Education briefs for the week of May 19

Katie Salmela

District 191 media supervisor selected for national program
Katie Salmela, the elementary media coordinator in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191, has been selected as one of 22 participants in a nationwide professional development opportunity.

She will participate in the Lilead Fellows Program, which is designed to empower, enable and equip school district library supervisors to think differently and creatively about programs and education and to be leaders in their districts, according to a Lilead spokesperson.

After meeting virtually in early May, the group will meet formally for the first time at a summer institute in July. Then the cohort will continue to meet virtually and in face-to-face meetings through June 2018 and also take online classes.

Salmela has always liked to read and write. She began her education career as an English and journalism high school teacher. Then she shifted into a media specialist position and earned a master’s degree in library science.

She began in District 191 as a long-term substitute at Nicollet Junior High. She’s now the district’s elementary media coordinator and supervises the educational assistants in the media centers of all 10 elementary schools. She’s also a digital learning specialist who teaches technology skills to students at Hidden Valley, Sky Oaks and Harriet Bishop elementary schools.

Participation in the Lilead Fellows Program requires her to develop a plan of action for what she wants to change in her work to support student success.

“Katie is relatively new to our district yet she’s already making an impact with her leadership, organizational skills, professional competencies and communications,” said Doug Johnson, the district’s technology director. “Her involvement in the Lilead program will be a real benefit to her, to our students, and to the library profession. I am proud she was selected.”

Dave Helke

Helke named Division Principal of the Year
The Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals has named Burnsville High School Principal Dave Helke its Hennepin Division High School Principal of the Year. The award recognizes school leaders who use research and innovative practices to improve their schools.

Helke has led Burnsville High School through major transformations as part of Vision One91, which is Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191’s work to redesign the district to meet the needs of today’s learners. In the last year, the school shifted to include ninth-graders for the first time, added more than 145,000 square feet of instructional space, launched a one-to-one student learning device model, and altered programming to better meet student needs.

Along with teachers and fellow administrators, Helke has helped develop Burnsville High School’s new “Pathways” model. By presenting courses of study in a way that focuses on student being #FutureReady, Pathways at BHS help students discover and pursue their passions through relevant, experiential learning opportunities in areas as diverse as marketing, culinary arts, healthcare, engineering design and more.

In nominating Helke, Nicollet Middle School Principal Renee Brandner cited “his instructional vision for a 21st Century school, his ability to lead change, his communication skills, and the way he models how we should work with students.”

Brander also noted that Helke maintains strong relationships with students.

“He is a champion for kids,” she wrote. “He usually has a handful of students he is working to support and inspire, and his staff takes notice. The teacher in Dave still shines through.”

Helke joined District 191 in 2001 as the principal at Eagle Ridge Junior High. He was named principal of Burnsville High School in 2008.

The Hennepin Division includes all the high schools in Hennepin and Scott counties, as well as parts of Anoka and Dakota counties. Helke is now eligible for the MASSP statewide Principal of the Year Award, which is determined at the end of the calendar year.

Samantha HoangLong

BHS senior awarded scholarship
Samantha HoangLong, a senior at Burnsville High School, has been selected as the 2017 ThreeSixty Scholar and will receive a full-tuition, four-year scholarship to study communication and journalism at the University of St. Thomas starting this fall.

ThreeSixty Journalism is a nonprofit program of the College of Arts and Sciences at St. Thomas, which uses the principles of strong writing and reporting to help diverse Minnesota youth tell the stories of their lives and communities, according to the website

Each year, students who participate in the ThreeSixty summer journalism camp compete for the scholarship, valued at more than $160,000 over four years.

Samantha joined ThreeSixty in summer 2016 and completed the program’s College Essay Boot Camp, Rookie Journalist Camp and News Reporter Academy. Her story, “Adding their own flavor: Harding trio gets once-in-a-lifetime chance to display culinary chops in D.C.,” was featured in the Pioneer Press in September 2016.

Samantha also participated in a special ThreeSixty partnership project with Minnesota Public Radio at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair and on ThreeSixty’s News Team for the 2016-17 school year.

At Burnsville High School, Samantha is a member of the National Honor Society and the #BurnsvilleStrong group. She volunteers with Bowls for BrainPower and at an elementary after-school program. She serves on the high school’s Youth Service Advisory Council and recently completed an internship with the Vietnamese Student Association of Minnesota. She’s also performed in school music productions. She received the 2016 Youth Frontiers Character Award for being an exceptional leader who exemplifies the values of kindness, courage and respect.

