October 2020                                       Monthly Newsletter                                                                   Issue 01
News from Franklin Elementary - Grades K-4
Look at our talented young artists!  On Thursday, September 24, students at the Franklin Elementary participated in an after school watercolor session, sponsored by Rock Ridge Community Education. The class was open to 1st and 2nd Grade students. Students painted a Fall Scarecrow using watercolors on paper. Thanks, Ms. Kuoppala, for inspiring our young artists!  

Mrs. Carey's class can't mask their excitement for second grade!

Is everyone smiling!?
News from Parkview Learning Center - Grades PreK-2

In Mrs. Orso's second-grade class, we like to get outside as much as possible. Mask breaks and the recent beautiful weather gave us a great excuse to have our class in the park. Under the tree we've photographed for our fall science lesson, we had a lot of fun doing a crayon rubbing of leaves. The results were beautiful, and fun was had by all. 

We survived the first day of first grade! The "Jitter Juice" was very helpful. "First Day Jitters" is a classroom favorite book!

Social distancing in the library.
News from the Gilbert Campus - Grades 5-8 & PreK
Improvise, Adapt, Overcome: Rock Ridge Bands Get Creative to Address COVID-19
When faced with the idea of in-person learning this fall, the Rock Ridge bands saw a few challenges that needed to be addressed. "Our challenges came in the form of dealing with air particles coming from wind instruments as well as how to deal with masks while playing a horn," said Kevin Szumal, Band Director at Eveleth-Gilbert. To address these challenges, Szumal, along with Daniel Melby, Band Director at Virginia, explored their options. After some research, it was found that instrument bell covers were effective in controlling particle distribution. "We searched around for companies who make bell covers, but the cost was prohibitive and most were backordered by months," said Mr. Melby. After some more searching, the pair found patterns for bell covers online, and looked at the possibility of getting volunteers to sew bell covers for the district. After posting a plea for volunteers on Facebook, the directors quickly received more than enough volunteers to sew bell covers and specialty musician masks for the students. After purchasing fabric from Material Girl in Virginia, the directors themselves cut hundreds of pieces of fabric and sent them off to volunteers to be sewn. "The volunteer response was overwhelming. We were excited to get so much help," said Mr. Szumal. The musician masks are similar to a regular face mask, but have an overlapping opening to allow for instrument mouthpieces. While the students are not playing, the mask functions as normal. "We're happy that we could get our students playing music again,"  added Mr. Melby. "It's so important that they have that in their lives right now."     
Band members back to doing what they love to do!

It's been so good to be back together in person! Hopefully, the instruments weren't too rusty!

Thank you to all of the volunteers who made these masks possible!

Students at the Gilbert Campus of Rock Ridge are working with the Edison robots to work through a series of basic coding activities. The actives use a block based coding language which introduces basic computer programming, along with developing problem solving  and critical thinking skills. Students will eventually progress to using Python, a text based coding language, while working through a similar set of activities.  Submitted by Paula (Madden) Dundas

News from Roosevelt Elementary School - Grades 3-6
Rock Ridge Families and Community,
It is with great pride and excitement that I write this letter of introduction as the newly appointed Principal of Roosevelt Elementary.  Over the past few weeks, I have gotten to know the school, the community, and our amazing staff and teachers. I have quickly learned that Roosevelt has incredible parent and community support. It is a place where strong connections are made between home and school and where all staff is committed to helping your child succeed every day. 

The start of this school year has had and continues to have its challenges. The only constants are that things are very fluid and with every answer comes more questions. We appreciate your patience and your support in keeping our children and staff as safe as possible. Working together, we will provide the very best educational experience for all of our students and continue the history of excellence here at Roosevelt.       

