School Matters

Published 9:10 am Saturday, October 30, 2010

ALHS Mock Trial

Members of the reigning Region 7 Mock Trial Champions from Albert Lea High School attended the mock trial training workshop in Minneapolis on Monday, Oct. 18. Seniors Shelby Lageson and Logan Tufte and Juniors Addison Peterson, Annabelle Randal and Macy Paul accompanied ALHS Mock Trial Adviser Neil Chalmers to the training. The students learned about theme and theory development along with information to help in the creation of lawyers and witnesses. This years case is an adaptation of “State of Minnesota v. Roger Sipe Caldwell, 1977.” The Minnesota State Bar Association is sponsoring the 25th annual Minnesota mock trial program.

Southwest student council

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Southwest Middle School held its student council elections. The student body was able to vote for two seventh-graders and two eighth-graders who were on the ballot. The following students were elected as the 2010-11 student council representatives.

Seventh-Graders: Schafer Overgaard, Quinn Peterson, Jack Pully, Hannah Savelkoul, Alex Syverson and Hannah Wangsness.

Eighth-Graders: Nicole Borneman, Matt Carlson, Alex Claassen, Sage Kermes, Megan Kortan and Taylor Martinez.

Pre-kindergarten screenings

The state of Minnesota requires a check of vision, hearing and developmental growth of all 3 to 5-year-olds before starting kindergarten. The Albert Lea School District conducts free screenings each month at Brookside Education Center. If your child has not been screened, please call Julie at 379-4843 or e-mail to schedule your child’s 60 to 75 minute appointment. The next screening will be held on Friday, Nov. 12 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or Tuesday, Nov. 16 from 2 to 6 p.m.

Albert Lea ALC 2nd Quarter registration 2010-11

What: The Albert Lea Area Learning Center will be having open registration for Quarter 2 students who may be interested in attending our program.

Who: Any student who is looking to enroll in the Albert Lea Area Learning Center for Quarter 2, which is Nov. 8 to Jan. 21, 2011.

When: Please call for an appointment.

Where: Brookside Building Room 218, 211 West Richway Drive.

Why: To help students who want to transfer from their current school or re-enroll in school to finish their diploma and graduate.

Options: Students may enroll for full-time, part-time, online, independent study or night school classes.

Questions: Please contact Eric Van Brocklin, administrative dean at 507-379-4851, or Debra Lawrence, school secretary at 507-379-4850.

Robotics team at ALHS

ALHS had its kick-off meeting for its FIRST Robotics team. There were 49 students from ninth- to 12th-grades that attended. The team’s teacher-leaders are Mike Sundblad, Ken Fiscus, Casey McIntyre, Pam Ruble and Kane Malo. FIRST Robotics is a nationally-known program that issues challenges to robot-building teams to encourage interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers. The team will begin building its robot in late January as soon as this year’s challenge is announced.

Southwest students learning technology skills

Today many junior high students frequently use the computer. In a survey conducted of the current seventh- and eighth-grade computer technology students, 85 percent use the computer three or more days per week for two or more hours per day. The activities that they are most likely to use the computer for include gaming, social networking and surfing the web. A keyboarding pretest revealed their skill range between 9 and 32 gross words a minute with the average being 19. To assist with increasing their keyboarding skills, this year the school is using a new program called MicroType. Beyond basic keyboarding skills students have also learned to use Microsoft Word features for producing personal documents and basic desktop publishing features. To assist with writing skills, students are learning to use Inspiration, a graphic organizing software, to create a web and then transfer their ideas into a multicolumn report. Later in the quarter we will be using other applications of Microsoft Office 2010.

The computer technology courses are only nine weeks long, and we would like to encourage students to keep practicing their keyboarding and production skills as they work on the computer. These are life-long skills that students will use in their educational, personal and future work environments.

More PBIS at Southwest Middle School

Southwest Middle School is continuing work begun two years ago on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. Several things that have been modified or changed altogether are “Tiger Pride Paws-itives” — like the old red or blue respect tickets given to students for respecting themselves, others, property or community. The ticket itself looks like a Tiger Paw with the four respects listed on it. A staff member who sees a student doing something respectful fills out the ticket, checks the respects that pertain, signs their name and gives it to the student. The student can then turn it in on Fridays during lunch to be entered in a drawing at the end of the day.

Another positive thing that started this year is an advisory recognition. Each advisory class has a giant Tiger Pride poster with the teacher’s name on it outside their classroom. To earn a smaller Tiger tag, a classroom has to participate in something within the school.

SWMS had a homecoming poster contest several weeks ago in conjunction with the high school homecoming theme of “Claw the Scarlets.” The posters were displayed in the cafeteria the week of homecoming. The three winning advisories were first place — Hansen’s Hyper Heroes; second place — Cromwell-Olson’s Crazzzzy Chemists; and third place was Hagen’s Hotties! There was a fun, short pep assembly to recognize all who participated in the contest, recognize the winners and watch a PowerPoint of the posters. The band did an awesome job of playing the school song.

PBIS has been a very positive change for our school, and we are looking forward to many more.

Fourth-grade field trip

Fourth grade students from Albert Lea’s Halverson Elementary School enjoyed an arts enrichment field trip to Clear Lake and Mason City, Iowa, on Wednesday, Oct. 20. Thanks to funding from the Minnesota Perpich Center for Arts Education and Halverson’s parent group S.P.I.R.I.T., students experienced the historic Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake and the MacNider Art Museum and Music Man Square in Mason City.

The Surf Ballroom was filled with photos, signatures and other memorabilia of great performers from across our country. Students not only took in the history of this famous ballroom, but they experienced dancing on the ballroom floor, doing a dance they had learned in preparation for the trip.

At the MacNider Art Museum, students were given a guided tour of the many rooms of American art on display. The displays included paintings, sculpture, blown glass and a large collection of marionettes.

Music Man Square was another highlight of the trip. Students toured the boyhood home of the music man, Meredith Willson, who wrote the story and the music for the famed Broadway play that later became a movie.

The Music Man Square portion of the trip concluded with the enjoyment of ice cream from the ice cream parlor, thanks to the financial support of Halverson’s S.P.I.R.I.T. group.

This field trip is just one of the valuable enrichment experiences that has been possible because of an arts grant from PCAE for the Albert Lea Area Schools. The PCAE grant provides for arts experiences for students above and beyond what normal classroom teaching is able to convey.