Saturday, August 5, 2017

Thank you for the memories....

After fourteen years at Southwest, twenty years in Minneapolis and fifty years in education I am retired at the conclusion of this calendar year.  However, I will never stop being a teacher/learner.

I am proud and humbled having been the principal of Southwest High School.  The student, parents, community members and staff are absolutely fantastic.  These years will always be the highlight of my professional career.  The student accomplishments over the years demonstrate clearly the heights that are possible within an urban public school supported by its education community.

Southwest is an Arts infused International Baccalaureate  school and the learning, participation, activity, involvement, graduation rates, proficiency rates and college success rates provide the evidence of school success and demonstrate the effectiveness of all students doing their best.  With community, parents, staff and most importantly, student support excellence is a reachable goal.

Within this continuum I am proud to have been a part and believe strongly in the motto, which I believe is a camper's, leave it better than you found it.  I can safely say I tried.  I will always treasure our times and the memories.  They and you are and will be special always.

This is a time of celebration and reflection.  I am with my family and continuing my learning journey.  I ask that we stay focused on the children and their/our future.

I thank each and everyone of you for wonderful memories.  May the blessings of your faith be bestowed upon you.

I trust you will understand my request for time and privacy.  Let's concentrate on tomorrow and our children.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Women's Swim Team Finished 10th in NISCA Class 7

It was a tremendous season this past year for the Girls Southwest Swim & Dive Team.  

This week the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association released its national Power Point Team rankings.  The National Dual Meet Team Ranking Program uses a system called power points. This point system allows for comparison of the quality of performances across strokes, distances and events. 

So how exactly does the power point system work? The power point scale ranges from 1 to 1100 points. It ranks each swim, for example a 50 Freestyle with a time of 30.99 may have a point total of 40 points whereas a 50 free with a time of 25.99 may have a point total of 75. 

The faster the time -the higher the points, and the stronger you are as a team. We put forward our best dual meet line up using the best times we had from the season.

This year the program had 376 teams submitting entriesThe entries were then divided into gender, school type (public or private), and then school size.  Our girls finished 10th overall in class 7.  

The results will be posted on the NISCA site within the next month, or so, and will appear in the fall issue of the NISCA journal, and they are now official.  

This was a wonderful accomplishment for the girls and I commend all their hard work and efforts. I look forward to this upcoming season and I wish all graduating seniors luck on their future endeavors. 

Chris Aarseth, Swim Coach

Friday, July 21, 2017

Southwest Foundation Golf Outing August 11 - Have Fun & Support a Good Cause

Southwest Foundation Golf Event August 11

Please join us for the 2017 Southwest Foundation Golf Outing at Theodore Wirth Golf Course on Friday, August 11. The format is a four-person scramble with a shotgun start at 1:00 p.m. The event includes golf and a BBQ dinner.

To enter or ask questions please email or call Paul Roach '88 at or 952.835.6514 or Mike Roach '84 at or 651.605.5590. The entry fee is $100 if paid before August 1 and $110 if paid after. The Foundation is also looking for individuals, businesses, or groups to sponsor a hole ($150) or donate prizes for the golf event and a raffle. 

Many thanks to volunteers Paul and Mike who have been running this fun event for 10 years!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Urinetown the Musical - Get Your Tickets Now - July 21-23

Two great weekends for SW Mpls Summer Theater have arrived!

It's here! This weekend, Friday through Sunday (the 21st through the 23rd) will be your only chance to see the Southwest Summer Theatre Program's production of Urinetown The Musical.  It is a wickedly funny, fast-paced musical romp. Tickets are on sale right here. Get all the info on Summer Theatre and the details on this summer's production, at the Summer Theatre page on 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness -- Desmond Tutu

Incidents in and around the city in recent weeks can be disheartening and disappointing to say the very least.  The morning newspaper headlines bring more sorrow and anguish.  Globally, nationally and locally we are hearing of tragedy after tragedy.  As adults we struggle to cope let alone understand.  As a family member we want to comfort, explain or answer our children.

The Blog has dealt with anger, hurt, sorrow, pain and suffering numerous times over the years.  There are no words that can take away what has happened or who was harmed.  Taking the next step or seeing through the sunset onto the morning can be tremendous challenges.

A few blocks away from here was another incident of horror that stretches understanding, shatters a sense of safety and questions what is really happening in our worlds.  Neighbors, friends and family experience the hurt and loss.  Numerous community members know the people involved.  The hurt spreads through the community.

