The Rush City Education Foundation allowed students an education beyond the classroom, thanks in part to awarding $2,537 in grants and more than $3,000 in scholarships over the past school year.
Matt Meissner, president of the Education Foundation, summarized the group’s grant and scholarship awards through 2013-14 during the Oct. 16 Rush City School Board meeting.
In light of the grants awarded, Jacobson Elementary teacher Ashley Lakeberg received a grant so 70 of her fourth-grade students could take a field trip to the Northwest Fur Post near Pine City. The trip enhanced the fourth-grade curriculum on Native Americans, while students researched, wrote papers and created presentations beforehand.
Meissner said 78 students in four kindergarten sections benefited from another grant that went toward boosting digital music opportunities in the classroom. Kindergarten teachers use music as a transition from reading to math and as a way to teach and reinforce skills, such as counting and learning shapes, colors, new vocabulary and sounds.
The Education Foundation awarded a third grant for sixth-graders to go on a field trip to Crex Meadows in Grantsburg, Wisconsin, a 30,000-acre wildlife area that is home to 270 species of birds, 700 species of plants and a wide variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. The trip provided an outdoor educational adventure in water studies, meadow ecology, migratory bird patterns and team-building experiences that allowed the students to bring back real-life applications in math, science and language to the classroom.
High School science teacher Eric Telander received two grants that benefited 75 students. One funded a seventh-grade field trip to the University of Minnesota’s Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve in Bethel, where students conducted an outdoor field investigation.
The other allowed Telander to purchase equipment — good for 10-15 years — for eighth-graders to investigate and test the water quality in Rush Creek. Students monitored changes at sites along the creek’s course through the city; they calculated the potential impact that humans have made on water quality and the life found within the creek.
In addition, the foundation has created a number of scholarships for students.
These awards include the Richard G. Schneider Memorial Scholarship, $500; the Merlin and Eleanore Froelke Beise Pharmacy Scholarship, $1,000; two $750 Rush City Education Foundation scholarships; and another in honor of Bev Proulx which three former students have bumped up to $1,000 over the next five years, according to RCEF board member Scott Friday.
Fundraising activities are important to the foundation, Meissner noted. The next one is Santa Day at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, inside the Spare Room at Chucker’s Bowl & Lounge. Along with pictures with Santa, pizza, soda and appetizers, guests can take in a showing of the television movie, “A Christmas to Remember,” which was shot in Rush City in the late 1970s.
In other action:
• Superintendent Vern Koepp summarized staff, community and business community meetings that have been held for the strategic planning process. Following the student meeting, the School Board, administration and staff meeting facilitators will work with Bruce Miles to review all information gathered, identify themes and priorities, set goals and report back to the community.
• The board transferred $2,888.77 from the Community Education program to cover the closing balance deficit of the Tiger Daycare program, which ended Aug. 31.
• Finance Manager Laureen Frost said interest for the Rush City pool trust fund, which goes toward the operation of the facility, grew by just $3,158.85 over the 2014 aquatic center season. This while the 2012 and 2013 seasons generated earnings of $3,554 and $3,712, respectively. The trust fund’s balance in September of this year was $514,158.
• Board members approved fundraising activities for the art appreciation trip to France, an educational endeavor for students in 2016, requested by art teacher Daniel Kuchenbecker. Students will host a pottery sale dinner, where guests can keep the pottery bowl in which they ate from for the price of the meal. Those who plan on going to France will sell their pottery before sporting events and other school functions. Students also hope to generate funds through a garage sale in the spring.
• The board approved the school district’s first World’s Best Workforce report, which includes a summary of trend data related to student achievement that will be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Education. The report includes various sources of data, how data is used to monitor progress toward goals and how Rush City Schools will address each of the five main goals set by the state.