Education briefs for the week of April 14

16 District 196 seniors named National Merit finalists
All 16 District 196 seniors who were selected semifinalists in the 2016-17 National Merit and Achievement scholarship programs last fall have been named finalists and are eligible for the approximately 7,500 merit scholarships totaling more than $33 million that are being awarded this spring.

The National Merit finalists from District 196 are Chase Rapp of Apple Valley High School; Elizabeth Bartlett, Arunima Bhattacharya, Bryce Collison, Jonathan David, Lauren Kalina, Lauren Markowski, Benjamin Pankow, Raj Purohit, Rylee Smith and Rosella Stower of Eagan High School; Ryan Chen and Athena Hatfield of Eastview High School; and Isabel Edgar, Trevor Liggett and Dominic Voto of Rosemount High School.

National Merit and Achievement postsecondary scholarships are awarded by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, businesses and colleges and universities nationwide.

Students are selected for the National Merit and Achievement programs each fall based on their scores on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which they take as juniors. Students who score in the top 1 percent of students nationwide are selected as semifinalists and can then submit additional information to be considered as a finalist. Students who score in the top 5 percent of students nationally are named commended students; 32 District 196 students earned commended status last fall.

District 196 students qualify for national speech and debate tournament
Thirty-four District 196 high school students have qualified to compete at the National Speech and Debate Association tournament June 18-23 in Birmingham, Alabama. Students earned spots for the national tournament based on their performance at separate qualifying events that were held this winter and spring.

Eagan High School has 18 students who earned 14 qualifying spots: the team of Jenna Herbrand and Joshua Drucker in duo interpretation; Tram Nguyen and Joshua Groven in original oratory; Benjamin Pankow and Jason Scheller in domestic extemporaneous speaking; Jack Bechard in humorous interpretation; Emily Albert-Stauning and Paul Filonowich in oral interpretation; Elsie Goren and Rachel Standal in informative speaking; the team of Raj Purohit and Rylee Smith in public forum debate; the teams of Aaron Lutz and Gregory Quick, and Linnea Stanton and Elizabeth Sabel in policy debate; and Nautica Flowers in congressional debate.

Apple Valley High School has 12 students who earned 11 qualifying spots: the team of Claire Doty and Zakkiyah Sanders in duo interpretation; Jane Michaelson and Rickey Williams in original oratory; Arianna Rotty in dramatic interpretation; Sydney Schliesing and Uzoma Ngwu in oral interpretation; Trinity Ek, Sarah Grambo and Emilia Galchutt in informative speaking; and Kenan Anderson and Henry Dikeman in Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Eastview High School’s Ross Abram and Osman Mansur each earned qualifying spots in international extemporaneous speaking, and the Rosemount High School team of Andrew Sauvageau and Michael Stefanko qualified in policy debate.

At the 2016 national tournament, Apple Valley and Eagan were two of 10 Schools of Outstanding Distinction based on the number of rounds of competition completed by their students during the tournament. Individually, four District 196 students advanced to the final round (top six) in their categories of competition and two won national titles, including Sarah Grambo of Apple Valley, who qualified to defend her title in informative speaking this year.

District 196 Legislative Advisory Council has openings for citizen members
District 196 is accepting applications through May 12 for three at-large citizen positions on the district’s Legislative Advisory Council (LAC). Applicants should have some experience in government affairs lobbying or the legislative process. The terms of all four positions are for two years beginning July 1, 2017.

The purpose of the LAC is to increase citizen participation in the legislative process and community understanding of legislative issues and how they impact District 196. The council’s role is to provide input on and advocate for the district’s legislative priorities, review legislative suggestions submitted by citizens and staff, and provide input to the School Board regarding proposed legislation. The LAC meets at least four times during the school year, from 6-7:30 p.m.

LAC membership consists of seven citizen members and one representative from each of eight district advisory councils who are appointed to the LAC annually by their council. The district communications director and members of the School Board’s Legislative Committee serve as ex-officio members. The LAC is a nonpartisan council and members are expected to maintain neutrality regarding party politics.

People interested in being considered for LAC membership must submit an application by May 12. The application is available at or by calling 651-423-7775. Completed applications should be mailed to Independent School District 196, Director of Communications, 3455 153rd St. W., Rosemount, MN 55068, or faxed to 651-423-7633.

Lakeville teacher a Teacher of the Year finalist
Mary Zilge, a vocal music teacher at Cherry View Elementary, is one of 11 finalists for the 2017 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

An independent selection panel of 23 leaders in the areas of education, business, government and non-profits selected the finalists from a group of 37 semifinalists. There were 132 Teacher of the Year candidates for this program year.

The selection panel meets again May 6 to conduct individual interviews with each of the 11 finalists and to cast votes for the 2017 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

The 2016 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Abdul Wright of Best Academy in Minneapolis, will announce this year’s honoree at a banquet at the Radisson Blu Mall of America May 7. Banquet tickets can be purchased at

Oak Ridge Elementary School to celebrate 25 years
Current and former students, parents and staff of Oak Ridge Elementary School of Leadership, Environmental and Health Sciences in Eagan will celebrate the school’s 25th anniversary on Thursday, May 25. Oak Ridge opened in fall 1991 as the 16th elementary school in District 196 and transitioned to a magnet school last year.

