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ISD 709 News

posted Feb 24, 2016, 7:43 AM by Communications ISD 709
ISD 709 Teacher Jebeh Edmunds Featured in College of St. Scholastica Success Stories

   (from the article) Jebeh Edmunds Leverages Personal Experience to Influence Her Community

Graduate Teaching Licensure (GTL) alum Jebeh Edmunds is a powerhouse. From the moment of her birth — in Liberia, amongst the destruction and ruin of civil war — to her family's emigration to the United States (age 2), and her subsequent pursuit of naturalized citizenship, Edmunds' journey has forged her heart for life-long activism…



Logan Griggs, Lincoln Park Middle School, Heading for the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC 

   Nina Wilkowske, Ordean East Middle School, was runner up and Phoenix Ocean, Lincoln Park Middle School, also

competed at Regionals - congratulations to all for a fine effort!

(from the article by Susan Ward, State Coordinator) 

It’s on to Nationals for Logan Griggs 

   Logan Griggs correctly spelled "durezza" in the 24th round at the Multi-Regional State Spelling Bee in Fergus Falls, MN to claim the championship and win a trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Spelling Bee. 

   Logan, Lincoln Park Middle School, believes his interest in music and Global Studies may have helped him correctly spell some of the most challenging words.  Logan plays viola in the orchestra, participates in Knowledge Bowl, and is largely responsible for publication of the school newspaper. He says much of his free time is spent “attempting to write music.” Currently, Logan is working on writing a symphony. 

   “Logan will undoubtedly be an excellent representative of our state at the National Bee,” according to Susan Ward. “He faced extremely difficult words with poise. I’m confident that he will do well and thoroughly enjoy the national experience.” 

   Twenty-one competitors from seven regions throughout the state competed for the coveted championship. The Multi-Regional State Bee is sponsored by Northeast Service Cooperative, Northwest Service Cooperative, Resource Training and Solutions, Southwest West Central Service Cooperative, and Lakes Country Service Cooperative. The National Spelling Bee will be held the week of May 22 through May 27 in Washington, D.C.

Duluth News Tribune Article


State Releases 2015 On-Time Graduation Rates

   This week the Minnesota Department of Education released last year's 4-year, on-time graduation rates for Minnesota schools.   Results are available online for all high school programs in ISD 709 with a breakout for each school and each student group.  Student groups with fewer than 10 students are not reported. 

   According to ISD 709 officials, the district continues to see a fluctuations in the on -time graduation rate over time.  An overview:

>Last year’s overall 4-year, on-time graduation rate was up.

>The 5-year graduation rate was 78.23, the 6-year rate was 81.58. 

>The Area Learning Center graduation rate doubled.

>Most student groups made gains.

>All ISD 709 Students:  77.45%  

>Duluth East:  94.47%

>Denfeld:  75.32%

>Area Learning Center (Alternative Programs):  29.27%

   While most student groups within the district made gains, officials say there is more work yet to do in closing the achievement gap between student groups, especially black and American Indian students and students from poverty.

   “We’re heartened to see the four-year on-time rate go up – what we’d like now is more stability and steady increases year-to-year,” said Amy Starzecki, Assistant Superintendent.  “New state grant funds and an opportunity to work in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education will provide additional support to help raise graduation rates.  Our work on closing the achievement gap will include ongoing efforts to meet individual student needs and programs like Check and Connect to help build strong connections to school.”

Overview:  strategies to help address the achievement gap.


Thank You, Mr. Keller

   During the regular February meeting the Duluth School Board recognized and thanked Mr. William Keller for arranging a $3,000 donation to the Duluth East Orchestra.  Mr. Keller obtained the donation through the Kellogg’s Back to School Text-to-Win sweepstakes. Not only did Mr. Keller designate the donation to Duluth East, he then matched it with a personal donation of $1,500.  Both donations will benefit the Duluth East Orchestra program.  Many thanks to Mr. Keller for thinking of our schools and for this generous donation! 


Think Kids Meetings Start This Week!

Meetings will take place at Lowell, Lester Park, Piedmont and Stowe, click here for details and a complete schedule.


