Key legislators announce bills to increase education options for low-income, special needs students
Members of the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives announced March 9 the introduction of two pieces of legislation, the Equity and Opportunity Scholarship Act and the Educational Savings Account for Students with Special Needs, which would increase educational opportunities for Minnesota students who are most often in need of affordable options. The Equity and Opportunity Scholarship Act would allow individuals and corporations to receive a tax credit for donating to charitable entities that award K-12 scholarships to children from income-qualifying families. After receiving the donation, the charitable entities, or scholarship-granting organizations (SGOs), would use those funds to award scholarships to eligible students from the income-qualifying families so that they might attend a school of their families’ choice. The Educational Savings Accounts for Students with Special Needs Act (HF 1529/SF 1313) would give parents of children with special needs the power to choose the best educational options for their kids. It allows parents to use their child’s per pupil funding and allocated special needs education dollars in ways that can optimally serve him or her. These options could be education-related therapies, tuition and fees at a nonpublic school specializing in a therapy or disability, textbooks and tutoring or other education resources. OAK is a diverse coalition of educational organizations and leaders, including the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Minnesota Districts, Minnesota Catholic Conference, Minnesota Independent School Forum and Center of the American Experiment. Individual members include Lee McGrath, a longtime education reformer.
Catholic United raffle
Catholic United Financial’s annual Catholic Schools Raffle was held recently in several schools within the Diocese of Duluth. Catholic United Financial covers all of the Catholic Schools Raffle’s cost and provides incentives to the top ticket seller at each school and the top schools among the whole field. Students, staff and supporters of the diocesan schools joined 86 other schools in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota to add $1,019,695 to their collective coffers through six weeks of $5 ticket sales and donations. Because the schools pay no overhead to participate, all money raised can be used for any need the school faces. In the Diocese of Duluth the schools were very successful. Schools raised a total of $131,255. Individual school totals were: St. Francis of the Lakes School, Brainerd, $64,870; St. John’s School, Duluth, $8,280; St. Michael’s Lakeside School, Duluth, $10,895; St. Joseph’s School, Grand Rapids, $10,035; St. Mary’s School, Pine City, $11,135 and Marquette School, Virginia, $26,040.
Father Rozier puckers up
Zoe the pot-bellied pig, Bilbo the gecko and Lilly the toad were just a few of the animals that Father Blake Rozier agreed to kiss Friday, March 20, during a raffle celebration at St. Francis of the Lakes School in Brainerd. Students filled the gymnasium, chanting “kiss the animals” as they waited for the animals to walk on stage and get a kiss from Father Rozier. The kissing event was part of the school’s closing celebration for its annual Catholic United Financial Schools Raffle. The students were challenged by Father Rozier to raise $50,000 for the raffle, and if they did, he agreed to kiss any animal that came through the school’s doors, as long as they were not dangerous. The students surpassed the goal and raised $64,870. “They raised $64,870, so I had to kiss a lot of animals,” Father Rozier said. “I was hoping not to kiss a snake or bat. The worst animal was a turtle, because I didn’t want to kiss the shell, because I didn’t want the kids to be disappointed. I only had so much to work with, and I was worried it may bite me.” Fortunately, none of the animals bit him. He had to kiss a few dogs, a fake deer, a turtle, a toad, a pot-bellied pig, a gecko and more, as the students cheered and laughed. “I really am super proud of these kids,” Father Rozier said. “I love this school. It’s one of my biggest pluses of being here in Brainerd. This is such a great school community and to be able to raise money for the school is a great thing.” As an added bonus, the students will also get to enjoy a planetarium called the ExploraDome, which will be coming to the school through the University of Minnesota and the Bell Museum. Tentatively, that date was set for April and all students will get the opportunity to explore space in a new way. During the March 19 grand prize drawing, St. Francis of the Lakes School also learned that the grand prize, a new car or $25,000, was a ticket sold by the school. St. Francis of the Lakes School also was the school that sold the largest dollar amount of tickets of all the schools participating.
Blessed Sacrament Church in Hibbing held a party for the entire parish to celebrate Assumption Catholic School and to announce the winners of the school cash raffle, which was a fundraiser to assist the school. A total of $10,000 was given away to the winning ticket holders. The gross proceeds of the school raffle was $27,230. The net proceeds directly benefit the school. The parish and community continue to be enriched by the presence of the school.
Assumption students participate in annual Cross Walk
The sixth-grade class of Assumption Catholic School in Hibbing led a Cross Walk procession with a large cross that was carried throughout the community as they stopped to pray. They carried the cross to bring Jesus to places people go for help and places where people serve the needs of others, such as the fire hall, armory, courthouse, pregnancy life care center, City Hall, Goodwill, the local soup kitchen, Guardian Angels Health and Rehabilitation Center, the local funeral home, free clinic, hospital and cemetery. The students and other participants carried the cross five miles around town, praying as they went.
Cloquet Destination Imagination headed to globals
Seven students from grades 4 and 5 from Queen of Peace School in Cloquet will be attending Destination Imagination (DI) Global Finals in Knoxville, Tenn., from May 18-23. The elementary team, called “Within Waves of Weirdness,” won first place at the regional and state tournaments. The team members chose the scientific challenge Making Waves. The team had to design and construct a sound machine that produced two different sounds, using them creatively in a skit. At Global Finals more than 16,000 students from 45 U.S. states and 14 countries from third grade to high school attend the world’s largest celebration of creativity. More than 1,300 of this season’s highest scoring teams are scheduled to attend. Team members of “Within Waves of Weirdness,” include Thomas Sabyan, Jonah Bryant-Nikko, Maggie Sowada, Lydia Saletel, Paige Williams, Addie Loeb, Ava Ion. Team coaches are Karin Sabyan and Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist Paul Mary. If you would like to support the students of the state champion DI team at Queen of Peace School, donations can be sent to Queen of Peace Catholic School, 102 Fourth St, Cloquet, MN 55720, Attention: DI Competition.
Holy Rosary food drive nets 1,701 pounds of food
Holy Rosary School in Duluth wrapped up its 19th annual food drive collecting 1,701 pounds of non-perishable food items and $831 over a three-week period in March. Started by two teachers in 1996 and spearheaded by the school’s third-grade class, the food drive is a foundational piece of the school’s community service program. The third-graders challenged each student to participate this year by bringing in either a non-perishable food item or a cash contribution. Ninety-five percent of students participated. Student Cici Stender said, “It is important to give to the people that aren’t as blessed and need food.” Classmate Ava Revoir added, “I learned that is important to give.” The drive complements the curriculum and models Catholic social teaching’s call to family, community, participation and care of the poor and vulnerable. The collected food was delivered by parent volunteers to CHUM’s food shelf for distribution to local families. March was also MinnesotaFoodShare month. Gifts were proportionally matched by the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign, a program of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches. This year the school was also notified of an anonymous gift of $1,000 given to the March FoodShare Campaign in honor of the third-grade class. This enabled CHUM to obtain an additional 7,328 pounds of food. Since the drive was started, 20,547 pounds of food has been collected by Holy Rosary School.