Star News » Education The Star News covers community news, sports, current events and provides advertising and information for Elk River, Otsego, Rogers and Zimmerman, Minnesota and their surrounding areas. Mon, 02 Mar 2015 13:00:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Bezek recommends Otsego fields be done; School Board will take closer look Monday Fri, 27 Feb 2015 21:34:46 +0000 by Jim Boyle


Superintendent Mark Bezek came to Monday’s Elk River Area School Board meeting with an update on proposed athletic fields in Otsego and a recommendation to proceed with a project.

Members of the Elk River Area School Board, however, said not so fast.

Bezek wasn’t asking for a vote that night, but School Board Chairwoman Jane Bunting made it clear the School Board would take a closer look at the district’s overall plans for capital budget and also explore if there would be any options to phase the project in without having to commit nearly $500,000 all at once.

School Board Member Sue Farber agreed it would be good to take a look, but she also noted the project has been left hanging the entire time she has been on board since first getting elected.

“It gets brought up and put on the back burner every time,” she said.

Bezek laid out a case that this project — which started out at $50,000 for irrigation and mushroomed in size and scope upon closer review — makes sense to tackle now.

But he also defended his staff for doing due diligence on it throughout the years. The project was first talked about before he became superintendent and several business managers for the school district have had their hands on it.

“We have a very good relationship with many of our municipalities,” Bezek said. “Some are not as easy to work with. I don’t want our people to take a hit when they have not been the easiest to work with. It takes two sides to make things work.”

Greg Hein, the most recent executive director of business services to speak to the project, told members of the School Board $50,000 had been written into a capital budget plan but has never made it onto a capital improvement plan.

He said it had been talked about at the building level, but once the price of the project shot up it didn’t stay there and subsequently has languished.

A civil engineer has come up with a plan for reorienting one of the fields to make it easier to maintain the fields. There will be grading needed to do that and one field will have to be made from scratch. There are also plans for a paved trail and green space for soccer and lacrosse games.

Hein recommended that the district go back to the Otsego city officials and hammer out the details of a joint partnership that would highlight what the district is investing in, who would maintain it and who would schedule it for use.

Hein said the district’s grounds crews are staffed razor thin, and he would like to see Otsego maintain the fields as has been suggested.

“That could be their contribution,” Hein said. “Otsego offered to do the scheduling, but that would not be wise.”

Another expense will be an increased water bill from the proposed sprinkling system for the fields and the areas leading up to the school that are already watered in the summer and look typical of other schools throughout the school district.

The field space is another story.

“In the depths of summer this area we’re talking about looks more like death valley than a lush, green watered prairie,” Bezek said. “My recommendation is to go forward. I think its a good investment.”

Bezek said the district has several ways it could fund the project, and it will help the  school’s physical education program and will serve the community.

One of the sources is a $2.1 million in the capital fund balance that will continue to be fed. Bezek said in the years that have gone by, the school district has added a track in Zimmerman and put bleachers in Rogers.

“We haven’t invested in a project like this in Otsego,” he said.

The School Board will take the matter up at a 6 p.m. work session at the School District Office, 815 Highway 10, Elk River.

]]> 0
Otsego teacher one of 30 semifinalists for Minnesota Teacher of the Year Wed, 25 Feb 2015 03:52:59 +0000 The field of possible candidates for this year’s Minnesota Teacher of the Year honor has been narrowed to 30, and the list includes Kathryn Oberg,  a first grade teacher at Otsego Elementary School.

A selection panel of 24 community leaders chose the semifinalists from an initial field of 123 candidates from across the state. The panel will meet again in late March to select about 10 finalists from among the group of semifinalists.

The current Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Tom Rademacher, will announce his successor at a banquet May 3 at the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Bloomington.

Education Minnesota, the 70,000-member statewide educators union, organizes and underwrites the Teacher of the Year program. Candidates include pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers from public or private schools.

The Minnesota Teacher of the Year Program also receives support from the following organizations: The SMARTer Kids Foundation, the Radisson Blu Mall of America, the Harvard Club of Minnesota Foundation, United Educators Credit Union, McDonald’s Restaurants of Minnesota, TruStone Financial and Education Minnesota ESI.

]]> 0
Hennen-Burr awarded for her leadership in Elk River Area School District Mon, 23 Feb 2015 21:42:02 +0000 Dr. Jana Hennen-Burr, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services for Elk River Area School District, has been named an Outstanding Central Office Leader by the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA).

