Monday, February 29, 2016

Local Student Named Minnesota National Geographic State Bee Semifinalist by National Geographic Society

2016 Minnesota National Geographic State Bee Semifinalist Press Release


Local Student Named Minnesota National Geographic State Bee Semifinalist by National Geographic Society

Student’s Name: Cole Tonn
Parents’ Names: Matthew and Melissa Tonn
School Name and Address: Lester Prairie Public School, 131 Hickory Street North, Lester Prairie, MN 55354
Grade Level: Grade 8

The above-named student has been notified by the National Geographic Society that he is one of the semifinalists eligible to compete in the 2016 Minnesota National Geographic State Bee. The contest will be held at the Atwood Center on the campus of St. Cloud State University on Friday, April 1, 2016.

This is the second level of the National Geographic Bee competition, which is now in its 28th year. School Bees were held in schools with fourth- through eighth-grade students throughout the state to determine each school champion. School champions then took an online qualifying test. The National Geographic Society has invited up to 100 of the top-scoring students in each of the 50 states, District of Columbia, Department of Defense Dependents Schools and U.S. territories to compete in the state Bees.

Each state champion will receive $100, the National Geographic book “The National Parks: An Illustrated History” and a medal, and will journey to Washington, D.C., to represent their state in the National Geographic Bee Championship at National Geographic Society headquarters, May 22-25, 2016. The national champion will receive a $50,000 college scholarship and lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. The national champion will also travel (along with one parent or guardian), all expenses paid, on a Lindblad expedition to Southeast Alaska aboard National Geographic Sea Lion, including Glacier Bay National Park, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Travel for the trip is provided by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic. Visit for more information on the National Geographic Bee.

The 2016 National Geographic Bee Championship final round, moderated for the first time by journalist and humorist Mo Rocca, will air on the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD on Friday, May 27, at 8 p.m. ET, and later on public television stations. Check local television listings for air date and time in your area.
How would you fare as a Bee contestant? At the school Bees this year, students had to answer such questions as:

To fish in Lake Winnipesaukee [wi-neh-peh-SAW-kee] and ski near Franconia Notch, you would travel to which state—New Hampshire or South Dakota?

New Hampshire

Visitors to Biscayne National Park in Florida can go fishing and lobstering along the shore of which kind of habitat—mangrove or desert?


Sea kayakers can explore hundreds of islands off the Dalmatian coast of which European country south of Slovenia?


For centuries, the Chinese emperors lived in seclusion in the Forbidden City, which is located within what present-day city?


MEDIA NOTE: Prior to the state finals on April 1, press materials with additional information about the state- and national-level contests will be posted at To be notified when these materials are available, or for other inquiries, contact Kelsey Flora ( / 202-828-8023) with the National Geographic Society Communications office.

You may also contact the State Bee coordinator, Kerri Westgard at for additional information.

National Geographic is a global nonprofit membership organization driven by a passionate belief in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world. We fund hundreds of research and conservation projects around the globe each year. With the support of our members and donors, we work to inspire, illuminate and teach through scientific expeditions, award-winning journalism, education initiatives and more. For more information, visit

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Mrs. Smith’s kindergarten students in Lester Prairie are Ready, Enthusiastic, Anxious, and Determined to learn to READ! However, that means learning many skills using developmentally appropriate techniques when children have background skills and are ready to learn. Throughout the process, the children are actively involved and wholeheartedly participate in their learning in order to develop a deep understanding.

Already this year the children have learned about concepts of print – and can distinguish a letter from a number or word. The boys and girls also know that you start at the top of the page and go downwards reading from left to right and page-by-page.  Kindergarteners need to realize words must be separated by spaces and that sentences start with capital letters and end with some sort of punctuation mark – which they also have learned about and use in their writing.

Currently the children are focusing on several reading components. First of all they are becoming aware of the full value of the alphabet and what it does. It is actually the code for much of the communicating and comprehending they will do for the rest of their lives. They are also learning the letter sounds and using them to decode words and to write their own. Literacy lessons and centers always include alphabet and letter sound activities.

