ISD 709 News 12/11/20

From John Magas, Superintendent

Dear Families,

As we are about to enter the last full school week of 2020, all of us are thankful to be moving into a new calendar year. Although it has been a time of significant hardship, it has been a time of learning how to be flexible.

Many of us had seldom been on a Google meet prior to February, or at least in my case, not as a daily occurrence. At any rate, I didn't know how to present my screen or form breakout groups, but now it's something we do at the flick of a switch. We also know that it is a time where it is very necessary to reflect on how to improve on a regular basis.

Based on the many family, student, and staff surveys that were returned to us, we have begun to put into place a number of significant additional changes. One example is the need for student relatable mental health supports. We met with our student groups and began putting together a public service announcement campaign to focus on these supports as well as messaging on social distancing and mask wearing. They were excited to use their own voices to get these important messages across to help their peers and to give all of us a greater chance for face-to-face learning and athletics and activities. I am so appreciative for their leadership, spirit and creativity!

I was pleased to see that the local COVID numbers reported on the St. Louis County site yesterday had dipped a bit. There is hope that a significant portion of the potential surge from Thanksgiving weekend may have been mitigated to some degree. Positive impacts like this, thanks to everyone’s hard work, increase the chances that we will be able to come back for face-to-face learning and other supports in the coming weeks.

Thank you so much for all your efforts to be safe and ensure learning for all!


John Magas

If you have questions or thoughts about what's going on in our school district, email: ReturnToLearn@ISD709.org

Help Slow the Spread

You might think, I’m just one person, what impact could I have? But if everyone does their part to slow the spread of COVID-19, we’ll be able to shift the course in a more positive direction for Minnesota. #StaySafeMN #MaskUpMN

Sources of Strength - Week 5


Tis the season of giving which perfectly aligns to the next source of strength: Generosity. Generosity can look a lot of different ways, from donating money or time, to being intentionally kind to other people. These acts of kindness towards others, big or small, can have a big impact on how we feel about ourselves. Generosity leads to Gratitude for the giver and receiver. When we engage in generosity it is a win for all!

Conversation starters for you at home:

  • What is one way that we as a family can show generosity this week, including generosity within our family?

  • Think about a time you were generous to someone, how did you feel afterwards?

  • Name a person who has shown generosity to you. Reflect on how that made you feel.

Activities for students to do at home:

  • Help a neighbor put up holiday decorations.

  • Clean the kitchen without being asked.

  • Practice generosity to yourself by writing down 10 things you love about yourself. Next week write down 10 more things and keep at it until you get to 50 things you love about yourself!

Find additional ways to practice Generosity at home:


Online: Sources of Strength

Update: CSS Online Tutoring

We are excited to roll out our new partnership for tutoring with the College of Saint Scholastica. In preparation, our college partner is working on the processes for hiring and training tutors and efficiently matching tutors to ISD 709 students. Additionally, CSS students are in the middle of completing their finals before the end of the fall semester. Due to these circumstances, the program will be launching the second week of January. Those signed up for the program will receive additional details as we continue to move forward with this learning opportunity. Thank you for your patience and support.

Virtual Truth In Taxation Hearing

The annual Truth in Taxation Hearing will be held remotely on Tuesday, December 15, 2020. Instructions for joining the meeting and providing public comment after the presentation are available online.

How to Participate and Provide Comment

Questions regarding the public hearing can be directed to Jackie Dolentz, at (218) 336-8704 or jacqueline.dolentz@isd709.org.

Inclusive Schools Recognition Week

From the MN Department of Education:

Minnesota is committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive education for all Minnesota children. Inclusive Schools Recognition Week is an opportunity for school communities to work together to ensure all students feel safe and welcome in school.


Families, please fill out the Free/Reduced Price Lunch Application to help support millions in important school funding!

Approved Free & Reduced Price Lunch applications generate state funding that provides important services and programs for Duluth students. A decline in approved applications now can result in loss of millions of dollars in school funding and less programs and services for students in the next school year.

In addition to providing free meals for children, approved applications may also qualify students for discounted or free extra-curricular activity fees.


It's easy and confidential, apply any time, 24/7.

Applications can also be downloaded and returned to your school building.

Questions? Call 218-336-8707, we're happy to help.

Community Partnership: Brave Art

Duluth Public Schools is continuing to partner with PAVSA this year and their Brave Art Initiative.

Do you know some students that love to express themselves through art? If so, we invite you to pass along this awesome opportunity for youth to share their Art with the community during the annual Brave Art event that's held every January.

What is Brave Art?

Brave Art is a free community art fair that is dedicated to raising awareness about resiliency through creativity and artistic expression. The event allows youth and other members of the community to create and submit a piece of artwork that shows what being brave means to them.

Ok, how do you participate?

Please have youth fill out this form

After that, Mel Alavar (the director of Brave Art) will follow up with the youth to give them some more information on how to submit their artwork and potentially have it featured in a storefront in the Twin Ports.

If you have any questions about the event, please reach out to Jacob.Laurent@ISD709.org

Climate Coordinator Duluth Public Schools - ISD 709 or Mel Alavar at alvar@pavsa.org.

Duluth East Giving Tree

Duluth East High School organized The Giving Tree to help children in need. Many thanks to the students, parents and staff that donated to items to this event!

#Inspire709 #SpiritOfTheSeason #GoHounds


Virtual Activities and Learning

Piedmont preschool teacher Mary Feldhake leads a guided drawing session with early childhood students. And a Piedmont Early Childhood Family Education Class enjoys songs Roly Poly, Wheels on the Bus and Slowly. Parents discussed the Orchids and Onions of 2020.

While it's not the same as being in person, teachers and families are working together to provide opportunities for little ones to engage and learn.

#Inspire709 #WeCanDoThis

Learn More About ISD 709 Birth to Age 5

Duluth Students Attend Virtual Art Field Trip

Karin Kramer of Duluth Pottery shared her work and studio with Duluth Public Schools art students this month. Ms. Kramer shared her progression from biologist, to glass blower, to potter. She makes and sells a wide range of pieces in her shop. Karin also custom-makes dinnerware sets for individuals and businesses, including The Duluth Grill. Sharing space with other artists and gathering the community around art are important things for her.

Ms. Kramer estimates that she has created over 250,000 pieces of ceramicware. Duluth Pottery is located in the Lincoln Park Craft District of Duluth. The Virtual Field Trips / Studio Visits for art education students resume in January, with sculptor Ann Klefstad.



And More Duluth KEY Zone Outdoor Fun...

Big picture

Follow Us For ISD 709 School News: