Moorhead Area Public Schools' District Blog

September, 2011Archive for

New shoes for a new year of learning

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

It’s that time of the year again. The air is cooler and the thoughts are on the new school year. This fall I walked through each of our schools on opening day. What a thrill to see all the students and teachers as they came back to school!

One of the teachers asked me if I had new shoes, and I gave her a quizzical look since my shoes looked pretty scuffed. She told me everyone seems to have new shoes for the start of school. I realized my grandchildren even had new shoes for school.

I thought more about new shoes and the adventures the students would have in those new shoes. New learning in social studies, science and mathematics as students explore the world around them. Books to discover and explore new places through reading. Shoes to tap out the beat in music and learn to dance or run the mile in physical education class. Walking through the art museum to discover the world of visual arts. Those shoes will take students many places and give them the opportunity to explore many new ideas.

Just like there are many colors and styles of shoes, we see the same diversity in our students. Our students come to school with many expectations, dreams and goals. It is our responsibility to keep those dreams alive and help students grow into strong, productive citizens. The mission of the Moorhead Area Public Schools is to develop the maximum potential of every learner to thrive in a changing world. We need to make sure every learner has many opportunities to learn and explore their world.

Pretty soon those new shoes will become a bit scuffed or worn out. Hopefully, school will not become boring or old for our students. Our school district provides many opportunities for students to explore and learn.

However, we have to remember some students come to school without those new shoes. These students still need the same opportunities to learn and explore as the other students. We need to have the same expectations and opportunities for all students — whether they have new shoes or not.


Dr. Lynne A. Kovash
Moorhead Area Public Schools

Boyle named Western Division Principal of the Year

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Gene Boyle, principal at Moorhead High School, has been named Western Division Principal of the Year for 2011-12 by the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals. Boyle was recognized by MASSP in June and by the School Board on Sept. 26.

Food Bank’s BackPack Program expands to all three Moorhead elementary schools this year

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

The Great Plains Food Bank is expanding the Cass Clay BackPack Program to 750 children living with or at immediate risk of hunger in the community. This is an increase of 41 percent over last year when 530 students were served.

A Moorhead High School Key Club member places a food pack in a student locker at Robert Asp Elementary. The food packs are provided to students who may need meals over the weekend as part of the Great Plains Food Bank’s BackPack Program.

The program will reach students at all three of Moorhead’s elementary schools this year. Good Shepherd Church sponsored 100 students last year and will continue this year. Trinity Lutheran Church donated $5,000 for the 2011-12 school year, and MidContinent Communications donated enough money to start the program at S.G. Reinertsen Elementary School this year.

During the 2010-11 school year, 7,063 children in the Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo school districts qualified for and relied on the free and reduced-price lunch program to meet their nutritional needs. The BackPack Program is designed to meet the needs of hungry children who might not get needed nutrition on the weekends.

“Hungry children don’t learn as well at school, which in turn limits their potential and productivity as adults. We believe that when a child is fed, they are equipped to learn, grow and dream of a future filled with opportunity. This program makes sense,” said Melissa Sobolik, director of member and client services for Great Plains Food Bank.

Students are recommended for the program by teachers or principals who see first-hand their nutritional needs. Food packages are filled with child-friendly, nonperishable food and then discretely given to children in the program just before the weekend or a school holiday.

Last year at Robert Asp, 85 packs were handed out every week.

“The program is changing lives,” said Nadine Moon, the Title I parent coordinator and supporter of the BackPack Program for Moorhead’s elementary schools. “For some children participating in the program, this food is the difference between eating or not.”

The Great Plains Food Bank, a program of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, secures and stores food for the program, coordinates community volunteers to fill the food packages, and delivers the packages to the schools. In Moorhead, the Moorhead High Key Club members assist in distributing the packs to student lockers. Last year, Key Club members donated more than 310 hours distributing the packs at Robert Asp and Ellen Hopkins Elementary Schools.

It costs $4.25 to fill a backpack with juice, milk, fruit and food for four meals and snacks. Sponsoring a child for the entire school year costs $162, the Great Plains Food Bank said. Donations to the program may be designated to a particular school.

