Sunday, July 31, 2011

And So It Begins

In 28 days the students will be back into school and very quickly into the routine of another exciting school year.

The school office will be completely open on Tuesday August 9. If you not registered for school, please make dew appointment with the counseling office and select your classes for next year. If you need to make adjustments to you schedule because of summer school or other situations over the summer, please call the counseling office for appointment.

August 9 is the day for fall sports registration. You may pick up necessary forms for the Athletic Office or on-line at the Southwest web site. Make sure your physical is up to date. Forms need to be completed and forms and fees turned on the 9th.

August 15 is the first day of Band Camp. Great fun and a wonderful experience.

Teachers return for workshops the 22nd.

First day for all students is August 29th. You will receive a post card regarding transportation if you eligible for a school bus prior to the start of school. Students eligible for go-cards will receive those on the 24th as they pick up schedules or the first day of school.

The Summer Bridge Program for incoming 9th graders who want a jump start on the school year is Wwd., Thurs, and Fri, Aug 17, 18 & 19.

All incoming 9th graders are invited to the Project Success program Camp 2015 starting Monday, August 22. The program is free and transportation is provided but you need to pre-register at the Project Success web site.

Wednesday, August 24 is the Class of 2015 orientation at Southwest. It is in conjunction with the Project Success week. Orientation begins in the morning and lunch is served. The day of orientation continues with a pot luck picnic at Southwest starting at 6:30 pm for entire families. Schedules will be available for pick-up after 1pm on Wednesday. 9th graders will receive their schedules as part of the Link Crew orientation program.

Check out the Southwest web site for all the exciting and informative events with dates and times.

August 1 First day of Ramadan

August 1 is the first day of the Muslim religious observance of Ramadan. In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur'an. Some Muslims perform the recitation of the entire Qur'an by means of special prayers, called Tarawih, which are held in the mosques every night of the month, during which a whole section of the Qur'an is recited. Therefore the entire Qur'an would be completed at the end of the month.

Ramadan is also a time when Muslims are to slow down from worldly affairs and focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and enlightenment; this is to establish a link between themselves and God through prayer, supplication, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others. Since it is a festival of giving and sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and friends and for giving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it; this can involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need. There is also a social aspect involving the preparation of special foods and inviting people for Iftar.

Very special days for many of our students and families. This month long observance ends August 31st. As we share our faiths, customs and traditions we learn more about each other and of ourselves.

Friday, July 29, 2011

School Supplies

For the high school student there is not a published list of school supplies. Every class will require some type of writing device and some paper to write on. Some may require a journal and notebook. Math at most levels will recommend a graphing calculattor. Gym clothing will be required for those enrolled in physical education.

Te best recommendation would be to get a pencil/pen and notebook with paper and listen to needs those first few days. There are numerous sales in the stores now. This is a good time to stock up on pens and paper. If you like spiral notebooks that is fine but in some classes you will need to turn in individual sheets and that is not as easy with a spiral notebook. The spiral ones are great for journal and class notes.

More and more class are moving to computer supported instruction. In many class the student can submit papers and homework via the Internet. The printer has replaced the tpewriter and reading assignments is much easier for all. The school will issue a planner than contracts all the rules and regulations but more importantly is a full calendar- day by day- for the student to keep track of due dates, dates and assignments. Some students are using their phones with calendars as a planner.

If there are specific questions check the teacher's web site or email your question to that teacher.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What t.he Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

"to a worm in horseradish, the world is horseradish.". Perhaps not the best mental picture. But there are some simple. Truths that are not necessarily true. For those of us that spend our waking hours in high school, the world is high school. Parents understand quickly that a teenager has a centralist focus - the world revolves around me. And the world is whatever I am interested in at that moment.

If I am going to have a conversation with a worm in horseradish - interest thought - I need to be aware that horseradish is the worm's view. I can discount it if I wish but the worm is not going to. If I want to convey a message to the worm it matters a great deal to me what the worm is using for references and conclusions. If I want to discount the self-centered focus of a teen, communication is pointless. That does not suggest approval or acceptance of the idea. But if I want to talk to and hear from the teenager, I need to be prepared to find his/her world at that moment.

