• Staying Active… the Key to Healthy Aging In every phase of life there are key arenas we focus on in order to make sure we are setting ourselves up for future success, or someone is making sure ...
    Posted Mar 15, 2017, 11:17 AM by Brenda Williams
  • Investing in Our Community To invest in something is a powerful thing. We invest our time, often to our jobs, as well as to our families and activities we find enjoyable. We invest our ...
    Posted Mar 2, 2017, 12:55 PM by Brenda Williams
  • STEAM If you compare the school year to a roller coaster - things are picking up STEAM at EV. February is I Love to Read Month and this year the focus is ...
    Posted Feb 16, 2017, 2:44 PM by Brenda Williams
  • Who Defines Our Culture? Dr. David Walsh (www.drdavewalsh.com), one of the best speakers and authors regarding parenting that I’ve encountered, says, “Whoever tells the stories, defines the culture.” The importance of ...
    Posted Jan 31, 2017, 9:51 AM by Brenda Williams
  • Post-secondary success is how we measure our schools’ success I want to thank and acknowledge the challenging community engagement and planning work that has and continues to take place across all of our school district’s communities. As a ...
    Posted Jan 31, 2017, 9:49 AM by Brenda Williams
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 57. View more »

Staying Active… the Key to Healthy Aging

posted Mar 15, 2017, 11:17 AM by Brenda Williams

In every phase of life there are key arenas we focus on in order to make sure we are setting ourselves up for future success, or someone is making sure we are taken care of. As a baby, we pretty much ate and slept all day. As young children, our parents and families made sure we learned manners, ate our vegetables and developed social skills through play and activities. As we grew through our school age years, we developed discipline, work ethic, responsibility and the like through homework, school sports, part-time jobs, etc. These were the “keys” to our success.

So what are those “keys” as a Senior Citizen. As baby boomers age, research abounds in regard to the best ways to grow through your senior years. It has been proven through research over and over that activity decreases the risk of disability, increases energy levels and helps to create a positive view of oneself. The Harvard School of Public Health has found evidence that the elderly people in the United States who stay socially active and engaged have a slower rate of memory decline. So I guess the “key” is to stay active, but how?

As a senior, there are multitudes of ways to stay active. Many seniors find activity and social interaction through church and community groups, while others find satisfaction and activity as part of local Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs, local Legions and the like. All of these groups and organizations offer ways to socially interact as well as be part of opportunities that give back to the communities they reside in and serve through events and activities.

Seniors can also take advantage of local class offerings to engage their mind right here through Pequot Lakes Community Education. You can learn how to crochet or knit. We have watercolor and art classes. We offer cooking classes like beginner sushi, marinades and grilling as well as how to manage your abundant garden at summer’s end. You can sign up for water aerobics, senior golf or learn how to make everyday care and cleaning products with essential oils. We also have historical information presentations about how Brainerd helped win WWII, the Shipwrecks of MN, and the Roaring Twenties. We also offer Community Theater productions and shows through Greater Lakes Performing Arts, with the upcoming performance of the Heartland Symphony Orchestra as an example.

The offerings of Pequot Lakes Community Education really do “run the gamut.” These offerings will allow you to learn some new things, meet some new people and possibly give back to your community. In a world where technology and advancements in medicine help us to be mobile and healthy for longer and longer, don’t forget to take advantage of the opportunities right outside your door. Please feel free to contact Pequot Lakes Community Education at 218-568-9200 for information on our classes and offerings.

-- Rich Spiczka, Community Education Director

Investing in Our Community

posted Mar 2, 2017, 12:55 PM by Brenda Williams

To invest in something is a powerful thing. We invest our time, often to our jobs, as well as to our families and activities we find enjoyable. We invest our talents in a variety of personal and professional capacities. We invest our finances into our daily needs, long-term retirement goals, kids’ college funds, and also into organizations to help further their mission and purpose. It may not seem like it, but we invest in our schools similarly to how we invest in other areas of our lives through our income and property tax systems.

As the saying goes, there are two things certain in life: death and taxes. For me, this quote (although comical) doesn’t evoke an emotion of excitement or fulfillment, but rather one of doom and gloom. I suspect this is because we don’t necessarily relate our obligation to pay taxes to the very mission it is designed to fulfill: investing back into our community.

