JUNE 2019

On June 7, the Maple Grove Senior High girls’ softball team defeated Stillwater 3-2 to win the Class 4A state title. Senior pitcher Ava Dueck was also recently named Minnesota Gatorade Softball Player of the Year and the 2019 Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year.

Three teams from Osseo Area Schools competed at the 2019 Destination Imagination Global Finals in Kansas City, Missouri, in late May. The “Six Smarties” from Rush Creek Elementary placed third in the world in their Improvisation event; the “Super 7 Sensations,” also from Rush Creek, competed in the same event and placed 20th out of 66 teams. “Gentlemen Boys” from Maple Grove Middle School placed 39th in their middle-level Improvisation category.

Journalist-turned-author Sean Jensen visited with fourth- and fifth-graders at Garden City Elementary on May 21 and spoke about using courage, integrity and perseverance to overcome challenges and achieve dreams.

Former Park Brook Elementary students—who just wrapped their sixth grade year—returned to participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony at French Regional Park on June 8. These students were part of the “Kid Task Force,” a partnership with Three Rivers Park District to help redesign French Regional Park. Students began this process during the 2015-2016 school year when they were third-graders in Renee Pelton’s class. They continued to meet with Three Rivers officials and provide input during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years.

Ninety students from Osseo and Park Center senior high schools went to the state Capitol on May 14 to celebrate and honor Hmong-Lao Veterans Memorial Day. These students were in the Hmong for Native Speakers courses at both schools. Park Center freshman Lindsay Lee was also asked by event organizers to sing the national anthem.

For the third consecutive year, students in the Elm Creek Newspaper Club used their writing talents to support Student Council initiatives at their school. While each paper sells for only 25 cents, the money raised helps fund service projects that support local partners such as Project Linus and Community Emergency Assistance Programs.

Fifth-graders at Fernbrook Elementary had the opportunity to teach STEM lessons to their peers during the school’s first student-led Schoolwide Enrichment Day on May 31. With support from the Fernbrook PTO and under the guidance of teacher Kim LeClaire, more than 60 fifth-graders taught lessons such as Bee-Bot robot coding, magnetic slime, and ice cream making.

A partnership with Girls on the Run Twin Cities gave 27 girls at Park Brook Elementary an opportunity to engage in learning that inspires them to be joyful, healthy and confident. For their service project this spring, the girls created “summer survival kits” to make life a little easier for Osseo Area Learning Center students during their time away from school. This expanded partnership harkens back to one of Girls on the Run’s core values of expressing joy, optimism and gratitude via thoughts, words and actions.

Park Center and Osseo senior high students had the opportunity last month to attend the Latinx Youth Leadership Conference put on by La Oportunidad, a Twin Cities-based nonprofit, and sponsored by a District 279 Foundation grant. More than 50 students and staff participated in this learning opportunity at Augsburg University to develop leadership skills and confidence in advocating for community change.

Osseo Senior High Principal Michael Lehan was named High School Principal of the Year for the Hennepin Division by the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals. This award honors administrators who collaborate with their staff to support student achievement and foster a positive school climate.

The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation named Megan Thompson, a social studies teacher at Osseo Senior High, as one of its 53 James Madison fellows for 2019. This award funds up to $24,000 of each fellow’s course of study toward a master’s degree and is intended to recognize promising and distinguished teachers.

Demetria Poe, kindergarten teacher at Palmer Lake Elementary, found a unique way to empower her scholars this year. With the help of her students, she created “Ms. Poe and the Genius Scholars,” a book that showcases her kindergartners’ artwork and writing and allows them to share their dreams for the future. Poe’s inspiration behind this project was to make writing fun for her students and help them improve their penmanship.

MAY 2019

Bai Ousman Jassy, a junior at Park Center Senior High, is one of 40 students selected to participate in the Career Immersion Program at the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences this summer. This program will put him one step closer to his dream of becoming a physician assistant.

Osseo and Maple Grove senior high schools have once again been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as two of the nation’s “Best High Schools.” Maple Grove previously received this recognition from 2015-2017 and Osseo also made the list in 2018.

Three Maple Grove Senior High students—Stuti Arora, Amulya Maripally and Sahana Vandayar—earned honors from the National Center for Women & Information Technology for their technology and leadership skills. These honors are given to help inspire young women to pursue IT careers.

