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Celebrating the great work of Faribault students and staff

Column: What has been lost, and found in the pandemic

By FHS Assistant Principal Shawn Peck

This appeared in the Faribault Daily News on Feb. 17


A lot has been made about the learning loss that young people around the world are experiencing because of being out of school due to the pandemic. While the herculean efforts made by our schools and our teachers have allowed students to stay engaged and continue to learn at high levels, it’s undeniable that some things typically taught in a normal school year won’t be taught this year. Parents, politicians, and school leaders like me are worried about this.

I wondered what students would say when the topic of what has been lost this year was brought up. So, I asked them. Here are some of their responses:


"I have lost a lot of memories that I would have made if it was a normal school year."


"I lost the opportunity to visit colleges."


"[I lost] homecoming, watching sports, seeing classmates, prom, theatre, the fundraisers, and all the extra events that are put on."


"I lost a lot of my support system. Sometimes I forget that I love and need my friends, so I don't actively reach out to them first. This has screwed up my mental health."


"I feel like I'm missing out on the connections I can make in school with teachers."


These students acknowledge loss but are less focused on gaps in learning than us adults because they know that learning is not a linear endeavor. It happens in fits and starts. Hours of frustration can be followed by moments of blissful discovery. Years of disengagement in school can be replaced by an insatiable desire to learn once one finds their true passion. Learning is never lost, because tomorrow is always a new opportunity for the spark of an idea to light an eternal flame in the mind of a child.

The teachers, counselors, and other staff at Faribault Public Schools will do whatever it takes to accelerate the learning of every child in the months and years ahead. We are prepared to meet the challenge of providing high quality mental health support, ensuring a culture in each building that students feel welcome in, and guaranteeing a world-class education for every child.

As adults, it is reasonable to be concerned about our children learning less math, science, history, and literature this year, but our young people have grown in ways that matter so much more. The persistence, patience, resilience, adaptability, creativity, and courage they have shown has been truly inspiring for me. These skills will last a lifetime. When I asked students what they had “found” this school year, many acknowledged seeing those traits in themselves:


"I have found that I love having my own schedule and that I like waking up early."


"I have found that I actually enjoy reading and doing art, which are things I never had time for before COVID."


"I’ve found that when I try my best, I am actually a really good student. My grades are better than they ever have been. I’m more confident than I was before."


"I found out my little sister is not always annoying but is actually very funny. I also learned not to take anyone for granted."


"I have found that I am a good distance learner. I am always on top of my work."


"I have found that washing hands and good hygiene is not just for germaphobes anymore!"


"I have found myself."


All has not been lost. And what has been lost can be found. Maybe time will show that our students aren’t behind. Maybe we just need to measure different things.

VIDEO: Winter Pepfest courtesy of the FHS student council

Faribault High School Winter Pepfest

Emeralds third at High Kick state championships

The Faribault Emeralds dance team added to its long legacy of success at the state level over the weekend when the team participated in the Jazz and High Kick competitions at the Class AA state championships at Edina High School. The Emeralds saved their best for last Saturday in the High Kick where they placed third behind Sartell and Austin, and ahead of Mound Westonka, Benilde-St. Margaret's and St. Cloud Cathedral. In February, the team earned its ninth straight Big 9 title and 21st overall. Numerous dancers were named to the all-conference and all-state teams.


Pictured: At their meet on Feb. 25, the Emeralds collected donations for local food shelves.

VIDEO: Emeralds' third-place state High Kick performance

Faribault Dance Team State Kick 2021

FACS students and staff supply meal boxes for those in need

On March 12-13, our FACS students and teachers packed 25 food boxes with recipes, ingredients and kitchen supplies to give to district families in need over spring break. The Minnesota Association of Family and Consumer Sciences provided a grant for this project and Fareway and HyVee made generous donations. Thank you to everyone who was involved in this project that will make a positive impact for families in need in our community.

