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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There's something special about the 20 students honored Wed-nesday at the Willmar Middle School's Break-fast of Champions. The students were recognized for making a positive difference at the school. The descriptions from their teachers and school staff painted a picture of students who are polite and friendly, who always come to class with a smile. They willingly help their teachers and classmates.
A group of local investors is four years into a planning process that could eventually place 18 wind turbines in Arctander Township south of Sunburg. It could still be a couple years until the remaining details are wrapped up so Whirlwind Energy can erect the turbines planned for northwestern Kandiyohi County. Whirlwind Energy grew out of a subcommittee of the Willmar/Kandiyohi County Economic Development Commission. After some research on alternative energy, members wanted to explore the business opportunities in that area.
WILLMAR -- A new state law will result in more extensive training for school staff working with special education students. The goal of the law is to more closely monitor the use of emergency restrictive procedures, like physical holds or seclusion, for special education students. Parents would also be notified of the use of restrictive procedures. While the goal is a laudable one, its training and reporting re-quirements place a new unfunded ma-ndate on Minnesota's public schools. The law goes into effect Aug. 1.
After three years of CHAOS Club, the ninth-grade members are sorry to see it end. "I'll be part of a bake sale to keep this going," said Max Packa, a freshman at Willmar Senior High. CHAOS, short for Crazy Humans Attempting Outrageous Stuff, is a weekly after-school program supported by the University of Minnesota Extension Service. It helps students see real world applications for what they learn in science classes. Unfortunately for Max and the other ninth-graders, they probably will have to move on to other interests next year.
WILLMAR -- A 45-year-old Willmar man is in the Kandiyohi County Jail awaiting his first court appearance on felony charges for allegedly running a woman off the road and for a short standoff with police officers who came to his home to question him. According to a news release from Willmar Police Sgt. Michael Anderson, officers were called Thursday to investigate a hit and run along the 400 block of Trott Avenue Southeast.
WILLMAR -- Four teachers from Willmar are among 32 teachers nationwide chosen to participate in a two-week paid internship workshop this summer at a NASA research facility. Rob Flegel, Margaret Schmitz, John Kuznik and Ben Panchyshyn were notified recently that they had been chosen for the workshop July 18-29. The four teachers applied for the workshop as a team, one of the requirements. NASA requires teachers to apply in teams of two or four so that they will have a ready support system when they return to their communities. The Willmar team is one of 10 teams selected.
Computers and modern technology are important tools in school science labs. They allow students to accurately track changes in temperature, for instance. Things like virtual frog dissection save money. But get-your-hands-dirty scientific exploration is still popular with kids. In the past week, seventh-grade science students at Willmar Middle School did a little of that when they dissected owl pellets. Owls produce their pellets after eating a good meal. They swallow their prey whole.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board has approved the sale of the former Washington Learning Center to Affiliated Community Medical Centers for $300,000. The closing on the sale is scheduled for April 22. Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard told the School Board on Monday that there are no contingencies attached to the sale, and it should go through as planned. Two previous offers on the building were ultimately weighed down by contingencies attached by the buyers. The district closed two smaller elementary buildings and repurposed others in a 2009 restructuring of the district's buildings.
WILLMAR -- When the Willmar and Montevideo school boards voted this week to share the services of a food service director, they followed New London-Spicer into a new era. The three schools will begin sharing a food service director next fall. The contract may not have come about if not for the group of superintendents and school representatives from west central Minnesota that met Tuesday evening in Willmar.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District has been recognized for the sixth time in the past decade for its financial reporting. The Government Finance Officers Association has awarded the district the certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting. Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard announced the award at the School Board meeting this week.