Below are some thoughts about listening to children.  Please share with your spiritual leaders and hug one another.  We can find strength and comfort in one another.

8 Ways to Help Your Grieving Student
• Give grieving students the opportunity to tell you what happened and how they feel.
• Encourage them to work with you to make modifications and accommodations to their schoolwork. This will help them voice what they need and how they are feeling. Grieving is a process. Make sure you are patient and give them adequate time to resume a normal workflow. Putting too much pressure on them too quickly may result in an emotional breakdown or school avoidance.
• Don’t distort the truth or lie to kids about tragedy. Children will often see through lies and will feel more alone and confused with their feelings because they know you don’t want to talk with them about the truth. Knowing the truth will help kids begin to heal because they have a complete understanding of events.
• Encourage children to ask questions about death or the traumatic loss. Often if things are not discussed, children will create their own, inaccurate interpretations of events. For example if a child’s parent commits suicide, the child may falsely decide that they caused it somehow. Helping children understand the event will insure that their interpretations are accurate, as painful as the truth may be.
• Understand that we all grieve differently. There is no right or wrong way to do it. There may be a great deal of anger, the need for vengeance, and an ongoing sense of worry for your student. Always remember that it is hard work for your student to grieve. You are only able to be helpful in supporting them in their process.
• Encourage “active coping” techniques, which refers to taking action to seek out help when one is hurting. Be straightforward with your student that you really want to understand what they need and how they are feeling. Give them time and encouragement since they often may not be able to express themselves or let you know what they need right away.
• Connect them with a place to go outside the classroom if they become upset. This may be the school psychologist or counselors office, the librarian, whoever seems like they will be most helpful. Let the student know they are free to leave the class whenever they feel like they need space.
• Make sure you manage your own grief appropriately. The death of a student, teacher, or staff member can affect you as well as your students. Keep in mind that you need to take care of yourself as well, and if you need to miss school or take time to get help yourself, you will be much more effective at helping your students in the long run. Remember that they are learning from your response. It is perfectly appropriate to cry softly with your students or express your sadness, but if you become hysterical it may be more upsetting for them. Go through your own process but make sure to take time away if you are not okay.
How to Encourage Other Students to Help a Grieving Friend
• Make sure to clarify their understanding of the event in the life of their friend.
• Reassure them that their own families are safe.
• Be aware that children that have experienced loss may be triggered by their friend’s loss; they may need support in coping with painful memories.
• Talk to students about how to give condolences to their friend. Tell them what to say and what not to say. Help them make cards or write letters.
• Prepare children that their friend may act differently for a while.
• Encourage them to play with their grieving friend, and that doing fun things after school may be a welcome distraction.
Dealing with death is a difficult, but inevitable part of being a teacher. You are in a position to be of immense help to your class and teaching them healthy coping skills. -- Kit Richert, Ph.D.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Local Treasures in the City -- History at Your Doorstep

Victory Memorial Parkway (or, Victory Memorial Drive) is a section of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. The parkway runs along the northwestern and northern boundaries of the Camden community. 

The Victory neighborhood in Camden derives its name from this parkway. Trees and memorials located throughout the parkway were established to honor the memory of the servicemen of Hennepin County. A statue of Abraham Lincoln, flanked by flowering trees, greets visitors passing along the northwestern curve of the parkway. A wide central boulevard provides a recreational park that sees much activity during the warm seasons.

The Victory Memorial Parkway also provides access to the Mississippi River and a beautiful shoreline. The North Mississippi Regional Park and Shingle Creek both offer opportunities for visitors to enjoy nature on the byway

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Urinetown the Musical July 21 through 23rd

Two great weekends for SW Mpls Summer Theater have arrived!

It's here! Next weekend, Friday through Sunday (the 21st through the 23rd) will be your only chance to see the Southwest Summer Theatre Program's production of Urinetown The Musical.  It is a wickedly funny, fast-paced musical romp. Tickets are on sale right here. Get all the info on Summer Theatre and the details on this summer's production, at the Summer Theatre page on

But wait, there's more starting this weekend....

