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Celebrating the great work of Faribault students and staff

Support our friends and neighbors as we persevere

By Sam Ouk, Equity and Multilingual Coordinator

This column appeared in the Faribault Daily News on Jan. 16

January is a very special month. It is the first month of the year. Winter is in full swing and every four years we have a presidential inauguration.

January is also important because it celebrates the legacy of the civil rights movement and the work and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In Faribault, we celebrate MLK Day and Dr. King’s call for love, friendship, unity and community through an annual breakfast that brings Faribault’s diverse community together. The extraordinary circumstances caused by COVID-19 makes things different in terms of how we celebrate, but this global pandemic only brings more focus and clarity to the importance of Dr. King’s dream.

As an employee of Faribault Public Schools, I witness first hand the phenomenal work of my colleagues, from administrators to teachers, to support staff, bus drivers and maintenance staff as they push through with amazing coordination to create the best learning environment possible for our students.

Faribault staff, under the lessons of equity, has broken down numerous barriers for students and families. Some things we do, we will never get credit for, but it is a fact that my colleagues have been leaders in the state in pushing for internet access, warm meals and maximum instruction time for students. I am so proud to be a Falcon!

As a Faribault community member, I witness firsthand the efforts to get children coats and boots, fresh produce, health education and support for technology. I was a refugee like many other Faribault resident. I remember having to navigate a new culture, a new language and a new system. Hope and support from friends and neighbors were what helped my family and me make it through those difficult times.

Those times were difficult, but they were filled with loving memories. I see my refugee friends, in a way, experiencing this plight once more as they try to make sense of the empty Walmart shelves in March and navigate the online learning expectations when they’ve never even experienced the internet before. It was difficult, but the same solution proved to be true. Support from friends and neighbors gave families hope to persevere and the abilities to overcome.

Thank you so much to everyone who stepped up in love and friendship to show support to our community members in need. WE ARE FARIBAULT.

And I am certain that we embody the spirit of Dr. King’s work as we continue to carry out his dream. Thank you Faribault for your acts of kindness, for your gentle words and your helping hand. Thank you for all you do!

Santa N Smiles raises $5,000

On Dec. 21 students from the Santa N Smiles community service club at Faribault Middle School purchased gifts at Walmart for 10 local families and residents of The Emeralds.

Longshore and Petricka Named FHS' Triple A Award Winners

Faribault High School is proud to announce Tanner Longshore and Kylie Petricka as our nominees for the Minnesota State High School League’s Triple “A” Award. The award recognizes high school seniors for academics, arts and athletics. Recipients must have a 3.0 or higher grade-point average and participate in MSHSL sponsored athletics, fine arts, and activities.

Triple ‘A’ Award recipients are selected through a multi-level process involving member schools of the League, the League’s administrative regions, and a special committee of educators, business leaders, and members from the fine arts and athletic communities.

Tanner Longshore is the son of Joe and Julie Longshore. He has maintained a 3.691 GPA while being actively involved in arts and athletics. He earned all-state honors in choir and as a member of the FHS Theatre Troupe has participated in musical theatre, dramatic theatre, comedic theatre, children’s theatre, and voice acting.

Longshore is a six-year member of the FHS cross-country team and served as captain the last two years. He’s also a captain, state qualifier and five-time letter-winner for the swim team. In trap shooting, he has competed for three years and twice participated in the state tournament. He has also competed in track for two years.

Longshore said his academic experience, as well as his participation in extracurricular activities, have shaped him into the person he has become. In the fall, he plans to major in choir and theatre at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

“I can’t begin to think of all the ways these three areas of my life have shaped me into the person I am today,” he said. “The Academics have given me my intelligence and understanding of the world. The Arts have given me my charisma, personality, and love for performing. The Athletics have given me my strength, passion, and drive to be better as a person and as a competitor. I love the arts so much that I want to pursue a career in it and I know it may be tough, but I know I have the drive for it.”

Kylie Petricka is the daughter of David and Shalinie Petricka. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA while taking three AP courses and College in School Concurrent Enrollment classes in physics and anatomy.

