school year and due to a lack of time to organize the band, last year’s summer marching season was cancelled for the first time in the history of the marching band program.
But this year is a different story. A young band of about 60 students exceeded expectations and brought the Irish back to their winning ways.
Long summer hours spent hypnotized by the television are no more for the 45 Maple Lake Elementary students involved in Irish Day Camp. The fourth annual Irish Day Camp gives campers the opportunity to explore and broaden their interests while developing and strengthening friendships. The camp, which serves kindergarten through sixth grade students, is sponsored by Youth Connections.
Irish Day Camp is a three-hour program that takes place twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the City Park. The camp is made possible by high school students who volunteer to be Summer Buddies. “It is rewarding to be a Summer Buddy,” said Stephanie Harvey.
“We mentor the younger kids. It is nice to see the kids often. You can tell they appreciate you being here.”
It was a night for laughter and tears as the Class of 2003 and their families gathered not only to learn the names of scholarship and award winners, but also to celebrate the memories created over their school careers.
Highlights of the evening included a moving presentation by a group of both high school and elementary teachers who gathered to read the book, “The Twelve Gifts of Birth,” to the Class of 2003. Reading as pictures from the book were projected on a screen were elementary teachers Terry Mooney, Mary Lou Nygaard, Diane Hertwig, Vicki Decker, Rhonda Carlson-Puncochar, Kari Barlund, and high school staff members David Hansen, Judy Sloneker, Lisa Elfmann, Mike Hojnacke, Kim Brown, and Kim Fynboh.
The mood quickly shifted when senior members of the mixed choir donned bath robes and sang a favorite childhood tune, “Rubber Ducky,” as senior Jimmy Hartfiel rode a king-size rubber duck across the stage.
‘Future focused’ is the term used to describe the honorees at the Students of Excellence Banquet and Recognition Ceremony by Dr. Cheri Pierson-Yecke, Minnesota Commissioner of Education. “In order to reach the level of excellence you have achieved so far, you have had to give up short-term pleasure for long-term results, you have taken the hard courses in order to challenge yourself,” she continued. “This will become a characteristic over time.”
Dr. Yecke was just one of the speakers at the 16th annual event who praised and encouraged the honorees. This event, hosted by Resource Training & Solutions, recognized 155 high school seniors from 40 high schools in the Central Minnesota region. Welcoming over 600 students, parents/ guardians, teachers, administrators and invited guests was Dr. Rob Cavanna, executive director for Resource Training & Solutions.
As his 40 years of service to the Maple Lake School District draws to a close, retiring school superintendent Ken Engel was honored at a banquet on Friday that featured speakers such as retired superintendent Roger Riesgraf, Elementary Principal Dan Olberg and High School Principal Mary James.
Olberg recalled his first impression of Engel as a soft-spoken administrator changed considerably when he witnessed the superindent’s tough questions to legislators regarding inadequate school funding and graduation standards. And Olberg said that determination to take care of Maple Lake’s children was a defining aspect of the superindent’s tenure at Maple Lake.
“We thank you,” Olberg said, “for your caring personality and the love that you had for kids.”