The best part of summer in Minneapolis has arrived- it's time for the 6th annual MURDER MYSTERY on the Lake Harriet Trolley! 
Come down and ride along to a hilarious production where someone gets murdered! The Twin Cities Symphonic Wind Ensemble just finished a concert and the infamous hard critic is murdered before he can write his next bashing review of the quartet’s awful music. The question is “who did it... The Lush Flutist? The Young Clarinetist? The Cocky Tubaist? The Insecure Piccoloist? Join us and help solve the mystery! 
This is a great night of laughs for the young and old at heart; for a first date or a date night; for families and for friends- everyone is welcome and all will enjoy! 
These shows have a history of selling out so reserve your ticket ahead of time before it's too late! Shows are Friday, Saturday & Sunday July 14-15 & 21-23 at 9pm. Tickets are $15 and there is a 2-for-1-student rush for unsold tickets 10 minutes prior to show time. Buy online at
Dave Premack directs the talented Adam Clark, George Petermeier, Amanda Stagg, Ella Krafve and Ronan Pirner.

Copyright © 2017 SWHS Performing Arts Council, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because your child participates in the SWHS Performing Arts: music - theatre - dance!

Our mailing address is:
SWHS Performing Arts Council
Southwest High School
3414 47th St W
Minneapolis, MN 55410

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Summer Learning Opportunity Minnesota History Center

345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Tue 10 am-8 pm
Wed-Sat 10 am-5 pm
Sun Noon-5 pm
Closed Monday (Open 10 am-5 pm Monday holidays year round
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Tue 10 am-8 pm 
Wed-Sat 10 am-5 pm
Sun Noon-5 pm 
Closed Monday (Open 10 am-5 pm Monday holidays year round

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Summer School Session Two Begins Monday July 10

The Second Session of Summer School for grades 9-12 begins Monday, July 10.  Students should have registered through their counselors prior to the end of the school year.  However, registration is open at the Summer School sites - Edison and Southwest High Schools.

If you need credit make-up, this is the opportunity!

Coping with a Breakup

I Need Help Coping With A Breakup (My Daughter’s, That Is)
Dear Your Teen:
My daughter recently broke up with her boyfriend. After 8 months, she just felt like it was too much for her and needed a break. They are still friends. It’s been about two weeks. Her dad and I are devastated. This boy is wonderful and we (secretly) hoped it would be a forever thing. We find that we need help coping with a breakup – our daughter’s.
This boy is wonderful and we (secretly) hoped it would be a forever thing
Also, her ex-boyfriend is now dating his ex-girlfriend. My daughter certainly understands he can date anyone he chooses, but she is upset that he is plastering it all over social media.
How do I put her at ease with this? It bothers her that this is happening so soon after the break up. Additionally, for myself and my husband, how do we put our own selfish wants of them staying together aside?
Coping With a Breakup. Help!
Your daughter is facing that passage of life (as irritating as that phrase may be) that most of us pass through. How wise of her to sense that the relationship she was forging may have felt like too much too soon. Pulling back may have also been her way of leaving open more opportunity to experience and explore what the world of relationships is all about. Breaking up and having the other person turn away is part of that. It is the consequence of walking away – it tends to create an equal response on the other side.
Your role is a tough one, standing to the side as she deals with coping with a breakup. And that doesn’t mean you’re a passive bystander, just that you’re not there to fix it or critique it. She just needs some support to steady herself through this new territory. She can make up any story that she’d like, and your job is to be curious about the story.  Is he just trying to get back at her? Perhaps.
That doesn't mean you're a passive bystander, just that you're not there to fix it or critique it.
Did he not really care in the first place? Could be. Or perhaps, being rejected (and on a basic level, that is what happened) perhaps his best move, considering he’s also on a journey of discovery, was to reassure himself that, although it didn’t work out with your daughter, there is still hope for him.
As for your feeling that this could have been a great and lasting match, trust your daughter. She chose someone that has the kind of qualities you value. She’s likely to do that again, and again, until she’s truly ready to be ready for a more permanent step. She’ll get there. Until then, there’s a lot of adventure along the way!  Enjoy the ride!

Amy Speidel is a Certified Parent Coach at Senders Parenting Center and an instructor in the Conscious Discipline Philosophy for parents and teachers.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Active Listening: Talking To Teenagers So You Really Help

Active Listening: Talking To Teenagers So You Really Help

By Alicia Summers

When it was time for me to decide what to study in college, I found myself deeply confused. I’d always loved art, writing and literature, but I was also fascinated by science. I felt overwhelmed by the fact that the decision I had to make at the age of 17 would dictate the rest of my life. And I made that decision without the benefit of active listening, a vital communication skill that parents should consider including when talking to teenagers to help them make important decisions.

As a child I was never independent or free-spirited, and decisions were hard for me. One morning, feeling particularly anxious, I confessed to my mother, “I have no idea what to do!”

“If you ask me,” she said immediately, “I think you should do a Bachelors of Science with a focus on Statistics.” She said she thought so because I was good at Math and I could find a well-paying job after. I wasn’t sure if this made much sense but I didn’t have the courage to think for myself, so I went to college to study Statistics. Within the first few weeks, however, I began to struggle and feel miserable. I kept trying to fit in; to work hard on crunching numbers and calculations, but I fell behind my classmates and I did badly on tests.

Four months later, much to the shock and dismay of my parents, I quit. This was perhaps the very first time in my eighteen years of life that I had done anything willfully, but to be honest I did it only because I knew I didn’t want to spend my entire life in misery.

My mom feared for my future but all I knew was that I couldn’t sit through another class teaching me how to punch calculator keys for two hours straight.

I lost the entire year before I began college began in a field I chose for myself – a year that was filled with soul-searching and self-study. Looking back at that time all these years later, I do sometimes wonder if things would have gone differently had my mom really listened to me the morning I confessed my confusion to her.

Talking to Teenagers

I know most people would say that of course she had listened. In fact, she had even given me advice, and it was my responsibility to think through it and decide if it worked for me. She really wanted to help me because she loved me and wanted me to succeed. I hear talking to teenagers isn’t exactly easy, anyway.

However, the more I reflect on this, the more strongly do I believe in the power of “active listening.” Active listening is different from the act of simply hearing someone out and then offering advice.
Active listening means engaging in a discussion. Having a real conversation. Hashing out different ideas and helping by drawing out a person’s latent feelings.

It involves the act of empathy; of putting oneself in the shoes of the other person, and asking questions to help the other person think clearly and make sense of their feelings.

Talking to teenagers should involve active listening. Perhaps my mother could have asked me: What subjects do you love best in school? What activities make you most excited? What are your skills and talents? What new skills would you like to learn? What do you see yourself doing five years from now? If you imagine yourself in a job, what work do you think you’ll most enjoy?

These questions would have gotten me to think closer, to analyze myself, understand my passions, and chart a course of study that was more aligned with who I was. What happened, however, was that my mother concluded the best thing for me to do was Statistics without thinking about who I was. Although my mother wanted the best for me, she didn’t know how best to help me.

The eight months following the day I quit were a hard road of self-discovery for me. I struggled to find out what to do with my life. I forced myself to overcome my shyness so I could speak to people from different professions. I read about different fields, and studied for entrance examinations. And five years later, I graduated as an animator and filmmaker, and went on to win awards for my films. I became a published author and illustrator for prestigious publications like Scholastic and Puffin-Penguin. Still hungry, I came to the United States to study journalism at Columbia University, where I graduated with Honors. Professors told me I was a good writer and their faith in me reinforced my belief that I was blessed to have found my calling.

I quit Statistics because of how much unhappiness it brought me, but the act of doing that brought me to where I am today.

Teenagers the world over go through the process of making the life-altering decision of what to study in college, and I believe parents can help them make the right choices. By actively listening, parents can also help their children cope with other problems they face as they grow up. By active listening, parents can engage their children at a deeper level and help them to make the right decisions, understand their feelings, and eventually learn to take the right decisions for themselves in a number of different situations.

That’s what real communication is about. Talking to teenagers involves listening and asking the right questions. And for a child, to have a parent who truly listens can mean the difference between being like a ship lost at sea to finding a lighthouse to guide their journey.

Great Summer Experience - Como Zoo

Como Zoo
1225 Estabrook Drive
Saint Paul, MN 55103

Great summer fun with activities and events throughout the summer.
Fun and special programs for all ages.  
Great entertainment for the entire family.

Exposure and experiences last a life-time.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

2017 Southwest Grad Zac Wright Earns Scholarships from Minnesota Historical Society

Twin Cities Students Earn Scholarships from Minnesota Historical Society

Zac Wright, Minneapolis

Zac Wright graduated from Southwest High School in June 2017. He became an MNHS volunteer in April 2014 and has contributed more than 186 hours of volunteer service. Wright served as a member of the Fifes and Drums Corps at Historic Fort Snelling. While volunteering with MNHS he learned about various drumming techniques and historic music styles. He said one of the things he valued most about his volunteer work is that it provided a very different experience from his other school and extracurricular activities. Wright plans to attend the University of Minnesota-Morris in the fall where he will study music or environmental science. 