Congratulations to Grove Area Percussion, our district’s drumline team, for capturing a third consecutive state title on April 6. The team’s “GAP-1” group also competed at the national championships in Dayton, Ohio, and advanced to the semifinal round. Rounding out their accolades, Grove Area Percussion Director Michael Brown was named Instructor of the Year by the Minnesota Percussion Association.

The Crimson Robotics Team from Maple Grove Senior High competed at the FIRST Robotics World Championships in Detroit in late April. The team advanced to the semifinals in the Archimedes division.

Alex Chun, a senior at Maple Grove Senior High, placed second in Class AA Informative Speaking at the 2019 Minnesota State Speech Tournament in mid-April.

Students and staff at Fair Oaks Elementary and Zanewood Community School are thinking green—thanks to recycling grants from Hennepin County. Next school year, Zanewood will increase recycling and begin organics composting in an effort to reduce trash output by 80 percent. Fair Oaks began its recycling program this school year and will begin composting in the fall. The schools join Weaver Lake and Rice Lake elementary schools which have implemented similar initiatives after receiving recycling grants.

Fernbrook Elementary hosted its Kids for the Cure walk on April 25 in support of the Susan G. Komen organization, a nonprofit that works to eradicate breast cancer by advancing research, education, screening and treatment. Students and staff raised more than $18,000 this year—bringing their 19-year total to nearly $186,000.

Student Ambassadors at Basswood Elementary organized a Pennies for Patients drive this spring. Their efforts helped raise more than $2,600 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Thanks to a new partnership with Ford, students at Osseo Senior High can hone their automotive skills on a 2019 engine. Students will also have the opportunity to shadow employees at dealerships and earn industry certificates.

With 2018 Paralympic champion Andrew Kurka in their corner, students in Jennifer Phillips’ second grade class at Fair Oaks Elementary are learning what it means to persevere and achieve their goals. For the second consecutive year, Phillips’ scholars are the only students in Minnesota to benefit from a partnership with Classroom Champions. This organization connects world-class mentors with students in the U.S. and Canada to help children reach their goals. Kurka checks in with Phillips’ class through monthly video messages and two live chats during the school year.

Each year, Osseo Area Retired Educators gives scholarships to one senior from each of our district’s three comprehensive high schools. This year’s recipients of $1,750 scholarships are Ian Lim from Maple Grove Senior High; Michael Hamel from Osseo Senior High; and Jeliah Ogega from Park Center Senior High. Osseo’s Elias Hoff also earned a $500 scholarship from the group.

Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts is hosting a Saturday Academy series this spring that focuses on enrichment activities to help students build problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork and communication skills. In addition to school staff, four high school students from the district are also volunteering their time to work with the students.

Ann Mock, principal at Oak View Elementary, received the 2019 Administrator of the Year award from the Minnesota School Counselors Association on April 29. This award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to improve school counseling services and who demonstrate leadership in their work to promote equity and access to opportunities for all students.

Maple Grove Senior High’s Sue Hochstaetter was named Osseo ESPs Local 7325 Educational Support Professional of the Year. She has more than 30 years of experience as an ESP and also serves on the Wastebasket Revue Board.

APRIL 2019

For the 11th year in a row, Osseo Area Schools has earned a Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation. This honor acknowledges school districts that put forth exceptional efforts to maintain music education as part of the core curriculum. Osseo Area Schools is the only district in Minnesota to receive this recognition every year since 2009.

Nine teams of students from Osseo Area Schools competed at the Minnesota Destination Imagination State Tournament on March 23. At state, three Osseo teams qualified to compete at the DI Global Finals in Kansas City next month. Congratulations to the Six Smarties and Super 7 Sensations from Rush Creek Elementary and The Gentlemen Boys from Maple Grove Middle School for punching their tickets to Global Finals.

Maple Grove Senior High’s Kara Svercl earned a Silver Key for her sculpture, “Thoughts and Prayers,” at the National Scholastic Art and Writing Competition. In addition, Annika Dahl, Gabriel Perkins and Mia Prescott from Maple Grove Senior High, and Kendall Potratz and Lindy Oujiri from Osseo Senior High, had artwork displayed at the National K-12 Ceramic Exhibition in Minneapolis at the end of March.

Known by her teachers and classmates for her positivity and kindness, Osseo Senior High’s Stephanie Torres was featured as a CCX News Standout Student on March 20. Stephanie is a tennis manager and award-winning artist, and she plans to study teaching when she departs for college this fall.

