Bridges Area Learning Center

Quarter 1 Community Newsletter

Starting the year in-person five days a week!!

Dear Bridges families and friends

The Last Couple of Years

To say the last couple of years has been a wild ride is an understatement. The pandemic has affected schools and families in substantial ways. Schools changed they way education looked in a moment's notice in March of 2020. Then, during the following year schools worked to keep engagement and learning happening despite what the pandemic was doing in our community, state and country.

I am so proud of our team at Bridges and our PLSAS district community. Seeing the commitment and dedication of American Educators these past few years has been amazing. This commitment was demonstrated in the countless hours of planning for unprecedented events and conditions. Educators were working and learning how to re-structure the way we deliver education in the midst of conditions none of us have experienced before. Doing the work in ways that has never happened before was an incredible testimony to the tenacity and love of students with our Educators. Educators have always been hard workers and that idea has certainly held true through these past years. Their work and dedication to our students and school has been remarkable.

Through this all we have seen our students rise to the occasion as well. Students were also asked to learn in ways never seen before. Instead of coming to school at-times learning was required at-home. As we move forward from these conditions of the pandemic I know that these experiences will be a part of who we are and what we are capable of.

We also know that the pandemic has presented challenges and difficulties for our school community. Our team is here to provide the needed support both in and out of the classroom.

Project Based Learning

Part of Bridges conditions over the past two years was moving to a project based learning model where students have more agency in what part of their day looks like. We know when students feel like there is more relevance in learning and have choice in how their time looks engagement increases as does deeper learning. We learned a lot during our first year (2020-2021) of using PBL and we have taken these lessons into this year. Seeing students dive into their learning and demonstrate this learning through project development has been a wonderful thing to be a part. I am looking forward to showcasing the ways our students have learned as projects come to fruition.

All In!

And now, we have opened the school year in-person, five days a week! We all have learned so much over these past couple of years. These lessons and understandings have made us better as educators, students and humans.

Our district theme this year is All In. It is a testimony to the work our community collectively did last year and the amazing potential of this year.

I am truly excited to be at Bridges and an educator working in such meaningful and important ways with our students, school, district and community. I am All In and know that my colleagues and students are as well.

Warm Regards,

Dave Brown



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Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools Mission - to educate all learners to reach their full potential as contributing and productive members of our ever changing global community.

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Technology Levy 2021

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Tech Levy Comparison to Comparable Districts

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Final Technology Video

How does Bridges use Tech? Technology use is and has been embedded in our work for many years and will only be more and more important:


  • Access and usage of learning management. Classroom materials are almost exclusively digital.
  • Project Based Learning. Student project development.
  • Edmentum = digital curriculum used for credit recovery for Bridges and PLHS students.
  • Communication = significant amount fo communication occurs digitally.
  • Student Information Management = grades, attendance and student information.


  • Bridges crisis management plans and information shared and maintained. These digital platforms are shared amongst key stakeholders with key roles in crisis management, training and development.
  • Secure building systems with management of entry and exit points.
  • Building camera system to monitor safety inside and outside.


  • Wifi infrastructure to allow for school and personal device internet access
  • Student device management. Each student is allowed a school issued chromebook while at school.
  • Teacher station and tech support.
  • Maker Space device usage.

Bridges Digital Platforms

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Infinite Campus - Student Information System

Vote Early!

What you need to vote for the first time

  • ID with current name and address


  • Photo ID and a document with current name and address


  • Registered voter who can confirm your address

When to vote

Vote Early

All residents can vote early at the District Services Center, 4540 Tower Street SE, Prior Lake during these hours

• Monday-Friday through Oct. 25: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

• Tuesday, Oct. 26 and Wednesday, Oct. 27: 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

• Thursday, Oct. 28 and Friday Oct.29: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

• Saturday, Oct. 30: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

• Monday, Nov. 1: 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Vote Tuesday, November 2nd

To vote on Election Day, Nov. 2, go to your polling place to register and vote. Visit to find polling locations or call (952) 226-0010 with voting questions.

Bridges 13th year opening with spectacular students!

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From the Student Support Team: Sarah Kortuem, School Councelor

Hello! My name is Sarah Kortuem and I am the *new* School Counselor at Bridges. I have been a professional school counselor since 2009; my entire career has been working at the secondary level. One of my core beliefs is that all individuals deserve to be seen, heard, understood, and valued for who they are. If you would like to learn more about my professional vision, mission, values and beliefs, please check out the attachment.

