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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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? Citypages.com is a great resource for everything happening in Minneapolis and St. Paul!

Pictures from WE Day Minnesota 2017

On Wednesday, November 8, 38 St. Paul Prep students joined 18,000 others from all over Minnesota for a day of inspiration, learning, and planning in order to make a positive difference in the world.

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WE Day Minnesota featured speakers and guests who talked about issues impacting the local and global community, and how students and educators can make a difference today.

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This year’s star-studded lineup was headlined by journalist Ann Curry. WE Day Minnesota took place at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

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Service Learning at St. Paul Prep

While freshman, sophomores, and juniors were taking the PSAT and Aspire tests on October 13, 68 seniors and six staff members spent a few hours packing meals at Feed My Starving Children. FMSC has been creating and distributing meals to kids in underserved areas since 1987, and has packed nearly two billion meals in that time.

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SPP has been involved with FMSC for the last few years as part of our Service Learning days, when students have a chance to have a positive impact on their community and the world by volunteering their time.

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This time around, the SPP crew packed 202 boxes of meals, which is enough to feed 120 kids for a year. The 43,632 meals will be distributed to starving kids around the world.

Great job seniors!!

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Lynx Championship Parade

Looking for something to do tonight?? Help the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx celebrate with a parade down University Avenue and event at Williams Arena (on U of M’s campus)!

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The Lynx defeated the LA Sparks in the fifth game of the WNBA finals last night, locking up their fourth championship in seven years.

The parade starts at 6:30 and will run from 12th Ave SE to Williams Arena, with a celebration at “the Barn” to follow. Lynx players and coaches will address the crowd. Both events are free and open to the public.

Go Lynx!

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Check It Out: Minnesota State Fair

In America, fairs are as common as baseball and apple pie in summertime. There are town fairs, county fairs, state fairs…and then there’s the Minnesota State Fair.

Widely regarded as one of the best state fairs in America, the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” has transformed from an agricultural showcase in its inaugural run (in 1859), to the vast entertainment and eating event of the year that it is today.

If you’re new to the Land of 10,000 Lakes (and the U.S.), attending the state fair is a big ol’ helping of Minnesota (and American) culture. Here’s a list of some cannot-miss attractions (and foods, of course).

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Sweet Martha’s Cookies

Why have one when you can buy ’em by the bucket?! Martha has been making her sweet treats for over 30 years, and no trip to the fair is complete without a stop at Sweet Martha’s.

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Giant Slide

Debuting in 1968, the Giant Slide is a rite of passage for Minnesotans new and old. Don’t let the long line fool you: it goes fast.

ALL THE FOOD

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With 56 new items just this year, the state fair is a foodie’s dream (though it might be a nightmare on your wallet!) Plus, everything “on a stick” looks great on Instagram! From cheese curds to deep fried Oreos to mini donuts to sweet, crisp corn on the cob, if you can dream it, there’s probably some form of it at the fair. (Check out Andrew Zimmern’s list, too).

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Sky Ride

Avoid slow walkers and strollers: take a ride on the Sky Ride! This bird’s-eye-view of the fair has been in operation for 53 years now, and is the preferred choice for people watching on the midway.

Concerts

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From big-name Grandstand acts to free performances at the Bandshell, you can find music pretty much everywhere and at any time from now until Labor Day.

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Farm stuff

It wouldn’t be a fair without animals (specifically livestock), so make sure to check out the various barns for a chance at getting up-close and personal with Minnesota’s more furry friends. From sheep to snakes, draft horses to bunnies, there are all kinds of opportunities to see all types of creatures.

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All-things Minnesotan

From a giant tank of native fish to rubbing elbows with Minnesota’s members of Congress, if something is labeled as ‘Minnesotan’, there’s a good chance you can find it in some form at the fair.

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Whether you go for the food, animals, people-watching, or attractions, there is truly something for everyone at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. But hurry! The fair ends Labor Day (Sept. 4).

Advisor’s Angle: Communication Styles

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Host Family Advisor Janel Cook

How would you describe your communication style: direct or indirect? Did you know that Americans are considered to be some of the most direct communicators in the world?

In the United States, people tend to be more direct when communicating compared to other countries where indirect conversations are the norm. This means that students might have moments of miscommunication, embarrassment, or confusion simply due to different communication styles. This is normal and okay; they are from different countries
and cultures after all.

