Moorhead Area Public Schools' District Blog

February, 2011Archive for

Shamdas named Robert Asp Teacher of the Year

Monday, February 28th, 2011

According to Mari Lourdes Shamdas, she became a teacher because it is what she always knew she should be doing. “When others were playing house, I was playing teacher,” she said. “I wanted to be part of helping students find pride in themselves by doing something well.”

Shamdas, named the 2011 Robert Asp Teacher of the Year, has been an English language learners teacher for Moorhead Area Public Schools since 1996.

Before coming to the district, Shamdas was an English as a Second Language teacher for Fargo Public Schools for four years and an ESL teacher for the Fargo Adult Learning Center for two years. From 1990-2005 she also worked as an adjunct instructor teaching Spanish at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Shamdas earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Málaga, Spain, her English as a Second Language licensure from MSUM, and her master’s in curriculum and instruction from MSUM.

“At every level of my education, I’ve been inspired by teachers who loved students and their professions,” Shamdas said. “I love connecting my passion for learning to others, and I enjoy being with young people.”

Read the full article at

Moorhead High wind ensemble traveling to Italy

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Thirty-two students from Moorhead High School’s wind ensemble and their chaperones will spend spring break in Italy for a weeklong performance tour. The group leaves March 12 and will arrive in Rome on March 13.

The students will perform three concerts during the week, one in Sorrento, another at a historical theater and one at the church of St Paul’s Within the Walls, Rome. Each concert is 45 to 60 minutes and is free and open to the public. Songs they will perform include: “Ascend,” “March Spiritoso,” “Benediction,” “Amen!,” “Danse Bohémien,” “Where Eagles Soar,” “The Marches of John Williams,” “The Beatles: 1964” and “On a Hymn Song of Philip Bliss.”

According to band director Pam Redlinger, each time students engage in a band rehearsal or present a performance, they are communicating in the language of music.

“There will be a language barrier for each audience we perform for in Italy, but we will be able to find common ground through the music we perform,” she said. “The band has been striving for a high level of music making so that our audiences find our performances to be pleasing and entertaining. We also hope to give our audiences a glimpse into the American school band tradition.”

Redlinger said the trip will also teach students about Roman history, Roman architecture, and the Italian language and cuisine. They will gain life lessons in money management, travel security, self-reliance and responsibility.

“The most important thing the students will return home with is a new perspective of their world,” Redlinger said. “Not only will they experience firsthand how to be gracious guests in a different country, but they will also discover some universal qualities of the human race.”

Besides performing the three concerts, the students will tour Capri and visit Pompeii. Other stops includes the Colosseum, Vatican, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the National Instrument Museum and the Pantheon.

Partnering to educate all students

Friday, February 25th, 2011

We are now in the second half of the school year, and it is exciting to watch the development of our students. I hope parents and community members have observed growth and progress in our students. In a couple of months, we will be graduating another class of seniors and preparing for another class of kindergarten students to replace them.

As educators, it is important for us to continually look at improving our methods and strategies for instruction as we prepare students for a lifetime of learning. Our goal is to prepare all students to be successful as they pursue life after high school.

At the elementary level, our elementary teachers recently sent out updated progress reports. This revised report provides parents with another piece of information showing the progress their students are making in school. Teachers and parents are partners in the education of students. We are all working together to provide the best educational program for our students.

Our district also has looked for ways to provide more educational experiences for our younger students. Our early childhood programming, as well as our K+ program offered through Community Education, provides opportunities for our youngest learners to take part in activities that will enhance their learning. Our goal is to work with parents to provide a strong start as students enter our schools.

Thank you for your partnerships in the education of all students.

Dr. Lynne Kovash
Moorhead Area Public Schools

Horizon Middle School presents “Once Upon a Mattress”

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Horizon Middle School theater presents “Once Upon a Mattress,” a musical comedy written as an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea,” on March 3, 4 and 5 at 7 p.m. and March 6 at 2 p.m. at the Moorhead High School auditorium, 2300 4th Ave. S. The March 3 performance will be sign language interpreted.

“Once Upon A Mattress” is the story of a fictional medieval kingdom ruled by a devious Queen whose son, Prince Dauntless, is looking for a bride. Carried on a wave of beguiling songs, by turns hilarious and raucous, romantic and melodic, this rollicking spin on the familiar classic of royal courtship and comeuppance provides for some side-splitting shenanigans. Chances are, you’ll never look at fairy tales quite the same way again.

“Once Upon a Mattress” is produced by Horizon Middle School and directed by Kelly DuBois-Gerchak along with a team of local artists, including Patrick Kasper, David and Kathy Ferreira and Susan Knorr. Don Larew is the scenic and properties designer for the show.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets go on sale Feb. 22. Call 218-284-2345 to purchase tickets or purchase tickets at the door.

Cumbie overcomes barriers to publish first book

Friday, February 18th, 2011

It took Minneapolis writer Patricia Cumbie five years to write her first book. She rewrote it 12 times. Two years and 55 rejections later, Cumbie’s book, “Where People Like Us Live” was published by HarperCollins.

Writer Patricia Cumbie has students guess how many times she revised her book during a presentation at Horizon Middle School on Feb. 17.

Cumbie, who writes fiction, essays and creative nonfiction for teens and adults, shared her story with students at Horizon Middle School during two Feb. 17 presentations sponsored by Lake Agassiz Regional Library.

