Technology is changing the world. Most of the time, I think it is for the better, but occasionally I long for the simplicity of days gone by. Take for example, a recent shopping experience. The self-checkout station and I had a serious conversation about the “bagging area.” I had scanned my item which happened to be a bag of water softener salt. I don’t recall if the machine wanted the item in the bagging area or was upset that the salt had been removed from the bagging area. I do know neither taking the bag of salt away nor leaving it there solved the problem.
Fortunately, a friendly store associate came to my rescue. Apparently, there was a “skip bagging” option available at some point in the transaction that I had missed. She recommended this in the future - especially when purchasing heavy items. I learned a new trick and got a nice workout hauling the bag of salt in and out of my shopping cart.
It has been a long winter, and the winter weather created a lot of disruption to our normal school calendar. We may not be quite out of the woods yet. While we don’t make calendar adjustments for early outs or late starts, we do tack on missed instructional days to the end of the school calendar to ensure that we are able to cover our curriculum.
There is no school on Memorial Day which is Monday, May 29th. K-11 students will have full days of class Tuesday, May 30th - Friday, June 2nd. They will also return the following week for full days on Monday, June 5th and Tuesday, June 6th.
With that, some aspects of the school calendar remain unchanged. Our Area Learning Center (ALC) will still hold graduation on Thursday, June 1st. The high school will hold graduation on Friday, June 2nd.
We still have a full quarter to go before the end of the school year and a lot of curriculum left to cover. April is a huge month for MCA testing. The MCAs provide valuable feedback for students about their proficiency levels in math, reading and science. Note: these tests are for 3rd through 11th grade students and not all students take each test every year. The MCAs also provide the school district with information regarding how our students and schools are performing in relation to other schools in Minnesota.
Finally, please make school attendance a high priority. We have too many examples of students who are missing 10, 20 or even 30+ days of school in a year. When students are absent, they miss out on important instruction, classroom conversations and hands-on learning experiences.
In 2004, a simple little book was published by Robert Fulghum. The book rose to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Since that time, over seven million copies have been sold worldwide. The book reflects a credo developed by Mr. Fulghum based on the wisdom he gained through life’s journey. He titled the book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” It acknowledges the positive role education plays in creating a compassionate, just and healthy society. Essentially, it is a book written about social emotional learning. And with that, I hope that this column may lead to a better understanding of Social Emotional Learning (SEL).
SEL has generated a lot of “buzz” over the past couple of years. It has been falsely branded as some “new initiative” or more negatively, “some clandestine program designed to indoctrinate children.” Its purpose and approach have been damaged by misinformation and misunderstanding. It has created fear.
Fear is a powerful motivator. It can influence our thoughts and emotions. It can spur us into action sometimes referred to as the “fight or flight response” It can also paralyze us - rendering us too afraid to make a decision because of the potential consequences. One only needs to spend a minute or two scrolling through social media to see that fear mongering has become a popular sideline avocation.
Congratulations to the Otter Girls Hockey Team! Their thrilling overtime victory over River Lakes in front of a packed arena in the section championship created great lifelong memories as did their double overtime clash with South St. Paul in the opening round of the state tournament at the Excel Energy Center. Ultimately, they played for the Consolation Championship falling in a hard fought game to Mankato East. They are wonderful ambassadors of our school and community and we are very proud of them. It was a great season!
Our son, Connor, plays in the UND pep band so we try to make it up for a hockey game at the Ralph Engelstad Arena at least once per year. Most recently, we caught a game on a Friday night featuring the Fighting Hawks against the St. Cloud State Huskies, which UND won in overtime. Whether or not you follow hockey, “The Ralph” is an experience. It is a world-class hockey arena and their fans are….rather passionate! The atmosphere highlights deep traditions that emerged over the years as part of the program's storied history which dates back to the days of the old WCHA. These traditions form a common bond between UND students and alumni that spans generations.
Traditions are very important to schools as well. When I walk into a school I try to get a feeling for the place. What is important to the school? What does the community value? What major events are depicted from its history? Who are its legends?
I was exiting Lake Region Healthcare a couple of weeks ago following an early morning meeting with a local service organization. As I passed through the doors, I acknowledged an acquaintance who was on his way into the hospital with a nod and a “good morning.” I found out later that day he was on his way into the hospital because he was having a heart attack.
Fortunately, he received the care he needed and made a full recovery, but the experience made me stop and reflect. I carry a lot of responsibilities and I feel their weight. I wonder how many people I pass each day with burdens far greater than mine. As we experience those casual connections with people in our daily lives, what do we miss? It is easy to be absorbed in our own lives and miss opportunities to be more supportive, helpful and loving to those around us.