Weekly Update

Duluth Public Schools News April 15 2022

From Superintendent John Magas

Dear families:

As we enter into our April break, we realize that this is a great opportunity for students and staff to rest and recharge before we make our final push to close out the year strongly.

Taking time for those we love and care about is so very important, and a break can be a great time to do so. On a personal note, my oldest son, Demitri, came up last night for a long weekend visit from college. I will also be visiting my younger son, Damon and step-son, Jaden, early next week. I hope that you are able to share time with friends and families as well. Staying grounded with those who matter most to us gives us renewed energy as we transition into our final six weeks.

Yesterday, I heard a fellow superintendent say that “we often start the school year like we close out the last one.” I believe this to be very true. Our momentum, preparation and focus now will pave the way for a successful 2022-23 school year.

Part of this preparation will be the kick off of our strategic planning process right after we return, which is outlined on our district site. We encourage you to get involved and will keep you informed as we move forward with envisioning what we want for our students and schools.

I encourage you to watch the video prepared by our consultant from TeamWorks International to learn more about what strategic planning is and how this process might be different from past processes.

Again, I wish each of you the best over break, and hopefully, it starts to feel a little more like spring next week!

Best regard,

John Magas

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


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Amanda Horton named Minnesota Indian Education Association K-12 Liaison of the Year

At the Minnesota Indian Education Association Conference on April 14, Amanda Horton was named the K-12 Liaison of the Year. Ms. Horton works at Duluth East High School and Ordean East Middle School as the American Indian liaison for students.

Each year, the Minnesota Indian Education Association presents awards to deserving individuals who are working hard and doing amazing things in Indian Country providing the association with inspiration.

Ms. Horton was nominated by Olivia Kinsley, who had this to say about her:

"Ms. Horton has been an American Indian Home/School Liaison for Duluth American Indian Education program for 5 years. Throughout her tenure, she has served Indigenous students with excellence through academic support, incentives and creating a safe space for our students.

Ms. Horton provides as many opportunities as she is able to prepare students for post-graduation success. Through her energy, she has been able to secure a grant that encourages students to continue secondary education or trade school by offering a scholarship for American Indian Students.

An important aspect of Ms Horton’s professionalism is to be a mentor and support her students. She has developed relationships that help promote academic goals as well as cultivate socio-emotional skills for families and students. Amanda is passionate about creating opportunities for Indigenous students to grow in cultural identity and language. Most importantly, her students respect her and have acknowledged her hard work by nominating her for a leadership award at East High School."

Duluth East student celebrated by CSS after beating cancer

Jay Nick has been cancer-free for over a year after in March of 2020 an MRI revealed he had a tumor on his brain stem.

On Saturday, April 9, the College of Saint Scholastica baseball team partnered with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer.

As part of the day, Nick was the ambassador of the event, receiving a saints jersey, a locker for the day, and joined the team as another player in the dugout.

“Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t understand it, and I think a lot of people don’t unless they’ve experienced it or had a close family member, and so you know, I think it’s great to raise awareness for everybody to know what it’s about,” Jay Nick told KBJR.

KBJR story

Sen. Jen McEwen visits Duluth Preschool

Sen. Jen McEwen visited three preschool sites this week. She visited Families in Transition (families experiencing homelessness) at Washington Center, Oshki-Inwewin (Ojibwe language and culture infused curriculum) at Lowell, and Lowell Half-Day program, which embraces Nature-based programing.

10 Duluth East students advance to the Minnesota State History Day Competition

All of the History day participants from Duluth East have moved on to state for the first time. The students made it to the History Day finish line and competed this past month at the regional level. This years theme is "Debate & Diplomacy in History Successes, Failures, Consequences"

Thanks to regional support staff Sue DeNio for meeting with the students and providing feedback. Great job to this group and we wish them the best of luck at the virtual state competition mid-April.

Student(s) and Project Topic

  • Michael Kastelic & Owen Holsinger: The Failures of Big Stick and Dollar Diplomacy
  • Garin Hackbarth & Samuel Phillips: The Iranian Hostage Crisis: Debate and Diplomacy Across Countries.
  • Grace Beaster, Martyn Dahl: Using Diplomacy to Save Lives Worldwide: The Duluth Model
  • Tavin Roth: Diplomatic Cooperation formed through Debates: The Bretton Woods Conference
  • Emma Ambrosi: United States of America v. Reserve Mining Company: The Environmental Legacy of a Debate over Taconite Tailings
  • Claire Atella: Iranian Hostage Crisis - Diverse Methods of Diplomacy
  • Natalie Miller: Women Strike for Peace: How 1960s American Mothers Used Diplomacy to End Atmospheric Nuclear Testing

Ordean East Middle School Teacher has been nominated for award

Ordean East Middle School teacher Mr. Glenn Tracey is one of two Minnesota teachers who have been nominated for the Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year award in the junior division of the National History Day National Contest.

Each of the 58 National History Day affiliates may nominate one high school and one middle school teacher for this award, and Mr. Tracey is this year’s middle school teacher nominee from Minnesota. Every nominee for the $10,000 award is a teacher who demonstrates a commitment to engaging students in historical learning through the innovative use of primary sources, implementation of active learning strategies to foster historical thinking skills, and participation in the National History Day Contest. All nominees will receive $500 as a result of their nominations.

“This award recognizes the very best educators from across the nation and beyond,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “These educators are leaders and innovators in the teaching of history, and we are all the more impressed because of the extended difficult teaching circumstances due to the pandemic during the last year. I wish to congratulate Mr. Tracey on his well-deserved nominations.”

The national winner will be selected by a committee of experienced teachers and historians, and announced on Saturday, June 18, 2022, at the National History Day National Contest Awards Ceremony to be held virtually due to COVID-19. Nominees’ work must clearly illustrate the development and use of creative teaching methods that engage students in history, and help them make exciting discoveries about the past.

6 Ordean East students move on to state History Day event

Congratulations to the Ordean East Middle School students competing at the 2022 Virtual Northeast Regional History Day event. These students have been working on researching and creating these entries since October and have developed technology skills required to enter their projects in a virtual competition.

The following entries were competing:

  • Victoria McConnell-Quinchia, Individual Exhibit:The Separation of Panama from Colombia
  • Adelaide Sadowski & Alivia Seafolk, Group Documentary: Debate Over the Rights of Queers
  • Parker Tandberg & Georgio Brodin, Group Exhibit: The Debate and Diplomacy Behind the Use of Atomic Bombs on Japan
  • Hayden David & Lucy Decker, Group Website: The Pink Triangle: Debates Over Rights of Homosexuals in Germany
  • Kenna Huot & Margaret Johnson, Group Website: Uncle Tom’s Cabin: A Subject of Debate

Special congratulations go to the following students that have qualified for the Minnesota Virtual State History Day Event: Parker Tandberg & Georgio Brodin, Hayden David & Lucy Decker, and Kenna Huot & Margaret Johnson. Great job to all and good luck to those moving on.

Duluth East Speech team rocks it at sectionals

Duluth East is excited to send 11 competitors off to State Speech this week. For the first time in over a decade, they took the section trophy. Over 20 speakers in all 13 categories made final rounds, and students in 10 categories made it to state.

Speech Coach Greg Jones was named the Section 7AA Coach of the Year!

Stowe Preschool students having fun in the mud

Wind and Rain did not keep Stowe Elementary School preschoolers inside Thursday! It was the perfect day for their Wind and Water unit! One student asked, "Why does it rain?" Some responses from friends were:

"To help flowers grow!"

"To make the clouds!"

"To make it muddy!"

"For the puddles!"

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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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