Carter Broze is a 9th grader at West Junior High with aspirations of becoming an engineer. His interest in the field started early when he took pre-engineering courses called Project Lead the Way (PLTW) at Pearson 6th Grade Center. He says something about the course clicked. Now, he’s deep into PLTW and thinks in high school he will find his home in the Engineering & Manufacturing Academy.
In the fall of 2018, the expanded Shakopee High School will open after doubling in size. The Academies of Shakopee is a new vision for the high school that will ensure a welcoming, inclusive environment within a large high school setting and improve student success in post-secondary programs and career.
In 9th grade, students will enter the Freshman Academy, which will provide the necessary skills to transition to high school and provide additional time to explore elective courses offered by the academies.
The six areas of interest academies are:
Arts & Communication
Business & Entrepreneurship
Engineering & Manufacturing
Science & Technology
While students will take a majority of their classes in their home academy, they will also have the option to explore other classes outside their academy.
Several 9th graders, including Carter, reflected on their time and academic path thus far in Shakopee schools. Many of them are currently following our pre-engineering program, PLTW.
“When I’m in the tech department it feels like home,” said Kortney Vizenor, 9th grader at West Junior High. “It helps me. I feel like it will make high school seem not so big if we choose a path.”
For students who don’t know their future aspirations or have changing interests, the Freshman Academy will help them explore their areas of interest. Students will also be able to change academies during their time at the high school if they find their interest lie in another area.
“The academies will help prepare you for more life experiences,” said Sam Schwaesdall, a 9th grader at West Junior High. “It will help you know what to expect in the real world and college.”
What are the Academies of Shakopee? Watch this short video to learn more.
Elementary Core Examines
Options for the Future
This past spring, our Elementary Core Planning Team began researching options to improve programming and program options for families at the elementary and early childhood levels. Nancy Thul, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, presented preliminary recommendations for review and discussion to the school board.
“One recommendation is to look at options at Central Family Center," said Thul. "There are several things for the board to consider, including future facility needs, programming and delivery of services."
The Elementary Core Planning Team also recommended that the Pearson 6th Grade Center, which will revert back to an elementary school in the fall of 2018, have attendance boundaries similar to the other five elementary schools in the district. This means boundaries will need to be reviewed for all elementary schools.
The team also proposed a variety of specialized academic programs at the elementary schools to offer parents additional choices. The school board requested the district administration explore the costs and feasibility of some of the options. Options will be discussed at a later date, as well as the possibility of surveying our community for input.
Shakopee Students Reap the Benefits of Technology in the Classroom
Technology Enriches Learning for All Students
Our students are incorporating technology into their daily lessons and leaving behind the days of paper and pencil.
Elementary students are creating digital books, learning how to stay safe online, using apps for personalized learning and so much more.
"We are fortunate to live in a community that supports funding for technology in the classroom,” said Bryan Drozd, Director of Instructional Technology. “Our main focus is to ensure students are using the technology we have provided to its greatest capacity. This is not a glorified notebook. It is an amazing educational tool that can enhance learning.”
Secondary students and teachers are using technology to enrich their lessons, including robotics kits to explore electronics, circuit design, and computer programming.
“Technology has allowed us to reach a variety of different learners and given us an opportunity to expand our own skill set as well,” said Erin Hunt, a social studies teacher at the high school.
Teachers, with the help of our Digital Learning Coaches, will continue to create lessons that enhance learning through the use of technology.
Our district also currently has mobile carts that provide one iPad for every two students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade. This concept will continue to expand throughout the elementary grade levels.
Safety and Security Measures Continue at Shakopee Schools
A new school check-in practice has been implemented this year at three pilot schools. Central Family Center, East Junior High, and Jackson Elementary are now using LobbyGuard as a visitor management system to help secure our schools.
“LobbyGuard allows us to track and record who is entering and exiting our buildings,” said Kain Smith, Building and Grounds Manager.
Visitors of those schools who want to go past the front office must check-in using LobbyGuard. Visitors will simply swipe their identification card or report their first and last name to the office secretary. LobbyGuard runs a background check that pulls from a national sex offender database.
“Our goal is to implement LobbyGuard in every building,” said Smith. “This trial run will last a few months and then we will re-evaluate the functionality of the system.”