Destiny Deere, Ordean East Middle School, Named Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year  

   Established in 1947, Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive. The Award recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s Club, family, school and community, service, academic success, moral character, life goals and public speaking ability.

Read the article


Denfeld Students Selected for State Honor Choir

   Bayley Anderson and Emma Schiltz, Denfeld High School, were selected through American Choral Directors audition to participate in the 9th and 10th Grade Honor Choir in Minneapolis.  These outstanding young women, taught by Marcia Van Camp, participated in a full day of rehearsing which culminated in a concert at Central Lutheran Church. 


Congratulations Eagle Scouts Benson (Denfeld), Holmstrom, Tahtinen & Berg (Duluth East) and Hinnncamp (Hermantown)

   All five are members of Troop 44, and reached the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Scout can attain.  

Read the article



Duluth Art Institute Youth Art Month Reception

Thursday March 3, 5:00PM – 7:00PM

On View:  March 3 - 26, 2016

Great Hall of the Duluth Depot

   Youth Art Month recognizes artistic achievements of area K-12 students with a showcase of their work. The opening celebration will include free artist demos: Laura Gapske, Zine production; Cody Paulson & Tyler Johnson of Stack Prints, screenprinting; and Matt Kania, plein air painting.


ISD 709 teachers, administrators and staff participated in a professional training series with Sam Simmons, an expert with over 25 years’ experience as a behavioral consultant in chemical dependency, violence abatement and historical trauma.  Mr. Simmons specializes in practical culturally sensitive trauma informed work.  He is an Adverse Childhood Experience Interfaced Trainer in the state of Minnesota and is currently the SAFE Families Manager at The Family Partnership. He is respected for his highly informed work around historical trauma and his successful Community Empowerment Through Black Men Healing Conference around the country.


Denfeld & Duluth East Robotics Teams Host Open House Events

  Teams welcomed the public to learn more about F.I.R.S.T. Robotics, provided refreshments and revealed their new robots, created for the 2016 competition FIRST STRONGHOLD.  The game is played by two alliances of three teams each. Alliances compete against each other to breach their opponents’ defenses, known as outer works, and capture their tower. They score points by crossing elements of their opponents’ outer works, scoring boulders in their opponent's’ tower goals, and surrounding and scaling their opponents’ tower itself.   

  Best wishes to the Daredevils and Denfeld Nation Automation (DNA) for a successful season!

See the video.


All City Swim Meet March 3

   Between Lincoln Park and Ordean East Middle Schools about 150 students participate in swim meets during the school year.  The range of abilities in participants is very wide, from students still learning to dive off the blocks to those swimming on local varsity teams. 

   The All City Swim Meet takes place Thursday March 3 at Lincoln Park Middle School, 3215 W. 3rd Street in Duluth.  The first event begins around 4:15PM and the event lasts until about 6:00PM.  The All City is the last meet of the season and is a longstanding tradition, with records going back to the 1960’s and 70’s.  Last year, Ryan Zelen broke his great uncle's record in the 100 Freestyle - a record set in 1966. The first event will begin around 4:15PM and the meet will last until about 6:00PM.  The meet is free and open to the public.

Click here to see video from the January 28 Swim Meet.

Learn more about Middle School opportunities.


Homecroft Students Support Healthy Hearts

   Students from Homecroft Elementary raised over $2,400 for the American Heart Association through Jump Rope for Heart, an activity organized by Wayne Opsahl, physical education teacher.  Thank you, students and staff, for supporting good health in our community!


ACT Plus Writing Test Day – Tuesday April 19, 2016

The ACT Plus Writing test will be administered to 11th Grade students on Tuesday, April 19.  Participation is expected of all 11th grade students except those exempted by their IEP and notified by their case managers.

   >>Students at Denfeld and Duluth East:  9th, 10th, and 12th grade students will not attend school April 19 in order to accommodate the test - they’re encouraged to take part in ACTion Day, an opportunity for students who have the day off to give back to the community.  11th grade students will attend school and follow a special test day schedule.

   >>Students attending AEO, ALC and Residential Programs:  9th, 10th, and 12th Grade students will attend school as usual on April 19.  11th Grade students participating in the test should contact their guidance counselor or school principal to make arrangements.

   Click here for detailed information.