SPPS students on newly formed Youth Council leading the community
Eighth-grader Karneshia Brown is finding her voice in the community with the help of Youth Council, a new group encouraging students to lead and help solve local issues.

Karneshia, who attends Ramsey Middle School, was one of 11 students selected for the council from the Wilder and Arlington Hills community recreation centers. All of the students are from Saint Paul Public Schools. The group had their first meeting Feb. 24, where Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman presented the members with certificates for their participation.

“I was happy because I have a lot to say,” Karneshia said. “I want my voice to be heard. Some kids do know what they’re talking about.”

Community rec center staff nominated Karneshia for the role because of her leadership skills at the center. Karneshia said she would like to be a lawyer when she grows up.

SPMA students to perform 'The Nature of Peace' with Saint Paul Civic Symphony
The Saint Paul Music Academy Choir and Orchestra will perform a seven movement song cycle alongside the Saint Paul Civic Symphony on Saturday, May 16, during the Eco Arts Festival at Harriet Island.

Students in the four, fifth grade classes at Saint Paul Music Academy (SPMA) have been exploring the concepts of Peace and Reconciliation through the arts by working with poet Marie Olafsdotter, artist Susan Armington, composer Michael Croswell and SPMA music specialist Tyler Anderson.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. Ten years after the bombing, Nagasaki and Saint Paul became sister cities. The catalyst for SPMA’s “The Nature of Peace” song project is the willingness of a Japanese city to reconcile, and develop a relationship with an American city, following such a horrific event.

Johnson boys basketball team competes in state tournament
The Johnson Senior High School boys basketball team competed in the Minnesota State High School League tournament for the sixth time in seven years. The Governors clinched a berth in the state basketball tournament with an 85-78 win over Hill Murray in the Class 3A, Section 3 championship game on March 5 at Washington Tech.

Johnson, the No. 2 seed in the Class 3A state tournament, then advanced to the state championship game with wins over Hermantown and Waconia. The Governors played DeLaSalle on Saturday (for latest results visit sports.spps.org.)

The Governors finished 12-0 in Saint Paul City Conference play; and have an overall record of 27-3 this season.

Community members visit SPPS for School Leader for a Day 2015
Sixteen community members got a glimpse of a school day this month as part of School Leader for a Day 2015 at SPPS.

As a School Leader for a Day, the participants were matched, based on their interests and availability, with a principal from one of the 16 participating schools for a full day of activities, observations and learning on March 5. For more than 10 years, the program has helped SPPS develop important partnerships with business and community leaders.

Several staff members from Breakthrough Twin Cities, a nonprofit that encourages students to go to college, participated in the day as well as employees from Target and 3M Gives, reporter Ashley Roberts from WCCO-TV and former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak, who leads Generation Next, a coalition that aims to close the achievement gap.

SPPS secondary librarians create new book club
Sixteen students from LEAP and Johnson Senior High School gathered with six SPPS librarians last month at Addendum Bookstore for the first meeting of a new book club. The book club, created by SPPS Secondary Librarians and funded by a GoFundMe campaign, will provide books, snacks and transportation for students interested in gathering and discussing books in a group setting.

One LEAP student came to the book club because he said he doesn't like to read, Rachel Panitzke, a librarian at Johnson Senior High said. He thought the book club might help him find something that interested him -- and by the end of the night, he was carrying around three books trying to decide which one to choose.

Addendum Bookstore is owned by SPPS school librarians Marcus Mayer and Katherine Warde; they have offered to host book club events and provide books at a significant discount.

Jackson Elementary principal nominated for 2015 Impact Award
Yeu Vang, principal at Jackson Elementary, is one of 10 finalists for the 2015 Impact Award by Hmong National Development, a leading national policy advocacy organization for the Hmong American community. Voting on Facebook began Wednesday, March 11, and ends Wednesday, March 18.