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Cindy Benson is all smiles after learning she and Ronda Taylor earned a "What-If" grant from the Hastings Public Schools Foundation. She is pictured with Pat Schultz, a committee member. (Star Gazette photo by Jane Lightbourn)

More than $59,000 presented to District 200 staff through 'What If' grants

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More than $59,000 presented to District 200 staff through 'What If' grants
Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

They arrived with fanfare at the Hastings District 200 schools last Wednesday morning. Hastings High School musicians Rachel Roberts, Michael Notch and John Moes announced the good news with trumpets blaring as representatives of the Hastings Public Schools Foundation (HPSF) presented this year's "What If" grants to district staff members.


A total of 19 grants totaling more than $59,000 were presented to district staff members. Every level was represented.

Members of the HPSF visited every school in the district as the grants were announced.

The winners are printed here.

Hastings High School

Recipients from Hastings High School include:

• "Rare Reads for Reluctant Readers," Dawn Sahouani, lead teacher. The grant replaces worn-out copies of the book, "Tears of a Tiger," which address high school issues such as drinking and driving the possible consequences. Guest speakers are invited to speak to students about issues the book addresses.

• Printers to Enhance Student Learning and Understanding, Eric Dietz, lead teacher. A 3D printer prints out, or creates, actual three-dimensional objects. Students in the Industrial Technology Department will use the printer to create models from their engineering designs as well as prototypes for the machining process. Math students will also use the machine.

• "Nobody Told Me," Rosemary Tarnowski, lead teacher. International speaker Pam Stenzel will give a presentation to the entire high school body and staff regarding abstinence and sexual self-control.

• "Body Worlds for Anatomy Students," Cindy Benson, lead teacher. Body Worlds for Anatomy Students will allow students who are taking anatomy and physiology to see Gunther von Hagens' exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

• "Traveling Demonstrations," Sara Mohn, lead teacher. The grant will allow for the purchases of updated equipment for demonstrations with elementary students. The grant also funds transportation for a field trip.

• "Connecting to the Ancient Greece through Drama," Sara Mohn, lead teacher. Students will attend the play, "An Iliad," at The Dowling Studio.

Hastings Middle School

Recipients from the Hastings Middle School include:

• "Advanced Literature Circle Novels" for fifth- and sixth-grade accelerated and gifted cluster students, Jennifer Herber, lead teacher. The goal is provide high-interest, high-level and content appropriate literature.

• "Going Through STEM to Get to the Root of the Problem," Kim Wald, lead teacher. A group of 30 eighth-grade students will be in a school-within-a-school magnet program in science, technology, engineering and math.

• "Nook Simple Touch-E- Readers for Language Arts Grade Six," Herber, lead teacher. The goal is to expose multiple-ability students to many genre with high-quality, high interest books on e-readers.

• "Creating a Culture of Tolerance, Respect and Hope for HMS," Bobbi Seleski, lead teacher. Hastings Middle School has taken the initiative to create its own custom anti-bullying program based on student feedback, teacher input, community recommendations and current research. It is the goal to increase the feeling of student safety and in turn, individual student successes by helping each child gain the skills necessary to become advocates for one another, and more importantly, for themselves.

• "Digital Access for International Learners," Sandra Hisakuni, lead teacher. Educators will be buying iPads to help students increase understanding, comprehension, language acquisition and a sense of autonomy over learning.

McAuliffe Elementary

From McAuliffe Elementary School are:

• "Student Treasures," Ariel Burma, lead teacher. With this grant every student in the kindergarten classrooms at McAuliffe will learn to publish their own book.

• "Leap into Reading," Cassi Heppelmann, lead teacher. The grant will be used to buy Tag Readers, an interactive reading system, for first-grade students.

• "It's a Dog's Life--Fetching Hastings Reads Literature," Glenda Peak, lead teacher. Educators will buy sets of books to lend to staff and students in order to promote Hastings Reads.

Kennedy Elementary

From Kennedy Elementary School are:

• "CrossFit Kids," Tim Haneberg, lead teacher. CrossFit Kids offers new, varied, and fun exercises that mimic movements that are used in everyday lives. Funds will be used to buy materials and supplies.

• "Beyond Imagination," Karen Davidson, lead teacher. "Beyond Imagination is a literary and arts event that invites the community to share in the success of Kennedy students.

Pinecrest Elementary

From Pinecrest Elementary School are:

• What's Up SMART Doc?" Melissa Black, lead teacher. A SMART Document Camera will be purchases which will display and interact with images on the SMART Board for the students to see.

All elementary schools

Benefitting all elementary schools are these grants:

• "Comprehension Connections Through Book Prop Kits," Kari Phillips, lead teacher. The project will include a collection of books, related book props and puppets that will serve as the cast of characters to support comprehension skills through storytelling.

• "Take Home Books Project," Lucy Flesch, lead teacher. This is an off-shoot of a reading curriculum purchase for elementary special education. Funds will be used to buy books that students can take home and re-read with their families.

District 200 (multiple levels)

"E Leading=E Learning," Tim Collins, lead staff person. This will give administrators a skill set to promote digital learning in the classrooms.

Jane Lightbourn
(651) 319-4503