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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PAYNESVILLE -- Eight cars of an 85-car Canadian Pacific Rail Road train derailed Monday afternoon near the AMPI plant in Paynesville. According to Paynesville Police Chief Kent Kortlever, railroad officials are still investigating the cause of the accident, but it's possible that the 90-degree heat on the tracks could have been a contributing factor. "We were pretty fortunate with this one," Kortlever said, as there were no injuries and no property damage caused by the derailment.
WILLMAR -- One-third of this year's Willmar Senior High graduating class plan to attend Ridgewater College in the fall. They are part of the 82 percent of this year's 270 graduates who are planning to seek some type of post-secondary education. The class included 137 boys and 133 girls. The high school's guidance office released the results of its annual survey of graduating seniors on Monday.
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.