Friday, January 13, 2017

Regatta Pride!

Today's post is from community member and industrial engineer John Hensley.  John is also the husband of art teacher Laura Hensley.

Competing in the 3rd annual Regatta this year was an adventure! Bob Chilson and I love to utilize the engineering fundamentals where we are challenged to develop a boat design, produce a prototype and test it in action. This is our second year competing in the Regatta. After a win last year we decided to modify our boat to see if we could improve propulsion and lower our time across the pool. This year’s boat ended up having a couple flaws but we were still able to just finish the race. 

The students’ designs were creative and used a number of different engineering principles to create boats that had varying results. We were impressed by the craftsmanship and range of designs. We both hope that the students were able to learn from the process and from each other. The best part of the experience is witnessing the passion and drive that the students of MWHS possess.

Congratulations to this year’s winners and we are already looking forward to our big comeback next year. Go White Hawks!

Andrew and Victor for the win!

John Hensley & Bob Chilson
If you have a story that you would like to share, please fill out the Pride Blog Form! We would love to hear from you!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Pride in being a parent and teacher in the Westonka District

Today's post is from Shirley Hills 4th Grade Teacher Deb Loomis

My introduction to Westonka schools began in the 1998-1999 school year when we moved to Mound and enrolled our children in the Westonka School District. As a stay at home mom, I jumped right in volunteering and joining PTA. It was then that I realized our children were blessed by incredible educators. The high quality of the district and the care our children received was clearly evident.

Next, at the prompting of one of our child’s teachers, I began to substitute teach in this District. I was then exposed to the educators in all four schools. I fell in love with the vision and the commitment to excellence. In 2002, I joined the District as a full time employee and have been here since. I continue to love the push for distinction and educational greatness.

These last six years, I have spent teaching fourth grade at Shirley Hills Primary. Recently personalization has been an improvement implemented to increase student engagement in learning. It has been exciting to see students partner in the ownership of their learning. I have been blessed to be involved in a District that garners great respect. I have been equally blessed to have a job that I truly love!

Math Personalization

If you have a story that you would like to share, please fill out the Pride Blog Form! We would love to hear from you!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Pride in new MWHS learning spaces

Today's post is from 10th grader Grace Elling

As a sophomore at Mound Westonka, I have experienced over two years at the high school. What is different about this year is that I have the opportunity to get out of the closed in classroom and go to a place where I am able to learn in an accommodating space. I have used the Student Commons, the Q Zone, and the C Zone. All of these areas have different aspects that allow me to learn how I want and with other students I feel I work best with.

Being able to use these spaces during Honors Chemistry has given me a better way to communicate with other students and differentiate my learning. We have taken learning style quizzes in classes but never had the availability to learn the way that works best for us until now. I am thankful for these spaces because now I am able to learn the best way that is possible for me. Hopefully more classes partake in this great opportunity for students in the near future!

 Grace and other students working in the new MWHS Student Commons

If you have a story that you would like to share, please fill out the Pride Blog Form! We would love to hear from you!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Mound Talks and Students Own Their Future

Today's post is from 7th grade language arts teacher Julie Thomas

The Mound Talks event will easily be one of the highlights of my career. In order to understand why, let me provide you with some history. Last year, students in my 7th grade class took on the challenge of writing a TED Talk. Students worked vigorously for weeks writing and rehearsing their talk. I was astounded by the end product and was highly impressed with what my students had to share. Students presented on topics ranging from mental illnesses to sports injuries to the impact of music. This assignment brought a heightened awareness of the need to provide students with a platform to share their big ideas.

Eager to make this assignment bigger than just a 7th grade assignment, I began discussing how we could make this a reality with Sue Simonson, Toby Robinson, and Pam Tremblay. Over time, it developed into a pitch to DECA students to use as their project this year. Abby Wharram, Andrew LaFortune, and Katelyn Wagner were gracious enough to take it on. Over the last few months, we experienced some highs and lows with the planning process, but December 4th came in no time!

Mound Talks was the event of the season! The stage was set with twinkling lights. Large, bold letters designed by Andrew and the woodshop classes shined under spotlights. Cupcakes, cookies, and a popcorn bar awaited audience members in The Commons. The eager and brave speakers were Katie Clarke, Noah Brammer, Stephanie Anderson, Josh Seeley, Avery Finck, Grace Hanson, Josh Nkhata, Maya Jable, Zach Riffle, Avery Robbins, Anders Erdahl, Izzy Embery-Braun, and Tiffany Nguyen.

Each speaker delivered a unique and powerful message. Audience members learned about subjects such as financial abstraction, gender inequality, learning from your past, and reasons to be thankful. The speakers, although nervous, exuded confidence and captivated the audience. I am proud of these students for mustering up the courage to present and am in awe of their ability to effectively communicate such big ideas.

It was a true pleasure to participate in the planning of this event. Thank you to the sponsors for their generosity and to Westonka DECA for hosting the event. I look forward to the next Mound Talks event!

DECA team & Mound Talks Presentors

If you have a story that you would like to share, please fill out the Pride Blog Form! We would love to hear from you!

Friday, December 2, 2016

1st Grader's at Hilltop share their pride!!

