Fergus Falls Public Schools
Supt. News - Week of September 2, 2019
Supt. Jeff Drake
The Fergus Falls Public Schools 2019-2020 school year is officially underway amid blue skies and glorious sunshine! It is exciting to have students back in the building again and we look forward to a great year ahead.
“Can our school be so welcoming, so inviting, and so comfortable that every person who walks through our doors believes they are going to have an amazing experience?” from How to Create a Culture of Achievement in Your School and Classroom by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey and Ian Pumpian. As a staff, each of us is committed to creating an environment that will support all students in reaching their potential. That means that we will establish high expectations, hold each other and our students accountable, and provide the necessary support and guidance to students. We will also celebrate our successes.
Middle School Yearbooks on sale now!
The grades 5-8 yearbook is now on sale. Order by October 4th for the special early-bird rate of just $30 PLUS a free icon!
From Oct. 4th-31st it's S30 but NO icon; and after that it is $35.
Head to JostensYearbooks.com to order!
GALLERY: Otter Adventures students study agriculture
This week Otter Adventures journeyed through the world of agriculture! Students explored plants, animals, machinery and how they all are important in our daily lives. Our friends from Trowbridge Creek Zoo shared their petting zoo, and RDO Equipment Co. shared their knowledge on the the different types of machinery. Students enjoyed the experience!
Two Fergus Falls students earn poster awards
This year for Bike to School Day (May 8, 2019), Minnesota Safe Routes to School held their fourth annual Bike to School Day Poster Contest, sponsored by the Minnesota Safe Routes to School, Quality Bicycle Products, and Dero.
The contest asked students to create a poster that shows how bicycling makes them feel.
Fergus Falls students placed first and third in the Kindergarten - Third Grade category! The first place winner is Connor H, a 2nd grader, and the third place winner is Lijila J, a 3rd grader.
Winners will receive a Quality Bicycle Products prize pack full of bicycle related gear to get rolling.
In 2018, a Fergus Falls student was also a winner - 4th grader Olivia J. who won first place in the 4th-8th grade category.
Winning posters from 2019 and 2018 can be seen at: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/mnsaferout…/…/poster_contest.html.
First Place: Connor H., grade 2
Third Place: Lijila J., grade 3
8th Grade Service Project
May 29, 2019
The 8th grade students spent a portion of their day working in the community, prepping the Community Garden, landscaping at Kennedy School, and making blankets for babies.
The service project supplies were funded in part by Thrivent. Thank you to all who donated materials!
Ms. Weisel's class has special pen-pals
May 24, 2019
This spring, Ms. Weisel's first grade class was very fortunate to have had pen pals in Carlos, MN. There was a special connection to this class: the teacher in Carlos is Ms. Weisel's mom!
Through technology they were able to meet their pen-pals "face to face" from the comforts of their own classroom.
This photo shows our Carlos pen pal friends, with Ms. Weisel's Adams School students on the big screen.
Students complete NA program requirements
May 23, 2019
Thirteen Nursing Assistant students were successful in completing the NA program/curriculum requirements. They all took the National Nurse Aide Assessment exams this week. Congratulations to all!
Front row L to R: Amelia B., Julia K., Amy J., Atlanta G., Angel G. Second row L to R: Makayla H., Ashlyn E., Logan S., Jessie H., Hope F.,Annelise P., Laci S., and Michaela H.
Design II students pay it forward
Design II students presented Kristin Bye (Ottertail Public Health Nurse) with tummy time blankets for their Family Home Visiting Programs. These bright, stimulating blankets are used as a teaching tool for families of new babies.
Nurses like Kristin visit the new families and take the time to teach them about the importance of tummy time for their little ones. Kristin stressed how important it is that babies get time to strengthen their core and their necks as they grow by spending time playing on their stomachs.
Fabric was donated to the class by Kristin Rowlan.
Supt. Ness Receives MASA Polaris Leadership Award
May 7, 2019
Fergus Falls Schools Superintendent Jerry Ness has been named the 2019 recipient of the Polaris Leadership Award. The Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) will honor Ness for his exemplary school leadership and a lifetime of achievement in education and the wider community at a statewide recognition ceremony in October.
Ness has almost 30 years of administrative experience. He has served for the past 13 years as the Superintendent of the Fergus Falls Public Schools. Prior to his time with Fergus Falls, he was the executive director of the Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA). Ness held the role of superintendent and principal of the West Central Area Schools and he began his administrative career at an assistant principal for the Kenosha Unified School District No. 1 in Wisconsin.
