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State Commissioner of Education visits Kingsland

Fri, Sep 13th, 2013
Posted in Spring Valley Education

Minnesota State Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius and Kingsland High School Principal James Hecimovich tour a classroom in the High School. Photo by Barb Jeffers

By Barb Jeffers

Kingsland Schools received a very special visitor on Monday, September 9 when Minnesota State Commissioner of Education, Brenda Cassellius, stopped by to tour the middle school and high school.

Ms. Cassellius first toured the middle school in Wykoff, Minn. visiting the sixth grade Project Lead The Way classroom among others. From the middle school she went on to the high school in Spring Valley, Minn. where she toured the school and several classrooms including a classroom where a crime scene had been portrayed with students performing an investigation and searching for clues to solve the crime complete with an outline of a body, “vomit,” and other bodily fluids used as pieces of the puzzle.

Cassellius was very impressed with the classrooms and the technology available to the students at Kingsland. High School Principal James Hecimovich stated, “Kingsland is on the road map for doing good things for kids,” which Cassellius is aware of and wanted to come to Kingsland in person to recognize the school.

Following the classroom tour Cassellius entered the high school gymnasium to a loud and energetic welcome by students, parents, staff, and visitors of Kingsland. The assembly began with Superintendent McDonald expressing his pride in Cassellius coming “to celebrate Kingsland School’s accomplishments” stating that Kingsland is “a great place to be and a great environment” for students.

Superintendent McDonald said that Kingsland is on the way to a world class education made stronger by the fact that Kingsland offers over 80 college credits to students. When speaking of Cassellius to the audience, McDonald described her as someone who works hard to reduce the achievement gap for students which is important.

Cassellius was introduced to the audience who reacted with a heartfelt deafening round of applause, cheers, and whistles welcoming the Commissioner of Education to their school.

Cassellius stated to the assembly that she wanted to visit Kingsland Schools “to look at the wonderful stuff you are doing here” and said that she is “proud of the community, the teachers, and the students” for everything they have accomplished. She pointed out Kingsland’s incredible band and asked for a drum roll which then played.

The opportunities to students at Kingsland was a major speaking point of the Education Commissioner stating, “Most jobs now require post-secondary education.” The skills the students are learning now will help them later in life and said she is proud of the work they are doing at Kingsland.

The Commissioner of Education commented on her tour of the schools and stated that she had spoken with the cooks and learned that the students were having spaghetti that day which got mixed reviews from the children. She also spoke of how nice the school looked as she walked through the halls and commended the custodial staff on a great job. Cassellius noted how the children behaved in the hall saying that they treat each other very nicely as they moved about.

Cassellius explained to the audience what her job as the Commissioner of Education entails, which includes meeting with the governor on a regular basis to advise him on what needs there are in the schools in the state of Minnesota. Cassellius then asked the students if they were able to talk with the governor personally, what question would they ask him and proceeded to answer those questions.

Vincent Hoffman, age 17, a senior at Kingsland asked the question why they have so much wheat food to which Cassellius answered because it is healthy for you and added that it may be related to the high rate of childhood obesity but that the nutrition plans are being revised.

Another comment received from the audience was the need for bigger playgrounds and more playgrounds to which the crowd exploded in agreement. Other questions Brenda Cassellius received involved programs to be offered such as shop, music, art, and theatre, a question about homework to which Cassellius answered that homework depends on the teacher. One comment was more time for recess which created screams throughout the gymnasium and Priebe fielded this particular question stating they “try to balance everything” for students.

Another question was asked by a student about offering a home economics class to which Cassellius commented may be a great idea with so many working families today it would provide a way for children to participate and help at home.

The Minnesota State Commissioner of Education advised the students to go to the faculty with your questions or concerns but also to realize that things need to be balanced in order to provide the best possible education. Cassellius then said a huge thank you to the community, teachers, faculty, and all of the staff for the great job they are doing at Kingsland Schools.

Principal Priebe presented Brenda Cassellius with a Kingsland gift basket including a Kingsland Knights hooded sweatshirt which she immediately put on an cheered for Kingsland enthusiastically. The education commissioner announced her pride in what Kingsland School has achieved and that pride is shared with the school board, faculty, staff, students, parents, community, and the entire Kingsland family.

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