Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dangerous Games - NOT a School Activity

The “assassins wars” is a teenage game of "killing" people until the last person is alive.  In some cases there is money involved as persons pay an amount to play and the last person wins it all.

Students hide in bushes, drive in crazy manners, show disregard for street traffic, and their own or others safety.  For the unknowing adult this can be very startling to come across a teen hiding behind your bushes or waiting in "ambush" with some weapon looking thing.  We do not need adult heart attack or accidentally injured young adults.

The game has nothing to do with school and is NOT a school activity.  We discourage its practice and do not allow for "kills" at school.  The students are playing by their own rules and in their own groups throughout the neighborhood.

Congressman Keith Ellison Awards Southwest Artist

Southwest students secured two of the three awards at the 5th district congressional art show.  Congressman Keith Ellison presented the awards for this show.  
There were 13 high schools that participated in this show including Perpich Center for the Arts.

 2nd place-  Lucia Possehl

3rd place- Ava Krahn

Southwest at Viva City with Dessa

Southwest choir, band, and orchestra students had a strong showing and leadership roles at the 20th Annual Viva City Choir & Orchestra Performance, which took place at the Convention Center on April 28 and 29. The event featured students from 14 Minneapolis schools who formed a 150-piece orchestra and 700-member choir. Highlights of the featured Southwest students include vocal soloists Natalie Dulka and Sam Gaines, concertmaster Ava Szychalski, and a performance by SW alum Dessa. The event featured the world-premiere of a newly commissioned work by Dessa and local composer Jocelyn Hagen, which will also be performed at future events throughout the district as well as by Vocalessence next season. SW conductors Keith Liuzzi and Nathan Knoll led with charisma and style, as usual! The performers received standing ovations from large and enthusiastic audiences both nights! We're so proud of the high level of excellence shown by the many talented musicians, vocalists, and artists at Southwest High School!
above: Viva City 2014 stage and choir at the Convention Center
Pictured (left to right): SW musicians Ryan Rosik (bass clarinet) Ava Szychalski (violin), Dessa, and Emerson Clay (violin)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bolg From New York City Dance Trip