Gladwell put together a series of articles that address these issues of seeing it from the other side. In fact it is more than a visual side trip. It is an experience. How does it feel? Smell? Sound? What are the emotion surrounding the moment. There are numerous experiments that place witnesses in a location to observe the same accident. In trying to report the details of the accident each individual reports what she/he believes to be true. But research demonstrates that each individual brings to the report his/her own set of eperiences and assumptions. What the person reports is true for her/him. But as you know in some cases it is extremely difficult to understand how the descriptions can be that varied from one another.

What the Dog Saw is a wonderful summer read. It just might provide some insights in the mind of the teenager sharing your house. good luck. We are almost at the jump spot for another school year.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Time to Act -- Now

The Minnesota state budget for this year is now history. It probably can be explained as the good, bad and ugly budget. All current elected officials are declaring it wrong and not not in the best long-term interest of the state. That is interesting statement by itself. As the details are being worked out it is becoming clear that the real issue is - who will be hurt. We know for sure it will not be the 7,700 richest people in the state. This morning's paper noted that all the higher paying jobs went higher and all the rest of the jobs are seeing less pay. The wealth gap is widening and to some degree we can hold ourselves accountable due to whom we elect.

Regardless of too crowded phone lines or system crashes on the Internet, make your voice heard. Our representative government appears to be listening to party lines, special interests, one- agenda positions and those with lots of money. This is not a matter of choosing sides, it is a matter of trying to do the right thing. Whatever your own political views might be, tell your elected officials.

We need to get back in the game.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee

A best seller which is not always the best recommendation. The Surrendered by author Chang-Rae Lee is about the Korean War and an American GI who served there and children living there and people who tired to deal with some of the aftermath of the war.

The major theme has to be that war is devastating to all. In itself that is not a novel idea for a book. But the strength of the novel as literature is the characters. Different births, different lives getting to the time of the story and different experiences. But all surrendered something of themselves to stay alive, tom cope, to try and understand. Lots of questions about life and it's pulse but few resolutions.

Lee also wrote Native Speaker, A Gesture Life and Aloft. This novel establishes his reputation as a serious writer.

If you are looking for a book with strong man and female characters, this is one to read. Th,e war provides the setting but could be any war and anyplace. Lots to discuss. Would be a good book club book as well.


Last week of July and it has been hot. Started with a cool summer and those wanting some make-up weather got it. So the water parks and beaches and summer in the fun places are enjoying the opportunities.

Fall sports registration and the end of July make the beginning of the end of Summer. It has been a nice break from some of the school moments. But the emails are changing tones and the questions a less general and more specific to my child and this specific school year. S we are thinking about school. Summer is waning.

Not necessarily a bad thing. But there is still plenty of time to finish that Personal Project if you are now a tenth grader, or select the Extended Essay if you are a senior of if you are grades 9-12 finish your summer reading.

Have fun and enjoy the moments.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Southwest grad and Bono concerned about Africa drought

Southwest graduate Mohamed Samatar was part of a group meeting with rock star Bono to bring awareness to the plight of the people caught in the drought in Africa. Mohamed, during his senior year, organized a relief effort to build well in the horn of Africa. Prior to going to college Mohamed visited Africa and family and visited the site of one of the dug wells helping people.

For more information and picture of Mohamed with Bono follow the link:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Moving With The Winds of Summer

This summer has been one of variety.

As have done for many years I will judge the State Fair Talent Competition.

For some physical activity I am currently cleaning up downed trees at my Cabin (where the straight line winds were 3 weeks ago).

I enjoy being part of the Dance Book Club with my Dance colleagues from across the city.

Oh and training my dog not to bark! (Slow but sure.)

I just finished and recommend "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lachs").

Colleen Callahan Russell
Southwest Dance Teacher

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Special session perhaps not so special

A whole lot of rhetoric and many inches of newspaper print and looks like a repeat. Once the winners and losers declare themselves the general public needs to weigh in on the results. University tuition going up. Local government still in a jam but will cut services. Call it by any name but large cities receiving a cut in funding. School districts become the state banking service. Somehow all this does not seem like sound fiscal planning.