As a contrabass player in the FHS orchestra, she has served as a section leader the last four years, received superior ratings twice and earned all-state honors as a senior. She has also participated on the speech team the last two years.

Petricka has competed on the varsity tennis team the last five years and the varsity basketball team the last four years. She has also played softball the last three years.

Petricka hasn’t decided on a college, but plans to pursue her master’s degree in biomedical and/or computer engineering.

“Participating in different activities has broadened my experiences outside of the classroom. I have formed many new relationships, learned how to advocate for myself, and have come to appreciate diversity more by being involved in various activities,” Petricka said. “Through both my academic classes and sports teams, I have gained collaboration skills that I know will be essential to me in the future. Being constantly involved in activities, academics, and athletics has significantly impacted

who I am today.”

Celebrating our distance learners

VIDEO: Lincoln Elementary first-grade Holiday Dance

1-1 Holiday Dance

Staff Spotlight: Brian Maas

Hometown: Faribault

Job title: Math Teacher at the Area Learning Center

Education: Faribault High School Class of '04. Bachelor's from University Minnesota - Duluth.

Career: 1 year at Harbor City International School in Duluth, 2 years at Mountain Lake Public Schools, 3 years at Tri-City United, and 6 years at FPS!

Additional roles in FPS: Building Rep

What are some of your hobbies and interests? Renovating houses, the outdoors, collecting antiques and fishing. The newest chapter in my life involves raising two young kids with my wife Kelli, so there isn't as much hobby time as of late!

What's something interesting about you that not a lot of people know? I got viciously attacked by a swarm of bats and had to get rabies shots (actually I just got bit on the finger when siding a house, but it sounds cooler if it was a swarm of rabid bats).

Why did you decide to pursue a career in education? A few of the amazing teachers I had in Faribault (shoutout to Mrs. Canney, Mr. Hoff, Mr. Gravgaard, Frau Swedeen and so many others!) Watching them teach you could tell they genuinely loved their job and working with kids. Math was my strongest subject so it only made sense to pursue a career in secondary math education.

What do you enjoy most about working with students? Building relationships with students and seeing them succeed after high school. I love seeing our ALC students in the community.

Share a bit about a fun project or innovative teaching method you've used in the past. What made it memorable for you? Every year I collaborate with our amazing art teacher (Jackie Jarvis) and we do the "egg drop" project. Students construct an aircraft out of limited materials that must house an egg and keep it intact during a drop from the grandstands at the fairgrounds. It's a great lesson that the students look forward to every year, and it incorporates so many different topics (planning, design, blueprints, scale factor, physics and art). Only a fraction of the eggs survive, but it's fun to watch the students get creative and come up with ingenious designs each year.

What do you enjoy about being part of Faribault Public Schools? The staff in this district are very passionate and dedicated. The ALC staff is very focused on doing what is best for the students. Our program is the most rewarding educational setting I have been involved in and I am so thankful to be a part of it.

FHS Band Rehearses With Internationally Renowned Composer

Faribault band students had an incredible experience last week as they participated in a virtual clinic rehearsal with internationally recognized composer, Brian Balmages.

As part of distance learning curriculum, Faribault band students have been rehearsing Balmages' piece, Moscow 1941. As Mr. Balmages ran the morning virtual rehearsal from Maryland, our students in Faribault were able to hear firsthand stories of the background and history of this piece directly from him. Students also participated in a question and answer session, where they had opportunity to ask real life questions about composition, musical careers, and more.

It was an exciting and memorable morning! Congratulations to our Faribault Band students who represented with respect and pride!

Staff Spotlight: Mustafe Mohamed Abdulahi

Hometown: Faribault

Job title: District IT Tech


High school: Faribault High School 2012-2015

College: South Central College 2015 - 2016

Mankato State University - 2017 - 2019

Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Technology


I worked at Jennie-O Turkey Store as a quality assurance technician from Jun 2016 to December 2019, where I helped provide technical support and training in the areas of USDA regulation compliance, process control program, problem analysis investigation, product performance reporting, good manufacturing practices, and food safety principles.