Lauren McDonough wins beam, floor at Big 9 gymnastics meet

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Lincoln celebrates 100 days of school

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FHS grad Sjodin to return as school resource officer

After spring break, 2008 Faribault High School graduate Josh Sjodin will return to FHS as our new school resource officer.
Sjodin has been with the Faribault Police Department for nearly eight years. He applied for the school resource officer role because he saw it as an opportunity to give back to the school that helped him accomplish so many of his goals.
“I am excited to be back at FHS to see some of the teachers I had as I was going through school and to meet the new ones and get to know the school again,” he said.
While a student at FHS, Sjodin participated in basketball, baseball and football. As school resource officer, Sjodin described his role as helping to keep staff and students safe and engaging and building positive relationships with students.

Coover family works with WalMart on donation

Theresa Coover wanted to do her part to make sure students have everything they need to succeed, so she worked with her employer, Walmart, on a donation of $1,200 worth of supplies for our elementary schools. Her son, Christopher, a fifth-grader at Lincoln, came out to help unload the supplies on Feb. 25.

Community Education partners with Daikin to offer free training program

Story courtesy of the Faribault Daily News

Working at Daikin Applied requires knowledge of manufacturing, but a 2018 needs assessment suggests employees need more than orientation to acquire those tools.

Employees indicated in the assessment that they enjoyed their jobs but wanted more training before working the plant floors. Daikin listened, and now, prospective employees for the company’s Faribault and Owatonna locations can enroll in a free community training program before they even submit their application. The pilot program, a 40-hour training, takes place from Feb. 22 to March 5 at the Faribault Education Center and South Central College Faribault campus. The opportunity applies to anyone with a high school diploma or general educational diploma (GED).

“Daikin reached out to Community Education about a year ago because they find it challenging to retain their staff, and it’s most likely because the staff they hire don’t have the skills they need,” said Faribault Adult Education and Enrichment Coordinator Cassie Ohnstad.

George Chapple, Daikin professional training manager, observed the knowledge gap firsthand.

“I took it upon myself to go into a couple of sessions of orientation, and about 65% couldn’t identify basic hand tools and what they were used for,” Chapple said. “From that standpoint, we would like to see people coming in already with that basic knowledge.”

Chapple has two types of Daikin candidates in mind for the training program. The first group consists of individuals who want to apply to Daikin but first want more experience in manufacturing. The second pool might include candidates who already presented strong resumes with prior experience in other working environments, like retail, but otherwise lack the manufacturing skills needed at Daikin, which manufactures commercial air conditioning units.

Adult students who enroll in the training will acquire skills in five key areas. A blend of Daikin employees and Community Education instructors prepared lessons on manufacturing basics, hand and power tools, reading blueprints, precision measurements and electrical wiring. In future training programs, Chapple also wants instructors to present an entire unit on brazing, the practice of using high temperatures to join metals together.

Since Daikin wants to offer the training continuously, Ohnstad encourages anyone interested to get on the waiting list. At least five need to sign up in order for Community Ed to offer the program, she said, and four already signed up as of last week. During the coronavirus pandemic, the two locations have capped the number of participants at five to allow for social distancing.

The training does not guarantee employment, but Daikin will offer phone interviews to those who complete the training. Hired workers will start with production line and sub assembly jobs at $18.38 per hour, and Chapple said they may receive more training in specific areas after getting through the door.

A level one evaluation will follow the first training, Chapple said, to give participants a chance to offer feedback on the training’s length and content. The instructors will then adjust the program as necessary for the next group of participants.

Through the training program, Chapple hopes Daikin partners see the benefits of investing in the local community and notice the correlation between keeping individuals employed and helping a community grow. After being at Daikin for three years, Chapple said he’s impressed that the company supports his innovation in developing employees for community success.

“At the end of the day, we want people to be proud of where they work,” Chapple said. “… When they tell others they work at Daikin, I hope they say it’s a company that invests in its employees and the community where they work.”

Deanna Kuennen, director of community and economic development for the city of Faribault, says Daikin is a leader in identifying workforce pathways for individuals, which she considers a benefit to the community as a whole.

Faribault’s progress in affordable housing, secured with three separate developments being completed over the course of this year, could in turn benefit Daikin. Kuennen had promised in December 2020 to use the resources of the city’s Economic Development Authority to deliver affordable housing, understanding that families want to work in areas where they can afford to live. Daikin, with its increased need for workers, made the need for affordable housing more dire.

