Guest Column: Generosity abounds — filling the hearts of students

Published 10:00 pm Friday, December 21, 2018

Principal’s Corner by Tonya Franks

Tonya Franks is principal of Halverson Elementary School.

Many people associate the holidays with lights, trees, presents and holiday cheer. But, the reality is for some families the holidays can be a challenging time. Families may be struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis, so the giving and receiving of the holiday season may be daunting. This year, at Halverson, the holidays are a bit more merry for one very lucky family due to the generosity of the Albert Lea Area Learning Center MAAP STARS class.

Tonya Franks

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In November, Halverson was contacted by Paula Olson, teacher at the Albert Lea Area Learning Center. She shared that her MAAP STARS class wanted to adopt a Halverson family this holiday. The STARS set out with a goal to raise $300. They poured their hearts into this project by soliciting donations from a variety of sources. The initial goal was far exceeded — they raised an amazing $617! Working with the Halverson School social worker and principal, a family was anonymously identified and information was provided to the MAAP STARS such as student interests, clothing sizes and needs. MAAP STARS then shopped for the family and wrapped all of the gifts. Their positive actions and kind and generous spirits will bless the hearts and souls of one very lucky Halverson family.

MAAP is the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs, while STARS stands for  Success, Teamwork, Achievement, Recognition, Self-esteem.  According to, the purpose of MAAP STARS is to help students:

• Develop employment, academic and social skills.

• Experience career-related activities that in turn assist them in making an informed career choice.

• Build a cooperative and competitive spirit through individual and team activities and competition.

• Strengthen social skills and build an appreciation for the responsibilities of citizenship, brotherhood and the American free enterprise system.

• Develop self-confidence, increase motivation and create a desire for and belief in life-long learning.

• To meet with, have fun with and ultimately develop an appreciation for students and staff from other alternative programs.

Additionally, an opportunity was extended to Halverson Elementary by a nonprofit organization, owned by Doug and Louise Brown out of Reading, Pennsylvania, called “Wood to Wonderful.”  They make and donate wooden toys and puzzles.   This unique opportunity was possible after Mary Frisbee, a local resident who graduated with Doug from Chaska High School in 1963, made a donation to his organization. Doug and his wife in turn selected all K-1 Halverson Elementary School students to receive the gifts.