Dr. Hennen-Burr will be honored for exhibiting a willingness to risk, possessing strong communications skills, being a progressive change agent and having high expectations for self and others at a statewide recognition ceremony to be held at the MASA/MASE Spring Conference, March 12-13, 2015, at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park.

Dr. Hennen-Burr has demonstrated exemplary professional and organizational leadership. Under her leadership, district test scores have shown steady improvement, narrowing the achievement gap. Dr. Hennen-Burr’s dedication and perseverance has lead to the implementation of all-day kindergarten, online learning options, College in the Schools and AVID, Professional Learning Communities (PLC), and two STEM magnet schools. As an advocate of personal development and professional growth, Dr. Hennen-Burr supports her educational leaders through conversations and dialogues during principal meetings, clustered strategic planning, and quality training for successful implementation and sustainability of initiatives.

In a letter of nomination for Dr. Hennen-Burr, Elk River Area School District Superintendent Mark Bezek wrote, “Jana is well-respected and well-known within the Elk River Schools community. She is optimistic, has an innate sense of purpose, a natural ability to lead, and a heartfelt commitment to education.”

Dr. Hennen-Burr has served the Elk River Area School District for nearly twenty years. Dr. Hennen-Burr’s holds a doctorate in education from Hamline University, a master’s degree in special education, a superintendent license, and a bachelor’s degree in special education from St. Cloud State University.

Each year, MASA recognizes members for their contribution to public education. MASA is a professional organization of Minnesota’s school leaders whose members include over 900 public education and non-public superintendents, directors of special education, curriculum and technology leaders, other central office administrators, service providers, business partners and retirees.

]]> 0
News release: DNR youth hunter safety training offered Mon, 23 Feb 2015 21:24:46 +0000 The Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office will host a youth hunter safety program from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 3 at the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office Range and Training Center, 13880 Business Center Drive, Elk River, Door J.

This is the “Field Day” for students who have completed the online hunter course at Students must be at least 11 years old before the date of the Field Day.

Field Day being offered

Field Day being offered

A parent or guardian must attend first 30 minutes of the Field Day. Students must bring Field Day Voucher, copy of birth certificate, sack lunch, a blaze orange article of clothing (i.e. hat, cap, or vest) to the Field Day. Students must make and bring a survival kit (info on survival kit is found on the on-line course) that can be carried in a fanny pack or a small back pack to the Field Day. Participants are also asked to dress for the weather.

Firearms for testing will be provided. Do not bring any firearms to the training.

To register please email the student’s name, date of birth, address, parent/guardian name & emergency contact number to:

Pre-registration is required (no walk-ins). For questions, please contact Paul Novotny at 763-765-3511.

Class size is limited and will fill up quickly.

]]> 0
Career fair set to light fire of exploration Sat, 21 Feb 2015 12:00:30 +0000 by Jim Boyle


The questions about what a child wants to do when they grow up start at a young age, but at what point each person starts looking into their career options varies greatly.

Submitted photo  Jennifer Grant, founder of Inspiring Radiance and author of ‘Dying to be Good Enough,’ was recently interviewed by KARE 11 reporter Bryan Piatt on KARE 11 Sunrise.

Submitted photo
Jennifer Grant, founder of Inspiring Radiance and author of ‘Dying to be Good Enough,’ was recently interviewed by KARE 11 reporter Bryan Piatt on KARE 11 Sunrise.

Some figure out their path early. Others put it off, but manage to find their calling. And many end up circling back as adults to consider what will be a better fit for them — be it financially and/or to find something more rewarding.

District 728 Community Education hopes to light a fire under youth in ninth, 10th and 11th grades with its first Career Exploration Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Handke Center, 1170 Main St. in Elk River.

The thought behind the event is to get youth thinking, inquiring and taking action about their future careers sooner rather than later, and to start the process by learning from others who have arrived at their chosen career destination.

The free event will feature representatives from dozens of professions along with break-out sessions and chances to talk to people in various fields about potential job shadowing opportunities.

Jered Sweet, a software engineer for a Shakopee firm, will be there to share what his job is like and what prompted him to go after a career like software engineering. He will also share what it takes to tackle such an objective.

“I feel that the best time to start learning about this career path is in high school,” he said. “I was first exposed to software-related work after taking AP Computer Science as a senior, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I did not decide to enroll in that class.”

