Friday, October 14, 2016

Week 5 -- LINKing Students and Staff

Today's post is from senior Noah Brammer

When I was in 7th grade my parents sat me down in our kitchen. At first I was afraid that I was in trouble because neither of my siblings were with me. But then my mother spoke up and said, “Noah, we're moving to Minnesota.” With those five words my life that I knew so well had crumbled into pieces. I would be losing all my friends and the connections that I had fostered over the course of 12 years. Six weeks later, we moved to Mound, Minnesota. Since I knew no one prior to my move, I had a quiet summer with limited friends. School rolled around and I was the most nervous I’ve ever been. I remember thinking... “8th graders in the high school...Who does that!?” But it turned out much better than I expected. My junior Link leaders were incredibly outgoing, and I instantly had friends The process was so much easier than I thought, and I felt included from the start of 8th grade orientation. 

Noah in 8th grade - back center 
As I matured and joined Link Crew in my senior year, I realized that it wasn’t just the outgoing kids or the link crew leaders that made me feel so welcomed back in 8th grade, but the staff that organized Link Crew and other activities. Looking back on my high school experience I didn’t realize how hard the staff work for the students. That's where my pride comes from -- through the unsung work and work ethic of Westonka teachers throughout the district.

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!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Week 4 -- White Hawks Football - Playing with PRIDE, Playing for Each Other

Today's post is from Grandview Dean of Students and MWHS Head Football Coach Nick David

As cliché as it sounds, I consider myself one of the luckiest football coaches in the world because I get the opportunity to work with outstanding young men on a daily basis as the Head Football Coach at Mound Westonka High School. As a former high school and college football player, my passion for the game of football and what it teaches players is insurmountable. It is no secret that the White Hawks varsity football team, like last season, is once again off to a great start. We are currently 5-0, ranked fifth in Class AAAA, and are getting better as a team with each and every practice and opportunity that we get. Every day MW football players walk the hallways at Mound Westonka High School full of PRIDE as they have made the decision to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

Though winning is ultimately the goal we have each Friday night when we take the field under the lights, playing with PRIDE and playing for each other is much more important. To me, football is the ultimate team sport because it requires such a unique brand of teamwork. When you’re a part of a football team understanding your role and that of your teammates is critical in order to be successful. Trusting teammates to do their job is also of utmost importance. On a daily basis we talk a lot about being a “F.A.M.I.L.Y.” and how if we are going to be successful then we have to be completely selfless and sell out for each other. This selfless attitude that my players embody is very apparent throughout the high school, football fields, and community on a daily basis.

It has been very rewarding over the course of my four years here at MW to see this team grow into what and who they are today. Not only have they gotten bigger, faster, and stronger, and as a result became better football players, but they have grown into upstanding young men and role models for other students and future White Hawks football players. As I continue to tell my players, football does not build character, it reveals character and I would argue that no other football team exemplifies more character than the White Hawks Football Team.

2016 Mound Westonka High School Football Team 
Practice Like A Champion. Play Like A Champion. Live Like A Champion.

-Coach David

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!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Week 3 -- Proud Westonka Spirit

Today's post is from community member and parent Anne LaTour

We've got Spirit, Yes we do! We've got Spirit - how 'bout you?!

With the start of the school year brings the start of school sports and activities. Time to pull out my red pom-poms, wear my Spirit Wear and cheer on our teams! My favorite Westonka Pride event is the Westonka Homecoming tailgating we do near the Education building. Tents, tables, grills and balloons fill the area as we listen to the Marching Band play their way towards the field! Families are all wearing their Westonka gear, rush in to Haddorff Field to claim their seats...waiting to stand and yell, "that's another White Hawk FIRST DOWN!" With my endless supply of Spirit Wear, I'm ready for the next event - Go WHITE HAWKS!

