During the Monday School Board meeting, the Fergus Falls Public School Board approved moving the fifth grade to the Kennedy Secondary School starting in the 2017-18 school year. The key reason behind the move is class size. Currently, class sizes are large at Cleveland and we do not have room to add sections to reduce the class size. In this plan, we will be able to add sections in grades 3-6. Cleveland will continue to be the home of all third- and fourth-grade students.

Our fifth-grade students will be separated from the high school students by location and schedule. Whether students are housed at Cleveland or Kennedy, they’ll continue to be taught in a safe and secure learning environment. The School Board also approved the formation of the Facility Planning Committee to study the long-term options for our students as we continue to grow.

The district has much planning to complete in the upcoming few months to prepare for the start of next school year. Assigning teacher to classrooms, a middle school playground, hiring staff and moving are among the many tasks to be completed. There will be spring orientations for students, along with Summer “Right Start” programs and open houses (Aug. 30) scheduled so students and parents feel comfortable as they begin the new school year.

Stock market challenge

Each semester Mr. Soland’s class participates in a stock market simulation that runs in “real-time” with the NYSE and the Nasdaq markets. Small groups are given $100,000 of virtual money and seek to invest in companies that would improve their portfolios. Students research companies, buy and sell daily and follow their investments throughout the semester. They also have the opportunity to compete against other schools and groups throughout the state and nation.

This past semester the group of Spencer Breen, Elijah Colbeck, Gabe Enderle, Nathan Rund, Ethan Rinke and Rylie Sheridan claimed first place in the regional rankings. They earned over $28,000 on their investments in just two and a half months. They also competed against over 1,500 teams from different schools in the state and placed second overall. This is the highest placing of any Fergus Falls’ team Mr. Soland has had to date. The team’s constant attention to detail and determined effort earned them a $300 prize plus T-shirts, plaques and some other “in-class” incentives along the way. Congratulations on their amazing effort and results! The Stock Market Game is sponsored by Best Prep and the SIMFA Foundation.

Fourth-grade orchestra

Following are comments written for an upcoming program — highlighting the fourth-grade performance on Friday:

Welcome to the Minnesota Music Educators Association Midwinter In-Service Clinic.

The Fergus Falls Public School’s fourth-grade orchestra is honored to have been chosen to perform for you today! 

Fergus Falls has a rich tradition of music in our schools and community. These fine young musicians are the result of quality music classes that start in kindergarten and an orchestra program that begins in the fourth-grade. They have been practicing every Thursday at 7:30 a.m. before school to prepare for this event under the direction of Laurie Strom and Craig Peterson.

The expression of emotion through music is central to many of our lives.  Some of us listen and appreciate, while others perform. Music can calm, excite, soothe, stir, inspire, bring joy or express sorrow.

Music education and instructors are an integral component of a successful school: Without music, our children would not receive a well-rounded education.

Thank you for your efforts in developing our young musicians and I wish you continued success in your programs.

Jerry Ness is the superintendent of Fergus Falls Public Schools. His column appears every Wednesday.

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