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.
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
Just in time for the start of the school year, Niche.com, a website that ranks public and private schools, has named St. Paul Preparatory School the 15th best private school in the state of Minnesota out of 74 schools.
As a part of their ranking, St. Paul Prep was named the #1 school, public or private, for diversity in Minnesota. We also rated high in the academics and college prep categories.
Over the years, St. Paul Prep has scored and ranked highly by Niche.com. Thanks to all students, teachers, staff, and everyone else for making SPP a truly special place!
Last December I was one of five teachers selected from across the United States to participate in an exchange program through World Savvy and the U.S. State Department. I took 30 high school students to Bangladesh to study the environmental, social, economic, and political impacts of climate change. Teachers and students spent one month living with host families and participating in research and service projects with local Bangladeshi students. I lived in Rayer Bazar, a slum in Dhaka – the fastest growing city in the world, fulfilling my service project through the interviewing and documenting of local climate refugees. The mass influx of “climate refugees” is due to citizens in the outlying areas fleeing their flooded coastal lands that are left uninhabitable or too saline-contaminated to support crops.
During the days, I walked through the streets of Rayer Bazar interviewing climate refugees with the aid of a translator. The majority longed to go back to their farmlands which had been sadly transformed into flood plains. These transplants now lived in indescribable squalor; slums of a thousand people per square kilometer. Cooking for 100 people was shared over three open gas flames along with one squat toilet for a public bathroom. Children filled the shadows yet their access to education was nonexistent. In the evenings, I would sleep on the floor at the only school in the slum, Jaago. Nearly all of the 560 students who attend Jaago come from parents who are climate refugees.
Now that I am back home I want to keep spreading the information about Jaago and climate refugees so I have built it into my portrait unit in my drawing and painting classes here at SPP. We started by learning about Bangladesh, Climate Change and Climate Refugees. We then focused on drawing/ painting portraits. Our final project was drawing the portrait of the students who attend Jaago rather than drawing themselves. These students at Jaago do not have an art program due to funds and do not have a photo of themselves. It took us four months to get the photos from Imran, a volunteer who sent them to us from Jaago.
Our final paintings were sent back over to the children. On the backside of the artwork will be the original photo. Our amazing SPP students suggested we write them a letter describing themselves and our surroundings to educate them about our culture. It was a great idea and SPP students put so much time and effort into each part of our project! We have laminated each of the drawings and paintings to protect the artwork from any pollution or weather that could be damaging. Imran (the volunteer at Jaago) said the students were so excited for the day when their artwork arrives!! I am really proud of our art students as they have been equally excited to create their artwork and have become so passionate about climate change and climate refugees.
The artwork has recently arrived and their students love it! I got tears in my eyes when I saw these photos and our SPP students are so proud to see their work in Bangladesh!!
Yasameen from Afgahnistan, a junior at St. Paul Preparatory School was awarded 2nd place for her outstanding artwork last year at the Betty McCollum Congressional Art Competition. She continues to create artwork focusing on the politics of her home country, Afghanistan. In early January 2014, Yasameen and SPP art teacher Ms. Kate Woolever wrote a letter to Congresswoman Betty McCollum explaining Yasameen’s passion for politics and her long-term goal to bring peace and education to her country. Ms. Kate Woolever asked if Yasameen could intern with the congresswomen to learn the ins and outs of her professional life. Days later, a letter returned accepting her request. The letter explained that this type of internship was not the norm, as they usually do not accept high school interns; however, Yasameen stood out to them and seemed to be full of great potential.
Excitedly, Yasameen began her first day interning at the congresswoman’s office in early January. She went two days a week, her tasks varied from working with their IQ system, monitoring emails from community members, researching information about congress, having discussions with staff members about their responsibilities, assisting and shadowing each member in the office and much more. “I learned how much hard work, patience, respect, and teamwork goes into working in politics” Yasameen explained. “It was so fun to be a part of this environment and even though there was a lot to do, the staff seemed to be good friends who truly enjoyed their jobs.”