The Pequot Lakes School District has a unique tax base that compares with only a handful of other districts in the state. It’s not the total value of our tax base that’s different, but rather the breakdown of property classifications that is unique. Our tax base consists of more than fifty percent seasonal recreational properties. As a community, we experience a large influx of seasonal residents who spend time in our community each summer. However, due to the design of our property tax system, having a greater seasonal tax base doesn’t always equal additional revenue for a school district. Tax revenue from seasonal recreational properties is not included in levies that fund operational expenses.

There are many factors that determine a school district levy each year. We have smaller levy categories that all roll up into one larger levy. This larger levy is spread among properties in the district, and appears as one or two line items on your property tax statement. Each year, our School Board must weigh what the impact of the District’s overall levy will have on its taxpayers. Maintaining a steady, predictable levy is very important to our Board, and for 2017 our District lowered its overall levy by 2.5% from the prior year.

On a statewide basis, Pequot Lakes Schools has historically been in the bottom five percent of general education funding aid per pupil. In other words, 95% of the districts in Minnesota receive more funding per student than we do. Because we receive less funding and less property tax revenues due to our high seasonal tax base, we must work even harder to bring in the resources we need to continue to build our educational programs in the most efficient way possible.

Our School Board has the sizeable task of setting goals and priorities that help guide the District’s mission. Furthering a strategic direction in any organization requires a significant investment. If our goal is to develop rigorous personalized learning plans unique to each student to prepare them for the global workplace of tomorrow, we have to make the conscious decision to invest time, talent and resources in order to achieve this goal. In education, the funding we receive drives the resources we have, and the resources we have provide opportunities for our youth. We invite all members of our community to be a part of the discussion on how we cultivate these opportunities. Creating an environment that allows the next generation of future philosophers, civic leaders, mechanics, artists, entrepreneurs and educators to thrive and grow is the way in which our District invests back into the greater Pequot Lakes community.

-- Jenny Max, Business Manager


posted Feb 16, 2017, 2:44 PM by Brenda Williams

If you compare the school year to a roller coaster - things are picking up STEAM at EV.

February is I Love to Read Month and this year the focus is on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). The month kicked off with Hats off to Reading on February 1st. Upcoming events include a Lego Makerspace in the library, after school STEAM classes, dress as favorite book character/inventor, and a STEAM theme door decorating contest. The Science Museum of Minnesota will also be here presenting to all grade levels. In addition, EV will be participating in a Read-A-Thon with the PTA throughout the month. Please look for more information coming home for logins to support the PTA and EV.

This is the time of year where the curriculum becomes less review and more introductory with new skills or more complex skills from prior years. This can cause some frustration as it may not be as easy for your child or they may not be able to complete work as quickly. Encourage your child to do his/her best and try. Avoid doing the work for them as it is in this process they develop their grit. However, they may need your support and encouragement. If there are questions or concerns please contact your child’s teacher for assistance.

Also, with the second semester, students should be more independent and organized. This may cause some even more challenge. The report card shared some details in regards to learner behaviors that would be a starting place to look for areas of success and support. Look for your child’s red folder every night and in the upper grades consult the planner. You may even want to visit and do a desk/locker clean out periodically.

Another area that seems to pick up steam during this time of the year is more indoor time which can cause cabin fever with frustration and conflict for students here at school. As parents, you may need to help your child resolve a conflict with another child. The first thing is to help your child see that conflict is a part of life. Learning how to respond appropriately and resolve the issue are life skills that every child should learn. It isn’t easy and no one approach will work. Always get the facts first. Ask non-accusing questions and celebrate honesty. Gathering facts can solve and keep the conflict from becoming a bigger issue. Teach your child to cool off before doing anything - to stop and think before acting on emotion and make a plan with a calm body and mind. Frustration and anger are normal reactions, it is vital to learn to manage these feelings to resolve a situation.

“We think we can, we know we can” all work together to effectively help each student have a successful second semester. Thank you for your partnership with the EV staff for EVery child, EVery day!