Phonological awareness is also a very important area in preparing kindergarten children to read and it includes identifying and manipulating units of oral language. Earlier in the year the children spent time learning these skills and are able to identify and make oral rhymes, clap out the number of syllables in a word and can recognize words with the same beginning sounds. Now the children are practicing phonemic awareness skills where they focus on and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in words.

Vocabulary development is at the heart of every story, folk tale, fable, poem, or non-fiction piece of literature studied. Favorite ways to enhance this learning is to try to use the new vocabulary in our daily oral exchanges, to illustrate the meaning of the word on posters around the room, and to use the words when playing in developmental centers, as well as literacy centers.

Comprehension is another component of learning to read in kindergarten. Currently in the theme The Neighborhood the children are developing an understanding of sequence words, are working on summarizing skills and are practicing how to retell a story. These are only a sample of the many comprehension skills they are developing.

Throughout the year high frequency words are introduced to the children. These are the most common words the child will need to be familiar with when reading common texts. Words like the, are, you, see and look are examples of these words. Becoming familiar with these words helps the children in their reading fluency and comprehension.

This is only a brief synopsis of what happens as children begin to learn the reading process. There are many factors to consider and to address and each child is different and goes through developmental stages at different rates. However, one of the best ways to help all children develop reading skills is for teachers, parents, relatives, and community members to read to children!  Even when the children are starting to read by themselves, they still need to be read to.

Finally, oral language development is vital for children to learn to read. Having two way conversations with children about the world around them, about their interests, and about new and exciting ideas is another way that whole communities can help support the children in their lives, with the process of learning to read.

“There are many little ways to enlarge your world.  Love of books is the best of all.” – Jacqueline Kennedy

Listening Center: Mariana Ixtlilco and Keaton Mathews listen to stories on the iPod at the listening center. They talk about the story they heard and draw their favorite part. They also find high frequency words they recognize.

Phonemic Awareness: Abigail Mathwig and Cooper Mattson listen for the number of sounds in words and either park a car in the parking lot for each sound or move a block for each sound they hear.

Fishing for High Frequency Words and playing Pop for Letters are reading games where Mariana Ixtlilco and Daniela Lopez fish for sight words and try to identify them. While playing “Pop for Letters” Cooper Mattson and Eathan-Ryan Simrell name letters and letter sounds with encouragement from their classmates.

Writing Center: (Front to back) Cooper Mattson, Eathan-Ryan Simrell, and Aurora Blasen use their letter writing and letter sound knowledge to write letters to special people in their families.

Reading to Children: One of the most important gifts any parent, teacher, grandparent, or community member can give a child is the time to read to him/her and to talk about the events of the story or the events in the world around them. Here Mrs. Smith shares a book about an American President while her students listen with eagerness and anticipation.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Redwood Falls-SWWC Service Cooperatives Regional Spelling Bee was held on Wednesday, February 10 at the Redwood Area Community Center in Redwood Falls.  Thirty one students, who won at their local level, came together to compete for the top four places that advance to the Multi-Region State Spelling Bee.  The scores from a written round and three oral rounds were combined in order to determine the top 15 students who compete in the afternoon spell-down.  Due to the ties there were 21 participants in the spell-down.  The top four students advanced to the Multi-Region State Spelling Bee on February 22nd in Fergus Falls.  
First place went to Kalea Appel, an eight-grader from Worthington Middle School.  Representing Lester Prairie was 6th grader Delaney Sebora.  Sebora placed sixth overall in the Bee after winning the local school bee.  Good job Delaney.



February 15-19, 2016

Superintendent Jeremy Schmidt
K-12 Principal Nathaniel Boyer

The Lester Prairie School District will join school districts throughout the state to salute their local education leaders during Minnesota’s annual School Board Recognition Week February 15-19.