Blogging on a windy day in NYC(Day 1)
Well the city that never sleeps, slept last night and is still sleeping. At least until they meet us in the lobby at 9:30 a.m.    
What to blog?  From the point of view of 37 other people you may get different eyes on this New York prize,  but here I go.  
Our flight was timely and mostly uneventful.  A woman who had a low blood pressure needed medical attention so the last hour was hoping all went well and it did.  
Got into JFK and got metro cards and headed on subway to Howard Beach to catch the “A” train.  I am grateful we arrived mid day as all our fumbling and bumbling purchasing cards, hauling luggage onto subway platforms inconvenienced almost no one but us.  The spaces we occupied were virtually empty, and a good start to initiatating the uninitiated(which turns out their are about 9 who have never been here) into the big city.
The half hour subway ride from Brooklyn(JFK airport) seemed long, but the anticipation coming up from the 42nd St. station into the light and vision of Time Square was palpable.  I wonder if I actually heard screams?  We popped up right into the mix of the city in its then bustle(1:30 p.m.) and it was delightful. 
We dropped off luggage and went to eat and explore Time Square. Our hotel is right across from ABC studios and down the street from the Forever 21 five story bldg(guess how many women were in heaven?).  I told them that whomever took the first selfie with a celebrity of any sort that mattered to them, would get a free dinner on me.  Haley and Ava texted me a photo with Nick Lachey(98 degrees boy band singer and former Jessica Simpson husband and host of something or other right now).  
By 6:30 p.m. we were off to “Matilda” for half of us, and “Motown the Musical” for the other half .
I ended up at Matilda and half way through the show I felt so bad everyone wasn’t seeing this masterpiece.   Not nearly as dark as the book by Ronald Dahl, the set and lights were as integral as anything and were just extraordinary. The choregraphy that Peter Darling (from Billy Elliot) won the Tony for was superb and quirky, and interesting and mostly done by eleven year olds!  Super human children.    So phenomenal. The students were in awe and as one said it was “ridiculous” how amazing this show was.  Come to find out , the “Motown” group was feeling sorry for us!  Abdi said, “this was probably the happiest moment of my life”.  They music from the sixties Motown hits and audience involvement, made all of them chatter and squeal to us later about this being the best thing they had ever seen.  
Stories of their photos appearing on the jumbo tron in Time Square and some being asked to be in a flash mob for a marriage proposal and others excited about finding an amazing cupcake store....well it goes on and on.  
We are off to explore all things above 42nd street this morning as we work our way to Central Park to perform  (The principal at the  high school that was to host us decided no visitors today(!) and plan B has become get ipod dock from friend and go to Strawberry Fields to perform).  On the way we will visit Lincoln Center, Juilliard, SNL Rockfeller Center, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum and then street fair in Harlem.  Back to see “The Heathers” tonight and collapse.  Forecast is 61 and sunny.  On to put on my walkin shoes.  
Strawberry Fields Forever/Day 2
Day Two had us traveling Uptown past the David Letterman Studios, New York City Ballet, Lincoln Center, Juilliard and of course “Steak and Shake”(!).  Who knew that little fast food hot spot would get the biggest recognition.    I’m always amazed at how TV/ movies and the current vernacular become so apparent.  “Oh that’s where Carrie was proposed to by Big!” in “Sex and the City”, or when going over the hill in Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum and a small pool of water with sail boats appeared, “oh my gosh that was a scene in “Stuart Little”!”  
Central Park was our main destination and walk, we did.   We entered the park at 72nd and Central Park West across from the Dakota where John Lennon lived and died and headed to Strawberry Fields where he is buried and the “Imagine” tile mosaic is in the ground.  There were two musicians playing their guitars and singing and students seemed drawn like a magnet to go sit around them to listen.  As they were listening, I began to think about Hope’s new piece that had a very organic structure and feel to it.  I asked her if she thought we could perform it there in Strawberry Fields and maybe  approach the musicians about playing something to accompany it.  She said it made her feel nervous and her dancers for the most part were uncomfortable as well.  Enter my not so subtle style.  I encouraged strongly(knowing this would be a lifetime story)and went to talk to the musicians.  They were delighted and they suggested playing and singing “Imagine”.  Oh my goodness.  I  filmed it on my phone and the experience was breathtaking.  They and the crowd that gathered to watch them can attest, and when I figure out how to cut down the size on my iphone, I will send to you.
We let them loose for an hour in the park after stopping at a food cart or two and they laid in the grass or walked to the boat house at ate burgers, sat on the rocks and talked near Bethesda Fountains, played frisbee, watched the roller skaters, the dog walkers, a wedding or two, and headed through the park towards the east side where the Metropolitan Museum was on 82nd and 5th Ave.  Ask them about the Park.  They didn’t want to leave and I’m sure have different memories than I know.  
We sat on the steps on the Met and listened to live musicians.  Did you know that on an episode of “Gossip Girls”  someone ate yogurt on those steps!  Me neither.  Am not familiar with the show but many specifically wanted to be in that upper east side neighborhood for that reason.  Yes, I am old, and all my associations outdated.  
Some actually went into the museum but mostly we just “stopped walking”.  That was a delight in and of itself and the day was magical and sunny and all of us Minnesotans got reacquainted with the sun.
  We split up as we wandered back downtown to our hotel and they either crashed or shopped in Time Square and we met for “The Heathers” at 7:15 in the lobby.  Many of them were adorned with  new shoes or dresses or accessories as they appeared ready for Broadway Show #2.   We all wove our way through a very crowded mid-town to the “New World Theater”  6 blocks away.  They loved the show, though I found out it was rated “R” when we arrived.  Some knew the movie version with Wynona Ryder but I went on a colleague recommendation having heard it was akin to “Mean Girls” and High School and a newly graduated Minnetonka talent was the lead.  