Jack, Anne, Bill and Samantha

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, September 23, 2016

Week 2 -- Pride from a student leader

Today's post is from senior MWHS Student Senate President Ryann Beyer

Starting my senior year I am filled with excitement and pride to be the MWHS Student Senate President. My years as a Westonka White Hawk have been nothing short of phenomenal. From our fine arts to our athletics our pride shines strongly with every activity we have. For me, Mound Westonka pride is more than just school involvement, it’s an emotion that I am filled with and carry with me every day.

Our outstanding staff is one reason Mound Westonka pride carries on. Without them, Westonka would not have such a strong impact on students lives. The teachers take it a step further and go above and beyond to have a connection with each student. For me, the teachers have truly changed my high school experience and they have taught me so much in and out of the classroom. The staff is welcoming and they unify the school. Besides being my teachers and mentors, they are role models in my life that I can look up to.

In the halls, there is an unspoken language that is passed on between the students. We all understand the importance of what it means to be a Westonka White Hawk. Academics sit high on our priority list and we challenge ourselves each and every day. Students choose to stay involved and work hard to thrive in everything they do. Being apart of swimming, basketball, golf, student senate, band, NHS, DECA, Link Crew and other activities in this school, I certainly see it as a privilege and an opportunity that is unique. We truly are a small school with big opportunities.

Looking back on the years and the memories I have made at Mound Westonka, I realize that these four years have been some of the best. Not only is it the environment I am in, but it’s the people. I will cherish the friendships that I have made and will always carry the White Hawk pride with me!

Student Senate Officers: Megan, Reed, Ryann and Lila

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, September 16, 2016

Week 1 -- Welcome Back Students

Mound Westonka DECA is starting a chapter project titled Because I Said I Would which asks people to commit to making and keeping promises.  One of the DECA advisors is promising to revive the #MWHSPride blog and have a member of the Westonka community contribute to the blog every Friday.

Today's post is a welcome back to students from Westonka Superintendent, Kevin Borg

Welcome back! We have launched into another exciting year in Westonka Schools. I hope you all had a relaxing, rejuvenating and fun summer and are ready to hit the ground running this fall.

During our time apart, a lot of work has been done to ensure that this school year is even better than the last. I want to highlight a few of these efforts for you:

You are top in state, again. We accomplished a lot together during the 2015-2016 school year. Overall, Westonka was ranked #1 in the state in reading and #4 in the state in math on the 2016 MCAs. Our schools were recognized as top academic performers at the state and national levels, and our students and staff earned numerous individual and team accolades. But we know that we can continue to improve.

Hard hats required. In August, we broke ground on a new early learning center at Hilltop Primary School that will house our 4-year-old preschool program. Being on the school campus will be a great benefit to some of our youngest learners, and the new facility will give our expanding program room to grow. This was accomplished without a tax increase to the community. 

Designing our future. We also spent time these past months researching and touring athletics and performing arts facilities around the state to help us design two new facilities at Mound Westonka High School. Thanks to the generous support of the Westonka community last May, we will start construction on a community athletics and recreation center and a 600-seat performing arts center this spring.

Improved areas to learn and play. Already this fall, you may be enjoying new flexible learning spaces that were put in place over the summer. These inviting spaces are great places to collaborate and connect with your peers. You will also have noticed changes to MWHS Field 2, which (when completed) will provide a Haddorff Field-quality playing experience for our student-athletes.

You’re connected. Your teachers have continued to find ways to personalize learning for each student. Every Westonka student in grades K-12 now has a mobile device, allowing for greater personalization and differentiation in our classrooms. We will continue our personalized learning approach this year, which focuses on offering greater student choice and customized learning paths.

We are improving. Westonka continually looks for ways to innovate and embed 21st century skills to better prepare students for college and careers. New for this year is a high school STEAM class (science, technology, engineering, art and math) that will allow students to learn physics and art in new and engaging ways. We will also continue to offer opportunities to take classes in our expanding high school engineering program and to participate in STEM classes in all grades at the elementary and middle school levels.

There’s a lot of great work going on, and I can’t wait to see everything that we can accomplish together this year. Thank you for giving me so many reasons to have Westonka Pride!

If you have a story that you would like to share, please email for more information! We would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Day 170 - Thanks for the PRIDE!

