Classroom Theory Translated into Real World Application

Learning moved beyond the classroom walls for these high school technical education students, who toured local manufacturing plants to see theory put into practical application.


On October 3, local high school students enrolled in Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes participated in a field trip involving tours of several manufacturing facilities around the F-M area. This opportunity was made possible by the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, with additional sponsorship from Minn-Dak Manufacturers Association and Dakota MEP. More than 160 students from Fargo, West Fargo, and Moorhead schools participated through the Cass County CTE Center.






Students visited different local manufacturing facilities and observed first-hand the manufacturing career opportunities available to them after they graduate high school. Tour stops included: John Deere Electronic Solutions, Aggregate Industries, Prinsco Inc., and Fargo Jet Center & Weather Modification Inc., with a lunch at M|State. The local companies demonstrated how a manufacturing facility operates, career paths that are available, and how to prepare now for a career in manufacturing.

The tour day allowed the students to go beyond classroom study to see manufacturing theories, principles, and practices in action, in “real life” settings. The ability to experience and learn about the job possibilities in manufacturing and being able to talk to the employers to learn what they desire in an employee also shined a positive light for the students on potential careers in the manufacturing field.

 (All images courtesy Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation)

Punkin Chunkin’ Gets The OK for Physics Class

Smashing pumpkins this time of year is usually an act of vandalism. Not so for these Davies High School science students!


More than 90 students at Davies High School got a green light to smash pumpkins as part of their Physics class assignment on October 13. Students in Shawn Carney’s Physics and Advanced Physics science classes designed and built pumpkin launchers out of wood and other materials for their lesson on projectile motion. The students tested their hand-crafted machines with a soccer ball, and then launched 8-10 pound pumpkins. They measured distances and calculated launch times to determine velocity and projection angles. Check out these videos of a slingshot, a sandbag-weighted trebuchet, and the trebuchet pictured below right in action.









Bragging rights for best launcher went to TWO separate Advanced Physics student groups, who designed a slingshot and a trebuchet. Congratulations to Alex Durow, Michael Schmidt, Chandler Gerhold, Matt Walters, and Trevor Jacklitch (from Period 1) and to Anna Danielson, Mariah Thoemke, Evan Blanchard, Noah Morken, and Brett Butler (Period 5). Each machine successfully “chunked their punkin” 26 meters (85.3 feet).

Pre-Registration: Strategic Planning Public Focus Group

The Fargo Public School District is in the process of reviewing and updating the Strategic Plan, which guides the education process. The public is invited to participate.

photo of strategic plan brochureFargo Public Schools (FPS) will hold a PUBLIC FOCUS GROUP as part of its strategic planning process on Thursday, November 6 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at North High School in the Theater, 801 17th Avenue North, Fargo.

Community members are invited to participate, but should pre-register by 4:00 p.m. October 24 by calling 701.446.1005.

The focus group will include small group discussions. The goal is to gather community feedback as the District crafts its next Strategic Plan, which will set the course for the future of Fargo Public Schools and the education it provides students.

For more information about the Strategic Plan and the planning process, visit

Now is a good time to review a few simple firearm and hunter safety rules so everyone has a safe and successful hunting season.

“It’s Time for Hunter Safety”

By School Resource Officer Wes Libner, South High School

photo portrait of Officer Wes LibnerIt’s hunting season – an age-old tradition that has evolved from the need to put food on the table to a time of sportsmanship and camaraderie among adults, parents, children, and friends. Many North Dakota fall hunting seasons have already begun, with the Pheasant season set to open October 11 and the Deer (Gun) season set to open November 7.


Keep these simple firearm and hunter safety rules in mind, and your next hunt will be a safe and successful one:

Always control the muzzle of your firearm. Point it in a safe direction and keep it under control (especially those who choose to hunt with a handgun).

Treat each firearm like a loaded firearm. Check any firearm that you hold. Is it unloaded? You need to know that! When a firearm changes hands, leave the action open. Be sure the gun barrel and action are clear of obstructions and that you ONLY have ammunition of the proper size (caliber or gauge) for the firearm you are carrying. When hunting, keep the safety lock on and your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you are on target and ready to fire.

Be sure of your target and what is beyond. Never shoot at a flash of a color or a sound; never shoot at a shape in a tree or a bush; never shoot at a skylined animal (dark shape silhouetted against the sky). You don’t want to find out later that the shape was your hunting partner or that a house was behind the tree.

