Austin Packer Bulletin - 9/15/23
Volume 2, Issue 7
Seven students at Austin High School earned academic honors from the College Board National Recognition Programs. These programs celebrate students' hard work in high school and showcase their strong academic performance. The academic honors for rural area, Black, Indigenous, and/or Latino students are an opportunity for students to share their strong academic achievements with colleges and scholarship programs that are seeking to recruit diverse talent.
National Rural and Small-Town Award (NRSTA) Recipients (L-R):
- Ellen Ekins
- Namo Afanou
- Nawras Zaki
- Grace Anderson
- Anastasia Alabin
- Nadia Hummel
- Meicy Liu
National African American Recognition Award (NAARA) Recipients:
- Namo Afanou
- Nawras Zaki
Additionally, Grace Anderson was named a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. Over 1.3 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2022 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The semifinalist pool represents less than one percent of US high school seniors and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.
Dr. Joey Page, Superintendent
U.S. Surgeon General Issues New Advisory: Social Media & Youth Mental Health
This past May, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a new Surgeon General's Advisory on Social Media and Youth Mental Health - PDF. While social media may offer some benefits, there are ample indicators that social media can also pose a risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. Social media use by young people is nearly universal, with up to 95% of young people ages 13-17 reporting using a social media platform and more than a third saying they use social media "almost constantly."
The Surgeon General's Advisory offers recommendations stakeholders can take to help ensure children and their families have the information and tools necessary to make social media safer for children:
- Policymakers can take steps to strengthen safety standards and limit access in ways that make social media safer for children of all ages, better protect children's privacy, support digital and media literacy, and fund additional research.
- Technology companies can better and more transparently assess the impact of their products on children, share data with independent researchers to increase our collective understanding of the impacts, and make design and development decisions that prioritize safety and health – including protecting children's privacy and better adhering to age minimums – and improve systems to provide effective and timely responses to complaints.
- Parents and caregivers can make plans in their households, such as establishing tech-free zones that better foster in-person relationships, teaching kids about responsible online behavior and modeling that behavior, and reporting problematic content and activity.
- Children and adolescents can adopt healthy practices like limiting time on platforms, blocking unwanted content, being careful about sharing personal information, and reaching out if they or a friend need help or see harassment or abuse on the platforms.
- Researchers can further prioritize social media and youth mental health research that can support the establishment of standards and evaluation of best practices to support children's health. See the full release here.
School-Located Immunization Program to Provide Flu Vaccines in Schools
The School-Located Immunization Program in southeast Minnesota provides influenza (flu) vaccine to students in all APS schools. The flu vaccine will be provided in those schools this fall for the 2023-2024 school year.
It is crucial for everyone, six months of age and older, to get the flu vaccine. Flu can cause serious problems in young children, older adults, and people with medical conditions. It could reduce school and parent work attendance and lessen health care options.
Sign up here for the 2023 school flu program. The deadline to sign up is September 13.
Educational Benefits Form
Families can fill out the Application for Educational Benefits form to determine if they qualify for educational benefits such as reduced price or free activities and athletics, lowered fees, and more.
Although all students are receiving free breakfast and lunch this school year, it is still crucial that families fill out the Application for Educational Benefits. Districts depend on these applications to help fund many programs outside of school lunches.
Qualifying for Educational Benefits can benefit your family by lowering the cost of activities/athletics, testing, and field trip fees. If the P-EBT is renewed, it can mean dollars for your family.
If you have already completed an application for the 23-24 school year, thank you! If you still need to complete this process, you can fill out the application online at https://austin.k12.mn.us/frp. If you prefer a paper application, pick one up at your student's school or call 460-1821, and we will send one.
Reminder: Information About Re-Enrolling in Health Care Coverage
Due to the pandemic, Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare renewals were paused but are now restarting. More than 1.5 million Minnesotans on Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare will need their program eligibility reviewed through a renewal process by May 2024.
Minnesotans who have Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare can now get text messages about renewing their health insurance. The Minnesota Department of Human Services is texting important updates and announcements. The messages will prompt people when it's time to take action to keep their insurance.
Texts from DHS about insurance will always come from the number "28343." The reminders are not interactive, and no one should respond by texting personal information. Enrollees will receive renewal forms by mail. The text messages will notify them to watch their mail for the renewal packet and remind them to submit the forms by the deadline.
One in four Minnesotans has insurance through the programs. Losing insurance makes it harder to get health care and could worsen health disparities. Find out more about renewals, including how to update contact information and get texts here. https://mn.gov/dhs/renewmycoverage/
Walk and Bike Safety Education for K-8 Students
In 2023, the State of Minnesota mandated that all students in public schools must receive age-appropriate education related to safe walking and bicycling during the first few weeks of school. This legislation is similar to the law that requires students to receive bus safety education at the beginning of each school year.
Speaking of Health
In this week's Alumni Spotlight, we catch up with alumnus Jill Slegh.
Are you an alumnus of Austin Public Schools? If so, we'd love to hear from you! We're excited to hear about your accomplishments and are eager to share your successes and advice with our current students, families, and the Austin community.
All you need to do is take a minute to answer a few quick questions at https://www.austin.k12.mn.us/alumni-spotlight.
Thanks, and we look forward to hearing all your wonderful stories!
At Austin Public Schools, our mission is to inspire, empower, and accelerate every one of our learners, and we know that the only way for us to reach this goal is through the efforts of all our incredibly hard-working staff.
In this week’s Staff Spotlight, we’re highlighting Southgate Elementary School grade 1 teacher Kristen Bambrick.
"Mrs. Bambrick is a valued member of our Southgate team. She instills in her students invaluable life skills which is reflected by their kind and responsible behavior in the lunch room as well as schoolwide. Thank you, Mrs. Bambrick!"
If you’d like to nominate an outstanding Austin Public Schools staff member for our weekly Staff Spotlight, please take a moment to fill out the form at https://www.austin.k12.mn.us/district-resources/staff-spotlight. It only takes a minute and can truly make someone’s day. Thanks!
Superintendent Coffee and Conversation
Superintendent Coffee and Conversation
Please consider joining me at the Coffee House on Main for coffee and conversation.
Coffee House on Main
329 Main Street North
Austin, MN 55912
- October 23 – 7:00-7:45 AM
- November 27 – 7:00-7:45 AM
- December 20 – 7:00-7:45 AM
Or you can contact me at email@example.com or call 507-460-1900 to schedule an appointment.
* Dates are subject to change
Monday, Oct 23, 2023, 07:00 AM
329 Main Street North, Austin, MN, USA
In The News
- How deaf education has changed in Minnesota over 160 years
- School resource officers pulled from some Minnesota schools after new law restricting use of restraints
- The ‘science of reading’ swept reforms into classrooms nationwide. What about math?
Next Week at APS
Austin Public Schools is committed to creating an inclusive environment that values the diversity of its employees and does not discriminate against any employee or candidate based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, age, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, familial status or membership or activity in a local commission. The school district strongly encourages anyone interested to apply to join our teams. Reasonable accommodations to access job openings or to apply for a job are available. Click here to learn more.