Sunday, November 30, 2014

Southwest Next School Year May Experience a Flexible Schedule - 9 or 10 periods


Southwest and the Minneapolis Public Schools celebrate the continuing growth of students enrolled in the schools.  This has been a gradual process and the increase has been monitored through the elementary grades.

Southwest will under go a fabulous expansion during the 2015-16 school year.  The new construction will be the creation of a three-story building over what is now known as the link.  As the construction happens school will continue.

Plans are being made to provide a quality education experience during construction.  One of the considerations is an extended schedule - building to 9 or 10 periods in a regular day.  The easy way to think about it is a zero hour around 7 am and then an 8th or 9th period at the end of the day.  Students would attend 6 or 7 periods but will start and stop and different times during the day.

For seniors and juniors this could be excellent opportunities for sports to begin earlier or to go out and get that job due to be available at different hours.  The Metro Go-Card makes a flexible schedule possible since transportation is individualized.  The Metro buses run throughout the day very 10 to 15 minutes.

Southwest will continue to work with families.  Keeping brothers and sisters together may be necessary for some families.  For many families the earlier and later hours could be a benefit to adult working hours and other family needs.

Nothing has been decided at this time.  The matter is a continuing conversation.  Leadership Council will be involved and updates will continue in the Southwest Weekly Bulletin.

Your thoughts, comments and ideas are always welcome.

Reaching a Good College Isn’t as Hard as It Seems - Sunday New York Times

Illustration Credit Hisashi Okawa
Statistics like these have come to dominate the national narrative of elite college admissions, with each new batch of ever-more-minuscule success rates fueling a collective sense that getting into a good college has become a brutal, “Hunger Games"-style tournament that only the fittest survive.
That story is wrong. For well-qualified students, getting into a good college isn’t difficult. It probably isn’t that much harder than it was generations ago. The fact that everyone believes otherwise shows how reliance on a single set of data — in this case, institutional admission rates — can create a false sense of what’s really going on.
But this is mostly a matter of optimizing odds that are very good to begin with. So the next time you read about terrifyingly low college admission rates, don’t panic: If you work hard and get good grades and test scores, there is very likely a place in the best schools for you.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

When is too much Too Much? - Novel for Teens and Parents

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . .
So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party. --

Powerful first novel by Celeste Ng.  It is a story for families, children and parents.  We want the very best for our children.  When is too much really too much?    It is a story of being different.  It is a story of trying to fit in.  One can read this tragic story on several levels.  It is a story of discrimination.  It is a story of growing up different.  It is a story of a family at war with itself.

If you are a high school student or parent of a teenager this is a book for you.  It should generate conversations with each other and yoru children or parents.

Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You (Penguin Press), which was a New York Times bestseller and Amazon's #1 Best Book of the Year 2014. She grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.

Friday, November 28, 2014

What is the Impact on IQ asks Author Murray


We gave up on IQ tests as some measure of intelligence some time ago.  However, I will let you come to your own conclusions about Charles Murray, the author.  The Bell Curve is also one of his works.  At the same time, we definitely need to stay open to all rigorous research that offers another challenge and opportunity.  For most children and families that outside force is the school.  Unfortunately for some children the outside force may be the street or friends (peers) or just bad influences.

At the end of the discussion, the young adult has some options and decisions.  Choice is start a part of the human condition.  Perseverance's, hard work, resiliency, curiosity and self-reflection also play important parts to the learning and maturing process.  The research is rather clear that doing nothing results in nothing.  A child is not an empty vessel and everything gets poured in at some point.  Doing nothing or doing damaging acts to one's self (drugs, etc) is not a great change agent for good.
The article presents some ideas on which to ponder.

Parenting's minimal impact on IQ

  • Article by: CHARLES MURRAY
  • Updated: November 26, 2014 - 8:00 PM
"It’s one thing to point out that programs to improve children’s cognitive functioning have had a dismal track record. We can always focus on short-term improvements, blame the long-term failures on poor execution or lack of follow-up, and try, try again. It’s another to say that it’s impossible to do much to permanently improve children’s intellectual ability through outside interventions. But that’s increasingly where the data are pointing."
Charles Murray is a political scientist, author, and libertarian. He first came to national attention in 1984 with the publication of Losing Ground, which has been credited as the intellectual foundation for the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. His 1994 New York Times bestseller, The Bell Curve (Free Press, 1994), coauthored with the late Richard J. Herrnstein, sparked heated controversy for its analysis of the role of IQ in shaping America’s class structure. Murray’s other books include What It Means to Be a Libertarian (1997), Human Accomplishment (2003), In Our Hands (2006), and Real Education (2008). His most recent book, Coming Apart (Crown Forum, 2012), describes an unprecedented divergence in American classes over the last half century.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Southwest Musical Ragtime Audition Workshop

