David Backes, a center with the St. Louis Blues, will be on hand tonight as the No. 5 jersey he wore as a hockey standout for the Spring Lake Park High School Panthers is retired.

This will be the first time the high school has retired a jersey in any sport, said hockey coach Tom Benson, who remembered Backes from his high school days as "a great player ... and an outstanding kid.''

The ceremony will take place between the first and second periods of the 7:30 p.m. Panthers game against Cambridge at Fogerty Arena, 9250 Lincoln St. NE. in Blaine. Backes will sign autographs between the second and third periods, Benson said Wednesday.

Backes, a 2002 Spring Lake Park High graduate and former Minnesota State Mankato Maverick, will be back in his home state for the Blues' game against the Wild on Friday.

Students raise money to buy gifts for the underprivileged

Spring Lake Park High School's Opportunities in Emergency Care Program (OEC) is again raising money for the Adopt-a-Family program through Kinship of Minneapolis, to provide Christmas gifts for underprivileged children. Parents submit children's requests, and OEC students, staff and parents purchase and wrap the gifts. Last year, the program, which trains high school students in emergency medicine, raised $4,109 and provided gifts to 70 children. In 12 years of participation, OEC has raised more than $41,000. Fundraising will continue through Dec. 12.

Contributions should be made to OEC Program, with a memo note of Kinship/AAF, and sent to OEC Program, SLPHS, 8001 Able St. NE., Spring Lake Park, MN 55432.

For information, call 763-785-5556 or send an e-mail to bneiss@district16.org.


Explore your kindergarten options at meeting tonight

Parents in the Centennial School District can learn more about the three options for incoming kindergartners at an informational session tonight.

The session will cover half-day kindergarten; Time Kids Club, a half-day, fee-based program that complements half-day kindergarten, and Kindergarten Plus, an all-day, fee-based program taught by a licensed teacher. The session will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center, 4707 North Road, Circle Pines.

A kindergarten registration packet will be mailed to families in mid-December.


Eat a homemade waffle and help fund scholarships

The Osseo Area Retired Educators will host its annual Holiday Scholarship Breakfast on Friday to raise money for scholarships for high school seniors at Independent School District 279. Last year's event netted $1,200 each for three students' college education. The menu will include homemade Belgian waffles, fruit toppings, sausage, juice, milk and coffee. Members also will have craft items for sale during the breakfast, which will be from 6 to 9 a.m. Friday at the Osseo Senior High School cafeteria, 317 2nd Av. NW., Osseo. Tickets are $7, and are available at the door. For information, call 763-391-7114.