2021-22 Back to School Information
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Minnesota Revenue offers two valuable tax benefits for parents who purchase school supplies for their K-12 students, the K-12 Education Credit and Subtraction. These benefits can reduce parents’ taxes to increase their refund, but is only available for those who keep their receipts. Purchases for most school supplies, field trips, and musical instruments for school band are eligible.

Most Minnesota parents qualify for the K-12 subtraction, which reduces their taxable income. Parents under certain income limits may also qualify for the K-12 credit, which can refund up to 75% of their costs – even for parents who don’t owe any taxes. Visit the Minnesota Revenue website for details.

  • New Community Education Director Hello fellow community members! My name is Joell Tvedt and I am the new Community Education Director for Pequot Lakes Public Schools. I am excited to be here as a ...
    Posted Jun 3, 2021, 2:59 PM by Brenda Williams
  • FREE Summer Meals Are Back! The USDA has announced the extension of the ‘free meals’ waiver that will allow all children ages 18 and under to receive free breakfast and free lunch through the 2021 ...
    Posted May 28, 2021, 12:32 PM by Brenda Williams
  • Patriot Pride Traits - Sportsmanship Every month at Eagle View, there is an intentional focus on social-emotional learning on a Patriot Pride trait. This year’s focus has included Problem Solving, Mindfulness, Manners, Communication ...
    Posted May 14, 2021, 12:44 AM by Brenda Williams
  • The Power of a Compliment A simple handwritten note, an email of thanks, and a quick conversation are all ways that we can share gratitude throughout our day. And while all three of these methods ...
    Posted Apr 28, 2021, 2:31 PM by Brenda Williams
  • Diamond in the Rough There are no mincing words; this has been a very difficult school year. Students have faced significant challenges, and grades and mental health have suffered as a result. Teachers have ...
    Posted Mar 22, 2021, 7:37 PM by Brenda Williams
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 139. View more »

New Community Education Director

posted Jun 3, 2021, 2:59 PM by Brenda Williams   [ updated Jun 3, 2021, 2:59 PM ]

Hello fellow community members! My name is Joell Tvedt and I am the new Community Education Director for Pequot Lakes Public Schools. I am excited to be here as a Patriot!

My family and I are in the process of moving here and hope to be situated by the beginning of July. My husband (Jeff) and I have two boys. Jobey will be starting 7th grade and Jase will be entering Kindergarten this Fall. They are looking forward to meeting new friends and getting involved in the various activities this community offers.

I have been a Community Educator for the past 11 years. I started my Community Education career in the small town of Ogilvie and most recently worked for Cambridge-Isanti Community Education. During this time, I finished my Masters in Community Education Administration and have been active with the Minnesota Community Education Association in various roles, from legislation to marketing.

You will find that I am incredibly passionate about my work. I enjoy looking at the big picture, working out details and making connections with community members. I love the fact that Community Education possibilities are open and endless. In fact, this is what drew me into the field and keeps me in the profession. Being able to bend and mold to the needs of the community in a variety of ways is what Community Education does.

Community Education is a great resource. If you are not taking advantage of it, you should! Of course, I am a little biased! As a natural liaison between the school district and the community, Community Education supports learning for all ages. We offer high-quality enrichment and recreational opportunities for everyone, regardless of their age. We run top notch Early Childhood and Childcare programs. We connect with older adults to offer discounts on car insurance in our 55+ Defensive Driving courses. We are connected to a consortium of Adult Basic Educators who help adults graduate from high school or earn their GED. We partner with the Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts group to bring exceptional theater productions right to your backyard. We run numerous youth sports programs and collaborate with district coaching staff to bring additional opportunities for our student athletes.

One of my goals is to lead Pequot Lakes Community Education into an organization that community members turn to first for learning and recreational needs, regardless of age. If there are things you would like to learn, experience, or simply cross something off your bucket list, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will do our best to find an instructor/expert who can help you out.

As I reflect back to the time I was looking at applying for the Community Education Director position, my family and I visited your area to get a feel for the community and school district. We discovered that your community was beautiful, with an excellent school and lots of opportunity for growth. We felt welcomed during our visit and made the decision that this was a community we could call home.