Three Osseo Area Schools students competed at the 2019 Minnesota Girls’ State High School Wrestling Tournament in mid-March. Ro Adeduntan, a ninth-grader at Park Center Senior High, placed second in her weight class, while Brooklyn Middle seventh-grader Olivia Sackor and Osseo Middle eighth-grader Tatiyana Schack each placed fifth in their respective divisions.

The Park Center Senior High boys’ basketball team earned the bronze medal at the state tournament on March 23 after defeating East Ridge by a score of 61-59.

“Gratitude” was the theme of the month for March at Rice Lake Elementary, culminating with the Gratitude Gathering on March 22. At this event, students recognized parent and community volunteers, as well as some district staff members, and sang the song “We are Grateful” to guests.

For their final schoolwide service project of the year, students at Cedar Island Elementary made fleece blankets for the Animal Humane Society and Second Hand Hounds on March 22. This project was made possible thanks to a District 279 Foundation grant.

Zanewood Community School has received a Hennepin County Recycling Grant for the 2019-2020 school year. Students at the school will be reducing trash, increasing recycling and beginning organics composting to reduce overall trash output by 80 percent. This school year, Zanewood’s 5th Grade Green Team has presented to every classroom to show students what items can and cannot be recycled. 

Last month, engineers from community partner Boston Scientific shared their expertise with students at Brooklyn Middle STEAM School during a brown bag lunch event. Held throughout the school year, these events give Brooklyn Middle scholars the opportunity to further explore STEM-related topics and learn from local professionals.

Elizabeth Wald, talented and gifted teacher at Edinbrook and Elm Creek elementary schools, is a recipient of the Educator of Excellence Award from Minnesota-based nonprofit BestPrep. Wald has used BestPrep’s The Stock Market Game for many years to teach students about business, career and financial literacy. Of the 600-plus teachers who participate in BestPrep programs annually, only two percent are recognized with the Educator of Excellence award each year.

The Association of School Business Officials International has once again recognized Osseo Area Schools with a Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting. This award reflects the district’s commitment to transparency and high-quality financial reporting. Osseo Area Schools has earned this award every year since fiscal year 1990. 

MARCH 2019

Park Center Senior High’s FIRST Robotics team has tripled in size this year, providing opportunities for students to build STEM-related skills. In addition, female students participate in nearly half of all building and coding teams within the Park Center robotics program. Follow the district’s social media accounts this spring for robotics updates from all our comprehensive high schools.

Fifty students at Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts showcased on-stage and behind-the-scenes talents earlier this month during their production of “Junie B. Jones, Jr.: The Musical.”

Several teams and individuals from Osseo Area Schools participated in state tournaments this winter. Some highlights include:

  • Nordic skiers CJ Young (14th) and Charlie Caven (110th) from Maple Grove and Nicholas Kjome (93rd) from Osseo competed at the boys’ state meet in mid-February.
  • Nordic skiers Elizabeth Mattson (Park Center, 25th) and Christina Bolcer (Maple Grove, 30th) competed at the girls’ state meet on Feb. 14.
  • Maple Grove alpine skier Blake Quall finished 70th at state, while Kendall Quall placed 48th in the girls’ event.
  • The Maple Grove Senior High gymnastics team finished sixth at state; junior Nadia Abid finished sixth in the all-around and third on the balance beam.
  • Park Center Senior High gymnast Annika Lee finished 34th on the vault and 42nd on the floor exercise at state.
  • The dance team from Maple Grove Senior High placed fourth in jazz and sixth in high kick at the state competition.
  • The Crimson girls’ hockey team finished fifth at state.
  • The Maple Grove Senior High girls’ basketball team finished sixth at state.
  • Eight wrestlers from the district competed at state in early March, including Westyn Doubler, Evan Hull, Max Johnson, Gavin Peterson (fifth place) and Dylan Schultz from Maple Grove and Jacob Meissner, Isaac Omland and Jagger Schack from Osseo.
  • The district’s CI- and PI-Adapted floor hockey teams each placed fifth at the state tournament on March 16.
  • The Park Center Senior High and Maple Grove Senior High boys’ basketball teams won their respective section championships and begin state tournament play on March 20.

In addition to these accomplishments, the competitive cheerleading team from Maple Grove Senior High placed 13th at the national championships.

Mannon McMahon from Maple Grove Senior High; Kelsie Sealock from Osseo Senior High; and Elizabeth Mattson from Park Center Senior High were named 2019 Athena Award winners in Osseo Area Schools, recognizing their outstanding athletic accomplishments. All three women will join other winners from metro high schools at the 47th Annual Minneapolis Athena Awards luncheon in May.

