School News

ISD 709 News

posted Oct 1, 2015, 8:56 AM by Communications ISD 709

October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

   As members of the Duluth community, we value creating welcoming environments where the uniqueness of each

person is honored and valued, recognizing that we all come from many different circumstances and cultures. 

   We strive to provide safe, secure and respectful learning environments for all students in our school buildings, on school grounds, school buses and at school-sponsored activities.  A safe and civil environment is needed for students to learn and attain high academic standards and to promote healthy human relationships.

   Click here to learn more about local school policies related to bullying behaviors.  For tips and information about what you can do to address bullying check: and


Presented by St. Luke’s Pediatric Associates’ Parent Advisory Council:

Bullying—What It Is and What Can We Do About It

Featuring Ron Lake, MSW, LICSW, Climate Coordinator for Duluth Schools

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 6:00PM–7:00PM

St. Luke’s Campus Building A, Level 5 1012 East Second Street, Duluth

   Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend this free educational event.  Childcare is provided.   

   Ron Lake has worked with kids and families for over 20 years as counselor, supervisor, therapist, social worker and adjunct instructor. This interactive presentation will provide a common understanding of bullying, 

with emphasis on:

• Discussing implications of power differences

• Ideas for helping students involved in bullying behavior

Questions? Call 218-249-7870


Denfeld SPIRIT Program Gives Students a Voice in Identifying Concerns and Finding Solutions

   SPIRIT is a student-driven process designed to teach problem identification and problem solving techniques through collaboration.  This initiative involves students working with administrators, teachers, support staff and community members to identify racial and other human rights issues in schools, develop solutions, and create an action plan for resolving them.

   “We’re excited about this initiative and the potential it offers students to have a voice in shaping the climate and culture at DHS,” said Tonya Sconiers, Principal. 

   SPIRIT is a program created by the US Department of Justice Community Relations Service and stands for Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together. 


2016 National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalists, Commended Students

   Sanna Berdahl, Sharon Billman, and James Hirsch, Duluth East High School, have been named 2016 National Merit Scholarship Semi Finalists.  Of the 1.5 million juniors nationwide who took the 2014 PSAT, these students scored in the top one half of 1% and had some of the highest scores in the state of Minnesota.  They are now eligible to compete for 7400 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million to be offered this spring.

   Shannon Baker, Sylvia Bowen-Bailey, Brooke Davis, Daniel Dylla, Marianne Peterson, Rachel Sipress and Stevie Twining, Duluth East, have been named Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship Program, recognized for their exceptional academic promise and for placing in the top 5% of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2016 competition nationwide.


Progress on Duluth East Traffic Solutions

   A crossing guard at Duluth East High School is helping to address safety during high traffic at the beginning and end of the school day.  James Gittemeier, a senior planner with the Metropolitan Interstate Council, is coordinating a study of traffic and a process to identify additional solutions.

Duluth News Tribune Report


Congdon Park Elementary Students Celebrate Fall Festival

KQDS-TV21 Report


UMD Mobile Planetarium Visits Myers-Wilkins Elementary

Duluth News Tribune Report

KBJR-TV6 Report


Moving On II Transition Resource Fair

For students with an IEP or 504 Plan

Monday October 12, 2015  Duluth East Media Center, 301 N. 40th Avenue East

Tuesday October 27, 2015  Denfeld Media Center, 401 N. 44th Avenue West

2:30PM – 6:30PM

Learn about community, employment, and college resources!

--College Programs

--College disability services

--Social services

--Accessing the community

--Accessing recreational opportunities

--Getting job support after graduation

Contact Al Chepelnik at 336-8700 x4047 or Heidi Morris at 336-8740.


Duluth East Forestry, Fish and Wildlife Management students took a trip to Hawk Ridge to experience the migration of hawks and songbirds.  Student observed an osprey, bald eagles, and sharp shin hawks.  Hark Ridge staff captured a sharp shin and students were able to assist in its release back into the migration.  Students said it was a great experience.  