In closing, please know that I welcome your conversation and input and I look forward to celebrating our collective successes this school year. 
Dan Johnson  

School Forest Fridays
Roosevelt 5th graders have the amazing opportunity to go to the School Forest every Friday from September - November and then March - May. For those that don't know, The Virginia School Forest is an 120-acre outdoor classroom located in Wuori Township north of town. Our students get hands-on learning on how to correctly build a campfire to conserve energy to testing water samples in the pond searching for tiny organisms. Students also have the opportunity to do free exploration, as well as, learning to collaborate and have some fun with team building projects. Along with Wuori Township supporting our endeavors, ArcelorMittal has employees that help tremendously with maintenance, various projects to improve our outdoor classroom, and grant funding to support STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics). Roosevelt Elementary's 5th grade teachers and students also work closely with the local DNR officers. Retired teacher Chris Holmes is still actively involved in our students outdoor learning as he shares his knowledge of wildlife and the wildflowers.
What a gorgeous place to be on a school day.

Mother Nature was showing off with this one!

5th grade Roosevelt students look forward to Fridays for a number of reasons!

These students are working together and gaining some life skills at the school forest.

News from Eveleth-Gilbert High School - Grades 9-12
The Rock Ridge Drama Guild presents SPOON RIVER, an adaptation of Edgar Lee Masters's poetic gem by Jason Pizzarello, in which citizens of a mythical Midwestern town speak from the grave about the day-to-day hopes and dreams of their lives. Touching, anguished, and contemptuous, their voices and stories weave together in this fresh new take on a modern American classic.

Due to Covid-19 concerns, the production team of Jack Gritzmacher and Jerry Liimatta have had to move the operation from stage to the studio. With the assistance of Jason Ness, one of the district computer technicians, the show will be produced for the camera and will be shared, free of charge, via a continuous stream, linked to the district website on October 29 through November 1.

Each playing a multitude of characters from SPOON RIVER, the cast members include both VHS and EGHS students: Daisy Borden, Dylan Celley, Dani Logan, Brennan Muhich, Rebecca Muster, Ellie Norvitch, Natalie Petron, Kirsten Rothenberger, Sophie Statsman, Greta Van Orsdel, Ella Widmer, and Jaelyn Wright.

Even during Covid, the show must go on!
News from Virginia High School - Grades 7-12
Back to School ~ COVID Style!

"I know a lot of us dreaded it and we would've rather stayed in summer, but the start of the 2020-2021 school year came anyway."  For some students like senior Alexis Acosta, that meant something very different. She chose to be a remote-learner that logs on from home to participate in her classes. About 20% of students elected to stay home this year due to COVID 19, which means that 80% returned to a vastly different atmosphere in their beloved Virginia High School.

This year, students were greeted with designated up and down stairwells, tape along the floor in the hallways, face masks, closed lockers, block scheduling, lunch in the classrooms and ZOOM calls. Even with all the changes, there is some fun too. There are tons of different face masks and every one of them is unique. Even though it may be uncomfortable, we can still have fun and show off our creativity or make something that screams YOU

Stopped in the hallway,Virginia High School seniors Grace Phenning and Wyatt Clark use their hands to show their emotions instead of smiling. Don't worry, we told them to step away and socially distance too!

Coordinating from head to mask!?

The mask options are ENDLESS!

No two masks are alike!


One of the best new things this year is that students are often able to work outside the school. This is called a "mask break," but it also allows us to get some outdoor time while completing our assignments. Mr. Hammer speaks on the subject, "I try to take my classes outside as much as possible during in-class work time. The masks weren't the easiest to wear all day at first, but I think we're all getting as used to them even though getting acne from them is no fun." 

If you are in school or online, a teacher or a by-standing parent, you probably noticed that the time schedule has changed -- a lot! Students now have four classes a day that are 89 minutes long. This helps reduce the mixing of students throughout the day and also helps students focus on specific subjects if they are a distance learner and should help them stay focused during the hybrid model too. One sophomore noted, "I like that we learn the information and get to practice it right in the classroom instead of rushing to the next subject. Sometimes, I used to forget what exactly I was supposed to do because we had seven classes of homework. I like the four a lot better."

This school year may come with some challenges, but it gives us the opportunity to make the best of it by being creative while also following rules. All in all, it really teaches us that we can handle the challenges life throws at us. If we can do this, we can do nearly anything.  

Submitted by Senior, Alexis Acosta and an Anonymous VHS Staff Member 

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