Regardless of your political feelings. Regardless of who you think is making sense in this past session and a tenth - contact your elected officials and voice your opinion. That could be support or opposition. I believe the elected official need to be reminded that there are many people in the state who care about what is happening. They don't seem to be listening to the general public. They listen to the dollars from the 1 % and they listen to political leaders from all parts of the country. But do they listen to you? Email, write, call your elected officials.

One kayak adventure

I was kayaking across Lake Minnetonka when, in the dead center of the largest part of the lake, my paddle splintered, leaving me to use the very ends of the paddle as crude flippers.

After an hour and a half and several miles of clinging on to four inch scraps of plastic as a way to propel my kayak through rough and indifferent yacht ridden waters, a boat eventually offered help. By this time, I was relatively close to shore and refused his help on the basis that I had worked too hard to not finish the mission.

When I pulled my kayak up on the shore, there were several children who suggested that I use a different kind of paddle since the one I was using didn't seem to work that well and I looked funny using it. I praised them on their acute observations and began my 5 mile walk home.

Dan Ferris
Southwest English Teacher

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Roadtrip with Ms. Jevne

I am currently on day nine of a roadtrip and so far have put over 2500 miles on my car. The Badlands are part of the trip and on through the Dakotas and westward.

We'll post more picture as the days continue. Beautiful country and great fun. Absolutely wonderful sunsets!

Rachel Jevne
Southwest Humanities Teacher

World Class Education is a goal

President Obama called an education round table July 18 to explore the needs of business and industry and it's impact on education. President Obama said:
“A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs but whether America can outcompete countries around the world. America's business leaders understand that when it comes to education, we need to up our game. That's why were working together to put an outstanding education within reach for every child.”

This at the same time Minneota lawmakers are cutting a deal to delay payments to Minnesota schools. How can the state maintain leadership in the country while ignoring the needs of its future (its children)?

True Grit and Iowa City Recommendation

The best work of fiction I have read in a very long time: True Grit, by Charles Portis. It is no less than a classic, filmed versions of the novel, good and bad, being altogether irrelevant.

Best Midwestern gem I had not previously visited: Iowa City, where the University of Iowa is well-served by a stately campus, an international faculty, a talented student body, and more charm than a city of less than 30,000 has any right to possess. Wonderful place.

Bob Rees
Southwest English Teacher

*** Where have you been this summer. What are some of the great books. Share your ideas. Photos would be great!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

If you have not read a book by Sarah Vowell you owe it to yourself this summer to find out. Your local library has several titles available. She is a journalist by trade and has interesting points of view about history and people. She provides a running narrative around a central theme but takes numerous side trips.

Unfamiliar Fishes is about Hawaii and statehood and traditions and people trying to do right but end up causing pain. Her use of the language is wonderful. She is telling a story but using research facts to move from on point to the next. She is the observer but also the editor. She has a point of view and sometimes will even point out her interjections and interpretations.

The territory of Hawaii was out there for many years with peaceful people and great weather. Along came civilization and Christianity and well meaning people. As well as the introduction of some natives and others who were not well meaning but greedy. That leads to a clash of cultures. That eventually leads to statehood with a minor rebellion along the way.

Sarah Vowell is the author of numerous books and most have a sense of humor and a hidden message. Great summer reading.

Community Education an Important Southwest Tradition

southwest Community Education Super Summer Program have had an average of 1,150 Minneapolis children involved in our weekly Southwest Super Summer Program (about 7,100 total for the summer).
We have employed about 180 high school and college students to work for us (about 125 of them are either SWHS students or graduates of SWHS)
Noteworthy classes that area extremely popular & well-received include our middle-school "Trek" environmental program, our horse-back riding class,
Geo-caching, Red Cross Baby-sitting class, Lego Robotics and many of our sport classes.

