Park Rapids speech students wow school board

Emma Ravnaas performed a poetry interpretation, and Jack Worner shared an extemporaneous prose reading.

Jack Worner, at left, and Emma Ravnaas both reached the finals in the state speech contest, speech coach Tanya Miller told the Park Rapids School Board on May 15, 2023. Ravnaas also received the National Speech and Debate Association's Academic All-American award.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

The Park Rapids School Board on Monday, May 15 recognized speech team members Emma Ravnaas and Jack Worner.

Coach Tanya Miller explained that besides both of them reaching the state speech contest finals, Worner also made the Minnesota Speech Coaches Association’s all-state speech team.

Meanwhile, Ravnaas received this highest point total of the season in the Northern Lights District of the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA), as well as the NSDA’s ranking of superior distinction and Academic All-American award.

Also, Miller said, Ravnaas and teammate Reese Hanson both qualified for the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions (NIETOC), where Hanson made the final round and earned sixth place overall. Hanson was not present at the meeting.

Both Worner and Ravnaas performed their speeches for the school board. Ravnaas interpreted a series of poems surrounding the theme of women’s beauty standards, and Worner gave an extemporaneous reading of a short story.


In consent items and general business, the school board:

  • 052023.N.PRE.NicoleGuida2758.jpg
    Nicole Guida addressed the Park Rapids School Board on May 15, 2023, with comments about transgender students.
    Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise
    Heard a public comment by Nicole Guida regarding transgender children, whom she described as confused. Guida said teaching children that gender is “fluid and changeable” is abuse, and called on the school board to protect the rights of “the 99% of the population who want to be reassured their bathrooms and locker rooms are safe from gender dysphoria” despite any legislative mandates, laws or executive orders. 
  • Heard Superintendent Lance Bagstad report that the Frank White Education Center is now slated to be demolished during the week of May 22.
  • Heard High School Principal Jeff Johnson report the school is considering starting a “spirit cheer club” to promote school spirit and learn cheers. He also reported that 119 students will walk in May 28’s graduation ceremony.
  • Heard Transportation Supervisor Jack Johnson report that his department will soon post a position as lead mechanic, and will be offering bus driver classes within district staff. 
  • Approved the sale of the house built by Building Trades students to Tucker Coborn for $92,500 plus tax and moving expenses. Johnson said the asking price was $84,000, and he expects the house to stay within five miles of Park Rapids.
  • Called for a public hearing at the school board’s June 19 meeting regarding a property tax abatement proposed to aid in development of workforce housing apartments in the Career Path neighborhood.
  • Awarded the bread bid for 2023-24 food service to Pan O’Gold, the sold bidder. Bread prices increased 20% for hamburger buns, hot dog buns and loaves of bread compared to 2022-23, but decreased by about 40% for steak buns. Bimbo Bakeries declined to bid for capacity reasons.
  • Awarded the milk bid for 2023-24 food service to Prairie Farms/Dean Foods Dairy. A bid was also received from Cass Clay Dairy. Prairie Farms’ milk bid featured a 4.6% price increase for white 1% milk, a 7.1% decrease for lactose-free skim, a 7% increase for white skim, and a 7.4% increase for fat-free chocolate milk. 
  • Approved the pizza bid for 2023-24 food service to Pizza Hut. Rocky’s Pizza also submitted a bid. Pizza Hut’s prices decreased by about 66% for all varieties of pizza, from $22 to $7.50 each.
  • Approved the resignation of Ellie Riihiluoma as an elementary teacher and head volleyball coach.
  • Hired Amy Sorenson as an elementary secretary, effective May 2, and Ally Sanford as an elementary teacher.
  • Approved the fall 2023 coaches list, including Jeremy Nordick as football head coach with assistants Jesse Bucholz, Josh Popanda, Wyatt Sanford and Jeb Sanford, volunteer assistants Brian Johnson and Randy Thompson, and middle school coaches Gabe Sturtz, Garrett Kovach and Josh Cook; volleyball head coach to be determined with assistant Katelyn Seehafer, C-team coach Cody Wolfe and junior high coaches Alicia Norby and Nichole Weston; clay target league head coach Jodi Walsh with assistants Janelle Girtz, Steve Girtz, Charley Walsh, Robin Walsh, Bert Fosse, Dan Strickler, Matt Leek, Allen Kriz and Jared Hoefs; cross country head coach Pat Richard with assistant Tarja Nelson; girls swimming head coach Todd Fritze with assistants Kristy Goochey and Baylee Gartner; and girls tennis head coach Brianne Morris with assistant Lane Miles, junior high coach Ashley Hensel and volunteer Nicole Brandt.
  • Received an enrollment review showing that from April 13 to May 11, K-12 enrollment saw a 0.4% decrease from 1,576 to 1,570, while overall enrollment changed by only two students, from 1,715 to 1,713.
  • Acknowledged donations to the school district from Itasca Mantrap’s “Operation Round Up” program totaling $2,875, including $750 to the high school Business Professionals of America chapter, $725 to the high school Alternative Learning Center and $500 to Chris Kirchner’s middle school art classroom, among other gifts.
  • Approved payments presented for May, totaling $1,984,261.
  • Approved first readings of district policies regarding student attendance and student promotion, retention and program design.

The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, June 5 in the “aquarium” at the Park Rapids Area High School media center.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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