The employee of Rosemount Inc., a branch of Emerson that also has Tescom in Elk River, has specific advice on how to hone in on a software engineering career how to go about testing one’s interest in such a field.

Jay Grammond and Kristi Waite, who work for District 728 Community Education, are the brains behind the event. It wasn’t an idea they concocted in their offices at the Handke Center or one they stole from another community education program. It surfaced casually as they talked about experiences with their own children that convinced them of the need for such an event.

Grammond’s oldest child is a high school student. Waite’s oldest child is a college sophomore. Both say college fairs are good, but point out they are a vehicle for school representatives to convince high school kids to come to their college, university or tech school.

“We we want kids to be able to explore their career options,” Waite said.

Grammond said the exploration fair will be more informational in nature than a recruitment tool. The pair has lined up representatives from about 40 career fields, and more continue to step forward.

The career representatives range from teachers to engineers as well as entrepreneurs, business managers and a copywriter to government employees working in law enforcement, health and human services and social work. There’s even a soon-to-be husband and wife duo who have signed up.

Submitted photo Lindsey Peterson, formerly of Elk River, is the assistant programming director for WCCO Radio. He will talk about the field of broadcasting at a career exploration fair on Feb. 28 at Elk River High School.

Submitted photo
Lindsey Peterson, formerly of Elk River, is the assistant programming director for WCCO Radio. He will talk about the field of broadcasting at a career exploration fair on Feb. 28 at Elk River High School.

Lindsey Peterson, an Elk River native who graduated from Big Lake High School, works behind the scenes at WCCO Radio and his fiance, Jennifer Grant, is an author and life coach who traded in a corporate job for something more fulfilling.

“It’s always fun to talk to people about what we do,” Peterson said of his work at WCCO Radio. “There are so many things about broadcasting that people don’t realize.  It’s not all about the person you hear on the radio or see on TV and the career choices inside our industry can be very rewarding.”

Grant has recently been featured on KARE 11 talking about everything from work-life balance, self-care, talking to a pesky boss or considering walking away from a career to do something more fulfilling. Her message points out that how people approach and prioritize their life doesn’t mean challenges go away, but their capacity to handle them improves.

The Minneapolis native became a life coach and started her own business called Inspiring Radiance  to help people  recognize that they are amazing and that their experience of life is a choice. The work has since led to writing her first book (“Dying to be Good Enough”), work as a speaker and becoming a yoga teacher.

She speaks to a wide array of audiences and can also address the topic of developing one’s own business.

Submitted photos Jennifer Grant on a trip to Bali that gave her insight into human nature and the meaning of life.

Submitted photos
Jennifer Grant on a trip to Bali that gave her insight into human nature and the meaning of life.

Her advice to people considering such a career path is to “stay the course.”

She says when a person decides to start their own business, they need to realize how much work will be involved.

“I firmly believe though that having something passionate to pursue and work towards makes an enormous difference in your happiness overall,” she siaid. “Don’t be discouraged by what isn’t happening. Instead, be encouraged by what is happening.”

Waite said organizers have asked career field representatives to share what a typical day is like, what wage ranges are for that particular career, what the job market is like and what it is projected to be, and the training or education required to obtaining that career.

Wendy Paulson, a former WCCO program director, and Lindsey Peterson after winning an Emmy.  It was a piece Peterson did on the top moments in the state’s history as heard on WCCO for the sesquicentennial.

Wendy Paulson, a former WCCO program director, and Lindsey Peterson after winning an Emmy. It was a piece Peterson did on the top moments in the state’s history as heard on WCCO for the sesquicentennial.

There is no cost to the featured representatives. They will get a free lunch, and they will help the future workforce find a career path that suits them and maybe avoid having to circle back later in life.

There’s still time for people to sign up and represent their chosen career field, but the deadline to be listed in the event brochure is Feb. 25.

While the focus of the event is on high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors, students and their families in grades six and up are invited.

Invitations have been sent out to area school districts, including Elk River Area, Anoka-Hennepin, Osseo-Maple Grove, Princeton, Big Lake, St. Francis and St. Michael-Albertville, Waite said.