The SW Community Education Advisory Council sponsored its 33rd annual Midnight-to-Dawn Metro Bike Tour Saturday, July 16. We had 175 riders that enjoyed an evening ride through portions of Mpls, Edina, Richfield and St. Paul. Members of the Council as well as Super Summer Program staff volunteered to cook a fresh gourmet breakfast for everyone at dawn at Beard's Plaisance (the picnic area near 46th & Upton on the west side of Lake Harriet). Highlights of the evening included rest stops/snacks at "Mel-o-Glaze" donuts on 28th Ave. S. & Minnehaha Parkway and "Grand Ol' Creamery" ice cream shop on Grand Ave. in St. Paul. The ride went off without a hitch, and we're looking forward to next year's ride on July 10, 2012!

Tom Neiman
SW Community Education Director

Summer experiences of a teacher

For many the idea of a summer vacation is playing with the kids, visiting family, long walks in the park or maybe a late sleep in morning. Well, for many school teachers the summer means an opportunity to secure a seconds job, gain additional training or getting that necessary degree.

For several of the Southwest teachers teaching summer school is an opportunity to do a couple things; gain the additional income, do something different, support students and see what the younger ones are thinking.

SW math teacher and Subject Area Lead David McMayer is doing just that. Instead of teaching upper level courses and almost ready to graduate students he is spending his summer with sixth graders.

"I am doing reflective work as a sixth grade math teacher during the summer. The experience is eye opening. I'm used to working with Calculus students and the Southwest Math Team. "

David notes that he is learning a great deal with experience and looking forward to the opening of the new school year. David is one of many teachers working this summer to support Minneapolis kids.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Help. - recommended book by Ms. Earl

Hello everyone,
I just read a great book called "The Help" by Kathyrn Stockett. It is about racial issues, women rights and civil rights in the south during the 1960's. It has good humor. I found myself laughing out loud. I am no English major but this would be a great book for maybe an elective English class. Or just a good old read.
Enjoy the summer--- I am:)
Wendy Earl

Southwest Health Teacher

Read a good book like your health teacher.. Go to the library. have a wonderful summer.

What has been you summer adventure?

We scatter across the world these summer months. Where was you adventure? What did you do for fun and renewal? Email me your stories. Let's share the Southwest adventures. Over the years students have climbed mountains, dug wells, visited ruins and volunteer in places in need. Share your story.

Class of 1986 Reunion

Now is the time for the Southwest Class of 1986 to mark their calendars for their 25th reunion. Yes, it has been 25 but you are still looking good. Just think it has been 25 years and because of that fantastic education you earned 25 years ago, you are the success you are now.

The reunion is August 6th. For complete details contact Emily at The class is also on Facebook: Southwest1986.

As you are thinking fondly of those years, your high school can use your support. It has been 25 years. Send a check in the amount of $25 to Southwest High School, 3414 47 th Street west, 55410. Your support will go a long way in creating a positive new generation of Southwest graduates and community leaders.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Paul Bunyan and Babe in Bemidji

Legends, myths and folk tales make for exciting adventures. A few hours north and west of the Twin Cities stand the famous north woods hero, Paul Bunyan. According to some count the statues on the shores of Lake Bemidji are the second most photographed statues in the United States.

Built in 1937 by the Dickinson Construction Company, Paul is made of concrete standing 18 feet tall and weighing 2.5 tons. The statues was originally made for the town's annual carnival. Babe the Blue Ox was originally of canvas and other materials over a wood frame. The entire structure was place on top of a pick-up, later place on top of a Model A Ford chassis in order to be towed. Babe toured the country until 1939 and then joined Paul on the side of the lake. Over the wood frame, Babe also was covered with concrete. Both are pained and annually receive a touch up for visitors.

A beautiful drive north and wonderful area with several parks and camping areas. What are your favorite legends or stories? How did they start? All families have that one story that makes its way onto the conversation at every family gathering. Over the years it probably has grown and adopted the favor of the story teller that year.

Could be a natural for your Personal Project.

Quality is Important

Just getting by is not enough. That is especially true about our personal lives and that which effect our children. Meaningful educational opportunities are critical to the full develop of a child's potential. That is true for every child and doubles when a child is struggling. Educational experiences must be meaningful, purposeful and intentional to significantly impact that child's learning.