I love the idea of living in a small town, where people know their neighbors by name and say hello to the people they meet walking down the sidewalk. You should be proud of the community you live in. In the short time that I have been here, I have met some amazing people, passionate about this community. I am excited for future collaborations and the opportunities, interactions, and connections that Community Education will continue to offer!

-- Joell Tvedt, Community Education Director

FREE Summer Meals Are Back!

posted May 28, 2021, 12:32 PM by Brenda Williams

The USDA has announced the extension of the ‘free meals’ waiver that will allow all children ages 18 and under to receive free breakfast and free lunch through the 2021 – 2022 school year. Previously the waiver ended on June 30, 2021. USDA has extended this waiver because when school is not in session many children cannot access the school meals they depend on during the academic year.

What does this mean for you? This means the Pequot Lakes School District will be providing free meal pick-ups throughout the summer.  This will take place every Monday morning, starting June 7 through August 30, at the High school, door # 1, between 9 am and 11 am.    (With the exception of no pick up on July 5, but instead, a pick up on July 6.)  We will provide a pack of 5 breakfasts and 5 lunches per child. Please note this is for all children ages 18 and under. Younger children do not need to be enrolled in school, and if you have a child staying with you for the summer, they qualify also.

How do I get signed up? You must sign up with Patty Buell, Food Service Director for the school district. You are signing up for the whole summer. We will have a 5-pack of breakfasts and lunches ready for each child you sign up, every week through August 30. If you are unable to make it on a Monday, please email or call Patty Buell by Sunday at 5pm so we can avoid waste.

School districts and the USDA have partnered together to do everything they can to make sure children get access to healthy, nutritious meals in safe environments, regardless of their family’s financial circumstances.

To sign up: contact Patty Buell at pbuell@isd186.org or 218-568-9363.

-- Patty Buell, Food Service Director

Patriot Pride Traits - Sportsmanship

posted May 14, 2021, 12:44 AM by Brenda Williams

Every month at Eagle View, there is an intentional focus on social-emotional learning on a Patriot Pride trait. This year’s focus has included Problem Solving, Mindfulness, Manners, Communication, Responsibility, Honesty, and Gratitude. Classrooms weave these activities into weekly lessons, classroom meetings, read alouds, and discussions.

This last month of the school year the theme of focus for Eagle View is Sportsmanship. There are 5 characteristics of good sportsmanship which can be applied in many areas of life;
  • Be supportive
  • Have a positive attitude
  • Be respectful
  • Be willing to learn
  • Have self-control

Assemblies this year have changed to a virtual format and the last few have involved games reviewing expectations. After the last assembly, one of our EV students excitedly pointed out how the poem on the lower stairway supports sportsmanship, “This is about being a good sport, and being kind!” This is just one of many visuals in the hallways to help students remember Patriot Pride and positive expectations.

“Be the Nice Kid”
“Some kids will be smarter than you, some kids have cooler clothes than you,
some kids are better at sports than you. It doesn’t matter. You have your thing too.
Be the kid who can get along. Be the kid who is generous.
Be the kid who is happy for other people. Be the kid who does the right thing.
Be the nice kid.”
~Bryan Stavnak

This is a powerful message about embracing and celebrating differences. Good sportsmanship comes with recognizing that we all have the ability to learn and grow. As Tina Boogren reminds us, we need to embrace our “flawsomeness”. An element of good sportsmanship is rooted in connections and kindness.

This year we celebrate how students and staff adapted to the many changes, keeping relationships and connections a priority at EV with intentional focus as we embraced learning with distance. So how do we build meaningful connections with our students at school? We build community in our classrooms. We greet them, talk with them, get to know them, and have classroom meetings. We ensure they know the expectations and then celebrate positive choices. Throughout our planning for this year, the Eagle View Leadership Team felt it was essential to prioritize relationships and connections with students and families, even with distance. Some of the creative ways we overcame challenges to build community and connect this year were Virtual Open House and conferences, small group instruction with distance, PE outside (almost all year), Nature Center time for mask breaks, recess zones, twice-a-month Eagle View Update, and all-school virtual assemblies.

