Local teenager performs in Chile

Posted on 14 January 2015 by robwas66

IOC01_15ViolinistThirteen-year old violinist Katia Tesarczyk, a Midway-Como resident, recently returned from Santiago, Chile where she performed in a three-generation recital with her mom, Minnesota pianist Claudia Chen, and her grandmother, pianist Patricia Parraguez Chen of Chile. Their three-generation recital included works by Dvorak, Tchaikowsky, Bruch, Ries, Schubert, Guastavino, Chopin, and Beethoven.

Tesarczyk, an eighth grader at MTS Minnesota Connections Academy, has been studying the violin since she was four-and-a-half years old. She is a student of Professor Sally O’Reilly (University of Minnesota). Tesarczyk has been a scholarship winner of the Schubert Club and Mary West Competitions. This month, Tesarczyk will represent Minnesota in the Junior Strings Division of the MTNA West Central Division Competition, which includes performers from eight states.

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Chinese Dance Theater performs

Posted on 14 January 2015 by robwas66

IOC01_15ChineseTheaterChinese Dance Theater (CDT) presents “Dances in Chinese Opera” on Sat., Jan. 31at 7pm, and Sun., Feb. 1, at 2pm. Performances will be held at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, on the campus of St. Catherine University, 2004 Randolph Ave., St. Paul.

Vibrant costumes, energetic agile movement and professional staging are hallmarks of CAAM Chinese Dance Theater’s Annual Production and School Show. Intended to celebrate the Chinese New Year season CAAM CDT’s 2015 show features dances that are inspired by Chinese legends, bazi gong and classical Chinese dance still enthusiastically performed today. Looking behind the curtain of the multifaceted world of Chinese opera, CAAM CDT will explore its underlying origins in movement and stories with a dazzling display of sleeves, swords, spears and daggers interwoven into a fantastical presentation CDT is known for.

Chinese Dance Theater has built a reputation based on professional choreography and well executed programs.  CDT is also recognized for its inclusive work in the broader community with an extensive outreach in schools and in the community.
Tickets of $15 (preshow) are available online at www.caamcdt.org, or 615-774-0806, or $20 at the door. A special shorter 45-minute matinee performance—ideal for school and group field trips—is available on Tue., Feb. 3 at 9:45am and 11:45 am. Tickets for the shorter performance are $7.

This production is supported by Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Grant, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Artistic Activity Grant a grant from the Asian Pacific Endowment of the St. Paul Foundation and generous donations and countless hours of volunteers from the CAAM Chinese Dance Theater community.

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Music Under Glass continues at Como

Posted on 14 January 2015 by robwas66

IOC01_15ComoConservThe free concert series, “Music Under Glass,” continues at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park, featuring some of the Twin Cities’ finest musicians. On Sundays, from 4:30-6:30pm you can listen to live local music and beat the winter weather blahs inside the comfy confines of the Conservatory. Beer, wine, pop, and light snacks will be available to purchase. (Please, no outside food or beverages.)
Upcoming performances include:

Jan. 18, Dan Israel, writing and performing great songs for the last 15 years, is easily one of the Twin Cities’ un-anointed poet laureates, steadfastly making his way into the ranks of local singer/songwriter legends. Whether it’s with a full band or as a solo act, his work contains elements of intimacy and, as he again demonstrates on his (2011 release), “Crosstown Traveler,” an engaging simplicity that makes his deep music accessible to any audience. His performances showcase these same qualities.” (Minneapolis + St. Paul / Secrets of the City)

Feb. 1, The May North features a sound that’s part classic Americana, part folk, part bluegrass and a bit of breakneck blues, The May North pays tribute to these forms while carving its own path.

Feb. 8, Urban Hillbilly Quartet: the affable Erik Brandt was surprisingly specific when asked to describe what his group’s name, The Urban Hillbilly Quartet, meant. “‘Urban’ describes the rock; ‘hillbilly’ is the Americana, folk and country; and ‘quartet’ is jazz, improvisation and our instrumental music, with tinges of eastern European melodies.”

Feb. 22, Café Accordion Orchestra is valse-musette, swing, ballads, tangos, cha chas, cumbia and more, delivered with French flare, Latin heat and Bohemian attitude.

Mar. 1, Sarah Morris has a way of captivating her audiences with songs about the highs and lows of love. With a voice both cozy and commanding, demure and daring, Morris allows us to feel every note. Her lyrics resonate with a unique combination of unflinching honesty and heartfelt tenderness: authentic portraits of love, loss, gratitude and regret.