Education is not becoming less expensive. If Southwest can continue to provide quality instructional opportunities to all its students the continuing financial support by the community remains critical. As more students enroll in advanced class and challenge themselves with harder subjects the need increases. To meet the increased enrollment in upper level courses Southwest needs over $13,000 in additional textbook costs. More hands-on experiences and more challenging classroom projects increase the operational costs. Supporting students struggling to prepare themselves for career and college demands more tutoring and smaller classes and more individual attention.

For more information on what you can do check out the Southwest Education Fnd web site.

You make the difference.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Compromise to end shutdown is on the table

Is morning Gov. Dayton spoke to a group at the University of Minnesota. He announced that he sent a letter to legislators with a budget proposal representing a compromise that he stated he did not like.

Regardless of your political affiliation, please take a few minutes and review the Governor's compromise proposal. Notice that once again a supposed accounting shift regarding school funding represents a large portion of the proposal. Previous state leaders hip have used the school funding delay and the delay is now counted in years. The newest round of delays will increase the delay to over one billion. There is no reason to believe that this shift will be resolved in two years and back to the same problems will a larger price tag.

Review the proposal and please email the Governor and your state legislators expressing your views. The elected officials need to hear from their constituents regarding the budget, the shutdown and whatever is going to happen next. The people of Minnesota need to control the agenda and voice their own opinions about what is important in Minnesota. National parties and special interest groups need to be balanced by citizens in the state.

Summer Half Way Point

In 45 days we will begin another exciting school year. For the graduates of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 one has to start the school year to move forward.

That doesn't mean we have to wish the time away. Enjoy the remaining days. Think about the adventures and the memories. For those into planning, what are you going to do in your club or organization this year? How are you going to make a difference in your own life and that of others? If in athletics, still time to get back into game conditions. The morning weather makes for great running temps.

Enjoy the time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Reunions and Alumni Happenings

We have a variety of methods to help in communicating and sharing your Alumni activities. Obviously, since you are reading this blog you know about this communication tool. We also are on Facebook - SouthwestLaker - and post on Twitter. The Alumni network is fantastic and once we have your information we can share the news with many.

Big moment in your life, travels, graduations, new awards and other exciting news can be fun for your classmates. Send us the picture and descriptions and we can share the experience. We are proud of the Southwest Alumni and want to spread the word about your adventures

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book about bullies - The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth

The full title of the book by Alexandra Robbins is The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theroy and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School. A huge amount of material to cover is a small book. It is a quick read and sometimes a bit too simplified but a good book for parents, educators, and adults in general.

Robbins uses the case study as the general structure for the book. By examining each of the parts, she wants to call attention to fact that there are numerous "types" in schools the fall in some way out of the "norm." she points out that being in the most "popular" group does not exclude a person from humiliation and bullying. It takes on a different form but in general kids can be unkind to one another.

There are the stereotypes and many typical descriptions that sometimes are too funny on TV sitcoms but in real life the humor is missing. Some are creative, shy kids who are more loners and less social than others. She notes that many of these could also be doing very well in class work which adds another problem of the being the smart kid. There are numerous examples of adult intervention that added to the problem and some times was the problem.

If you are interested in a introduction to a variety of teenage types, this book is a start. The moral of the storybis that all the various types will make it and many do quite well as a result if the challenges and problem solving. Not that she recommends bad things happening to kids. There is much in the book that calls atention to some of the little things that can be harmful and hurtful.

We continue to concerned with bullying. We will continue to stress that all students deserve a safe and healthy learning environment. As students, parents and adults we need to be aware and do our part to protect each other.

Statue and Glockenspiel in New Ulm

With a short drive south of Minneqapolis one steps back in time and onto a new continent and country-- Germany. Complete with Oktoberfest and sauerkraut. The town was founded in1854 by the German Land Society. There are three German festival celebrated annually - Fasching, a sort of German Mardi Gras; Heritagefest inJuly honoring all things German and Oktoberfest.

When visiting New Ulm two sights are the copper statue of Hermann Armeniis of Cherusci. He is a 32-ft statue on top of a 70-ft pedestal created in 1897. The second landmark is the town's glockenspiel situated below the 37-bell carillon tower. Three times a day, every day, a dozen mechanical figures pop out of the clock. Numerous shops and restaurants make for a pleasant visit.

