Minnesota weather

There has been fridge weather in the Midwest, specifically in Minnesota, during the past month. The wind chill temperature in the Midwest has reached around -30. The negative weather began around the week of January 28 and extended through February 1. The arctic cold has resulted in many with no homes to freeze to death in Chicago. According to NBC Chicago, 19 people have died in the blistering cold, many of whom were homeless.

There were closings of hundreds of schools across districts for days across the Midwest. Here in Minnesota, governor Tim Walz is not going to penalize school districts in the state by adding more school days to compensate for the school days lost, the week of January 28, during the fridge below zero temperatures. The cold broke records in many cities and states that week. According to Fox 9 News, it became the lowest temperatures recorded in Minnesota since 1994.

Although the governor of Minnesota decided to not add school days at the end of the school year, I asked some students around how they felt about school days being added. It has been a big topic for quite a while, especially since a few years ago, more school days were added at the end of the school year due to having too many snow days.

Tovi Yangh: Honestly I would rather have schools added at the end of the year if it is needed. I’d rather go to school when it’s warm than suffer in the cold walking to school or having to carry my jacket around because it’s too cold. Other than that, I don’t really mind with whatever that happens. If school days are added then I’ll go since I have to.

Emily St. Clair: I would hate it if school days were added. I don’t want to go to school in the summer especially since we don’t have air conditioner. No one would want to show up and be surrounded by a lot of students when it’s hot.

Vahue Thao: I think that adding days would be unfair because it wasn’t really our fault that we had snow days. Also, I think that kids won’t show up because maybe their families have already made plans for it already.

Dayna Baty: Honestly, it doesn’t really affect me but I think that school days shouldn’t be added no matter how many snow days there are. Personally, I’ve used those snow days to catch up on school work and I think they’re really helpful with just catching up on school.

I also interviewed many others who had the same views. Overall, students want their summer break to start early with no school days added. Many others also have stated that they are thankful that SPPS is doing a better job at calling snow days and early releases than they did a few years back.

Hopefully, next winter will be less dangerous, not just for students, but for everyone else.

Ice rink is coming to the Mall of America this holiday season

On December 8, 2018, an ice rink will open at the Mall of America, and it will be free to the public. It is a custom built ice rink, and it is a 12,000-square-foot oval rink. This ice skate rink will be called “Skate the Stars” and it will be located near the Bloomington shopping mecca’s north entrance. The rink is being presented by UCare, and will be around for those planning on making holiday returns.

In a press release, Jill Renslow, SVP of business Development at Mall of America said, “An ice rink has been an experience we have always wanted to bring to life for our guests who visit Mall of America during this cherished time of year, we want our guests to experience the unexpected when they visit each year, that is why adding this ice rink is such an exciting addition to our holiday line-up,’’ she added, ‘‘We look forward to seeing visitors from all over the world enjoy Skate the Star at Mall of America.”

If you plan on going you can bring your own skates, or you can rent skates for $5, with proceeds benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities. Before skating, all skaters must complete waivers. Minors under the age of 18 must have a waiver signed by a parent or guardian.

The skate rink will be there until January 27, 2019, and from December 8-23, it will be open from 3 p.m to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday. It will open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and Sunday it will open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Starting Christmas eve, the hours will change onwards.

Images are posted on the Mall of America Facebook page, and it shows the rink as a circular track with a station in the middle.

For more information visit these sites:

Minnesota elections

Tuesday’s midterm elections were a very surprising election in Minnesota, and many firsts were been made as many women took the lead.

Amy Klobuchar defeated Republican Jim Newberger by 625,614 votes and continues to add to her senate service of over 10 years. Tina Smith won against Karin Housley, and is Minnesota’s second senator, and won by 274,603 votes. The governor of Minnesota is now Tim Walz who defeated Republican Jeff Johnson by 295,261 votes.

Ilhan Omar beat Jennifer Zielinski by 193,258 votes, with most her votes coming from Hennepin County. She was the nation’s first Somali-American member of Congress and will be one of two Muslim women congresswoman. She was once a refugee and is headed to Washington D.C. She won Minnesota’s fifth congressional district.

Peggy Flanagan was the first Native American elected lieutenant governor, and was serving as a member of the House of Representatives since 2015.

Annie Craig became the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from Minnesota, when she won the 2nd Congressional district by defeating Republican Jason Lewis.

In Hennepin county David Hutchinson will be the first openly gay sheriff in the Midwest.

Maria Regan Gonzalez will be the first Latina mayor in Richfield, and Kim Norton will be Rochester’s first woman mayor, also Jonathan Judd will be Moorhead’s first African American mayor.

Give to the Max Day 2018

Give to The Max Day (GTTMD) is a day across Minnesota where people are encouraged to donate to non-profits and schools all over MN.

This year, Give to The Max Day is on November 15th.

GTTMD was first started in 2009. When Give MN, a group dedicated to making Minnesota a better place to live, launched in 2009, GTTMD was an idea they came up with to promote their launch. In the first 24 hours of their first GTTMD they raised $14 million dollars. Ever since then, GTTMD had been an annual tradition.