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

Soccer: I am a big fan of soccer. I enjoy playing and watching soccer games in general. Also, I enjoy spending time with my family, friends, and helping my local community.

Data Analytics: Data analytics is a field that I am very interested in. I love working with data and cleaning it for fun.

What's something interesting about you that not a lot of people know? I love helping people. Early in 2020 during the pandemic, I was in Ethiopia and I have witnessed tons of people going through hardships caused by devastating drought and the COVID-19 pandemic. Those people were struggling to get basic life necessities like food and water. When I got back to the states, I decided to do a charity fundraiser to help less fortunate families in certain regions in Ethiopia. I have talked to my family, cousins, friends, and anyone in my circle who would like to donate to needy families. We raised about $7,000 and were able to provide more than 100 families with food for a month.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in technology? I must say that technology wasn’t exactly on my radar when I started college. In fact, I wanted to be some type of doctor, but I lost interest in that. Then, in my first year at Mankato State University, I started looking for other career choices. That was when technology hit me. I did very extensive research about information technology, attended technology meetings at the university, and met with professional IT experts. I found out that computer technology is a very lucrative career. It has a very strong impact on the world and there are a lot of opportunities open. This has attracted me to pursue a degree in information technology. I remember my first class in the IT program- it was a python coding class and I just fell in love with it and became very passionate about technology and what it has to offer. After that, I evolved by learning computer systems and coding languages. Today, I am very fortunate to say that I found my passion and I made the best decision pursuing a bachelor's degree in the IT industry.

How did Faribault schools help prepare you for your career?

Faribault High School prepared me tremendously throughout my career. It taught me the basic fundamentals to be a successful student, doing my assignments on time, getting knowledge, and good grades. When I graduated I was college-ready, although there are a few things I could have done differently if I knew what I know today.

I started FHS in 2012 as an ELL student with no American background education. It was tough and I had struggled the first two years adapting to the environment, culture, and language, but with the help and support of my ELL, math, and social study teachers I was able to excel in high school academically and that helped me become a successful student in college. In my senior year, I spent a lot of time in the career center with Mary who helped me apply for college applications, financial aid, and scholarships.

I cannot put words the amount of help I received from FHS staff, especially my ELL teacher Kathy Sirek, My social study teacher Mr. Meier and all my math teachers. Without them I wouldn’t be able to be where I am today. I am very grateful for all the things they have taught me.

What do you enjoy most about working at a tech specialist?

I really enjoy helping the staff, parents, and students, finding the right technical solution to solve their issue, and seeing them happy and smile.

What do you enjoy about being part of Faribault Public Schools?

I enjoy knowing that I am part of an organization that is dedicated to making a big difference in the lives of their students and their community. I am honored to give back and be part of this organization. There is no better feeling than knowing that I am making a difference in my district and putting a smile on the staff, students, and parents' faces.

FHS STOPS students help out with Toys for Tots

Big picture

Meet a Coach: Dean Weasler

Coaching position: Boys Hockey Varsity Head Coach

Coaching experience

2011-2021 10-year Varsity hockey head coach in Faribault; 2009-2011 2 years JV head coach Farmington; 2006-09 3 years JV coach in Eastview; 2004-2006 2 years JV coach in Burnsville

Hockey experience

2002-2004 ECHL/ACHL/CHL Professional Goaltender: Roanoke Express, South Carolina Stingrays, Winston-Salem Parrots, Columbus Cottonmouths, Colorado Eagles

1998-2002 NCAA DIV I goaltender @ St. Cloud State University

1996-1998 USHL Rochester Mustangs

1994-1996 Rosemount High School

Coaching accomplishments

6 years CCM High Performance U16 head coach for section 1

Do you have any coaching philosophies, approaches, strategies or a style of play that are uncommon or unique to you?

I like to adjust our style of play depending on the type of players we have from year to year. So at times we are high flying and up and down the rink and at other times we are defensive and work to take advantage of limited opportunities.

What are some of your favorite memories or experiences you’ve had as a coach?

My favorite thing is to go on a road trip with the team. Going to Roseau with the team and making all the meals, making all the travel/hotel arrangements and getting to spend all that time with the athletes is great!