An article read recently discussed the balance of kindness and assertion. The goal is for students to be kind, to accept others, embrace differences, and care about each other. It’s ensuring our children know what kindness is, but also having connections at school and home so they are comfortable speaking up for themselves and for others. We need children to be kind and treat each other well, and yet if they see unkind or unsafe action, to speak up. That happens when they have connections with adults they trust and know will assist when needed. This transfers to good sportsmanship.

Families give children roots and the wings to fly. Schools, like Eagle View, support that foundation and reinforce the expectations of respect, responsibility, and safety through an intentional focus on relationships. Working together, let’s make sure all of our children are rooted in kindness and connections, “being the nice kid” with great sportsmanship in all areas of life.

-- Melissa Hesch, Eagle View Elementary Principal

The Power of a Compliment

posted Apr 9, 2021, 12:13 PM by Brenda Williams   [ updated Apr 28, 2021, 2:31 PM ]

A simple handwritten note, an email of thanks, and a quick conversation are all ways that we can share gratitude throughout our day. And while all three of these methods should take relatively little time, it is far too easy to get wrapped up in daily tasks and forget to spread positivity. I recently found out that giving a compliment has the same positive effects as receiving a compliment. When giving a compliment you actually receive a boost in serotonin, giving you a ‘happy’ feeling. We’ve all had times where we went to the dark side and found it all too easy to look for the negative in people and situations. However, if we can get in the habit of giving compliments, we can actually retrain our brain to look for the positives instead. Additionally, people who receive direct and specific compliments regarding tasks have the ability to do better on those tasks over time. Research also shows that when people experience positive emotions their thinking tends to become more creative, inclusive, flexible, and integrative. (Southwick and Charney, 2012)  Not only is giving compliments a nice thing to do, it can also increase productivity and quality of work. Clearly, compliments are a powerful tool for good.

As Patriot staff, we work hard to celebrate each other. At the secondary level, we have multiple ways we accomplish this. 5-minute celebrations at the start of high school staff meetings, Cheers for Peers every Monday morning during 4th quarter, and previously, Staff Shout Outs (from students) every Monday morning during Quarters 1-3. How can you not smile when you open your email on a Monday morning to see that you have been featured on Monday’s Cheers for Peers with a comment like this one: “Her infectious giggle, unwavering positivity, big heart for kids, yet still has an iron fist...A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!” or when a staff shout-out from a student states, “She is THE MOST caring person I have ever met. She strives to get to know students on a personal level so she can help them to her best abilities. If someone needs a cheering up they should definitely go to her.”

So, I challenge you to make a commitment to genuinely and consistently complement those that are positive influences around you whether it be coworkers, your family, friends, or a stranger. In busy and stressful times, it is easy to forget to practice gratitude for those around us. Throw it on the calendar once a week and celebrate. The positive effects are worth it for both you and them.

-- Alison Falenschek, Secondary High Reliability Schools Coach

Diamond in the Rough

posted Mar 22, 2021, 7:37 PM by Brenda Williams

There are no mincing words; this has been a very difficult school year. Students have faced significant challenges, and grades and mental health have suffered as a result. Teachers have been pushed to the breaking point with trying to teach in many different modes at once. Parents have tried to balance work responsibilities while trying to monitor their children’s school progress and support as they are able. What could possibly be said about this school year that went well?

Let’s start with flexibility. This past fall, we made efforts at PLHS to create a means of providing education to our students by increasing the flexibility for how and when that education happened. It was not flawless and has developed considerably over the course of this school year. However, we discovered ways to make school more flexible for students and families by creating systems that allow students to access their classroom and coursework without the restrictions of having to be seated in the classroom or be online live with the teacher. Students are using that flexibility to take advantage of opportunities to schedule school around family commitments, illness, or even apprenticeship opportunities that would not have been available even one year ago due to how school was conducted.

Then there is online learning. While full-time distance learning has created its fair share of problems, online learning has changed how students learn. Forty years ago, learning happened in school and homework at home. Now students are able to access their teachers, learning materials, support, and curriculum at any time of the day. This has allowed us to redesign what happens in the classroom with a teacher. Classroom time has become a space for discussions, collaboration, activities, and projects that were never possible when every day was needed to provide content.

