Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 164 - Westonka Summer Institute Pride

Today's post is from junior Mitch Wanous

Ni Hao! Women qu zhongguo! (Hello! We are going to China!)

#MWHSPride is going to China! The Westonka Summer Institute trip this year is to China. A group of 12 students (including myself) and 2 teachers are leaving for China June 1st, for 10 days. We couldn’t be more excited to immerse ourselves in the diverse culture, look at the differences from the US to China in everyday life, and try some new -and very interesting- foods!

Before we even left we started our adventure. We read sections of the book China Road -A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power by Rob Gifford. Gifford traveled to China and got the Chinese citizens view on their quickly changing culture. We each had a chance to share our thoughts on the sections we read and it gave an introduction to the Chinese culture we will be experiencing first hand. We also had the opportunity to watch various Harvard Lecture videos about various topics from business to school. We shared the presentations with the class and got an idea of what to look for as we look at the differences from the US to China.

Our journey will take us through 3 cities in China. First Beijing, where we will get to see the Great Wall. Next we travel to Xi’an where we will go to the site of the Terracotta Warriors. Finally, our trip comes to an end in Shanghai, arguably the most modern and americanized city in China. Along the way we will have multiple chances to stop and explore the chinese markets, hoping to find cheap sunglasses to give as souvenirs to our friends.

For me the food is the most nerveracking part about traveling to China. I don’t think my midwestern stomach will know what to with scorpion. Regardless, I know we are all anxious to board the plane for the 13 hour ride and start one of the greatest and most memorable adventures of our lives! 

Please follow our journey as we blog and post pictures everyday on:

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 163 of the blog - Pride in MWHS Fine Arts

Today's post is from senior fine arts student Shelby Stahl

When I look back on my experience at MWHS, I think about two programs that shaped me: Choir and Theatre. Two Mondays ago was our last choir concert of the year, and my last choir concert ever. I am not going to deny it, I shed a tear because I will truly miss choir. As President of Concert Choir, it was bittersweet for me to look at the faces of my fellow choir members. Some of these people I have been singing with since sixth grade, along with having Mrs. Larson as my choir director since sixth grade. I am so proud of this choir and all we have accomplished together. I love the happiness choir brings to me every day. I think it is special because there are no other classes in the school that you can have the same teacher, the same goal (to make music), and most of the same people in your class year after year. This choir family has grown over many years and it is so rewarding for us all to develop together and to support each other every step of the way.

The other program that I hold dear to my heart is the Theatre Department at MWHS. I am so lucky because many people in choir with me, I also get to consider as a part of my theatre family. It’s so heartwarming how we all like to be involved together, it’s what makes us as close as we are. This year we had an exceptional year doing the play The Odd Couple and the musical Copacabana. For Copacabana, we were involved in the Spotlight Program through Hennepin Theatre Trust. It is a program where judges are sent out to watch our show then give us feedback and ratings. This year we were honored with an Outstanding Overall Performance by the Cast of Copacabana. This gives us the opportunity to do a medley from our show at the Spotlight Showcase at the Orpheum Theatre on June 8th. 

I am beyond excited for this showcase because it’s like we get to do an encore of our show and it’s wonderful to all come together again and end the year like we started: working on songs and choreography we all love. In addition to this honor, we received an Honorable Mention for Overall Production and an Honorable Mention for Pit Orchestra. This is in addition to individual awards that were received such as an Outstanding Performance in a Lead Role by Abe Thaler, an Outstanding Performance Award in a Supporting Role by Shelby Stahl, along with Honorable Mention Performance awards for Nate Barnes, Shelby Smith, Haley Jordahl, and Zach Hoh. These individuals all have the opportunity to do medley performances with individuals from around the state at the showcase. I am so proud of the theatre department, not only for the awards, but the bond we create and the fun we share by putting on a production we all love.

Concert Choir

Back Row: Shelby, Kenzie, Liz, Mrs. Larson, Elijah & Matthew
Front Row: Rachel, Elle & Tom

Cast of Copacabana

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day 162 - Parent's Pride in MWHS's Drive to Excel & Explore

Today's post is from parent and community member Greg Riffle

Our daughter, Alexandra Riffle, proudly graduated from MWHS this past Sunday, and we wanted to take a little moment of your time to reflect on her journey to the graduation stage, and what that has meant to us as the parents of a MWHS student.