Unload firearms when not in use. Leave actions open. Firearms should be carried empty and in cases to and from your shooting areas. Remember to clean and place firearms in their proper storage location as soon as you return home from a day afield. If possible, lock the firearms so the action cannot function. Responsible hunters make certain the firearms in their home are not easily accessible to anyone who may not be trained in the safe handling of firearms.

Dress appropriately for the weather and the activity. Don’t forget to wear your blaze orange clothing. You want other hunters to see you, not target you. Frostbite doesn’t take long to occur when you are exposed to the elements, especially with the wind chill factor we experience most of the time in North Dakota. You can also get dehydrated with the exertion in the cold weather without even realizing it until it is too late.

Ask permission and obey all posted signage. Remember, hunting without permission is TRESPASSING, whether the property is posted or not. Responsible hunters plan for a hunt by learning the area, knowing the names or the landowners, and asking permission to hunt well in advance of the hunting season(s).

Avoid alcoholic beverages or other mood altering drugs before or while shooting or hunting. A single beer can affect your coordination and reaction time. Save the legal spirits for later when you are sitting around telling the “big one that got away” stories.

Notify others of your hunting plans. Even if you are hunting with someone else, it is good for others to know where your hunting party is going and what time you are expected back, in case something goes very wrong.  This safety measure is especially important if you are going out hunting alone.

And, some general firearm safety considerations:

  • Never point a firearm at anything you do not want to shoot.
  • Avoid all horseplay with a firearm.
  • Never climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch, log, or creek with a loaded firearm.
  • Never pull a firearm toward you by the muzzle.
  • Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or water – a ricochet may result.
  • During target practice, be sure your backstop is adequate.
  • Store (locked) firearms and ammunition separately, beyond the reach of children.
  • Bring a general first aid kit along on all hunting excursions.
  • Obey and support ALL wildlife laws and report all violations.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is the best resource for North Dakota hunting season dates, resident and non-resident licenses and fees, and hunting regulations. It also has detailed maps of the state’s hunting zones for deer, waterfowl and upland game. Minnesota residents should check out the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for their state hunting regulations, etc.

Let’s all have a safe and productive hunting season, and carry on with one of the oldest traditions in America.

Officer Libner enjoys hunting of all types: waterfowl, upland game, and large game such as deer, elk and moose. His passion is bow hunting and he prefers that over any other type, but he does also enjoy gun hunting. He hunts in North Dakota and Minnesota, but mostly south of Kindred, ND along the Sheyenne River.

Beans Teach A Lesson AND Feed the Hungry

The learning activities of a group of Fargo Public Schools elementary students and future teachers will benefit those who are hungry.


Twenty Concordia College education majors, students of Dr. Barb Witteman, teamed up with Rob Arneson’s fifth graders and Melissa Krueger’s fourth graders from Washington Elementary School to explore the concept of service learning. The group of young students and soon-to-be teachers then completing a service project to benefit the Emergency Food Pantry of Fargo.

four young students bag beans while sitting on floor with adult

Using curriculum designed by Dr. Witteman, the college students conducted Math, Language Arts, and Science lessons centered around service learning for the morning of October 8. Then the whole group put learning into action by cleaning, sorting, and bagging 1,500 pounds of edible beans for donation to the Food Pantry.

A representative from the Emergency Food Pantry spoke to the students about food and diet information, along with data regarding the amount of food provided by the Food Pantry. The information was used as part of the students’ curriculum lessons for the day.

a large group of students work on floor of school hallway to bag up beans

The day’s activities are an opportunity for Witteman’s students, all of whom intend to become teachers, to engage in the teaching process.

The beans were donated by the NDSU Agricultural Department. Beans were selected for the project specifically due to their high protein count, which benefits the diet of the food pantry clients.

This is the 13th year Arneson has been doing this joint service learning project with Dr. Witteman, his eighth at Washington, in addition to five previous years while at Clara Barton Elementary.

Congrats to FPS AP Scholars

Congratulations to the following Fargo Public Schools high school students who have been named to the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Scholars Rosters to recognize high school students who have demonstrated college-level achievement through advanced placement courses and exams. This achievement is acknowledged on a score report that is sent to colleges the following fall.