Personal Project possibility: what is your heritage? Is there a local around here than celebrates that heritage? What are your family customs and rituals? Can you document your families' movement from the old world to this new land and finally into Minneapolis?

Volunteers Needed Great Community Sevice

The new wall at the front entrance of the high school on 47th is almost complete. Now is the time to prepare the soil, move existing plants and plant new items. We need you help this week. Trying to get things moving prior to the return of really hot.

A person with landscape expertise will e there to direct the work. We need volunteers to finish the project.

For exact time and dates this week, please email me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Merit Scholars from Southwest

MINNEAPOLIS – Two more Minneapolis Public Schools students on July 11 were named National Merit Scholars. In total, four MPS students received National Merit Scholarships and 11 students were named National Merit semifinalists during the 2010-2011 school year.

Dylan M. Pfandler and Matt L. Sikkink-Johnson, both of Southwest High School, were among approximately 8,300 students nationwide honored with National Merit Scholarships sponsored by colleges and universities this year. Officials of each sponsor college selected their scholarship winners from among finalists in the 2011 National Merit Scholarship Program who plan to attend their institution.

Pfandler was selected to receive the National Merit Knox College Scholarship. Sikkink-Johnson was selected to receive the National Merit Carleton College Scholarship. These awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship.

Pfandler, Sikkink-Johnson and more than 1,700 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship winners announced today are a part of the distinguished group of approximately 8,300 high school seniors of 2011 who will receive National Merit Scholarships for college undergraduate study worth nearly $35 million. Announced earlier this spring were winners of two other types of National Merit Scholarships – corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards and National Merit $2500 Scholarships.

The Weather Great Topic

In the matter of one week - seven short days - outside can change up and down 40 degrees. It can move from dangerous storms to beautiful, low humidity days. Shorts, long sleeves, rain gear and a sun hat are all appropriate wear on such days. If you wait an hour it will change.

According to some studies the actual prediction of future weather is less than one out of three chances of being correct. The further out - more than 24 hours - the prediction the less likely will be the success rate. Now that is an almost perfect job- being right less than a third of the time and people still listen to you.

But what about weather ( limited of course) being your Personal Project or Extended Essay topic. The summer is an interesting three month study or going to the end of the year a a six month study. There are books to read, people to interview and live conditions to watch. What makes for a reliable prediction? Are there any good weather person jokes? Why and how did that famous TV weather person get his/her position?

While sitting at the lake or catching some rays or a break from a good book, you could be making a journal entry about the weather. Your Personal Project.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wabash a Street Caves historical tours

  Need some weekend adventure and some history of the area and as a bonus, fun. Check out the Wabasha Street Caves. There is an informative web sit - - with calendar of events, times and costs.

According to the web site:
Check out the Summer tour schedule on the Calendar (Memorial Weekend to Labor Day Weekend)!  This year we are doing 2 Saint Paul Gangster Tours each Saturday and also adding the Ghost & Graves Tour.  Learn the meaning of headstones, and hear the stories of haunted places in Saint Paul.  It's fun, educational, and also a little bizzarre.  Narrated by one of our spookier characters.  Booo~

If you are doing a Personal Project this has potential. There is lots of history in the area. How about developing your own tour book with descriptions and pictures. Many could be right in your biking or walking distance.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Southwest Soccer Camp Aug. 1 - 4 Grades 4-9

Have plans for the first week of August? One great option is the annual Southwest High School soccer camp at Southwest High School Stadium.

Its a great chance to meet and learn soccer from the coaches of Southwest high school mens and womens soccer, as well as from some of the best high school soccer players in MN (2010 State Boys finalists). Support Minneapolis soccer while providing your kids with great Minneapolis youth role models.

Registration form attached. We accept registrations even up to day of camp. But we greatly appreciate pre-registration. Please forward this to any kids you think might be interested. Thanks much for supporting Minneapolis soccer.