-- Melissa Hesch, Eagle View Elementary Principal

Who Defines Our Culture?

posted Jan 31, 2017, 9:51 AM by Brenda Williams

Dr. David Walsh (www.drdavewalsh.com), one of the best speakers and authors regarding parenting that I’ve encountered, says, “Whoever tells the stories, defines the culture.” The importance of this concept for raising healthy children and being a healthy community cannot be overstated. What storytellers are most prominent in lives of our children in Pequot Lakes?

Understanding how this parenting concept has changed in recent years requires a brief look back in time. Over the vast majority of human history, the responsibility of storytelling fell upon clergy, teachers, authors, and elders in each community. Cultural norms, family values, and collective understandings were handed down from one generation to the next through stories that slowly evolved over time. The responsibility for storytelling began to shift significantly in the 1950s and 1960s as televisions became common and people spent more and more time listening to storytellers on TV. The invention of video games, the internet in the 1990s and most recently, social media platforms, has dramatically shifted the role of storyteller from community elder to media.

Why is this important? Dr. Walsh argues in his 2007 book No: Why Kids of All Ages Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It that mass media preaches four consistent messages: More, Fast, Easy, and Fun.

The mass media companies that produce the constant barrage of advertising we absorb from televisions, internet ads, and other media sources don’t tell stories to teach ethics, social norms, and community values. They are for-profit companies that want us to buy stuff, and they are incredibly scientific about getting us to believe that we deserve More, we deserve it Fast, we deserve an Easy life, and it should always be Fun. Consider just how contradictory this message is from wanting our children to learn patience, grit, hard work, and the importance of delayed gratification.

Raising healthy children and being a healthy community today presents different challenges than it did sixty - or even fifteen - years ago. As parents and as a community we must pay attention to which storytellers our children are listening to and diligently teach them about bias and to be self-aware as they interact with media. We must learn and model strategies to filter the media we absorb and most importantly, we must ensure our children are absorbing a healthy dose of the stories we want them to hear. While we cannot eliminate media in today’s world - and I would never advocate that we try to do so - we can teach our children to be in control of how they interact with it and use it.

Note: January 23 - 27 was Paraprofessional Recognition Week in MN. Thank you to our Patriot paras for the care you provide to our students!

-- Chris Lindholm, Superintendent of Schools

Post-secondary success is how we measure our schools’ success

posted Jan 31, 2017, 9:48 AM by Brenda Williams   [ updated Jan 31, 2017, 9:49 AM ]

I want to thank and acknowledge the challenging community engagement and planning work that has and continues to take place across all of our school district’s communities. As a resident-member of our “lakes region” I couldn’t be prouder of the number of individuals that have stepped up to take a part in mapping out the future of this great region. Furthermore, please know that everyone at Pequot Lakes Public Schools is eager to assist in meeting some of those identified challenges, to include strengthening the bond between school and community.

I challenge each of you who may or may not have a student in our local schools, be it Pequot Lakes, Pine River, Crosslake or Nisswa, to make a call to your local principal for a tour. I have no doubt that you will have your socks knocked off when you see the programming and talent in both students and staff in our local schools. The talent that exists in this region in our youth is simply amazing. What’s even more spectacular is the programming that these students are being exposed to on a daily basis. Students in our high schools today, as early as 10th grade, are engaged in curriculum and coursework from Calculus II to Computer Integrated Manufacturing. Just yesterday, I walked into our Robotics labs where staff and students are working to design from scratch a robot that will be capable of doing extremely complex activities. This project requires a complex business plan, integration of the trades in both manufacturing and design, computer programming, and engineering. Most importantly, this is all possible because of the investment all of you have made and continue to make in our local schools. Thank you!

Our community’s and region’s challenge is to keep some of this talent in the area in order to grow our local industries and small businesses. In a recent planning session with the Pequot Lakes Thriving Communities Initiative, it was very clear the vision is to develop our local workforce through student internships, partnerships between schools and businesses, building workforce/education alliances promoting available jobs to all ages, and investments in good schools. We at Pequot Lakes High School welcome these partnerships. In addition, we at Pequot Lakes High School measure our success in how well our kids do once they leave our schools. Every day, I hear students telling me what they want to do after high school and how they plan on leaving our region in order to do it. When I inform them about some of the high-skilled, high-wage jobs that exist in our region, they are shocked at the number of opportunities that exist.