Ellen Hopkins Elementary, Robert Asp Elementary and S.G. Reinertsen Elementary are three of the 14 schools participating in the Cass Clay BackPack Program this year.

Moorhead High School Hall of Honor inducting 2011 members on Sept. 24

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Tickets for induction ceremony must be purchased by Sept. 20

Four graduates and a former employee of Moorhead High School will be inducted into the Moorhead High School Hall of Honor at a recognition ceremony at 5 p.m. Sept. 24 at Meadows Golf Course, Moorhead.

Tickets for the ceremony are $20 and must be purchased by Tuesday, Sept. 20. Limited tickets are available. Contact Don Hulbert in the Moorhead High School Activities Office, 2300 4th Ave. S., at 284-2346 to purchase tickets. When purchasing tickets please indicate if you are attending in honor of a certain inductee.

2011 Hall of Honor Inductees
Five inductees have been selected as the 2011 members of the Moorhead High School Hall of Honor. They are Lisa Nelson Borgen, Rodney J. Kossick, Vincent Pulicicchio, Larry W. Shellito and Mark O. Voxland.

Lisa Nelson Borgen graduated from Moorhead High School in 1980. Borgen earned her Juris Doctorate from University of North Dakota School of Law in 1996. She opened Borgen Law Office in Moorhead before being elected Clay County attorney in 1998 and 2002. She served as the chief prosecutor until 2006 when she was appointed 7th Judicial District Court Judge. Borgen was elected to the judicial position in 2008 for a six-year term. She serves as a general jurisdiction judge, specializing in drug court, domestic violence court and child protection/truancy court.

Rodney J. Kossick graduated from Moorhead High School in 1955. Kossick earned his master’s degree from Western Michigan University in 1962. Kossick worked for the North Dakota Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Washington State Services for the Blind, Australian National Council for the Blind, Indiana Rehabilitation Services and Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. From 1966-68, Kossick worked in South Vietnam as a blind rehabilitation consultant. He received the Civilian Medal of Honor, second class, from the South Vietnamese government in 1968.

Vincent Pulicicchio attended International Falls (Minn.) High School. Pulicicchio earned a bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 1950 and his master’s degree from Colorado State College, Greeley, in 1958. In 1951, Pulicicchio, known as “Mr. P” to his students, began a 34-year career teaching orchestra for Moorhead Area Public Schools. In 1965, he developed Apollo Strings, a string ensemble that traveled across the United States, Canada and Europe and behind the Iron Curtain. Vincent Pulicicchio died on Jan. 18, 2010, at age 82.

Larry W. Shellito graduated from Moorhead High School in 1964. He completed his doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1998. Shellito served in the Minnesota Army National Guard for 37 years. From 1972 to 2003, he worked at Alexandria Technical College, serving as president the last nine years. Major General Shellito was appointed Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard from 2003 to 2010. He was appointed as the 17th commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs in January 2011. Shellito earned numerous military awards including the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and Bronze Star.

Mark O. Voxland graduated from Moorhead High School in 1968. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 1972. Voxland is president of Voxland Electric. In 1988, Voxland was elected to the Moorhead City Council. He has served as mayor of Moorhead since 2002. Voxland has served on numerous regional and state organizations. He has earned numerous Boy Scout and Jaycee awards and the MSUM Distinguished Alumni Award, and he was named to the Kiwanis Hall of Honor.

About the Hall of Honor
The Moorhead High School Hall of Honor recognizes alumni, faculty, staff and other community members who have demonstrated notable accomplishments or provided significant contributions to their school, community or society.

Alumni are recognized for their outstanding accomplishments while at Moorhead High School as well as achievements following graduation. Alumni may not be considered for nomination until ten years following their graduation from Moorhead High School.

Faculty, staff and other community members are recognized for their contributions to Moorhead High School. Individuals may not be current employees of the school district and may not be considered for nomination until five years following their completion of employment with the district.