Probably would choose differently next time but they were laughing so hard and as one student said, “this would be a great show to have a teen discussion after”.  Anyway, half of us went to the stage door to meet the hometown boy as my Mn contact had set up a gathering for us.  We missed the part where they announced that his understudy had gone on for him that night so when the actor emerged from the stage door and the students were clapping and taking pictures with him-well, it all seemed so normal.  Through the noise, I whispered in his ear that we were the students from Southwest Mpls. that he had been told would meet him.  He shook his head ‘yes’ and smiled and went on to the next photo opp with the students.  Someone finally said, “so how does a Minnesota boy make it to New York?”  He said, “Minnesota?  I’m from Long Island”.   I said, “Are you Ryan?”  “Ryan?  No I’m his understudy Dan!”  We laughed and laughed and that whole scene was as good as the show.   So they met “Not Ryan” from “The Heathers” and have plenty of pictures to prove it.  
Their stories are better I am sure but I will put a period on Blog #2 as we get read for Day #3.  
NYC/Day 3:  “These Boots Were Made for Walking”(or maybe that’s Converse )
“I love New York, it’s never dark”.   “Of course not”, says a chaperone because you are staying in Time Square”.  The bright lights of the city ,for many of the women, meant a short block to the 5 story “Forever 21” store that is open until midnight.  As Karl said(because he has so many women friends he is accompanying), “I think I have spent more time in women’s clothing stores on this trip, than I have spent sleeping !”
And the negotiations in China Town this afternoon for designer this and thats, make me convinced that many need to work for Obama.  
Lest you think that’s all they have done is shop, let me run through my view of the day.
A short walk to Cameo Studios had us meeting my director friend Steve and his two comrades from the theater.  Robby Stamper(musical director, voice coach and accompaniest to the Broadway community) and Josh( who is performer/actor and personal dance assistant to Susan Stroman(choreographer /director extraordinaire).  They taught students songs and dances from “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” and “Big Fish”.  Fast and furious and fun I would say.  “Turn jump, open close, pas de bouree, ball change, hold”(sort of).  We also had a question/answer period following the show and learned a bit about all of their jobs.  Josh was the “swing” for the last two shows which means he learns 10 people’s parts in song, dance and acting and if they should get sick he would go on.  He also has been dance captain for the shows which means he keeps the “bible” or book of all choreography with all the “tracks” or traffic patterns of all the dancers and of course the movement vocabulary and must teach to anyone who is replaced or sick.  One of the most interesting things to me that he shared, was that being a dancer in alot of the building of new shows he talked about the skill of being willing to be flexible and willing to change.  Often times as new shows are created, test audiences are brought in and if the directors don’t think things are working, they will take out a song, insert new ones, re-arrange and order , take out pieces of dialogue, etc and all must be fixed by the next night.  The creative process demands alot  of intellect, detachment, flexibility and memory.  And for a dancer, it is about embodiment as well.  You are singing, memorizing movement sequences and all while trying to ground yourself with the director’s intent. This is why when people talk about the arts as frivolous or “cute” or “fun” one often must have developed the skill of “restraint” as I personally have to excercise that one to not go for their jugular.  But , I digress.
We are only at 12:00 p.m. so, on with the day.
Students headed back to the hotel where they changed and headed downtown to Ground Zero.  Definitley effected by too much walking and dreams of China Town, some just looked from the outside while others used the free tickets acquired by our chaperone to enter into the sight and ponder near the magnificent water pool structures that bore the names of the victims.  The lone standing tree that remained still blooms with cherry blossoms and suffice to say there, was alot to think about. 
While others were on their way to China Town, Little Italy and Soho my group stayed a bit longer to visit bathrooms, get coffees etc.   It started to rain as our walk began and I decided my small group needed cabs as a reprieve.  Being near a large hotel, a porter arranged for us to get two cabs but instead said that he would get a large vehicle instead for the same price.  A white stretch limo showed up and the rest is history.  A delightful way for the eight of us to travel a few miles.  Yes,  it wasn’t fair, but, oh,  we could get used to this.  
We all wove our way up the island to our final performance destination which was “Baldwin through Dance” at New York Live Arts Space(owned by Bill T. Jones in Chelsea).   “Exhausted” is who I saw show up in the form of 35 students.  Those boots were not made for, as some were sandals and they had walked (with the exception of two subway rides), all day.  The show consisted of two premieres of choreography by Diane McIntyre and Charles O. Andersen in honor of the commemoration of James Baldwin and what would have been his 95th birthday. Dealing with the idea of race/humanity and struggle, students said, it was  “beautiful, confusing, intense, tiring, long, life changing, ...“    A few were so moved they stayed for the discussion afterwards and one African American boy said, “I feel a deep sense of contentment because I now know there are other people struggling with race in the same way I am.  It’s like a puzzle I didn’t know I had inside of me but now that I know, I know I will be putting  it together all my life. The difference is,  now I know what questions to ask and that others have been asking them for decades.”   So though others might have enjoyed a little cat nap during the show, someone’s life was literally changed.  The arts have the power of transformation.  In one fell swoop, this man has, as he would explain it, renewed “purpose”.    What else is life about?  
 I am so grateful to have been with these children on this journey.  As much as it is difficult with school and grades and testing, (and don’t think they aren’t exhausted, tired of their room mates ,wished they were in their own beds, etc)the kindnesses and bonding and life lessons(they are up early this a.m. taking one of the students to breakfast for her birthday)and for some transformation, is frankly, priceless.   
Off to the airport in 30  minutes and home by 2:17 p.m.
Colleen Callahan Russell
Southwest Dance Teacher

