March 19, 2021 - Issue #69
Added spaces allows for in-person school
As we start to see the light at the end of this unprecedented school year, we feel fortunate as we are one of the few districts in the state to have spent most of the year with most of our students in our classrooms. In the K-4 section of the elementary, we were never forced to put students into hybrid or distance learning. 

We were able to do this because we had the space to do so. As you know, in the spring of 2018, the voters of District 484 approved a referendum that provided updates to our existing building as well as much needed space: adding a new middle school wing consisting of nine new classrooms, a new gym, a more spacious high school cafeteria area, and safer pickup/drop off amongst other additions and upgrades. 

Unbeknownst to us at the time, this newly added space is what would allow us to continue teaching our students in our classrooms as the worldwide pandemic hit just 2 years later. The middle school addition allowed us to space our students in such a way that enabled us to keep students in school, creating greater learning opportunities for these students as well as reduced stress on families who were not tasked with finding childcare for younger learners. We were also able to utilize the newly renovated space of the high school cafeteria to spread out the elementary students during their lunch shifts to stay within the required guidelines of 6 feet apart. 

While no one could have predicted the future, we can be grateful for the present. We are thankful for the confidence of the Pierz Community in the vision of the administration and school board to upgrade and add facilities. Even with the new spaces, we find ourselves challenged to meet the new demands, but we are grateful for the dedication, support, patience, and grace of the community, staff, students, and parents. 

As the school year starts to come to an end, let’s be conscious of how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished together by continuing these acts of goodwill and empathy for one another. 
COVID-19: Nurse Update
In the past two weeks, the Morrison County COVID numbers have continued to rise rapidly, with the Pierz area specifically being of concern.

There is a lot of misinformation circling currently. Here are the facts of this recent uptick so far:
On March 1: The Morrison County 14-day case rate was 13.9. Pierz zip code cases were at 5; Hillman, 0; Buckman, 0; ISD 484, 0 cases

On March 11: The Morrison County 14-day case rate jumped to 28.4. Pierz zip code cases were at 34; Hillman, 9; Buckman, 0; ISD 484, 12 cases 

On March 18: The Morrison County 14-day Case rate is now at 50.75. Pierz zip code cases have jumped to 73; Hillman, 18, Buckman, 3; ISD 484 has 21 active cases in our buildings. 

We should not be surprised that we are seeing this resurgence. We knew there were additional, more contagious, strains working their way across the United States. 

As of today, we have approximately 200 students out due to Covid infection or contact tracing. Students who are positive can come back 10 days after their symptoms began, or 10 days after their positive test if they are asymptomatic. Students who are contact traced can return to school after 7-14 days depending on their circumstances. We know this won’t last forever. We know we will have students returning soon. 

We have worked hard to keep students in school. We need our families and community to continue to do the same. If you (or anyone in your home) have symptoms, stay home. If you have test results coming, stay home. If you test positive, stay home. And please--in all these scenarios, let the school nurse know by calling the district office or using this form. The more we all work together on this, the more we decrease the chance of spread, exposure, and contact tracing. 

And yet, we are very fortunate. With 133 staff fully vaccinated, we will be able to continue teaching in-person as our staff will not be required to leave due to contact tracing. We will get over this hump. There is light at the end of this tunnel. We have less than 50 days of school left this year; we can do this, Pioneers! 

To register to receive the vaccine, sign up on the MN Vaccine Connector website. Any Minnesotan can register (ages 18+) and will be notified when there is a vaccine for them.
You can order a Covid test free of charge so you have one at home if there is a need to test.
Happenings at Healy
Emily Sadlovsky named Minnesota's Big Sister of the Year
In February, Emily Sadlovsky was recently chosen as the Central MN "Big Sister of the Year". And this month it was announced that she was chosen as the MN State High School "Big Sister of the Year" by Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Minnesota. Emily received her awards at the girl's basketball home game against Foley. Even more impressive: this marks back-to-back years that Pierz has had a State recipient. Last year, Adam "Bubba" Funk was the MN State High School Big Brother of the year.

L -R: Kayla Meyer, Big Brother/Big Sister coordinator for Pierz; Emily Sadlovsky; Jackie Johnson, Central MN Big Brother/Big Sister coordinator
Bench grafting in Spring Greenhouse class
The Pierz Schools garden was a plot of pride for many students and staff. Sadly, this year we were notified that the Pierz Community Garden will no longer exist.