Each year MNHS recognizes the volunteer contributions made by high school seniors with a $1,000 scholarship. The scholarship program encourages young people to become involved in history education and to recognize the benefits of volunteerism. The students will be presented to their award at the annual scholarship reception on June 27, 2017.

About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.

On Campus, Failure Is on the Syllabus

Colleges and universities across the country are concerned about the mental and physical health of many of their students who cannot cope with failure.  In order to develop resiliency, several have joined together to create classes and programs to support students.

Below are several quotes from the article in the June 25, 2017 Sunday New York times -- On Campus, Failure is on the Syllabus by Jessica Bennett

“The presentation is part of a new initiative at Smith, “Failing Well,” that aims to “destigmatize failure.” With workshops on impostor syndrome, discussions on perfectionism, as well as a campaign to remind students that 64 percent of their peers will get (gasp) a B-minus or lower, the program is part of a campuswide effort to foster student “resilience,” to use a buzzword of the moment.”

“What we’re trying to teach is that failure is not a bug of learning, it’s the feature,” said Rachel Simmons, a leadership development specialist in Smith’s Wurtele Center for Work and Life and a kind of unofficial “failure czar” on campus. “It’s not something that should be locked out of the learning experience. For many of our students — those who have had to be almost perfect to get accepted into a school like Smith — failure can be an unfamiliar experience. So when it happens, it can be crippling.”

“We’re not talking about flunking out of pre-med or getting kicked out of college,” Ms. Simmons said. “We’re talking about students showing up in residential life offices distraught and inconsolable when they score less than an A-minus. Ending up in the counseling center after being rejected from a club. Students who are unable to ask for help when they need it, or so fearful of failing that they will avoid taking risks at all.”

“I think colleges are revamping what they believe it means to be well educated — that it’s not about your ability to write a thesis statement, but to bounce back when you’re told it doesn’t measure up,” said Ms. Simmons, the author of two books on girls’ self-esteem who is publishing a third, “Enough as She Is,” next year. “Especially now, with the current economy, students need tools to pivot between jobs, between careers, to work on short-term projects, to be self-employed. These are crucial life skills.”

This is the generation that everyone gets a trophy

“Researchers say it’s a complicated interplay of child-rearing and culture: years of helicopter-parenting and micromanaging by anxious parents. “This is the generation that everyone gets a trophy,” said Rebecca Shaw, Smith’s director of residence life. College admissions mania, in which many middle- and upper-class students must navigate what Ms. Simmons calls a “‘Hunger Games’-like mentality” where the preparation starts early, the treadmill never stops and the stakes can feel impossibly high.”

Social media doesn’t help, because while students may know logically that no one goes through college or, let’s be honest, life without screw-ups, it can be pretty easy to convince yourself, by way of somebody else’s feed, “that everyone but you is a star,” said Jaycee Greeley, 19, a sophomore.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Minnesota Children's Museum - Summer Fun and Learning

Playful, interactive exhibits for younger kids including a look at state habitats & a rooftop park.

Address: 10 7th St W, St Paul, MN 55102
Open today · 9AM–8PM
Phone: (651) 225-6000

Friday, June 23, 2017

Math Blog and Twitter by Southwest Math Teacher Annie Perkins

Happy Summer.  

If you have time this summer, check out Minneapolis Public School's math teacher Annie Perkin's math teaching blog 'Arbitrarily Close. Musings on math and teaching'.  In the last year Annie has become well known in the national and international math community (#MTBoS).  

Annie's latest post titled 'The mathematician project. Student Edition'. is great.  (note:  this prior post on the topic has a lot more information too.)  Annie has arguably the largest collection/list of mathematicians of color and women mathematicians.  Her list even was noticed by the people at Desmos.  They contacted her and used her list to populate 'Activity Builder' when you have students go into Anonymous mode.  Everyday in schools across the world, Annie's influence can be seen by teachers & students.

Annie has other great things/ideas at her blog.  Make sure to follow her on twitter or follow her blog to stay up to date on everything she shares.   She is just one of many Minneapolis math teachers doing great things.  

All comments by Annie Perkins on her Blog and Twitter are her personal writings and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Southwest High School or the Minneapolis Public Schools