The anniversary celebration will begin in the morning on May 25 with Leadership Day, highlighting student leadership in Oak Ridge’s first year as a Leader in Me School. There will be a reception for former students and staff from 4-5:30 p.m., which will include the opening of a time capsule that was filled and buried by students 25 years ago. There will also be tours of the school and an opportunity to see progress on a building addition that is scheduled to open this fall.

Following the reception, current Oak Ridge students and their families will participate in the school’s annual PTO Spring Fling. For more information, call Oak Ridge at 651-683-6970.

edu-lv-cha-groundbreak-4-14Christian Heritage Academy breaks ground
Christian Heritage Academy broke ground March 1 on its new permanent home at 7320 175th St. W. in Lakeville. Principal Gail Wolfe, Board President Mike Blanchard, teachers, parents and students were present as Wolfe and the Rev. Paul Marzahn, Crossroads Church, cut the ribbon to mark the ground blessing event. The school building will be 29,368 square feet and include 10 classrooms, a STEM classroom, a full gymnasium with a raised performance stage, a nurse’s room, a multi-purpose room that can be used for art and music, and a warming kitchen. The building will open in time for the first day of school on Sept. 11. Photo submitted.

edu-eg-visitation-days-for-girls-4-14Students help girls stay in school
Jinny Buonfiglio, of Eagan, was one of 100 Visitation students who partnered with the nonprofit organization Days for Girls on April 8 to assemble reusable feminine hygiene products and education kits for girls in developing nations. Visitation is the state’s only all-girls grade 6-12 school and took on the project to help girls in developing nations stay in school and participate in their communities without being forced to take days off during their menstrual cycles. Photo submitted.

Family fun with Koo Koo Kanga Roo
Farmington Community Education is kicking off summer with a free family fun night featuring Koo Koo Kanga Roo 7 p.m. Friday, May 6, at Boeckman Middle School.

Koo Koo Kanga Roo, a pop and dance duo, is a family fun dance extravaganza experience for kids and adults of all ages. The live show is packed with zany sing-alongs and choreographed group dancing.

Pre-registration is required at or 651-460-3200. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. A nonperishable food item is a suggested donation for the Farmington Food Shelf.
Farmington Community Education will display summer youth camp, class and activity information. Participants will be offered an opportunity to register for drawings for Open Swim and discount class coupons. More information is available at

District 194 School Board
Following is the agenda for the 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 18, special meeting of the District 194 School Board at Lakeville City Hall.

1. Preliminary Actions
a. Call to Order
b. Roll Call and Board Introductions
2. Discussion
a. Long Range Planning Follow-Up on Priorities
b. Referendum Planning
c. Board of Education Transparency Plan
d. Board Committees Purpose/Responsibilities
e. FY18 Budget Development Update
f.  Hwy 50 Land Acquisition Counter Offer
3. Future Topics for Consideration
4. Adjournment

Local education businesses honored
A select group of local prekindergarten early education programs recently earned their Parent Aware Ratings, which lets area parents know that they are using kindergarten readiness best practices.

“These folks really deserve a lot of credit for doing the right thing for Minnesota’s youngest children,” said Ericca Maas, executive director of Parent Aware for School Readiness (PASR), a nonprofit that supports the ratings. “It’s one thing to make claims about quality, but these providers are proving that they are actually using best practices.”

The local businesses being honored by PASR include:

• Valerie Taylor, 816 McIntosh Drive, Apple Valley, [email protected].

• Debra Brodil, 12525 Everest Trail, Apple Valley, [email protected].

• Peggy Gopaul, 15939 Harwell Ave., Apple Valley, [email protected].

• Julie Knutson, 1862 Covington Lane, Eagan, [email protected].

• Day By Day Child Development Center Inc., 1565 Cliff Road, Suite 9, Eagan, Heidi Kunst, [email protected].

• Tierra Encantada Inc., 4130 Blackhawk Road, Suite 140, Eagan, Karina Zumba, [email protected].

• Doreen Leonetti, 1798 Taconite Trail, Eagan, [email protected].

• Kimberly Neu, 17738 Flint Ave., Farmington, [email protected].

• Marietta Jacobs, 19881 Embers Ave., Farmington, [email protected]

• Janice Hakseth, 1661 Wyndham Place, Hastings, [email protected].

• Melissa Enke, 16589 Imperial Way, Lakeville, [email protected].

• Heidi Neubert, 17811 Flushing Hills Court, Lakeville, [email protected].

• Julie Imoto, 20275 Indio Path, Lakeville, [email protected].

• Katie Prose, 6070 178th St. W., Lakeville, [email protected].

• Kathleen Tazelaar Rients and Shana Janssen, 7783 Grinnell Way, Lake­ville, [email protected].

• Sonshine Learning Center, 680 Highway 110, Mendota Heights, Marie Baker, [email protected].

• Mary Braunwarth and Heather Graham, 14271 Cranberry Way, Rosemount, [email protected].

• Veteran Dummer, 838 23rd Ave. N., South St. Paul, [email protected].

These providers all volunteered to adopt kindergarten-readiness best practices and verify that fact by obtaining a Parent Aware Rating. The Parent Aware Ratings are a Consumer Reports-like service that helps parents find child care and preschools in their area that are using kindergarten-readiness best practices.

Over the past four years, nearly 3,000 Minnesota programs have earned their ratings. A full listing of rated programs in the area can be found by doing an online search at