National AP Scholars are students who received an average score of at least 4.00 on all AP exams taken and scores of 4.00 or higher on eight or more of these exams. The following students have received the designation of National AP Scholar:

Andrew Park
Logan Walker

Ahmed A. Attia
Carl F. Denton
Samuel Lim

Gerrit Postema

State AP Scholars are the one male and one female student in each U.S. state and the District of Columbia with scores of 3.00 or higher on the greatest number of AP exams, and then the highest average score (at least 3.50) on all AP exams taken. The following students have received the designation of State AP Scholar:

Ahmed A. Attia (North)
Radhika N. Katti (North)

AP Scholars with Distinction are students who received an average score of at least 3.50 on all AP exams taken and scores of 3.00 or higher on five or more of these exams. The following students have received the designation of AP Scholar with Distinction:

Jonathan Ackley
Lexa Brossart
Lillie Haggard
Sara Jalil
Stephen Johnson
Kathleen Marsh
Andrew Park
Zain Qarni
Tre Redden
Matthew Sheldon
William Stevens
Logan Walker
Payson Wallach
Erich Wanzek

Alicia M. Anderson
Ahmed A. Attia
Markus A. Dahl
Carl F. Denton
Alexis K. Elfstrum
Mackenzie M. Jenson
Radhika N. Katti
Samuel Lim
Jacob T. Santer
Lauren N. Singelmann

Noah Curfman
Gerrit Postema

AP Scholars with Honor are students who earned an average of at least 3.25 on all AP exams taken and scores of 3.00 or higher on four or more of these exams. The following students have received the designation of AP Scholar With Honor:

Logan Coykendall
Nicholas Horner
Nicholas Horski
Tyler Johnson
Andrew Nawrot
Colton Smith
Adam Vareberg
Matthew Walters

Sanders N. Ellingson
Jaocb C. Goroski
Kally M. Kvidera
Stephanie C. Leach
Margaret K. Randall-Neppl
Arianna B. Rustad
Jacob K. Stibbe
Jayden Williams

Christian Ekren
Melissa Morris
Jacob Sprunger

AP Scholars are students who received scores of 3.00 or higher on three or more Advanced Placement (AP) exams. The following students have received the designation of AP Scholar:

Marisa Biggerstaff
Austin Braham
Daren Brekkestran
Kayla Dostal
Ruiying Feng
Caleb Hendershot
Sydney Jacobson
Sreejon Lala
Emily Meester
Corey Nermann
Diamonde O’Connor
Marcus Osman
Samantha Raun
Katelyn Spokely
Nadia Toumeh

Olaf P. Hanson
Ya-Lin Huang
Ryan K. Leith
Nicholas A. Miller
Brady W. Ostendorf
Nathaniel Parks
Alicia M. Swenson
Chance M. Taylor

Ellen Aas
Demetri Broin
Catlyn Christie
Anna Prafcke
Claudia Schuster

Congratulations, students!


2nd Annual Agassiz Field Day

The students of Woodrow Wilson High School, Fargo Public School’s alternative high school, staged the Second Annual Agassiz Field Day for the younger children at Agassiz on September 25.

young and old student frolic under a multi-colored parachute

Young or old, it’s always more fun when you do things with a friend. The Woodrow Wilson High School students thought the children of the District’s Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) and Even Start programs would enjoy some physical exercise along with an opportunity to get to know the older students better. All three District programs are housed at Agassiz.

2 young students carry spoons with eggs on top around an orange cone

Children from ECSE and Even Start attended the field day in small groups for approximately 30-minute time blocks during the 3-1/2 hour event. The high school students guided the young athletes through a bean bag toss, hula hoop golf, egg-and-spoon races, tug-o-war, ladder ball, and various parachute games. All the athletes earned stickers for their participation.

older student supervises lineup of younger students tossing bean bags

older student holds balls while younger students kick them around

“The Woodrow Wilson students thought this would be a fun time for the younger kids, and it provides early exposure to the SchoolsAlive! program concept of 60 minutes of daily active play for the Pre-K students.  The high school students learn organizational skills, have a chance to serve the community, and practice volunteerism,” said Ron Schneider, a counselor at Woodrow, and one of the event coordinators. “The project is a great way to build connections for the whole [Agassiz] building.” And it looks like these new friends truly had fun together!

What’s In It For MY Kids?

Fargo Public Schools English Language Learning Coordinator Vonnie Sanders shares the benefits to having diversity in our schools.

photo portrait of Vonnie Sanders (female)Inevitably, our schools, community, and nation will continue to grow in diversity. However, some individuals born and raised in the F-M area may wonder what the benefits are for their children to grow up and go to school with students from diverse cultures.  The relationship between English Language Learners and Native American Speakers can be mutually beneficial. What can be learned from this experience?