ISD 709 News

posted Sep 23, 2015, 12:12 PM by Communications ISD 709

Denfeld, Duluth East Student Leaders Recognized for Helping 9th Graders Transition to High School
   During their regular September meeting, the Duluth School Board presented certificates of recognition to student leaders and advisers associated with Denfeld Link Crew and Duluth East Hound Pack.  
   The transition from middle school to high school is a critical time for students.   One way to help make that transition a smooth one is through the work of groups like the Denfeld Link Crew and Duluth East Hound Pack.  These student leaders are trained to support incoming ninth grade students by orienting them to the school, informing them of activities and opportunities, making introductions and helping them feel at home.  They assist in building a feeling of connectedness, serving as role models and mentors and important information resources.  The work of Link Crew and Hound Pack students contributes greatly to the success and well-being of Duluth’s newest highschoolers. 
Many Thanks for Community Support!
   During the September School Board meeting, Superintendent Bill Gronseth and Board members expressed appreciation to the anonymous donor who helped provide free Duluth Pack backpacks to second grade students at Myers-Wilkins Elementary.  Superintendent Gronseth also thanked Maurices for their generous donations to local schools during their “Grand Give” event in September an talked about the Minnesota Supreme Court’s planned visit to Denfeld in October to help students learn more about our legal system.
   “We’re fortunate to live and work in a community where the education of children is an important priority,” said Gronseth. 
SAVE THE DATE:  ISD 709 Annual Report For The Community
Thursday November 19, 2015  6:00PM – 7:30PM
Display tables, celebration of student work & performance, overview of progress, reception with light refreshments 
Denfeld High School Commons, 401 N. 44th Avenue West
Community members, parents, teachers, staff, students are invited!
ISD 709 Projected Pay 2016 Levy Below State Average
   During the September School Board meeting, administrators provided a preliminary levy estimate to the school board, emphasizing that the numbers would be adjusted as the district receives more information from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).
    According to the preliminary estimate the pay 2016 maximum levy would be an increase of about 1.4% or $476,000.  This is below the statewide average projected by MDE of about 9.9% for all school districts.
   The estimates were developed in preparation for the maximum levy certification process required by MDE. A final levy will be calculated and presented to the School Board for approval in December.
Myers-Wilkins Elementary In the News
Harvest Fest:  The Myers-Wilkins Community School Collaborative sponsored a Harvest Fest at Myers-Wilkins Elementary this month.  The event included displays of homegrown vegetables; harvest-themed games and artwork; food sampling including potato soup and apple crisp and other fun activities.
Click below to see local media reports:
Donated Duluth Pack Backpacks Delivered to Myers-Wilkins 2nd Graders:   A generous donor saw a need for backpacks at Myers-Wilkins Elementary and this fall made sure every second grade student received their own Duluth Pack backpack.  The backpacks are designed to last a lifetime and the design includes a leather Myers-Wilkins patch.
Click to see local coverage:
Lincoln Park Middle School 1st Annual Wildcat 1K Hill Climb!
   Walkers, runners, bikers - conquer our hill (1K with elevation increase over 200 feet) while enjoying a great day of fun, food, and friendship. 
   Join us on Saturday, October 3, for our 1st Annual Wildcat 1K Hill Climb!  
--Register at:  .  
--Race Day Registration 8:00AM – 9:00AM
--Runners and Walkers Race Time:  9:15AM
--Bicycle Heats Begin:  11:00AM  
Registration is $15 for ages 7 and over and free for ages 6 and under.   Can't decide if you want to walk, run, or bike?  Pay one registration fee and participate in as many or few of the events you want!
Money raised will be used to fund continued lunchtime physical activities and after school clubs and programming.
Check out our Facebook event page at:
2015 Duluth East Hall of Fame Football Game 
Friday October 2, 2015
5:45PM – Duluth East Hall of Fame Class of 2015 introductions by the voice of the Greyhounds, Brian Prudhomme
6:00PM – Kick-off (East vs Rogers) 
From the Duluth East Foundation:
Duluth East Hall of Fame Induction 2015 
Thomas “Dukes” Knutson, Kristi (Duncan) Plante, Glenn Lawrence Rolle, Judy Smith, Phil J. Verchota
Saturday October 3, 2015
Duluth East High School Mezzanine, 301 N. 40th Ave E., Duluth MN
Social:  6:00PM, Dinner:  6:30PM, Program: 7:00PM
Tickets:  $50.00 (must be purchased in advance, pick up at door).
In person:  $50/ticket at the East High Activities Office (address below)
To order: (Available through September 28, 2015)
Send a check for $50 (per ticket) to: Duluth East Foundation - 301 N. 40th Ave East, Duluth MN 55804.
Check made out to "Duluth East Foundation"
Hall of Fame Social at The Pickwick immediately following the program
Questions:  Contact Activities Director Shawn Roed @
Mark Your Calendar: Student-Run Restaurant Opens October 27!
Food for Thought restaurant (Duluth’s only high school student operated restaurant) will re-open for service on Tuesday, October 27.  
   This program, providing valuable experience for student chefs in grades 9-12, is open to the public by reservation Tuesday – Thursday.  Reservations and pre-orders are required at least 24 hours in advance as orders become the lesson plan for that day. Guests are asked to arrive between 11:35AM – 11:40AM, seating begins promptly at 11:45AM.  Make reservations and pre-order by calling: (218) 336-8845 Extension 4055.  Click here to see the full menu and more detail regarding service.   Please help provide Denfeld & Duluth East student chefs valuable experience by sharing this information with potential customers!
--Choose from a variety of delicious menu items:  salads, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, seafood, steak, homemade bread, desserts, and more. 
--Look for Weekly Features served with choice of soup or luncheon salad, homemade focaccia bread and choice of beverage:
   October 27, 28, 29  Halibut Provencal En Papillote:  Alaskan Halibut in a French sauce of fresh tomatoes, herbs de Provence, capers, olives, wild mushrooms, wrapped in paper and baked. Served with Haricot Verts and herb potato gratins   $14.00
   November 3, 4, 5  Chicken Tetrazzini :  A classic Italian dish of sautéed chicken breast wild mushrooms, sweet peppers and peas, in a creamy garlic sauce and gratin ‘ate of mozzarella cheese served on student made linguini.  $11.00                 
   November 10, 11, 12 Tuscan Roast Leg of Lamb:  Leg of Lamb seasoned with garlic and fresh rosemary and lightly pan smoked, and served with roasted tomato and authentic homemade Fettuccini Alfredo.  $12.00


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ISD 709 News

posted Sep 18, 2015, 7:29 AM by Communications ISD 709

From the Duluth News Tribune:

Congratulations Cal Harris, Chosen for “20 Under 40” Leadership Recognition!

   Cal is Achievement Center coordinator for ISD 709, providing students with leadership training, goal setting, organizational skills, critical thinking skills, and decision-making, problem-solving and motivation skills.  Cal serves as President of the Twin Ports African American Men's Group; founder of African American Student Alliance; co-founder of Guys with Ties, an after-school program at Lincoln Park Middle School; volunteer at Neighborhood Youth Services; a member of Prince Hall Freemasonry; and a member of the NAACP.

