The Forest Lake Area School District received a Local Innovations Award for 2012 from the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center in a Jan. 16 ceremony.

Partnered with the Lakes International Language Academy (LILA), Forest Lake was one of six school districts to receive the award.

Eighteen city, county and school programs were honored at the Cowles Auditorium at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on the University of Minnesota campus.

Judges looked through more than 100 examples of groups using innovative practices to improve local services.

The Forest Lake district and LILA partnered to create language immersion programs in the area's high schools. The K-6 charter school started with Spanish immersion and later added a Chinese language program.

LILA had considered expanding to a K-8 or a K-12 program, but because it was cost prohibitive, the academy worked with the district to create a path for its sixth-grade graduates to continue immersion studies at the junior and senior high schools.

"I'm not sure we would have had a language immersion program in our district if not for the much-needed push from LILA," Forest Lake schools Superintendent Linda Madsen said in a Dec. 6 news release.

Conference music festival at East Ridge

East Ridge High School will host the 11th annual Suburban East Conference Music Festival on Monday.

The two-part event, sponsored by the Suburban East Athletic Conference, will start with performances by bands, choirs and orchestras from Hastings, Roseville, White Bear Lake, Park, Forest Lake, Mounds View, Stillwater, East Ridge, Cretin-Derham Hall and Woodbury high schools.

A grand finale concert by the three all-conference performing ensembles will conclude the event. The composite orchestra, band and choir groups will begin performing at 7:15 p.m. in the East Ridge High School main gym.

Daytime performances by the individual schools are free and the finale concert is $7 for adults, $5 for students.

Maplewood's Carver a 'Celebration School'

Carver Elementary in Maplewood is one of 57 schools in Minnesota being designated as a Celebration School for its high marks during the 2012 calendar year.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) gives awards to schools that are exceeding standards in three or four categories.

The school in the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale district received the Title I honor for its achievements in proficiency, growth and achievement-gap reduction -- as elementary schools are eligible for three of the four categories.

The MDE follows the progress of each graduating class in state testing to provide "an accountability system and reward the schools achieving high marks," MDE spokesman Keith Hovis said.

Graduation rates are a fourth criterion for high schools to receive the honor.

"It's really about the recognition and holding those schools up and looking at what are they doing that could maybe be used in other places across the state," Hovis said.

Speakers sought for Mahtomedi event

Organizers of the first TEDxMahtomedi event are seeking speakers.

Community members will select speakers who provide a "cross-section of topics, ages, backgrounds and interests" regarding the Mahtomedi area for an April 13 event in the Black Box Theater at Mahtomedi High School.

Proposals are due Feb. 15.

Independent from the renowned conference and video series known as TED ("Ideas Worth Spreading"), the TEDx event is locally organized and aims to open discussion between community leaders.

Call the Mahtomedi Area Community Education office at 651-407-2037 or contact Bill Coleman at for more information.