The 100 Best Jobs of 2014

n U.S. News and World Report offers high rankings for technology, health care, teaching careers

1. Software developer

2. Computer systems analyst

3. Dentist

4. Nurse practitioner

5. Pharmacists

6. Registered Nurse

7. Physical therapist

8. Physician

9. Web developer

10. Dental hygienist

11. Information security analyst

12. Database administrator

13. Physician assistant

14. Occupational therapist

15. Market research analyst

16. Phlebotomist

17. Physical therapist assistant

18. Civil engineer

19. Mechanical engineer

20. Veterinarian

21. Occupational therapy assistant

22. Technical laboratory assistant

23. Operations research analyst

24. IT manager

25. Dietitian and nutritionist

26. Diagnostic medical stenographer

27. Massage therapist

28. Veterinary technologist/technician

29. Esthetician

30. Computer programmer

31. School psychologist

32. Respiratory therapist

33. Epidemiologist

34. Maintenance and repair worker

35. Speech language pathologist

36. Substance abuse counselor

37. Construction manager

38. Licensed practical nurse and

licensed vocational nurse

39. Accountant

40. High school teacher

41. Financial adviser

42. Business operations manager

43. Bookkeeping, accountant and

audit clerk

44. Marketing manager

45. Medical assistant

46. Financial manager

47. Medical equipment repairer

48. Clinical social worker

49. Nail technician

50. Middle school teacher

51. Lawyer

52. Computer systems administrator

53. Meeting, convention, event


54. Compliance officer

55. Medical secretary

56. Radiologic technologist

57. Bill collector

58. Child and family social worker

59. Cost estimator

60. Optician

61. Exterminator

62. Insurance agent

63. Financial analyst

64. Elementary school teacher

65. Hairdresser

66. Dental assistant

67. Management analyst

68. Home health aide

69. Patrol officer

70. Recreation and fitness worker

71. Human resources specialist

72. Personal Care Aide

73. Sales manager

74. Taxi driver/chauffer

75. Logistician

76. Marriage and family therapist

77. Surgical technologist

78. Computer support specialist

79. Administrative assistant

80. Sales representative

81. Nursing aide

82. Interpreter and translator

83. Pharmacy technician

84. Preschool teacher

85. Public relations specialist

86. School counselor

87. Paralegal

88. Paramedic

89. Real estate agent

90. Glazier

91. Art director

92. Architect

93. Customer service representative

94. Plumber

95. Office clerk

96. Auto mechanic

97. Mental health counselor

98. Landscaper and groundskeeper

99. Structural iron and steel worker

100. Painter

]]> 0
Career exploration fair: Teacher turns love of science into a career Sat, 21 Feb 2015 11:59:11 +0000 by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

Ena Rasmussen planned to become a veterinarian.

Teacher Ena Rasmussen worked with a group of students extracting DNA in her seventh grade life science classroom at Rogers Middle School.

Teacher Ena Rasmussen worked with a group of students extracting DNA in her seventh grade life science classroom at Rogers Middle School.

But while going to college at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, she discovered she had an aptitude for teaching. When she explored the profession by shadowing teachers, Rasmussen liked what she saw.

“I loved the energy of the classroom and seeing that light bulb go on,” she said.

Rasmussen switched her career plans and decided to become a teacher. She graduated from River Falls with degrees in biology and English and went on to complete a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from St. Cloud State University.

For 14 years, Rasmussen was a science teacher — the last 11 years in the Elk River Area School District at Ivan Sand community school and then at Rogers Middle School.

Rasmussen and her husband, Eric, and their three sons live in Rogers and she is now in her first year as a curriculum specialist with the Elk River school district.

Rasmussen, who will participate in the District 728 Community Education Career Exploration Fair on Feb. 28 at Handke Center in Elk River, describes teaching as a “joyful” profession.

She also has enjoyed developing relationships with her students and their families and with her fellow teachers.

“The colleagues in teaching are amazing,” she said. “It’s such a supportive environment. Teachers now collaborate more than ever and so you really get to learn from one other.”

Seeing former students succeed is another bright spot. Rasmussen recently received a letter from the family of a former student who plans to pursue a medical degree.

Ena Rasmussen

Ena Rasmussen

She credits her own family with fostering her love of science.

Growing up in Maple Grove, Rasmussen said her family often took road trips to other parts of the United States. Her parents aren’t “science nerds,” she said, but they wanted their children to learn from their vacations. Instead of going to beaches or Disney World, they visited places like the Grand Canyon, Glacier and Yellowstone.

