Thursday, December 15, 2011

Adopt a Family

Even our very youngest students have the power to make our community a better place to live. Giving students these kinds of opportunities is an important cornerstone of our our District's mission.
Ric Dressen @EdinaSuper

Dinnertime at our house offers an opportunity to talk about your day, and to give  “highlight” and a “lowlight” if you choose. As you can imagine, conversations with a 6, 4, and 1-year-old are quite rich and filled with the breath of simplicity. 

One night, our first-grader came to the table quite eager to share his highlight. Neither recess, lunch, gym, music, or art made the list that night. “I need to work to earn money to give to school for a kid!” he exclaimed.  He went on to explain that he was to do a job and earn money to share with a kid who wouldn’t have any presents this year. We asked him what job he would like to do to earn money. It would have to be above and beyond his normal routine. As he left dinner that night, the wheels were turning behind those blue eyes as he mulled over just what that special job would be.

Our fabulous first grade teacher, Mrs. Davis, had sent an e-mail home explaining that for the second year on a row, Countryside was working with Volunteers of America’s Adopt a Family-MN program.  This special service-learning project would affect every kid at school if they were willing to jump in and serve. Kids were to do some work to earn money and donate it to a classroom fund. Each classroom in the school had adopted one individual and set out to make them smile, to make a difference. The individual had written a wish listl and parent volunteers, with earned money in hand, would go shop for this child, wrap the gifts and deliver them. 

“Shoveling!”  It finally came to that smiling face as the flakes began to fly one Saturday morning.  That was a job he could do to earn money. He did the whole sidewalk, and proceeded to the back yard to attack the deck. “I’m done,” he said with a cranky face when half the deck was completed. “This is too much.”   

“Lots of work?” I asked.  

“Yes. I need a break, water, and a snack." We chatted over water and snack about just how much work it is to really give. He smiled, realizing what his gift would mean to someone. His crankiness turned back to joy and he finished the job. When I handed him the envelope filled with ones, he broke into a smile. Giving is good. It feels good. It is good. 

Last week, 24 lives were touched by the hard work of the Countryside students living out their ICCAR ethical values. What a gift to all of us, not just handing over the money, but really helping our kids get in touch with giving. 

I truly love this community--our teachers, staff, parents, and kids. Thank you for living the ICCAR values and teaching our kids to step out and serve. What a gift it is for our kids to know that they have the power to make a difference in the lives of others. 

Sarah Wohlrabe

Ahoy, Me Mateys

Nightmare sailors, zombie pirates, hypnotizing mermaids, Spiderman...not to mention the tech crew! There is a part for everyone in the sixth and seventh grade play at South View-and the cast is large, with over 60 students taking part in the production. Kudos to all involved!
Ric Dressen @EdinaSuper

The theater is dark, and above the childrens’ heads, a skull and crossbones is shining on the black velvet curtain. There is a language being spoken that one does not usually hear from sixth and seventh graders. Lots of" "arrgghs," "me mateys," "scurvy wenches" and "wee scrogs" are being thrown about. I find myself in the South View theater watching rehearsals for the upcoming play, “The Fearsome Pirate Frank.”

Learning lines with a pirate accent, moving on stage, dealing with hot stage lights and finding just the right costume are some of the things these students have been working on since October. Directors Betsy Madson and Kathleen Hartman work diligently with students to get all the details just right. The professionalism, enthusiasm and dedication of everyone involved brings a smile to my face.

I have experienced all of this first-hand with a sixth grader in her first play. It was great fun to see her so excited when she came home from school and announced she had earned a lead role in the production. Then the preparation began: rehearsals at least twice a week and memorizing all those lines of pirate-speak! 

As opening night approaches, I know that many of these students are getting nervous for their first on-stage experience in front of a live audience. The directors are exhorting students to get plenty of sleep, eat healthy meals and snacks, and use plenty of hand-sanitizer. The make-up will go on, the pirate gear will be donned, and there will be lots of energy backstage as these students prepare to take the stage.

The months of preparation and hard work are about to pay off with performances happening this week in the Dragseth Auditorium at South View. The performances are Thursday, December 15 at 7:00 pm, Friday, December 16 at 7:00 pm, and Saturday, December 17 at 2:00 pm. Come support these young new thespians!

Melissa Seeley

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We Care

Edina students benefit from an extraordinary team of adults who teach and lead by example, both in and out of the classroom.
Ric Dressen @EdinaSuper

“We care, we dare, we share.”

Edina School District bus drivers have brought service to others to the school bus. For the past four Novembers, bus drivers have invited their student riders to bring food donations for the hungry. The Edina Fire Station’s work collecting food for VEAP inspired the drivers to give students a chance to help food shelves. Last month, Edina students donated approximately 5000 pounds of food through the school bus food drive. This year’s total is down a bit from last year’s of 6648 pounds because of a temporary space shortage at the bus garage.

Jerry’s contributes the grocery bags. The drivers place them at the front of the bus, where interested students can grab them. The drivers do not pressure students. Not everyone is able to participate. That’s okay, because some kids climb the bus with a full bag day after day. It is a “light-hearted” effort to assist those in need. In this spirit, in 2009 a driver dressed up in a tutu as penance when another bus collected more food than his bus.

The food drive requires a lot more from the drivers than putting bags on the bus. At the end of each day during the drive, the groceries are weighed, so the tally can be reported to students the following day. Then, a driver loads the donations into her truck for delivery to the food shelves. This year’s drive benefited two small food shelves - one in Minneapolis, the other in St. Paul.  Drivers also reached into their own pockets to donate cash to the effort. The 2011 drive raised more than $2800.00 in cash alone, including a contribution from the drivers’ union. This figure is similar to cash collections in past years. 

At our home, we learned of the food drive when our sixth grader came off the bus one day with a Jerry’s bag. Stapled to the bag was a flier from the District’s bus drivers. The flier described the program and noted that the District’s drivers “love taking care of your kids.” As one driver put it, “There is nothing more heartening than pulling up to a bus stop and seeing the kids holding bags of food.” Not only are the District’s bus drivers safely transporting our kids to and from school, they are modeling the District’s motto in a potent way. Something to be thankful for this season.