School counselors have a unique role because we work with learners, families, staff, administrators and community members. School counselors do not work in isolation; rather we are integral to the total educational program. My school counseling program is designed by identifying learner needs and developing proactive services that address learners’ academic, career, college, social/emotional, and mental health needs. I provide counseling services through school-wide initiatives, classroom lessons, small group counseling, and individual counseling. School counselors do not provide therapy or long-term counseling in schools; however, school counselors are prepared to recognize and respond to mental health needs and assist learners and families seeking resources. If you would like to learn more about the role of school counselors, check out the attached infographic.

If you or your learner have any questions, concerns, or need support, please feel free to reach out to me. I work part time and am in the office on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursday mornings. My schedule is subject to change at various times of the year. I can be reached by email at or by phone 952-226-0846. I look forward to working with you and your learner this year!


Our learners have been through an educational experience like none other over the past few years. While this year feels more normal than last, our learners are still adjusting to school during a pandemic. We have come up with a few tips that may be helpful to you and your learner.


One of the biggest challenges that Bridges staff are noticing this year is inconsistent attendance. The pandemic required us to implement digital learning in order to keep learners and staff healthy and safe. Digital learning provided flexibility in how and when learners could complete their work. Now we are functioning more traditionally, as we were before the pandemic, and the shift has been difficult for many learners.

However, our Bridges expectation is to Be Here, Be Present. We expect learners to be here every day, and that they attend and engage in all their classes. When learners are present, they are learning and receive support from Bridges staff to successfully complete credits towards graduation.

We value our partnership with you and we need your help to improve your learner’s attendance. While they are nearing adulthood, our learners still need your support and encouragement.

What You Can Do

Communicate with Bridges Staff

  • Contact your learner’s teachers and let them know how to reach you.

  • Request a schedule of classes and parent login information so you can track their progress.

  • Ask for help from Bridges staff if you’re having trouble accessing Infinite Campus or need help with food, housing, transportation, mental health services or some other challenge.

  • Know the school’s attendance policy and consequences for absences.

**At Bridges, having 7 absences can lead to loss of credit in classes for the quarter. Students have the opportunity to “make up” some of their absences by attending JUMP days.

  • Check on your learner’s attendance in Infinite Campus to make sure they are attending all of their classes.

Make School Attendance a Priority

  • Talk about the importance of showing up and staying at school every day so your learner knows this is your expectation.

  • Encourage and support your learning in maintaining daily routines, such as finishing homework and getting a good night’s sleep.

  • Avoid scheduling non-urgent dental and medical appointments during the school day.

  • Post your learner’s schedule and log in information in a visible location.

  • Identify a quiet place for your learner to do school work.

Help Your Learner Stay Engaged

  • Check in weekly with your learner about their progress and seek help from teachers, if needed.


Research shows that students cannot achieve academic success unless their personal and mental health needs are met. The pandemic has contributed to an increase in mental health struggles and highlighted the importance of addressing mental health.

During this time of increased stress and uncertainty, it is increasingly important to support your learner’s mental health and well-being.

What You Can Do

Physical Wellness

  • Encourage daily movement. It could be going to the gym, walking around the neighborhood, doing push ups in your room, anything that gets your body moving. Any kind of activity that expends physical energy is really helpful.

  • Focus on your sleep. Help your learner to improve their sleep hygiene by

  • Eat regularly. In highly stressful situations, it is common to lose appetite or forget to eat. Make sure to nourish your body with food each day.

Social/Emotional Wellness

  • Spend time together with your learner. Maybe it’s watching a movie or show together, going for a walk together, going grocery shopping. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you are spending quality time together.

  • Listen to them without trying to fix it. Often when others are having a hard time, we want to jump in right away and offer a solution. Sometimes just listening and validating someone’s feelings is enough.

  • Coping with difficult emotions and thoughts. When faced with stress or uncertainty, our brains are designed to focus on warning signs of danger. This “fight or flight” response increases our heart rate and makes us feel uneasy. Help your learner to recognize unhelpful thoughts and focus on more helpful thoughts instead.

Mental Wellness

  • Try to provide structure and routine at home. A consistent schedule can help to know what to expect and adjust. Knowing how the day will go can help you get through it more easily too.

  • Make time for mental rest. Research shows that even 5 minutes each day of relaxation practice can help reduce stress, boost concentration, and improve sleep. Finding online meditations, including a body scan or loving kindness, or guided imagery can help.

