I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.
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WILLMAR — The Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA is celebrating the grand opening of its expansion this week with a ribbon cutting Wednesday morning. Executive Director Theresa Wittenberg said the staff is excited to introduce the community to its expanded facility. After a ribbon cutting at 8 a.m.
WILLMAR — As in years past, a large majority of Willmar’s graduating seniors intend to continue their educations at 2- or 4-year colleges. In all, 86 percent of the students graduating from Willmar Senior High this weekend plan to attend a post-secondary educational institution. More than a third of the class will stay close to home by attending Ridgewater College in the fall. Students filled out a questionnaire about their post-graduation plans in May.
WILLMAR — Jose Noe Carreno will graduate this week with high honors from Willmar Senior High School. While that’s no small accomplishment for any teenager, Carreno’s path to graduation has had its share of twists and turns. He’s grown from a frightened boy watching immigration agents shackle his mother to an 18-year-old high school student who has kept his grades up while working nearly full-time.
WILLMAR — Erik Ozornia, 25, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two felony charges connected to domestic abuse incidents in January and March. Ozornia is currently in custody at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at St. Cloud. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of terroristic threats in connection with a January domestic abuse incident in Willmar.
WILLMAR — An interpreting business in Willmar has expanded its services to include cultural competency training. Members of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce participated in cultural training last week from the owners of West Central Interpreting Services. Over two hours, Zack Mahboub and Sahra Gure, husband and wife, explained some of the challenges faced by Willmar’s growing east African population.
WILLMAR — Twenty-five students graduated Friday afternoon from the Willmar Area Learning Center. That’s the highest graduate total in several years. Eighteen of 25 graduates attended the ceremony. Faculty members said several of the graduates were unable to attend, including some who are already working or in college.
WILLMAR — Location, diversity and sports are some of the top reasons students leave or enter Willmar Public Schools through open enrollment. At the end of February, the district had 347 students who had left for other districts and 205 students who come from other districts. Minnesota statute allows public school students to apply via the open enrollment process to attend school outside of the school district where they live.
Once a week, it’s time for some after-school Girl Talk for immigrant girls in the Willmar schools. Girl Talk, a program designed to help girls prepare for successful futures, has a group of 15 girls at Willmar Middle School and another 15 at Willmar Senior High. Recently, 10 Somali high school girls toured the Willmar Public Library with the program. “The purpose is to increase readiness of immigrant girls to achieve,” said Willmar child guide Heidi Burton.
WILLMAR — The school day will be getting longer for students at Willmar’s middle and high schools next year. The Willmar School Board approved longer school days for both schools Monday evening. The schools’ principals proposed the changes to provide more instructional time for students. The new schedules will be accompanied by several other changes in scheduling and academics. Starting in September, Willmar Middle School’s student day will begin at 8 a.m.
WILLMAR — The English Learner classroom at Willmar Senior High was quiet, as students worked on learning to count money. Using plastic dimes, nickels and quarters, they counted up to 42 cents, 36 cents, 67 cents, depending on the card they had from teacher Andrew Schultz. By coincidence, a larger group of English Learner students at Willmar Middle School were learning math with coins on the same day. Those students were adding columns of numbers after calculating the value of coins pictured on a worksheet.