Weird Holidays: Groundhog Day

Every year on Feb. 2, a quirky little holiday that’s been celebrated for generations finds a small town in western Pennsylvania at the center of America’s attention, hosting the largest party in honor of the holiday. What’s the big deal?


Punxsutawney Phil.


Who is this legend who has an official club dedicated to his well being, social media accounts, and a wife and daughter? Not the man in the top hat, but the little creature he is holding: a groundhog.

Groundhog Day is an annual tradition in the United States, and the holiday has roots in ancient European (Celtic and German) weather lore, where it was first celebrated by Germans in western and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The claim is a groundhog (or badger or scared bear in original lore) comes out of hibernation for a brief moment, and if it is cloudy, then the spring season will arrive early (he didn’t see a shadow). But if he emerges from his slumber to find the it sunny, he will see his shadow, and that means spring will arrive late.

While Punxsutawney Phil is the most famous rodent meteorologist, there are dozens of weather-predicting groundhogs across the U.S. and even some in Canada.


The holiday was made even more famous with the 1993 movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray as a weatherman who is trapped in a time loop where he has to relive Groundhogs Day every day. If you haven’t seen it, now is the perfect time to check out this classic.

Every year, over 30,000 groundhog groupies flood the town of just over 5,000 people for an all-night celebration of singing, dancing, and drinking that reaches its height with the emergence of Phil, his wife, Phyllis, and daughter, Phelicia, from their temporary home at Gobbler’s Knob on the outskirts of town.

According to lore, there is and only ever has been one Phil, and all other furry forecasters are impostors, making the fuzzy little fella the ripe old age of 131.

This year, Phil emerged and saw his shadow, meaning six more weeks of winter. Of the 130 predictions he’s made, Phil has been right about 39% of the time.

We hope he’s wrong this year.


Fun After Finals

You did it, Falcons!

The first semester is officially in the books tomorrow (Jan. 26), and we think you should go explore the Twin Cities and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather after studying hard for finals all week!

So here’s a list of some events going on around St. Paul and Minneapolis you should definitely check out!

St. Paul Winter Carnival | Downtown St. Paul


Ice carving, automated snowplow competitions, ice skating, food, snow sculptures, and… ICE CASTLE! St. Paul’s Winter Carnival promises to be bigger and better than ever in its 132nd year, and there are nonstop events from Thursday (Jan. 25) evening and for the next 17 days! Most events are free.

Art Shanty Projects | Lake Harriet, Minneapolis


Take a ride on The Thwing, snag some free coffee, and visit the Tomb of the Unknown Minnow. Confused? That’s because the Art Shanty Projects are something you have to see to believe! Head on over to south Minneapolis from 10am-4pm on weekends through February 11. Free.

U.S. Pond Hockey Championships | Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis


If you’re more sporty than artsy, then you’ll want to head to a different lake in south Minneapolis and take in the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships. Teams from around the world make their way to Lake Nokomis to battle for the Golden Shovel this weekend. Free.

City of Lakes Loppet | Bde Maka Ska, Minneapolis


If you haven’t noticed a theme here yet, basically if there’s a frozen lake, you’ll find Minnesotans on it. Taking place all weekend (and next) is the City of Lakes Loppet Festival, a celebration of all things cross country skiing, on Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun).  Be sure to check the website for the list of events. Most stuff is free.

Championship Cat Show | Roy Wilkins Auditorium, St. Paul

cst cat show 23500

Come see some #floofs, shop for cat things, and view some cat royalty in all their splendor at the Saintly City Club’s Annual Championship Cat Show in at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul. Tickets are $4, and the event runs from 9-5 on Saturday, January 27. More of a dog person? Good news! The Doggie Depot runs from 10am-1pm at Union Depot in St. Paul. You can chat with doggie experts, buy doggie trinkets, and see the Canine Royal Court. You can see the doggos for free.

Want to know more going on this weekend? is a great resource for everything happening in Minneapolis and St. Paul!

Advisor’s Angle: #MeToo Campaign and International Students

Janel Cook 2017cropBy Janel Cook, Student Advisor

Sexual harassment is uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate (as an employee or student).

The hashtag #MeToo has become a social media phenomenon lately. By using this hashtag on social media, women are sharing their stories of sexual harassment, assault, or abuse. As #MeToo has gained momentum, we are witnessing that many women have experienced these incidents. It is important to remember that boys and men can also be victims of sexual harassment, assault, or abuse. Cultural norms for men place them in a position that causes embarrassment in vocalizing that they too can be victims.

International students may be particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment or abuse for several reasons:

  • Initially, a lack of close and familiar relationships
  • Place a lot of trust in adults caring for them
  • Spotty understanding of the English language
  • Cultural differences in body language, physical boundaries
  • Are unfamiliar with their host communities

Sexual harassment is often difficult to identify because encounters such as simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents, can seem harmless and minor. When this type of behavior becomes frequent or severe, it can create a hostile or offensive environment. It is considered sexual harassment because it interferes with a student’s concentration, comfort level, and feeling of safety in an environment.

