Video: LEAP High School celebrates 20th anniversary
Hundreds of students and community members celebrated the history and diverse student body at LEAP High School on Dec. 18 at the school's annual Culture Party. Student performances featured a multitude of cultures including Hmong, Nepali, Latino, Karenni, Somali and many others.

Four Seasons students achieve 'Highest Honors' in WordMasters Challenge
A team representing Four Seasons Elementary achieved Highest Honors in the recent WordMasters Challenge. WordMasters Challenge is a national vocabulary competition involving about 150,000 students. The Four Seasons fifth grade team scored an impressive 181 points out of a possible 200 in the first of three meets this year, placing fifth in the nation.

Competing in the difficult Blue Division, fifth-graders Steven Davis and William Shanahan, along with fourth-graders Leah Chazdon, Max Davitch and Angelo Wilson, earned a perfect score of 20 on the challenge. Nationally, only 16 fifth-graders and 100 fourth-graders achieved this result.

Other students from Four Seasons who achieved individual outstanding results in the meet were: Ysabella Cruz, Cayenne Ramirez and Trevon Evans. Others on the fifth grade team were: Bethlehem Kebede, Eayassu Asrat, Avery Fredericks, Tyler Frost, Jaylen Hall, Osman Hernandez, Isaac Milton, Marcus Tolefree, Diana Vang, Calvin Yang, William Manor and Anders Mork.

The fourth grade team members also included: Alejandro Beltran, Narika Hampton, Emilia Hulson, Elijah Johns, Ricardo Leana Barre, Sam Moline, Kieran Pavlica, Marissa Rauer, Michael Stevens and Carla Tizcareno. The Four Seasons WordMasters Challenge coach is Eli Dill.

Seven SPPS teachers in running for 2015 Minnesota Teacher of the Year
Education Minnesota has announced the field of 123 candidates for the 2015 Minnesota Teacher of the Year -- and several SPPS teachers are on the list.

  • Greg Boesel, a science teacher at Highland Park Middle School
  • Erik Brandt, an English teacher at Harding Senior High School
  • Amy Hewett-Olatunde, an ELL teacher at LEAP
  • Corrin Kupka, a first grade teacher at Obama Elementary School
  • Marc Patton, a Technology teacher at Eastern Heights Elementary School
  • Kari Rise, a Social Studies teacher at Highland Park Senior High School
  • Thanh Tran, a fifth grade teacher at Farnsworth Aerospace and Engineering School

This year’s program will name the 51st Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Candidates include PreK-12 teachers from public and private schools.

The 2015 Minnesota Teacher of the Year will be announced Sunday, May 3, at the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Over the coming weeks, a 25-member panel of community leaders will name a group of semifinalists and finalists.

The Minnesota Teacher of the Year program is organized and underwritten by Education Minnesota and receives support from Education Minnesota ESI, The Harvard Club of Minnesota Foundation, McDonald’s Restaurants of Minnesota, Radisson Blu Mall of America, The SMARTer Kids Foundation, TruStone Financial and United Educators Credit Union.

Highland Park Senior High School's math team heads to State Tourney for 20th year in a row
Highland Park Senior High School’s math team has earned a stop in the Minnesota State High School League’s State Tournament for the 20th year in a row.

The Highland math team raced to the top this winter season, defeating every team in the conference three times to earn a berth in the State tournament on March 9. This year marks the math team’s 20th consecutive trip to State, which includes winning the State championship in 1987.

The team's long-term success is a celebration of the neighborhood, the high school's math program, their coaching stability (the team has had two head coaches in its 35-year history) and the textbook that members wrote back in 2001.

"How many high school kids get together and write a textbook for fun?" Head Coach Mike O'Connell said. "The book that Daniel Herriges, Michael Erlewine and Matthias Hunt put together has given our kids insight into problem solving that extends beyond the math problems they solve on competitions.

“At least once a year I get an email from a math team alumnus and it's amazing some of the jobs and accomplishments they are doing or have done," O'Connell said. "There's always room for one more on the team and the one thing we promise is that you will get better at math."

Benjamin E. Mays Lego League teams earn 6 regional awards, sent 1 team to State Tourney
Benjamin E. Mays IB World School's FIRST Lego League teams earned six awards during last month’s SPPS regional tournament, and sent one team to the State Tournament on Feb. 7.

More than 500 students in SPPS participated in three categories of the SPPS First Lego League Regional Tournament on Jan. 24 at Washington Technology Magnet School. The Intelligent Builders were among seven SPPS teams that participated in the State Lego League Tournament on Feb. 7 at Washington Technology Magnet School. The teams are coached by Bonnie Laabs and Laura Seidel.