Free summer meals available to children
Thanks to a federal program, breakfasts and lunches will be provided at no charge to all children, ages 1 to 18, this summer at several schools in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191. Meals meet nutritional standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Children’s meals must be eaten on site. Adult meals will be available for purchase.

In addition, a partnership between District 191 and The Open Door of Eagan will deliver free lunches to non-school locations using “The Mobile Lunch Box.”

At these sites, which are open to the public, breakfast will be served 7:45-8:45 a.m. and lunch will be served 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the dates noted. Meals are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

• Edward Neill Elementary School, 13409 Upton Ave. S., Burnsville, Monday through Friday from June 14 to Aug. 18 (closed July 3-4).

• Gideon Pond Elementary School, 613 E.130th St., Burnsville, Monday through Friday from June 14 to Aug. 18 (closed July 3-4).

• Nicollet Middle School, 400 E. 134th St., Burnsville, Monday through Thursday from June 14 to Aug. 17, and Friday, July 7 (closed July 3-4).

• Burnsville High School, 600 E. Highway 13, Burnsville, Monday through Thursday from June 19 to July 27 (closed July 3-7).

• Marion W. Savage Elementary School, 4819 W. 126th St., Savage, Monday through Thursday from July 6-27 and Friday, July 7.

• Sioux Trail Elementary School, 2801 River Hills Drive, Burnsville, Monday through Thursday from July 6-27 and Friday, July 7.

• Vista View Elementary School, 13109 County Road 5, Burnsville, Monday through Thursday from July 6-27 and Friday, July 7.

Additional public sites and meal details include:

• Arbor Vista Mobile Home Village, 14750 W. Burnsville Parkway, Burnsville, Mondays and Wednesdays, June 16 to Aug. 17, lunch only from 11:15 a.m. to noon.

• Rambush Estates, 1709 W. Burnsville Parkway, Burnsville, Mondays and Wednesdays, June 16 to Aug. 17, lunch only from noon to 12:45 p.m.

• Twelve 501 Apartments, 12501 Portland Ave. S., Burnsville, Tuesdays and Thursdays, June 17 to Aug. 18, lunch only from 11-11:30 a.m.

• Chancellor Manor, 14250 Irving Ave. S., Burnsville, Tuesdays and Thursdays, June 17 to Aug. 18, 12-12:45 p.m.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Meals will be provided to all enrolled children without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service. Menus may be found at

Hugstad-Vaa receives two lifetime achievement awards
Burnsville High School science teacher Jenny Hugstad-Vaa recently received two recognitions for mentoring students and teaching STEM education.

She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Minnesota Academy of Science during the Science and Engineering Fair in Minneapolis in March and also one from the Twin Cities Minnesota Regional Science and Engineering Fair at the University of Minnesota in February.

Hugstad-Vaa has been actively engaged in the science field throughout her career at Burnsville High School. In 1990, she launched research competition at the high school and has had over 70 students compete in science fairs at the international level. In 2001, she was chosen to be a representative for the United States to speak at the International Conference on HIV/AIDS in Paris. She received the “Mentor Teacher of the Year” award from the Minnesota Academy of Science in 2005 and began the Advanced Placement Environmental program at the high school in 2006.

In addition to teaching, Hugstad-Vaa has been involved with a variety of extracurricular activities, including science quiz bowl, science club, green team, coloring club and science fair. She has also coached track and field and gymnastics. She plans to retire at the end of the 2016-17 school year.

Hanna Holmstrom

BHS sophomore receives medal at International Science Fair
Sophomore Hanna Holmstrom received the Bronze Medal award at the International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering, and Environment Project Olympiad on May 6 in Houston. She competed against students from across 62 countries.

After presenting her research at the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair in March, Hanna’s project, “A Comparison of Alternative Protein Sources and their Impact on the Environment,” was selected to advance to ISWEEEP, where she competed against top science students from around the world.

Hanna also had the opportunity to meet and speak with top scientists in the fields of energy, engineering and the environment at the competition.

“Competing at ISWEEEP presented me with a wonderful opportunity to meet other students who share my passions and to connect with science professionals,” said Hanna. “I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to compete at that high of a level and am very excited and proud about what I have done with my research in the past year.”

