Issue #98

November 8-15 "Week at a Glance"

Hello Gordon Parks Students and Families

We had an exciting week last week, with a College Resource Fair and our Q1 Conference/Showcase on 11/2. Enjoy photos from both of these events, as well as student projects, in this issue of The Lens.

Important Dates:

11/8 College Gear Wednesday

11/10 School Spirit Day

11/12 Diwali begins

11/13 Quarter 2 begins

11/13-11/19: Transgender Awareness Week / Transgender Day of Remembrance

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Quarter 1 Conference/Showcase 11/2

We had a wonderful conference & showcase last week Thursday 11/2. Approximately 25 parents & guardians attended, we enjoyed conversations about classes and learning projects, and we also enjoyed Jimmy Johns sandwiches! Stay tuned for our Q2 conferences, and enjoy the photos below.



Hiya!! I am Mr. Vaerst. My last name is commonly mispronounced using the English language. It is pronounced with the e being silent (Varst). The background of my family name traces to Germany. I am the 4th generation of teachers within my family here in the states, where my great grandmother, grandmother, father, mother and two aunts were all teachers. For me, teaching has been a way of life and is also what both my brother, sister and niece do as well. I grew up in Inver Grove Heights, MN

This is my first year at Gordon Parks High School. My subject area is Mathematics. I began my career in 1996 and joined Saint Paul Public Schools in the fall of 2001 at Como Park Senior High. In 2011, I joined the staff at Washington Technology Magnet before taking a district-level position for the 2022-2023 school year, which now brings me here.

My favorite part of being an educator at GPHS are the smaller class sizes and the ability to work more closely with students. I enjoy being able to adjust what students are learning in order to best prepare them for life after high school, and learning from the staff here as well. I feel like we are a small family here at GP which gives me a strong sense of belonging.

I am hopeful that someday I could offer a project where students work in teams to build small sheds for people in the community, partnering with companies who would be willing to help pay for/donate materials, and students learn various aspects of mathematics needed within the construction process. Depending on cost, the hope would be we could generate some funding from the sale of the sheds to help expand the program.

In my free time, I love the outdoors and enjoy enjoying multiple activities that keep outside all year. My favorite activities are archery, muskie fishing, ice fishing, hunting and golf. In the winter, I will compete in a team-format indoor archery league here in Saint Paul, but since COVID that has been put on hold. I also enjoy doing Sudoku puzzles, card games with family and friends as well.

I also enjoy activities with my wife as we go exploring nature trails throughout the state, attending various fine arts performances such as plays and dinner theater (my favorites are murder-mystery dinners where the audience interacts with the theater members), trapped puzzle rooms, and spending time with family, primarily her family in Texas. We also enjoy meeting with friends on Trivia nights at restaurants, attending movies (my wife LOVES popcorn) and quiet times at home as well

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Student Writing from the Q1 "Banned Books Project"

Dear Editor of To Kill A Mockingbird,

I am writing to express my support for banned books and the importance of preserving intellectual freedom. Banning books limits our access to diverse perspectives and stifles the free exchange of ideas. It is crucial that we encourage open dialogue and embrace the power of literature to challenge and inspire.

History has shown us that many great works of literature faced bans and challenges. For example, "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, a powerful exploration of racial injustice, has faced attempts at censorship. However, this novel continues to educate and enlighten readers, fostering empathy and understanding.Banning books not only restricts individual freedom but also hinders intellectual growth and critical thinking. It is through exposure to different ideas, even controversial ones, that we can broaden our horizons and develop a more inclusive society.

Instead of banning books, we should focus on promoting dialogue and providing resources for critical analysis. By encouraging thoughtful discussions and engaging with challenging literature, we can foster a society that values diversity, empathy, and intellectual freedom.


Anonymous GPHS Student


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Do you need elective credits? Do you have a part-time job?

Did you know you can earn 2 credits per quarter for working after school?

To take advantage of the work experience program, the first step is to check with your counselor to see if you still need electives. If so, he will direct you to Mr. Iwen, the Work Experience Coordinator who can get you set up with the paperwork and information you need for work experience credit.

This is a great way to earn credit for something you might already be doing!

If you are interested in work opportunities or need help searching and applying for jobs talk to Mr. Iwen in room 1109, and visit the hallway display on the first floor.

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See the updated Family Engagement Plan on the Gordon Parks Title 1 website.

Take a look at our SCIP (School Continuous Improvement Plan) via this link

Please click the "One Stop" link below to update your info for this school year. This info needs to be updated annually.

"ELEPHANT TOOTHPASTE" Decomposition Reaction Q1 Chemistry Project