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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A bunch of Willmar Senior High students have built a car that can get more than 500 miles per gallon. Of course, it's not a very practical car. It only holds one person at a time and a fairly small person at that. It doesn't have a trunk to hold groceries, and it can't pull a boat. But that's not the point. It's light and aerodynamic, and it placed second in the state last week in the Minnesota Technology and Engineering Educators Association Supermileage Challenge. To get that high mileage, the team uses a technique that wouldn't work on the open road, either.
Some other school tech initiatives in the area include: Willmar Willmar is boosting its wireless capabilities in its school buildings, particularly at the 1,200-student senior high. The district is implementing some iPads in classes, but will be moving cautiously toward a one-to-one initiative.
Renville County West students in grades 4-12 will be issued iPad2 tablet computers next fall, an initiative that was a joint effort of the administration and the School Board. The RCW School Board reviewed its 2011-12 budget last week and voted to use some of the district's fund balance to lease 420 iPad2 tablet computers. "We really need to look at what's best for our kids," said Superintendent Lance Bagstad. RCW is the second west central Minnesota district to order iPads for a majority of its students.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District Mandarin Chinese program will participate in two U.S. State Department programs in the coming year. The district will host a teacher from China for the 2011-12 school year, and Chinese teacher Todd Lynum will participate in an intensive study program in China this summer. It will be the second time in three years Willmar has been chosen to host a teacher through the State Department's Teachers of Critical Languages Program. The program pays for all expenses for the visiting teachers.
WILLMAR -- When she became a principal, Patti Dols moved from being a junior high band director to an administrator. In some ways, the jobs required similar skills. "It's really a lot like being the band director," she said. "You've got all these different sections, and you have a vision for how it should go, ... and you need to get everybody to work together." Dols will retire at the end of the school year after 34 years in education.
WILLMAR -- The state budget bills approved by the Legislature before it adjourned Monday night could have been disastrous for the state's hospitals. Now that Gov.
WILLMAR -- For some area businesses, the high school graduation season can be as busy as Christmastime, maybe even busier. At The Paper Place in Willmar, owner Deb Lenz has arranged napkins, plates, confetti, balloons and table covers in a rainbow of colors.
WILLMAR -- If you can't figure out which letter of the alphabet goes with which animal, it's nice to have a friend nearby. A new SMART Table at Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar gives kindergarteners a chance to work together to solve those and other challenging assignments at school. Roosevelt has used a variety of donations to acquire two of the multi-user, interactive tables for its kindergarten classes. After having a table for just a few weeks, teachers are finding new ways to use it all the time. "We're just scratching the surface so far," said Sue Olson.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District was insulated from the impact of last year's budget cuts through a one-time infusion of more than $900,000 in federal money. However, most of that money is now gone. The district spent $737,000 this year to hire classroom teachers to keep a lid on class sizes.
Isaac Koenen had never touched an iPad before. When his teacher Kathy Stalnaker put hers on the table in front of him, Isaac was silent for a moment, and his fingers stretched toward the screen. The MACCRAY High School freshman said, "That's amazing." He never lifted his eyes from the iPad. Tyler Miller, also a freshman, slid over to have a look.