In the interest of saving the salvageable, students in Mrs. Pat Tax's class are preserving the apple trees from the Community Gardens through a process called bench grafting. This involves using branches from the existing apple trees that have not budded yet--these were taken in late February. These branches (with a minimum of four nodes) were attached to purchased root stock using a tongue and whip grafting technique that allows maximum surface grafting area of the cambiums of both--the cambium contains the xylem and phloem that transport water and nutrients. If just a straight cut were used, only two surfaces would match up. Using a tongue and whip, four surfaces can be matched resulting in much higher success rates. The graft areas are then wrapped in parafilm and will be placed in a cool environment for about a month. Successful grafts will be planted by the existing Healy High School greenhouse and will be available to replant in about a year.
Digital media masterpieces
Students in Mrs. Stuckmayer's Digital Media class took their graphic design skills to the next level when they were challenged with creating a magazine cover. They had to create the name and style of the magazine, including font type, spacing, colors, and layout. All photos used in the cover had to be original - no copying and pasting here!

This project utilized their PhotoShop training: tools like magic wand, lasso, and eyedropper and effects using styles, bevels, shadows, and opacity tools. Even the UPC code on the magazine was created from scratch by each student designer. The results were outstanding and professional, giving these students another skill and project to add to their resumé and portfolio.
Happenings at Pioneer Elementary
"I Love to Read Month" has Mr. Otte dressed to impress
"I Love to Read" month is always a big deal at Pioneer Elementary. And this year was no different. Staff and administration go above and beyond to encourage students to read and provide fun incentives. This year, each student who met their reading goal had a chance to vote for the story character they wanted Mr. Otte to dress up as. By an overwhelming margin, Mrs. Fizzle from "The Magic School Bus" was the winner. The good sport, Mr. Otte, donned the character's full ensemble and made his way to the classrooms to congratulate the students on their reading accomplishments. Lookin' good, Mr. Fizzle!
High school students teach first graders how to plant sprouts
Enroll for the 2021-22 school year
Student Activities Updates
Updates from the Arts
The 9-12 Bands and Choirs were finally able to take the stage this week as they performed for the first time in over a year. "Light of a Clear Blue Morning: Songs of Hope" was the theme for the spring concert. Parents were able to attend, and the event was live-streamed for the community. All performances can currently be viewed on our school YouTube channel

The Middle School Choir and Band will be performing their spring concert on Tuesday, March 30. We again plan to live-stream the performances for our community.

The spring play, "Little Shop of Horrors", will take the stage on March 26 and 27 at 7pm and March 28 at 2pm. Tickets are available only through the performers. The performance will also be live-streamed to our district YouTube channel.

The Speech Team continues their success as they host a Granite Ridge Conference competition this week at Healy. Awards from that meet will be live-streamed on the district YouTube channel after the meet. The team has just two more meets, March 20th and 27th, before Pierz hosts the Subsection meet on April 12th. Section competition is on April 17th, and the State competition is April 24th. 

—Dave Rocheleau, Activities Director
Looking Ahead...
March 25 and 26 - Spring Musical; Little Shop of Horrors
March 26 - No School - Teacher Workshop/Grading (End of 3rd Qtr.-Elem.)
April 2 and 5 - No School - Easter Break
Current Community Ed Classes
Pierz Community Education continues to look for adult enrichment activities and will be offering several as we enter spring. A couple of the topics include Creating a Health Care Directive, Painting with Charlene Lundberg, First Time Home Buyer Tips and more. As classes are scheduled, they will be posted in the webstore (use link below) and published in the Morrison County Record.

Reminder that all driving instruction is offered through Community Education. Students no longer have the option to take the classroom portion as a credit during their school day.
30-hour classroom sessions will be offered several times this summer and fall with the first opportunity starting June 14. Students must be 14 by the first day of class. Additional classes will be offered in July and August or October. Athletes are encouraged to sign up for the June session to avoid scheduling conflicts.

All classes have limited attendance to maintain social distance and participants are required to wear masks.
JVL Baseball: Grades 2-7
Register by March 20
30 Hour Classroom sessions offered this summer. June 14 will start the first session and another will be added in July and either August or October.
Pierz Public Schools #484
District Office: 320.468.6458
112 Kamnic Street, Pierz, MN 56364