Supt. News

Recent thoughts from Superintendent Jerry Ness. Click here for an archive of previous newsletters.

Week of March 18, 2019

All-School Band Program

Band instructors – Scott Kummrow, Josh McGowan, and Denise Wiese – directed the all-school band concert in the Gold Gym on Monday night. The concert featured the world premier of “Echoes” by Dr. Erika Svanoe. The band commissioned Dr. Svanoe to write a piece based on the Kirkbride building and the resulting work was incredible! Each band performed one piece followed by all 415 band students playing “Echoes” together!

OtterBot Results

OtterBot Advisor Bill Swanson reported that the Fergus Falls FIRST FRC Team 3293 had a fantastic regional tournament over the weekend at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. The team finished in 8th place out of 52 teams and ended up the #6 Alliance Captain!

The results were some of the tightest margins ever seen; and at one point on Friday, the OtterBots were ranked first overall. Just like every year, the three days of competition included challenges, failures, successes and roller coaster emotions that come from high-level competition. There were teams from five states, and as far away as California, as well as two countries, Canada and China.

One of the most memorable moments was during the singing of the national anthem on Saturday, where a pool of eight maroon shirts were on the field. Our talented OtterBots did a tremendous job and we were all very proud of them.

Swanson also shared that the gritty underdog OtterBot alliance was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the afternoon tournament with some heartbreaking bad luck, but they had a great alliance with the teams from Warroad and Moorhead.

There were nine seniors on the team, some of which had been on the team for three years, and some for just one. There are only four potential students to return next year, so the OtterBots will need a little help in recruiting. Swanson knows the impact this program has on high school students and the effect it will have on their lives as they consider careers and volunteerism.

The Alerus event was absolutely outstanding and there is a 99% chance they will head back there again next year. The Fergus Falls Public Schools, along with the OtterBots team want to thank Otter Tail Power for sponsoring the team. It wouldn't be possible without their support. A special thank you also goes out to Bill Swanson and all the advisors for their commitment to the robotics program.

Did You Know These Fun Facts?

There are 50,700,000 students in the USA, 3,200,000 full-time teachers, 90,400 principals, 108,376 counselors, 98,300 public schools including 6,900 charter schools. Overall, 24% of the students attend a high-poverty school and 13% of students receive special education services. Fergus Falls Public Schools is the 72nd largest school district in Minnesota. This information can be found at the Association of School Administrators website.

Week of 3/11/19

Congratulation to the Girls Basketball Team!

The Otter Girls basketball team won a nail-biter last Thursday night in the section championship!! They beat a very good Alexandria team 43-42 to return to the state tournament. The Otters are seeded #5 and will play #4 seed Holy Angels at noon on Wednesday, March 13. Go Otters!!!

Minnesota State High School League announced that they are excited to LIVE stream ALL Girls State Basketball Quarterfinals on PrepSpotlight.TV/MSHSL! Be sure to spread the word to friends, family and out of town fans who can't make it to the game. Are you on Twitter? Be sure to follow @MNPrepSpotlight for game updates!

On Tuesday, the girls basketball team was sent out in style as they paraded through Adams, McKinley and Cleveland as part of their send off to the state tournament. Our young Otters, lined the hallways to cheer on the team. They completed a walk through Middle School classrooms and finally to the Gold Gym for introductions and the words from Coach Strand.


March 4, 2019

Music In Our Schools Month

For more than 30 years, March has been officially designated by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) for the observance of Music In Our Schools Month® (MIOSM™), the time of year when music education becomes the focus of schools across the nation.

The purpose of MIOSM is to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children – and to remind citizens that school is where all children should have access to music. MIOSM is an opportunity for music teachers to bring their music programs to the attention of the school and the community, and to display the benefits that school music brings to students of all ages.

MIOSM and the events surrounding it are the ideal opportunities for increasing awareness of the benefits of high quality music education programs in our nation’s schools. The National Association for Music Education hopes that teachers, students, and music supporters alike will find ways to join in on the celebration through creative activities and advocacy.


February 25, 2019

Paraprofessional Recognition Week – March 4-8, 2019

Paraprofessional Recognition Week will be held March 4-8, 2019. There are over 20,000 paraprofessionals in Minnesota working hard every day to make sure every child has the education they need to succeed in school and life. The Fergus Falls Public Schools employ hard working and valued paraprofessionals who do amazing work everyday for our students and staff. Thank You!!

Congratulations to All-State Music Students

Fergus Falls band and choir students Caleb Danielson, Andrew Danielson, Mary Grotberg, Isabella Nehk, and Elias Torkelson participated in the final performance of the Minnesota All State Ensembles on February 16.


February 20, 2019


Our girls’ hockey team earned a hard fought victory in the section final over Alexandria, 3-1, to return to state for the first time since 2009. Coach Lill and the team have had an excellent season – hard work and dedication has paid off for the Otters - Congratulations!! The team is scheduled to play Breck at 11 am on Wednesday, February 20.

The Otter Girls Hockey Team is also to be congratulated on their work in the classroom. They won the 6A Section All-Academic Award with a combined GPA of 3.85!!

The Otter Gymnastics team competed in sections this past Saturday. They were announced at the Section All-Academic Gold Award with a 3.97 GPA – Congratulations!!


February 11, 2019

Congratulations to Snoball Royalty!

After a difficult week of weather, the 2019 Snoball Coronation was finally held at 1:30 pm on Friday, February 8. Congratulations to King JB Sandahl and Queen Julia Swanson and to the royalty – Seniors: Amy Johnson, Kailyn Richey, Mitchel Tenneson, and Jarrett Huus; Juniors: Jacey Johnson, Audrey Mudford, Lulie Pessoa, Brita Sonmor, Sam King, Alex Anderson, Josh Thorstad, and William Pawlowski; Sophomores: Hope Fletchall, Paige Fyhrie, Izzy Strege, Isaac Young, Ian Stumbo, and Matthew Niblock; and Freshman: Jadyn Bye, Helaina Kremeier, Katelyn Metcalf, Luke Schroeder, Andrew Johnson, and Sam Sorum.

Fergus Falls Public Schools Supports Governor for Predictable, Forecasted State Funding

The Fergus Falls Public Schools is striving to prepare productive citizens through academic excellence. But we cannot do it alone. So, we're grateful for Gov. Tim Walz for recently stepping forward to share his desire to create more predictable funding model for schools that is less reliant on local property taxes.