Click here for more


Duluth Community Education 2015 Fall Class Schedule Available Online 

   The Duluth Community Education Fall 2015 schedule of classes and activities is available online for viewing and secure registration at  

   Community Education offers opportunities to learners of all ages through:

Adult enrichment and youth activities - take a class in computers, music, yoga, cooking, painting, fitness, digital photography, languages, retirement planning, travel planning, swimming, dancing, much more - something for everyone

Adult basic education - GED and Adult High School Diploma - It's never too late to learn

Early childhood programs

School readiness/Pre-K

KEY Zone school-age care and academic enrichment

Drivers education

Aquatics classes

   These programs are open to any area resident, are affordable and close to home.

   For more information email:communityeducation@isd709.orgor call 218-336-8760 or visit  


Minnesota State High School League - Why We Play  

   During the September Education Committee meeting, high school activity directors presented information aboutWhy We Play.  It’s part of the MSHSL’s Coaches Education Program, geared toward providing student athletes with a richer experience - one that fosters learning, growth, fun, and a connection to caring adults in the school community.

   While the goal for high school sports programs is to win games, conferences and state championships, the purposeof a high school sports program is to develop in students the skills they need to be successful in life.  That takes intention and focus and requires clear expectations and support for coaches. 

   Why We Play works to help students become better athletes and through that process help them grow as people, develop their potential, provide a connectedness to school and learn important life skills:

--Being responsible

--Striving for excellence

--Learning from mistakes and failure

--Helping others succeed

--Overcoming adversity

--Being a contributing member of a team

Click here to watch the MSHSL Why We Play coaches training video.


From the City of Duluth Parks & Recreation:

Free Open Skating

Heritage Sports Center

120 South 30th Avenue West, Duluth


Every Wednesday that school is in session:  September 16 - June 1, 6:30PM - 8:00PM

MEA School Release Days:  October 15 & 16, 2:00PM-4:00PM

Special Skating Parties:  6:30PM-8:00PM

--Boo Bash, October 28

--Gobbler Glide, November 18

--Skate with Santa, December 16

--Skate for Your Heart, February 10

Holiday Break

--Monday, December 28, 10:00AM-12:00Noon

--Tuesday, December 29, 10:00AM-12:00Noon

--Thursday, December 31, 2:00PM-4:00PM

Semester Break

--Friday, January 22, 2:00PM-4:00PM

Mid-Winter Break

--February 15-19, 2:00PM-4:00:00PM

Spring Break

--April 4-8, 2:00PM-4:00PM

ISD 709 News

posted Sep 14, 2015, 11:40 AM by Communications ISD 709

Minnesota Supreme Court to Visit Denfeld High School in October 

   The MN Supreme Court will visit Denfeld as part of a program that seeks to teach students about our court system.  The state's highest court will convene the morning of Thursday October 8 in the Denfeld Auditorium in Duluth, MN to hear oral arguments in a real court case in front of hundreds of high school students.  A question and answer session for the students will follow. In addition to Denfeld and Duluth East High Schools, the Minnesota Supreme Court, Chief Judge of the Sixth Judicial District Shaun R. Floerke and Denfeld Principal Tonya Sconiers have invited several area districts and schools to participate. 

   A “Meet Your Minnesota Supreme Court” Community Dinner will be held Wednesday, October 7 at the Kirby Ballroom at the Kirby Student Center on the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) campus.  Doors open at 6:00PM, dinner will be served at 6:30PM. Tickets are being sold in advance for $15 to cover the cost of dinner.  They cannot be purchased at the door. The event includes a short program featuring brief remarks from members of the Supreme Court. Seating to the event is limited.

Tickets may be purchased:

--Online at Use the ‘U of M Duluth School of Fine Arts’ link and select the Supreme Court Community Dinner event  

--By phone by calling (218) 726-8877, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.

--In-person by visiting the UMD School of Fine Arts Ticket Office (1215 Ordean Court, Duluth, MN 55812), Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Cash, checks, American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa accepted.


Lincoln Park Middle School Kicks Off Healthy Northland Farm to School Showcase

   Students at Lincoln Park Middle School provided a tour and information about their
school garden during the Healthy Northland Farm to School Kickoff this week. Healthy Northland is funded via a USDA grant and provides assistance to help schools like those in ISD 709 gain better access to local foods. 

   Students planted the school garden and built four additional raised beds. Learning activities around the garden included science club participation, researching and writing essays about where various foods come from, a visit from Up North Farm & Restoration and more. 
   Among several local, regional and state leaders, the students welcomed Representative Mary Murphy, School Board Members Judy Seliga Punyko, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp and Annie Harala, Superintendent Bill Gronseth, staff and community members to this event.

   Several local media outlets came out to cover the kick-off, click below to see the reports.

Duluth News Tribune




From Tonya Sconiers and Joan Sargent:

SPIRIT Program Coming to Denfeld High School – Informational Meeting September 23

   Last spring, in Denfeld High School’s ongoing efforts to be proactive in meeting students’ academic and social/emotional needs, staff researched many opportunities and discovered the US Department of Justice, Community Relations Service (DOJ-CRS). DOJ-CRS, provides a variety of programs and services to schools and communities across the nation.

   Nearly 25 years ago, DOJ-CRS recognized the value of student problem solving around racial and other human rights issues and created a program they implement in schools across the country called SPIRIT.

   Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (SPIRIT) is a student-driven process designed to teach problem identification and problem solving techniques through the establishment of a proactive model for collaboration.  This initiative involves students working with administrators, teachers, support staff and community members to identify racial and other human rights issues in schools, develop solutions, and create an action plan for resolving them.

   You are cordially invited to attend an informational gathering led by Justin Lock, DOJ-CRS representative, on Wednesday, September 23rd from 6:00PM-7:30PM in the Media Center at Denfeld High, 401 N. 44th  Avenue West, to learn more about SPIRIT and other programs offered by the DOJ-CRS.  Please be aware that the DOJ will be documenting the SPIRIT process and conducting interviews throughout the time they are in Duluth.   

   On September 24th and 25th, Denfeld, in collaboration with ISD709 Office of Education Equity, the US-DOJ-CRS and the Executive Office of the US Attorney General will begin implementing SPIRIT.

   We are excited about this initiative and the potential it offers students to have a voice in shaping the climate and culture at DHS.  For more information contact Tonya M. Sconiers 218-336-8830 (ext. 1928) or Joan Sargent (ext. 2156), check the link below for information about the DOJ-CRS.


Victory Over Violence Exhibit & Events – Free Curriculum Opportunity

   Educators play a key role in creating a community of peace in schools and surrounding communities.  Victory Over Violence (VOV) provides an opportunity to take action and work with students to address violence in its many forms on a classroom level. 

   VOV helps inspire young people to identify and root out violence, from bullying to physical violence, in their daily lives and in their communities and is in support of the United Nations “Culture of Peace” initiative.   Its goal is to contribute to a culture of peace through awareness, introspection, individual empowerment and a courageous and creative commitment to dialogue. It encourages respect, trust and friendship among young people, families, schools and communities across all boundaries such as race, religion and culture.    
Activities and information promote an understanding of:

--Self-awareness and self-reflection

--Communication and interpersonal skill-building

--How violence manifests in a range of settings, and its impact

--The role of dialogue in ending violence

--How they can make a difference through empowerment

--What it means to take the VOV pledge

   The Exhibit is open to the public from September 21 - October 2 in Swenson Hall, Erlenbach Gathering Place at the UW-Superior Campus.   All educators for all age levels and their students are welcome to explore the exhibit.  Contact Lisa Mattsson at for assistance in modifying the content of the exhibit to a developmental level that fits your students and/or group or class tours with a docent.

   Opening Event with Carl Crawford (Community Activist) and reception to follow:  Monday, September 21, 5:00PM to 6:00PM in Swenson 1004 Lecture Hall.

   Victory Over Bullying: A Northland Summit to Explore Impact, Causes & Response: Wednesday September 30, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Yellowjacket Union.  Click here to register. Cost is $10/students, $25/general, and $35/CEUs.

For more information about the exhibit, visit  Other questions and curriculum ideas, contact Lisa Mattsson, Jen Bird at or Tammy Fanning at  


ISD 709 News

posted Sep 4, 2015, 6:54 AM by Communications ISD 709

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the September 2 Staff Development Day and to all who devoted a lot of time and effort to make it happen. 

Activities focused on research-based best practices to improve student learning and strategies for strengthening the focus on culture in our schools.  

Best wishes for a successful and satisfying school year!


From KQDS-TV21:

Ojibwe Language Immersion Expands to First Grade at Lowell Elementary

   With the successful launch of a Kindergarten Ojibwe language immersion classroom at Lowell last fall, ISD 709 is expanding the program to include both Kindergarten and Grade 1 this year.   Gordon Jourdain,  who taught last year’s Kindergarten class and is a first language Ojibwe speaker, talked with Fox 21 about what the classroom provides students.


From the Duluth News Tribune:

Minnesota Supreme Court To Visit Denfeld High School

   The Minnesota Supreme Court is coming back to Duluth.  The state's high court will convene at Denfeld High School in early October, according to a public court calendar released Thursday.  The visit is part of the court's "traveling oral argument" series, which began in 1995 in an effort to expand public outreach and education.


From the Duluth Budgeteer:

Former Duluth East Student Hired as Co-Op for NASA

   Almost everyone has heard the expression "it's not rocket science" and usually, it's true. But for Duluthian Kirsi Kuutti, this is not the case. She has been hired as a co-op, a position above that of an intern, with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston…


From KQDS-TV21:

ISD 709 Transportation Manager Mike Johnson Talks About Back to School Safety

   Mike provided back-to-school safety tips during an interview with Fox 21 News.  He touched on how students can be safe while getting on and off the bus, what drivers should do when they see a school bus with flashing lights and an extended stop arm and other advice to promote a safe journey to and from school.


2015 ISD 709 State Multiple Measurement and Focus Rating Results

    This week the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR) and Focus Ratings (FR) for all Minnesota schools. 

    The ratings are an effort by the state of Minnesota to measure progress in closing the achievement gap, which is the difference in academic performance and on-time graduation rates between groups of students.  Most commonly, gaps are evident based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and the receiving of special education services.

    “The good news is that overall student achievement continues to grow and that in some areas students experiencing an achievement gap are seeing growth,” said Amy Starzecki, Assistant Superintendent for ISD 709.  “We must continue to focus and adjust our efforts to raise overall achievement and to increase achievement more quickly for students experiencing a gap.”

     In ISD 709 several student groups increased proficiency on state tests in 2015. In some cases, groups of students not experiencing an achievement gap saw even greater gains – so, while student achievement overall increased, in some cases the gap between student groups also increased.  