“I think that helped me learn a lot about science,” Rasmussen said.

Her 10th grade biology teacher at Osseo Senior High School, who ironically was also named Mrs. Rasmussen, also encouraged her interest in science.

“She was always very enthusiastic and we didn’t learn by just listening to her talk. It was very interactive,” she said.

Rasmussen encourages students interested in a teaching career to check out the “Future Educator Clubs” at their high schools.

What makes a good teacher?

Rasmussen offered this definition: Somebody who loves their job, loves and understands kids and makes learning fun and accessible for all learners.

‘I know that the great teachers that I had not only conveyed a passion for teaching and learning but also a sincere sense of caring for and about their students,” she said. “I hope that I was able to do the same for my students.”


]]> 0
Career exploration fair: School teaches students to shoe horses Sat, 21 Feb 2015 11:59:05 +0000 by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

When Richard Duggan moved from Minneapolis to the Elk River area, his neighbor told him that now he was in the country he should have a horse.

Richard Duggan

Richard Duggan

“So he bought a horse and stabled it at his farm. From that it grew into a passion for horses,” said his wife, Nancy.

In 1969, Richard enrolled in the horseshoeing program at Anoka Technical College and eventually began teaching there. When that program was reduced in 1976, he started his own school.

Today, the Duggans and two of their children operate the Minnesota School of Horseshoeing and Duggan Farrier Supplies in Ramsey.

Nancy will represent the school at District 728 Community Education’s Career Exploration Fair on Feb. 28 at the Handke Center in Elk River.

Ironically, she discovered along the way that she’s allergic to horses. So she’s not a farrier herself, but works in other aspects of the business.

Nancy Duggan

Nancy Duggan

Nancy said it takes three things to be a successful farrier: horsemanship skills, people skills and forging skills.

“Some people just don’t have it,” she said. “They might have the love of the horse, but might not have the other skills.”

For those that have what it takes, it can be a very good career. The average farrier in the Midwest earns about $82,000 a year, she said, and some make six figures.

She’s known people who have paid their way through veterinarian school by shoeing horses. Others have paid for their farms.

“It’s work, but it’s a rewarding career because you’re working with a live animal,” she said. “It’s healthy for your body because you’re using all your muscles.”

It’s not impossibly strenuous, though. She knows of people in their late 70s still shoeing horses.

Minnesota is fertile ground for farriers, with the state ranking No. 11 in the nation in the number of horses. She estimates there are about 300 full-time farriers in Minnesota.

The Minnesota School of Horseshoeing offers 10-week, 12-week and 24-week programs for professional farriers.

“There’s a lot to learn. The anatomy (of the horse) is a critical thing in horseshoeing so they have to really learn that,” she said.

For horse owners, the school offers a two-week trim class and a four-week horseshoeing class (two weeks of trimming and two weeks of horseshoeing).

The Minnesota School of Horseshoeing is one of about 50 farrier schools in the nation, and the only one in the five-state area.

Nancy said they have drawn students from all over the world.

]]> 0
Career exploration fair: Elk River grads like the idea Sat, 21 Feb 2015 11:58:21 +0000 Kayla Mack

Kayla Mack, a 2009 graduate of Elk River High School, is working toward becoming a nurse anesthetist.

She recently completed her application for her master’s program, and she plans on going for her doctorate for nurse practitioner to achieve her goal.

Mack knew in high school she wanted to go into the health care field and knew of a variety of degrees fields, but she said she didn’t realize there was a public health major that could be done at the same time as her other major.

“That would have been a nice addition to my education,” she said.

To prepare for postsecondary education, Mack took several AP classes.

She said it was helpful, but she said she would have also have benefited more from attending college classes while in high school through the Postsecondary Enrollment Option.

“I attended the University of Minnesota, and it was a shock to adjust to the expectations of the college courses,” she said.

Her parents encouraged her throughout high school to be involved in high school and work, which forced her to prioritize.

“That was invaluable,” she said.

Mack said a career exploration fair “would have given me an idea of the areas I could focus on in my secondary education in order to be better prepared for college and beyond.”

Kenneth Tietz

Kenneth Tietz, a 2014 Elk River High School graduate, has aspirations of becoming a firefighter.

To prepare for college, Tietz said he worked a lot and took classes that would help him prepare. One notable class was advanced public speaking.

