Weekly Update

Duluth Public Schools News May 6, 2022

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear families:

Cheese zombies and tomato soup!

Everyone has a favorite from their school lunch that they always really looked forward to. That classic combination was mine. Many students love their chicken nuggets, pizza slice, or a great trip through the salad bar. For a lot of students, lunchtime is one of their favorite times of the day, and it certainly was for me.

As a single mom, my mother always did her best. Growing up poor in rural Upper Michigan, we didn’t always have a lot of money for groceries and I remember waiting in line for government surplus cheese, powdered milk, and other commodities many times with my mom and brother. So, when it came time for lunch at school, it was always very much appreciated.

Food scarcity is a significant issue for many students in our district and throughout the nation. Our kids need superheroes. And they have them!

Today, we join our governor as we recognize and celebrate School Lunch Hero Day!

The people that work in our student nutrition program strive every day to provide nutritious, delicious options for all of our students. If you’ve ever taken a walk through one of our lunch lines, you would see that our offerings surpass what you would see in most schools. Those meals are made with love by the people dedicated to supporting our students with this essential need.

We especially want to recognize these lunchroom superheroes as we are working through the pandemic. I’m sure you remember that they worked tirelessly to ensure that meals were provided, and even delivered in many cases, to our families throughout the early days of COVID-19. The meals they provided to our families during distance learning were so important and above and beyond what anyone would have ever thought would be their job.

Please join me in showing appreciation for these valued individuals! I, personally, know how much they matter and I’m sure you do too.

With deep gratitude and appreciation,

John Magas

If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email:


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Duluth Adult Education students featured in The New Yorker

Four Afghan women have recently enrolled in the English Language Learning program at Duluth Adult Education. These women left Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country. They spoke with The New Yorker about how they came to Duluth, Minnesota.

From the article:

"The women learned about a new kind of program, called a Sponsor Circle, through which civilian volunteers could sign up to resettle Afghans themselves. A group in Duluth, Minnesota, was willing to take the women in, and to help them find jobs and attend a local university. “We Googled Duluth and saw how much snow there was,” Halima told me. “But their letter also said that they could help us continue our education, and that was most important.” On the morning of Valentine’s Day, they left for Duluth."


Duluth East freshmen share stories about STARBASE at Expansion Ceremony

Zoe Pierson and Sara Chun were nominated by their teacher Mr. Holmstrom at Duluth East to work with the staff at STARBASE and share stories of how STARBASE influenced them and inspired them to consider STEM careers at the STARBASE Expansion Celebration and Ribbon Cutting Wednesday, May 4.

Zoe and Sara were part of the STARBASE program's inaugural year at the 148th Fighter Wing and attended the weeklong STEM interactive field trip with Congdon Park Elementary fifth grade classes.

Zoe recalls very fondly participating in this event with her class and her teacher Mrs. Lofstuen.

Zoe and Sara were part of the inaugural year of programming at STARBASE Duluth in 2017, and they were excited to be asked to share stories and to get a tour of the new facilities. Big thumbs-ups to Mrs. Lofstuen and Mr. Holmstrom for continuing to inspire students to wonder, be creative and see so many opportunities in STEM and STEAM topics.

Today is School Lunch Hero Day!

School and nutrition staff are dedicated and amazing professionals who consistently rise to the moment, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has emphasized how important their work is for our families. So by proclamation of Gov. Tim Walz, today, May 6, 2022, is School Lunch Hero Day! Thank you to all our wonderful employees!

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Sugaring off STEAM at Congdon Park Elementary

Congdon Park Elementary K-5 classes head out to the garden to experience the process of boiling down the maple sap collected by all our 1st-grade classes and one 2nd grade. We´re excited to share this with everyone as all students that have gone to Congdon in 1st grade will have experienced the more involved learning experiences described below. This year all first-grade classes and a 2nd-grade class have been involved in learning about Sugarbush.

This learning is very comprehensive as it covers many standards and subject areas. Sugarbush science, engineering, and technology involve learning about Ojibwe cultural connections, the engineering process that continues to evolve from past to present which also involves identifying cause/effect, problem/solution, writing about steps in a process, and examples of teamwork.

Every student in every class that tapped maple trees helped to drill in, tap and collect the sap. They estimated gallons, learned about ratios and fractions and how to make picture and bar graphs and tables. We are looking forward to sharing this with the rest of the school. The class questions of "Now what do we do with all the sap?" lead us right into the next phase which is boiling it down and our school-wide event.