Kids these days … you can probably finish that sentence, but would it surprise you that one of the celebrations we share at PLHS is the manners and respect shown by our students? Teachers started noticing it last spring and it has become a regular occurrence: students would sign off their online classes by thanking the teacher and wishing them a good day. Not just a few students either. It has become commonplace and teachers have noticed the appreciation they feel from students, especially when they returned to in-person learning.

We are looking forward to school after COVID. There are some things we miss: pep fests, fans at games, plays, concerts, and crowded hallways. But, it has not been all bad. School will not look the same as it did in 2019, and that is not a bad thing. Being able to take school with you as you take a family vacation or recover from a surgery and still keep up in classes is now a possibility. Making it possible to attend school and work around other commitments is a good development. No more snow days? Well, maybe it's not ALL good.

-- Aaron Nelson, High School Principal

Middle School Fun - Sibley Lake Style

posted Mar 15, 2021, 2:39 PM by Brenda Williams

After experiencing last weekend’s “spring ahead” of daylight savings and the return of balmy temperatures, we are all thinking about Spring. Even though all this seasonal change has many of us kicking our cabin fever in preparation for the excitement of April, May, and June in the Brainerd Lakes Area, it's important that we also reflect upon this unfortunate fact:

Children today spend less time outdoors than any generation in human history, devoting just four to seven minutes a day on average in unstructured outdoor play while spending an average of seven and a half hours every day in front of electronic media. (No Child Left Inside)

Certainly, the pandemic, distance learning, and a Schoology platform have unfortunately only added to the demands of screen time and a distancing from the outdoor world. Last week, PLMS made a move to invert that statistic. What started with a couple of middle school Social Studies teachers hanging out, talking about fun and engaging opportunities for kids turned into an amazing series of days on Sibley Lake.

From celebrating indigenous snow snake games to chasing the elusive Sibley Lake crappie, our kids found an abundance of fun and engaging activities out on the lake. Through a little “northwoods engineering” we also were able to compete in wood cookie curling, human dogsledding, and “smooshing” (you may have to Google that one). The kids had a blast, as evidenced by their smiles in the photos, but more importantly, they had an authentic learning experience, with a lot less structure, and a lot more freedom.

Gratitude should be extended to the volunteers who helped serve hot cocoa and set up the S’mores station. It was rewarding to watch the smiles on the faces of the moms, dads, and other special guests, who arguably had as much fun as the kids while helping to facilitate the fun. In addition to our volunteers, we also want to extend appreciation to the PLMS staff who rallied around the idea, helping to pull off back-to-back days of fun on the lake.

Without the planning of Mr. Bengtson (6th grade Social Studies) and the ideas of Mr. Fischer (5th grade Social Studies), this day would not have come together. Thank you to both of them, for advocating for our kids and for recognizing that quality learning experiences can happen outside the walls of the classroom. From the little things (like ordering porta-potties) to the logistical coordination of volunteers and resources, we say “thanks”. In addition, we’d like to thank Robert Engholm from the MN Darkhouse and Spearing Association, and Eric Sullivan from the MN DNR for sharing about their passions in the outdoors. And to John Janousek, Rapala, 13 Fishing, and Jason Barr from Tutt’s Bait for helping to provide the rods and tackle to help kids to have an amazing experience. Lastly, thank you to the Sibley Lake Association members who granted us the green light to utilize this great local resource.

As the weather warms, we’re excited about the prospects of getting our kids outside exploring and continuing to try to find balance in time on tech and time outdoors.

-- Mike O'Neil, Middle School Principal


Activities Jottings

posted Mar 15, 2021, 2:34 PM by Brenda Williams

With the many constant changes in this year's activities, I thought I would share information as it stands currently. All of the dates can be found on the www.mshsl.org website and on the Pequot Lakes www.isd186.org website. For our coop sports like gymnastics and skiing, dates can be found on the Brainerd school website at www.isd181.org. With limited tickets going to families and students, events can be viewed on the isd186sports YouTube channel. Hockey events are viewed on Livebarn.com.