People interested in donating can visit GiveMN.org.  They can search for the non-profit of their choice, or look for different causes to find a non-profit or school doing work they want to support. The minimum donation amount is $10.

The site is up and available for organizations and donors to use all year long, but on November 15th, Give to the Max Day, people are encouraged to make their annual donation to help their favorite non-profits or schools win prizes. The 24-hour giving period also serves to raise awareness of the benefits of charity and raise the spirit of community giving.

One way you, or your family, can support Highland Park Senior High, is to look up “Highland Park Senior High School” on GiveMN.org and donate directly to Highland.

Another way for students to donate, is through the school directly. Here at Highland, the PTSA is trying to get students involved in GTTMD by hosting a fundraiser in all first period classes. Students are encouraged to donate money, and whichever class donates the most by Monday, November 20th, will receive bagels the following Monday.

On November 15th, to help remind people about the event, people are encouraged to wear the color green.

If you or anyone you know is interested in participating, visit the GiveMN website to make a donation.

 

 

St. Thomas racial slur on freshman door

School leaders at St. Thomas say the university is actively investigating a racist message allegedly left on a student’s door, in a dormitory, on Friday, October 19. The racist act happened when a first-year, African-American student, living in Brady Hall, found a message spray-painted on his door. The message included a racial slur and told him to “go home.”

“I was so mad I walked inside, grabbed an all-purpose cleaner, and just scrubbed it off,” he [said]. “I thought later I did not even take a picture of it. What a dummy. But I was so pissed off.”

This of course caused conflict around the entire school, and also in the neighborhood. The president of the university created a plan to counter racism on campus as hundreds of students and faculty members staged a sit in.

He said he has received an outpouring of support from students and faculty in recent days. After he considered transferring to another campus, he said, “I decided I am not going anywhere.”


The president’s “Action to suppress the racism” includes

  • Encouraging faculty to address race in the classroom

  • Launching an anti-hate campaign

  • Offering trauma resources focusing on students of color

  • Increasing the diversity of campus counselors

  • Providing anti bias training to all students, staff, and faculty this academic year

  • Bringing in an outside organization to assess the campus’ climate and diversity efforts

St. Thomas is still investigating the Brady Hall incident and is trying to address a problem that is happening all too often across the United States, in recent years.

SPPS school budget referendum

By: Vivian S

This year, the St. Paul Public School District has placed on the ballot a referendum on raising the property tax levy to increase the district’s budget. The referendum will increase the amount of money the district receives per pupil from $704.52 to $1179.52. The estimated tax impact on an average homeowner would be $11 more per month.

If voters approve the referendum, the money will be used to: boost achievement, improve mental health, foster social-emotional learning, and help middle schools better prepare kids for high school. It will limit additional budget cuts. The district has already cut more than $50 million over the past three years.

If voters do not pass the referendum, the district might have to: cut programs for students that need help with basic academic skills, cut staff and other programs, and cut support staff (custodial, clerical, etc.). Most likely, they would start by cutting the electives and after-school programs.

SPPS has a strategic plan they wish to implement: they want to help English Language Learners more, assist students receiving special education, improve kindergarten readiness, help students grow academically in reading and math, and prepare everyone for college and life. They also wish to decrease the disparity of achievement based on race, culture, ethnicity, and identity.

SPPS is currently facing a $17.2 million budget shortfall, and they are not alone in their budget troubles. Minneapolis Public Schools are also trying to push through their own referendum for similar reasons. Up to now, no agreement has been made on how to handle the shortfall. One thing is clear, though: our schools need more money to operate.

SPPS, although the second largest school district in Minnesota, receives about $320 per student less than the metro district average. SPPS says they need this referendum because the state, which provides the majority of school funding, has not kept up with inflation and the needs of schools, which has put strain on the operating budget and caused the school system to rely on operating levies for many critical functions. The second largest amount of money that schools receive is from local communities, through operating levies like this one.

SPPS maintains they spend money wisely: they spend less on district administration and more on classrooms. Schools are an important part of many childrens’ lives, and the school system needs more money to give them the best education.

For more information about this topic, please visit:

https://www.spps.org/referendum2018

Eileen Viveros-Vargas: A loved one lost too soon

photo courtesy Karla Alarcon

On March 9th, police arrived at a home in Hayden Heights to discover the body of 18-year-old Eileen Viveros-Vargas. Officers had found Viveros-Vargas shot in the head and her unborn child had died with her as well. Viveros-Vargas was apparently five months pregnant at the time of her death.

Eileen’s boyfriend, Luis Isaac Chacon-Villeda, was arrested on suspicion of murder, as well as a charge of fifth-degree drug possession. Police had found several bags of marijuana, a handgun, as well as 2,000 dollars in cash in the bedroom that Eileen Vargas was found.

The family confirmed that the couple had been together for two years.

Luis Isaac Chacon-Villeda, with no previous criminal record, made his first court appearance on the drug charges. Chacon-Villeda had confessed to owning the marijuana, and .22 caliber handgun, that was found at the scene. He also admitted to dealing marijuana in his neighborhood.