The nominations committee is now considering candidates for 2012. Nominations are continuously accepted for the Hall of Honor. Nomination forms are available on the Moorhead School District’s website at or at Moorhead High School, 2300 4th Ave. S., Moorhead, MN 56560. Nominations also may be submitted online. Nominations previously received are kept to be considered for future recognition.

A committee reviews nominations and conducts research of records to select outstanding candidates for the Moorhead High School Hall of Honor.

Each year inductees to the Moorhead High School Hall of Honor are recognized at an induction ceremony.

Corporate sponsors for the Moorhead High School Hall of Honor are State Bank & Trust, Moorhead Public Service and Gate City Bank.

Presentation at all-staff assembly focuses on literacy at all levels

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Many jobs that never involved reading, writing or math are no longer low education jobs, said Dr. Timothy Shanahan, professor of Urban Education at University of Illinois, Chicago, and director of the Center for Literacy. Shanahan stressed the importance of improving literacy at all levels during his presentation to district employees at the Moorhead Area Public Schools’ all-staff assembly. Literacy, teacher effectiveness and curriculum are focuses in the district this year.

“The world has changed dramatically,” Shanahan said. “Our workplace is a different place. Our kids are competing with kids from all over the world.”

He shared several examples where lower literacy negatively impacted people, including unemployment, which is higher among those with lower education.

“Being low in literacy isolates,” Shanahan told district employees. “Staying connected is inextricably bound to literacy when it was never a literacy thing at all. Our kids need to read and write better than we do.”

Shanahan is a former primary grade teacher, and he served as director of reading for the Chicago Public Schools. His research emphasizes reading-writing relationships, reading assessment and improving reading achievement.

According to Shanahan, instruction should be based on research and success requires a focus K-12. He provided his three steps to improved reading achievement: amount of instruction, curriculum and program alignment.

Students need two hours of reading and writing instruction daily to raise achievement and three hours a day when great achievement gains are desirable, Shanahan said.

The second biggest determinant of school learning is content coverage or what we teach. Shanahan identified four fundamental components of literacy learning. They are:

  1. Word knowledge, including phonemic awareness, phonics, sight vocabulary, spelling and vocabulary;
  2. Fluency, which includes accuracy, speed and expression;
  3. Comprehension, including types of information, information structure and strategies to help understanding; and
  4. Writing for different purposes, products, audiences and processes.

Shanahan’s final step to improving reading achievement is alignment and continuity. Many variables impact learning. Some variables to align are professional development, instructional materials, assessments and interventions, he said.



Opening day enrollment numbers increase for Moorhead Area Public Schools

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

The Moorhead School District had 5,463 students in grades K-12 report for school this morning. This is 142 more students than were enrolled last spring and 84 students more than last year’s opening enrollment. The number of students in the district will fluctuate over the next few weeks before stabilizing in October and November, according to historical trends.

The most significant increase is in the kindergarten enrollment. The district added an additional kindergarten teacher in late August.

“One of the priorities of last year’s operating levy referendum was to maintain and improve class sizes at the elementary level,” said Dr. Lynne A. Kovash, superintendent. “The addition of new teachers helped to respond to increased enrollment and improve class sizes.”

Fifth grade is the largest grade level with 441 students. Kindergarten is the second largest grade level with 439 students. At 395 students, grade 12 is the smallest grade level in the district.

Enrollment in the district’s Kinder Plus (K+) extended-day kindergarten program offered through Community Education has increased to 233, which is 111 over last year’s opening enrollment, partly due to a significant reduction in the program fees. One of the district’s referendum priorities was to increase access to the program by using referendum funds.

“We are excited to see this increase in enrollment at the elementary level with the secondary enrollment remaining stable,” Kovash said. “This trend will lead toward a healthy enrollment base for the district in future years.”

In 2006 the district saw the reversal of an 11-year trend of enrollment decline. This was followed by four years of increases in enrollment after efforts by the district to modernize and enhance the quality of education. The district’s enrollment was projected to stabilize in 2010 with slight increases over the next few years.