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School showcase set at Hamline Elementary

Posted on 14 January 2015 by robwas66

IOC01_15SchoolShowcaseThe Hamline Elementary PTO would like to invite prospective and current students and their families to attend the Hamline Elementary School Showcase and Winter Warm up event on Thur., Jan 22, from 5-6:30pm.
For prospective students and their families this is a great time to tour the building, meet the teachers, chat with the principal, and ask current students and their families about their Hamline experience. For current students and their families this event is a chance to have fun, catch up with friends, and welcome prospective students and families to our school. Everyone can enjoy warm apple cider, popcorn, and activities for kids throughout the building.

Hamline Elementary is located at 1599 Englewood Ave. and enrolls students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and enjoys a special partnership with Hamline University. For more information about the school, this event, or to schedule a tour, please call 651-293-8715.

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Stark invites HU and neighbors to problem solving

Stark invites HU and neighbors to problem solving

Posted on 14 January 2015 by robwas66

Monitor1_14_BigNewsCouncilmember Russ Stark has invited Hamline University and concerned neighbors to participate in a collaborative problem solving process to address neighbors’ concerns about the University’s plan’s for growth and expansion and to develop an approach to long-term communication and problem solving. Hamline Midway Coalition has agreed to serve as the sponsor of the process, which will be run by the Minnesota State Office for Collaboration and Dispute Resolution (OCDR). Councilmember Stark and Hamline Midway Coalition will help organize interested neighbors to participate in the process. If you have questions or concerns about this process please contact OCDR at Mariah.levison@state.mn.us.

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Birth of first gorilla at Como Zoo quickly turns to sadness

Posted on 10 December 2014 by robwas66

IOC_12_14_ComoZooThe joy of a new birth at Como Zoo, turned from elation to sadness within a matter of days. The baby male gorilla who was born in the early hours of Nov. 19 to mother Alice, sadly died on Nov. 23.

This was the first gorilla birth for Alice and the first gorilla birth in Como’s 55 year history of being a leader in gorilla care and conservation.

At approximately four pounds at birth, the baby gorilla appeared healthy, strong and was bonding with Alice. After the birth, he and Alice were under zookeeper watch and care around the clock. The baby had appeared as if he was doing well through Saturday evening. He had a strong grip and was vocal. Alice was showing positive signs of maternal instinct, had been observed nursing and cradling the baby.

Despite best efforts to monitor and record the baby’s food intake, many times Alice would cradle her baby to her chest with her back towards the observing zookeepers making it difficult to determine when, and if, nursing was indeed taking place. To prevent undo stress on new mothers, and allow them the necessary time to bond with their baby, it is imperative that zoo staff and veterinarians not intervene unless absolutely necessary.

On Sunday morning it was apparent that the baby was weak and his health failing. While the intervention process was happening the baby was set down by Alice and the zookeepers were able to retrieve him without the need to immobilize Alice. Resuscitation efforts on the infant were quickly preformed but were unsuccessful. Preliminary hypothesis is that the death might have been caused due to complications with food intake.

A gorilla gestation is approximately eight months. At birth, baby gorillas weigh between 4 and 5 pounds. It is extremely important for mom and baby to bond shortly after birth and for the baby to begin nursing. Typically Zoo staff will not intervene unless the health of the infant is compromised or the mother shows no motherly instinct. In cases such as that, zookeepers would step in and with veterinary staff determine next steps for reintroduction, hand rearing or even a surrogate type situation. Each animal at Como Zoo has its own Birth Management Plan.

Gorilla mothers are very protective of their babies. A gorilla mother will carry the baby on her chest for the first three months. At about 6-months-old the baby will move to ride on the mother’s back and begin playing and moving around on the ground close to mother. “Gorillas are very family oriented,” said Jo Kelly, Senior Zookeeper.

“The entire Gorilla SSP shares the Como Zoo’s heartbreak over this sad event,” stated Dr. Kristen Lukas, Director of Conservation & Science at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and the Chair of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan. “It is always difficult to lose a young one but we fully understand the significance of this particular birth for Como Zoo and are very sorry for your loss.”

Out of 437 gorilla births at Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions since 1980, 26% of males and 20% of females did not make it to their first birthday. In wild-living western gorilla populations, mortality rates in the first year of life have been reported up to 42% and in mountain gorillas, first-time mothers have 50% higher infant mortality rates than second-time mothers.

Another gorilla in the group, Dara, is also pregnant and due soon.

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Korean immersion school opens in St. Paul

Posted on 10 December 2014 by robwas66


Sejong Academy balances the immersion needs of students depending on their skill level. “Some parents want more Korean instruction while some other parents are concerned about their students getting grade level instruction in English,” remarked Sejong Academy Executive Director Brad Tipka. “I believe this is a challenge that will continue and we will work to make sure students are learning content in English and Korean.”