Your partnership is needed to continue to educate students on the vast opportunities that exist in this region. In fact, I could really use your help on February 15th from 8AM to Noon at Pequot Lakes High School as a participant in our 2nd annual Career Fair. This event puts local community members in touch with our students as they interview for future careers. All of our students in grades 9-12 are working to develop post-secondary plans. When they sit across from someone in a career they are pursuing, it allows them to discuss and explore what to expect as they enter follow-up training and higher education. Please contact the High School office at 568-9210 if you are available to assist in the event.

-- Chip Rankin, High School Principal

Lessons Learned During the Holidays

posted Dec 21, 2016, 11:02 AM by Brenda Williams

At the foundation of Pequot Middle School’s mission is the responsibility to help kids to maximize their academic potential. With academics as our primary focus, know that the staff at PLMS are also cognizant that there is far more to the picture than the Honor Roll and MCA scores. At the core of our daily instruction is also a focus on the character traits of Respect, Responsibility and Relationships.

As teachers with a vested interest in teaching and learning, we tend to focus on what we, as adults, are teaching our students. There is no doubt that students have much to learn from our staff. In this case, though, the roles are reversed. Over the course of the last couple weeks, we have experienced many examples of lessons being delivered by students. With the students leading by example, we all should be taking notes.

Within the last month, students at both the 5-8 and 9-12 sites have embraced the opportunity to make an impact in our community. With several of our own households going through incredibly difficult times, it has been heartwarming to watch as our student body has rallied in support of their peers. Two entirely student-generated drives involving homemade cookies and lollipops have led to the gracious support to help lift our fellow Patriots up in a time of need.

Beyond local benefits, our annual PLMS Student Council Penny Challenge also wrapped up last week with over $2,013.04 raised in loose change. With cash in hand, Mrs. Balfanz rallied her Student Council and brought the donations to Christmas for Kids out of Pequot. Courtesy of our students’ efforts, over 300 additional gifts will be stuffed into stockings throughout the region.

The students and staff of PLMS are incredibly appreciative of the relationship that exists between the greater Pequot Lakes community and Independent School District 186. This strong relationship has served as the foundation upon which we have been able to help local families navigate times of need.

These random acts of kindness have all of us reflecting on the character traits that we work so hard to instill in our youth. Concepts like: saying a “Thank You” to our veterans, not just on Veterans Day; being thankful every day, whether there is turkey or not; and not saving for the Holiday Season a mindset focused on “giving” more than “getting.” There is much to celebrate regarding our progress in this area, and thank you for helping to make character education a top priority right alongside students’ academic marks.

Thank you to our students for teaching us all a lesson, and thank you for your continued support of PLMS. Wishing you all a safe and happy Holiday Season!

-- Mike O'Neil, Middle School Principal

Advocate for Our Students & Winter Weather Decisions

posted Dec 6, 2016, 7:03 AM by Brenda Williams

With the election season finally behind us and the start of the state legislative session just a month away, it is time to focus attention on advocating for our Patriot students with our MN legislators. Our local community has much to be proud of regarding the work of our local school board to establish a district culture of high expectations and disciplined fiscal management. They have worked in recent years to establish transparent and routine processes to maximize services provided by vendors, to manage construction projects tightly, and to stretch every dollar to benefit students as much as possible. As Patriots we can safely say that we get “more bang for each buck” than in most school districts.

While we can and should be proud of our school board’s efforts to be fiscally responsible, we should also be aware that the legislature has a constitutional responsibility to uphold our students’ right to a “general and uniform system of education” that requires state funding to ensure each student receives adequate education. Since 2003 our state has attempted to provide basic funding through two main mechanisms: the basic education formula and using equalization factors for various property tax supported formulas intended to equalize “tax effort” required of residents. Pequot Lakes Schools is currently receiving over $1,500 less per student than in 2003 in basic education revenue when adjusted for inflation. Most districts have filled this funding gap through voter approved operating levies of up to $4,400 per student; yet in districts like Pequot Lakes with a high percentage of seasonal/recreational property, the impact on local residents is far too great to make that a reasonable option. Funding schools through local property taxes therefore creates huge disparities in the funds available to educate students and fails to provide a “general and uniform system of education.” Please join me in advocating for our Patriot students by asking the legislature to increase the basic education formula to 2003 levels and to reduce the state’s dependence on local property taxes to fund basic education.