    Laura MacArthur Elementary School is Celebration Eligible, Piedmont Elementary School remains a Continuous Improvement School and Lowell Elementary School remains a Focus school. 

Click here for more.


ISD 709 is currently seeking applicants to serve as AmeriCorps members during the 2015-2016 school year. AmeriCorps members receive a modest financial stipend, healthcare benefits, and a financial award to pay down student loans. AmeriCorps members support district goals to reduce the achievement gap through academic and behavior interventions with students. Programs exist to place AmeriCorps members within elementary, middle, and high school settings. Click here for more information about Americorps.  If you are interested in applying or would like to learn more, please contact Tom Albright at 218-336-8700 ext 1172 or


UW-Superior Victory Over Bullying Summit – September 30

   Explore the impact, causes and responses to bullying behaviors.  Each person is affected in some way at some time in life by bullying behavior. For some, the effects are life-long.  Many who have experienced bullying learn to bully others.  Research also shows that those who bully when they are children often continue bullying throughout their adulthood.  Each person has a role in stopping the cycle.    

   This summit will provide tools that can be used in the home, community and workplace to create compassionate, respectful environments.  This full-day event includes presentations and a variety of breakout sessions with opportunities for interaction.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015   8:30 AM - 4:15 PM

Yellowjacket Union, 1605 Catlin Avenue  Superior, Wisconsin


$35 Professional (Requiring CEUs)

$25 Community

$10 Full-Time Student 

Click here for more information.

ISD 709 Seeking Americorps Members

posted Sep 1, 2015, 12:22 PM by Communications ISD 709

ISD 709 is currently seeking applicants to serve as AmeriCorps members during the 2015-2016 school year.  AmeriCorps members receive a modest financial stipend, healthcare benefits, and a financial award to pay down student loans. AmeriCorps members support district goals to reduce the achievement gap through academic and behavior interventions with students. Programs exist to place AmeriCorps members within elementary, middle, and high school settings. Click here for more information about Americorps.  If you are interested in applying or would like to learn more, please contact Tom Albright at 218-336-8700 ext 1172 or

ISD 709 News

posted Aug 19, 2015, 12:57 PM by Communications ISD 709


   ISD 709 schools and school offices will be closed Wednesday September 2  from 7:30AM to 12:30PM for staff development day (athletic practices will take place as scheduled by coaches).  Staff development activities focus on researched-based best practices to improve student learning and strategies for strengthening the focus on culture in our schools.  Thanks for your patience!


Correction for hard copy Back to School Newsletters:  The front page includes an outdated start & end time for high schools.  The correct start/end times are 9:00AM to 3:24PM as indicated on the School Contact list inside the newsletter.


Duluth School Board Honors Pack 13 Gary-New Duluth

   Duluth School Board members took time to thank and recognize the Cub Scouts of

Pack 13, Gary-New Duluth during their August meeting.

   Earlier this year, Pack 13 took a walk on the nature trail behind Stowe Elementary School. The trail is used by students throughout the school year for educational and recreational purposes.  During the walk, they noticed that many of the birdhouses along the trail were in disrepair and in need of replacement. They addressed this need as a service project, building a dozen new birdhouses and installing them on the trail this summer.   

   Many thanks to the leadership and Scouts of Pack 13 for helping improve the nature trail behind Stowe Elementary!


Accomplishments, Activities, Appreciation

--The Denfeld High School Cheerleading Team earned the Top Team Performance Award and All Camp Spirit Awardduring a four-day Varsity Spirit & National Cheerleading Association camp in St. Cloud.  The team earned Excellent and Superior ratings on their chant and cheer, learned new routines, attended captain’s classes, practiced new stunts and jumps and made a lot of new friends.   

--Alex Jenko and Riley Jenko, Denfeld High School, took third place in the 6th Annual High School Muskie Tournament on Lake Vermillion.  Alex and Riley earned their spot with 29 and 25 inch northern.  Twenty-two youth grades 9-12 from around the state, who had qualified via sectional tournaments, participated in trying their luck in catching, measuring, photographing, and releasing muskies in an attempt to become state champion

ISD 709 News

posted Aug 11, 2015, 3:58 PM by Communications ISD 709

2015 Back to School Information Available at


ISD 709 Community Education Receives Duluth School Board Honors

   During their regular meeting in July, Duluth School Board members recognized and honored ISD 709 Community Education, represented by Director Jay Roesler, for receiving the 2015 Community Service Award from the Duluth Area Family YMCA.  The Award is presented for providing time and talent to strengthen the community through YMCA programs and services and impacting the lives of many.  ISD 709 Community Education was recognized for their Key Zone School Age Child Care and Youth Development Partnership with the YMCA.


Lowell Offers Kindergarten and First Grade Ojibwe Language Immersion Classrooms

   With the successful launch of a Kindergarten Ojibwe language immersion classroom at Lowell last fall, ISD 709 is expanding the program to include both Kindergarten and Grade 1 this year.  Families interested in the Ojibwe Language Immersion Kindergarten or Grade 1 classrooms may contact Lowell at 218-336-8895 or the ISD 709 American Indian Education Department at 218-336-8700 ext. 1149.


ISD 709 Child Nutrition Supervisor Tapped to Mentor Peers During USDA Regional Training 

   Pam Bowe, supervisor of ISD 709’s Child Nutrition Program, was invited by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to

help provide mentoring and best practices during its Team Up for School Nutrition Success workshop.

   School nutrition personnel from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin completed the two-day workshop in Chicago, IL in July.  Participants utilized tailored technical assistance and peer-to-peer mentoring to solve problems and share best practices.