Sixty-two students in grades kindergarten to sixth are immersed in Korean language and culture at the new Sejong Academy at 1330 Blair Ave. N.

Executive Director Brad Tipka, who was hired in September, knows that not all of the students at Sejong Academy will use Korean language professionally, “but I believe immersion education goes well beyond the potential use of the target language.”

He added, “I dream that our students will be responsible and culturally understanding global citizens. We have a very diverse student body and staff, and I believe being able to work in a diverse environment is a critical life skill for all students.”

Tipka grew up in a small Minnesota farming town and then headed overseas for eight years. He met and married his wife in Indonesia. “Without a desire to understand people from diverse backgrounds, none of this would have been possible for me,” observed Tipka.

During his time overseas, Tipka lived and taught in Korea for five years and developed a strong love for the language and culture. He said, “I believe that Korea as a country and Korean as a language represent strong opportunities for students in Minnesota.

“What I saw in Korea and what stands out for me about Korean people is a dedication to family, education, hard work and persistence – these are all great qualities to instill in our students!”



Sejong Academy Executive Director Brad Tipka

A public, tuition-free, Korean immersion charter school, Sejong Academy plans to add seventh grade classes in next year and eighth grade classes in 2016.

After opening in September 2014, Sejong scaled back its immersion program from full to partial. “As a startup immersion school, our upper grade level students do not have the Korean language fluency to comprehend grade level content in Korean,” Tipka noted. “Ideally, as we mature we will have large groups of students whose Korean language proficiency will allow them to study higher level grade level content in Korean.” He added that this is a common problem with immersion programs.

“Some parents want more Korean instruction while some other parents are concerned about their students getting grade level instruction in English,” remarked Tipka. “I believe this is a challenge that will continue and we will work to make sure students are learning content in English and Korean.”

Through the Sejong Home Connect program, staff works to make sure all families have home access to the internet and online school programs, including break or gap programs that offer extended learning time.


The school did receive some criticism in September for the large number of Karen students enrolled there. The Karen (pronounced Ka-REN) are an ethnic group from the mountainous border regions of Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand, where they are the second largest ethnic group in each country. There are approximately 6,500 Karen living in Minnesota with an additional 500 refugees from other ethnic groups in Burma. St. Paul currently has the largest and fastest-growing Karen populations in the U.S. The Karen people speak a variety of languages, none of which include Korean.

Tipka noted that the Karen immigrants are being taught intensive English at the school along with Korean language classes.

Sejong Academy is also offering Saturday enrichment courses, and has provided home-based instruction because the need for more English is strong, according to Tipka. “While we do have a few new-to-country Karen students who speak very little English, many of our Karen students are approaching fluency in English, as well,” Tipka pointed out. “There is a huge range and differentiation in the classroom is one of our critical professional development topics this academic year.”


Overall, Tipka says that comments from parents about what their children are learning at Sejong has been extremely positive. The school hosted a Chuseok Festival (a Korean holiday similar to Thanksgiving) after only being open for three weeks. Students gave short speeches in Korean and sang Korean songs, impressing their parents.

Grace Lee, a second-generation Korean American born and raised in Texas, serves as Sejong Academy board chair. Her third grader and sixth grader attend Sejong. “They enjoy the close school community, because they get to make friends with everyone,” Lee observed. “They also enjoy learning Korean. Lastly, through some of the blended learning opportunities, they are able to progress at an accelerated rate.”


A local police officer visited the third and fourth grade class as they learned about people in the community.

She added, “My dream is that this school will partner with the community and families to provide our students with a top-notch education, exposing them to the beautiful diversity and opportunities in our world; so that each student would dream big – not only for his/herself, but for his/her family, community and the world.  I hope that our school would equip each student to realize these dreams and that each student would become socially responsible global citizens in the process.”

Lee pointed out that South Korea is Minnesota’s sixth-largest export market, up from 14th just one decade ago. South Korea, which offers economic opportunities for Minnesota manufactured goods and for agriculture and service exporters, is a source of growing demand and was the location of the first trade mission of Governor Dayton’s in 2011. South Korea will host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“I know firsthand how many opportunities there are for students who can speak Korean to work professionally with Korea,” noted Tipka. “Also, there are many opportunities in Minnesota, such as studying Korean at the U of M, or even testing out of having to take a foreign language in university, that will benefit our students.”
The school recently started a Futsal League (a version of soccer) with the Friends School.

“We are committed to doing whatever it takes to help our students, and their families, achieve their dreams,” said Tipka. “Whether that includes visiting homes to show families how to access the local library, providing home computers for families, adding Saturday school enrichment programs and maximizing our daily classroom instruction, we are confident that the school is moving forward with a great educational program and building solid connections to the community.”

