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Sixth graders from Park Rapids, Nevis, Laporte and St. Philip's School in Bemidji took in sunshine, fresh air and opportunities to learn about the environment Wednesday at Camp Wilderness on Bad Axe Lake. Julie Kingsley, district manager for the Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), said this is the 24th year for the Freshwater Festival, sponsored by the SWCD.
Kristen Poehler has been named the 2018-19 Education Minnesota teacher of the year for Park Rapids Area Schools. Currently a second grade teacher at Century Elementary School, Poehler is in her fifth school year in Park Rapids, where she has also taught kindergarten and third grade. Originally from Ada, she graduated from Ada-Borup High School, studied at Mayville State University and finished her Bachelor of Science in elementary education at Minnesota State University Moorhead. She completed a master's degree in education last year through Southwest State University.
Jason and Hanna Markert of Park Rapids started to homeschool all three of their daughters this year after seeing a dangerous decline in their grades, behavior and health. According to Kinsey, 17; Kamryn, 14; and Kendyl, 10, school bullying played a role — including cyber threats, verbal abuse and physical and sexual assault by other students — while interventions by school staff were less than helpful.
Superintendent Lance Bagstad notified the Park Rapids School Board Monday about a request from the Menahga Public School to consider pairing the two schools' football programs. Board chair Sherry Safratowich emphasized, "This is just a discussion to see what the interest is from the Park Rapids School Board" as to whether the school should continue the conversation with Menahga School representatives.
Park Rapids Fire Department and Minnesota DNR personnel responded Saturday to a grass fire that spread into pine trees west of Helten Ave., between Century School and St. Johns Lutheran Church. According to Second Assistant Fire Chief Bob Meier, the fire's ignition source was unconfirmed as of Monday morning. "It started on the edge of that field and burned into the pine trees," said Meier. "We responded for structure protection, and DNR also responded, and we put out that grass fire." Meier said an area approximately the size of a football field was burned.
A survivor of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi people in Rwanda shared her testimony about prayer, forgiveness and hope Wednesday in Park Rapids. Immaculée Ilibagiza, the author of "Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust" and six other books, gave a nearly two-hour presentation in the high school gymnasium that brought her large audience tears and laughter.
The Park Rapids Area School Board on Monday recognized recent high-level achievements by the high school's gymnastics coach and members of its speech team. Cyrus Gust was unanimously elected Class A state gymnastics coach of the year by his peers. He was also coach of the year for Section 8. Activities Director Jeremy Nordick said that in Gust's first year as head coach, "for him to get state coach of the year says a lot about what he brings to the table."
Andy Trudeau received the Fireman of the Year award during the Park Rapids Fire Department appreciation and awards banquet Saturday at American Legion Post 212. Guests filled all the seats in the room, including spouses and children of the firefighters, city and county officials, law enforcement, dispatchers, power company staff and other citizens the firefighters wished to honor for helping them do their jobs last year. "This is always fun for us," said Fire Chief Terry Long. "This is us saying 'thank you' to everybody in the community that helps us."
Century Elementary and Middle School students started to learn a new way to clean their breakfast and lunch trays this week. Instead of throwing all their waste in the same receptacle, beginning at lunchtime Monday, they have been following hints from local volunteers about how to separate organic material — such as food and paper napkins — from the other garbage, such as plastic packaging and milk cartons.
"I know that Remer is attempting to do this," said Sharon Nordrum, a teacher at the Laporte School. "But as far as I know, I'm the only school that actually is considered inclusive." Nordrum is talking about the American Indian Education program, supported by the Minnesota Department of Education's Office of Indian Education (OIE). Before she was hired in December 2016, the school received OIE funding but didn't have a program. Instead, she said, the funds were spent on appropriate books, videos and similar material.