June 4, 2020

North Woods Grizzlies Class of 2020, You Did It


Last Friday evening, the parking lot at the North Woods School started to fill up with cars and trucks of the families of the 50 members of the North Woods Class of 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the graduates all rode in vehicles along with their families. This was going to be a very different graduation, one that would be remembered for many years to come. There was a special excitement in the air for these 50 soon-to-be graduates. They had accomplished something that many would have felt impossible at the start of the year. They had finished the last nearly three months of their final year at home. There weren't any classmates to study with, just their own perseverance of wanting to get a diploma and advancing into the real world. They had to make time each and every day to study, do homework and even take tests. They did it and achieving their high school diploma under those circumstances bodes well for their future.
The families drove into the parking lot to their assigned space. They were met by Principal John Vukmanich and new Tower-Soudan Assistant Principal John Jirik.
Principal Vukmanich greeted the graduates and their families and explained how they would come to get their diplomas, in order.
First, Class Vice President Trevor Morrison gave a speech on tape. He told his classmates, "The world is ours for the taking. Class of 2020, we made it."
Class President Nicole (Coley) Olson was next. She spoke of how much her class had accomplished; they had a "multitude of successes." She said the graduation commencement service was just a beginning. "Our potential is ours to explore," she told her classmates. She told the class that their future begins today.
Eli Dotts was the guest speaker. He told the class that he was part of the first North Woods class. He said the teachers at North Woods "fueled my success." Eli was very appreciative of the staff at North Woods. He told the graduates to remember their teachers. He closed by giving the graduating class three words, "Forgive, Love and Learn." He ended by telling the class, "If life gives you a lemon, make lemonade."
Class Secretary Olivia Niska was next on the trailer. She spoke of how her class "outdid everyone." She told the parents, "Make sure you hug your seniors." She told the class that they will cherish the time in school and they were born to shine. "Think of our class and what we have achieved," she told her classmates. "We were born to shine in a world full of hate; be a shining light. Be brave," she told them.
Principal John Vukmanich spoke of the perspective gift North Woods gave to the graduates and said he hoped they had received the tools to be successful in life. He closed by telling the class, "Find your passion and niche in life."
Then it was time for the handing out of diplomas and sending this very special class out into the world. They will be heard from.

ISD 2142 board tables 2020-2021 coaching staff, waits to see if fall season is canceled