“I am proud of Hanna for the research she conducted on reducing carbon emissions by changing the protein source. Her project was innovative and timely,” said BHS science teacher and mentor Jennifer Hugstad-Vaa. “In addition, her ability to verbally communicate her research was instrumental in her receiving the Bronze Medal.”

District 191 and public libraries collaborate
Students at Burnsville High School and Burnsville Alternative High School will have instant access to the vast resources of two county library systems — without having to worry about overdue fines — through a new collaboration that begins May 22.

Both Dakota County and Scott County public library systems have worked with Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 to make this happen.

“Students will benefit from access to incredible resources including online one-on-one homework help, research tools, eBooks, audiobooks, movies/TV DVDs, music CDs, electronic magazines and print books,” said Doug Johnson, director of technology for District 191. “Student cards will make public library resources a part of every student’s learning experience and leverage existing public resources to support student learning.”

The card can be used online and also in library buildings. The no-fine cards will expire when students graduate.

Students who will be in grades nine to 12 at Burnsville High School and Burnsville Alternative High School next year will be part of the pilot project, which will expand to additional grade levels at some point. All high school students now have Chromebooks as personal learning devices, which give them the ability to maximize use of the public library’s resources.

District 191 graduates will receive diplomas in three ceremonies
Commencement ceremonies will take place in June in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 with graduates receiving diplomas at three locations.

Commencement for students in the BEST transition program will be 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, at Diamondhead Education Center, 200 W. Burnsville Parkway.

Burnsville Alternative High School will present diplomas to students during a 4 p.m. commencement ceremony Wednesday, June 7, in the Mraz Center at Burnsville High School, 600 E. Highway 13.

At Burnsville High School, seniors will receive diplomas during the commencement ceremony 6 p.m. Friday, June 9. Depending on the weather, the ceremony will either take place outside in Pates Stadium next to the school or inside the gym at 600 E. Highway 13, Burnsville. A decision will be made by 4 p.m. that day and posted on the district’s website at

Student speakers at commencement will include Gabriella Anderson, Erika Torralba and Olivia Gislason. Musical performers will be soloist Abigail Herzog and a trio with Richard Diedrick, Davin McGovern and Adam Arbuckle.     Teachers, who have been selected by graduates to announce their names during the ceremony, are Colleen Coleman, Chuck Croatt, MaryLou Dundon, Peter Feig, Andrew Gehrke, Teresa Meuser, Allison Millea, Jeff Nelson, Kevin Silberman and Kathryn Wendling.

BHS seniors’ successes highlighted at ceremony
Scholarships, awards and recognitions were presented to students during the 2017 Senior Honors Recognition Ceremony at Burnsville High School on May 15.

Local businesses, civic organizations and community members donated a total of $89,500 in scholarships for Burnsville High School seniors.

Several scholarships were presented in memory of former teachers, students and community members.

For example, the family of Burnsville community leader Ken Slipka presented two scholarships. Scholarships were also presented in memory of student Taylor Ziebol and teachers Mary Lenhardt, Lon Hitch, Renae Gustafson and Robert Naffziger.

The Class Acts annual teacher variety show raised funding to provide $1,000 scholarships to 11 Burnsville High School seniors this year. Over the past 29 years, Class Acts has raised over $264,000 for scholarships to graduating seniors.

Two alumni, Scott Kadrlik and Joe Reger, presented scholarships from the Hanson Foundation, established to honor retired teacher and coach Dick Hanson.

Each academic department at the high school presented an outstanding senior award. Seniors also received specific awards for their achievements in academics, athletics and the arts.

For the first time, Foundation 191 hosted the event and is overseeing the disbursement of the scholarships. Foundation 191, a not-for-profit organization, began in 2005 to enhance, enrich and expand educational opportunities within the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191.

District 191 teachers present at classroom coding conference
Four teachers in District 191 shared their expertise at the Coding in the Classroom Summit, a statewide conference where teachers are exploring ways to bring computer science opportunities to all students.

Sky Oaks Digital Learning Specialist Lisa Christen and districtwide elementary Media Specialist Katie Salmela presented “Creating and Connecting Content Areas with Codable Robots.”

Lexi Rollie and Beth Raebel, digital learning specialists at Gideon Pond Elementary and Hidden Valley Elementary, respectively, presented on using the website with their students.

