South St. Paul High School Weekly

The Principal's Newsletter: October 1, 2021

From the Principal's office!

Happy 1st Day of October,

I hope that this message finds you healthy! I am really excited for this Wednesday, October 6, because it will be our first Packer Plus: "What I Need" Wednesday. This is our chance to help all of our students to be academically successful. Please see below for more information.

I would also like to highlight our "Let's Talk About It" suicide prevention event this Thursday, Oct. 7. Please join me for a night of food, a resource fair and a very meaningful dialogue regarding suicide and our community. Please see below for more information.

Hope to see you at the homecoming events this week.

Have a great weekend! Go Packers!

Mask up SSP!



Mr. Chuck Ochocki

Secondary Building (grades 6-12) and CLC Principal

700 2nd Street North

South St. Paul, MN 55075

(651) 457-9402

Let’s Talk About It Community Suicide Prevention Event Dakota County, MN

SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) and the Dakota County Alive & Thrive project to host a suicide prevention and awareness night in South St. Paul. With deaths by suicide increasing and mental health challenges facing our community, education and awareness of these topics is critical to save lives. There are approximately 50 suicides in Dakota County each year and hundreds of other community members who think about suicide and attempt to take their life.

“The data is clear and the impact of mental health and suicide on our community is real” said suicide prevention expert Dr. Dan Reidenberg of SAVE. “This is why we need to bring more awareness to students, parents, teachers and everyone in our community on how to help prevent suicide,” Reidenberg said. “Our school community has seen and felt the devastation of a student suicide. Everything we can do to better support our student’s mental health and help prevent suicides is a priority. I am thankful that we are talking about this,” stated Chuck Ochocki, Principal of South Saint Paul High School.

Let’s Talk About It!© is a free event open to anyone in Dakota County. It will include a local community resource fair, meal, keynote address from an international expert in suicide prevention, as well as local youth and adults who will talk on panel discussions about mental health and suicide in our community. Date: Thursday, October 7 th , 2021 Time: 5-8 pm Location: South Saint Paul Secondary School 700 North Second Street, Door 7 South Saint Paul, MN 55075 SAVE ( is the leading national nonprofit suicide prevention organization and has been at the forefront of suicide prevention for 30 years.

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7 Things Teenagers Desperately Need Adults to Understand

This article was shared with me and it made me stop and reflect. Here is what a parent had to say about the article:

Just a quick note to say that I appreciated the inclusion of the article link to 7 Things Teenagers Desperately Need Adults to Understand. It was very good and did provide reflection for me as we navigate raising 2 teenage boys. Thank you and hope future email updates will include more.

Take a couple minutes to read it- it will be worth the time spent reading it.

7 Things Teenagers Desperately Need Adults to Understand

Cell Phone and Electronic Expectations for Grades 9-12

South St. Paul Secondary expects all staff, students, visitors, and parents to abide by the following cell-phone use rules at all times:

1) Students may use their cell phones during passing times, when they are not in class, and during lunch in the cafeteria as well as before 7:50 AM and after 2:30 PM.

2) Using cell phones (and all other personal electronic devices- including earbuds) are prohibited in all classrooms during all class times during the day. Using personal cell phones in classrooms while the class is in session is a distraction that impedes student learning. Since all SSP students have access to a school-issued Chromebooks for use in class, there is no valid reason for students to be using their personal cell phone or other electronic device in classrooms while classes are in session. *Phones and electronics will be collected and left in the office if there is repeated use. A parent /guardian will need to come to school to pick the phone up.

3) South St. Paul Secondary High is not responsible for following up on or investigating reports of loss or theft of personal cell phones or other electronic devices. Students who bring cell phones and other personal electronic devices to school with them and use them in the building do so at their own risk. We highly recommend that students keep personal cell phones out of sight, preferably locked in a locker, during the school day.

4) Please discuss this with your student. Do not call or text students during times when students are in classes. If you need to reach your student with an important message while your student is in class, call the main office at 651-457-9408 and we will contact your student- asking them to call you or text you when they are finished with class. Calls or texts to students while class is in session gets in the way of student focus and learning and negatively affects all students in a classroom.

Why don't we allow cellphones in class during the school day?

1. We prioritize real human interaction. We believe that learning the skills of in-person communication and collaboration are much more important. This generation has grown up with computers and cell phones. Students are already good at using electronics -- they do not need social media practice or gaming practice at school. One of the most important skills our students will learn at SSP Secondary is how to get along and work well, face-to-face, with a variety of people.

2. Electronics are disruptive. Cell phones ringing and buzzing disrupt both the student and the class. We want students focused on the lesson, not who's calling or texting them.

3. They cause drama. Students tend to say things online that they would never say out loud. We don't need extra drama at school.