Learn more at http://www.sejongacademy.org.

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Theatre Unbound tests the limits of the art Jan. 10 at Hamline University

Posted on 10 December 2014 by robwas66

IOC_12_14_ExtremeTheatreOn Sat., Jan. 10, Theatre Unbound will unleash its annual “24:00:00 Xtreme Theatre Smackdown,” a raucous evening of chance, challenge, wins and wipeouts. Central to the Smackdown are the more than 40 Twin Cities theatre artists who create and perform 6 new short plays in the span of 24 hours.

“The Smackdown has turned into its own category of theatre,” says Stacey Poirier, Theatre Unbound Artistic Director. “There’s really nothing else like it. The energy and excitement of the crowd is palpable – screaming, cheering, waving foam fan fingers. It feels more like a wrestling match or monster truck rally. It inspires some truly intense and amazing performances by the actors. Sometimes it’s brilliant and sometimes it’s a disaster of devastating proportion. The Smackdown is like the Xtreme Sport of theatre.”

“Everyone jumps in with both feet,” says comedienne Ahna Brandvik, past participant. “They make broader, braver choices. And the audience – oh, they’re along for the ride!”

Audiences will experience a (lighthearted) competitive atmosphere, including referees equipped with whistles, impromptu challenge matches between playwrights and directors, and audience participation wars.

How it works

In November, the general public suggested script ingredients via the Theatre Unbound Facebook page. In December, they are invited visit the website www.theatreunbound.com and vote among 50 finalists in the categories of: a line of dialog, an emotion, a prop, or something random. The winning ingredients must be included in each Smackdown script. On the evening of Fri., Jan. 9, the winning ingredients will be revealed to six teams of two playwrights,who will write through the evening. At 5am on Sat., Jan. 10, all the scripts are gathered up – ready or not! – and assigned to a director and a cast. Rehearsals are conducted throughout the day, with technical rehearsals skidding to a halt just in time for the performance at 8pm.

Crushinator the Corset Buster, the madcap Smackdown-Champion host, retired in the middle of last year’s event. Will she pull a “Brett Favre move” and find her way back to the Smackdown arena? Or will the new mystery host make a bigger splash with audiences? It’s anyone’s guess….

In keeping with Theatre Unbound’s mission, 24:00:00 Xtreme Theatre Smackdown offers opportunities to dozens of women theatre artists. Theatre Unbound is one of a dozen or so women’s theatre companies across the nation working to shrink the gender gap on America’s stages.

“24:00:00 Xtreme Theatre Smackdown” will take the stage at the Hamline University Anne Simley Theatre, 1536 Hewitt Ave., for one night only on Jan. 10, 8pm. General admission ticket prices are $18-$20, and reservations can be made by calling 612-721-1186 or ordering online at www.theatreunbound.com.

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St. Paul Hockey Club now in fifth year

Posted on 10 December 2014 by robwas66

IOC_12_14_Hockey1Boys and girls born in 2002 or later who are interested in learning and playing hockey with little cost and time commitment are invited to join the Saint Paul Hockey Club at the North Dale Rec Center. The Club is now in its fifth year providing a program for girls and boys in St. Paul to learn hockey skills and safety. Kids learn skills with qualified coaches and divide into small teams to play games. There is a $50 USA Hockey registration fee and players will need skates, a stick, and a helmet with mask. The USA Hockey registration is free for kids born in 2008 or later, and some equipment available for borrowing. Players may join at any time throughout the season.

The club skates two evenings per week and Saturday mornings during the outdoor ice season. Special events are planned for 2015 on Jan. 17 at the St. Paul Winter Classic; on Jan. 24 at the downtown WinterSkate rink; and to end the season in March.

Details, schedule, and registration information are available at stpaulhockey.com.

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Bethel Lutheran sponsors living nativity Dec. 20

Posted on 10 December 2014 by robwas66

IOC12_14Nativity_4Bethel Lutheran Church, 670 W. Wheelock Pkwy., will host a living nativity (a re-enactment of the Christmas story) on Sat., Dec. 20, beginning at 6pm. The event will blend scripture reading, actors portraying the biblical account, and live farm animals (cow, sheep, goats). Live shows will last 15-minutes beginning at 6pm, 6:30pm, 7pm, and 7:30pm. Following the enactment, children are welcome to approach the animals as part of a petting zoo, and all guests are welcome to enjoy hot coffee, cocoa and cider, as well as cookies and treats. The event is free and open to the public (no tickets required). 670 W. Wheelock Pkwy. is on the corner of Maywood and Wheelock, with the parking lot on St. Albans St. (on west side of church).

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