In addition to LobbyGuard, students will also receive ALICE Training. It is a program that educates individuals and organizations on how to proactively handle the threat of an intruder. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.
“The purpose of ALICE training is to give staff and students a realistic approach to handling unpredictable situations,” said Matt Conway, School Resource Officer at East Junior High. “Our highest priority is to always keep as many people safe as possible.”
The safety of our students is a priority in our district and we will continue to look for ways to enhance security throughout our buildings.
at Shakopee High School
An Update on the Progress
It has been more than ten years since bulldozers and construction vehicles pounded the dirt at Shakopee High School. Construction has begun on the site for an expansion that will double the size of the current building. Construction on the west side of the building is currently underway. This past summer, crews worked on the east side of the building to expand the drainage pond as well as parking.
“We would like to thank our community for their understanding as we move through the construction process,” said John Bezek, Assistant Superintendent. “Without their support, this project would not be possible. We are happy to provide our students with new spaces that will give them more opportunities and help ease the enrollment crunch throughout the district.”
Crews are working on the construction of the new field house, competition gym and an additional classroom tower. The field house will allow us to increase intramural activity space to give students who do not compete on athletic teams an opportunity to stay active and involved year-round. The field house will have six courts and an elevated track.
The additional classroom tower will be three stories, similar to the current towers at the high school. It will provide more than 20 new classrooms for our increasing enrollment and the addition of 9th graders at the high school in 2018.
We will continue to update our staff, parents and community about the project as it progresses. Visit our construction website for more information and weekly updates: http://www.shakopee.k12.mn.us/construction
High School Construction Update
New Club Gaining Speed
Avery Schaefer fastens his helmet, prepares to put his best foot forward and gets ready for what’s sure to be a bumpy ride.
“The idea of riding through the woods, going through tight curves and rocketing down hills is exhilarating,” said Schaefer.
The 10th grader is one of 27 riders on the Shakopee Mountain Bike Team, which is gaining momentum among students.
The Shakopee School Board approved the club in 2015. The team started with 15 riders and has since nearly doubled in size.
“The riders are enjoying themselves and have shown incredible improvement in their skills,” said Head Coach John Oman, an avid cyclist and teacher at East Junior High. “It has been the most enjoyable coaching experience of my life.”
The Shakopee Mountain Bike Team is open to riders starting in 6th grade. It’s included on the list of newly formed clubs now offered to our students.
“We believe that participation in extracurricular activities is part of a well-rounded education,” said School Board Member Shawn Hallett. “I believe it has a positive impact on academic achievement. We will continue to focus on offering clubs, fine arts, and athletics -- including a robust intramural program -- to engage as many students as possible in the future.”
15-year-old Schaefer didn’t have any experience prior to joining the team. Now, he mentors younger riders. “Each race presents its own challenges including rock gardens, 600 foot climbs, steep descents and bridges. With the help of coaches and a lot of practice, I have been able to finish every 12-mile race.”
October 30 marked the end of the second season for Schaefer and his mountain bike teammates, but not the end of the race for them to learn, build relationships and be a part of their community.
Business Administration and Management Program Partners with RiverSouth
With the beginning of the school year came the start of a new program for Shakopee CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies). High school students are now participating in the Business Administration and Management CAPS program. CAPS is an elective program for juniors and seniors that immerses students into authentic career experiences with the help of local business partners. The new program partners with RiverSouth, which is a collaboration between Canterbury Park, Mystic Lake, Renaissance Festival, and Valleyfair.
"The highlight of working with RiverSouth has been the ability to witness the generous outpouring of support by our business partners,” said Diane Ewing, Business Administration and Management teacher. “Observing these professionals individually invest in our business students has truly been remarkable.”
Students in the Business Administration and Management program are fully immersed in a rare collaboration between state and nationally recognized entertainment and tourism businesses. They are working with RiverSouth professionals on talent acquisition and marketing strategies, drive core revenue streams as well as enhancing employee engagement and retention.
Students earn dual credit with Shakopee High School and Normandale Community College. They spend their first semester on site with a business partner(s) and second semester immersed in an internship experience.
“CAPS has challenged and given me a new way of learning,” said Luke Swanson, Business Administration and Management CAPS student. “I get hands-on experience that can't be gained in a classroom setting. The ability to network with business professionals has allowed me to create meaningful contacts with the potential to evolve into future internship opportunities.”
