The District Insider

Volume 7, Issue 3 | October 2019

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Six Students Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Six seniors have been named 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists.

Oliver Dalmi (Grand Forks Central High School), Daniel Hettich (Grand Forks Central High School), Aiden Krogh (Red River High School), Alexander Tjellesen (Red River High School), Joseph Votava (Red River High School), and Mikayla Weiss (Grand Forks Central High School) are six of approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the 65th annual scholarship program.

About 1.5 million high school juniors in more than 21,000 high schools nationwide entered the program by completing the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The semifinalists in each state are proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

Approximately 15,000 of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing and will be notified in February of the designation. Scholarship winners will be selected from the group of finalists, and approximately 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million will be announced in the spring of 2020.

National Merit Scholars are selected by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Established in 1955, the organization’s mission is to recognize and honor academically talented students in the United States.

Opp, Sherwood Named CSTAND Administrators of the Year

Red River High School teachers and Summer Performing Arts (SPA) Company administrators Dean Opp and Brad Sherwood have been recognized by the Communication, Speech, and Theatre Association of North Dakota (CSTAND) as Administrators of the Year.

CSTAND is a professional organization for Speech, Debate, Speech, and Theater directors in high school, college/university, and community theaters in North Dakota.

The Administrator of the Year award is given to a high school, college, or university administrator that has demonstrated recent contributions and support for communication arts, forensics, and theatre activities.

Opp and Sherwood were nominated for their administrative leadership with SPA. Opp and Sherwood are founding members of SPA, growing the program from 15 students in 1987 to over 1,400 students in 2019. In 33 years, SPA has also grown to include a mentoring program for at-risk students, a program for students with special needs, and an English Learner (EL) program. In 2017, SPA was awarded the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, which is awarded annually to the country’s highest out-of-school arts programs.

Opp and Sherwood received their award at the annual CSTAND conference on September 13th in Mandan.

Students Volunteer Over 4,700 Hours Through Helping Hands Program

Over 100 middle and high school students in Grand Forks Public Schools’ Helping Hands youth volunteer program completed 4,783 hours of community service during the summer of 2019.

Each summer, the eight week Helping Hands program kicks off with students attending instructional sessions that focus on character traits, attitudes and behaviors, volunteer opportunities, interest surveys, and discovering authentic community needs. The students are then assigned to a local agency where each student will volunteer. Agencies include thrift stores, non-profit daycares, nursing home facilities, schools, homeless shelters, and parks.

“The Helping Hands program creates wonderful opportunities for service learning. The youth develop valuable leadership, communication, and empathy skills that build character and promote a sense of community,” said Sarah Shimek, Character Education and Prevention Coordinator for Grand Forks Public Schools.

Over the past 18 years, Helping Hands youth volunteers have contributed over 92,145 hours of community service to the greater Grand Forks areas.

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Congratulations to our students who participated in the 2019 Helping Hands program! They volunteered 4,783 hours of service in the city of Grand Forks! To learn more about this great program, check out our website at (photo courtesy Jodi Dodson).
Students Receive New Shoes, Socks from Samaritan’s Feet

Approximately 500 students from Grand Forks Public Schools were the recipients of new shoes and socks as part of the 6th annual Samaritan’s Feet Back-to-School distribution, which was held on September 21st at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

Each recipient received a new pair of shoes and socks and had their feet washed by a community volunteer, including University of North Dakota students and student-athletes.

Also attending the event was Emmanuel “Manny” Ohome, the founder of Samaritan’s Feet. You can learn more about Manny’s story by visiting

Samaritan’s Feet is a humanitarian aid organization that shares a message of hope and love through washing the feet of children around the world and adorning them with new shoes. Since its founding in 2003, Samaritan’s Feet and its partners have served over 7 million people worldwide, including in 395 U.S. cities in 42 states.

Grand Forks social workers at Samaritan's Feet event

A BIG thank you to our social workers who volunteered (after a VERY rainy evening/morning) at the 6th Annual Samaritan's Feet event in Grand Forks! (photo courtesy Pamela Elmquist).

Fall 2019 Adult Community Education Classes
Check out the link below for the Fall 2019 course listings from Adult Community Education and learn more about the great programming available. From healthy living to computers, there are courses for a variety of interests! Visit to register.
Hand holding cell phone with Purposity website on screen.

With cooler temperatures ahead, we have seen an increased need for winter weather gear for some of our students. Thanks to our social workers, these needs will be sent via text, posted on the Purposity website, and our community members will be able to assist with the few clicks of a button.

If you want to lend a hand to these students, visit and sign up for a Purposity account today. You will receive a text message once a week with a need for one of our students/their families. Once you have an account, you can also visit our community page at, view all of the current needs in our school system, and make a purchase. Once an item is purchased, it is sent directly to a school social worker, who distributes the item to the student/their family. It's just that easy.

Thank you for your support!

list of items on Purposity website
Provide your Feedback on School Facilities

Click on the button below to visit the ThoughtExchange portal, watch the presentations, and provide your feedback on our school facilities.

Job Openings. Come In, We're Hiring.
Upcoming Events
  • October 4 - Elroy Schroeder/South/Valley No School (Parent-Teacher Conferences)
  • October 4 - Elementary Schools/K-8 at Twining Dismissed at 11:20 a.m. (Parent-Teacher Conferences)
  • October 9 - Grand Forks Central/Red River One Hour Late Start (PLCs)
  • October 9 - Elementary Early Release at 1:30 p.m. (PLCs)
  • October 14 - Grand Forks School Board Meeting (6 p.m., Mark Sanford Education Center)
  • October 15 - Grand Forks Air Force Base School Board Meeting (12 p.m., Nathan Twining Elementary and Middle School)
  • October 17-18 - No School K-12 (Administrative Convention Days)
  • October 25 - End of 1st Quarter (high schools)
  • October 28 - Grand Forks School Board Meeting (6:10 p.m., Wilder Elementary School)
  • October 30 - Elementary Early Release at 1:30 p.m. (PLCs)
  • October 31 - End of 1st Quarter (high schools)
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Mark Sanford Education Center

2400 47th Ave. S

Grand Forks, ND 58201