Ragtime Audition Workshop

  • Never Been in a musical Before?
  • Nervous about Auditioning?
  • Nervous about Dancing?
  • Want to be on top of your Game?
  • Want to meet the Directors?

Then come to the workshop on

Wednesday, December 3rd for SINGING TIPS AND/OR

Thursday, December 4th for DANCING TIPS

3:15 – 4:30 pm in the Auditorium

  • Margaret Berg, Director
  • Nathan Knoll,  Music Director
  • Reid Wixson, Pit Director    
  • Colleen Callahan,Choreographer

Target, Kowalski's and YOU Support Southwest

Please use your Red Card IF you shop at Target.  A portion of your purchase supports Southwest.  Please make sure that your donation is going to Southwest.  You have to return to the Target and Rec Card online location to change your donation choice.  We appreciate your support and that of Target

Kowalski's Markets support schools and other non-profit organizations.  If you show at Kowalski's and use the Lyndale and 54th store, please place your shopping receipt in the box labeled Southwest.  Kowalski's donates a portion of your purchase but you must place the receipt in the Southwest box.

Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What are the Options?

A college degree is not the only option

Learning from dropouts doesn’t require closing colleges but questioning them. Higher education holds itself out as a universal church, outside of which there is no salvation. Critics are heretics endangering the flock. But our greatest danger comes from the herd instinct that inflames competition and crowds out difference. -- Peter Thiel, an investor and entrepreneur, is author of “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.” He wrote this article for the Washington Post.

Bloomington Public Schools is opening a Career Academy this coming fall.  Enrollment in two-year community colleges and specific interest and career schools continues to increase.  Are these options for success?

Southwest opened two new programs this past fall.  One was computer science and the other business. Both have partnership agreements with MCTC and working with others.  In two years both programs will have a junior, senior level IB course and examination.  Both the computer science and business programs have associate degree pathways.

Southwest continues to build a 2+2+2+2 and beyond program.  The first two years (traditionally 9th and 10th grade) are foundations.  The next two provide the strength and depth skills.  The next two years could be that associate degree and the then a college degree after two more.

What is enough and what is too much?  How can one really measure success.  A happy, satisfied, productive person facing his/her responsibilities and caring for her/his neighbors definitely is not unsuccessful.  Maybe we should look beyond the dollar signs and seek meaningful employment and life styles that makes us smile and those around us share in those smiles.

What are your options?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Southwest Math Team in Top Form

The Southwest High School Math Team did really well at Meet #2. On Monday, November 24, six of the Minneapolis high schools and one charter school met up at Roosevelt High School for the second meet of the year.

Our next competition is RIGHT HERE at Southwest High School on Monday, December 15. If anyone is interested in helping with proctoring exams on December 15th after school, please contact me.

Some statistics from the meet:

  • 160 total students from seven schools in the Minneapolis division participated.
  • 73 Southwest students participated in individual events at the meet.
  • 68 of the Southwest students scored at least one point by correctly answering at least one question.
  • 36 of the Southwest students scored at least five points.
  • The Varsity Team (official scoring team) earned 99 of a possible 136 points, finishing in first place within the division. Before this competition, Southwest was ranked seventh out of 168 teams in the state.
  • The junior varsity team earned 64 of a possible 136 points, unofficially finishing in third place within the division.

Official state rankings can be viewed at

The cumulative rankings are located by clicking on the meets and standings tab on the top of the page.

Southwest Musicians at St. Olaf College and teh Minnesota Youth Jazz Bands

Southwest Musicians performed at St. Olaf College in the Festival of Bands 2014.  Great event with professional and college students.  Fantastic experience for our promising Orchestra and Band members.

The Minnesota Youth Jazz Bands was part of the Celebrating Eleven Years of Jazz Education this past week.Aldan Sponheim and Gerhardt Robinson were parts of the ensembles for the event.

