Ellen Olsen honored with Saint Paul Federation of Teachers ESP of the Year award
Congratulations to Ellen Olsen, a sign language interpreter at Focus Beyond, who was recently named the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers (SPFT) Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year.

Olsen provides vital services to her students by helping the hearing impaired, as well as supporting all the students and case managers she works with. Olsen assists SPFT through her organizing efforts, working on the contract campaign, EA negotiations and serving on the SPFT Executive Board and Screening Committee.

Olsen received the award at the Annual Recognition Event on May 14.

Hundreds of SPPS students celebrate wellness at Johnson 'GoVie Event'
Congratulations to Deon Ford and Sue Sajevic, the Johnson wellness committee and JROTC volunteers for hosting a special wellness week event for Johnson’s feeder schools. For the third year in a row, the Johnson Wellness Committee held a special Wellness Week that drew more than 394 students and adults from Frost Lake Elementary School, Hazel Park Prep Academy, The Heights Community School, Phalen Lake Elementary School and Farnsworth Aerospace who participated in a variety of fitness activities.

Highland Park students talk with Congresswoman about human trafficking
U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum recently visited Highland Park Middle School to talk with 160 students about human trafficking. The visit came about as Highland Park seventh graders were working on a community action exercise on slavery and the Civil War as part of the school’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.

The students were researching modern-day slavery: where it happens, who is affected by it and how it personally impacts them. Rep. McCollum visited the students after they emailed congressional representatives about modern slavery. The students asked representatives what they were doing to stop it. Rep. McCollum also spoke about topics the students felt were important,such as race, congressional powers and working with the U.S. president.

LEAP High School artwork showcased at Ordway Community Breakfast
LEAP High School student artwork was featured last week at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts annual Community Breakfast event. The breakfast was a kickoff for the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival.

Student artwork, created in visual art teacher Jill Michell's classes, added color to the breakfast. Some of the pieces will be showcased in the Ordway’s lobby during the festival, which is expected to draw more than 50,000 people to Saint Paul later this month.

LEAP students hoisted puppets, which they made with English teacher Anne Lowe and the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater, and led attendees in a parade through the Ordway’s lobby to the new Concert Hall. There, a LEAP student gave a short welcome speech and another presented her framed artwork to Flint Hills Vice President Scott Lindeman. Congratulations to LEAP High School, teachers and students for this honor.

Como senior's essay earns Beat the Odds scholarship
Makayla Hout said she overcame several obstacles while in high school. She met her father for the first time, began living with him and eventually had to enter foster care. Makayla, a senior at Como Park Senior High School, wrote an essay about her experiences, which earned her a $5,000 scholarship from the Beat the Odds Awards Program. The program, through Children’s Defense Fund - Minnesota, recognizes young people who have overcome adversity in life to achieve academic excellence, demonstrate leadership in their communities, and go on to college. She was one of five students to receive the award this year.