A Day at the Capitol

IMG_20140313_085411 We arrived at the capitol this morning bright and early, eager for our busy day of observing the legislative session in full swing. We began our day with a tour of the Capitol building, given by the Minnesota Historical Society. Split into two groups, we were able to learn about the remarkable architecture and history of the Capitol building, in addition to viewing the chamber of the House, Senate and the Supreme Court. Then, Mr. Wiggin gave the whole class a supplemental tour to see the governor’s wing and the governor portraits.

At 10:00 am, we went through the tunnels to the State Office Building and observed a committee meeting addressing a bill proposed on student multilingual certification in K-12 schools. The school was recognized mid-way through the committee meeting by Representative and Committee Chairman Carlos Mariani.

After our visit to the committee, we went to the Senate and observed the session. After calling to order, the Senate made several motions, but adjourned the meeting after only ten minutes. Students were a little disoriented when they realized it was over, because the senators never really came fully to order or even sat down before the session was adjourned.

After lunch, we went to more committee hearings. Students could choose from a variety of committees including Education, Environment and Energy, Judiciary, Elections, or Taxes. For example, a few students and myself went to the Senate Education committee to see consideration and testimony addressing native and English language development of English learners. The bill promoted the use of native language in the continual development of English language and provided for educator professional development in best bilingual lesson delivery practices and cross-cultural competency.

Finally, we attended a political rally in the rotunda addressing independent private schools. Two students from SPP – Mary S. (Poland) and Virginia V. (Italy) – gave short speeches on the value of their unique experience at St. Paul Prep, supported by their classmates who filled out more than half of the chairs in the rotunda. Other speakers continued to honor our school in their own speeches and the last speaker finished the program by reiterating his wholehearted support of school choice for Minnesota students.

The trip was incredibly enriching for many students. Tanisa K. enthused that she learned so much about Minnesota culture by learning the history of the capitol building. Daniel T. made connections to the content he is learning in AP US Government and Politics class. “For example, when we have the test of the chapter ten and eleven and I was reading about the Sunshine Act,” he said, “I didn’t really know what it was about. Today, I was questioning myself why we can go to all the rooms and hear what they were talking about. I thought it would be all private but even as a foreigner, I could see. I thought that these kinds of meetings were private and just for people with special rights or privileges. I didn’t realize what this Sunshine Act really was about until we went here.” Nicole Rivera added, “I really enjoyed the last committee we received because they [the lawmakers] were fascinated with the international students. I also learned about architecture and I really loved that part.”

–  Kara Redding, Social Studies Teacher

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Robotics’ “Puppy Dog Program”

Robotics class has been working hard at finishing their robot. With only six weeks to design, build and test a robot, students have been staying late into the night to finish their creation.

The Robotics Competition is March 27-29 at Williams Arena on the U of M campus. The competition game this year involves picking up, passing and shooting a two foot yoga ball. This presented the students with many challenges, but they were able to work through them all and finish on time. One of the most fun problems to solve was to come up with the name of the robot… so the students decided on “Sir RC Swaggerdee III.” The programming team is still working hard to ensure a fully operational robot. They have developed code for the robot to follow a red ball and any student wearing red. They call it the “Puppy Dog” program.

-Dan Forseth, Robotics Teacher/Advisor

Learn more about Robotics and other club opportunities at St. Paul Prep on our website!

Model United Nations Focuses on Human Rights

Model UN Winter Conference croppedThe 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.

Model UN Winter Conf croppedSPP 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

The Model United Nations club is one of many clubs and extracurricular activities available to St. Paul Preparatory School’s students. Learn more about student life and clubs at St. Paul Prep.


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Math Club Ranks 3rd at Meet #4

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

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Find out more about St. Paul Prep Clubs and Extracurricular on our website!

Students Engage in the Art Community

Ms. Woolever-Martinez shares a story of her students fully engaging in the art community and their recognition of the value of art and education


We are so fortunate to live in a community that values the arts! After all, Minneapolis is ranked the #2 city in the United States for the arts – next to NYC. This year we have had students visit the Weisman, attend National Portfolio Day at the Walker, get tours at the MIA and attend evening and weekend classes at MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design).

Another great way for our students to take art classes is through the Community Education classes offered in the metro area during the evenings. Instructors are more than excited to have high school students sign up and the price is always reasonable! Most recently, we had a group of students attend a Community Ed class at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. I was also interested so I decided to tag along. It was a drawing class about the art style of Zentangles. Upon walking in, I believe the other students (who were mostly middle-aged women) were shocked to see such a herd of high school students interested in taking an extra evening class. It was a great social opportunity for our students as well as the other community members involved. The adult students were very interested in our students and had great conversations about their unique backgrounds and our distinctive school.


I could not be more proud of our students here at SPP. They gave such great efforts and continue to push themselves as great artists. The adults in this class were equally as impressed with our students’ manners and art skills and their understanding of the value of education. After the class, I received an email from our instructor saying what a joy our students were and she hopes we come back for more art classes soon. Our students are working hard and are learning to take great opportunities and make them into wonderful learning experiences as well as fun memories!

-Kate Woolever-Martinez, Art Teacher

Visit our website www.stpaulprep.org to learn more about St.Paul Prep’s strong Art program!


SPP Now Has a Ski Club!

One of the best things about winter is going outside to play in the snow! With that spirit, Ms. Larson and Mr. Tredinnick have started a Ski Club at St. Paul Prep for those students who would like to enjoy the many ski slopes around the Twin Cities area. The goal is to ski a couple of times a month on Fridays after school or Saturdays during the day. In addition, there will be possible trips over President’s Day weekend and during Spring Break. Ski Club welcomes all sorts of skiers, from beginners to experts. The only requirement is that you wear your warmest winter clothing! So far the group has gone to Alfton Alps and Welch Village with about 15-30 students participating.


Club highlights to this point include watching students try skiing for the first time (some who struggle more than others), as well as simply getting outside and enjoying the beautiful Minnesota winter. They even braved the -15 windchill! We are pleased to report that there have been no major injuries and everyone is having a fun.

image (1)Ski Club is still seeking members and now is a great time to join! Also, be sure to check out our website at www.stpaulprep.org to find out about the other clubs and opportunities that St. Paul Prep has to offer.