As for the English Language Learners in our schools, they are almost always grateful for the opportunity to go to a good school and get an education.  Not only do our schools teach English and content, but also prepare them for a productive life in America.

multi-colored painted hands and words "celebrate differences" on paper banner

In what areas might you expect growth for students from the majority culture?
Here are a few lessons they can learn:

  1. Acceptance of others and respect for diversity. Our part of the world was pretty homogenous for a long time. Our kids now can learn about folks who are not German or Scandinavian.
  2. Global competency. Kids can learn how to work with others from diverse cultures. If students work in a mid-size or larger business after graduation, chances are good that they will need to effectively communicate with folks from around the world.
  3. Different, yet effective leadership styles. This will be especially true for students who are in extracurricular activities (sports, clubs, the arts) with a diverse group of kids.
  4. The components of the “American culture” as practiced here in the Midwest. Culture is insidious. It is so much a part of how we are and what we do that we don’t even recognize its influence on our lives.  Diversity allows kids to compare/contrast the cultural characteristics that have helped shape their thinking with the characteristics of other cultures. Then they can decide which pieces of our culture are healthy for their own lives.
  5. Comfort with diversity before being thrust into the “real world.”  Perhaps they will learn to actually celebrate differences and strengths.
  6. Patriotism and pride in our country. Students will be exposed to the reality of how much our country has to offer in terms of material possessions, freedom, opportunity, and safety. They may even be motivated to actively participate in government or volunteerism to help protect the strengths.
  7. Altruism and empathy. Some students may be stirred to reach out to help individuals through financial or material donations, tutoring, or simply starting short conversations in the halls.
  8. Humbleness and gratefulness for what they have been handed.

Through personal experience, I can say that there have been other benefits to living and working within a diverse culture: particularly friendships, learning about my big world, warm hospitality, and lots of comradery and laughs. And did I mention the FOOD?!  My experiences with diversity have made me a better person.  I would hope for those same experiences and outcomes for all the students of Fargo Public Schools.

Snapshot of Success

The Education That Works initiative gained traction this summer, through a multi-tiered approach to change the face of local education.

Through the Education That Works initiative, the Fargo, West Fargo, and Moorhead public school districts, the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (GFMEDC), and the United Way of Cass-Clay are collaborating to better prepare today’s students for post-secondary education and ultimately tomorrow’s workforce. View the Education that Works video and visit the website for a complete overview of the initiative.

“The landscape is changing for education. Supporting economic growth and stability includes producing a workforce that is highly skilled,” explained Jim Gartin, president of GFMEDC. The needed changes provided the impetus for forming this initiative. “It’s paramount we prepare today’s educators to provide curriculum and learning that produces strategically strong individuals to fill those needs.”

Investing in Educators and Students
The goals of the collaborative Education That Works partnership include providing enhanced professional development for current educators, preparing tomorrow’s educators differently, and communicating 21st Century Skills.

With support from sponsors like Xcel Energy, the Education that Works collaborating partners are able to provide enhanced educational experiences for local students and educators as well as the resources needed to communicate with stakeholders and the greater community. “The power of this collaboration has allowed us to reach more teachers and students and improve the work we do,” explains Missy Eidsness, Moorhead Area Public Schools director of school improvement and accountability.

For 2014, the Education That Works partners accomplished much to launch the initiative across the metro area, including major forward progress for each of the initiative’s main goals:

1) Accelerated Professional Development for Teachers
The Education That Works partners have identified professional development of the region’s teachers to have the greatest impact on best preparing our students to be the innovators and leaders of the future.

Summer Tech Camp is a three-day technology immersion experience. Teachers attended a series of sessions facilitated by their peers to share ideas for bringing 21st Century Skills into the classroom. More than 300 professional development sessions were offered during the 2014 “camp.”











EdVentures was a special component of the camp that paired 12 regional businesses with educators, and provided observation tours to manufacturing facilities and technology-based businesses to view 21st Century Skills in practical application. “Educators rarely have an opportunity to experience the application of their efforts beyond the classroom.  The EdVenture sessions are a way for teachers to learn about the businesses in our community and to see how our work with 21st Century Skills in the classroom directly impacts our region’s workforce,” said Jodell Teiken, director of Standards Based Education for Fargo Public Schools. ByteSpeed Computers, Daktech, Essentia Health Systems, Fargo Jet Center, Inspire Innovation Labs, and Microsoft were a few of the participating businesses.