If a student experiences sexual harassment or the like, they are strongly urged to speak with a trusted adult as soon as possible. This could be their host parent, a teacher, a coach, or their coordinator. Please note the importance of a local adult being made aware of the situation before the natural parents are notified. Students can also call the national office 1-800-622-3553 at any time.

Students are recommended to take precautions for their own safety while on program such as walking in groups instead of alone and not being distracted by devices when out in public so that they are fully aware of their surroundings.

While the majority of students have a positive experience on program free from sexual harassment, it is still important to be knowledgeable about the topic. Knowledge leads to prevention and early detection.

We fully acknowledge that this is not an easy topic to discuss but also acknowledge that that does not make it any less important. We are all stronger when all genders of all ages enable one another to be kind and respectful of personal boundaries.

Questions or comments? Email

Congrats Semester 1 Grads!

Before students left for Winter Break, we took a moment to recognize five students who are wrapping up their time at St. Paul Prep and earning their diplomas at the end of the semester.

From L to R: Minh, Hayla, Tony, Julie, and Quang

Though the end of the semester is not officially over until January 26, two of our students, Hayla and Tony, have completed final projects and tests before the break, so they won’t be back.

Students graduating is always a bittersweet time, and this fine group of scholars makes the goodbyes even tougher. But we wish them all the best in the future, and we thank them for all they have done while attending SPP. #ForeverFalcons

Holiday Spirit Week Highlights

Last week was a busy one at St. Paul Prep, with all of our Holiday Spirit Week Dress-Up Days, basketball games, a SPP Night Out, and, of course, the Art and Talent Shows last Thursday!

Each day we awarded a prize to the “Best Dressed” of the themes. which included Pajama Day, Sport Day, Favorite Character Day, Career Day, and Christmas Day. Thanks to all the students who went above and beyond with their costumes!

The SPP/HSRA varsity and JV boys basketball teams had a monster week, picking up big wins in their first two home games of the season. The varsity squad trounced Minnesota Transitions Charter 85-42 on Tuesday, then upped the ante on Thursday with a 91-73 victory against Lincoln International. The JV team also had a huge week, posting wins of 44-12 and 67-4 (not a typo: 4 points)!

Students also had the chance to take in a Timberwolves game on Thursday evening. The hometown team gave our students a show, topping the Kings 119-96!

But the big event of the week was our Art and Talent Shows on Thursday, which was capped off with the traditional cake-eating contest. If you couldn’t make it to downtown St. Paul or you missed our live-stream of the event, you have some options to watch it! You can find the entire video on our Facebook page or our YouTube channel.

It was a crazy week at SPP, and now students are eagerly preparing for Winter Break! Hooray Falcons!

Basketball Warms Up

Though the basketball season is officially underway, things really heat up this week as the St. Paul Prep/High School for Recording Arts (HSRA) boys JV and varsity basketball teams play their first two home games of the season!

Members of the team include:

  • Telmo
  • Matteo
  • Alejandro (Alex)
  • Anh
  • Tae Rim (Kim)
  • Demdindori (Demi)
  • Pavlomyr (Paul)
  • Kunihiro (Kuni)

Catch the Falcons on Tuesday or Thursday this week on their home court at HSRA, located at 1166 University Ave W. in St. Paul. Cost for tickets is $2 for students and $5 for adults. SPP is in a co-op with HSRA for basketball, meaning students from both schools practice and play together. All home games are played at HSRA.

Basketball Falcon Logo.jpg

On Tuesday, the Falcons take on Minnesota Transition High School. JV tips off at 5pm and varsity at 7:15pm (times subject to change due to back-to-back games).

Lincoln International visits on Thursday, with JV tipping off at 5:30pm and varsity begins at roughly 7:30pm.

Click here to see the rest of the schedule.

Let’s show up and loudly declare our support all season long! Go Falcons! #WhoAreWeSPP

Traveling? Know Your Forms!

With holidays and Winter Break right around the corner, now is a good time to refresh everyone’s memory on all of the paperwork we require to ensure our international students have a safe trip!

Any international student planning to travel with or without their host family must follow the SPP Travel Procedures. International students may only travel independently by air, and must be accompanied by a relative or adult who is at least 25 years old.

If a student is planning to travel outside the U.S., they should first talk to the Admissions Office regarding any visa forms that need to be signed in order to re-enter the U.S. Students must abide by visa restrictions of the country they plan to visit.

Forms are due 2-4 weeks before the start of a trip.

Here is a summary of the forms needed for various types of travel:

FORMS REQUIRED MUST BE SUBMITTED TWO WEEKS BEFORE TRAVEL DATE Travel Proposal Form Host Family Permission Form (on proposal form) Natural Parent Release Independent Party Receiving Form I-20 must be signed for re-entry to the  U.S.
Travel with a Host Parent yes
Overnight travel with an adult other than the Host Parent yes yes yes yes
Independent travel to meet a third party (relative) yes yes yes yes
Travel outside the U.S. with a Host Parent/Family. yes yes yes
Travel outside the U.S. with a

non-Host Parent adult.

yes yes yes yes yes
Holiday travel to home country yes yes yes yes
Overnight travel in U.S. with Natural Parents yes yes yes
Traveling with Natural Parents outside of U.S. yes yes yes yes

Find these forms and more on the St. Paul Prep website.