When we first moved to Mound from Savage, MN, in 2002, Alex was entering the 1st grade at Hilltop Elementary. She was required to do some academic testing prior to her entrance, and it was discovered that she was below grade level in reading and comprehension. After tutoring and after school study sessions, she quickly caught up to her grade.

Then again, somewhere around the 3rd to 4th grade, Alex encountered further difficulty in reading and comprehension, as well as some struggles with math. Again, tutoring and after school study sessions were offered via Hilltop, and again Alex quickly caught up.

All throughout middle school at Grandview, Alex did very well in all of her classes, and especially took advantage of the wonderful art classes, in which she earned multiple State Fair blue ribbons.

Perhaps some of you already know of Alex at MWHS, through her participation in Student Senate and DECA. My point in describing her journey in limited detail is to show that there were multitudes of helping hands along the path of her journey.

Although Alex supplied her share of determination and perseverance, her accomplishments would not have been possible without the exceptional support and guidance offered by her teachers and counselors over the course of her career in District 277. This is a great source of pride for both me and my wife.

In watching the graduation ceremony, I was struck by the number of outstanding achievements, both athletic and scholastic, of the graduating seniors. I was also impressed that all-state honors in choir, art and DECA are celebrated at the same level as all-state honors in football and wrestling. It is this culture of achievement, of the testing and reaching of the outer limits of a student’s skills, encouraged and supported by the entire staff, which continues to give us great pride in this school district.

We are certain that Alex will look back fondly on her school experience, with many wonderful memories of the time spent with her friends, both student and staff. But, the one item which will never be forgotten, which was instilled in her during her journey to graduation, is the drive to explore and excel, promoted and supported by the entire school staff, which will benefit her immensely in her continuing education and in her adult life after school. For this, as parents, we will be forever grateful, and it will be an enduring source of MWHS pride to us for years yet to come.

Tracy, Zach, Alex and Greg Riffle

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Day 161 - Proud MWHS Assistant Principal

Today's post is from Assistant Principal Marty Fischer

I had the opportunity to attend my 20th Graduation Ceremony this past Sunday. It was great, as always! As I was listening to great speeches, incredible music, and countless accomplishments, I was reminded the commencement is just the beginning. In fact, the word “commence” means to begin. Kind of odd as you sit at a ceremony recognizing the end of an extensive period of time of hard work and dedication.

But every end is a beginning. What makes me so proud to be the Assistant Principal at MWHS is the number of people in this school and community who understand that. We don’t have the “Let’s get through it” attitude that can permeate communities. We have the “Let’s do this and make it better than the last time” attitude.

I am proud to have worked with our 2014 Graduates for the past five years. Many are nervous for the next step, but they are going to face it and know that what they have learned will go with them. They will not forget their roots while still embracing the future. This is a new beginning for them.

I am proud to work with faculty and staff who don’t look at tenure as an end. Rather, they embrace the chance to continue their hard work and dedication to the students of MWHS for many years to come. When they begin each new class, each new semester, and each new school year, they do it with passion, differentiated instruction, and revamped curriculum. All this is done knowing that new relationships will be formed as we get them ready for their next step. The whole process of preparing them for the future forces us to have less and less control and more and more of letting them go. Just like parenting—we slowly let them go, but we make sure the tool box is full!

I am proud to work with students who, as they leave my office after making a poor decision, realize that those situations are over when they leave. They may have some amends to make and some consequences to take care of, but they know that they have been heard and that their passion is appreciated. Now they have a chance to go out there and make a different choice the next time, never reducing the amount of passion they bring to any new situation.

I am proud to work with parents and community members who don’t see their children graduating as an end to their involvement. Many grab onto this opportunity as a chance to remain involved in many different capacities, from volunteering, serving on committees, running for School Board, and donating their financial resources to advance the many efforts that are well underway. Continual improvement demands new beginnings.

Being a White Hawk is something that gives me a lot of pride. I GET TO work with the most amazing people in the state—people that are always looking for ways to begin new things while learning from the past. It truly is a great time to be a White Hawk!

Mr. Fischer taking pictures with several 2014 grads

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