Today's post is from Melissa Abernathy and Gretchen Campbell's first grade co-taught class

We are first graders in Mrs. Abernethy and Mrs. Campbell’s class at Hilltop Primary School. We are really proud of how...
  • We are making new friends-Will P
  • We are raising our hands to share our ideas- Oliver B
  • We are respectful and listen when others are talking- Ethan A
  • We treat others how we want to be treated-Emma B
  • We are cleaning up what we get out- Addison B
  • We treat our iPads kindly-Aidan H
  • We say thank you when we get something- Ella P.
  • We “be” honest- Lillian O
  • We own our actions- Adam H
  • We are safe in the classroom-Lola P
  • We are kind- Toby S
  • We respect others-Tannor K
  • We are building stamina in daily 5. We read and write the whole time! Brynn H
  • We fill each other’s bucket Vinny S
  • We do our best- Vivianna D
  • We always go down the slide- not up! Brooklyn S
  • We respect others abilities-Julien E
  • We keep our hands and feet to ourselves- Drew J & Charlie S 
  • We follow the rules on the playground- Wengel H
  • We follow directions quickly- AJ R.
  • We be nice to our teachers- Ludo Z
  • We are kind to everyone- Cameron D
  • We use a 2 finger touch at tag- Leif K
  • We play nicely with our friends- Charlie F
  • We raise our goals- Tobin D
  • We move our furniture carefully in the classroom- Jonathan S
  • We do the golden rule- Kenley T
  • We are working hard in math to write equations- Tristan S
  • We work quietly- Ashlynn K
  • We use spaces between our words in our journals-Aspen F
  • We make a picture in our mind when we read- Connor P
  • We find “invisible kids” and invite them to play- Halle W
  • We get started right away- Alyson 
  • We write a lot of sentences in our journals- Wyatt S
  • We draw a math mountain to help us solve our math equations- Tyler D
  • We have fun at Hilltop- Brandon A
  • We use learning plans to create and keep track of our goals- Jacksyn Z
We are so proud of how hard our learners work and how they are kind friends to one another!- Mrs. Abernethy and Mrs. Campbell

Mrs. Abernathy & Mrs. Campbell and their 1st grade students
If you have a story that you would like to share, please fill out the Pride Blog Form! We would love to hear from you!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Theatrical Production Pride

Today's post is from MWHS Assistant Theater Director and math teacher Meagan Lenz

Ever since I began teaching at the high school in the fall of 2008, I have found so many reasons to be proud to be a White Hawk. One of my biggest sources of pride, however, comes from serving as the assistant director for both the fall musical and the spring play for the past fifteen theatrical productions at MWHS. I say this so often, but there really is nothing quite like watching my theatre students grow from young eighth or ninth graders experiencing their first production to confident senior leaders who are exploring their characters like never before, tackling challenge music in the pit orchestra, or navigating the ins and outs of the technical elements of each show. I also feel such an extreme amount of pride in those students who decide to jump outside of their comfort zone and try something new for the first time - even if that means taking on their first role onstage as a senior!

Meagan with Emma & Joey
This year’s fall musical, “The Pirates of Penzance,” was one of the most challenging pieces that we have decided to produce at MWHS! The amount of music the cast and pit orchestra had to learn and perform was tremendous, but every single student rose to the challenge. The result of their dedication and hard work was an extremely polished and impressive production. I am already looking forward to start our work on the spring play!

The Pirates of Penzance Cast and Pit Orchestra

I also wanted to take a moment to again thank the Westonka Community for their dedication to all of our performing artists and athletes as we look forward to opening our new Performing Arts Center and Westonka Activities Center in the fall of 2018. I was so fortunate to serve on the committee of staff, school board and community members that toured facilities around the metro area this summer, and it is so energizing and exciting to know that very soon our students - who deserve only the very best - will soon have the very best! The opportunities the new Performing Arts Center will provide to current and future White Hawks are innumerable, so once again, thank you Westonka!

If you have a story that you would like to share, please fill out the Pride Blog Form! We would love to hear from you!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Building Community and Pride at the Elementary Level

Today's post is from Hilltop Principal Mike Moch

This year both Hilltop and Shirley Hills Primary School have embarked on an awesome adventure to build community and pride among our students using PBIS. PBIS, also know as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, is a framework that helps to build positive character in students. What's super fun is all of the work the staff has done thus far to build a positive culture that focuses on students! Our staff will be part of this training for two years. During the time we will collect data, adjust our thinking, accomplish goals and most importantly focus on ways to make students love school and learning. We have started out strong by establishing expectations, rewarding the great things our students do and working to teach the skills necessary to change behavior.

In January, we will kick off our Mission Possible theme of learning and discovering great behavior for our schools. We can't wait to share more about our progress as the year progresses!

Hilltop Students

If you have a story that you would like to share, please fill out the Pride Blog Form! We would love to hear from you!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Week 8 - Westonka Provides Opportunity for Students to Share Ideas

Today's post is from senior Andrew LaFortune

We are fortunate to have endless opportunities as students in the Westonka District whether it be in academics, sports or activities.  One new opportunity available to students is just around the corner. Have you ever wondered what the student body in the Westonka Public Schools has to say about their future? We generally don’t get a chance to hear from students. This winter, Westonka DECA has taken on the challenge of organizing an event to let students take control and share their ideas about the future. The event, MoundTalks, will feature students in grades 7-12 speaking about a wide variety of topics all linked to the future. On December 4th, from 1 to 4 pm, students, parents, and community members are invited to hear student speakers share their passions about the future. Tickets will be available online through the Westonka Activities Department at a cost of $5 for students and $7 for adults.

One of the featured speakers, Zach Riffle, a junior at MWHS, will be speaking about how he plans to own his future in college. He believes that, “People tend to identify themselves by the two numbers of their ACT score, not the values that they have.” Because of this, his speech will focus more on the unique values that each individual can find in themselves and how college can be a stepping stone into the future rather than a barrier. Other speech topics presented by our very own students include: gender inequality, the differences between an artist and a non-artist, and cyberbullying. Come join us at MoundTalks on December 4th to show your #WestonkaPride as you support the students of our community and hear about what you can do to own your future!

If you have a story that you would like to share, please fill out the Pride Blog Form! We would love to hear from you!