Weather Decisions

The winter storm on Nov. 18th was a harsh reminder that it’s time to remind everyone how school closing decisions are made and communicated. When weather is questionable, I will be in contact with our transportation director, public safety officials, and area superintendents. Our transportation director and/or I often choose to drive some of the most difficult roads to confirm conditions on the ground. Our goal is to make a decision by 5:30am, as we have employees rolling into work by that time. We will communicate the message to families and staff first through our automated phone calling system, and then through our district website and the following radio/TV stations: 107.5, 106.7, 93.3, 103.5, 102.7, 94.3, WCCO, KARE-11, KMSP (Fox 9), KSTP/KSAX, WDIO/WIRT TV, and www.cancellations.com. Please check these resources before calling the school offices as most staff will not be at work to answer the phones!

The decision to delay or close school is based on the safety of our students while also recognizing that any change of routine puts a significant strain on many families. Our excellent team of bus drivers will always put a safe bus ride ahead of an on-time bus ride. Parents have the right to keep children at home if they feel it is not safe to send them out. As a general rule, we will run school if we can get buses started and transport students safely.

-- Chris Lindholm, Superintendent of Schools

Thank you for all you do!

posted Dec 1, 2016, 6:26 AM by Brenda Williams   [ updated Dec 1, 2016, 6:27 AM ]

The fall sports season has come to an end recently and there are several reasons to celebrate. The volleyball team finished with 22 wins. The tennis team finished as co-champs of the Mid State Conference. The football team made it to their 4th consecutive section finals and the boys cross country team qualified for their second consecutive trip to the state meet!

There are many individuals and groups that play a key role in the success of our activities program. Those of you who have attended any of our sign up meetings have heard me say, “It takes three things to have a successful activities program: dedicated coaches, supportive parents and good kids!” While I fully believe that to be true, the reality is that it takes many more people willing to get involved to ensure our students have a positive experience.

The MSHSL has recently implemented a “thank a ref” campaign. The basic premise is that we take a few seconds to simply say “thank you” to our contest officials. I would like to encourage you to say “thank you” to the officials the next time you attend an event. I would especially encourage you to say “thank you” to our middle level and youth officials. These people get paid little or volunteer their time to officiate, and without them the game simply would not happen.

I would propose that we take the “thank a ref” campaign and expand on it. Take a few seconds to thank a coach, thank a bus driver, volunteer athletic trainer, the chain gang, line judge, public address announcer, pep band, scoreboard operator, scorebook keeper, ticket taker, police reserves, supervisors … you get the idea. These people put in many hours to help ensure that our students have an opportunity to participate in their chosen activity. We tend to take many of these tasks for granted. We would surely miss these people if they were not there.

Thanks to all of our coaches and volunteers in Youth Sports and PAC. Youth Sports coaches provide the first athletic experience for many of our students, and your willingness to donate your time to make sure kids have an opportunity to play is greatly appreciated. PAC deserves our thanks also. Many people donate countless hours to help our activities program either financially or directly with their involvement.

In closing I would like to thank all of the people that work in or with our activities department. We are fortunate to have such caring and dedicated people. I am thankful that I get to be an Activities Director in a school district and community that supports activities for kids. THANK YOU!

See you at the games!

-- Marc Helmrichs, Activities Director


posted Dec 1, 2016, 6:24 AM by Brenda Williams

As the calendar turns to November, we are thankful for all that we have here at Eagle View Elementary School and sincerely appreciate the staff, students and families that are part of our Eagle View family. In keeping with the theme of thankful, I want to share some highlights of our 2016-17 year using the letters of the word grateful.

Growth mindset. A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence is something we can grow, and to embrace risk taking and failures as an opportunity to learn. Throughout this first quarter many classrooms worked to develop their students’ knowledge of growth mindset. Hearing students share about their learning and adding “not yet” - with a smile. They aren’t giving up, they are on their way.