   “The conference encouraged brainstorming and sharing of challenges, ideas, and solutions, all of which benefit student nutrition,” said Bowe.  “There’s a tremendous network of school nutrition professionals, willing to share their knowledge and expertise, in order to continue to improve school meals.  This conference showcases how committed school nutrition staffs are to their students and profession.” 

   “We are fortunate to have many school districts that are succeeding in serving healthy and appealing school meals, while maintaining high student participation and a solid financial footing,” said Tim English, Midwest Regional Administrator of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.  “We are very pleased that they are willing to share their best practices with their peers.”

   ‘Team Up’ is customized for schools that attend, based on their specific training and resource needs. It covers topics like menu planning, financial management, procurement, meal presentation and appeal, as well as youth engagement tactics.  More information at


ISD 709 2015 State MCA and MTAS Test Results

   During the August Education Committee meeting, Duluth School Board members received information regarding 2015 state test scores for ISD 709. State tests include results of the MCA and MTAS (all accountability tests).  Consistent with AYP and MMR calculations, results are reported for students enrolled October 1 in ISD 709. 


--Overall, about half of our schools increased in proficiency and the District’s proficiency has steadily increased.  The

District percent proficient is consistent with the state average. 

--Most grades increased in proficiency.

--Student groups that increased proficiency include American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, Black, White and students receiving free/reduced price lunch.  Student group that decreased:  Special Education. 

--The achievement gap narrowed for most groups, others widened or remained stable.

 --Several schools have shown steady increases in proficiency over time including Congdon, Laura MacArthur, Myers-Wilkins, Stowe, Ordean East and Denfeld.


--Overall, the District proficiency steadily increased; the proficiency of approximately half of our schools increased as well.  The state’s proficiency remained stable.

--Student groups that increased proficiency include American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, White, and students receiving Free or Reduced Price Lunch.  Student groups that decreased:  Black.  Students receiving Special Education services remained stable.

--The achievement gap widened for most groups, others narrowed or remained stable.

--Several schools have shown steady and significant increases in proficiency over time including Congdon, Lowell, Lincoln Park, Ordean East, Denfeld and East.


--Overall District proficiency significantly increased and has been increasing steadily. 

--The District increased proficiency at a rate faster than the state.

--Most schools increased proficiency, some dramatically. 

--Several schools proficiency rates have increased steadily over time:  Laura MacArthur, Denfeld, Myers-Wilkins, Piedmont, Ordean East, East.

   2015-16 Achievement Strategies (include, but are not limited to):

--Last year’s restructuring of the ISD 709 organization to focus on student achievement

--Cultural competency development for staff

--Up-to-date curriculum aligned with state standards and reflecting cultural relevance

--Multi-tiered system of support to address individual student needs

--High quality professional development – well trained teachers are key to student success

--Professional development for principals – with emphasis on instructional leadership 

--Involving families in their students’ academic success

--After school academic support and tutoring

--Working collaboratively with local organizations:  for example, True North Americorps, Promise Fellows, Reading Corps, Math Corps

--Using individual student data to impact day-to-day teaching strategies.  Last year we created the structures necessary to expand professional learning communities to all schools.  This year we’ll focus on helping teachers and principals leverage the time to provide the most benefit for students, to know at any given time what an individual student knows and to be able to adjust instruction as necessary to help that student meet their targets.

--It’s our expectation and mission to ensure that every student has the ability to realize their highest potential. 

Click here to see the presentation.


High Schools Move From Six to Four Terms

   Beginning in September 2015, ISD 709 high schools will move from six to four terms.  Report cards, grading and information reported will remain the same. The transition is designed to provide students more time to master content before receiving a grade.  The move will also create consistency with middle schools and the majority of high schools across the state of Minnesota. 

   “It’s been recognized as a need and this year we were in a good position to make the change,” said Mike Cary, Director of ISD 709 Curriculum & Instruction.  “The old system of hexmesters was so short that if a student received one low grade on a major assignment there was very little time to recover. In some cases, teachers and school leaders saw a lot of fluctuation up and down in terms of grading.  Four terms will provide a longer period of time for students to demonstrate proficiency before a grade is given.”  

ISD 709 News

posted Jul 15, 2015, 11:41 AM by Communications ISD 709

 ISD 709 Community Education Receives 2015 Community Services Award from Duluth Area Family YMCA!  

   Community Education Director Jay Roesler and Duluth School Board member Annie Harala accepted the award on behalf of the department.  The award is presented for providing time and talent to strengthen the community through YMCA programs and services and impacting the lives of many.  ISD 709 Community Education was recognized for their Key Zone School Age Child Care and Youth Development Partnership with the YMCA.


Superintendent Bill Gronseth and his son Caleb went “Over the Edge” to help raise funds for Duluth Area  Family YMCA Youth Programs, rappelling down the side of the Sellwood Building during Duluth’s annual Sidewalk Days celebration.  Thanks to everyone who helped support this year's "Over the Edge" event!


Duluth School Board Approves Amended Purchase Agreement for Morgan Park 

   During a special meeting held July 14, the Duluth School Board approved an amendment to a purchase agreement for Rockridge and Morgan Park school properties.  The amendment terminates the purchase agreement for Rockridge and moves forward with a purchase agreement for Morgan Park for $100,000, with a closing date on or before July 31. Officials say budget planning for the next school year did not include the sale of either property and no budget adjustments are necessary. 

   Earlier this month, ISD 709 officials received notification from Schweiger Development, Holding & Management LLC to amend a purchase agreement for the Rockridge and Morgan Park school properties (click here to access).

