From adding an extra period to help struggling students to providing better ways for parents to access student information online, schools across the south metro are making significant changes this year.
From adding an extra period to help struggling students to providing better ways for parents to access student information online, schools across the south metro are making significant changes this year. One trend across Minnesota is that high schools are providing more chances for students to earn college credit, through various kinds of coursework and partnerships with colleges. Did your school update its classrooms this summer? Make room for a cyber cafe? Hire a new principal? Add a course in Chinese? Turn to page AA4 to find out.
Principal: Jane Davin
Expected enrollment: 85 (9-12)
“We had a number of cool things that happened this year,” said Jane Davin, director at Academic Arts High School in West St. Paul for seven years. For starters, students will return to a renovated school with about 30 percent more square footage. The space includes five new classrooms and a performance and recording studio.
There’s also “a new science lab and a new science teacher to go with it,” she said. The space is better suited for the school’s project-based learning and environmental focus.
Principal: Steve Degenaar
Expected enrollment: 1,606
From floor to ceiling, students will see a few physical improvements. New carpet was installed in 30 classrooms and some hallway areas, and new ceiling tile and lights are in 15 classrooms and a hallway.
The school purchased 60 Chromebooks for student use and added eight new desktop computers for use by the yearbook class. The business department also added 65 computers.
Arcadia Charter School
Principal: Ryan Krominga
Expected enrollment: 124 (6-12)
The Northfield School of Arts and Technology (ARTech) has changed its name to Arcadia Charter School. The middle and high school, now in its 11th year, will hold a 10-year anniversary celebration on Friday, Oct. 4, according to Principal Ryan Krominga.
Principal: Dave Kreft
Expected enrollment: 500 (9-12)
Students in grades 7-12 will now have “intervention time” built into their weekly schedule one day a week. During this time, students missing work can make it up or teachers can check in with struggling students. The period will operate like a homeroom class.
“We know how busy the kids are, especially at the high school level, so finding time to come in before or after school is a challenge,” Kreft said. As the year goes on, Kreft said the staff will add more enrichment activities during the period for students who have their work completed.
Also, all teachers in Belle Plaine “will have iPads in hand” this fall, Kreft said.
Principal: Dave Helke
Expected enrollment: 2,144
Burnsville High School students will return to new digs, including a remodeled commons and cafeteria, as part of a three-year project to bring the school’s aesthetic into the 21st century, said Principal Dave Helke.
The school will debut Check and Connect, a program to support students struggling with attendance and academic issues. The program assigns an adult on staff to check in regularly with their student as part of an “intense, wraparound intervention,” Helke said.
Burnsville has expanded the number classes offered in partnership with community colleges for college credit. Six new courses will be options for juniors and seniors, including two sections of a social science class and two sections of English through Inver Hills Community College. A business class is offered through Normandale Community College and a construction trades course is available through Ridgewater College. Adding the classes was an “attempt to give students in the academic middle more opportunities to experience college,” Helke said.
Principal: Tim Hodges
Expected enrollment: 386 (9-12)
Students in grades 6-12 and their parents will be working with a new student information system, Infinite Campus, which lets them track grades, attendance, behavior information like office referrals and lunch fees all in one place.
The high school is part of a new cohort of schools using Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), a Department of Education program that not only teaches kids explicitly about expectations, but rewards them for good behavior, too. Last year, the school did a few PBIS trials and “saw a great positive response from kids,” Hodges said.
Convent of the Visitation
Principal: Dawn Nichols
Expected enrollment: 401 (7-12)
The Mendota Heights-based private girls’ school is in the middle of a major construction project, called the Heart of the School, to be finished in March. With 12,000 new square feet and 3,000 refurbished square feet, the addition will include an updated library, new classrooms and gathering spaces and a new entrance. Another part of the project was the 4,000-square-foot STEM center, completed last spring, which will also be used for arts activities.
This year is the second in Visitation’s 1:1 laptop initiative, with freshmen receiving them this fall. Sophomores received them last year.
Visitation is also starting the Visitation Leadership Institute, which will bring together all of its leadership programs under one umbrella. For the first time, a women’s studies course called Women and Society will be offered through the Institute.
Principal: Polly Reikowski
Estimated enrollment: 2,020
At Eagan High School, students, parents and staff will notice the updated parking lot and busing area when they first drive into school. The changes were made to make the area safer, said Principal Polly Reikowski.
This year is the first that Eagan will offer AVID (Achievement Via Individual Determination) to 9th graders only. About 25 students are in the program.
Finally, four new teachers will join the staff, including two math teachers, a German teacher and a special-education teacher. The teachers will meet an entering class of 485 freshman — a smaller number than in recent years. Last year’s graduating class numbered 584.
Principal: Randall Peterson
Expected enrollment: 2,150
This year, the STEM program at Eastview will have a bit of a new structure, according to Principal Randall Peterson. The classes will now be taught by math teachers and have algebra, geometry and physics principles embedded in them.
In addition, the high school will have six intervention days built in, instead of last year’s eight days. Because the school has “cranked up expectations” in the past few years, Peterson said that these days are necessary to support students and get them caught up. Six days seems to be the most the school can incorporate without disrupting things too much, he said.
Principal: Ben Kusch
Expected enrollment: 1,891
After the district’s designation as an Innovation Zone last year and expansion of technology integration over the past few years, Farmington High School Principal Ben Kusch said the school has “enough that was new last year to tide us over for a little bit.”