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Student involvement, arts and bullying discussed at NY Mills School Board meeting

Representing the student council, student Lauren Bach addressed the New York Mills School Board with initiatives to promote student involvement and progressive steps towards leadership.

The student council is working towards their service project for the year. A proposed idea was a "lock-in," in which students perform three hours of community service via janitorial work and school cleanup.

Bach said that there is now an increasing focus with forming and solidifying bonds between older and younger students.

She also brought about a teacher-proposed idea of making the first day of school more interesting for students. Planning and ideas will begin in the spring.

Arts and education

The Perpich Center for Arts in Education is initiating a $700,000 fiscal year 2010-2011 movement towards professional development and overarching goals to promote literacy and education through the arts.

Some of the items include incorporating arts as a vital strategy for improving learning and teaching, assessment literacy, teacher professional learning and the promotion of arts in math, reading, writing and social studies.

State legislature had requested research-based facilitation of these applications.

Extending media arts to K-12 students, instead of high school students, is also a priority.

References to technology, health and safety will be included in all of the arts. There will also be measurable learning about native Minnesotans and tribal culture and history.

"A person can't walk into our building without seeing something great within five minutes," High School Principal Blaine Novak said.

Learning through entertainment

Last year, students worked on the 1950s and focused this year on the 1970s for their fall musical, "Disco Inferno."

Teacher Jason Boe noted that students have been working diligently at their studies. In one of his psychology classes, he addressed the idea of memory and the focus music has on the mind.

This study was a crossover replica of a Kansas State University study.

Students worked with ballads of the 1970s to find crossovers as retrieval clues for find mood and state related memories ranging from album covers, lyrics and tones.

In a related program, students have also been working in the technological areas with Photoshop, watercolor, acrylic, and collage re-creation based off of personal interviews.

Principal Novak extended his thanks to all participants in the Fall Musical event.


The School Board also discussed the issues related with bullying and the five steps in which they are approaching the problem.

Students will first receive a warning, which Novak noted is typically not reaching the home but remains on file in the school.

The next steps include detention, suspension, suspension with a parent or guardian conference and a special setting removal of the student, which the board noted has not yet occurred at the school.

Cameron said that the "first report of an incident could move a student immediately to the third step" of suspension.

Rachel Grieger asked the board if there has been any implementation of parent notification on the classification of bullying.

"What one person could not worry about could be devastating to another," she said.

Novak and Dean of Students Travis Hensch noted that although even the legal definition is vague, there is still a case-by-case judgment call.

Novak said that incidences of bullying are occurring "more often than not in unsupervised areas" such as hallways, the gymnasium, or playground.

"It seems a daily occurrence," Hensch said. "At least a dozen a day."

Other news

Six hours of parent-teacher conferences were held and had "at best, a marginal turnout," Novak said.

K2 Elementary will have their December Concert on the Monday, Dec. 6, and students in grades 3-6 will have theirs on Monday, Dec. 13.

"The annual Tree Festival is coming up and it is something that does involve us, and we want the community to be aware," Hensch said.

Shared Services with Perham are working very well, according to Grieger. Staff members in both districts are discussing having a calendar in which teachers can integrate each others' ideas and have more staff development time.

"We're not consolidating, we're cooperating," she said. "We're working together and helping each other get better."

The next School Board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 20 in the Media Center.