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"Hastings Reads" - simply put, that's the goal of the community-wide program set to begin. The program encourages reading and discussion of books by all ages. That discussion then can help more people understand their lives and the experiences of themselves and others. The 150th anniversary of the Civil War is being remembered this year through the selection of reading materials for students, programs for families and a one-time showing of a Hollywood film classic at the Hastings theater. Books for the different student levels are set.
Hastings residents can have an impact in saving starving children. That is the important message that the Rev. Joe Hannah, event coordinator, wants to tell everyone. And they can do it when the Feed My Starving Children MobilePack is at Hastings High School Feb. 2-4. That location has now been confirmed. "We are going to feed 1,400 of the 18,000 that die every day," he said.
Two familiar names in the University of Minnesota Extension Service, Dakota County, will end their service this month. Extension Service Regional Director Jayne Hager Dee and youth program director Mary Duncomb of Hastings, have announced their retirements. Dee came to Dakota County in 1998 as the county extension director and now serves Dakota, Freeborn, Goodhue, Mower, Rice and Steele counties as regional director. Her work has included building strong community partnerships to secure funding for extension and opportunities for programming to meet community needs.
Melanie Haugen and Glenda Peak of Hastings' Independent School District 200 have been recognized as TIES (Total Information Educational Systems) Exceptional Teachers. The two are among 83 teachers from 43 districts throughout the state who were honored. The teachers were chosen by Superintendent Tim Collins for the TIES Exceptional Teacher Award, which recognizes teachers who model the best practices in using technology in their classroom and engaging students in learning. A recognition ceremony was held Dec.
The St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School (SEAS) band program continues to be strong. SEAS School has two bands, a fifth-grade band and a middle school sixth- to eighth-grade band. The fifth-grade band program has 24 of 32 students in that grade participating, as well as two students from St. John's in Vermillion. The sixth- to eighth-grade combined grade band has 50 members, which is half of the student body.
Almost 40 years ago, Ona Gabriel started the drama program at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School. One of her students was Darlene Thiele. Now, Thiele is the one directing plays at SEAS. Last week, Gabriel came back to the school to meet with Thiele. For a short period of time last Thursday morning, the two shared their knowledge and memories about drama and what it has meant to them and their students. Give them both a lot of credit. Being involved in a drama program and in plays came naturally to Gabriel. She performed on stage in high school and in college.
The St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School fifth-grade students organized it, created their own commercials and presented them (via the school's announcement system). When the 28th annual food drive was completed, the students had collected 1,243 items of food, weighing in at more than 1,000 pounds, and $103 in cash. Fifth-grade students of teachers Teri Hunter and Anne Burns coordinated the "Healthy Food, Healthy Families" drive, which ran from Nov. 30 to Dec. 14. The students did in-school commercials, made posters, kept a daily count of food and money and made daily announcements.
Ready for Christmas? The students, staff, families and friends of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School are in the holiday mood after last week's presentation of "The Worst (Best) Christmas Pageant Ever." The play, by Barbara Robinson, was presented by the eighth-grade students of Darlene Thiele. For those unfamiliar with the play, it is about six students, not so lovingly referred to as the Herdmen, who wreak havoc on everyone at the school. In the play, this is the year they decide they are going to be part of the annual Christmas pageant.
It will be merrier Christmas for 60 Hastings residents this year due to the generosity of the Hastings High School and Middle School students. Coin drives at both school generated enough funds to buy gifts for the families through Hastings Family Service's holiday assistance program. This is the 11th year of the annual coin drives. For years, the Youth First Planning Council at the high school used their funds to buy gifts.
It is another form of a collaborative effort between the Hastings Public Schools and the Hastings Area YMCA. The Hastings Middle School and the Y are partnering to provide aquatics programming for the middle school students. The school is paying the Y for its staff. "This is a fabulous opportunity for our students," said Hastings Middle School Principal Mark Zuzek. "This is more aquatics instruction than we have ever been able to offer before." Each of the physical education classes will be co-taught by YMCA-trained Instructors and the middle school physical education teacher.