South metro schools launch a new year

  • Article by: ERIN ADLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 2, 2014 - 3:00 PM

New faces, new mobile devices are to be found in high schools all across the south metro this fall.

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As members of the Blaze Blazettes dance team warmed up on the field, youth football players began to arrive for Burnsville football’s fourth annual “Kick Off Bash” on Aug. 22. Across the south metro, schools and students have been gearing up for the start of the new school year.

Photo: DAVID JOLES • djoles@startribune.com,

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New faces in principals’ offices, lots of shiny iPads and several new college readiness programs are among the changes that students will notice at south-metro high schools as they arrive for their first week back.

Did your school add more engineering courses or build a new fabrication lab with 3-D printers? Did the football stadium get a new scoreboard and turf? Read on to find out.

Academic Arts

Principal: Krissy Wright

At this small, project-based charter school in West St. Paul, the new year will bring several changes, including four new staff members. Another new face is the school’s pet, a turtle named Sheldon.

For the first time, students will be able to take archery to fulfill physical education credits.

The school purchased more than 50 new Chromebooks so students will have more technology access in the classroom this year.

There will be a strong environmental focus at the school, and a new student-run recycling program is a part of that effort.

Apple Valley

Principal: Steve Degenaar

A new fabrication lab — “fab lab” — will open at Apple Valley, part of the school’s increased focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programming.

The space is outfitted with tools like 3-D printers, 3-D scanners, laser cutters and engravers and vinyl cutters, said Principal Steve Degenaar.

In addition, new ceiling tiles and lights were installed on part of the second floor, with the rest to be updated next summer.

And there will also be lots of introductory handshakes this week: over the past two years, about 25 teachers have retired. That means this fall, students will see 16 new teachers, with another eight entering their second year, Degenaar said.

Belle Plaine

Principal: Dave Kreft

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  • New faces, new mobile devices are to be found in high schools all across the south metro this fall.

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  • Uniformed St. Thomas Academy students attended a Prep Bowl game in 2012. This school year will mark the last the academy participates in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.

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