  • Help your learner identify healthy coping strategies. It is normal to reach for coping strategies that provide immediate relief. However, some things that make us feel better quickly are unsafe or make us feel worse later. Help your learner recognize the ways they are coping and explore whether the strategies are truly helpful or not.

Ask for help from Bridges staff if your learner is struggling to manage their emotional or mental health. Bridges staff can connect your learner to services to support your learner’s mental health and well-being.

Attendance - the best way to succeed!

With the return to in-person Bridges will be following our attendance policy: 7 absences in a class results in no credit.

In school attendance is the best way to progress towards graduation.

JUMP DAYS can earn back attendance towards attendance policy.


JUMP DAYS are scheduled days during the quarter to allow students to 'Jump Ahead' in their learning, attendance and connection to school.

These days are designed with activities, academic support, enrichment and one on one teacher /student meetings to support students to jump ahead with their grades, academic skills and attendance. During

JUMP DAYS we pause regularly scheduled classes and switch to a block schedule (four periods instead of seven) or small group time. Students are scheduled in periods for academic interventions and enrichment based on their progress during the quarter.


Sept 24

Oct 1

Oct 8

Oct 29

Nov 11

Attendance Line Open for Absences!

Please report absences to our attendance line: 952-226-0841

Fall Break

Fall Break is Oct 20 through Oct 25. Bridges will be closed during this time.

What is Bridges like? See below!!

Bridges Area Learning Center- Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools

One Confirmed Case at Bridges

Bridges has had one confirmed case reported during the week of Friday, Oct 1.

Parents/Families and Students - please continue to report confirmed cases @952-226-0841

Teacher Corner: Alexius Serefeas Work Program, Science and English

Together Again

Alexius Serefeas

It seems impossible that it’s already mid-October. We have all been back together at school for over a month now -- but in the long stretch of the pandemic, every Monday when we come back to school after the weekend, it once again feels like it’s been ages since we’ve seen each other. Over the last year and a half, being in lockdown for weeks and distance learning for months has made everyone more sensitive to being apart.

Everyone has had so much happen in their lives since the pandemic started; for many of our students, things that they have only begun to unpack in the short few weeks we’ve been back together. Students have experienced isolation from friends and family members. They have missed important life events like birthdays and reunions and vacations, have been unable to do the things they were looking forward to. Stuck at home, many of them have experienced tensions with family members -- at an age where most young people are beginning to strike out on their own and establish their own identities beyond their household, having only your family for company feels restrictive. Still, as other students come to school with stories of illness and loss, we are all aware of how important families are to each of us, and how precious time with our loved ones is even when it feels grating. Students have become unused to being in large groups and shared spaces, and many of them become irritated or easily upset by the actions of their peers, feeling socially raw and out of practice. But despite this reactivity, they are more eager to speak and share then ever, more inclined to join in with a group at lunch or before class, more likely to seek out each other’s company despite their complaints.

Being back together again is a process of healing and rebuilding, and one that takes time. There is so much to catch up on, so much to cope with, and so much to relearn… But we have also come to appreciate the value of sitting down together in person, and have a newfound respect for how much we need each other. Although everyone is working through their own things, and pandemic anxiety is still a steady undercurrent, in many ways this is our most joyful return to school so far. Despite all that has happened and all that we are still coming to terms with, there is still an undeniable happiness in being back at school -- together.

Bridges senior recognition banquet 2021

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Finishing the year last year!

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2020 Prior Lake-Savage American Indian Education Graduates

Bridges was awarded the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International Certificate of Appreciate in 2019

The award is presented to individuals or organizations that embody the spirit of Rotary and service above self through their daily and special activities in our community, region, nation or world.

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We Love our ALUMNI returning to check in and catch up!

PL Rotary to sponser STRIVE @ Bridges ALC for 12th consecutive year!

STRIVE (an acronym for “Students Taking a Renewed Interest in the Value of Education”) is a Prior Lake Rotary program that helps Bridges students set and attain goals with the ultimate goal being earning a Prior Lake High School diploma! The program pairs students with an adult Rotarian or person in our community allowing mentorship to occur.

We have been doing STRIVE for 11 years and with our new space we can accommodate more students! Prior Lake Rotary sponsors the STRIVE program with Bridges and provides catered lunch from The Pointe in Prior Lake and a mentor to call their own. For successful participation in the program (missing two or less meetings and consistent participation) students are awarded an attendance scholarship, and a $500.00 - $750.00 scholarship to a post-secondary school of their choice. If a student is going into the military, a $500.00-$750.00 check is given to them upon graduation.