Why do you coach?

I coach to help build compassionate, empathetic, young adults and provide them the tools to be successful in the rest of their life.

What do you hope students who participate in your activity take away from it?

A sense of community, passion, and love. I want to pass along a love for life and appreciation for their own strengths and weaknesses along with how others can help compliment them.

FHS Theatre Troupe presents "School Picture Day"

The FHS Theatre Troupe presented the one-act play "School Picture Day" virtually. It aired Dec. 29-31 on the school YouTube channel. The play was a comedy is about a school picture photographer, Mr. Barnaby, who had an unfortunate incident as a child. When he was in school, his mom mixed up pajama day with school picture day and the young Mr. Barnaby’s resulting “jammie” photo would ultimately go on to be one of the most viral photos ever. Because of his humiliation, Mr. Barnaby is seeking revenge with a group of students he is to photograph.

"Doing a play completely virtual was a unique change. From directors delivering props to students, directing movement on screen, and keeping the volume levels near each other were just a few of the challenges," director Paul Johnson said. "Rehearsals seemed more relaxed and a few times we just visited before rehearsing. We were able to split up into break out rooms and cover more scenes at the same time with other directors working with students, Recording scenes and cutting them together was a skill we learned while on the job. But when it was all done, the students and directors all admitted we had fun with this challenge."

Cast members pictured, front, left to right: Kayla Schultz, Abby Bongers, Tanner Longshore, Luke Weng, Jadon Kittlesen.
Back L-R: Allison Norton, Kylie Menge, Emily Bauman.

Alumni Update: Ben Kadrlik, Class of 2001

Student activities and awards: Baseball, basketball, choir – wrote for the student newspaper the Echo

Additional education, training or licensures: Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota Duluth

Work history: Worked for Chart Industries (New Prague, MN) out of college and got transferred to their global headquarters in Ball Ground, Georgia, in their BioMedical Division – started in R&D designing home respiratory equipment (patients dealing with COPD) before moving to their Quality Engineering and Regulatory Affairs Department – from there I was responsible for 510(k) submissions and product registrations in foreign countries, which led to many trips to China and Japan to further expand manufacturing and service capabilities – I then joined Quidel Corporation in 2013 in a senior leadership role, overseeing their Quality Assurance Department – Quidel is a global leader in manufacturing of diagnostic solutions, Quidel was the first FDA cleared POC (point of care) test for Influenza in 1999 and was the first to market a rapid Covid-19 antigen test (the rapid antigen test is a lateral flow immunofluorescent sandwich assay that is intended for the qualitative detection of the nucleocapsid protein antigen from SARS-CoV-2). I’ve since assisted Quidel through numerous mergers and acquistions, while maintaining and expanding their QMS (quality management system) from sites in California, Ohio, Massachusetts, Ireland, Italy, Germany, China and India.

Family: Wife, Ashley – I have two younger siblings, Kadee and Nick who each graduated from FHS – also my aunt Joan Smisek was the Home Economics Teacher.

Current residence: We live in Athens, Ohio (small college town in SE Ohio, we live just five miles from the University of Ohio campus)

Who were some of your favorite teachers? My favorite teacher was Bill Hohenthaner, who was the High School Chemistry Teacher – in his class I learned the basic fundamentals and discovered my interest.

Were there any experiences that inspire you or helped point you toward your chosen career path? FHS was a fun, exciting school to attend at that time. My favorite classes were Chemistry, AP Psychology with Mrs. Fitzgerald (Lydia), AP English Literature with Mr. Anderson, and WSA/Water Safety class with Mrs. Schmidt.

What is your favorite memory from attending Faribault schools? I enjoyed the long weekends at the school with the Echo staff and our teacher Kelly Zwagerman, putting the final touches on the student paper. They were filled with heated discussions, lots of food, and pranks on one another. Our intramural basketball team also went undefeated our senior year.

What lessons did you learn in school have stuck with you and helped you be successful? Not so much lessons as great memories, and a community feeling – it took several relocations to find a town that I live in today that embraces a lot of those same community qualities.