Great experiences to perform with professional and college musicians.

Robo Call to Families For Communications Questions? 612-668-0230

The Office of Communications is sending the below SchoolMessenger to families at South, Southwest, Henry, Edison, and North. Should activities related to Ferguson arise at Washburn or Roosevelt, we will send message to those families as well.

Please let us know if you would like additional information posted to your school’s website. We can update this information quickly.

For your reference, below is a copy of the message. It’s being sent in English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali.


Good morning, this is Stan Alleyne, Minneapolis Public Schools Chief of Communications

I’m calling to let you know that students are currently participating in a peaceful protest at several high schools in response to the grand jury decision not to indict a police officer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager.
We respect students’ first amendment right to peacefully assemble. We will not discipline students for the act of protesting as long as the protest remains peaceful. However, prolonged sit-ins may result in an unexcused absence from class. If students walk out of school, they will not be able to return to the school for the remainder of the day, they will not be able to participate in after school activities and they may receive an unexcused absence.

Staff are monitoring the situation and we have procedures in place to manage the situation while respecting students’ rights.

More information is available on our website. Again, this is Stan Alleyne, Minneapolis Public Schools Chief of Communications. If you have any questions, please call our office at 612.668.0230.

Happy Thanksgiving Southwest

Please take a moment this Thanksgiving time and reflect on those you love and those who love you.

In the rush of the hours, we get lost in remembering what is important.  Going home to a secure setting, having sufficient food to eat and feed our children, and dreaming about the wonders of tomorrow are really what is important.

The latest Call to Duty or Barbie Doll or iwhatever is stuff that will be replaced very quickly.  Those who care about us and we care about need just as much of our attention and focus as that newest commercial.

Have a great Thanksgiving break.  May we focus on what is important.  May tomorrow be a better day for us all.

The American Dream in Action - Great Learning Experience

A protest (also called a remonstrance or a remonstration) is an expression of objection by words or by actions to particular events, policies, or situations. Protests can take many different forms; from individual statements to mass demonstrations. Protesters may organize a protest as a way of publicly making their opinions heard in an attempt to influence public opinion or government policy, or they may undertake direct action in an attempt to directly enact desired changes themselves.[2] Where protests are part of a systematic and peaceful campaign to achieve a particular objective, and involve the use of pressure as well as persuasion, they go beyond mere protest and may be better described as cases of civil resistance or nonviolent resistance.

Civil concern is an important part of the American dream.  We believe that conditions can be better then they are.  Thus, starting with the American Revolution and moving through various stages of American history including Civil Rights and War Protests, civil disobedience has been an important part of public discussion.

Today many of our students demonstrated concern with the actions of a silent sit-in.  Poetry and distributed paper reports were all part of the demonstration.  The students wanted to feel and to learn.  It was an important time of reflection.

Learning happens in numerous ways.  Although this particular event does not show up in lesson plans, it is an important learning opportunity.  I believe we can all be proud that our students are concerned and conscious of world events.

The important lesson is what happens next?  All too often we get excited and hurt and disgusted, express the moment and then it is gone.  The violence that has become too much a part of evening news has to be stopped.  The hurt we do to one another is beyond belief.  We must protest the killing, harm and damage we are doing to one another. 

This particular moment is about African Americans and should not be forgotten.  Too many are dying and harmed in the course of a day and week.   We must ask ourselves why these situations occur and how can they be prevented?

It is easy to jump to conclusions and make generalities.  It is harder to say violence is wrong - to one another, domestic, racial, personal hate or whatever.  When are we going to stop it?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Studying For the Test by Taking It

Sunday New York Time - NOvember 23, 2014

"Testing in all its permutations, subtle and otherwise, convinces the brain that the knowledge is useful, and important.  And by varying one's testing strategies, the actual final exam - the dreaded assessment -- isn't nearly as scary."

Frezing Rain and Slippery Streets Around Southwest

The freezing rain is creating a slippery condition for this morning's driving time.

