Como Park High School

Como Park chefs swept the first and second place prizes at the St. Paul Public Schools Culinary Arts Competition at St. Paul College on Feb. 23. Photo by Courtney Gbolo

• The Como Culinary Club recently participated in the St. Paul Public Schools Culinary Arts Competition at St. Paul College. The club has eight dedicated members who are passionate about cooking. They have taken classes at Como, including Introduction to Culinary, Advanced Culinary, and International Cuisine. Courtney Gbolo teaches the Culinary Arts courses and coordinates the club.

To promote the St. Paul event and display the skills they’ve learned, Como juniors Isaac Vu, Ong Vang, and Miguel Ortiz Loveland did a cooking demonstration on the Feb. 19 edition of the Fox 9 Morning News show. “Anytime students have the opportunity to showcase something they’re passionate about, the sky’s the limit,” Gbolo said.

The competition required students to prepare a three-course meal in an hour and Como’s students shone brightly. The team of Robbie Link, Ong Vang, Jillian Brenner and Emma Luchsinger came in second place. They prepared a starter of pink gnocchi with a pesto, ricotta and beet sauce, entrée of glazed black cod with a honey cream and crunchy grapes, and dessert of chocolate, avocado and lime parfait.

To complete the Como sweep of the competition, the team of Dina Thoresen, Isaac Vu, Audrey Westerberg and Ong Vang took first place. They prepared a starter of vegan scallops and a citrus fennel salad, entrée of ravioli with acorn squash, marjoram, sage and butter, and dessert of strawberry and pistachio fraisier.

As the Bugle went to press, the club was still cooking after school and preparing for the State ProStart Competition.

• The Academy of Finance (AOF) and Math Department are partnering with local businesses to bring in mentors to help serve Como Park students. Every Wednesday, 10 mentors visit Como to tutor 20 freshmen with their algebra skills during advisory period. The mentors are from Math Motivators, coordinated with the Actuarial Foundation, and represent companies and institutions including Securian Financial, Travelers Insurance, the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas.

AOF Coordinator Kris Somerville said the external support from the foundation can help students achieve while strengthening partnerships in the community. “By getting help with math freshman year, students will be more confident academically in their high school years while also building relationships with outside professionals and mentors,” Somerville said. “Win! Win!”

Arden Ashley-Wurtmann is the program coordinator for Math Motivators. She understands the challenge of bringing in extra help for individual math tutoring. “As a former teacher, I often had volunteers who were excited to mentor students, but didn’t have the math confidence to help them with their work. Recruiting tutors who are either professionals or students majoring in math-related fields has been critical to the success of the program,” Ashley-Wurtmann said.

Any public school or math-related business wishing to partner with Math Motivators may contact

• Agriculture was added as an elective course at Como two years ago and is taught by Julie Ketterling, who also leads the Future Farmers of America (FFA) after-school program for students. FFA clubs from across the state gathered at the State Capitol on Feb. 28 for a conference and meetings with their elected officials. Como students met with state senator John Marty, state representative John Lesch, and state representative John Hout who is a member of the Education Finance Division and Education Policy Committee.

Students from Como’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) program met with officials at the state capitol on Feb. 28. FFA advisor Julie Ketterling (left) and club members are pictured with State Senator John Marty. Courtesy photo

• Lori Nakamura, who has been Como’s school nurse since 2008, coordinated a project with the Helen Keller Institute that provided every Como student an opportunity to receive a free eye exam at school and receive free glasses.

Many Como students don’t have access to regular eye exams or resources to secure corrective eyewear. Altogether, 869 students were screened. Of that number the 869 students who were screened, 194 students are getting glasses, while an additional 32 were referred for further treatment.

“Students were thrilled to see clearly! Being able to choose their frames brought a whole new level of excitement!” said English Language Learner (ELL) teacher Jane Sevald. ELL teacher Jill Wielgos added, “Even for students who had glasses, many had frames that were outdated or damaged. Students were extremely thankful for an updated pair.”

• Seniors Adina DeGaetano and Bridget Proper organized Como’s Annual Blood Drive with the Red Cross on Feb. 27 in the Como gymnasium. After careful screenings and medical clearance, approved students were able to donate 40 pints of blood to help those who will need it.

• History Day at Como featured the presentation of final products by 11th-grade U.S. history students. History scholars who qualified for the St. Paul regional competition on March 9 include the following students:

Group Exhibit — Dinnea Riley, Deleela Robinson, Anisa Moreno and Kayla McDonald for Emmett Till.

Group Website — Noelia Marin Leal, Mai Chue Xiong, Najma Adem and Moo Soe for Women’s Suffrage. Gemma Phan, Kaw Mu, and Paw Say Wah for Jonas Salk’s Polio Vaccine. Alicia Rivera, Dulce Ruiz Contreras, Mariana Zubke and Angeles Caballero for Frida Kahlo’s Paintings. Way Htoo and Shar Too for WAVES (Women’s branch of the U.S. Naval Reserve). Ly Xiong, Rose Say and Maisee Her for the Immigration Act of 1924.

Individual Website — Melody Yang for Pennhurst State Hospital, Jorge Nieto Pliego for Warren Robinett’s Easter Egg, Ethan Lee for the My Lai Massacre, Mai See Her for Anne Frank, and Lillian Sticha for NASA’s Human Computers.

Individual Documentary Film — Lisa Saechao for the Hmong Genocide, Wyatt Hanson for the Jazz Singer, and Yeeleng Vang for 9/11.

Research Paper — Issac Vu for the Tragedy of Pearl Harbor, and Aleeyar Keh for the State of Minnesota v. Dennis Linehan.

—Eric Erickson is a social studies teacher at Como Park High School.

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