One thing he would have done differently is taken AP classes and other college credit classes.

He found his success in getting his homework and assignments done on time and being prepared for class.

Tietz’s suggestion for the parents, the school district and the community to help high school students prepare for their future is to focus more on the learning and less on the grades.

“Great grades come from learning,” he said.

One missed opportunity he wishes would have been addressed during high school was a chance to not only meet with firefighters but fire chiefs. He said a career fair might have been able to facilitate such an experience.

Mary Elmquist

Mary Elmquist, who graduated from Elk River High School, is pursuing a career in elementary education and coaching. She’s always wanted to become an elementary school teacher and she’s getting close to her goal as she is now a college sophomore.

Good study habits and time management skills she picked up in high school have helped her in college.

“My parents (pushed) me to do my best and were always there to support when I needed it,” Elmquist said. “Being an athlete, they were able to support me through athletics but also through academics.”

Although a career in teaching has been a dream of hers since she was a little kid, she said she suspects a career exploration fair might have caused her take an adventure out of her comfort zone.

Taylor Gauthier

Taylor Gauthier, a 2013 graduate of Elk River High School, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in history with a double minor in criminology and ethics. He hopes those will be steps toward law school and a practice as a prosecutor.

He said he hopes to graduate from his undergraduate program a semester early and be able to start law school by spring of 2017.

“I never thought I would pursue a career in the law field, but after being able to take a few law-type classes, I discovered that it was a perfect fit for me,” he said. “Those kinds of options or classes were not available in high school. I have learned that there are so many more options to pursue besides the core subjects taught in high school. You just have to be open to anything.”

Gauthier took as many AP classes as he could and took a few PSEO classes his senior year, which allowed him to prepare for college while gaining college credit.

“My parents provided so much support when it came to my education,” Gauthier said. “They pushed me to do well in all my classes and to pursue the rigorous work that came with AP and PSEO classes. They were always there to help me out when I got a bad grade on a test and remind me that there is so much more to my education than just the grade. The experience and knowledge gained from each and every class is worthwhile even if it does not reflect in your grade.”

Gauthier said, given a chance to do it over, he would research different colleges and careers earlier.

“It snuck up on me my senior year, and I was very overwhelmed with all the choices for colleges, especially when I did not know what I wanted to major in, let alone what I wanted to pursue for a career,” he said. “Talk to your counselor, teachers, parents to decide what you value most in your education and what ideas you have a possible major or career. Explore, do a little research, and find out what works best for you.”

Gauthier said it’s important for parents, the school district and the community to stress the importance of education and doing well in school.

“It will open so many more doors than ever imagined,” he said. “Also, it will give a person as many options as possible for postsecondary education. You never know what a student will pick as the path as their future. Be open to anything and do not limit the student to the standard path.”

Gauthier said a career exploration fair would have been very helpful in high school.

“I went through a lot of potential careers before deciding on law, simply because I did not know it was an option,” he said. “A career fair would have gave me more options and taken away a lot of the stress of deciding on a potential career.”

Leah Waite

Leah Waite, a 2013 graduate from Elk River High School, wants to work in advertising but said she won’t be picky. She’s going to school for marketing communications.

She already earned her associate’s degree and is one semester in at University of Wisconsin- River Falls.

She chose the school after learning it had a program that combined both marketing and communications and gives a lot of real-world and up-to-date education.

Waite took AP classes in high school and made sure she stayed busy.

“A lot of my high school experience was spent working, doing sports and other extracurricular activities,” she said. “I also spent my senior year of high school doing PSEO at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. I graduated with over a year of college under my belt.

“PSEO was the biggest helper. I spent a lot less money and finished my generals degree before going to a university.”

Waite said she thinks a career exploration fair could have been a tremendous help to her.

“There are certainly a ton of jobs that high school students are very unaware of,” she said. “I also hope that the career fair hosts jobs that require technical degrees, because I grew up being told I need a bachelor’s degree, and I have found (though I am going for one) that I would still have plenty of options with a technical college experience.”

Tayler Edwards

Tayler Edwards, a 2010 graduate of Elk River High School, is two years away from a degree in nursing from Winona State University.

Now that she’s in her degree program, she realizes there is an unbelievable number of occupations and programs that she had no idea about prior to attending.

“The most intriguing thing that I learned is that there are over 230 different clubs here at Winona State.

