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.

#SPPinChina Photo Gallery

#SPPinChina Wraps up Amazing Trip

If you’ve followed along with our updates, you know it’s safe to say our students and teachers experienced a once-in-a-lifetime journey through China, learning the history, culture, customs, and more.

We have one last trove of photos to share, and we thank you for following along with us as we watched our group explore China.

#SPPinChina Update

As many of you know, we currently have a group of students and teachers wandering around China, learning about Chinese history, culture, and language, while exploring the many sights (and food) of the country.

The group just wrapped up Day 16 of the trip and returns July 14. Below are OVER 100 PHOTOS taken from July 5 to July 10. Enjoy!

First Photo Gallery

(Originally posted July 3) Our group has been in China a little over a week now, and from the look of things, they’re having plenty of good food and loads of fun exploring the country and learning about Chinese culture! What’s your favorite photo? Comment below!

SPP Journalism: Students Dislike American Food

SPP Students give American food Two Thumbs DOWN

These articles were written by St. Paul Prep’s Journalism class.

SPP students do not like American food, because of its awful taste and excessive use of chemicals, according to the interviews conducted at SPP.

Although SPP students vary in cultures, political views, and religions, they have one opinion in common: American food seems unhealthy and not as tasty.

Fabrizio F., a junior from Venezuela, seems to prove that point.

“The first thing I think about American food is not very good, very unhealthy, and not very well prepared,” he stated. “It usually comes from a different culture also. It’s usually trashy food like hamburgers.”

Jeanne A., a senior from France, listed the multiple ways that American food is different from food in France.

“Serving size, which in America is so much different [bigger], GMOs are illegal in France; the quality of the food because meat here is not that good and not sustainable or anything,” she concluded. “We eat way more veggies and bread, but good bread, not the smushy bread that is nice looking for two months.”

Wuttikorn “March” K., a senior from Thailand, made it clear that chefs in his country prepare food in diverse ways, and something like that does not exist in the United States.

“They are a lot of differences. We use herbs, we use spices from India, and China and India influence Thai food,” he claimed. “We use a lot of seafood stuff that makes it kind of a little fishy, but it just tastes the best.”

Interestingly, American SPP students have the same view on American food. Hayla O., a junior from the United States, completely does not really enjoy it, so she finds different foods to consume.

“I eat a lot of Colombian and Mexican food. I love Thai and Chinese food!” she confirmed.

Living away from their families and having a new experience with regional food makes SPP students miss home more.

“I miss my food more than my family, to be honest,” March lamented.

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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A Traditional Chinese New Year

An SPP Student tells about her Chinese New Year traditions back home…


Chinese New Year is the most important festivity for the Chinese people. It is also called the “Spring Festival” or the “Lunar New Year.”

The most important part of the Chinese New year is that the people who are working or have jobs very far away from their hometown go back to their family before the New Year’s Eve. All family members should be together and have a grand family reunion dinner.

About the food:

We make dumplings on the Chinese New Year Eve. It is one of the traditional foods. It means people will have an auspicious new year. Fish is always part of the dinner because it presents abundance. We have different foods to celebrate the Chinese New Year. In the south of China, people always make spring rolls, but in the north of our country, people will make noodles, dumplings, or New Year cakes.

Lucky money:

To all the children, “lucky money” is the best part of Chinese New Year. They go to visit their relatives and say “Happy New Year” to the elders. They will always get a red packet [that contains money]. The lucky money is given from elders. It means they wish the young kids to have a good year, be healthy and have good grades.

My favorite part:

For me, there are the most important parts of the Chinese Happy New Year: Being with all my family and getting lucky money. Preparing to have a good and fresh new year. Being successful in the next year.

– Xin Qi (Althea) Song, Student from China