How do you bridge the gap between indirect and direct communication styles? Ask open ended questions (therefore avoiding yes or no answers), set aside time everyday for conversation with your student, and don’t assume that the student understands you, especially during the first few weeks of their arrival. Be sure to ask follow up questions to ensure that communication is crystal clear for everyone. Most of all, have fun and enjoy your time conversing across cultures.comm1.jpg

Direct communicators (U.S. and most European countries) are typically straight to the point, open to confronting issues, and willing to engage in conflict if necessary. They
express opinions freely, say things clearly, and do not leave room for interpretation.

Indirect communicators (Japan, South Korea, China and many Latin American countries) focus on how something is said more so than what is said, avoid difficult or potentially
embarrassing situations (called saving face), avoid conflict whenever possible, express opinions and concerns diplomatically, and count on the listener to interpret the meaning of what is said.

“[F]lexibility and mutual respect are key to dealing with differences in communication styles.” -Cynthia Joyce, professor

Connecting to Bangladesh Students Through Art

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!

– Ms. Kate Woolever-Martinez

This story was featured in an article in the Pioneer Press!

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A Month in Congress

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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.”

– Kate Woolever-Martinez, Art Teacher

Learn more about our Internship program, arts, and other college and life preparatory opportunities at St. Paul Prep on our website.

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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Press Release: A Lesson From Obama

St. Paul Preparatory students received a lesson on infrastructure from President Obama

ST. PAUL, Minn – Among the throng of Minnesotans crowded into the Union Depot Wednesday afternoon to hear President Barack Obama speak was a group of international high school students.IMG_2386

The group of about 50 students, together with a few teachers and staff members, walked just a couple blocks from the downtown campus of St. Paul Preparatory School.

The students were ecstatic at the president’s charisma. An Afghani student excitedly reported, “So my favorite part was that I said ‘Hi!’ to him and he waved back!” A student from Venezuela said, “It was amazing! It was something from another world. Getting to see a president so close – it’s like WHOA.” A Pakistani student told of her highlights, “I have many favorite parts but one of the favorites was when he did thumbs up. Then, when he was talking – seeing him talk was so exciting! He was always on the TV but seeing him live was so exciting and great.”

Yesterday’s speech from President Obama sparked a great dinner conversation topic for the international students and their American host families. The topics of his address – infrastructure and transportation – are of great significance for St. Paul Prep students, as almost all of them rely on public transportation every day to get to and from school.

A Hungarian student stated, “It was good to show up on this event because it was an amazing experience to see the President of the United States. I was excited about everything because this is my first time in the U.S.” A student from Colombia said, “It was a good experience because he’s doing reform for more opportunities for jobs here in Minnesota.”

St. Paul Preparatory social studies teacher and Model UN advisor Kara Redding had the idea Monday to walk her class down to the Union Depot to wait in line for tickets to hear the president speak. A few other teachers joined along with their classes. After waiting in the long line for a few hours, each student walked out with a ticket.

Ms. Kara Redding, chaperone and social studies teacher, reflects on the experience:

I was overjoyed to see how eager and excited the students were this morning. We took almost fifty students to the speech and many of them dressed for success by donning their best suits and fanciest dresses. Every single student who got a ticket on Monday came on time and ready to leave, carrying lunches and cameras. It was clear from the outset that every single student understood what a rare opportunity this was and how lucky they were to participate.

We stood in line outside of security for almost two hours and spent another hour and a half waiting inside the Depot for the President to arrive. Throughout the wait, students never lost their positivity, chatting with each other and engaging in the ever-present cultural exchange. We also met many community members excited to hear about our school and to learn from our students about their unique experiences and what brought them to the speech. I think our greatest accomplishment today was making a positive impression on our community.

Before the Pledge of Allegiance, students were eager for me to teach it to them so they could participate and they were fascinated with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, insisting they must learn the words to that as well. It was very difficult to see in the standing room only section, where people with our tickets were designated to stand, but my group was able to get near the railing at the far side of the stage, which ended up being where the President emerged. We were perhaps seven feet from him as he entered and our students were overwhelmed with excitement to see him so close. Throughout his speech, our students waved American flags and applauded his jokes about the cold Minnesota winter. It seemed his speech was so short, after waiting all that time, but many of the students were bounding out of the Depot, excited to share their photos and stories with each other.

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