September 9, 2020 | Volume 1 • Issue 3
Message from Superintendent Osei: Welcome Back
There was a great deal of energy at schools yesterday and today as we welcomed you back to the 2020-21 school year. While I fully recognize that the orientation experience felt different from past years, our commitment to our mission has not changed. In St. Louis Park Public Schools we strive to:

  • ensure all students attain their highest level of achievement; 
  • prepare all students to contribute to society; 
  • offer high quality opportunities for lifelong learning; 
  • provide multiple pathways to excellence; 
  • challenge all learners to meet high standards; and
  • provide a safe and nurturing environment that energizes and enhances the spirit.

Accomplishing our mission will be more challenging than it has been in the past because as educators we have had to re-envision the manner in which we facilitate learning for our students. However, in every challenge there is an opportunity. We have the opportunity to start the year by engaging students in a synchronous distance learning experience that will be mindful of student:

  • academic growth and achievement;
  • social emotional learning needs;
  • enrichment and intervention needs; and
  • relationships with staff and peers. 

I continue to be thankful to serve as the superintendent of St. Louis Park Public Schools! I appreciate each of you and the contribution you make to our school community. We will get through these challenging times safely and successfully. Regardless if it is distance, hybrid, or in-person, we are committed to doing what is necessary to engage students and families and provide you with the support that you need to have a successful school year. 

I am because we are,

Astein K. Osei
Superintendent
Returning to School: Reminders for Staff and Families from MDH
It is critically important that staff, parents/guardians, and families do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19. This role for staff, parents/guardians and families includes:

  • Limiting potential exposure to COVID-19 by social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding large crowds.
  • Watching for potential symptoms and staying home when sick.
  • Getting tested when appropriate and staying home while waiting for test results.

While all are eager to return back to school and connect with others in our school community, staff, students, and families need to follow guidance about when they should NOT be in school. If you are sick, stay home and consider COVID-19 testing. If you have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your home or in other activities, stay out of school for the full 14 days of quarantine.

By staying home when you are sick or have been exposed to a positive case, you are helping your community stay in school together.
WATCH: Recordings of Back-to-School Town Hall Meetings
All six of our schools held town hall meetings during the first week of September to help prepare students, parents/guardians and families for the 2020-21 school year. Principals shared important information and attendees had time to ask questions near the end of each meeting. If you were unable to attend your school's town hall meeting, but are interested in catching up on what was discussed, links to the video recordings are below. A frequently asked questions document is being developed based on the questions asked in the elementary school town hall meetings and will be available soon.

FREE MEALS for Kids During Distance Learning
Available at Six Sites on Mondays and Wednesdays
While the District is in a distance learning educational delivery model, students and families will be able to pick up FREE MEALS (breakfast and lunch) at any of the six schools on Mondays and Wednesdays between 10 and 10:30 a.m. In accordance with USDA guidelines, you must be a parent or guardian of a child (birth to 18) in the District in order to pick up these grab-and-go bag meals.

Families picking up meals on Mondays will be able to receive three days worth of breakfast and lunch meals. Families picking up meals on Wednesdays will be able to receive two days worth of breakfast and lunch meals.

Menus on the Nutrislice website and mobile application are accurate and will reflect what is included in the grab-and-go bag meals.

While meals are currently free, it's still important for families to fill out a Free and Reduced Meals Application. This application can be filled out in a number of different ways including online through your Wordware or PowerSchool account or by filling out a paper copy.

Please note that when the District moves to a hybrid or in-person educational delivery model, that the procedures for meal delivery will change and will be communicated at that time. If you have questions or need more information about the St. Louis Park Public Schools Free Meals program or need assistance in filling out a Free and Reduced Meals Application, contact the School Nutrition Department at 952-928-6146.
NEW Fun After-School Opportunities Available!
When the School Board voted in April 2019 to change school start and end times beginning in the Fall of 2020, the District also committed to form an "Out-of-School Time (OST) Taskforce" to help develop before and after school academic programs, enrichment and recreation opportunities, and childcare options for families.

The District's Youth Enrichment Program (YEP) has released the first slate of enrichment opportunities as a result of the work of the OST Taskforce. These offerings for K-8 students include a drawing class, chess club, Lego class, coding class, guitar lessons, and a puzzles & riddles escape experience.

Click here to download a one-page flyer with program information including class offerings, dates, times and costs. Visit www.slp.ce.eleyo.com to register for YEP offerings. Questions about YEP offerings can be directed to Kelleen O'Brion at obrion.kelleen@slpschools.org or 952-928-6399.
Five St. Louis Park HS Seniors Named National Merit Semifinalists
Five St. Louis Park High School seniors have recently been recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program as National Merit Semifinalists. The five seniors are Thorwald Anderson, Daniel Goldenberg, Gabriel Kaplan, Dahlia Krebs, and Joshua Krueger. They are among 288 students from Minnesota and approximately 16,000 students from across the country to be named semifinalists this year.

National Merit Semifinalists are selected based on scores from the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) and are now eligible to compete for scholarships worth more than $30 million that will be awarded in the spring of 2021. Semifinalists score in the top 1% of the approximately 1.5 million students who took the PSAT as juniors.

Semifinalists will be notified in February if they have advanced to Finalist standing. Then, beginning in March and continuing to mid-June, around 7,600 students will be notified that they have been selected to receive a National Merit Scholarship award.
Fourth Grade Orchestra Registration Information
Families with a fourth grade student have the special opportunity this year to have their child learn to play the following string instruments: violin, viola, cello and large string bass.

Registration procedures for the 2020-21 fourth grade orchestra have changed due to COVID-19. Instead of hosting a registration night at the High School, students and families interested in registering for fourth grade orchestra need to visit either House of Note (7202 Minnetonka Blvd. in St. Louis Park; 952-929-0026) or Schmitt Music (11300 Wayzata Blvd. in Minnetonka; 952-546-0555). Families should call ahead to make an appointment.

Employees at these two locations will be able to assist your child in what instrument to choose, what size is correct for your child, and what the cost of renting a string instrument will be. (Rent a string instrument – do not purchase.) Besides renting a string instrument for the school year, your child will need to purchase a folding music stand (for use in practice at home and for concerts) and the music book titled All For Strings Book #1 (tan colored book).

Click here to download and complete the orchestra registration form which can be emailed to Elementary Orchestra Director Mark Anderson at anderson.mark@slpschools.org. You can also email Mr. Anderson with any questions about elementary orchestra.

Click here to view a short video of Mr. Anderson playing the instruments to show your child what the instruments sound like.
Sneak Peak: New Early Learning Center
One of the many construction projects that took place this summer was the renovation of the Early Learning Center on the west side of the Central Education Services Center building (formerly Central Community Center).

Teachers and staff have been working hard to get this building ready for our earliest learners! Click here to view a Flickr photo gallery that contains more photos.
The new entrance to the Early Learning Center on the West side of the building. Exterior signage will be added soon.
The hallways have a new and fresh look! The old tile is gone and the old lockers have been replaced with new cubbies.
Teachers, staff and students will enjoy the renovated classrooms that were designed to benefit our earliest learners!