For Who: Boys and Girls: Entering grades 4 – 9 (Fall 2011).
When: August 1st through the 4th (Mon-Thur), 2011, 1:00 – 3:30 PM.
Where: Minneapolis Southwest High School Stadium
@ 48th Street and Abbott.
Led by: Southwest Lakers Head Boys Soccer Coach Jamie Plaisance & Head Girls Coach Colette Montgomery & the Lakers Varsity Captains.
What to bring: Water and a ball.
Cost: $80
Typical soccer week-long camps cost $120 - $140. Our camp costs less because most the trainers are volunteer high school soccer players. Revenue from these camps help Southwest High School soccer pay for the referees, transportation, and other costs for the 2011 Fall Soccer season.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Walk in The Woods by Bill Bryson

If you are taking AP English next year the required summer reading (as you already know) is the book A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. You are in for a treat. This a funny book with points of wisdom and common sense. Even if you are not in AP this coming year this is a wonderful read.

Quote from author Bill Bryson: “I have long known that it is part of God's plan for me to spend a little time with each of the most stupid people on earth.”

My own shopping experiences at REI rang familiar as he was describing his camping gear search. I know how he feels with everyone in the entire store more fit, more knowledgeable and watching your every move. I. Think those stores should hire people like bill and me for entertainment purposes. I know that in the REI employee break room there are still clerks sharing stories about some of my inquiries.

Find time to add this to your summer list. I have to check out other Bryson books. He is a journalist and a wit. If you are a hiker I think you will relate to some of his adventures. If you are an armchair walker you will get a taste of the wild. Reading is better than getting chased by bears.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Great advice for the new teacher

Do you know someone in your family or a friend about to graduate and take that first plunge into the world of teaching?

Well, one of our own wrote a great book that is the perfect gift and possibly one that will enable her/him to make it through that first year. English teacher Michael Kennedy wrote a treasure piece entitle-- Teacher to Teacher. It is filled with a kind and tender narrative about teaching and making it through the tough days. It is a book about the love of teaching and the horrors of being a teacher.

For that first year person this is the book. It is the toolkit, the saving bible and a place to return to time and again and claim that Kennedy was writing about your experiences today.

It is available through and other online book sellers. Ask your local book store to see if they have copies for sale.

Your new teacher friend will thank you many times in the years to come.


This past school year we talked a bunch about responsibility. Responsibility to self and to others. We talked about accepting responsibility and being in positions to take responsibility. Southwest is a large educational community within several larger, geographically, communities, neighbors and then city. Being a responsible community member is logical but takes effort and purposeful actions.

We want to move another step forward this coming year and think about the responsibility we have to others. The most obvious it that of leaders. Are you a captain of a sports team or president of your club or student leader in an organization? What are your responsibilities to the other team members or club members? What is your responsibility to the team or club or organization? As a captain or leader what is my role in setting the tone or being a model for others and younger members of the team? How do I display my responsibilities for and to others?

As a member of a team, club or organization, what are your responsibilities to the health and week-being of other members and the organization? How do you support one another? Do you look out for one another and try to be helpful? What if another team member was in danger? What would or should you do? How do you help your club members if they are having difficulties in school or in the neighborhood?

As a member of the Southwest community we all are responsible for the tone and atmosphere of the school, hourly, daily. How do we model behavior that is supportive of one another? What do we do help one another.

The bully is a problem in our country, state, neighborhood and, yes regretfully, our schools. There are persons who like to wield power over those they believe to be weaker or inferior. If one person attempts to intimidate another, that person is a bully. The act does not have to be physical - pushing someone in a locker or dumping in a trash can. Those are the typical portrayals but words can be intimidating, in person or left messages or emails or tweets. Gossip is probably the most frequently use tool of the bully. Telling half truths or misinformation about another person can be very intimidating.

All students deserve the right to be safe and to have a feeling of worth and value. It is amazing how many groups are together with a few members wielding fear of rejection from the group over others. One or two strong arms in the group should not dictate for the others and "pick" on select members as the mood may strike.

We need to actively and openly disapprove of and discourage bullying in all its forms. No one or no group should be allowed to be the target or a victim. We must be responsible for our own actions and then responsible to the safety of others. Our friends, teammates, class mates should not be victims of harassment and bullying. Together we can resist the urge to make fun of or to torment someone.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Take a Hike

Why not hike a Minneapolis hiking trail each week. II side the city are miles and miles of beautiful bike, skate and walking trails. Many include trails around a lake or along the creek.