Speech and Knowledge Bowl have held their meets virtually this year. The teams are smaller in numbers but have experienced great success. Speech will compete for sections and the state tournament this spring; however, the dates have not yet been released. Band and choir will have their spring contest competitions with dates and locations yet to be determined.

Wrestling will start team sections on March 11 with Pequot Lakes chosen to host section finals as well as the state quarterfinal round on March 13. Individual sections will also be hosted at Pequot Lakes on March 16. The top four individuals will advance to Foley for a supersectional event.

Section hockey dates are set for March 16, 18, 20, and 25. As teams are seeded, all the events will be held at the high seed. Fans are limited to 90 for the home team and 60 for the visiting team. There will be a state tournament with limited seating of 250 fans. The games will be live-streamed or televised on Channel 45.

Basketball section dates have also been set and the high seeds will host through the section finals. Girls basketball dates are March 18, 20, 24, and 26. Boys basketball dates are March 17, 19, 23, and 26. Pequot Lakes has been asked to host a state quarterfinal round of the basketball tournament on March 30 and 31. No details have been released as to which class we will host.

Spring sports will start on March 29, with middle level programs starting their practices on April 6. Registrations for these activities will start up after March 15, once the MSHSL releases how the seasons will run. No information has been given for length of season, contests per activity, or when section play will start. This information will be out soon so please check the mshsl.org website for up-to-date information on these events.

As we finish our seasons for winter activities, let’s celebrate all the hard work from our students, athletes, and coaches, and congratulate them for an outstanding job.

Go Patriots!

-- Byron Westrich, Activities Director

The Kids Need Us; We Need the Kids

posted Feb 14, 2021, 7:45 PM by Brenda Williams

For anyone who works with kids, you know the aura of energy that surrounds them. With that said, Monday, February 8, was truly “A Great Day to be a Patriot!” Earlier this week, Pequot Lakes Middle School opened the doors to usher in a full in-person learning experience for students in grades 5-8. It’s been close to a year since we’ve had a complete student body, and for our staff, it’s been a long time coming!

Pequot Lakes Middle School feels a whole lot more “Middle Schoolish” than it has in a long time. Kids in hallways, cafeterias being used, and close to 500 students filling our classrooms. With all the kids comes the joys of working in this place. Hormones, awkwardness, laughter, and smiling faces were still present during distance learning, but it certainly is more powerful when we’re in person! This might catch some off guard, but even the logistical nightmare of getting all of our students picked up in the infamous “parent pickup line” is a welcomed reprieve from empty desks and quiet locker bays!

With these recent moves to in-person learning on our 5-8 campus, I am in debt to the PLMS school leadership team, teachers, support staff, and school board who has confidence in our ability to expand our learning opportunities to 4-5 days a week for everyone on campus, all while maintaining integrity to a plan designed to keep our kids and staff safe. Yes, there will likely be bumps in the road ahead. (We kicked off our return with a Monday morning that wasn’t exempt from some close contact quarantining and other limitations.) But again, all was worth the effort as we strive to provide a quality educational experience for our students and a work environment for our staff that is filled with the ambient enthusiasm, laughter, and energy that comes with working in a middle school setting.

We appreciate our families who have endured hardships and personal/professional sacrifice to help us to get to this point. Though social distancing, masks, and restricted movement are all factors that continue to influence our decision making, we also have our goals set on a spring that might resemble even more normalcy.

Monday was truly a great day (not only because Patty and the kitchen team served the fan-favorite Mandarin Chicken) but also because of the genuine excitement we saw throughout campus. This year’s hardships have us reflecting upon the little things that make being a middle school educator so great. Smiles peeking out from behind masks, voices, and laughter filling our downtime, and kids and staff sharing an authentic enthusiasm for life, learning, and social interaction with one another. It was clear; the kids need us, and we need the kids!
Go Patriots!

