Minneapolis Public School’s summer program opens to more students

I was surprised when I received a letter encouraging my son to attend summer school. It didn’t make sense to me — he made the honor roll and his test scores were good. Why would I send him to summer school?When I investigated, I found a confusing web of rules about summer school. A student might be “invited” to go to summer school for a variety of reasons, including status (English language learner, homeless or highly mobile student), grades, attendance, etc. But students may also qualify to attend summer school even if they have good grades and score high on the MCA tests.According to Daren Johnson, district program facilitator for Minneapolis Public Schools, “We’ve made it loose to qualify.” He said the only requirement is that students must be current Minneapolis Public School students. Continue Reading

Northeast corporations partner with NEMS to tutor students

Major corporations like Honeywell and General Mills are not usually recognized for being active partners in education.  Although corporations donate generous amounts to schools each year, you don’t hear about any direct relationships with a particular school. It’s a hands-off kind of support. But in Northeast Minneapolis, three corporations have been participating in a remarkable tutoring partnership with Northeast Middle School (NEMS).

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NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Hotdish Revolution is Coming April 21

What says community in Minnesota more than hot dish?The Holland neighborhood in Northeast Minneapolis takes the idea of an ordinary casserole supper, (the kind advertised in small town papers,) one step further by tweaking it enough to take on its own one of a kind flavor. And what says Northeast Minneapolis better than hot dishes, jello, accordion music, and beer?It’s quirky. It’s fun. No pretention here just a lot of good natured competition and fun among young and old alike. This is the 9th annual Hotdish Revolution and it’s coming to St. Maron’s Cedar Hall on April 21st.Organizer Adelheid Koski said, “I think it gets bigger because it is such a great, quirky, cool celebrator melding of Old and New Northeast. Continue Reading

Creative writing behind bars: The Prison Writing Workshop

Who would want to teach creative writing in a prison?  Jennifer Bowen Hicks does. And her reasons for founding the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop (MPWW) in 2011 are clear, if not simple.According to Hicks the program works because writing or reading is more than an escape from darkness or monotony for those behind bars. “Art helps us remember and even imagine different ways to live in the world, different ways to live inside our own heart and mind. It engenders empathy, creativity, self-awareness,” she said.In 2011, Hicks contacted  “nearly every prison” in Minnesota to ask if she could teach creative writing. John King, (now Assistant Deputy, then warden from MCF-Lino Lakes) answered her request. Continue Reading

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK | Creative writing in prison

Who would want to teach creative writing in a prison?Jennifer Bowen Hicks does.  But her reasons for starting the Minnesota Prison Writing Project in 2011 are not so simple. According to Jennifer, the program works because writing or reading is more than an escape from darkness or monotony for those behind bars.“Art helps us remember and even imagine different ways to live in the world, different ways to live inside our own heart and mind. It engenders empathy, creativity, and self-awareness.90% of incarcerated individuals will someday leave prison. It’s not just humane or idealistic to give them tools to lead an examined life, it’s logical. I believe that’s true for all of us, not just those behind bars,” she said.Read the full story about what instructors, the Department of Correction Officials and students are saying about the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop in about a week in the Daily Planet. Continue Reading

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTE | 5th Annual “We Love Our Presidents” walk to be held February 16

Each year the number of walkers increases.  If you’d like to find out why, then put on your scarves and boots and join your neighbors on February 16 in an informative and fun walk through the Northeast neighborhood to learn about our nation’s leaders at the annual “We Love Our Presidents” Walk. Northeast Minneapolis happens to be the area in the city where many of the streets are named after United States Presidents so it seems only fitting that Northeast mark the day in a special way with a walk through the neighborhood.This year’s theme is presidential pets and White House animals. Walkers will gather at 10 am at the Edison High School and walk to Central Ave. The route continues up Central to 29th then to Northeast Middle School.  The NE Urban 4-H Club and Northeast Royalty will once again lead the group, reading interesting trivia on the presidents at designated stops along the route. There will be a hot chocolate stop at the Eastside Food Co-op.  At the end of the walk, neighbors will enjoy a hot lunch along with a program which will include trivia, a drawing, and prizes awarded to the coloring contest winters (last year they received close to 1,000 entries from Waite Park, Marcy Open School and other area schools and daycares), along with a short speech or two.   Community groups are welcome to participate in the walk and a presentation of the 2013 Northeast Presidential Seal will be awarded to the group with the most participants. Continue Reading

Knitting with the Roller Derby Girls in Minneapolis

Do you think you have to be a little rough around the edges to hang out with the Minnesota Roller Derby Girls (MNRG)?Think again.Many have a much softer side and that involves knitting. So if you are a MNRG fan, you can catch up with them each month at Crafty Planet, a local fabric shop located in Northeast Minneapolis, where they hold a monthly knitting session for charity.Knitting for charity with the Roller Derby Girls started in 2004 when Roller Girl, Norah Torious’ mother was diagnosed with cancer and had to go through chemo. Norah decided to knit her mother a hat. Other crafty people in the league thought making soft, warm hats on a regular basis was a good way to help other cancer patients.Every month during their home season, the Roller Derby Girls gather with other knitters at Crafty Planet to make hats for charity. Once completed, they attach a tag identifying that the cap was knit by fans of the Minnesota Roller Girls. Continue Reading

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTE | Winter Warm Up Scheduled for January 25

The fifth annual Winter Warm Up, the primary source of funding for the Northeast Middle School after-school theater program, is set for Friday, January 25 from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. at the Grace Center (1500 6th St NE). All are invited to attend.The event will feature music by Buster Phelan (a local band that performs a mix of rock, pop and R & B music, food from local restaurants, beer, wine and a silent auction.All proceeds from ticket sales and the auction directly benefit the Northeast Middle School theater program, which puts on two shows each year: a winter play and a spring musical.  For this year’s fall play the Middle School students combined with the Edison theater group and performed a Shakespearean double feature.  The middle school students performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Edison group performed Romeo and Juliet. Usually 10-15 students participate in the fall play but this year more than 40 students worked on the performance.For their spring musical, Northeast Middle School is staging the full two act version of Peter Pan on April 18 and 19.“Although this is an ambitious undertaking the middle school program has grown to the point where they are ready to tackle this classical musical,” Chris Pratt, chair of the Winter Warm-up committee said.“In keeping with the spirit of Peter Pan, we would really like to be able to “fly” a group of students above the middle school stage,” he said. Continue Reading

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTE | Meet Barb Kapala: Northeast Middle School Community Education Beacons Coordinator

“It’s all about the kids,” Barb Kapala sums up her work as the Community Education Beacons Coordinator at Northeast Middle School.  She’s been at the job since 2003 and still loves working with the middle school students. It was 2001 when a  good friend encouraged Barb to teach a class in the Minneapolis Public Schools, entitled, “I Believe I Can Fly.”  At that time, she worked fulltime at an HR job but was able to take some time off to teach the class. Barb spent 12 weeks with kids in 3rd – 7th grade, teaching a class not only academic but also in goal setting and confidence building skills.  The class was a success and Barb felt that she had made an impact on the students. That same friend encouraged her to do it full time.  She agreed.  She came into the district in 2002 and later accepting the Community Education Beacons Coordinator position in 2003.The Beacons after school program has been at Northeast Middle School since 1998 and is one of the original Beacons sites in Minneapolis. Continue Reading