“I’m super excited that Faribault seems to be leaps and bounds ahead of others as it comes to workforce development,” Kuennen said. “I know our Chamber is doing some amazing things in connection with our industries, South Central College and the high school, and then I know that our industries such as Daikin are doing things that will specifically help them in the long run but have a broader impact on the community.”

The training is offered in partnership with Faribault Adult Education, SCC, Fastenal, CareerForce and Workforce Development, Inc. To find out how to enroll, call 507-333-6472 or text 507-330-4210.

Wrestling team shares first Big 9 title since '95

With their March 2 victory over Rochester John Marshall, the Faribault Falcons wrestling team earned a share of the Big 9 Conference Championship.

The 19-2 Falcons finished the Big 9 Conference schedule with just one loss. The Big 9 Title will be shared between Faribault, Owatonna, and Northfield High Schools. On January 15, Northfield beat Owatonna 48-18; On February 2, Faribault beat Northfield 39-30; And, on March 2, Owatonna beat Faribault 46-20.

This is wrestling's first Big 9 Conference Championship since 1995.

Abdi wins Black History Month literature and art contest

To celebrate Black History Month, Faribault High School held a Literature and Art contest. Students were asked to share their thoughts, in any medium, about how Black people have helped define America’s heritage and identity through their achievements and contributions to broader society. Written entries were limited to 750 words and oral projects to 90 seconds. They were voted on by the FHS Equity Team.

First place was awarded to Rahma Abdi, second place to Olivia Bolster and third place to Huda Muse. These students were presented with certificates Friday. Congratulations to these students and thank you for sharing your inspiring projects!

Tradition continues as Roosevelt students learn about teamwork, history in Iditaroo

Even through COVID, the Iditaroo tradition continued in another format at Roosevelt Elementary, with just as much excitement and learning. Students worked together as a team to persevere and honor the tradition of the Iditarod, which celebrates the history of The Great Serum Run, where sled dogs and mush teams were called upon to bring life saving medicine 700 miles across Alaska during the diphtheria outbreak in 1925.

Student interns begin maple syrup collection at River Bend

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An early hint of Spring

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VIDEO: Girls basketball Teacher Appreciation Night

FGBALL Teacher Appreciation Night

School Social Worker Week (March 8-12)

We celebrated the great work of all our social workers during School Social Worker Week. Thank you to all our social workers for your tireless efforts advocating for our students and families.

Pictured: Amanda McColl's office at Faribault Middle School is covered in the positive messages she's received from students over the years.

Rein and friends complete media center mural

In late February, senior Avery Rein completed the final touches on a mural she designed and painted, with the help of some of her friends, for the FHS media center. Avery worked on the project for several hours every Wednesday going back to September. Awesome job, Avery!

Meet a Coach: Bethany Fuller


Assistant Swim Coach for girls/boys Swim and Dive Teams


Coaching experience

•Swam from 7th thru 12th grade for Faribault High School. Competed in college swimming for four years at St. Cloud State University.

•Also I am a Red Cross Water Safety instructor and have taught swim lessons for a total of 10 years.


Experience in the activity you coach

•Won Big 9 all six years in High School when I was on the swim and dive team.


Coaching accomplishments

•Was named Sections 1A Assistant Swim Coach of the Year.

•Having Athletes make it state every year that I have been part of the team coaching.


Do you have any coaching philosophies or approaches that are uncommon or unique to you?

•You can work hard, but still have fun.


What are 1 or 2 of your favorite memories or experiences you’ve had as a coach?

•Winning Girls Big 9 my second year coaching. It was fun to be part of the coaching side of winning Big 9 and watching the girls hard work pay off.

•Being able to coach with my dad and brother. My dad coached me in high school so it has been a great getting to coach with him now. I also swam with my brother in college so it enjoyable getting to be in a swim/dive setting again.


Why do you coach?

•I really enjoy working with the young athletes in my sport of swimming and diving. It is fun to teach them how to swim better and faster. Seeing grow as a athlete and as a person through the years that I work with them is very rewarding.


What do you hope students who participate in your activity take away from it?

•To have young athletes get a better understanding of what it means to be part of a team and support one another.

VIDEO: FHS athletics and activities

Faribault High School Athletics and Activities

School Bus driver Appreciation Week

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