Be careful of side streets and intersections.  Sidewalks will also be slippery so be careful walking and driving.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Chipotle Fundrasing for Girls Basketball & Boys Baseball Dec 9th AND 10th

Families and Friends of Our Baseball Program--
The fundraiser for the boys' baseball program at SW is on Tuesday, Dec. 9th from 5:00 to 8:00 at the Chipotle at Calhoun Commons (NOT Wednesday, Dec. 10th as previously indicated).  I have attached the flyer for the fundraiser.  You can show Chipotle the flyer, your smartphone, or simply say, "SW Baseball."  You know the drill.
We will receive half of all sales during that time.  I am checking on whether gift cards count toward the fundraiser.  You will recall that last year, the BB program raised the most money Chipotle has ever seen, almost $3,000.00!!!  Let's break that record on the 9th!!!
My initial email indicated that the fundraiser was on Wednesday, Dec. 10th.  That is the night of the fundraiser for the SW girls' basketball program.  So, plan on eating Chipotle two nights in a row!  Come out on Wednesday, too, and show your support for the girls' basketball team.
Thank you.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Sorry for the confusion.
 Minneapolis Southwest High School Baseball Boosters

Only One Opportunity to See the Comedy Performance of the Year

Noises Off is a fantastic Southwest Production featuring the young stars of the future.  Only one performance remaining -- Sunday, November 23 with curtain at 2:00 pm.
Directed by Theater teacher and Arts Coordinator, Margaret Berg and assisted by teacher Ali Vuyovich.

The production is a great tag-team work of talented comedic actors and those in black - a great tech crew:
Piper Shatz-Akin             Ming Montgomery          Sebastian Coll          Nathaniel Larson
Anders Billund-Phibs           John Frenzel          Gigi Rich          Mary Fiala
Thomas Specht          Bronte Cook          Giselle Durand        Sahra Farah
Awa Mallycrew          Mahamad Noor          George Petermeier        Illyana Yates
Southwest High School Theatre presents Noises Off by Michael Frayn

Called the funniest farce ever written, Noises Off presents a manic menagerie as a cast of itinerant actors rehearsing a flop called Nothing's On. Doors slamming, on and offstage intrigue, and an errant herring all figure in the plot of this hilarious and classically comic play!

"The most dexterously realized comedy ever about putting on a comedy. A spectacularly funny, peerless backstage farce. This dizzy, well-known romp is festival of delirium." - The New York Times

You have one more chance, and this is your last chance, to see this fantastic bunch of young people produce a fabulous comedy for your entire family enjoyment.

Sunday, November 23, 2:00 pm

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Southwest Club Happenings

Model UN Chicago Trip Sign Up! Spaces are Limited!

The Southwest Model UN Club will be attending the Chicago International Model UN conference December 11th-14th with students from around the world! Information can be picked up in room E10 or contact Mr. Kohnert at Weekly meetings occur on Thursdays after school in room E10. 

Model UN is an educational simulation and academic competition in which students learn about diplomacyinternational relations, and the United Nations. MUN involves and teaches researchpublic speakingdebating, and writing skills, in addition to critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership abilities. 


The new Spanish Club has begun meeting in room 218 on Monday afternoons from 3:15-4:15. Great group discussion in and around all things "hispanohablante."  


Chess Club Meeting

The chess team will start meeting on Wednesday after school, from 3:30 until 5:00 pm in room 216, Mr. Fresco’s room. Everyone is welcome…and bring a friend.

Spoken Word

Spoken Word is looking forward to another phenomenal year of speaking truth.  All students are encouraged to join us on Thursdays from 3:15-4:15 in room #212.  Write poetry, share your poetry, and hear the poetry of others, all as part of performance art.  Our first Be Heard poetry slam is Friday February 6 right here at Southwest.  Students can compete against other poets from around the state for a spot on the team representing Minnesota.  Southwest was proud of the three Laker poets that represented Southwest and Minnesota in Philadelphia this past summer at the Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam.  Join Spoken Word, all are welcome.


Art club is on Thursdays  from 3:15 to 4:30 in room 14
We start the murals on this Thursday!  Come help paint the murals or use the time for open studio projects. 


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.



No School Wednesday, Thursday and Friday - 26, 27 and 28


Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

(November 26, 27, and 28th)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Must See Southwest Noises Off.


If your schedule only allows for one show this season, this is the one!

Noises Off is a fantastic comedy leaving audiences laughing the entire performance.  A great cast and wonderful tech Crew make for a fun filled evening of falls and spills.  There are doors and bags and dresses and trousers and sardines.   It is an evening exposing both sides of the production.

