State legislative leaders visited East Ridge High School in Woodbury on Jan. 15 to learn about the use of technology in the classroom and the benefits of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programming.

Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, who heads the Senate E-12 Finance Division, visited five schools that week to glean lessons about programs that could be replicated elsewhere, said state Sen. Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury.

In a news release, Kent spoke of how the South Washington County School District had achieved success with changes based on data and research, including a move to later start times at the high schools. A recent University of Minnesota study showed that results on state standardized math tests rose at the district's high schools — as did average daily attendance — after the switch from 7:35 a.m. to 8:35 a.m. starts.

Last year, Gov. Mark Dayton and state DFL leaders touted new investment in programs serving the state's youngest learners, as well as increased general education funding, as highlights of the 2013 legislative session.

In addition to reviewing the STEM curriculum, legislators examined technology-driven teaching approaches that include blended learning and flipped classrooms. The latter finds teachers delivering lectures that can be viewed online at home, freeing up classroom time for hands-on projects.

"Minnesota's future economy will require new approaches in preparing our children," Kent said. "We can use data and research to guarantee every student gets the education they deserve."

Also attending the tour were state Rep. JoAnn Ward, DFL-Woodbury, and state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, DFL-Minneapolis, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee.

lake elmo

Tartan team to host benefit ice fishing tournament

Purple Reign, a Relay for Life team at Tartan High School in Oakdale, will host an ice fishing fundraiser Feb. 15 to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The event runs from noon to 3 p.m. at Lake Jane in Lake Elmo and is being dedicated to Tartan graduate David Riggs, who died last summer from injuries in a traffic accident.

Registration for the tournament, which is offering unspecified prizes, will begin at 10:30 a.m. Fishing hole prices are $6 for one or $10 for two, a North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District news release said.

For additional information, e-mail

North St. Paul

North High students claim prize in MLK video contest

Five students from the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District recently took the top prize in a Martin Luther King Jr. video competition sponsored by the University of Minnesota.

The contest asked students to produce and submit a video that honored the civil rights leader's legacy. The winning team came from North High in North St. Paul, and included Ryan Crotty, Yossef Kassaw, Timmy Drake, Jason Dick and Brooks Pfefferle, a district news release said.

The team's 56-second video was one of 14 entries and addressed King's profound impact on the civil rights movement through a series of images and quotes that appeared while a hip-hop song sampling King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech played in the background.

The video was shown on Jan. 19 at Ted Mann Concert Hall at the university's Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute, an annual celebration of the "life and accomplishments of Dr. King through the performing arts."

Second place went to a team from Como Park Senior High School in St. Paul.

Anthony Lonetree, Libor Jany