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Linden Hills Festival Needs Volunteers

The 40th annual Linden Hills Festival will be held on Sunday, May 18th.  We are still in need of volunteers, particularly for the 3:00 - 5:00 time slot.  It would be great if some staff or students would be willing to help.  The Linden Hills Neighborhood Council is a 501-C-3 so this could be an opportunity for some IB students to get additional CAS hours.

Here's the signup link below. Please feel free to pass this along to anyone who you think may be able to help out.

Thanks so much and we look forward to learning more about the developments at Southwest.

Kindest Regards,

Dawn Chapman

Linden Hills Neighborhood Council

Interim co-chair



Dakato Combo Jazz - Two From Southwest

Youth Showcase at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival 

The 2013-2014 edition of the elite high school jazz ensemble, the Dakota Combo, announces final performances of the year. The Dakota Combo is a program of the MacPhail Center for Music, in partnership with the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education (DFJE). Initiated in fall 2006, the Combo is selected each September through open auditions, and rehearse and perform throughout the school year under the direction of Adam Linz, Jazz Coordinator for the MacPhail Center for Music.  Graduates of the program have moved on to study at the nation’s top music programs, including the Berklee College of Music, Brubeck Institute, The Juilliard School, New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Lawrence Conservatory and New England Conservatory of Music.

This year’s Combo is a septet including Jack Courtright (trombone, Apple Valley High School), Ben Ehrlich (drums, Wayzata High School), Peter Goggin (saxophone, Mounds View High School), Will Kjeer (piano, Home School), Levi Schwartzberg (vibraphone, Southwest High School), Aiden Sponheim (trumpet, Southwest High School) and Sam Worthington (bass, Mounds View High Scho

Friday, April 25, 2014

Southwest Minnesota All-State Musicians 2014

Announcing the Minnesota All-State Southwest Students. Congratulations to the following students who have been selected as an All-State member or alternate:

Emerson Clay Minneapolis, MN Viola/Orchestra
Nicola Lowry Minneapolis, MN Bb Clarinet/Symphonic Band
Yueqi (Lily) Ren Minneaolis, MN Flute/Symphonic Band
Gerhardt Robinson Minneapolis, MN Tenor Saxophone/Jazz Alternate
Ryan Rosik Minneapolis, MN Tenor Saxophone/Jazz Alternate
Alice Schmitz Minneapolis , MN Bass/Orchestra
Aidan Sponheim Minneapolis, MN Trumpet/Jazz Band

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Southwest Alumni Class Reunions - Attention

Southwest Alumni - Classes of......

Do you have a Reunion planned for this year??

We can support your efforts for announcements, visits to the school or other ways to make for a great celebration!

Classes of  1944         1949          1954       1959           1964           1969
             1974          1979          1984         1989      1994          1999           2004           2009

Who is the Alumni Reunion Chair???
What is the date and location of the Reunion?
Who is the RSVP contact?


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

World Savvy Festival May 16 and 17


May 16-17 | Augsburg College


World Savvy educates and engages youth

to learn, work and thrive as responsible

global citizens in the 21st century.


Media and Arts Showcase

Join us for an engaging exhibition

of student artwork, followed by live

performances, music, and film.

6:30 pm

—artwork exhibition

7:30 pm

—live performances

and film


World Savvy Challenge

Engage with over 400 students

from across Minnesota, who will

share their solutions to some of the

world’s most pressing issues.

8:30 am


9:30 am

—Opening Ceremony

10:00 am-3:30 pm


Project Competitions

3:30-4:00 pm















Augsburg College

2211 Riverside Ave

Minneapolis, MN 55454

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Southwest Baseball Fund Raiser - Bowls of Gratitude

Here is an awesome opportunity to benefit our baseball program.  Lynne Christensen is Zach Christensen's mom.  Zach is on the JV team.   Lynne is a potter and has generously offered to do a fundraiser for our SW baseball program involving bowls that are made by her.  These bowls make great gifts.  Think mother's day and graduation.  (I already purchased bowls for my sister's birthday).  The bowls are beautiful and one of a kind.  Please read the following email from Lynne: 


Please have a look at the website:


For every bowl you purchase between April 25th through May 11th, $8.00 will be given back to the Southwest Baseball Booster Fund.