Chacon-Villeda is being held at Ramsey County jail as police are further investigating the death of Viveros-Vargas, with another court hearing scheduled on March 27th.

Eileen Viveros-Vargas was a student at Highland Middle school, and was a former associate of many of our students.

“I met Eileen when we were in middle school; it was 7th or 8th grade. I remember her as an outgoing and caring person; she was nice to everyone,” said Aricela Rueda, a current senior. Although she did not keep in contact with Eileen after their transition to high school, she explained how shocked she was to hear about the tragedy of Eileen’s death, saying, “I couldn’t believe it, she was gone. What shocked me the most was finding out that her boyfriend could be responsible for it.”

The emotional and difficult response received from Aricela was not the only one. Many students took to social media to express their shock, over the death of Eileen Viveros-Vargas, over the last couple of days.

In an interview, Karla Alarcon, a current junior, and cousin to Eileen, in response to the news of Eileen’s death said, “I was very shocked, and I felt like it was a dream I would wake up from and it would be over, but soon realized it was not and it was like I had been stabbed in the heart.”

 

Minnesota firefighters die from an unexpected heart attack

In a small town in Minnesota, a firefighter died on a Tuesday morning from a unexpected heart attack after his training session. Captain Jeff Vollmer died hours after the Mayor Fire Department was practicing a scenario. He was only 40 years old, and he leaves behind his wife and two children. According to Maetzold, a Channel 9 reporter, Jeff seemed fine and he was fit, from what they could see, meaning he wasn’t sick.

Apparently, Vollmer isn’t the only firefighter who has died from an undiagnosed condition. The last four firefighters, in Minnesota, all died from heart attacks in their late 30s to early 40s. Half of the time, firefighters die from falling off ladders, smoke inhalation or burns, but heart attacks happen most of the time after their shift.

Shane Clifton, a firefighter in Minnesota, died of cardiac arrest at a station house when he was 38 years old. Also, 42-year old Matt Frantz, who was Fire Chief in Rice Lake, died a few hours after a late night fire call.

 

Vollmer died 6 hours after his training, and it is still considered a in the line of duty death under the Survivor Benefit Act of 2003. The act recognized heart attacks as being a in the line of duty event if they are within 24-hours of the shift.

 

Teachers vote to possibly go on strike

The teachers of St. Paul have spoken. The St. Paul school district will be attempting to prevent, or potentially endure a teacher strike. The teachers are asking for a 2.5 percent pay raise, along with more non-teacher staff, and smaller class sizes. SPPS (St. Paul Public School District) has had a hard time coming to meet the needs of our teachers.

On Wednesday, Jan 31st, our teachers voted to authorize a strike. This means that we have ten days before the strike possibly begins. This “cooling off” period ends Monday the 12th, and the potential strike will begin on Tuesday the 13th. If the strike has not ended after four school days, then we will have to add more days to the end of the school year.

Some teachers and non-teacher staff in the district do not believe that this argument will result in a strike; however, their opinion is becoming less and less likely every second that ticks by. The clock has started, and it seems to most that this clock will run out well before the teachers and school district come to an agreement. The thought of adding more days to the end of the year could be difficult for students and families, as some may have vacation plans, or plans for their children to work over the summer. It could be time consuming and potentially expensive for some families to shift their plans back farther into the summer.

One thing is for sure, the teachers, staff, and (most) students do not want to take a couple weeks off, and push their plans back into summer. This strike could shorten our summer break, were most of us relax, enjoy some free time, and work to make some money. With any luck, our teachers and school board can come to an agreement that would make a strike unnecessary. We all know how bad a strike could be for our students and staff.

*UPDATE: It was announced Monday morning, Feb 12th, that the union and district had come to a tentative agreement, thus preventing a strike.

Flu spreads across MN

The flu is spreading all over Minnesota according to WCCO news. According to Doctor Bjorn Peterson, people are coming to the hospital with body aches, headaches, high fevers, and sore throats. Emergency rooms are dealing with many people with these symptoms.

The doctors from Regions hospital, in St. Paul, are saying that they see 30 people a day who have the flu. The high numbers are why the Minnesota Department of Health is declaring influenza and respiratory illness, which means hospitals are putting restrictions on visitors to protect other patients and staff.

Dr. Frank Rhame, a disease doctor, from Allina Health, suggests that you should stay at home if you can. Rhame also suggests to keep kids under the age of five altogether. He also said they may look healthy but they could actually be infected. To prevent the spread of the flu, Dr. Rhame suggests to wash your hands thoroughly and cover your coughs.

These past weeks, Allina Health has admitted 120 people and 870 people have tested positive for influenza. Laboratory tests show that this year, the flu has hit the elderly and younger people hard.

According to the Star Tribune, the best way to prevent the flu is to be vaccinated, but it can’t provide protection against all possible disease. If you experience any flu symptoms like high fevers, chills, muscle aches, continuous coughs, sore throat, headaches, or fatigue, make sure to go see a doctor. The flu is very contagious and can infect you without you even knowing, so make sure to keep clean and make sure to not make physical contact with someone who is already infected.