   In a letter to officials, SDH&M LLC representative Aaron Schweiger stated that they “spent considerable time determining the full development potential for the Rockridge School adjoining undeveloped land” and “we have now concluded the type of housing we wish to construct is not possible at that site.” The developer also stated in the letter, “We remain very interested and excited about the development of quality housing at the Morgan Park School site and wish to amend our agreement to purchase only that property.” 

   According to Kerry Leider, ISD 709 Property and Risk Manager, the Rockridge property will go back on the market.  “The Rockridge building is very flexible in its design and conducive to redevelopment to apartments, assisted living or other housing. Zoning is already in place to allow those types of re-purposing.   It’s also a great location, near Hawk Ridge and Skyline Parkway.”


ISD 709 Students, Staff Visit Dalien, China

   The visit was part of an exchange program between the High School Associated with the Dalien

University of Technology and Duluth.  Last year, high school students from Dalien visited the Northland and this year a delegation from Duluth visited Dalien.

   In addition to living with host families and attending high school in Dalien, Duluth students had an opportunity to visit Beijing, tour the Forbidden City and climb The Great Wall.

   More students from Dalien are scheduled to arrive in Duluth in late September 2015 for a three-week stay and attend Denfeld and Duluth East High Schools.  To learn more about hosting a Dalien student or an event for the Dalien students, please contact or phone (218) 336-8752.


WANTED:  Instructors Interested in Offering a Class Through ISD 709 Community Education

   Do you have a valuable skill or idea that you would like to share, but you are not sure where to start?  Would you like to earn some extra money?  We are looking for new instructors willing to share their special skill, talent, hobby or expertise with the community.

   For more information, contact one of our community Education coordinators or email 

   Check out the ISD 709 Duluth Community Education Facebook page


Hillside Youth Theatre Students Impress and Inspire in Summer Production July 23 & 24
   Students in the Hillside Youth Theatre program at Myers-Wilkins Elementary School are excited to perform an original musical play production, "Total Eclipse of the Art." The public is invited to attend. 
--Matinee Performances: July 23rd and 24th at 1:00p.m.
--Evening Performances: July 23rd (special fundraising event beginning at 6:00p.m. with appetizers, music, and silent auction. $15 donation; play performance at 7:00p.m.), and July 24th at 7:00p.m.
   Performances will be held in the Myers-Wilkins Auditorium at East High School (301 N. 40th Ave. East)
   Admission is free (with the exception of the July 23rd evening fundraiser)
   The script, written by local playwright Jean Sramek, takes the audience on a comedic adventure as they explore the value of and meaning of art and the struggle for recognition as characters take you on a lively journey to find a missing painting.
   The Hillside Youth Theatre is a program of the Myers-Wilkins Community School Collaborative.  The evening performance on July 23rd, which begins at 6:00PM, is a fundraiser with entertainment, appetizers and a silent auction to support continuation of these programs.


Minnesota’s Immunization Laws – Please Be Sure You’ve Filed Documentation of Vaccination or Legal Exemption with Your School

   Immunization laws protect everyone, because high immunization levels prevent disease outbreaks. Minnesota has various laws requiring immunizations for children and adults enrolled in child care, school, and college settings.  Legal exemptions are allowed - both for medical reasons and conscientiously held beliefs.
   Minnesota’s Immunization Laws require all students to provide documentation of vaccination or a legal exemption in order to enroll or remain enrolled in school or in a childcare facility.
• Students whose families do not provide documentation of vaccination or a legal exemption may be excluded from school.
• We want all children to be in school – please take steps to provide documentation of vaccination or to file legal exemption with your school.
• For a list of required immunizations check the ISD 709 Back To School Packet in August for a list of Frequently Asked Questions and the “Are Your Kids Ready?” Immunization Schedule. Or, check the Minnesota Department of Health Website:
• To obtain documentation of your child’s vaccinations, contact your healthcare provider or call the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection at 651-201-5503 or 1-800-657-3970.
• To have your child immunized contact your healthcare provider or the St. Louis County Department of Health at 218-725-5210 or toll free 800-450-9777.
• Parents may file for legal exemption:  medical exemption signed by a health care provider or a conscientious objection signed by a parent/guardian and notarized. Notary services are available at no cost through ISD 709 Administration.  Please call to make an appointment with the Office of the Superintendent (336-8752) or Business Services (336- 8704). Notary services may also be available at low or no cost from banks, county government centers, local city hall or city managers.
   More detailed information available by contacting the Minnesota Department of Health online: or calling 1-800-657-3970651-201-5503.

ISD 709 News

posted Jun 30, 2015, 3:58 PM by Communications ISD 709

ISD 709 DSACF 2015 Scholarship Recipients

   The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation Board of Trustees recently announced the 2015 Scholarship recipients which include a large number of ISD 709 students.

   “These young adults are the future leaders of our community and we’re proud to be a partner in their success, ”  said Holly C. Sampson, President of the Community Foundation.