A well acted and produced comedy involving lots of talented Southwest students.  A wonderful performance, great timing and a fascinating set. This is a theater evening that you must experience.

Curtain Saturday night at 7 pm and Sunday afternoon performance starting at 2 pm.

Be ready for winter weather and canceled classes

Be ready for winter weather and canceled classes

MPS sometimes cancels classes when winter weather makes it unsafe for students to get to and from school.

MPS will likely cancel classes if the National Weather Service predicts that

·        The wind chill will be -35°F (-37°C) or colder at 6:30 a.m.

MPS will consider canceling classes if the National Weather Service predicts that:

·        More than 6 inches of snow will fall in 12 hours

·        More than 8 inches of snow will fall in 24 hours

Every winter storm is different, so it is possible that classes will still be held even if wind chill or snowfall reaches these limits. The safety and well-being of students and staff is atop priority and the decision to close school is a complex one. We do everything possible to keep schools open, because:

·        Our schools provide students with a safe and warm place to learn.

·        Some students rely on the school district for breakfast and lunch.

·        Some families do not have child care options for their children while they are at work.

MPS will try to notify families by 6 p.m. the day before the cancellation. If conditions have become more hazardous than expected overnight, families will be notified by 5:30 a.m. the day of the cancellation. Here is how you can stay informed:

·        Call your school now to make sure your correct phone number and email address are on file.

·        Check the MPS website or your school website.

·        Follow MPS on Twitter @MPS_News or on Facebook at

·        Watch for closures on local news channels

For complete details about our practices around winter weather, visit

Laugh Out Loud & Often at Noised Off - Tickets Going Fast

Tickets going fast.  The excitement started with the curtain and first glimpse of the set.  The laughs continued through the final curtain and out into the lobby.

Noises Off is a wonderful family fun comedy.  If you have ever wished you knew both sides of the story - you have that opportunity.  Come and share in the laughs with Noises Off.

Tickets are still available for tonight's performance.  Curtain is at 7 pm.

Performances continue on Saturday with 7 pm curtain and on Sunday at 2 pm.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Southwest Noises Off Opens Tonight! Expect to Laugh

Southwest High School Theatre presents Noises Off
by Michael Frayn, directed by Margaret Berg, Nov. 20-23

Called the funniest farce ever written, Noises Off presents a manic menagerie as a cast of itinerant actors rehearsing a flop called Nothing's On. Doors slamming, on and offstage intrigue, and an errant herring all figure in the plot of this hilarious and classically comic play!

Double Triple Night is Saturday, November 22! Double or Triple your ticket price as a donation to SWHS Theatre and receive VIP seating in the Center Front section until sold out! Plus, you will be automatically entered in a drawing for a $25 gift card to George & The Dragon and a basket from the Minnesota Honey Co!
Thank you to our generous sponsors.


Model UN and the Southwest Students


Southwest students at Model UN

We had a very successful first conference of the year. There are only 6 delegations that are recognized for their performance out of approximately 200 delegations. The delegation of Seth Colbert-Pollack and Nathaniel Larson represented Israel on the topic of Cyberterrorism and were recognized as one of those 6 delegations. This is a very difficult recognition to earn. We also had delegates that led resolution writing and were very close to being recognized as outstanding delegations. 

We will continue our season with a 4 day trip to Chicago from December 11th-14th. This is only the second year we will attending and have grown from 23 students last year to 37 this year. A list of students attending will be sent out later this week. 

Thank you all for your support and for supporting the students. They throughly enjoyed the day and are excited to continue to learn more about international affairs.

Robert Kohnert
Model UN Coach
Southwest Teacher

Tough Being a Kid

Everything does not happen magically doing those teen/high school years.  There is normal development and a good mix of hard work, personal care and effort.

Good straight forward article that could be a conversation starter of something you just want to leave on the on the bed.

Excerpt: Don’t Peak in High School

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thank you, Southwest Community for Giving to the Max!

Thank you, Southwest community,
for giving to the max!

Thanks to your generosity on Give to the Max Day
the Southwest Foundation:
made its challenge match with 52 new donors, earning $1,000! 
won a Golden Ticket from GiveMN, winning $2,000!  
raised almost $15,000 in total!
Your donations and work to spread the word will help give Southwest's students the educational experiences, equipment, and supplies they need this year.   
 Together, we support excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts at Southwest High School.   
Thank you!