The commemorative week is designed to recognize the contributions made by Minnesota’s school board members, including the Lester Prairie School District School Board, who are charged with governing public education under state law.

Minnesota school board members are chosen by their communities through election or appointment to manage local schools.  They oversee budgets, which fund education programs for more than 825,000 students in approximately 2,000 schools.  Their personnel decisions affect more than 52,000 teachers and thousands of administrators and support staff workers.

These volunteer leaders also are responsible for formulating school district policy, approving curricula, maintaining school facilities, and adhering to state and federal education law.  Legal concerns and the complexities of school finance, including budgeting and taxation, require them to spend many hours in board training programs and personal study to enhance their understanding of these issues.

Our deepest appreciation is extended to the dedicated men and women who make it possible for local citizens to participate in education in our community.  We salute the public servants of the Lester Prairie School Board whose commitment and civic responsibility make local control of public schools in our community possible: Karla Heigl, Rawelin Radtke, Steve Ziermann, Merri Lea Kyllo, Corbey Hentges, and Mary Otto.

Please join the Lester Prairie Administration and Staff by saying thanks to our local school board members during Minnesota’s School Board Recognition Week.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


With the public’s focus on high school sports and other extra-curriculars, another group of students worked hard in a competitive activity that teaches many important life skills-one act plays.

Students from the LPHT drama department, (Lester Prairie and Holy Trinity Schools) practiced diligently for the one-act play competition, “Death of a Dead Guy.” Practices ran most every day for two months, lasting over an hour. There were two performances before the competition: one for Lester Prairie students and the other for the public; both were held on Friday, January 29.

This year’s one-act coaches were Lester Prairie teachers, Paige Aldrich and Jennifer Smith.  Aldrich, the high school science teacher, and Smith, the high school English teacher, enjoyed coaching this year’s cast. The cast of actors included: Gerri Williamson (Mrs. Bascombe); Harley Hentges (Collette); Olivia Sanders (Bertram); Logan Groff (Pete Cannon); Jamie DeBruyckere (May Fielding); and Cameron Bolf (Reginald Bascombe III). Stage crew included: Aaron Rasmussen, Anthony Priebe, Ivan Lezama, Paige Hausladen, and Mikayla Cohrs.

LPHT students competed in the one-act sub-regional competition held at Rockford High School on Saturday, January 30th.  Other schools that participated: Holy Family School (Victoria); Providence Academy (Plymouth); Central High School (Norwood Young America); Glencoe Silver Lake; and Rockford High School.  Although Lester Prairie High School did not advance to the state competition, the students learned a lot from the competition and had fun.  Those schools that did advance to the state competition were Glencoe Silver Lake (first place) and Providence Academy (second place).

LPHT students gained so much from the competition.  Students were able to take away many things from the competition, and gained a newfound appreciation for theatre, watching other schools perform their selected plays.  Smith, in her first year of coaching one-act plays (third year coaching theatre), said this experience is great for the kids: “It allows them to effectively communicate, work collaboratively with others, and constructively learn from others.” In simpler terms, “the one-act was awesome.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

REACH Students Promote Self-esteem

Lester Prairie REACH students work on spreading and building self-esteem in themselves and other students.  The Lester Prairie REACH students filled the hallways with positive compliments during a class activity.  The students went through the halls writing positive compliments on sticky notes and placing them on everyone’s locker.  This activity was to show how random compliments can have a positive effect on a person’s self-esteem.

Valuable Resource for Parents

As a parent, we are faced with many questions when raising our children.  Many of these questions have to do with how our children are performing in school, learning difficulties, behaviors, and social skills.   With all the information available on the internet, a website that is a great tool for parents exploring those topics is  This website is packed with information that is useful to parents, students, and teachers.  Here is a small snapshot of what you will find at

LD Online gives parents some basic information about learning disabilities, common signs to look for, what to do if you think your child may have a disability, parenting tips, etc.  There is even a section for adults with learning disabilities, tips for how to work toward college, and helpful information for adults transitioning from school to work.