Osseo Senior High’s Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir performed at the Minnesota Music Educators Association event on Feb. 15. Osseo was the only school to have two groups selected to perform at the event. They joined 30 other music groups from across Minnesota.

All students and staff at Garden City Elementary received superhero-themed t-shirts last week with the school’s slogan of #YesICan. This slogan seeks to empower students to achieve their dreams. Funding for these shirts was provided by community partner Jim Soderberg, who owns apartment complexes near Garden City.

This winter, students at the Osseo Area Learning Center partnered with professionals from CONTRA-TIEMPO, a Los Angeles-based dance company, to learn how to pursue joy through salsa dancing. This opportunity for students was sponsored by the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

March is Music in Our Schools Month, and students at Zanewood Community School recently enjoyed storytelling and music from performing arts trio Siama’s Congo Roots. During their performances, the group discussed Siama’s upbringing in Congo and showed off a variety of traditional African instruments. This opportunity for Zanewood students was made possible thanks to Classical Minnesota Public Radio’s Class Notes Artists program.

Lucas Staker, fifth-grade teacher at Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts, is among 40 educators statewide to advance as semifinalists in the 2019 Minnesota Teacher of the Year competition. In the weeks ahead, a panel of community leaders will narrow the field once again to a group of 10 finalists. This year’s winner will be announced on May 5.



Six Osseo Area Schools students who excel in academics, athletics and the arts have been named 2019 “Triple A” winners at their respective high schools. They are: Tyler Burkum and Charlotte Rolfs from Maple Grove Senior High; Eli Barlue and Hannah Carmon from Osseo Senior High; and Shontez Hester and Elizabeth Mattson from Park Center Senior High. These students now move on to the statewide competition; winners will be announced this spring.

Adrianna Robertson, who attends the Osseo Area Learning Center, was featured as a CCX News Standout Student on Feb. 6. In addition to her high school studies, Robertson is also taking classes at North Hennepin Community College. She is leaving her mark on the OALC by painting a large, anti-bullying mural that she hopes will inspire others at the school. 

Another District 279 student was recently featured on CCX News, too. Maple Grove Senior High’s Ian Lim was the station’s Standout Student on Dec. 19. Lim is a young entrepreneur who also participates in Maple Grove’s Junior Achievement club. He plans to attend Stanford University next fall to study computer science, economics or product design.

Students Connecting Through International Service, a program that provides elementary students in Osseo Area Schools with a chance to help their peers in Sasabe, Mexico, was recently awarded a Local Government Innovation Award from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School. Students Connecting through International Service was one of only five statewide winners in the school category.

Thirty-one Park Brook Elementary students participated in this year’s Minne-Loppet on Feb. 2, in Minneapolis. Students enjoyed dinner together and then spent two hours at the Luminary Loppet that evening. Park Brook Elementary has a strong partnership with The Loppet Foundation, which also teaches students at the school learn how to cross country ski during physical education classes.

Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts and Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math & Technology School have reason to celebrate this month. Both schools recently earned the 2019 National Award of Excellence from Magnet Schools of America.

Stationed in Kuwait with the U.S. Army, Selena Zavala had a big surprise for her brother, Estiven, and his Park Brook Elementary classmates last month. On Jan. 3, Selena and her fellow soldiers raised the U.S. flag at their army base in honor of Park Brook. In a video message to Estiven and his peers, Selena encouraged students to stay positive and work hard. The U.S. flag and a certificate commemorating the ceremony will be displayed at Park Brook later this year.


Elm Creek Elementary students proudly participated in their third-annual Great Kindness Challenge this winter. Members of the school’s Kindness Club used this challenge to reinforce important themes like kindness, caring and respect in their school community. The week culminated with a door decorating contest; in the end, Carolyn Olson’s third-grade class was victorious with their kindness quilt and “Hands of Kindness” displays.


On Jan. 4, middle and high school orchestra students in Osseo Area Schools came together for the first-ever Fiddle Festival. This opportunity was organized by music teachers Matt Caron (Maple Grove Senior), Jody Kinneberg (Maple Grove Middle) and Heidi Stodola (Osseo Middle), and allowed seventh-grade orchestra students to learn from and perform with high school musicians. After a full day of learning and rehearsing, the clinic culminated with an evening concert of fiddle songs.

