Saturday, March 18, 2017

Pride in our Wrestling Program!

Today's post is from MWHS head wrestling coach Todd Munsterteiger

I’m sitting here today, Friday, March 17, 2017, reflecting on my 21st year as the head wrestling coach at Mound Westonka High School. We had our end of the year banquet on Tuesday, so for all intents and purposes the season is over, although it never completely ends, because I am already planning and looking forward to next year. Although this is a bittersweet time of the year- I miss the intense schedule, action, being in the moment-I also appreciate the time off and enjoy planning our next journey. One thing is crystal clear as I evaluate where we are at: we have a quality program, top to bottom, and this is a direct result of a tremendous amount of work and support from our parents, athletes, coaches, administration, and community. 

The tangible results and numbers are undeniable. We have the best numbers program-wide that we have ever had, we have had a tremendous amount of success at the youth level with severals wrestlers competing well at the national level, and we had five state entrants and a section runner-up team at the varsity level. We have a booster club that raises thousands of dollars through countless hours of volunteer work, that gives our wrestlers more resources and opportunities to improve. We have a core coaching staff that has been together for 17 years and have added quality coaches as of late that have competed at the collegiate level. 

This alone would indicate the qualities of a successful program, but what sets us apart, and is most important to me, is that we are helping to raise quality men. Through the literal blood, sweat and tears that we share with our athletes in the toughest sport in the world, they are learning life lessons on a daily basis. Lessons on the value of hard work, dealing with adversity, and winning and losing with dignity and grace. I am confident that we are successful with our ultimate goal of turning boys into men that will be great sons, husbands, fathers and productive members of society.

So as I end my current reflection on the state of the program, I can rest assured that we are truly great and accomplishing our goals. I have an inner peace knowing we are making this world a better place one wrestler at a time, and has always been the case, I am proud and privileged to be the head wrestling coach at Mound Westonka High School.

2017 MWHS Wrestling Section Team 

2017 Section Place Winners

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Math students taking on a challenge for the love of learning!

Today's post is from AP Calculus teacher Lisa Paul

I am excited to write about Moody's Mega Math Challenge, an event in which five of our seniors took part: Ariel Crawford, Sean Engelhart, Adam Fish, Andrew LaFortune, and Garrett Ryan. But before I get started, let me share a bit of my background.

I am a blessed individual. I get to spend 48 minutes every single day working with talented, motivated and enthusiastic students in the math classroom, much like any math teacher in any district. But in our small and tight-knit community, I often get to observe the development of these mathematicians over the course of consecutive years. It gives me the chance to surely know my students. And yet, do I really?

Attending any extracurricular event in our district is a thrill. Knowing virtually everyone out on the field or in the game brings a huge level of excitement to every contest I see and an even bigger sense of pride in the students I teach. Observing them in an environment different from the classroom is eye-opening. The unique interests and aptitudes of our student body never ceases to amaze me.

Moody's Mega Math Challenge was no different. The five seniors mentioned above clocked into school at 7am on a Sunday. They had 14 hours from clock-in time to solve a problem. Now, being the expert problem solvers that these AP Calculus BC students are, one might think that 14 hours was a generous amount of time. Afterall, they've been successfully solving for x for many years:) However, the problem they were tasked with has no unique answer. It was complicated. It was messy. It was real. It was unlike anything they've ever faced. And these brilliant minds annihilated the challenge in a time of 13 hours and 24 minutes. In a nutshell, they created mathematical models to assess how vulnerable 5 national parks in the US are to sea level changes, hurricanes, and fires and to predict how these types of catastrophic events would affect the attendance and financial status of the parks. Those interested can find the exact question along with all of the details of the challenge here : https://m3challenge.siam.org/

I am incredibly proud of these five students. They set their minds to work until they solved the problem, even if it took almost 14 hours on a Sunday. Their collaborative efforts were a sight to behold. They each took part in the rigors of the problem and each took part in the technical writing of their detailed solution. Their solution paper was an exquisite, 16 page document, which included graphs, tables, equations, and expert analysis. Near the end of their exhausting 14 hours together, I walked into a room full of professionals. It looked like they had been through this punishing process many times over. They were typing furiously, proofreading each other's work, retesting their projections and recapping their conclusions. And they were doing it all respectfully with smiles on their faces. They were enjoying the moment and felt the well deserved pride I share with them in their accomplishments of the day.

These MWHS scholars took on this challenge for the love of learning and for the experience. They were one of 1406 teams in the country competing for one of 6 prizes. Though I am hopeful that their outstanding work will be recognized, the richness of the day is a prize in and of itself and the students know this. In this district, I am proud to say that our students find joy and take pride in so much more than just their classroom achievements. They have much to offer and many layers to get to know. I am fortunate to have seen a glimpse of another one of those layers in these five.

Sean, Andrew, Garrett, Adam and Ariel
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Friday, March 3, 2017

MWHS students write about Being Present!