2) Better Equip Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Workforce
Creating Opportunities for Digital Experiences (CODE) Tech Camp immersed middle school students in five emerging technology fields: Website Design, Coding for Living, Digital Photography, Digital Movie Making, and Geographical Information Systems. During the two sessions offered over the summer months, a total of 90 students from Fargo (58), West Fargo (12), Moorhead (14), and Dilworth (6) school systems participated in sessions taught by teachers, university professors, and business professionals in their areas of expertise. “I thought that CODE Camp was very fun. I liked making games and learning new things. It taught me a lot and makes me want to work more with computers,” said Ian Manock, a CODE Camp participant from West Fargo. 

3) Preparing Tomorrow’s Educators
Project-based learning is a proven method for achieving content standards and 21st Century Skills integration that utilizes inquiry, reflection, making cross-curriculum connections, and collaborative problem solving rather than more traditional learning methods such as reading textbooks and fact memorization. Shifting current classroom practice to more closely resemble how the world operates outside of school requires time for new learning, collaboration, and ongoing support for teachers.

Two three-day workshops offered in July focused on training teachers to engage students using real-world issues and challenges. In total, 113 teachers (38 from West Fargo, 64 from Fargo, and 11 from Moorhead) attended the training sessions. “The big idea that really struck me and will help me take my [classroom] projects to the next level was the focus on helping students make a community connection with a project. By centering the project in a community need, students will get to build a stronger relationship with our community and, hopefully, feel the project has real value,” shared Matt Beiswanger, STEM teacher at Horizon Middle School (Moorhead).







4) Building Capacity for 21st Century Learning
The final 2014 component to the Education That Works initiative encompassed a professional development session for the principals and district level administrators from the Fargo, West Fargo, and Moorhead Area Public Schools. The training focused on ways to enhance k-12 curriculum to meet the changing educational landscape. The primary outcome was the final articulation and adoption of the Metro 4C Rubrics, developed by staff from all three districts during the 2013-14 school year.

chart listing 4 C's of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity





Whether you are a parent, teacher, business leader, or a community member, we all care about the future of our local economy and the leading role our students can play in that success. The Education That Works initiative helps ensure that our students are well-prepared to meet the demands of their future.




Meet New FPS Administrator Megan Kiser

Megan Kiser has been named the principal at Lincoln Elementary School. Kiser assumed her new position on July 1, and replaced Principal Jennifer Schuldheisz, who has accepted the previously announced position of principal at Ed Clapp Elementary School, which is currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2015.

Photo portrait of Megan KiserKiser is an alumnus of Concordia College. She has been serving as the administrative intern for Horace Mann-Roosevelt Elementary since August 2011. She began her education career with the Fargo Public School District as a third grade teacher at Carl Ben Eielson Elementary School in 2001, following one and a half years as a substitute teacher. Kiser moved to Madison Elementary in 2002, and taught third and fourth grades there for nine years prior to accepting her current position as administrative intern. She has served on Madison’s school improvement committee as co-chair, as their school climate team co-chair, and on the Madison team leader council. While at Horace Mann-Roosevelt, Kiser has led their professional learning initiatives and served as a new teacher mentor. Kiser has provided professional development in the Daily 5 literacy structure for elementary teachers. She is also the first certified ENVoY trainer for North Dakota, a professional development focused on non-verbal instructional and classroom management strategies. She was recognized by the North Dakota Principals Association as a 2014 Bell Ringer for those efforts.

Kiser holds a master’s degree in Reading from Minnesota State University-Moorhead, and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Concordia College, Moorhead. She earned her educational leadership credential from North Dakota State University.

FPS Employee Since: 2001

Why did you initially want to get into the field of education?
I was drawn to education because of the wonderful teachers I had when I was growing up who nurtured and challenged me. I came to realize the enormous impact teachers have on students’ futures. I discovered I wanted to share the love and excitement of learning.

What did you do before accepting your most current position?
I was the Administrative Intern at Horace Mann-Roosevelt for three years, prior to that I taught third and fourth grade at Madison Elementary and one year at Carl Ben Eielson Elementary teaching third grade.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I love spending time with my family, especially my nieces and nephews. If I’m not with them, I enjoy golfing, reading, going for walks, and doing projects around my house.

Tell us about your family.
I have two adorable nieces and three nephews, and I enjoy going to all of their activities and finding various adventures for us to go on together.

What about FPS makes you most proud?
What makes me most proud of Fargo Public Schools is that I am part of a team that works very hard to ensure the best education for each one of our students every day.