4. They get stolen. Unfortunately, as wonderful as our South St. Paul Secondary students are, phones are stolen. They are attractive items. Leaving them in a locked locker is best if they can't stay at home. While we try to help students problem solve, the school is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

5. They are addicting. This generation of students is struggling to learn to think and stay busy with just their own thoughts. Managing boredom without tools or toys is an important life skill that we have little opportunity to practice when the phone is always present. We want our students to be fully present and experience all that school has to offer.

6. Students don't need them. Every student at South St. Paul Secondary is given a Chromebook for academic use.

We are asking you do not only review this expectations but also to help out by not texting or contacting your student during the school day. Ideally all necessary communication should occur before and after school. In the event of an emergency, please call the main office, 651-457-9408 and we will get a message to your student as soon as possible. If a student needs to contact a parent, they can ask for a pass to use the phone in the office. Thank you so much for your support!

PSAT/NMSQT – Optional Test

The cost is $18 and the registration deadline is October 8th, 2021 or the first 60 students.


You can sign up online at (there is a small transaction fee). After signing up online make sure to stop in the office to get your study guide!

The PSAT/NMSQT will be administered to interested South St. Paul Secondary students in grades 10 and 11 on Wednesday, October 13th, 2021. Testing will start at 7:50 AM. (**subject to change due to covid**).

The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a program co-sponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). It is a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT ®.

The PSAT/NMSQT measures the knowledge and skills you have developed in reading, writing and language, and math. It focuses on what you have already learned in school and what you will need to succeed in college. It measures your reasoning and critical-thinking skills, which will be important to you through high school, college, and beyond.

The most common reasons for taking the PSAT/NMSQT are to:

  • Receive feedback on your strengths and weaknesses on skills necessary for college study. You can then focus your preparation on those areas that could most benefit from additional study or practice.
  • See how your performance on an admissions test might compare with that of others applying to college.
  • Enter the competition for scholarships from NMSC (grade 11).
  • Help prepare for the SAT. You can become familiar with the kinds of questions and the exact directions you will see on the SAT.
  • Receive information from colleges when you check “yes” to Student Search Service.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Ms. Angie Ryter at or 651-457-9435 or you can contact Ms. Jenna Hart at or 651-306-3689.

Packer Plus: What I Need Wednesday

I have created a short video to better explaining what the program entails titled Packer Plus: "What I Need" Wednesday. Please click on the link to watch the video.

Starting October 6th we will be having Packer Plus: What I Need Wednesday to help struggling students. First hour will start at 9:30 instead of 7:50. The busses will run later, and all students will still be offered breakfast and lunch. Students who come to school (any student with a C- in any class) will start first hour at 9:30, go to all 6 of their class periods, and then be dismissed at their normal dismissal time.

Here are some of the frequent questions I have been asked about Packer Plus: What I Need Wednesday:

What is the problem/s we are trying to solve?

  • We need to teach our students time management and independent workload management.
  • We have students who fail one or more classes, in any given year, that threatens their graduation status.
  • We do not have an intervention structure that helps students as soon as they start to fall behind in classes (instead they usually need to wait until the end of the trimester)
  • We have very few immediate incentives for students who get good grades.
  • Our teachers DO NOT have the adequate time needed to collaborate and work together to improve student learning.

What have we done in the past to solve these issues?

  • Summer school (issue: after the fact-the student has already failed )
  • After school credit recovery (issue: after the fact and students may not be able to attend because of after school obligations)
  • During the day credit recovery (issue: after the fact and may not fit into schedule)
  • Packer Plus-Check and Connect: 2015-2016 (issue: no real structure to this plan- every two weeks)
  • Individual teachers helping students (issue: not a school wide structured)

What is the new plan and what does this look like for the High School students?

  • All students with a C- or less, in any class, will need to attend Packer Plus: What I Need Wednesday
  • Any student that wants to attend school may attend
  • All students will have work to complete either at home or in school
  • All students will be bussed and be served two meals (breakfast and lunch)

What does the student schedule look like?

(see below)

When does this program start?

Packer Plus: What I Need Wednesday will start on Wednesday, October 6th, 2021.

Why have students start school at 9:30 on Wednesdays?

  • To created meaningful time for staff to collaborate and meet so that we can continue to Improve Our Student's Experience!
  • Our teachers now have the adequate time needed to collaborate and work together to improve student learning (John Hattie and his team have presented Collective Teacher Efficacy (CTE) as the “new number one” influence related to student achievement).

With many people's help we have created a plan, Packer Plus: "What I Need" Wednesdays that will:

  • incentivize getting good grades,
  • help struggling learners in a timely fashion (every week),
  • allow all students to have input into what they need to be successful, and
  • created meaningful time for staff to collaborate and meet so that we can continue to Improve Our Student's Experience!
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