Today's post is from 9th grader Robby Brustad and 8th graders Carson Meritt & Michael Kurtz

My team and I have had the privilege of working with the student body of MWHS from the beginning of this school year on a Community Problem Solving project called B-Present. Community Problem Solving is a component of the Future Problem Solving Program International. We compete at State Competition on March 25th.

B-Present is a project about cell phone addiction. 80% of teens said they check their phone hourly. This means at our high school that almost 800 kids are checking hourly. 720 kids feel the need to check their phone right away, due to the fact that 72% of kids say they feel the need to immediately respond to texts and social networking messages. This is called FOMO - Fear of Missing Out.

We have had many actions to minimize this addiction at our school. B-Present Week is our biggest initiative. B-Present Week went into action during the week of February, 27th- March, 3rd. This week we focused on educating our student body on cell phone addiction. Michael Kurtz went onto WakeUp Westonka (announcements) and told everyone about this week through an interview with Joey Colianni. Prior to that week we put a video of Michael where he talked about what this project is. This week we were at lunch and had a present that had “B-Present” on it and students would sign their names saying they are going to "be present" in their relationships and mindful and aware of their technology use. The week before the team went to Grandview Middle School during first hour and gave a presentation about phone addiction and what the effects of it are and how to B-Present. Over the next couple weeks there will be a few more videos on WakeUp Westonka. Thank you for participating in B-Present Week.

Robby, Carson & Michael
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Saturday, February 25, 2017

White Hawk Girl Hockey Pride

Today's post is from MWHS girls senior hockey captain Liz Schepers

I don’t exactly know where to begin when trying to explain what this team, this game, this community means to me, but here we go. The game I’m referring to is, of course, hockey. It seems that if there is one thing anyone knows about me it’s that I am a hockey player. I don’t mind, though, there is no better group I would want to be associated with.

They always say how fast your senior year goes by, but you never really know until you’re at the end of the road. Through my five seasons of varsity hockey there was never a time I was not proud to wear the White Hawks sweater. Even as a senior, I got goosebumps before every game, and celebrated each win as though I might never get that feeling again. The joy this team brought to the rink was infectious, and it was an honor to be their leader. It is difficult to put into words the pride I felt wearing the “C” on my chest for two seasons. It was so easy to lead a group of such driven, dedicated, and fun individuals. My teammates helped build me into the leader, person, and player I am today, and I owe them everything. They have a piece of any and every individual recognition I receive, and even though our season didn’t end the way we wanted, I hope they know how proud I am to call them my family and best friends.

Our success did not come easy, but the adversity we faced at the beginning of the season made our conference and section championships so much sweeter and brought our team closer together. People doubted us from the beginning, but we knew in in the locker room that this was the team we wanted to go to battle with. Our success also did not come without the incredible support of our families, and community members. I have never seen Thaler Arena as full as it was the night of our section semifinal win against Orono. As seniors, we cannot thank everyone enough for making our final home game better than any of us could have ever hoped for. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, our crowd at the section final game blew us away. Again, we are so grateful for your unwavering support, and I hope we made you proud. Even though come next year I will trade my red and black for scarlet and grey, I will always be proud to be a White Hawk! 

2017 MWHS Girls Hockey Conference Champs

Student Fan Section!

Captains Emma, Abbie, Liz and Ellie raising the Section Champs trophy!

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Community Pride

Today's post is from WeCAN Executive Director Christie Larson

WeCAN is proud to partner with the Westonka Schools in many ways. We are thankful each year for the hundreds of personal care items, toys and other items cheerfully and generously donated by the district’s staff members and families.

We are proud to share our space with the district’s GED and ELL classes each week. The students in those classes are thankful for the opportunity to learn and have inspiring messages to share with each of us.

We were proud to accept hand-tied blankets from students in the Student Senate and DECA’s “Because I said I would” project a few weeks ago. Even though the students planned another service project for Martin Luther King Day, they gathered to make the blankets on the weekend, “because they said they would.”

We appreciate the students’ pride in their community and their commitment to making their community a better place to live, a sentiment that echoes our own.

Thank you, Westonka students and staff, for everything you do for our community. You make us proud!
Hand-tied Blankets
Grandview and Hilltop Food Drives
MWHS Senate Drive
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Friday, February 10, 2017

Hawkette Dance Team Pride

Today's post is from senior Kali Anderson

As a 5th year member and a captain of the the Hawkettes Dance Team, I have never been apart of such a hardworking team. Our season started out a bit shaky. We had strong dances, but something just wasn't connecting with the judges. So our team did something that we have never done before. Over winter break, we changed over 75% of our kick dance including the song. Our team worked so hard over the break and even after. If you have never talked to a dancer, you would never know how hard it is to learn basically a brand new dance in 2 weeks, and then compete that dance a week later. Our team pushed themselves to a new level in order to increase our scores and improve as a team. Not only did we change most of our kick dance, we made huge improvements to our jazz dance. With these changes we were able to become the Wright County Conference jazz champions. Even though we were not overall conference champions like we have been the past 4 years, we kept our heads high and pushed ourselves harder for sections.