These are wonderful gifts for employees, clients, family and friends. Let us not forget Mother's day and graduation gifts!Please  email  

with the quantity you would like to order after reviewing the Bowls of Gratitude .



Lynne will call you back with a total cost (with tax) and the need for your credit card information. 

A total count of bowls will be recorded and the donation will be made after May 12th. 

We then will get them delivered some way some how ... so order quantities at ONE TIME! 

We can order up to 100 (but can go over a bit).

Another great way to contribute to our needs.


Minneapolis Southwest High School Baseball Boosters

Monday, April 21, 2014

What You Want to Get Out of this Investment in Your Education

What do you want?  Will that degree get you a job?  How about that college transcript?  Will it impress the potential employer?

A couple of different articles that should make for good dinner table talk.  Do I need a gap year?  Should I pay attention to the courses or just have fun at the party school?

Howard Root, Star Tribune April 21, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Congratulations Math Team

Nomination to the All-State Math Team Congratulations to Russell Pekala!
Russell has been invited to participate on the All-State Mathematics Team, representing the state of Minnesota. He is one of a group of seventy-five of the most talented mathematics students in the state. 
He will take part in four full-day practices on various Saturdays in April and May. If selected for one of the sixty spots available on the teams from Minnesota, Russell will travel with the others for a day-long competition in Iowa. 
Russell has earned this opportunity by performing well during math team competitions this year. He also did quite well on the American Mathematics Competition exams.

Although the Southwest Math Team is done for the school year, we are always trying to encourage further participation in future years. Please direct any questions to David McMayer at

Southwest Club Happenings

Japanese Culture Club
Meets Wednesdays from 3:05 to 4:30 in Room 219.  If you are interested in Japanese Culture, Japanese movies, and J-Quiz, please join us.


Chess Club - Room 33
Wednesdays from 3:00-4:30 - Questions?   Contact Mr. Balson


Break Dance Club  Absolutely no experience necessary!  Join us in the link Mondays and Wednesdays 3:15 – 4:30.  Questions?  See Ms. Valdez in room 109


GSA - Gay Straight Alliance
Meets 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month, 3:15 to 4:30, East Building Room #110


Political Activism Club:
A place to talk with your peers about current issues and how to engage in the political process.  Grassroots activism. We meet every third Tuesday in Room 34. Interested? Email Ms. Rittler at


will take place every Tuesday at 3:15 in room 218.   If you are struggling with Spanish, please take advantage of this opportunity whenever possible.  If you are an upper-level Spanish student and can help with the tutoring, please see Ms. Woebke.



Join Teen Health & Unity Group!  (THUG)
Learn about health topics that interest YOU!  Earn service hours!  Build your resume!  Eat free food!  Make friends!  THURSDAYS 3—4pm, Room E19 

Young Artist Party at the U

The Young Artist Party is May 16th this year
at the U of M Regis Art building West gallery, 6-9 pm.

Time To Get In The Water

Spring!  Finally!
For the Southwest Sailing Team, that means we are on the water again!

We sail at the Lake Calhoun Sailing School across the roundabout from the Tin Fish.
We practice Monday through Thursday from 4 to6pm. If you are interested, visit our website or simply come down to the lake during a practice time and just try it out!
No prior sailing experience is required. Please bring shoes that can get wet and dress appropriately for the weather.
For any other questions and concerns, please send an email to SW captain Michael Stone at

Bowling for Lacrosse

A Bowling Fundraiser for Boys and Girls Lacrosse Teams
- the Lax Bowling Bash!
All are welcome to attend this event on Sunday, April 27 from 5:00 - 9:00 pm at Park Tavern.
Your entry fee ($25 ahead/$30 at door for adults & $15 for youth) includes all of your bowling, pizza and salad.
There will be great raffle prizes and "social shindig" parties you can sign up to attend.
To learn more or purchase tickets online, visit  Questions? Contact Emily at

Live, Laugh, Love Celebrating Teachers

SWHS PTSA Fundraiser

Shop to support SWHS teachers!
Live, Laugh, Love is celebrating The Teachers of Southwest High School.  
Present this flyer at time of purchase and Live, Laugh, Love Gifts will donate 10% of your purchase price to SW High School during the week of April 21st thru April 25th.