“So no matter what my interests are in, there is bound to be something on that club list that I would enjoy participating in,” she said. “I also learned that there are many positions on campus that are reserved as student employment positions. I was proactive enough freshman year to find a job on campus in the performing arts center as a costume shop assistant for my sophomore year until I graduate. On-campus jobs are very understanding that you are a student and they work around your class schedule, which is not guaranteed everywhere.”

Edwards’ advice is not go to a four-year college until you know what program you want to be in.

“Some occupations do not require the full four-year degree and others require eight-plus years of education,” she said. “I think it is really important to fully understand all of the steps that you will have to take to get to the occupation that you want before you start paying for your education.”

Parents, the school district and the community should collaborate to seek and provide job shadowing opportunities for certain occupations.

“Then they can see a real-life example before they dedicate two to four years of their life or more to an education in one specific area.”

Edwards said she thinks a career exploration fair would be helpful, too.

“It’s always good to see what all the options are that are available to you,” she said.

She added: “Seeing the different options can help you see what you most definitely do not want to do and that makes you one step closer to seeing what you actually want to do.

“It also might eliminate any second guesses during college and prevented me from almost switching majors. It is great to have an opportunity to explore your options before it is costing you thousands of dollars to do so.”

]]> 0
Students will make up two days Thu, 12 Feb 2015 23:07:40 +0000 Students in the Elk River Area School District will make up two days they missed due to weather cancellations.

The Elk River Area School Board approved make-up days for Friday, May 1, and Thursday, June 4. Students will have school on those days.

The School Board decided that the next two canceled school days will not be made up at the end of the year. Should school be canceled more than four times this year, the School Board will need to determine if additional canceled days (beyond the four days) will need to be made up.

]]> 0
School district to request bids for busing Sun, 08 Feb 2015 09:59:10 +0000 by Paul Rignell

Contributing Writer

The Elk River Area School District is in the middle of a busing contract with long-time provider Vision Transportation, based in Elk River, but a new offer from the company with smaller increases for upcoming years is leading the district to request bids from possible competitors, too.

Greg Hein, Executive Director of Business Services for the district, reported at a board workshop Feb. 2 that the existing contract with Vision could have the district paying 6 percent more on an option for next year (2015-2016 school year) followed by another 6 percent increase on that total for 2016-2017.

Vision has offered to start anew with a contract that would have the district paying a lesser amount in 2016-2017, including an increase of 5.4 percent for next year and then 4.3 percent the following year.

The district certainly would want to consider that proposal, but Hein explained that Minnesota school contract law then requires the district to allow competitive bids from other potential bus providers.

That requirement kicks in with Vision’s inclusion of options for a third and fourth year of service in its new offer, through the 2018-2019 school year.

Any new contract exceeding two years from a supplier mandates that other competitors have a chance to make offers.

The district chose to continue its partnership with Vision over a second bid from another company during a similar request for proposals process prior to 2013-2014.

Board Member Shane Steinbrecher asked Hein on Feb. 2 whether the district would be obligated to approve the lowest bid at the end of this new cycle, considering no other factors. Hein replied that the contract law offers some protection in that way, truly allowing the district to review other factors such as past level of service.

As they consider a new request for proposals officially at a regular meeting Feb. 9, board members will be getting a jump on the bus contract timeline from two years ago. The board did not receive, review and approve the current contract with Vision until after Hein had joined the district in his position in March 2013.

“I believe we will get a better response this time (from suppliers) because we would be seeking the proposals earlier,” Hein told the Star News after the Feb. 2 workshop. “The companies need time to both prepare (any proposals) and to obtain the equipment and personnel to fulfill (a) contract.”

Hein told the board Feb. 2 they could expect any other proposals by early April.

On other topics during that workshop, the board:

– Heard from administrators that mid-year enrollment figures are down slightly from projections made last spring. The lower numbers have been seen particularly in the elementary and middle school buildings.

– Learned from Julee Miller, general manager of Food Services, that she will present a recommendation to increase meal prices by 10 cents for 2015-2016 at the next meeting.

– Heard from Superintendent Mark Bezek that administrators will recommend PFM Asset Management as the agency with which the district should handle temporary investments of the new bond funding that will be coming to support upcoming school construction, expansion and renovations, which voters approved in a referendum last November. The district has contracted with PFM in this capacity previously. “They know us, and we know them,” Bezek said.

]]> 0