The recent cold spell hasn’t hindered creativity at Park Brook Elementary. This winter, the school’s C-Lab, or Makerspace, has been moved outdoors to provide students with opportunities to create and collaborate with each other. This photo shows one frozen creation made of food coloring and a variety of icy shapes. 


Congratulations to Betsy Eernisse, second-grade teacher at Fernbrook Elementary, and Lucas Staker, fifth-grade teacher at Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts, for being named candidates for the 2019 Minnesota Teacher of the Year award. They join 166 other educators who will vie for the title. In the weeks ahead, a panel of community leaders will name a group of semifinalists and finalists. The winner will be announced on May 5.



Giovanni Delgado-Ortiz, a senior at Park Center Senior High, was featured as a CCX News Standout Student on Dec. 6. Gio is a student in the International Baccalaureate program at Park Center and is in the top five percent of his class. He plans to study medicine at the University of Minnesota next fall.

Well-being initiatives at Crest View and Fair Oaks elementary schools received a boost this year thanks to $1,000 “Game On” grants. The grants for Crest View and Fair Oaks were provided through Action for Healthy Kids and funded by Cargill and Saputo, respectively. At Crest View, the grant money allowed Physical Education Teacher Stacey Nelson to purchase pedometers to help students reach their wellness goals.


Cedar Island Elementary students continued their yearlong community service efforts by creating bags for cancer patients at Hope Lodge on Dec. 14. Throughout the day, older and younger Cedar Island students partnered to create 265 bags.

This holiday season, 58 families in Osseo Area Schools who are experiencing homelessness were supported through donations of toys, clothing and gift cards by employees at our community partner Boston Scientific. District staff and school board members were on hand to thank Boston Scientific employees and receive the donations in early December.

On Dec. 6, Fair Oaks Elementary received a $10,000 donation from Luther Brookdale Honda. Jim Haertzen, the company’s general manager and a Fair Oaks alumnus, presented the check to Principal Phil Sadler. The money will be used to support students and families in a variety of ways: funding field trips, STEM nights, books for students and more.


The numbers are in: the eighth-annual Reading is Fun 5K Run/Walk on Aug. 11 raised $11,000 for media centers throughout Osseo Area Schools. This money will be used to purchase resources that help students learn every day.


Al Nolen, a student management specialist at Park Center Senior High, was featured in a WCCO-TV segment earlier this month. As a former star basketball player at the University of Minnesota, Nolen is using the lessons he learned on and off the court to inspire, encourage and support a group of Park Center sophomores.



The CI-Adapted Soccer team in Osseo Area Schools continued its strong season by placing third at the state tournament in mid-November. The team defeated Chaska by a score of 5-3 on Nov. 17 to claim the bronze medal. The PI-Adapted Soccer team also competed at state. After an opening round loss, the PI team battled back to win its next game and place sixth overall.

Earlier this month, the girls’ swimming and diving team at Maple Grove Senior High added a section championship to its list of impressive accomplishments this season. The team also qualified six swimmers and one diver to the state tournament two weeks ago: Caitlin Aarseth, Elizabeth Altman, Maddie Bast, Morgan Bosacker, Lily Chabica, Abbey Cornelius and Sammy Soller. Osseo Senior High swimmer Amber Croonquist also competed at state, finishing 13th in the 100-yard butterfly.

Zoe Adkins, a freshman at Maple Grove Senior High, returned to the girls’ state tennis tournament last month and came away with the Class AA bronze medal in the singles event. This was her third consecutive appearance at the state tournament. 

A community partner of Park Brook Elementary recently received an impressive honor from the International Ski Federation (FIS). The Loppet Foundation’s “Minne-Loppet,” which helps students at Park Brook and other local schools learn how to cross country ski, was awarded third place in the world in the FIS “Bring Children to Snow” campaign. The Loppet Foundation will expand its outreach in Osseo Area Schools to include Crest View Elementary this year.


Several high school students from Maple Grove, Osseo and Park Center were part of an event on Nov. 8 at the Osseo-Maple Grove American Legion to celebrate Armistice Day. At this event, the students reported on their experiences at statewide American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary events this summer. Students who attended Boys State and Girls State events in summer 2018 include: Adam Gardner, Lidia Hadera, Griffin St. Martin, Kate Ostaffe, Michael Ostaffe, Xander Ostaffe (Maple Grove); Michael Hamel, Davin Hegland, Rebecca Luebke, Emily Rossing and Isabelle VanHatten (Osseo); and Envy Agbonkhese, Koffi Amegble, Sade Berrouet and Jacquelyn Crandall (Park Center).