Did you ever wonder if your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?  At, there are links to symptoms of ADHD, what causes ADHD, examples of other disorders that could accompany it, how the family unit works with ADHD, how to treat it, tips to help your ADHD child in school, etc. 

LD Online offers hundreds of articles, reviewed by experts, that you can peruse though to learn about a specific topic.   Just a few from the vast list of topics include:  Behavior and Social Skills, Accommodations/Modifications for Students in the Classroom and at Home, Self-esteem and Stress Management, Study Skills, English Language Learners and LD, Understanding Processing Deficits, etc.

You will find a section located on the Media tab that shares videos from Learning Disability experts, offers teaching strategies when working with learning disabled children, and shares examples of technology for all children to use.  Additionally, there is a section titled “Finding Help” where you can seek expert advice and find a selection of professional resources in to assist parents.

If you have concerns about your child, this may be a great resource for you.  First and foremost, don’t hesitate to consult with your child’s teacher, the school counselor, and/or medical professionals so your son/daughter can learn to their full potential!

By:  Cathy Scoblic
Special Education Teacher

I can’t help my child with his/her homework…

...response from Amy Smith, Math teacher, Lester Prairie Schools

Homework, as a parent, do you just dread it?  I often hear at conferences, “But I can’t help him/her with their math homework” or ”Math is different.”  In my opinion math is not different, but some of the ways it is taught are new or different.  Kids are required to do more math at younger ages.  So to parents, it may look like math is different, but it is the same math.  Your child may be learning things at a younger age than you did.  There is a greater emphasis on Algebraic thinking at younger ages.  As many of you know, the state of Minnesota now requires that all 8th graders pass Algebra.  This was not the case when many of today’s parents were in high school.

So, back to homework.  Yes!  You can help your child with his/her homework.  At Lester Prairie many students just need support at home to help them get their homework done.  Ask your child specific questions about the homework.  Provide the time and place for them to get their homework done.  Show them you care about their homework so they form a good habit of getting their homework done.  Getting it done is the first step.  

This year my 7th and 8th grade students are using a composition notebook for Math notes.  This is working better for most students.  Their notes are in one notebook and all the notebook gets used for is math notes.  It keeps their notes organized.  When your child does not know how to do their homework, ask them if they have looked at their notes.  Not everything is in their notes, but it is a place to get them (and maybe you) a start.  Often the student is just sitting not knowing how to do something.  Help them to see there are resources available to figure things out.   
For some topics, I have links on my page on the Lester Prairie High School’s web site. Go to High School 6-12, Academics, Mathematics, Amy Smith.  Click on Classes to see information and links for each class.  

I read an article from the National Council of Teachers of Math that gave some very good ideas about helping your child with their (remember it is their) homework.  The article, published in 2006, lists many questions to ask your child when challenged with helping get math homework done.  

Here are a few questions from the article.  
  • Where do you think you should begin?
  • Are there instructions or directions?  What do they say?
  • What have you done so far?
  • Can you tell me where you are stuck?
  • Why don’t we look for some help on the Internet?

The article ends with “Remember, support homework-don’t do it!”  I agree and believe that with support most kids will be able to get their homework done and be successful in school.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

L.P. Students Love to Read!

February is “I Love to Read Month” for Lester Prairie Elementary Students.  Children of all ages are reading and tracking their minutes in order to help the principal, Mr. Boyer, “Race Across the U.S.A.”  For every ten minutes read, he travels one mile on the United States Map.  Mr. Boyer began his trip in Alaska, and his destination is New York City.  At every stop along the way, students will learn fun facts about that location.  If the principal makes it to New York City by the end of February, all of the elementary students will celebrate with ice cream sundaes.  Other activities for “I Love to Read Month” include daily book trivia questions with prizes and decorating classroom doors in a reading theme.

Mallorie Torry and Averi Tritabaugh pose next to the Race Across the U.S.A. bulletin board.

Mr. Boyer all geared at his starting point in Alaska.