-- Mike O'Neil, Middle School Principal

Thank you to CRMC and Crow Wing County Public Health

posted Feb 1, 2021, 6:59 AM by Brenda Williams

One of the most poignant lessons I’ve learned or become even more aware of as superintendent of a rural school district in the 2020-21 school year is the pivotal role that a school district plays in the economic heart of a local community. I’ve certainly always known that decisions to close school are a big deal - just ask any superintendent about how well-liked they are when making weather closure decisions - but never have I had to shut down schools for weeks at a time. Not in 20+ years. As I drove to and from work in December and January, I saw what looked like a ghost town in downtown Pequot Lakes, Breezy Point, and Crosslake. It was heartbreaking - and yet I clearly understood we had to intervene with hospitals over capacity and no room to deal with regular life health tragedies and struggles. It is definitely true that we must find a way for schools to operate to keep the economy and community life rolling even if it has to look different - and that is humbling and a challenging charge, but it is what we must work towards together.

The week of January 18th, our school district staff was blessed with an enormous gift from Cuyuna Regional Medical Clinic (CRMC) and Crow Wing County Public Health. We learned on Tuesday the 19th that CRMC had enough COVID-19 vaccine available to vaccinate our staff, and the race was on. We quickly established a clinic schedule and the CRMC team vaccinated 110+ staff on that Thursday afternoon, increasing our chances of staying open to teach students onsite at school. It was a 36-hour turnaround with execution modeling discipline the US Marines would be proud of. We in Pequot Lakes Public Schools cannot thank our partners at CRMC and CWC enough for making this happen so quickly to help us do our important work and to help us navigate the months ahead helping our families get to work. Thank you CRMC and CWC Public Health for going above and beyond for the public you serve!!

Patriot families, we are not through this yet. Quarantine rules, mask and distancing rules, crowd size limits, and all that we’ve been doing this year still apply and will likely continue through the end of the school year. We must all remain vigilant to keep schools open and not be forced to close due to a lack of staffing with quarantine and isolation requirements (which the vaccination doesn’t change as of yet, per MDH). That said, our partners have helped us lead the pack in MN with the earliest vaccinations for our educators and that calls for a BIG kudos and thank you. THANK YOU friends at CRMC and well done serving your local communities. We couldn’t be prouder and more grateful!! Go Patriots!!

-- Chris Lindholm, Superintendent of Schools  


posted Jan 14, 2021, 6:47 AM by Brenda Williams

It’s been a ride. Semester 1 of this school year was like none the school community has ever experienced. It rivaled and, we dare say, was more difficult than last spring. Through it all, we are in awe of the Patriot community. Our caregivers, students, and school staff have shown a resilience we all should be proud of. That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of bumps in the road, but we also believe celebrations are numerous. An important part of a Safe, Supportive and Collaborative culture is to celebrate successes. So let’s take a moment to celebrate all who are making the 2020-2021 school year possible.

Caregivers - You didn’t sign up for this. You didn’t anticipate having your regular routines upended and your kids learning from home each day. We applaud you. Families have had to make numerous sacrifices, endure challenges that are unique to their own family situations, and figure out how to operate in this new normal. Parenting is hard - parenting with our current circumstances is even harder. In addition to families, thank you to emergency childcare and daycares for doing all you can to support our students. We appreciate you!

Students - We know how challenging this has been. Some of you are loving distance learning and some of you are finding this to be the most challenging school has ever been. Whoever you are, we see you. We are here for you. And most of all we are celebrating that we have you as our students. Whether distance or in person, we are so grateful for the laughs and challenges each day brings. We are so proud of you!

School Staff - We are proud every day to be a Patriot. The teamwork and level of collaboration that goes into the work you all do is honorable. Food Service, maintenance, office staff, leadership, teachers, paras, support staff, and administrators have shown incredible dedication and flexibility. It has been hard; it has pushed us to our limits, but it has helped us grow in a way that has only made us stronger.

In December, our district was honored for the work we have done in HRS level 1 (Safe, Supportive, and Collaborative Culture). As a district, all three sites have achieved certification in HRS level 1. In order to be certified, each building collected data from staff, students, and families that show our school environments are safe and supportive places to be. Due to Covid, our work this school year has continued to focus on HRS Level 1. Without a strong foundation, the rest will crumble, hence making this a priority in our current situation. We look forward to a continued partnership with all involved to provide a positive school experience.

-- Alison Falenschek and Megan Zierden, High Reliability School Coaches

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