SAP Elementary School

By Sarah CR Clark
News commentary

Grade school students petition for snow days

At the end of this past November, with a winter storm in the forecast, the St. Paul School District sent an email to the families of enrolled students reminding them that winter weather could result in either an e-learning day (when students attend classes virtually) or a traditional snow day.

While that storm didn’t ultimately affect the next school day, it did affect one St. Anthony Park Elementary School fourth grader: My daughter Norah Clark.

Norah began circulating a handmade petition at school that day to protest e-learning days.

Her teacher at the time, Brenda Levine, said, “When I asked her (Norah) what the petition was (about), she explained that she thought students should get to be kids and enjoy a snow day instead of an e-learning day. She told me that a snow day was a good idea because kids could go outside and get fresh air and exercise.

“We then talked about this as a class and students had other reasons why a snow day was a good idea.”

Inspired by the students, Levine guided her fourth- and fifth-grade class into carrying out a real-world, research-based writing project. The students identified their audience, read short opinion pieces and researched their subject.

“We learned how to look for articles that contained information from experts on the subject (of snow days), such as doctors, teachers and college professors,” Levine said. Finally, in small groups, students collaborated and drafted opinion letters. (Editor’s note: You can read one of those letters on page 5 of this month’s Bugle.)

“Students became so excited about the fact that Superintendent Joe Gothard and the (St. Paul) School Board were getting the petition and letters, that some students in class went home and made posters to promote signing the petition schoolwide. All day long, teachers and students would stop in our classroom to sign the petition,” Levine said.

Clark estimated about 100 signatures were collected on the petition, including the names of SAP Elementary Principal Karen Duke and many teachers. She said she hopes her class’s letters will motivate a district-wide change, noting, “I hope that we will have a lot less e-learning days or none at all.”

As of the Bugle’s February deadline, the student letter writers had yet to receive a response from Superintendent Gothard or the School Board.

In January, Brenda Levine, who taught at SAP Elementary for four years, began a new position in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, as a first-grade teacher to be closer to home.

Sarah CR Clark is a regular contributor to the Bugle.

Murray Middle School

Murray science update

Earth Science classes recently investigated how light is refracted with concave and convex lenses. They will use this information to better understand how telescopes are used to gather light from distant objects in space, which hints at how the universe was formed.

Earth Science students at Murray investigate the effect different lenses have on light. Photo courtesy of Jamin McKenzie.

Winter concert

Murray held its first band and orchestra concert of the year on Dec. 15 in front of a packed auditorium.

Murray’s new band and orchestra director, Denae Olsen and her students were very excited and gave our audience a great experience showcasing the talent we have in our community.

Submitted by Principal Jamin McKenzie.

Twin Cities German Immersion School

School tours for prospective K-8 students and families

The Twin Cities German Immersion School is a public (tuition-free) K-8 charter school in the Como neighborhood. TCGIS is a language immersion school, which means German is the primary language of instruction in grades K-8. With exceptions for English class beginning in 3rd grade and math in 5th grade, students meet their learning targets in the German language, learning German through the content of Minnesota state standards.

Additional support is available for students who don’t yet speak German, as well as English-language support for students who speak a language other than English at home.

The last of three school tours for prospective students and their families is scheduled for Feb. 6. The hour long, in person tour includes visits to classrooms and a Q&A with an administrator and a teacher. You can learn more at

Alumni from Twin Cities German Immersion School gathered at Como Park in December. Photo courtesy of Mary Zimmerman.

Alumni Reunite

Despite freezing temperatures, The Twin Cities German Immersion School (TCGIS) alumni, students, mainly from the two first graduating classes of 2013 and 2014, gathered on Dec. 30 for hot cocoa and cookies at Como Park Pavilion.

The young adults shared about their experiences during the pandemic and college and post-college careers. TCGIS alumni recently graduated from local colleges, such as MCTC and St. Olaf, as well as the international institutions Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and University of Amsterdam.  

Submitted by Katharina Schirg, TCGIS communications relations director.

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