Yasameen reflects on the end of her time there “My last day was a very bittersweet time; everyone in the office came together and threw me a party! Accompanying some tasty treats, Congresswoman McCollum personally gave her a leather portfolio case with all their contact information inside, a gold congressional token, and a letter Betty McCollum personally wrote. “I couldn’t believe how welcoming and accepting each employee was towards me!” Yasameen explained. “They didn’t treat me as a student but as another respected staff member. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I know it will be my foundation as I continue to work towards my goals in bringing peace to my country.”
The Model United Nations winter conference was held at Edina High School. It was Edina’s first time hosting a conference and the entirely student-run event was incredibly well-organized and professional. The conference focused on the rights of indigenous people around the world and our students were able to bring some of their own perspectives from their home countries to our research efforts on countries such as Ecuador, Indonesia, and the U.S. Our students represented the countries of Kenya (Hector), Sri Lanka (Jose and Josue), Saudi Arabia (Jose and Christoph), Ecuador (Grace and Phoebe), Indonesia (Tanisa and Daniel), and the U.S.A (Nelofar and Lam).
The Opening Ceremony was introduced by the principal of Edina High School and featured the Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey and Senator Al Franken each giving speeches to open the conference. Al Franken’s speech was particularly interesting and pointed, talking about his first pow wow and his commitment to addressing the grievous social issues that face Native American people today as a member of the Indian Affairs committee in the U.S. Senate.
The opening hour of the conference consisted of formal debate and moderated caucus where discussion revolved around which aspects of indigenous rights should be addressed first: education, political participation, socio-economic aid, or cultural legitimation. Disagreements grew through the morning as delegates continued posturing for their interests, highlighting a particular disagreement on the priority of education and bilingualism in this issue. Integration versus assimilation was often debated and puzzled over; students struggled to figure out how to offer solutions for addressing problems among indigenous populations without violating their right to self determination. After lunch, the committee focused on improving their resolutions and prepared to compel other delegates to vote in their favor. Sri Lanka sponsored draft resolution 3 which passed 37 to 32. This resolution attempted to address issues concerning education.
SPP students enjoyed being able to work with other students from Edina, Maple Grove, Cretin Durham Hall, and other schools in unmoderated caucus. They were able to offer their unique, culturally relativistic perspective to a debate that clearly highlighted the difficulty in identifying solutions, that both provided equal opportunity to indigenous people and honored their cultural values.
The club will participate in their final conference at Hamline University on March 12, serving in three committees addressing development and poverty.
Kara Redding – Model UN Advisor, Social Studies Teacher
Jim Walker gives a glimpse into the team’s fourth Math Meet
A lovely, warm day to wait for the bus and make our way to Johnson High School for the fourth meet of the season. Due to the weather delays, not all of the teams were in attendance – most significantly Cretin Derham Hall (currently in third place). We also were missing one of our students, so while other teams were competing with a full roster of eight members, we were only able to arrive with 6 members.
The fourth competition is typically more difficult, covering conic sections and series, both finite and infinite. Our preparation had been greatly shortened thanks to finals and cold days, but everyone determined to do their best.
The first test saw SPP only 1 point behind Highland, having bested powerhouse Central. Test two saw SPP stumble, scoring only 4 points while the others were seeing double digit returns. Test three SPP picked itself back up again, and though test four was also a slight stumble, we were in a good position going into the team event.
The team event was a difficult one, with powerful Central only scoring 8 points. SPP managed to squeak out 4 points, which was enough to preserve its third place for the meet – however, Cretin Derham Hall has not reported it’s scores yet, so we will have to wait and see if we are still alive for a third place finish on the season.
– Jim Walker, Math Teacher, Math Club Advisor
Find out more about St. Paul Prep Clubs and Extracurricular on our website!
Six Minnesota Science Teachers Selected For Fellowship Program in Prestigious NSTA New Science Teacher Academy
The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all, in collaboration with The Dow Chemical Company; Lockheed Martin; the American Honda Foundation; and the Bayer USA Foundation, announced on January 16, 2014 that six out of the 200 science teachers chosen as Fellows in the 2013-2014 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy are from Minnesota. Selected from more than a thousand applications nationwide, the Fellows will participate in a host of science-related activities and professional learning opportunities designed to help promote quality science teaching, enhance teacher confidence and classroom excellence and improve teacher content knowledge. We are proud to announce that Ms. Sarah Clark, SPP Science Teacher is one of the selected Dow-NSTA Fellows.