Responsibility for learning. In addition to developing growth mindset is focus. Focus is having students aware of lesson targets and assessing their mastery of learning. Teachers post “I can” statements for lessons for student knowledge. At points during and at the end, students are asked to assess a number 1-4 indicating their level of understanding of the lesson. This awareness allows teachers to adjust lessons and groupings.

Active students. The PTA has supported being physically active at Eagle View by providing new playground equipment that is greatly appreciated. We also appreciate the support from our families by contributing to the Active-Kid-A-Thon that just wrapped up. The goal was for each student to earn $20 by being active for 60 minutes each day. Classrooms supported this through movement breaks and active learning in the classrooms.

Time. This year the Eagle View staff are also exploring their own growth mindset, prioritizing what students need during W.I.N. (What I Need) time. This is a time set aside outside of core instruction in which all students are receiving intervention supports or enrichment opportunities. Grade levels work collaboratively with Title and SPED staff to determine the skills and groupings and meet routinely to adjust and change as needed.

Excellence. Students received their new You Can’t Hide This Kind of Pride t-shirt to wear for Wear-It Wednesdays. PRIDEkeepers are recognized monthly for their positive citizenship and demonstrating the values of Respect, Responsibility and Safety. In addition, we celebrate those who complete their reading goal monthly.

Family support. Thank you for attending and volunteering at the many activities this first quarter - Open House/Back-to-School Conferences, Breakfast Buddies, Fall Conferences, Kindergarten Nursery Rhyme Day, STEM Days, Pumpkin Drop, and Watch Dogs. Seeing students and parents enjoying learning is a highlight of our profession.

Uniqueness. Children learn and develop differently. If you ask any student what they need to be successful, the answer will be diverse. To support these varying needs, teachers differentiate lessons daily through small group instruction to support and meet those needs. In addition, many teachers are embracing classrooms focus of flexible seating, standards-based grading, and inquiry-based learning to further meet student needs.

Listen for. Instead of asking your child, “How was your day?,” ask about what the ‘I can’ statement was for a particular lesson. Then inquire as to your child’s mastery 1-4 (4 being highest level of understanding). It’s harder to answer “fine” to those questions. Encourage the addition of ‘yet’ when they are developing a skill. Celebrate the process and the try-it-again attitude.

Thank you for a very successful beginning of the year. All of the staff at Eagle View value the partnership with our families, collaboration with colleagues, and most importantly EVery Child, EVery Day!

-- Melissa Hesch, Elementary Principal

Why must I take a fruit or a vegetable?

posted Nov 3, 2016, 1:59 PM by Brenda Williams

I cannot count the times I am asked this question….”Why must I take a fruit or vegetable?” It’s a great question. We at Pequot Lakes School District must make sure that every student has either a fruit or vegetable on his/her tray before they leave the lunch line. Let me tell you why!

Back in the mid 1970’s, Congressman Bill Goodling and other leaders believed students were throwing away far too much and they devised the “Offer Versus Serve” Food Based Menu Plan option. This option was designed to decrease food waste and give students greater flexibility in choosing the foods they will eat. Before this was passed, every student in the lunch line was served all foods that were offered for the meal. All school food programs participating in the National School Lunch Program must serve five (5) meal components at every lunch. These are meat/meat alternative, grains, fruits, vegetables and milk. For the Offer Versus Serve option, the students have a choice. They choose three (3) full servings from the options offered; milk is included in this count. The only requirement beyond that is one serving on his/her plate MUST be a fruit or a vegetable.

For breakfast the rule stays the same. Each student must take a serving of fruit or vegetable. We typically do not serve vegetables for breakfast but always have a fruit offered and a variety of 100% fruit juices.

This is where the question comes in….”Why must I take a fruit or vegetable?”

The answer is this….For every meal we serve in the school district, the district gets funding from the state and federal government. In order for us to receive this funding, we must make sure each student gets a full meal, including a fruit or a vegetable. The simple answer is that in order for the school district to get funding you must take a fruit or vegetable, and hopefully eat it! We offer a variety of fruits and vegetables at the Pequot Lakes school district, many of which come straight from our local farmers. I am confident there is something everyone likes on the menu every day!

-- Patty Buell, Food Services Director

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