Today's post is from MWHSPride Blog Creators Alex Riffle and Courtney Simonson

It's so crazy to think that we started this project just last fall, and now, we are graduated from high school and day 170 of 170 Days of MWHSPride has come. The #MWHSPride Campaign has been one of the absolute best experiences throughout our high school careers. We seized an opportunity to change the culture of our school. What made it even sweeter was presenting this campaign at the DECA International Career Development Conference in Atlanta Georgia. Not only did we walk away with a 4th place international victory, but also the fulfillment of making a positive difference in our community. Whether it was celebrating the successes of our sports and clubs, to unifying our community in the tragic death of one our students, Mound Westonka has come together even beyond the perimeters of social media.

This project wouldn't have been possible without the participation of the school and the community. In the beginning, we knew it would be a challenge to find 170 people to write for the blog, but surprisingly there were so many people willing to write about their pride in MWHS, which made our jobs a little easier. We hope that next year someone will take over the twitter account and continue the blog. Also, we hope to see the pride and unity increase even more from last year and see the campaign grow even larger.

Thank you Mound Westonka for our unforgettable senior year and thank you to the entire community for showing your #MWHSPride in every way possible! As we said in our DECA presentation, social media has the capacity to create emotion and we are overwhelmed that this campaign has brought an incredible amount of emotion to so many different members of our community. From feelings of victory, to tears brought on by a blog post, all of you have filled us with a sense of pride in the Mound Westonka community.

A simple thank you will never be enough for the unbelievable amount of support that we received.

Thank you for embracing our campaign!
Thank you to all who have followed the blog!
Thank you to all who have followed our Twitter!
Thank you to all who have tweeted with the hashtag!
Most importantly, thank you for believing in us and supporting this campaign from Day 1 to today -- Day 170!

You all have truly made EVERY DAY a great day to be a White Hawk! #MWHSPride

Minnesota DECA 1st place - Public Relations Category

International Finalists - Public Relations Category - 4th Place

Courtney & Alex

Friday, June 6, 2014

Day 169 - The Evolution of the #MWHSPride Project

Today's post is from parent, teacher and DECA Advisor Sue Simonson

Marty Fischer and I had been talking about trying to start a Twitter pride hashtag for about six months. The concept was similar to something we saw during a visit to a school in Chicago. It was only after Courtney’s senior year started off with a couple hiccups in August, that I invited Alex and Courtney to Scotty B’s for breakfast to pitch them an idea for their senior DECA project. I had only a few sentences out before the light bulbs went on and they both ran with my small idea. They had achieved success in DECA in their sophomore and junior years and were searching for an idea to knock out of the park. I never dreamed that they would take the project to the lengths that they eventually did.

Their first meeting was a few days later with all three DECA advisors and Marty Fischer. The girls wanted to pitch the idea and have a brainstorming session. They had the insight to know that if done well -- this was going to be bigger than a DECA project. Their plan was to generate positive pride in their school. The idea was to use social media as a way to promote positivity -- rather than what many students use it for -- putting people down. The girls tweeted a couple times from the newly created @MHWSPride Twitter account and within one day, a student no one would have ever thought would use the hashtag - did so. They knew it was going to work! Students slowly started to use the new hashtag so that now it is common to see at least one tweet everyday that contains the #MWHSPride hashtag.

Alex and Courtney approached their English teacher, Mr. Bulman, about writing the first blog entry: he enthusiastically agreed, and the “170 Days of MWHSPride Blog” was born. Putting their DECA marketing background to work, they started to promote it to everyone they could think of. Recognizing that most parents aren’t on Twitter, the girls quickly realized that they were missing their secondary target market and created a Facebook page for MWHS parents to see the daily blog. Mr. Fischer helped by emailing all MWHS parents about the blog. He also reached out to MWHS graduate Rachel Slavik and the project was featured on the WCCO News in October! Page views increased by 1000 after that news program aired. The project started out slowly, but after Homecoming week, the news stories, and the introduction of the #MWHSPride t-shirt, we started to see that the project was gathering momentum.