Our team's drive after conference, is why I am so proud to be apart of such a great team. We did not look at our 2nd place conference finish as a failure. We saw this as motivation to become better. We wanted to become better, not only as a team, but as individuals. In order to become better, we need to come together as a team more than we ever have before. Teamwork is what sets our team apart from other sports. We all have to be able to execute each move in the exact same way as one another. This is why dance team is so unique because we all have be at the same level as one another. Also, in dance, you only get one chance to show the judges and everyone what you got. We do not have multiple tries to impress the judges. We are looking forward to see how we place at state this year. State is held at the Target Center. Jazz is on February 17th at 3 pm and kick is on February 18th at 2 pm. Come show your support for the Hawkettes Dance Team!

2016-17 Hawkette Dance Team
Hawkette Captains -- Kali, Ariel, & Lauren
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Friday, February 3, 2017

MWHS Senior Mural Pride

Today's post is from seniors Ava Wagner and Quinn Tice

The 2017 senior mural is finally complete!

This piece focuses on the growth that each student undergoes in high school. We decided to show the transformation that takes place in these formative years. A unifying factor in all of our lives is Lake Minnetonka. 

We placed a map of it in the background as it has been a part of so many memories with our classmates. The physical progression that a high school student encounters is demonstrated in the figures in the foreground as they are growing up. 

From left to right, the figures go from eighth to twelfth grade. For the eighth grader, we put an extremely heavy backpack on them to show the stress and shock of high school that we remember experiencing. In remembrance of our classmate Joe Goldenstein who passed away in our freshman year, we painted a blue shirt on the figure, as it was his favorite color. 

Additionally, we added his football number to the backpack. Sophomore year we added car keys to symbolize the newfound freedoms that come with having a driver's license. Come junior year, the backpack came off and a chromebook was added to illustrate how digital all of our course work has become. For senior year we chose the most iconic moment in high school that we all look forward to, graduation day.

Be sure to check out the mural in the senior hallway, outside of the media center.

The Mural Team:  Quinn, Ava, Evan, Mrs. Hensley, Tiffany, Emma & Brianna 

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Thriving in Westonka!

Today's post is from parent and Secondary Technology Integrationist Kristin Wallace

I began my career in Westonka over 20 years ago as a member of the MWHS English Department. During the past two decades, the school has been my second home and both of us have experienced tremendous change and growth since the late 90s. So if you had asked me last year if there was anything I didn’t know about the school or the staff, I would have confidently chuckled feeling I have done and seen it all. Until this fall happened!

In September, I entered into a new and unfamiliar role at MWHS, one of parent to an incoming 8th grader. This past semester, I gained new insight and appreciation for the students and the staff at the high school. And I noticed one theme has woven through this experience. Mound Westonka doesn’t just want its 8th graders to survive the transition to the high school; it wants them to thrive.

This commitment to student success was evident in August when my baby and 200 other new students were welcomed to the high school by their Link Crew leaders. These students compassion, enthusiasm and school pride were contagious and set the stage for our year. In September, I attended Curriculum Night and beamed with pride as I watched the passion ooze from the faculty while they discussed both their content and their approach to students and learning. I walked away with tips and ideas about how to help my own student blossom.

In October, I watched my daughter continue to grow through strategic mentorship as a member of the pep band and the Swim Team. Both programs strategically positioning older students as mentors to help incoming students feel welcomed and be successful. I also watched my daughter have the opportunity to develop independence as a learner using the flexible learning spaces in Global Studies, Advisory and English.

November meant conference time and my turn to be on the other side of the table. There were no academic surprises at conferences since teacher use technology to post grades and course materials, but again I was impressed at how each seemed to have some insight into my student, her strengths and her areas for improvements.

In December, I helped plan the student celebration assembly which focused on the heroes among us at MWHS. This was the first time 8th graders were recognized for their academic improvement and success. I was struck by the young students beaming with pride when recognized for their perfect attendance, honor roll and contributions to the heartbeat of the classroom. I am confident this is laying the groundwork for future success.

In it is now the end of January and my 8th grader is confidently diving into semester two bolstered by the support of her teachers, the staff at MWHS and a bevy of student mentors. Over lunch last weekend, she discussed with anticipation the classes she wants to take next year and the activities she may want to try as a Freshman.

Being able to experience MWHS through the eyes of a parent and through my own daughter’s experiences has given me a new appreciation and pride for the students, staff and programs at MWHS. I cannot wait to see what discoveries I have yet to make about MWHS over the next four years and to watch the ways it continues to help my child thrive rather than just survive.

New 8th grader!

The Wallace Family
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