The days we meet with our students, the entire school is buzzing with activity. The mentors are chatting, the students are full of energy, and food (frequently pizza) is creating a delectable aroma that fills us with anticipation. As we get into our positions to converse, it sometimes is so loud it’s difficult to hear one another. As we begin our program this year in our new space, we not only have more of it, but we also have places where more private conversations can happen. This program is very successful, many students graduate, and several of them earn scholarships. As we look to the future, I see the program growing and expanding with more interest and participation. We are looking forward to the new scholastic year!

Dr. Cindy Shepard

PL Rotarian

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STRIVE Taking the Distance out of Distance Learning

2020-2021 Mentor share outs

The power of STRIVE is apparent with my student. She just almost ‘pours’ out her heart when we get together. I know she looks forward to it and it makes both our days. I am taking driving from time to time to help her so she can get her license. She is a wonderful person. I love this program.

--Pam Kraska

Re/Max Preferred

We try to stay focused on the positive things in life and around us. He has been really concentrating on his school work and finishing strong. We as STRIVE leadership plan to continue the program as "Normal" as possible with all of the extra curricular activities that we have done in the past. Let's all be thankful for our health and family at this time.

--Manny Perez

JMLM Restaurants Inc

This is my first year and if all future years are like this, I think you have me hook, line & sinker Prior Lake style. My student is an extraordinary young lady that has found not only what it takes to succeed, but also the hard work and perseverance to accomplish the hard work. She also has a passion to serve as she takes care of her Grandmother through these very trying times. I’ve been about empowering and encouraging her to search for the who she will become in the future. At the same time, she has encouraged me to see who I am today. Seriously great mentorship. I can honestly say that we both seem to encourage each other to succeed and drive towards our NOW NORMAL & Future goals. I thought STRIVE was for the student, if so, I guess that I’m the student. Thanks Bridges and PL Rotary!

--Mark Braaten

Prior Lake Neighbors

I've been impressed by the work that Bridges has continued to do for its students. My mentee has said several times how grateful he is for Bridges. Previously he felt as if he was drowning in school work and didn't feel supported. Since going to Bridges, he has felt significant support and gained confidence that is clearly provided by the staff and teachers of Bridges ALC. Thank you for all you guys do!

--Max Moser

Scott County Young Life

I am certainly enjoying my year as a Strive mentor. I am mentoring a wonderful young lady. She is smart, positive and hard working. We are having great interaction even during the pandemic. I really think being a Strive mentor helps me greatly as well. I think I am a better person and father for mentoring in the Strive program.

--Paul Hofslien

Wealth Services

This is my second year as a mentor in Strive and it has been wonderful. The relationship one develops with the student continues to grow as they learn that it is built on mutual trust. I look forward to meeting with my student as we talk about everything from family to school. I would encourage all Rotarians to give it a try. You will not be disappointed!

--Andy Zarras


Student Voices - Brandon

The reason I love Bridges.

The reason I love and think Bridges is a great choice for students who need that extra support or

better work environment is because of the caring and devoted staff and faculty.

They find ways to help their students in any way possible. The teachers and staff are super nice

and supporting.

The staff are more than welcome to help with any questions in class work or anything at all.

This school has definitely made a huge positive impact on my school and academics in many ways. I wish that I would’ve found this school way before I did. If I could recommend anyone who needs a smaller environment I would definitely recommend Bridges!!

Bridges Students of the Month

September - Lillian

From her Teachers:

Lillian has been working hard and communicating responsibly about her progress. Awesome, Lillian!

She is respectable, and hard working!! She has been focused and hardworking this quarter! Way to go Lillian!

October - Kerrick

From his teachers:

Kerrick has grown in so many ways this school year, i.e. attending school 90% of the time, working with staff regularly, completing his work, and engaging in the discussions. I'm so proud of all that he has accomplished so far!!

Congratulations Mr. Lawson on being awarded Bridges Teacher of the Year 2020 - 2021

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Congratulations Mr. Lawson and Ms. Nelson on nominations for Educator of Excellence for 2020-2021

PLHS Year Book Info

· Yearbooks can be ordered on Prices are $75, and go up to $85 on 11/25.

· $25 fee to participate in commencement ceremony in June at PLHS, parents can pay on Affinety (located on parent portal in district website). If this is a hardship, let us know. Once paid--- Order Cap and Gown Here . See Jennifer Powers for help!