It was another virtual meeting for the ISD 2142 (St. Louis County Schools) last Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the District Office in Virginia. The public was not allowed, but they could follow the meeting via Google Hangouts. Board members attended the meeting using their district-supplied computer tablet.
Supt. Reggie Engebritson reported that June 1 was the last day of the school year for teachers. She sent a letter to all graduating seniors congratulating them and offered them some advice. Supt. Engebritson also reported that the staff would begin planning for next year to the extent possible now as the district awaits directions from the Governor's Office and MDE on how school will be held this fall.
An item on how to handle hiring of fall coaches for next year was tabled, but the board will discuss this at their June working session. This depends on if the season is canceled altogether or begins, but is halted before completion.
New football coaches who would have been hired are Joel Anderson for North Woods and Josh Carlson for NER. For track, Jeremy Polson, Alissa Boyhtari and Rob Peterson were slated to be hired.
The board also approved a revised budget which shows a total fund balance as of June 30, 2020 of $11,591,069. The revised budget showed total operating funds of $33,112,197 compared to a previous budget of $32,688,778. This gives the district a surplus of $423,419 compared to the previous budget showing a negative $951,292. An increase in state aid brought in $567,073, plus an increase in Special Ed state aid based on new growth capacity of $184,741. New state school aid brought in another $38,980. Tuition from Nett Lake decreased $68,637. Mineral rents and royalties was cut $47,360. There was also a decrease in interest earned, gate receipts, participation fees which was offset by increased ALI funding capital credits, propane rebate, a grant from Cliffs for NER, and the Cotton forest timber sales, all totaling $59,277.
The board approved the Wellness Policy and Unpaid Meal Charges.
The Q Comp Annual Report submitted by Kim Jirik was approved.
The board also approved membership in the Minnesota Sate High School League for the four K-12 schools.
EMC was given the bid for insurance again as there were no other bids. The total bid came to $306,622 compared to $298,267 for last year.
Gerald Oehler was hired as Dean of Students for North Woods. For Cherry, Wyatt Helgeson was hired for 0.4 FTE Math and 0.6 FTE Science, Spencer Garness 1.0 FTE Science, Nicole Fuery 1.0 FTE Spec. Ed., Daniel Reing 1.0 FTE Special Ed., Hanna Watson 1.0 FTE Elementary, Samantha Warren 1.0 FTE Elementary, Kacey Kujala 1.0 FTE Social Studies, Jocelyn Jerkovich 0.3 FTE ECFE, and Breklin Pallas 0.8 FTE Language Arts. For T-S, Brandi Richards-Berger was hired for 1.0 FTE Level 3 SpEd, Kristine Sorgenfei 1.0 FTE Elementary, and Sarah Hansen 0.2 FTE Parent Educator at T-S and NER. For North Woods, Sara Twedten was hired 0.6 FTE Language Arts. Christina Nelson was hired 0.3 FTE ECFE for SR.
Mark Fabish was hired as the new Activities Director for North Woods.
Title 1 teachers Amy Nelson 0.53 FTE, Nathaniel LeBeque 0.50 FTE, Kathleen Meier 0.53 FTE and Mary Larson 0.20 FTE were placed on ULA. This is an annual event and they are usually all called back
Probationary Title 1 teachers Jaclyn Wolfe 0.50 FTE, Madeline Miller 0.50 FTE, Elizabeth Oberstar 1.0 FTE, Chrisa Jarvi 0.50 FTE and Kristin Sopoci 0.30 FTE were terminated.
The resignations or retirements of Keith Fulcher - bus driver for NW, Bruce Hage - bus driver for SR, Don Klegstad - lawn care for DO, Rebecca Mariucci - transportation asst., Blake Johnson - teacher at SR, Tyler Ojibway - para at SR, Karen Larson - dishwasher at NER, Traci Grondahl - bus driver at Cherry, Chris Carpenter - asst. football coach at Cherry, Makayla Goerdt - asst. volleyball coach at Cherry, Alexis Kudis - assistant volleyball coach at Cherry, Mike Summer - head football coach at NER, and Jennifer Prepodnik - Little Grizzlies Enrichment Program Supervisor at NW, were accepted.
The separation agreement for Angela Byram was approved.
The meeting adjourned at 5:57 p.m.

Cook Hospital receives approval for five additional licensed beds for COVID-19 if needed

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't hit the Cook Hospital yet, though Administrator Teresa Debevec has it ready, but they have now been given permission to add five licensed beds for treatment of this virus, if needed. The regular meeting of the Cook-Orr Healthcare District board was held last Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the hospital conference room and Debevec gave this report to the board.
She also listed COVID updates for the hospital which included visitor restrictions still in place for the hospital and care center. All staff take their temperature and wear a mask when they enter the facility. Any patient or person who enters the facility gets screened and their temperature is taken, then they are let in, but must wear a mask while in the facility.
The W.C. Heiam Foundation benefit has been canceled, while other fundraising options are worked on.
The MRI truck will be at the hospital on Tuesdays instead of Thursdays.
Debevec reported that some of the staff who were laid off have been called back and most will be back in a week or so.
A Director of Nursing for the Nursing Home has been hired and will start in June.
For the month of April, the hospital showed a loss of $10,733 from operations compared to a budgeted loss of $58,903. The year-to-date loss from operations was $85,778 against a loss budgeted of $129,975. The hospital showed a profit after non-operations income was added in, of $104,524 compared to a budgeted profit of $64,536.
The hospital has openings for nursing assistants, housekeeper, Rad Tech and Physical Therapist.


Pick up this week's paper for more stories and pictures...

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