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New Veterans Day program planned for Century Middle School

Century Middle School's tribute to veterans is undergoing a change this year.

Middle School Principal Shawn Andress announced that retired teachers Charli Cohrs and LaPalma Anderson are stepping aside as coordinators.

Andress spoke at the Oct. 16 Park Rapids School Board meeting.

"They are, for very personal reasons, going to move on," she said, thanking them and a host of volunteers for their efforts. "I'm biased, but you couldn't find a better Veterans Day program for miles."

The pair collaborated for a dozen years — volunteering both time and money — to organize the Veterans Day program. Fifth through eighth graders participated in the annual presentation, complete with vintage military uniforms, memorabilia, themed scripts, poetry readings, Taps, salute and flag-folding ceremony.

Thankfully, Andress said, the Veterans Day program will continue in a new format.

"This is an opportunity for our social studies department in the seventh and eighth grade. We'll be hosting a public event on Wednesday, Nov. 8," she said.

Students will take on personas of historical figures and present a wax museum from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. This will be open to the public.

From 2:35 p.m. until 3 p.m., a small program will be held for students.

Andress also squelched a rumor about upcoming Rec Night for grades 5-8.

"Fifth and sixth graders, seventh and eighth graders do not need a date to attend. I don't know what or who...That's middle school for you," she said.

Rec Night is Friday, Oct. 27 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. for Park Rapids students.

Finally, Andress publicly commended paraprofessional Jackie Griffin. Two weeks ago, there was an incident of a student choking in the cafetorium.

"Within a heartbeat, she stepped up, performed the Heimlich maneuver and I do believe saved that child's life. She did a fabulous, fabulous job," Andress said. "Kind of frightening for our kids, but they recognize that could happen to their friend anywhere."

Food Angels update

Century Elementary Principal Jolene DeLaHunt reported that the Food Angels program is distributing 90 backpacks per week.

Food Angels is a community-based collaborative effort to provide weekend meals to K-4 students and their families. Children signed up for the program receive a bag of nutritious food in their backpacks, consisting of entrees, fruits, vegetables, cereals and snacks. Different community organizations pack food on Thursdays at Riverside United Methodist Church. Every Friday, Food Angels volunteers deliver the bundles into each enrolled child's backpack.

DeLaHunt said she was pleased with attendance at parent/teacher conferences. She noted an interpreter was used for five conferences.

"That's a new direction for our school. In the past, more families have been able to provide translators, but we're now at the point where we can't keep up with everybody so we have a gentleman coming in to help us out," DeLaHunt said.

Facilities Director Alan Vanderstad told board members new LED lights will be installed at the Century cafetorium, a cost savings of $2,500 in electricity per year.

"That's a chunk of change," Vanderstad said, adding he'll look at installing LEDs in another area of the school next year.

In other business, the school board did the following:

• Approved Child Care Leave for Carrie Maier from approximately March 29 to May 10, 2018.

• Approved Family Medical Leave Act for Kim and Nic Lembcke from approximately Dec. 29, 2017 to Jan. 12, 2018.

• Approved Family Medical Leave Act for Kim Splett from approximately Feb. 9 to May 4, 2018.

• Approved James Sanchez as head gymnastics coach, John Wilhelm for the Deer Creek van route and Christina Avila as a cook's helper.

• Approved an agreement with Northland Community and Technical College for a student training experience/internship.

• Accepted Roger Hocking's retirement, effective Nov. 27. He has served the school district for 13 years.

• Accepted the resignation of Julie Kelly, a fifth grade teacher, effective Dec. 31. She is accepting an overseas principal position.