You are invited to a public meeting regarding student placement for next year starting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Kennedy Secondary School Auditorium. Optional tours of KSS will begin at 5 p.m. for those interested — please meet in the foyer near door A. Informally, the school board members have individually shared their preference for moving the fifth grade to KSS beginning this fall. An official vote on this issue is expected during the Feb. 13 School Board meeting.

Congratulations to Mary Matteson

District 544’s Community Education Director, Mary Matteson, was recently selected as the Otter Tail County Volunteer of the Year Award for 2016. The United Way shared that they highly value Mary’s contributions to Otter Tail County families and the efforts she puts into improving the lives of others.

Mary’s 2016 contributions included being a Community Investment panel volunteer, Campaign Donor, and helped with two major food drives: Feeding Backpack Program for Fergus Falls and Summer Learning Loss Program (students provided over 840 meals and snacks.) She helped in mobilizing youth volunteers to package bags for 120 children a week, saving UW over $3,700.

She was also a 2016 campaign volunteer, and currently serves on the ECI/Early Childhood Work Group and their subcommittees — Summer Learning Loss Program and Parent Education.

Top spellers

Forty-three students in grades 5-8 competed in the District 544 Spelling Bee on Jan. 19 in the KSS Auditorium. Congratulations to the top two spellers: Rebecca Schindler, first place, and Charlie Fuder, second place. They will compete at the Multi-Regional State Spelling Bee at Lakes Country Service Coop at noon on Feb. 21. Good luck to Rebecca and Charlie!

Paraprofessional week

Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed the week of Jan. 23, 2017, as Paraprofessional Recognition Week. As part of the celebration of this event, the Minnesota Department of Education is sharing the governor’s proclamation and the governor’s certificate of commendation to honor and recognize paraprofessionals.

Paraprofessionals are individuals who work in a variety of positions in a school district. Their roles include, but are not limited to, instructional assistants, Title I paraprofessionals, pupil support assistants, special education paraprofessionals, job coaches, lunchroom and playground assistants, hall monitors, media center assistants, and health office assistants.

Whereas: State of Minnesota the week of Jan. 23-27, 2017, has been named Paraprofessional Recognition Week by the Minnesota Department of Education; and Minnesota is home to more than 20,000 paraprofessionals who provide services in multiple settings within schools, including support for instruction, student activities and individual students, as well as numerous other tasks that contribute to educational success; and the support and services provided by paraprofessionals are integral to student achievement, resulting in more effective Minnesota schools; and the state of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Education are committed to excellence in education and recognize the important role that paraprofessionals play in ensuring educational success; Now, therefore, I, Mark Dayton, Governor of Minnesota, do hereby proclaim the week of Jan. 23-27, 2017, as: Paraprofessional Recognition Week in the state of Minnesota.

M.A.C. PTO wins big

Earlier this school year, the McKinley, Adams, Cleveland (M.A.C.) Elementary Schools were entered in the “Walmart Back-to-School Sweepstakes” offering 50,000 General Mills’ Box Tops For Education worth $5,000 cash. We were recently notified that M.A.C. was one of 20 in the U.S. and the only Minnesota school that won. The award has already been posted to our Box Top account and the check will be issued in mid-April. We would like to thank the generosity of General Mills and Walmart for this program and award. Saving those Box Tops does matter.

Ray Seaver

and Paul Fjestad

With Ray Seaver passing away on Dec. 5 and Paul Fjestad on Jan. 14 — the area communities, our schools, and I have truly lost good friends and mentors. They both had wonderful smiles and a great sense of humor. They lived their lives by example with their family, church, and the community. I, for one, will miss my friends and mentors greatly — rest in peace.

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

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