· Senior portraits and senior ads must be submitted by 1/7/2022. Go here to submit photo or purchase ad: Email here for questions:

· Senior panoramic photo will be taken on 10/28/2021in the Gold Gym at PLHS. Please arrive by 8AM. To order the photo, go to and use the code FM370158

Bridges In The News

Bridges Staff and Contact Information

Teaching Staff

David Lawson - Teacher (Social Studies & Independent Studies Coordinator)

Independent Study:

Independent Study is an opportunity for students to take additional classes if needed. Students are assigned edmentum classes (online) and can work on them at school during the designated time and/or outside of school. A minimum 10 hours is needed to completed at Bridges ALC.

Independent Study is held Monday - Thursday.

Alexius Serefeas - Teacher (Language Arts, Science, Work Program)

Student Support Staff

Jennifer Powers - Bridges Secretary

Please contact Jenniferfor attendance, general information and access to student grades/attendance through Infinite Campus (PLSAS student information system).

Erik Elsberry - Therapist

Erik comes in every Friday from the Scott County Mental Health Center to provide individual and family counseling to Bridges students and families.

Ms. Lucas - Bridges Paraeducator


I'm Ms. Lucas the Paraeducator at Bridges. You can find me in the classrooms assisting in small group instruction and one on one instruction with students. I enjoy connecting with students to build positive relationships as well as supporting our students in achieving their academic goals.

Bridges ALC Independent Study

Here at Bridges we offer a flexible online based program to support students in need of credit recovery. After a student determines the credit need (usually through the student's guidance counselor), simply register online, complete needed forms, bring them in to Bridges ALC and meet with the independent study teacher, Mr. Lawson, and they are ready to go within minutes. Each student is enrolled in a class through a web browser based program called PLATO. The program runs October 4th through May 20th 2022.

Each class a student signs up for requires a total of 10 hours of seat time here at Bridges and/or PLHS, and this can be done after school on Mondays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m @ PLHS and @ Bridges Tuesday through Thursday from 3:30 to 5:30pm. Once the attendance piece is completed the student will finish the course(s) on their own time. I’ve had many students get caught up, back on track, or even finish up for their diploma through Independent Study. It’s a great program and it provides a great service to our students.

More information and online registration can be found on our webpage:

If you have questions please feel free to reach out to our Independent Study Coordinator:

David Lawson:

Quarter 1 Ending Date - Thursday Nov 11th

Help Needed

This school year, PLSAS Child Nutrition Services is experiencing critical staffing shortages that are negatively impacting our school meals program. We have gone to unprecedented lengths to try to fill positions, we have streamlined menus and even have district office staff volunteering in our kitchens, but our staffing shortages continue.

We are now at a point where we are asking available parents to be essential volunteers and come to select elementary and middle school kitchens where our staffing needs are greatest, to serve lunch to our students. It's a great opportunity to be in our schools and see students enjoy one of their favorite times of the day!

Dates are flexible to suit your schedule. We will provide you with the training, all the support you need AND a free lunch!

Volunteers can start immediately after completion of a successful background check. Masks are required of all kitchen staff and volunteers. The following is a Sign-Up Genius with available dates and lunch times.

Thank you for considering this volunteer opportunity!

At Bridges we work to support our students to positively progress towards earning their Prior Lake High School Diploma leading to gainful employment or post-secondary education

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On a personal note and in conlcusion

This will be my 27th year launching a school year and it has been among the most meaningful seeing our school open five days a week in-person. We know the pandemic has affected schools and we know that we have learning a huge amount over the past two years. Seeing our lessons learned being applied has been an outstanding testimony to the value, ingenuity, resiliency and capability of American Educators. I am eagerly anticipating seeing all the learning and value that we gained from the pandemic applied to greater degrees of teaching, learning and engagement in our classes and school.

I also serve in the MN National Guard. I am a part of the 34th Infantry 'Red Bull' Division and was on active duty at the beginning of the school year as part of an exercise at Fort Riley, KS. I have the privilege of serving with my daughter and have included an article that the Public Affairs Officer wrote up about us. I especially appreciate our Bridges team, Dr. Bezek, Dr. Edwards and Mr. Thorp supporting Bridges and Laker Online while I am out.

Finally, we are just coming off of Fall Break. I hope our school community had a chance to enjoy the Fall weather and scenery in our beautiful state. My wife and I with a good friend had a chance to do some hiking in St. Paul which was absolutely wonderful.

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