All K-5 classes will rotate through 3 stations. Classes will be going out to see the final phase of processing the collected maple sap into Syrup through the evaporation and boiling down stage. We will be integrating aspects of what they have learned in their classrooms and connecting it with hands-on learning outside to experience the sugaring off and evaporation process, STEAM concepts, cultural components and also taste testing of various stages from sap to syrup to maple sugar.

1. Science/Art: Permeated Pure Water, Sap, Syrup, Sugar? Comparisons and Creativity: Experience each stage and do some creative writing as a group or individually based on poetry learned in that grade.

2. Technology/Engineering Process: Sugarbush STEM- Reverse Osmosis and filtering: We’ll go over each STEM component and how we are improving the process from last year. Students will filter the sap and see the RO filter it again.

3. Science/Engineering/Math: Science Studies and the Evaporator-Students will discuss aspects of science they have learned in their classes this year based on grade level and how it applies to the Evaporating station. They will also all help in the process by feeding the fire and adding the sap.

Sugaring off STEAM at Congdon Park Elementary

Duluth East counselor receives Impact Influencer Award

Congratulations to East High School Counselor, Jamie Savre, for being honored with the Impact Influencer Award. The United States Navy presented this award to Jamie for her unwavering support, leadership, and mentorship of Kai Braaten as he prepares to enter the United States Naval Academy.

Congratulations Kai Braaten and Jamie Savre!

Stowe students enjoy Environmental Education Fair

Stowe Elementary School students enjoyed the return of the Environmental Education Fair on Friday, April 29. Students were able to enjoy presentations from a variety of guests and organizations throughout the community about a variety of environmental education topics from Exotic Worms to Lake Superior Rocks! Thank you to all of our volunteers and our wonderful staff for making this day great for students!

Computer Science for Duluth (CS4DLH) Springs Into Coding

Students and families have an exciting opportunity to learn more about coding and computer science during the weeks of May 9 and May 16. Technology is all around us and these activities will help you and your students understand more about how it works.

Elementary Students: Join us for Family Code Week starting May 9th! There will be a computer science activity each day. Packets for the unplugged activities will be sent home on Monday, May 9th. Additional activities will also be available at all Duluth Public Library branches.

  • Monday, May 9: Family Code Night (Sign up at bit.ly/DuluthFCN22)

  • Tuesday, May 10: CS Book Reading (Watch Livestream at www.cs4dlh.org/spring)

  • Wednesday, May 11: Unplugged Activity #1: Tangrams

  • Thursday, May 12: Unplugged Activity #2: Mapping

  • Friday, May 13: Students will share in class

Middle and High School Students: The following week, May 16, in middle school math classes, students will be learning about how images are stored digitally using pixels, including creating their own pixel art images. In freshmen physical science classes, students will be learning about robotics using Spheros, including how to program them.

WDIO's Renee Passal and her son try their hand at coding: https://www.wdio.com/news/family-code-night-computer-science-education/6463433/?cat=10335

The Depot STEAM Festival is May 14

Youth in grades K-5 are invited to a free fun-filled day of robotics, hands-on science experiments, art, music environmental learning, interactive activities, displays and more during The Depot STEAM Festival, Saturday, May 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Denfeld DNA robotics tea, Devildog FTC and Lego Robotics will both be at the event.

Visit z.umn.edu/DepotSTEAM for more information on the event.

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District COVID-19 numbers

These numbers reflect positive COVID-19 cases by site. The total includes all self-reported positive cases based on the date the case was reported to the school district. Not every person who reported a positive case was in a district building while contagious. These numbers include at-home COVID-19 test kits.

The CDC and Minnesota Department of Health only report positive cases where the person was inside a school building while infectious. The department’s numbers do not include positive cases determined by an at-home COVID-19 test kit.

They do this because there is not a medical professional present to:

  • Confirm who is taking the test,

  • That the home test has not expired,

  • That a proper sample is taken and more.

The CDC and Minnesota Department of Health is also reporting numbers that are at least a week old. If you have questions regarding these numbers, feel free to send your questions to covidquestions@isd709.org.

Detailed updates are available from the Minnesota Department of Health and St. Louis County Department of Health.

Minnesota Weekly COVID Report

Minnesota Situation Update

St. Louis County MN COVID-19 Dashboard

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