    Scholarship winners include, but are not limited to:

·         Paul Antonich Scholarship:  Caleb Achartz (Duluth East HS)

·         Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Scholarship:  Jasmine Fuller (Denfeld HS)

·         Duluth Central High School Alumni Scholarship:  Kyle Ozan (Denfeld HS)

·         Duluth Central Sports Association Legacy Scholarship: Jake DeCaro, Lucille Billings (Denfeld HS)  

·         Gernander Scholarship:  Jacob DeCaro (Denfeld HS)

·         Jeanne H. Hemmingway Scholarships:  Skylar Sarvela (Denfeld HS),  Steven Zakrajsek and Brittney Kaarbo (Duluth East HS)

·         Gus & Henrietta Hill Scholarship:  Nicholas Cortes (Duluth East HS)

·         Greg Irons Award Scholarships:  Meaghan O’Connor (Denfeld HS),  Danielle Sauve (Duluth East HS)

·         Cory Jam Memorial Award:  Kristine Bock (Duluth East HS)   

·         Minnesota Power Community Involvement Scholarship:  Meaghan O'Connor (Denfeld HS), Catherine Posch (Duluth East HS). Sydney Stock (Duluth East HS)

·         Emile H. Mathis II Scholarship:  Emily Todd (Duluth East HS)

·         Daniel H & Catherine L Mundt Scholarship:  Janelle Bushey (Denfeld HS)

·         Amelia and Emanuel Nessell Family Scholarship:  Ella Brown (Duluth East HS)

·         Steve Rolland Youth Peacemaker Award:  Nalani Harris (Denfeld HS)

·         Jack and Mary Rowe Memorial Scholarship:  Elizabeth Bergh (Denfeld HS)

·         Kenneth and Concetta Schoen Scholarship:  Devin Wagner (Duluth East HS)

·         Walter & Anna Soneson Scholarship:  Samuel Johnson, Bethani Gregg (Duluth East HS)

·         Robert B. & Sophia Whiteside Scholarships:  (Denfeld HS) Lucille Billings, Rebekah Lepak, Maria Puglisi, Kathryn Rudd; (Duluth East HS) Anna Ambrosi , Karl Badger, Sydney Stock, Yuqi Chen, Ji-Won Choi, Alyssa Everson,  Henry French, Lisa Hilliard, Devin Johnson, Sarah Baker, Derick Rossell, Sydney Nelson, Dylan Paulson,  Timothy Renier, Matthew Sandbulte, Justin Taylor, Kier Zimmerman  

   The Community Foundation is a permanent community endowment, built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations. Guided by a 16-member Board of volunteer civic leaders, the Foundation makes grants to nonprofit organizations and to individuals for scholarships and provides leadership on important community initiatives in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. Since its inception in 1983, they have distributed over $47 million and currently hold over 360 different funds, each with its own charitable purpose.  

   Learn more at


Developers Withdraw From Central Property Purchase Agreement       

   ISD 709 officials announced today that they have received notification from Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors that terminates the purchase agreement for the Central High School property.

   According to ISD 709 officials, budget planning for the next school year did not include the sale of the Central property so the withdrawal will not require any budget adjustments. 

   “The property will go back on the market, “said Bill Hanson, Business Services Director for ISD 709.  “The real estate market is stronger now which may provide more opportunities for development.”

   In a letter to officials, (click here to access), Harbor Bay representatives stated that “the site provides a unique opportunity in Duluth to develop a truly “mixed-use” project that could include: for-sale housing, apartments, retail, office space, senior housing and hotel” and “we have received significant interest from each of these uses.”   

   The developer also stated that “the pre-development timeline is fairly extensive and costly” and “we estimate 18-24 months to complete necessary design, civil engineering, cost estimating and entitlements.” 

   Based on those and other findings, which are included in the letter, the developer indicated a need to re-evaluate the feasibility of the site and withdraw from the purchase agreement.


Lincoln Park Middle School administrators and students hosted a visit from Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy for Policy Jodi Greene and Senator Roger Reinert.  Ms. Greene is a native of Northfield, MN.  The visit included a tour of the school, discussion of the educational work being done at Lincoln Park, and an opportunity to meet representatives from Guys with Ties, a Lincoln Park student group emphasizing academics.  School Board Member Judy Seliga Punyko, Assistant Superintendent Ed Crawford, and Principal Brenda Vatthauer were among those accompanying Ms. Greene and Senator Reinert on the tour.


Volunteers Needed to Help Read Aloud To Kill a Mockingbird

   Barnes and Noble is looking for volunteers to help read aloud the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird at their Miller Hill Mall store on Monday July 13. Volunteers may sign up for shifts for the community read-a-thon, which begins at 9:00AM and ends at 9:00PM. Shifts are a half-hour each. The event is in preparation for July 14 release of Lee's novel Go Set a Watchman.

If you're interested in signing up for a shift to read aloud at the Barnes & Noble store, please email Shari at or call 218-786-0714.


Superintendent Joins “OVER THE EDGE” Event to Help Support Local YMCA Youth Programs

   People like Duluth Superintendent Bill Gronseth are going ‘over the edge’ for a great cause!  On July 8 & 9, OVER THE EDGE participants are rappelling 9 stories down the side of the Sellwood Building in downtown Duluth to help raise funds for local YMCA youth programs. 

   Through a donation to the OVER THE EDGE event, you can help area children receive memberships and go to camps; support quality after school programs; provide academic support and enrichment activities for youth and much more.  

   The donation process is fast, easy and secure.  Click here to help support YMCA Youth Programs.


Champions Building Champions Program

   Champions Building Champions is a program sponsored by Men as Peacemakers and the City of Duluth, Parks and Recreation. 

   Youth will participate in sports activities on the turf with collegiate athletes who will focus on building constructive relationships with the youth involved, while teaching the basics of sports and athletic games. This is a FREE opportunity for youth ages 7-17.

Wednesdays, 1pm - 3pm

June 24 - August 19, 2015

Duluth Heritage Sports Center, 120 S 30th Ave W

For details call Nathan at (218) 727-1939.


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