When last we communicated, I was ditching my blog and heading up to Wolfridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, MN just up from the north shore of Lake Superior. That's where Murray Middle school has been taking a representative group of students for 30 some years or more if you throw in their time at a previous environmental camp. I know have talked about this before, but it is a place and opportunity I really value. First for the students, they are parts exceptional, curious, energetic, creative, joyful and kind. They have names like Mya, Sam, Rayne, Robert, Heavenly, Kajsa, Malik, Winnie and Malaysia.

The 80 or so 7th and 8th graders are mixed into intentionally random groups to encourage the building of new relationships. They teach each other about their diverse cultures, work together to solve challenges - both mental and physical - and have tremendous fun. There are kids that have spent a lot of time in nature, there are kids who have never been out of urban St. Paul. By the end of the week, they are united by the experience and take it all back to school to put the "We're more alike than different" thematic for the week into practice for the rest of the year.

I'm proud of our Foundation for supporting it, feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it, and I always come away with renewed admiration for our young people and for the their teachers. The Wolfridge Program is a chance for both groups to step out of the confines and constricts of the public education system, both good and bad, and re-imagine their educational roles. This approach could lead to chaos if not handled well, and the teachers and staff from Murray are truly exceptional in their ability to provide just the right mix of freedom and structure.

The timing of this experience, coming right before our fundraising season, is a powerful reminder of the impact your donations have on kids from all over St. Paul. Many of these kids will have their lives changed by this week. Some of them have moved into the new environmental class at Murray (also supported by you through the Foundation) and may find their way into a career in environmental science. One of them might even contribute to sustaining our fragile environment with new ideas and approaches. 

Whatever path they choose, I know that their understanding of our world has been enriched and their sense of self has been strengthened. They will need all of that and more for the challenges they face in our increasingly complex world. So, thank you for making programs like Wolfridge possible and please remember how important they are when you get our fundraising letter in the mail. Through the Foundation, you make a difference.

Also a reminder that Give to the Max Day is tomorrow, a great opportunity to give to the organizations that do such good work in our communities. Just go to this link enter the name of the org you want to support in the blank box and donate. It will be much appreciated and do good work. To give to the StAP Foundation, you can also go to our site and click on the "Donate Now" button.


$2,000 Match
If you give to the D12 Community Council tomorrow, you can double your money. They have a $2,000 match grant. Here's the link.

The elections for representatives form north and south St. Anthony Park were held last week and here are the results. Representing the north, Michael Russelle was elected as a delegate and Wanjiru Mugo and Mimi Jennings were elected as alternates. From the south, Kevin Caufield, JoAnne Makela and Christina Morrison were elected delegates and Brad Englemann will serve as an alternate. Congratulations and thanks to all of them for their willingness to serve on this important body.


Board Election Winners
Attorney, Chue Vue, is our newest school board member having been elected along with incumbents, Jean O'Connell and John Broderick last week. He actually had the highest vote total of all the candidates. Congratulations and welcome to the board!

StAP Elementary
Couple of interesting pieces in the SAPSA blog about how the district decides on school closings like snow days. Appropriately, the major consideration is safety for everyone involved and that can include driving conditions, temperature (for kids outside waiting for buses,) and predicted amounts of snowfall. That means the decisions can be made at the last minute so the district gets the info out in a variety of ways, through texts, WCCO radio, SPPS.org home page, individuals school websites and the district switchboard. If it looks like bad weather, check in...There's also a link to an article on how parents can help their students achieve and a link about an app that tells you the school menus and their health info...By the way, StAP Elementary got nearly $5,000 form the Target Red Card program that allows shoppers to designate a school to receive up to 1% of their purchases made through the card.

Murray Middle
The school is sorting out its space issues after a larger than expected turnout for their three grades this fall. It sounds like the district is going to find the money to help them turn the old unused swimming pool into a new classroom area for the 6th grade. I don't know if that will happen next spring or summer, but it will be a welcome enhancement to the current classroom locations. Aside from that, it sounds like things are going fairly well with the transition to middle school, one of the challenges of running a school district is the lack of predictability with your site population each year. You never know how many will show up on that first day of class, so it takes a few weeks to adjust staff and space to the needs.

Como High
I know you can't celebrate forever, but the Como Boys Soccer team's state championship is a pretty special event. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman honored the team by proclaiming last Thursday, Nov. 7 as Como High Boys Soccer Day. They'll come down to earth sometime around next spring.


Philippine Aid Fundraiser
Neighbors, Ann Nordby & John Mark Lucas on Keston Street have family in the Philippines who are safe, thankfully, but they are obviously especially aware of the devastation and need that exists. They're hosting a dinner party Nov. 16 at 7pm with traditional Philippine food and have room for 17. Contact Ann to attend or donate. The money will go directly to the Red Cross. 

Boy Scout Wreaths
The annual wreath sale is underway. To order yours, email Clay. 

Nice Bike in for Bumpy Ride?
There's an article in the Atlantic Monthly online about Nice Ride Minnesota, which runs the bike-share system in our metro, and its filing of a "notice of a material breach" of its contract with PBSC, the Montréal-based company that supplies hardware for the Nice Ride program. Apparently the Montreal company is deep in debt and struggling to handle their commitments.

The Song Must Go On
Next Monday, Nov. 18 at Luther Sem 1490 Fulham, 2nd Floor. 6:30 social, 7-8:30, fill your lungs and let out your inner voice.


Toy Fair in the Park
Dan Marshall from Peapods sent along an invitation for the community to attend the first annual Minnesota Toy Fair Nov. 16 from 12-4pm at their shop. For more information, here's the
link to their website.

That's all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.