Keeping the daily blog entries flowing was by far the hardest part of the project. Courtney, Alex and I brainstormed ideas for “themed” blog weeks. We had many people that helped us along the way, either with their ideas or just by asking others to write for the blog. I can remember saying to myself at Day 70, “how in the world will we get another 100 people to write?” Whenever the chips were down, the blogging gods came through and we never missed a school day without a blog entry. Just because it was hard work, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worth it. The blog provided an intimate look into our school and our community through personal stories. I found myself driven to tears on many occasions with either laughter or heartfelt pride in the stories.

The statistics on the blog and the project are staggering. Last week the blog reached 30,000 page views. It has been seen in almost 40 countries and all but one continent. The Twitter account has almost 500 followers. The Facebook account has 330 followers -- with most posts being read by more than 500 people EVERY day.

Out of this pride campaign came a very competitive DECA project in the category of Public Relations Campaign. As mentioned earlier the reach and exposure of the campaign was local, metro (WCCO and Minnetonka Magazine), state (MN School Board Association Conference) and even global (blog). In DECA we tend to see the same kinds of projects year after year in certain categories and neither Steph Lolich nor I had ever seen anything remotely similar in the Public Relations competition. Having already been to the International DECA competition in their sophomore and junior years, Courtney and Alex knew that this project had great potential. In their junior year, they advanced to the finals (which means they placed top-20 in the nation). This year they wanted to make it to the podium (top 3), but came in 4th place. While upsetting at the time, they can now agree that they won so much more! They changed the culture in their school. They made it cool to use social media to promote positive happenings. They promoted school and community pride in all sports, activities and happenings at MWHS. As their DECA advisor, teacher, mom, and friend, I could not be more proud of these two young ladies; they’ve left behind a legacy that will live on at MWHS long after they’re gone!

#WestonkaPride #DECAPride #MomPride #MWHSPride

Alex Riffle & Courtney Simonson

Courtney, Sue & Alex

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Day 168 - Pride abounds on the MWHS Trap Team!

Today's post is from MWHS Trap Team Head Coach Jeff Hanratty

This spring marked our second season as an official sport at MWHS! We have had approximately 30 students come out for trap in each of the past two seasons, and it’s a resounding success!

Some background -– trap is a shooting game where you attempt to hit a 4” clay target hurled at high speed through the sky with a shotgun shell containing about 450 little pellets at a distance of 25-30 yards. Shooters attempt this 25 times from 5 different shooting stations per round. Sounds easy right? It is not, however, some of our MWHS students have gotten pretty good at it! In fact, we had almost one-half of our team average over 19 out of 25 – placing them at the varsity level according to the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League. Our best shooter this Spring was 8th grader John Koch averaging 22.70 and finishing #63 out of 6100 students (185 teams) in the entire state! Also, the White Hawks finished second in our conference! That is an awesome accomplishment and a source of #MWHSPride.

We are really excited how our community has embraced the sport. In current times, the words “school” and “guns” doesn’t go over very well with some people. However, the sport has had zero incidents since its inception and the students have shown the utmost respect for the rules. Trap is the fastest growing sport in the state, in fact, Governor Dayton is kicking off the State Championship event this weekend in Alexandria, MN. MWHS will be sending a team up there to shoot on Saturday. Winning teams from that event will earn the right to compete in the Minnesota State High School League tournament on June 14. Minnesota is the only state in the country where the high school league has recognized trap as a varsity sport and awards a state champion.

Thanks for supporting our team. I am amazed at the number of people who have stopped me to ask about the team. Many voice regret that they (or their kids) didn’t have the chance to participate in trap when they were in high school! We have room on the team so please consider giving it a try! We especially would like to see more girls get involved. We shoot at the Minnetonka Sportsmen’s Club which is west of Mound. I am proud to be associated with such a supportive community where all kids have a “shot” at doing something big!
2014 MWHS Trap Team

If you have a story that you would like to share, please email for more information! We would love to hear from you!