“You are going to be confronted by barriers,” she said. “Creative people overcome them.”

Cumbie, who grew up in Racine, Wis., didn’t have much growing up.

“One thing I did have was stories,” Cumbie said. “I grew up surrounded by stories.”

Cumbie’s mom would make up stories to tell her. One of Cumbie’s first jobs was as a camp counselor, where one of the things you do is sit around a campfire and tell stories.

“Stories have a lot of power in our lives. It’s how we relate to each other,” Cumbie said.

Cumbie wanted to tell stories. At age 15, she started writing poetry and essays. She had no idea how to become a writer and had to go through the process of thinking about what she wanted to write. One of the reasons she likes to write is because it gives her the opportunity to ask herself the big questions.

Where People Like Us Live” addresses a big secret. Cumbie’s book centers on two girls and how their friendship is affected when the narrator learns her friend is being molested. The main character has to ask herself whether she has the courage to help someone else.

Cumbie reminded the students that sometimes people have big secrets, and sometimes those secrets need to be shared with an adult. “I encourage you to talk to someone,” she said.

Drawing history

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Historian and cartoonist Steve Stark brought the history of the Red River Valley to lifeSteve Stark during presentations to sixth-graders at Horizon Middle School on Feb. 18. Stark drew highlights of the area’s history while telling the story of the settlement of Moorhead and Fargo.

The presentations were a bonus event as part of the Learning Bank Fine Arts Series. The presentations were made available with grant funding.

Moorhead Area Education Foundation sponsors phonathon

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

The Moorhead Area Education Foundation will sponsor the 20th annual Dollars for Scholars Phonathon from 6:30-9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28 and Tuesday, March 1, 2011, in the Moorhead High School commons.

Last year, more than 75 Moorhead High School students gathered 701 pledges totaling $22,960. This year, students have a goal of raising $25,000, all of which will be used for scholarships in 2011.

The phonathon is a major fundraiser for the Moorhead Area Education Foundation. The funds raised in 2010 helped MAEF to award more than $92,500 to 67 graduates. Other funds come from businesses, service clubs and individual contributions, plus interest from the MAEF Endowment Fund.

The mission of the Moorhead Area Education Foundation is to raise money and receive gifts of money or property to enhance educational programs for students in Independent School District 152. The foundation provides scholarships for post-secondary education and grants for innovative education enhancement projects in classrooms district-wide.

For more information visit the Moorhead Area Education Foundation section of the district’s website at or e-mail

Moorhead High automotive teacher named Moorhead Teacher of the Year

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Lauren Rood enjoys machining, welding and building machines and gadgets in his spare time.

“My way of relaxing is to turn on a ball game and build something,” Rood said.
Rood, an industrial technology teacher at Moorhead High School, has been named the 2011 Moorhead Teacher of the Year.

The same activities he does in his spare time are what he teaches to students in grades 9 through 12 at Moorhead High. In 2002, Rood began working as the welding and small engines teacher. He co-taught the automotive classes with Darvin Miller until Miller’s retirement in 2006. Since then, Rood has taught automotive classes and the occasional small engines or welding class.

“I have a passion for getting students excited about math, science and reading/writing by showing them real-world applications of these core subjects in industrial technology classes,” Rood said.

Rood said that competency in welding and automotive classes requires a theory or base. When he demonstrates tasks, he shows the students the math, science and reading/writing involved in the theory so they have a deeper understanding of the concept.

“I strongly believe this helps the students transfer the information to other tasks and helps them on standardized tests as well,” Rood said. “Many students need an application of the core subjects that is of interest to them to help them see the importance of these skills. It is rewarding to have students who struggle academically be able to understand the concept of Ohm’s Law as it applies to vehicle electronics or geometry and its role in getting a vehicle to go down the road straight. It is amazing how simple something becomes if the interest and desire to know is there. Then if students understand the theories for one discipline, the knowledge can be transferred to other disciplines.”

Read the full article at

Eighteen Horizon students compete in District Spelling Bee

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Eighteen of the school district’s top spellers in grades 6-8 competed in the Moorhead District Spelling Bee on Feb. 3 at Horizon Middle School. Sam Wallert placed first, Ethan Smith took second and Hailen Ackerman was third. Wallert and Smith advance to the Region IV Spelling Bee in Fergus Falls on Feb. 22.

After taking a classroom test, the top students competed in the Grade Level Spelling Bees in January. The top spellers in the Grade Level Spelling Bees advanced to the district bee. Winner of the 6th Grade Spelling Bee was Hailen Ackerman. Alex Huff and Alex Volk tied for first in the 7th Grade Spelling Bee, and Elisabet Samonides-Hamrick won the 8th Grade Spelling Bee.

Community Education holding class for parents of children with special needs

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Raising a child with a disability often involves partnerships with school, county and provider agencies. Moorhead Community Education is offering a class for parents of children with special needs who are working with another public agency. “Partnering with Purpose: Communication and Collaboration for Interagency Teams” will be from 6-7:30 p.m Thursday, February 10, in the Probstfield Board Room. Topics include keys to effective teamwork, communication tips, how to determine if interagency planning may be a good fit for your child and family, examples of interagency processes and making your voice count.

The class is free, but registration is required. For more information and to register, contact Moorhead Community Education at 218-284-3400 or register online at (class is listed under General Interest). A light supper will be served. Stipends through the Clay County Collaborative are available to help offset costs associated with attending the class.