The Man Behind the Lens
He picked up his first camera at the age of five. When he turned 12, he shot his first short film. One year later, he landed his first paid gig.
15-year-old Logan Chelmo, a 10th grader at Shakopee High School, is the student behind the lens. Logan films and edits projects. His dream is to become a filmmaker.
“My favorite filmmaker is Stanley Kubrick,” said Logan. “Kubrick is known as one of the greatest and most influential directors in cinematic history. He was a cinematographer, screenwriter, producer and photographer.”
Logan has filmed weddings and baby showers. “I hope to continue providing services and learn as much as I can about film and editing,” said Logan.
As the high schooler pursues his dreams, his parents won’t be far behind. “As parents we should provide inspiration, motivation, and leadership,” said Clayton Chelmo, Logan’s father. “Starting a new venture comes with many challenges and will take time. But, supporting their goals and providing advice is significant to their success.”
Logan’s advice to other students who may consider following in his footsteps is simple: “Do something you love and keep going.”
Logan plans to continue pushing towards his goals, while also remembering these words from Kubrick to excel him even further: “If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.”
“It is not uncommon for a young person to have the confidence, drive and a unique proposition that leads them to start their own business before hitting college. Back in the day, it was considered a lawn mowing business. Now, it could be a kid who’s tech savvy and creativity has led him/her to create apps, websites or graphic design for local businesses. We hope that experiences gleaned in the Academies, and especially CAPS, can be a testing or proving ground for young people with big ideas.”
Reggie Bowerman, School Board Chair
From Books to Baking
The art of baking and decorating runs through Jenna Koehn’s veins. One taste of her cupcakes will leave you speechless and yearning for another bite. She’s 12-years-old and already has experience well beyond her time.
“I was very little when I started,” said Jenna. “At a young age, I helped my dad make banana bread. I had no intentions of making it perfect. I was just throwing stuff into the mixing bowl.”
After baking with her dad a few times, Jenna was hooked. She eventually shifted her attention to cupcakes.
“Unfortunately, my first batch didn’t go as planned. The vanilla buttercream cupcakes were really dense, dry and tasted weird.”
A few days later, Jenna tried again and knocked it out of the park.
In June, she started Jenna Benna Cupcakes.
“I knew it was only a matter of time,” said Sarah Koehn, Jenna’s mother. “I remember coming home from work one day and she was making red velvet cupcakes.”
Jenna has made cupcakes for local fundraisers and baby showers. Even though people describe her cupcakes as a work of art, she continues to draw inspiration from her dad and grandmother who are both bakers at heart.
Jenna is a 7th grader and attends West Junior High School. After graduation, she plans to pursue teaching.
Jenna also has dreams of opening her own bakery, which she says would be the perfect place to spend summer breaks.
Much to the excitement of her supporters, Jenna plans to continue baking and making it her mission to give them a sweet escape when they bite into one of her creations.
One by one, Shakopee students move through the lunch line. No matter their food selection, every item has an extra ingredient that students can’t taste, but it is measured daily. “My team adds an extra topping of care for the students,” said Shakopee Schools Food Service Manager Deb Ross-Coen.
The department serves 2,000 students for breakfast and 6,300 students for lunch every day in the district.
In recent years, Ross-Coen has introduced the department and students to a trend she follows in her life, which is clean eating. “When I shop for my family I try to purchase local foods that don’t have artificial flavors or colors,” said Ross-Coen.
In her 15 years with the district, Food Service has implemented new measures to increase the number of natural food options for Shakopee students and to support local farmers. Turkey burgers are purchased from Ferndale Farms in Cannon Falls; a first for Shakopee Public Schools.
Last year, the department began purchasing 100% grass-fed all beef hot dogs from Thousand Hill Cattle Company in Cannon Falls.
Local fruits, vegetables and salads are also offered daily. “The Food Service staff prides itself on offering as many fresh fruits and vegetables that the Minnesota growing season will allow,” said Ross-Coen.
In the last several years, Food Service has worked with Sponsel’s Minnesota Harvest Apple Orchard out of Jordan and the Hmong American Farmers Association to purchase unique produce such as ground cherries and long beans.
“It's a lot of fun to try new products that some of us have never tasted,” said Ross-Coen. “My staff has embraced the farm-to-school produce and I couldn’t do it without them!”