As part of Vision One91, digital learning specialists were added at each elementary school to provide students with direct instruction on technology skills and applications, as well as support teachers in using technology for instruction.

With the addition, students in District 191 are now learning coding in all grades K-12.

District 196 high schools name Students of the Year
Teachers and administrators at the four, four-year high schools in Independent School District 196 selected Students of the Year this spring based on their academic performance and participation in the subject areas for which they were chosen. District 196 high school Students of the Year for 2016-17 are listed below by school and subject area.

Apple Valley High School – Sarah Crippes, business; Brooke Lewis, dance, Payton Parmett, English/language arts; Phetmany Keovilaysack, English language learner; Lariah Stewart, family and consumer science; Emilia Galchutt, instrumental music; Henry Dikeman, mathematics; Olivia Feilen, physical education and health; Kegan Hackett, science; Maria Larson, social studies; Joseph Melsha, special services; Alexis Kocken, technology, engineering and manufacturing; Nannaput Nongnuang, visual arts; Elise Kuchera, vocal music; Jalen Thul, work experience; and Ethan Elumba, world languages.

Eagan High School – Samantha Leighton, art; Andrew Rudd, business education; Angela Hugunin, English/language arts; Cameron Ellis, family and consumer sciences; Lucas Duffy, technology and engineering; Sathya Govindarajan, mathematics; Lexi Roelke, instrumental music; Meg Swanson, vocal music; Joe Rohlf, physical education and health; Rachel Knutson, science; Madeleine Roberts, social studies; Brianna Lyon, work experience; Daniela Moreno, world languages; John Streed, counseling; and Mackenzie Cavalier, special services.

Eastview High School – Catthy Trinh, visual arts; Owen Granger, business and marketing; Aunya Mukherjee, English/language arts; Kathryn Hedges, family and consumer sciences; Phil Melroe, technology; Gundeep Singh, mathematics; Jenna Smith, instrumental music; Megan Eden, vocal music; Annie Eckelberg, physical education, wellness and safety education; Ryan Chen, science; Osman Mansur, social studies; Ray Sookchain, work experience; Lorren Testa, world languages; Alex Tweeton, dance; Tommy Men, special services; Al Charles, special services-center based; and Guojian Huang, English language learner.

Rosemount High School – Nnamdi Okorie, art; Joseph Gerner, business education; Isabel Edgar, English/language arts; Ashley Hahnfeldt, family and consumer sciences; Aidan Boyd, industrial technology; Tyler Gonzales, mathematics; Adam Shew, instrumental music; Ellen Bushard, vocal music; Nicole Elias, physical education and health; Laura Rietveld, science; Jenna Eichten, social studies; Taylor Dozois, work experience; Brynn Tonn, world languages; Macie Riste, dance; and Kyra Patterson, special services.

Deerwood Elementary to celebrate 30 years
Current and former students, parents and staff of Deerwood Elementary School are invited to attend the school’s 30th anniversary celebration 6-7:30 p.m. Friday, May 19, in the school’s gymnasium, 1480 Deerwood Drive, Eagan.

The event coincides with Deerwood’s annual ice cream social featuring the Pink Cow ice cream truck and a build-your-own sundae station. Treats are $1 to $4.50 each.

Headed to Japan
A team of Japan Bowl students from Eastview High School has been awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Japan for their third-place finish at the national Japan Bowl competition, which tests knowledge of Japanese language and culture, held in April in Washington, D.C. The trip to Japan, scheduled for this summer, will be paid for by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Kakehashi Project. Because they are representing relations between Japan and the United States, the Eastview students will have lunch with Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado during the trip. Pictured, from left, are: Eastview Japanese teacher Tamaki Yoshitome, students Cat-Thy Trinh, Syed Taha Rizvi and Dana Flores, and Eastview Japanese teacher Laura Moy. Photo submitted.

Lakeville baccalaureate service set June 7
The Lakeville Ministerium will host the annual baccalaureate service 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, at Lakeville North High School. The service is for this year’s graduating seniors from Lakeville and their family and friends. It includes student speakers, music, a message from local clergy as well as the announcement of the Alyssa Ettl Scholarship recipients.

