Schools notebook

Armatage meeting on busy intersection

ARMATAGE — Principal Joan Franks was working with district and city officials to head-off what she termed “an accident waiting to happen” near Armatage Community and Montessori School in February.

Franks said traffic near the intersection of Sheridan Avenue and West 57th Street was becoming a safety hazard. In February, she appealed to parents for suggestions to solve the problem.

“Over on that particular corner, we just have lot of cars dropping off kids,” she said.

Traffic was worst at about 7:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m., the beginning and end of the Armatage school day. The placement of an adult crossing guard at the corner had not done enough to prevent children and parents from jaywalking and weaving between cars, she said.

Franks contacted city officials to request a four-way stop at the intersection. She was also seeking parent input on designated student pick-up and drop-off sites for buses and parents in cars.

She said some of the school’s neighbors expressed concern about changing the location of the bus stop.

“Inevitably, whatever plan we have will create an inconvenience for somebody,” Franks acknowledged. “But priority number one is the safety of the kids.”


Rybak promotes college to young students

Mayor R.T. Rybak planned to get elementary school students thinking about college with the launch of the “I Know I Can” program in Minneapolis Public Schools
Feb. 19.

Rybak and about 200 volunteers visited nearly 40 public schools to read to 3rd-grade students from “I Know I Can,” a children’s book that emphasizes the importance of a college education. The effort is a part of the mayor’s Minneapolis Promise initiative focused on removing barriers to higher education.


Ramsey celebrates Black History Month

TANGLETOWN — Ramsey International Fine Arts Center hosts its first Harlem Renaissance Family Celebration 7 p.m. Feb. 26.

“Rhapsody in Black” is a celebration of African American culture set to coincide with Black History Month in February. Students and community members will perform dances, poetry and music, with student musicians playing the popular music of the 1920s, an era when African American culture blossomed in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City.

Artwork and social studies projects by middle school students will be on display during the event, which will also feature refreshments and door prizes.


Southwest senior earns mentor award

FULTON — A Southwest High School senior was recognized for her work with middle school students in the Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science (GEMS) program in January, the district reported.

Martha Streng received the Young Mentor Award during the Minnesota FIRST Lego League State Championship Tournament Jan. 26. The award honored Streng for her work with the GEMS students at Field Middle School, who earned the Team Spirit Award in the competition.

The competition challenges middle school students to build and program a Lego robot.

A district report indicated 325 Minneapolis Public Schools students, including both the girls and their high school mentors, participated in GEMS this year.


Washburn places fifth in Science Bowl

TANGLETOWN — Washburn High School’s Science Bowl team finished in fifth place in the state competition Jan. 25 at Macalester College in St. Paul.

In the competition between 30 teams from across the state, Washburn had one of only five teams to go undefeated in the first round, a round-robin competition. Washburn seniors Jordan Shaw, Katie Dahl and Zeke Cato and junior Ian Ingersoll won seven matches, tying for fifth place with a team from Wayzata High School.


Southwest, Anthony plan musicals

Southwest High School and Anthony Middle School both had musicals in the works for March.

More than 100 Southwest students will take part in the school’s production of “South Pacific,” the largest theater production to be staged in the school’s auditorium since its renovation in 2007, the school reported.

Southwest was one of 25 metro-area schools participating in this year’s SpotLight Musical Theater Program sponsored by Hennepin Theater Trust. SpotLight sends evaluators to area performances and honors outstanding performances during a spring awards ceremony.

Last year, Southwest’s production of “Hair” earned several SpotLight awards and honorable mentions.

“South Pacific” is 7 p.m. March 6–8 and 13–15 and 2 p.m. March 16 at Southwest High School auditorium, 3414 W. 47th St.

Anthony students also will perform in an upgraded venue when they take the stage with “Music Man, Jr.” The sound and lighting systems in the school’s auditorium have undergone improvements since last year’s musical, said parent Deb Peterson.

“Music Man, Jr.” is 6:30 p.m. March 12–14 at Anthony Middle School auditorium, 5757 Irving Ave. S.


Reach Dylan Thomas at 436-4391 or [email protected]




Schools notebook

Armatage principal honored by peers

ARMATAGEArmatage Community and Montessori School Principal Joan Franks was up for two awards in February recognizing her skills as a school leader.

Franks received the Division Leadership Achievement Award at the 2008 Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA) Institute in February.

“Certainly, it’s a great honor,” Franks said, adding that she has “the utmost respect” for the other principals of MESPA’s Minneapolis Division, who selected her for the award.

Franks also was one of several principals in the running for Minnesota National Distinguished Principal, an award co-sponsored by the federal Department of Education and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. A win at the state level would put her in competition for a national award.

MESPA President Lillie Pang nominated Franks for the award. The principal of Longfellow Community School said Franks had been a “great leader” for other Minneapolis

“She’s willing to share her ideas and share strategies that work,” Pang said. “She’s willing to call us to account as a group.”

“I’d like to see her get her national recognition for all the work that she’s done,” she added.

Franks, who began her education career as an elementary school teacher, has been a principal at various schools for about 15 years, 10 of those at Armatage. She is the president of the Minneapolis Principals Forum.

Franks credited the “phenomenal” community support at Armatage for her success at the school.

“The parent, community and staff partnership I have here, it’s unmatchable,” she said.

Blake students win art awards

Two Blake School students won the highest award given at the annual Minnesota Scholastic Art Awards in February at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD).

Margaret Chute, a junior, and Matthew Crocker, a sophomore, were among the 52 Gold Key winners who will move on to the national Scholastic competition in New York. A jury of professional artists and designers selected the winning pieces from more than 1,000 submissions from students in grades 7–12.

MCAD, which hosts and administers the competition, will display 150 of the students’ pieces through Feb. 17. The exhibition, in the MCAD Gallery, 2501 Stevens Ave., is free and open to the public.

Southwest students excel at spelling bee

Two students from Southwest-area schools were among the top four spellers in the Minneapolis Public Schools spelling bee held Jan. 23 at Sheridan Global Arts and Communications school in Northeast.

Nigel Wolfe, a 5th-grader at Bryn Mawr Elementary, took second place and was the youngest of the top four finishers, the district reported. Eighth-grader Storm Autio of Northeast Middle School out-spelled 43 other students, winning the bee by correctly spelling “tentacle.”

Results from the district showed 8th-grader Steffen Billund-Phibbs of Lake Harriet Upper School finished third, followed by 8th-grader Mary Chang of Lucy Craft Laney Community School in fourth place.

Student Activities Office Director Pam Olson said all four students are eligible to compete in the Metro Spelling Bee, where they will face the 5th- to 8th-grade winners from other Twin Cities area schools. The winner of that contest advances to the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee May 28 and 29 in Washington, D.C.

Area C parent meeting

Southwest-area Minneapolis Public Schools parents are invited an Area C parent meeting 6:30–8:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at Jefferson Community School, 1200 W. 26th St.

The agenda includes discussion of parent engagement with Minneapolis schools, points of access to the district and parent priorities for the next district budget. There will be childcare provided at the meeting.

Lake Harriet principal retiring

FULTON Lake Harriet Community School Principal Marsha Seltz will retire this month after more than 30 years in the district.

“It’s been a great career and a great place to end my career, but I feel like I’m ready to leave,” Seltz said.

After teaching elementary and middle grades classes for most of her career, Seltz moved into administration about 11 years ago. She was principal of Lake Harriet for eight years.

Her last day will be Feb. 15. Hank Taxis will serve as interim principal at Lake Harriet until the district hires a permanent replacement.a