Students at Cedar Island Elementary collected more than 2,200 books for Hospitality House Youth Development, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that serves inner-city youth and their families. The school’s partnership with this organization began this year when Principal Dan Wald connected with Katie Wall, a former fourth-grade teacher at his school. In addition to the books, the Cedar Island PTO donated $150 to Hospitality House for the purchase of book shelves.

Last month, students and staff at Maple Grove Middle School came together after school to make 600 sandwiches for people experiencing homelessness. This community service project was part of the Lights on Afterschool national campaign. 

More than 150 guests—including local veterans and active duty soldiers—attended a Veterans Day program at Fernbrook Elementary on Nov. 12. Colonel Troy J. Soukup, who is also a Fernbrook parent, was the guest speaker at the event, and students then performed eight songs for those in attendance.


In late October, fifth-graders from Crest View Elementary and their classroom teachers attended a three-day camp at the Audubon Center of the North Woods. Students learned from naturalists who led team building, a high ropes challenge, a survival class and other outdoor activities. Students also learned about the people and wildlife native to the area. Kelly Booth, a counselor at Crest View, applied for a grant from the Audubon Center to help make this opportunity possible.


Staff Development Assessment Specialist Julie Ostlund was invited to review kindergarten screening assessment materials in Washington, D.C. in January by World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA), a national leader in developing resources for multilingual learners. This is a great honor and opportunity for Julie to work with experts across the nation to create high-quality assessment materials that are effective, age-appropriate and culturally responsive. Julie works with multilingual children and their families in Early Childhood and Family Education in Osseo Area Schools. She helped develop the district’s early childhood English language learner (ELL) program and assists other Minnesota school districts as they develop their own early childhood ELL programs.


Four students from Osseo Area Schools were named National Merit Commended students last month. Maple Grove Senior High’s Nicole Campbell, Dhruv Gupta and Brenna Saladin and Osseo Senior High’s Eli Hoff received this honor after excelling on the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in 2017. These four scholars may now become candidates for special college scholarships sponsored by organizations and businesses.

Thirty-six students from Park Brook Elementary laced up their sneakers on Oct. 6 and completed the Twin Cities 5K in St. Paul. Park Brook provides students with an opportunity to focus on fitness throughout the year, including the chance to participate in this annual event.

For the 11th year in a row, Osseo Area Schools had a record number of students earn AP Scholar recognition from the College Board. Our three comprehensive high schools had a combined total of 144 AP Scholars, 40 AP Scholars with Honor, and 48 AP Scholars with Distinction. Class of 2018 Maple Grove graduates Daniel Du, Lucas Jackson, Christopher Kwon, Mathias Martinez-Zamora and Alec Nilson and 2018 Osseo Senior High grad Gabrielle Holton earned National AP Scholar honors.

Hajaysen Kwateh, a senior at Osseo Senior High, was featured as a CCX News Standout Student on Oct. 10. “Jay,” as she’s known among her friends and teachers, has a full course load of AP classes and is a positive role model and leader in soccer, basketball, track, and band. She also serves as a student ambassador and focus leader at Osseo. After high school, Jay plans to pursue a career as a medical examiner.

The Maple Grove Senior High girls’ soccer team defended their Section 5AA championship on Oct. 16 with 3-2 victory over Centennial. Crimson player Brenna Saladin scored a hat trick and netted the game-winning goal in overtime.

In other state tournament news, three members of the Maple Grove Senior High girls’ tennis team are racking up more hardware this fall. Zoe Adkins is the Section 5AA singles runner-up, while the team of Maria Shoults and Victoria Epshteyn won the Section 5AA doubles title. All three student-athletes begin state tournament play on Oct. 25 at the University of Minnesota Baseline Tennis Center.

Staff, students and parents at several schools, including Rice Lake Elementary and Basswood Elementary, contributed to positive school communities by decorating the sidewalks at their sites for the annual Kindness in Chalk event. October is National Bullying Prevention Month in the United States, and the positive messages and inspiring pictures helped reinforce a theme of kindness throughout the district.

More than 650 students who participate in orchestra, band or choir from Maple Grove, Osseo and Park Center senior high schools and Osseo Middle School experienced a performance of the world-renowned Minnesota Orchestra at Osseo Senior High on Sept. 28. The concert was designed specifically for secondary students, and the famed music director Osmo Vänskä conducted the orchestra. Afterward, members of the Minnesota Orchestra answered students’ questions and inspired them to stay involved with music.

