Last weekend at Wolfridge Environmental Center, I had the privilege of attending the graduation of 17 environmental scientists from Murray's E2 class. These promising 8th graders presented the research projects they had been working on for two weeks up at Wolfridge. They shared information about worm density in different types of soil, the relationship between small and large mammal eating patterns, and various other interesting observations about our natural world and human impact on it.

After a full year of bonding, this class is very close with each other and their instructors. The graduation was a very emotional event with tears shed by both students and adults. These 17 hard working and dedicated soon-to-be 9th graders in one year traveled from their 7th general science class to a pre-AP track entering high school. They also out-tested their classmates who had 2 years of pre-AP science. It's an amazing initiative supported by a partnership between Wolfridge, U.S. Forestry Service, St. Paul Public Schools, Hamline's Center for Global Environmental Education, the Foundation and a family of Murray alums who believe deeply in the program and this diverse group of exceptional students.

This is the second year of the class - 24 students graduated last year - and Tim Chase, the inspired teacher who created the curriculum, won Minnesota's Environmental Teacher of the Year Award for his lead role in its success. These kids do not take the experience lightly and the hope is that they can continue to be supported through High School and college to become our environmental scientists of the future. We need their creativity, their ability to work through sometimes overwhelming challenges, and the joy and passion they bring to learning. What an honor to be able to share that all with them and their teachers.

The new Assistant Superintendent in charge of middle schools for SPPS is Lisa Sayles-Adams, the former principal at Battle Creek Middle School. Previous to that, she was principal of the Galtier Magnet Elementary School, and I believe is a product of the SPPS system, so she has a range of experience to bring to the job. She also dealt with the transition from Jr. High to middle school at Battle Creek, so she has a particular sensitivity to that rough ride and hopefully some great ideas on how to smooth out the ongoing transition this year. Murray's situation will be greatly improved by a new cafeteria and expanded 6th grade area. I have heard that the budgets are tight and there have been some staff changes due to that, still, with a learning year behind them, 2014-2015 should be significantly better for everyone.

Muffuletta is still taking reservations for its 2nd annual pig roast next Wednesday, August 6, Click on the link and email Asst. Mgr. Ben Amundsen to find out more. It sounds like an incredibly delicious menu and with the weather we've been having lately, the patio is about the nicest place to have a meal in the Twin Cities. Also in the running for top outdoor dining: Finnish Bistro, Colossal and Mim's.

Then, Thursday, August 7 from 11-1pm is Sunrise Banks Community Appreciation BBQ at 2300 Como. Just follow your nose to the bright tents set up in the parking lot. You can also share your appreciation with Rick Beeson and his bank staff for being such strong supporters of St. Anthony Park.

The Knight Foundation's Green Line Grant Challenge garnered 579 applications for the $1.5 M in grant awards it's offering. I know there were several from the the CEZ so let's keep our fingers crossed that some of them get funded.

Avalon School is looking for copies of *The House on Mango Street* by Sandra Cisneros. They are reading the book as a school-wide read and then seeing an adaptation at the Park Square Theater. If you have a copy, contact Kevin Ward. They are also looking for a licensed special education teacher, Kevin can point you in the right direction on that as well.

Looks like Lauderdale is starting a farmer's market and asking local producers to join in. They've already got a food truck and are gathering vendors. For more info, here's an email link

I will be taking a vacation from the blog next week so take care of yourselves and be a good neighbor. I'll return August 13.