LNHS senior art show
A record 22 students participated in this year’s Lakeville North Senior Art Show at the Lakeville Area Arts Center. The exhibit ran May 2-19. Back row, from left: Max Omdal, Alyssa Hanson, Brady Richards, Sam Joyce, Sophia Koenig, Rob Melde, Emma Gilhousen, Ryan Melin, Emma Dahl, Katie Harfe, Carolyn Rima, Taylor Hager, Remi Sherman, Sydney Betzina. Front row: Ariana Vorwerk, Rebecca Henry, Kaleigh Forbes, Olivia Moates, Lexi Moorhouse. Photo submitted.

A Capitol tour
McGuire Middle School sixth-graders in the Minnesota Studies class took a field trip to St. Paul on May 9. Students toured the newly renovated Capitol and met and talked with Lakeville Mayor Doug Anderson, former mayor and current state Sen. Matt Little, and Rep. Jon Koznick. Photo submitted.


Lakeville North teacher honored at Wartburg College commencement
Lakeville North Spanish teacher Alicia Neutz is one of two outstanding high school teachers to be recognized by Wartburg College during May 28 commencement ceremonies in Waverly, Iowa.

Members of Wartburg’s Class of 2017 nominated high school teachers who significantly influenced their education. The teachers will receive $500 each, and a $500 scholarship will be available to a rising senior who attends Wartburg from the recipient’s high school.

Rachelle Markowitz, a business administration major from Lakeville, said Neutz “valued openness and honesty and got those things in return.

“She challenges herself every day to aspire to be even better, and because of this, is a true role model,” Markowitz wrote in her nomination. “Her innovation and unique teaching styles changed my perspective on learning a language. Without her, I would not have continued studying Spanish, and for that I will forever be grateful.”

Neutz is the adviser for Spanish Club and Panther Prep, an honors organization. She also coached dance teams for 11 years.

Students at North Trail Elementary give a thumbs up on the Tree Trust planting day at their school on May 5. Photo submitted.

Tree Trust helps North Trail build outdoor classroom
Nearly 600 students, teachers, parents and community members turned out at North Trail Elementary in Farmington on May 5 to plant trees and ornamental plants as well as build an outdoor classroom.

The weather was perfect as all classes came outside and learned about tree care and planting. Every student had a chance to participate in the planting of the school’s environmental area.

“Tree Trust has done a wonderful job with this event and throughout the year,” said Katie Belmont, North Trail science teacher and Green Team coordinator. “They have provided a real hands-on learning opportunity for our students. We thank Dakota Electric for making this possible.”

Dakota Electric has sponsored the program at 14 area schools over the years.

“Tree Trust has been an excellent organization to partner with,” said Brenda Kadlec, Dakota Electric’s environmental coordinator. “They handle everything from start to finish, and provide a great educational opportunity for the students.”

Tree Trust helps schools form “Green Teams” made up of teachers, staff, students and parents to set goals, develop a landscape plan and plan for the spring planting day. The organization builds environmental learning into the entire process and in the end schools have an outdoor green space to be enjoyed by all.

Clean Shorts 2017
Rosemount High School FilmLot presents Clean Shorts 2017 in the school’s performing arts center 7 p.m. Saturday, May 20.

Titles include “Of Mice and Morris,” “The Grim Grim Reaper,” “Audition,” “From Justin,” and “Pursuing Justice.”

Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens. Tickets can be purchased at or at the door.

Area students are Triple Threat Award finalists
Eagan High School’s Jack Bechard and Mila New, and Ileri Okikiolu, of Farmington High School, were named Triple Threat Award finalists in the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s 2016-17 Spotlight Education program.

The award recognizes junior or senior high school students who excel in singing, acting and dancing.

The Triple Threat Award finalists will perform at the Spotlight Showcase June 12-13 and the top male and female finalists will be named a Triple Threat Award winner. The four winners will be honored with the Spotlight Education Triple Threat Broadway Experience, an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to meet with industry professionals, participate in workshops and attend Broadway shows.

The Spotlight Showcase is set 7 p.m. June 12-13 at the historic State Theatre in Minneapolis. Bechard and New perform Monday, June 12; Okikiolu performs Tuesday, June 13. The lineup also includes June 12 performances by Apple Valley, Eagan, Eastview and Rosemount high schools. The June 13 lineup includes performances by Farmington, Lakeville South and Lakeville North high schools. Tickets are $18. More information is at