Strong community partnerships have given students at Zanewood Community School a chance to take their learning outside. Thanks to supplies donated by Hands On Twin Cities and the help of 45 volunteers from Boston Scientific, Zanewood now boasts an outdoor classroom where students can expand their learning and dig deeper into the school’s focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). The outdoor classroom is available to all classes at Zanewood and features custom-built benches, flower boxes and an archway.

After 10 Maple Grove Senior High students visited Colombia for a week last summer, they had a chance to play hosts to 15 of their new friends in early October. During their time here, the Colombian students created classroom presentations for all Maple Grove students who are studying Spanish. They also prepared a 45 minute song-and-dance presentation. This cross-cultural exchange encouraged peace and built understanding between people of Colombia and the U.S.

In recognition of their Positive Behavior Intervention Systems theme of friendship this month, all students at Rice Lake Elementary decorated puzzle pieces that celebrate what it means to be a friend. Each student’s puzzle piece fit together in one large schoolwide display.

Educators from Palmer Lake Elementary and Osseo Middle School are featured in a new video from UNICEF where they discuss inclusion, equity and a personalized approach to instruction. The video highlights a partnership between the University of Minnesota and Armenian State Pedagogical University, and includes a segment on inclusion in U.S. schools. By participating in this project, the District 279 teachers contributed their knowledge and expertise to boost a greater global understanding of inclusive education best practices.

Edinbrook Elementary Principal Aaron Krueger welcomed 30 teaching students from the University of North Dakota to his school on Oct. 8 and 9 for an up close look into elementary education. Now in its fourth year, this partnership was designed to provide support to college students who will soon be seeking their first teaching jobs. During their time at the school, students observed the work of Edinbrook’s teachers and participated in a Q&A with Krueger to ask questions about everything from curriculum to applying and interviewing for teaching jobs.

Ann Mock, principal at Oak View Elementary, is a woman of her word. After students met their $15,000 fundraising goal at the school’s Fun Run in September, Mock kept her promise to camp out on Oak View’s roof on Oct. 4. While the evening was chilly, she stayed warm in her tent and even read students bedtime stories (via video) before settling in for the evening.



Osseo Senior High students Ty Hill and Kyle Konsela placed fifth out of 63 teams at the Student Angler Tournament Trail “Tournament of Champions” fishing competition at Lake Minnetonka on Sept. 9. Both students are members of the Osseo Senior High Fishing Club.

More than 60 students at Park Center Senior High shared the stories behind their favorite foods in a new book called The Cultural Dish: Behind Every Dish is a Story. Students in the Hmong for Native Speakers and Spanish for Native Speakers courses at Park Center collaborated on the book. This project was made possible through an Education Minnesota Foundation classroom grant, and it is one way student authors are able to preserve their families’ history and culture.

Forty-five seniors at Osseo Senior High can now call themselves members of the school’s “30 Club.” These students scored a 30 or higher on at least one section of the ACT.

Five individuals make up the inaugural class of inductees into the Maple Grove Senior High Hall of Fame. Craig Hansen, Chad Morse, Tia Battle Osei, Sonja DuToit Tengblad and CJ Woodrow will be recognized during a halftime ceremony at the Crimson’s homecoming football game on Sept. 21.

At Osseo Senior High, a group of seven former athletes and coaches will be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame this year. They are: Jennifer Bowman, Kelly Bowman Stuntz, Keith Lorenson, Ken Thompson, Dennis Heinen, Julian Morris and Tom Tripp.


A group of former Park Brook Elementary students recently saw their hard work pay off. During the 2015-2016 school year, Renee Pelton’s third-grade class at Park Brook partnered with Three Rivers Park District to help redesign the play area at French Regional Park. Throughout the past three years, students met regularly with Three Rivers officials to provide input on play structures; choose equipment colors; and learn about the construction process. The new play area opened this summer and a grand opening celebration is in the works.

Student Ambassadors at North View Middle School collaborated with their advisor to help design some flexible seating classrooms at the school. Seating options in these classrooms include standing desks, high top tables, stability ball chairs, wobble chairs, tall stools and more. Flexible seating classrooms allow learners to choose the type of seating that works best for them and help promote community through choice. Some North View students have also said the flexible seating contributes to a more welcoming environment and helps them feel less stressed.


