The Park Rapids School Board on Monday, Oct. 4 approved out-of-state travel for a group of staff and students to attend the national FFA convention from Oct. 26 to 30 in Indianapolis, Ind.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers Amber Seibert and Stephen Funk voiced excitement about the opportunity to take members of the recently revived Park Rapids chapter on their first in-person FFA trip.

Besides five delegates to the convention, Funk said, the chapter is sending student Jillian Neubauer as a talent contestant, personally escorted by her father.

Neubauer qualified for the national competition in piano performance. According to Funk, she will compete in an in-person audition round upon arriving in Indy, to determine which of several major public venues she will play in during the rest of the competition.

“We’re very excited to see her, hopefully, on a national FFA stage,” said Seibert, acknowledging Neubauer’s outstanding musical gifts and the hard work she put into her application for the competition.

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Other highlights of the trip will include agricultural and industrial tours, the world’s largest college and career exposition, general sessions with keynote speakers, workshops and possibly a concert.

“It should be a pretty awesome experience,” said Funk, adding that Seibert obtained a grant toward the cost of the trip. Later, Funk said it was a $1,000 grant from the Ford Trucks Convention Travel Assistance program, one of only 24 awarded nationwide.

Funk recalled that a national FFA convention was a formative experience that put him on the path to where he is today.

Seibert said attendance at the convention is estimated to be 30,000 to 40,000 with precautions in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The trip was approved as one of the school board’s consent items.

Outstanding employer

Foodservice director J.T. Clark announced that his program was awarded the Outstanding Disability Employer award by the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation.

“It coincided with October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month,” said Clark. “The DAC nominated us.”

Clark acknowledged the Hubbard County Developmental Achievement Center (DAC) for letting the foodservice program tap into their clients’ “talented and dedicated employee pool,” DAC staff and job coaches for setting up their clients for success, the schools’ kitchen staff for their daily leadership and, most of all, the DAC clients “because we truly couldn’t do what we do without them.”

Noting that there will be an award ceremony later in October, Clark added that it’s weird to be recognized when “they should be the ones getting the award.”

In consent items and general business, the school board:

  • Hired Adam Gudmundson as a bus driver, Angela Larson as a middle school Achievement and Integration paraprofessional, Jason Haas as a junior varsity boys basketball coach, Brenna Smith as a middle school special education paraprofessional, Chris Norton as transportation supervisor effective Oct. 15, and Jill Stevenson as director of curriculum and instruction.

  • Approved Jill Dickinson’s contract as director of Community Education for 2021-23.

  • Approved a GoFundMe fundraiser for the Esports club.

  • Approved cooperative agreements with the Sebeka school for gymnastics and with Walker-Hackensack-Akeley for boys hockey.

  • Approved tenure for the following teachers: Josh Grev, Alexis Skajewski, Michael Lorden, Caitlin Keute-Djonne, Addy Upton, Lee Skajewski, Concha Uzozie, Savannah Lunak, Carolyn Melchert, Rita Southerton, Kelsey Undem, John Brumback, Kristi Goochey and Amber Seibert.

  • Approved a resolution appointing election judges for the Nov. 2 special school bonding election.

  • Approved the district’s Assurance of Compliance with State and Federal Laws for the 2021-22 school year.

  • Acknowledged donations of school supplies from Michels Pipeline and CHI St. Joseph’s Health.

Coaches list

The school board also approved the following list of 2021-22 winter coaches:

  • Boys basketball: head coach Josh Meader, assistants Jason Haas and Joe Morgan, junior high coach Garrett Kovach.
  • Girls basketball: head coach Nic Lembcke, assistant Josh Yliniemi, ninth grade coach Krystal Murphy, junior high coaches Andrew Lachowitzer and Concha Uzozie.
  • Boys swimming: head coach Megan Rykhus, assistant Baylee Gartner.
  • Gymnastics: head coach Cyrus Gust, assistant Matthew Backmann.
  • Wrestling: head coach Matt Clark, assistant Jeff Dravis, junior high coach Mike Baumgartner, junior high assistant Shannon Dykhoff (paid by Boosters), volunteer coaches Brett Bishop and Dan Etter.
  • Boys hockey: head coach Bill Moore, assistants Sam Coborn and Jared Naeve.
  • Speech: head coach Tanya Miller, junior high coach Emily Schueller.
  • Winter play: director Abigail Jasmer, tech director Victoria Harju.

The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18 at the Frank White Education Center.