With this award, Ness is recognized for qualities such as professional courage, creation of a legacy of excellent leadership, fostering innovation, contribution through example and mentoring, exemplary conduct reflecting integrity and bearing emulation, and significant tenure in each position supporting district vision and affecting positive change.
“Fairness, responsibility and integrity are key features of Superintendent Ness’ conduct. He is decisive and a forward thinker. He is practical and inclusive. He has fun at work, but that does not diminish his role as leader of our district,” said Melanie Cole, Chair of the Fergus Falls Public Schools School Board. “’Excellence’ is a strong word, but it is what our community expected and what Superintendent Ness is providing.
Ness began his tenure at Fergus Falls Public Schools in 2006, a time when the district saw low test scores, lacked vision and direction, was in need of a new high school, was in statutory operating debt, and students were open enrolling out of the district. Over the past 13 years, the district has seen an increase in more than 300 traditional students and more than 600 students enrolled in their online school program. During that time, the district moved from a statutory operating debt to a 20% fund balance and test scores have increased in all areas.
Ness led the district towards the passage of two successful bond referendums. The first bond was to complete major remodels of the grades 5-8 middle school and the grades 9-12 high school. The second bond was the installation of new outdoor facilities including: bleachers for the soccer/football field, recreational green space, tennis courts, and an eight-lane track. Private donors also contributed $1 million to install an artificial turf field.
Under Ness’ leadership, the district is currently implementing a Long-Term Facility Plan, which includes remodeling a facility to house all of the district’s preschool programming including their partner program with Children’s Corner, a local childcare provider. This partnership will be a model facility in the region where parents have the ability to have their children attend both preschool and childcare in the same facility. Fergus Falls Public Schools is also seeking to expand overnight childcare for shift workers within their community.
Ness is an involved member of MASA and its national affiliate, AASA. He has been a member of the MASA Board of Directors, Legislative Committee, which he chaired, Legislative-Finance sub-committee, and the mentoring program.
Ness’ community involvement includes the Executive Committee of Forward Fergus Falls (FFF), Center for the Arts Board of Directors, Kiwanis International, Fergus Falls Chamber of Commerce, Lake Region Community Partners, and the Lake Region Healthcare Board of Directors.
Ness received a master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Bemidji State University. He earned a 6th year certificate from North Dakota State University.
Each year, MASA recognizes members for their contribution to public education. MASA is a professional organization of Minnesota’s school leaders.
Science Museum of Minnesota visits McKinley
May 7, 2019
The Otter PTO brought in the Minnesota Science Museum to teach Kindergarten and 1st grade students about different ways we hear and measure sound through vibration.
The kids LOVED it and the presenter was DELIGHTFUL!
History Day participants do well at state competition
May 6, 2019
For the first time in several years Fergus Falls had 3 separate projects advance to the final round with all receiving honorable mentions!
Congratulations to Ray Cheshire and Karah Gullickson (8th) and Amelia Buckmeier (10th).
Front Row:Ericka Lahti, Anna Erickson, Danny Robb
Back Row : Cole Zierden, Alex Lindgren
Envirothon team finishes second
May 3, 2019
The "Blue Crew" finished 2nd Wednesday in the Area Envirothon held at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. They will now compete in Elk River, May 20th at the State Envirothon!
The Envirothon, an outdoor learning event for high school students in grades 9-12, is one of the state’s largest environmental education competitions. Teams consisting of 5 students from the same school/organization visit 6 different learning stations covering Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, Wildlife, and a current environmental topic that changes every year. Students are given a 25-point exam relating to the station’s topics. At the sixth station, the students are required to give a brief (8-9 minute) pre-determined oral presentation to a panel of judges, also based on the current environmental topic for the year.
5th & 6th Grade Choir Concert
May 1, 2019
Special School Board Meeting
April 30, 2019
A special meeting of the School Board of Independent School District No. 544 was held in the Otter Community Room at Kennedy Secondary School. Chair Matthew Lemke called the meeting to order at 7:15 am. The following members were present: Kirby Anderson, Melanie Cole, Missy (Melissa) Hermes, Natalie Knutson, and Matthew Lemke. Stephen Vigesaa was absent. Jerry Ness, Superintendent, Mark Masten, Business Manager, and Elaine Jahnke, HR Director, were also present.
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all present.
Missy Hermes, clerk, established a quorum.
Kirby Anderson made a motion to approve the agenda. The motion was seconded by Natalie Knutson and carried unanimously.
Business Manager Mark Masten and Supt. Jerry Ness presented information regarding relocating the Early Childhood Program to the Target building.