This fall, community partner Boston Scientific is sponsoring First Tech Challenge robotics at Park Center Senior High. Thanks to a $3,000 grant from the organization, four teams of students will be supported: three co-ed teams and one all-female team. The all-female team is one way Park Center is boosting engagement and retention of young women in its STEM programs by helping them build skills and confidence to take on larger roles on future co-ed robotics teams.


This summer, Maple Grove Senior High teacher Stacy Backstrom organized a group of staff to participate in the Maple Grove Triathlon. This event gave many staff members the opportunity to step outside their comfort zones to achieve their goals—just like they inspire their students to go after their own goals every day. Triathletes from Maple Grove Senior High included Principal Bart Becker, Stacy Backstrom, Rob Bennett, Peter Buller, Paula and Matt Caron, Pam Hennen, Jackie Howitson, Aaron Kadera, Per Lee, Erik Malm, Lara Peterson, Tamiko Thomas and Kim Zopfi.

Each summer, many of our principals participate in National Night Out events in communities throughout the district. This is one way school leaders in Osseo Area Schools connect with district residents and promote strong school and community partnerships. One of those leaders, Elm Creek Elementary Principal Beth Ness, attended the City of Osseo’s “Night to Unite” event on Aug. 7.

Our Instructional Systems staff processed and prepared more than 7,500 Chromebooks for distribution to students as part of our Digital Learning for All version 2 refresh. More than 400 licensed staff at our high schools received Chromebook training upon device delivery. Students in grades 9-12 received their Chromebooks during the first two weeks of school.



Weaver Lake Elementary: A Science, Math & Technology School has been named a nationally certified magnet school by Magnet Schools of America. Weaver Lake is among 21 schools in 12 states to receive this honor this year. To become nationally certified, schools had to complete an intensive evaluation process and provide specific examples of how they are promoting diversity, closing the achievement gap, encouraging community involvement, and more. Weaver Lake will be recognized at Magnet Schools of America’s annual conference next April.

After a rigorous, two-year process, three graduates from Park Center Senior High’s Class of 2018 earned their International Baccalaureate Diplomas this summer. In order to earn their diplomas, Ziyne Abdo, Daija Hobin and Henry Huynh were each required to complete challenging coursework, take exams in six different areas, participate in community service learning projects, and write a 4,000 word essay.

Earlier this summer, Maple Grove Senior High’s Kevin Jacobson placed eighth at the National Speech & Debate Tournament in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Jacobson competed in the Congressional Debate category. He is the first Maple Grove student to ever qualify for the finals at the national competition.

Tasha Feigh, an Osseo Senior High alumna, competed in gymnastics at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Washington, this summer. During the course of the competition, Feigh earned gold medals on the vault and uneven bars, and silver medals on the balance beam, floor exercise, and in the all-around.

Meredith Haakenson, a 2018 graduate of Maple Grove Senior High, was named the High School Girls Player of the Year by United Soccer Coaches. Haakenson was selected for this honor from a group of more than 50 female student-athletes who earned High School Scholar All-American awards. She is now a member of the women’s soccer team at the University of Michigan.


In early August, First Student held its second annual “Stuff the Bus” event at Park Center Senior High. During this event, community members were encouraged to donate school supplies to help students in need in our district. When the event concluded, enough supplies were donated to fill 150 bags for students.


Thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, Park Center Senior High students will have opportunities to prepare for future careers through paid internships with local businesses. The district will share the $95,000 grant with five other partners to form one of five Youth Skills Training pilot programs in the state. Through this program, students who are enrolled in designated classes at Park Center can apply for information technology-related internships with local businesses.


Educational support professionals from Osseo Area Schools donated nearly 1,300 books to Freedom Schools participants this summer. Freedom Schools provides students with reading enrichment to help curb summer learning loss and close achievement gaps. The ESPs aimed to collect at least 300 books—enough for each student to take one home—but they far surpassed that goal and, as a result, each student was given three books instead.  

Pollen, an organization that strives to build community and create change through storytelling, honored Ramona Kitto Stately with its “50 Over 50” recognition for 2018. Stately, one of the district’s American Indian culture and language specialists, was honored as a community leader for the support she provides to students, including ensuring that all graduate from high school.

Osseo Area Schools received the Employer of the Year award from BrookLynk on August 17. BrookLynk is a local organization that partners with businesses to coordinate internships for youth in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center, providing them with experience and support to help develop pathways to college and career. This summer, 12 interns worked with Osseo Area Schools in human resources, I2T2, custodial, Freedom Schools, Kidstop, and business office roles.