The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 2, 2013

St. Peter school goes the extra mile

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Thumbs up to the North Intermediate school in St. Peter for its recent achievement in becoming a Minnesota School of Excellence.

The school was recognized as a Reward School by the state as it was in the top 15 percent according to the state’s rating system, but then decided to apply to be a school of excellence, a program operated through the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association.

It’s a rigorous, yearlong process that requires teachers, students, staff and parents to work together to evaluate their efforts and improve them. Principal Karen Coblentz says the school emphasizes collaboration between teachers, students and parents to improve education and looks to find ways to bring families and community stakeholders together for the benefit of local education as well.

North’s philosophy revolves around the 5 C’s: critical thinking, cooperation, creativity, collaboration and connectivity.

Those goals are carried out through events and programs that put students into hands-on learning situations such as science experiments, Lego robotics, real world math, video/movie making and environmental experiences. Community members are invited to join students for events such as Veterans Day, music concerts and stock market assimilation programs.

Self evaluation of the school is a big part of the recognition and schools that win it also commit to improving where they find weaknesses. That’s laudable for any organization and that North takes a proactive approach is impressive.

Community steps up for McGowan

Thumbs up to community members who are stepping forward to help out Jack McGowan.

McGowan is well known in the region for his lifetime of selfless giving and merrymaking for kids and adults who have visited the McGowan Farm along the Le Sueur and Blue Earth rivers.

McGowan, largely with his own labor and money, along with help from others, has over the years built a fanciful setting of old style buildings and games. Countless youth groups and families have visited and enjoyed the grounds, which is also the setting for the annual Historyfest.

But McGowan ran afoul of the rules because several buildings are in the floodplain. FEMA ordered the county to force removal of several buildings or face the loss of federal flood insurance.

The problems prompted a group of professionals and others to pitch in the figure a way to move the buildings to a higher location and recreate an 1800s river town.

The process still has challenges and more volunteers will be needed, but it’s a hopeful situation, helping a good man who has given so much to the community.

Editorial Board

Towns’ little amenities mean a lot

Just a note to say “thank you” to the street departments of Mankato and North Mankato.

I travel on Riverfront Drive and Lookout Drive nearly every day. The flowers near West High School were beautiful, as usual, and the rebuilt stone work on Lookout Overlook is up-to-date.

Little amenities really mean a lot.

The Rev. Frank Brown

North Mankato

MSU production of ‘Les Miserables’ was magical

I recently had the extreme pleasure of seeing the Minnesota State University production of “Les Miz.” The staging was incredible, the singing extraordinary and certainly equal to the Broadway production I saw in 1985.

I have lived in Mankato for four years and seeing this production made me really proud to be a member of the community.

Thanks to everyone involved in the production of this magical event.

Anne Clements