If you are a 10th grader this could be a great personal project. There is. Web site of all the city trails - - you can post pictures and reviews of your experience. Great time, wonderful activity and a community service.

Theodore Wirth Park Trails are just an example. Named after the father of our city parks and lakes, it is a beautiful treasure right here in Minneapolis.


55 and Theodore Wirth Parkway. From Hwy 100, go East on 55 to Theodore Wirth Parkway. From Int 94 go West on 55 to Theodore Wirth Parkway. Trail entrance is on the North West corner with a Kiosk and map. You can't park there, so you must go South on Theodore Wirth Parkway until you get to Glennwood. Take a Left (East) on Glennwood and you will see a lake and parking lot to your left. Park there and follow the way you came back to the trail head. There are paved bicycle trails along Theodore Wirth Parkway on the west side, so you can take those back to the entrance and kiosk at 55 and Theodore Wirth Parkway.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Science Museum of Minnesota

The Science Museum of Minnesota is open. A great summer visit if it is too rainy for the pool or parks. Don't tell anyone but it is highly educational.

The big exhibit currently is King Tut. Go to the Science Museum web site and get advance ticket information, directions, best visit times and much more. There is a good video about the exhibit worth your time even if you are not going to the Museum. More information and videos are available at the official exhibit web site--

Tickets are not cheap. For an adult the member rate is $24. And for non-members the tickets re $38 for week days and $43 for weekend dates. There are discounts for children under 12 and senior citizens.

Unfortunately the Minnesota History Center is closed due to state shut down.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Lacuna (P.S). -- excellent read

First, I believe language is very powerful. Second, I have respect for the wordsmiths - those writers who know how to use the language and put words and phrases together well. S you know my bias.

The Lacuna (P.S) by Barbara Kingsolver is one I recommend. She has written several notable novels and received numerous literary awards. It is about the writing and the process of writing from a writer's perspective. Turn of the century U.S. And Mexico is the setting. Spans about 50 years with most of the focus on the 30's and 40's. This is a book of fiction with real people, places and historical events mixed in as backdrops to the struggle of a young man facing a confusing world.

As in many books, the first thing is to remove parental influences, make sure there are minimal strong relatives and take away familiar places and locations. Sounds almost like a Harry Potter introduction. But the book takes on some of the characteristics of Forrest Gump with real people and events adding to the plot and definitely adding to the theme of the book.

The Lacuna includes Mexico history and some U.S. History frequently omitted from history books. A good read and is one of Kingsolver's books that will be around for a while. Some school children are going to find this on the required reading list soon.

If you enjoy The Lacuna you might also enjoy The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield. Another fine mystery about a writer and her writing process.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is popular now both as a book and film. Again, a young woman wanting to be a writer and the plot is her research process.

Do you have a favorite? How about sharing? Email me the title and short summary.

Don't forget to drop me an email about your summer trips. Where did you go and why did you discover?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Holiday weekend - Summer away from school & state shut down

Hopefully you summer holiday weekend did not include a state park. Maybe long distance driving in the state was a chore unless you have relatives every few hours. There is plenty of sun and generally some of the best weather and summer days so far.

Reading the Sunday New York Times is an interesting weekend break. This morning's was full of interesting juxtapositions -- top executives salaries increases way over those of everyone else's averages, Minnesota state government shut down, unemployment remains about 9% and the wars (plural) continue.

I know our students are continuing their studies and trying to make sense out of the news. I have to admit I am pleased that the judge decides that schools are part of the "essential" services. The Twins can seem to find an answer to winning baseball games. But it might be good to notice that total team salaries does not predict series winner or playoff contenders according to this morning's NYT. Fashions still seem to be a total mess. I just can't image young people bouncing around in some of those color combinations unless they were working for the circus. But to each his/her own.

The world -- the country -- the state -- our neighborhoods -- might be a good weekend to search for the common good or what do we think is worth the time and effort. Have a safe holiday weekend!