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School band program hits a high note

Band director Jared Larson is being credited with turning the school's program around. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

The Park Rapids School Board gave band director Jared Larson a (figurative) standing ovation this week for the success of the Pep Band and the concert band, earning a double star, superior rating in competitions.

Band president Caleb Atkins reiterated the board's sentiments. "The band program is turning around thanks to a good band director," the saxophonist told the board.

Principal Al Judson agreed, noting 19 students were enrolled in band last year, 30 are tooting their horns this year, and over 40 expected next year.

"My hats off to the seniors," he said of performing with a 19-member band.

Numbers are moving up an octave in the middle school as well, Century assistant principal Jeff Johnson reported.

Larson expressed gratitude for community support. "The kids are having fun," he told the board. "They are taking pride in the band program."

Band concerts are scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, May 3 (high school) and Monday, May 17 (middle school).

In other action, the board:

n Approved the discontinuance of positions of middle school paraprofessionals Juliann Kjenaas and Andy Thomason.

In the event of resignations, this will be re-evaluated, superintendent Glenn Chiodo told the board.

n Approved the resignation of John Schumacher as head girls basketball coach.

n Approved the resignation of Ann Ferch, a paraprofessional who's been with the district 22 years. This position will not be filled.

n Approved a retirement request from Loree Cusey, cook's helper, who's worked 10 years for the district. She will be replaced.

n Approved a purchase of service agreement with Mahube Community Council.

n Reported enrollment remains consistent. "It's as steady as I've seen in the seven years I've been here," Chiodo told the board.

n Approved a contract award for high school shower room construction to Donlar Construction, Waite Park for $74,872.

n The shower room plumbing contract was awarded to Knapp Grover, Inc. of Park Rapids for $82,009.

n Shower room electrical work will be completed by Marchell Electric of Park Rapids for $4,055.

n Reported a meeting will be held May 3 with Walker-Hackensack-Ake-ley to discuss a cooperative agreement for hockey.

"This is a sensitive issue," Chiodo emphasized. "It must be well thought through."

n Principal Bruce Gravalin reported 22 SMART boards have been purchased for classroom use. Math curriculum training will be conducted this summer, Gravalin stated, noting considerable staff development training has been scheduled this summer.

n Judson reported all but one student have passed the graduation standards tests and are on track to graduate. High school graduation is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, May 23.

n Business manager Carol Hutchinson reported health insurance rates will see no increase.

"It's all about usage," Chiodo said, noting the district's rates increased 3 percent last year. "It's based on staff not using it needlessly."

n Scheduled a special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, May 6 to discuss Johnson Controls projects.

n Learned the Week of the Young Child was a rousing success with many area businesses participating.

n Reported letters on mid-term grades are going out this week.