Como Groundbreaking

News from Como Park High School

Posted on 05 June 2017 by Calvin

Technovation Challenge winners, ceremonies and honors close out year

Compiled by ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

• A mobile app development team from Como Park was one of two high school teams to win the Minnesota Technovation Challenge at the Minneapolis Convention Center last month. Technovation annually invites teams of girls from all over the world to learn and apply the skills needed to solve real-world problems through technology. The winning team of (photo right provided, shown l to r) Aye Win, Moo Christ Paw, Umu Farah, Leilo Jama, and Naw Sei created a literacy app for new immigrants and refugees that helps young children maintain a connection to their home language and culture while they are learning English. Como teacher Liz Riggs, who mentored the girls, said one of the app’s main features is a dictionary the students made with translations in six languages. “The girls drew from their experiences as new immigrants and refugees to make an app that will support the next generation of English language learners,” Riggs said.

The winning team, who anointed themselves the “Spice Angels” for the competition, advanced to the international finals, which includes just 100 teams from around the globe. In mid-June, a committee of judges will evaluate the finalists and select six teams to present their app later this summer in Silicon Valley, California.

Also representing Como at the Technovation Challenge were Nimo Mohamud and Kowsar Ahmed, who developed an app that provides wrap-around services for homeless people in their communities. Their app also received high scores and was favorably received by the judges. The girls practiced for the Technovation Challenge by presenting their apps to Kristin Meister’s Public Speaking class the week before the event, allowing them to get feedback on their delivery from other students, while developing confidence.

• The long awaited turf field for Como Park High School is now being installed directly west of the building inside the track. A groundbreaking ceremony (photo above provided) was held after school on Fri., May 17. School board members, government officials, community supporters, staff, and students gathered to celebrate, dig in, and officially kick off Como’s facilities improvement project.

Speakers shared remarks that revealed excitement and gratitude for the investment, and then shovels and hardhats were donned to break ground. The new turf field will serve physical education classes, soccer practices and games, football practices and games, and be able to host school and community events while withstanding the multi-purpose use.

Community partners such as St. Paul Parks and Rec, the St. Paul Blackhawks, and North Area Football were also present at the ceremony and contributed support to the project that includes an NFL Grant and cooperation from the Minnesota Vikings. The field is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 18. Building remodeling and construction are scheduled to occur in stages over the next two years.

• Honors Night was held on May 15 in the Como Auditorium. Students were recognized for outstanding academic performances, service awards, community, and athletic recognition. Hundreds of Como students crossed the stage after being introduced along with their accomplishments.

Additionally, college scholarships earned by members of the senior class were announced, and several scholarships that were unexpected by the recipients and their families were made public, totaling over ten thousand dollars. Those included the Wallin Scholarships, Kopp Family Foundation Scholarships, and Como Park Schultz Scholarship, among others.

• The Como Gala Instrumental Concert on May 23 featured the Jazz Band, Intermediate Band, Chamber Orchestra, and Concert Band under the direction of Dr. Philip Fried. A large crowd enjoyed the variety of selections, including Como choir singers performing in one of the pieces.

The Como Marching Band took their show on the road May 16 for the annual St. Paul School Patrol Parade. They proceeded along the parade route through downtown from Rice Park to CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints, and played in the stadium while the patrol units from all the schools entered. The Como Band then played the national anthem for the crowd to officially start the event honoring the service of the patrols.

• Como’s Young Authors Project celebrated the release of their book on May 22 in the Como Auditorium. The authors, mentors from the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute, Como staff, family, and friends gathered to hear a message from Kao Kalia Yang, the award-winning author of the “Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir” and the book, “The Song Poet.” She is a graduate of Carleton College and the Columbia University.

Yang met with the 9th-grade student authors in January at Como to inspire them, and she wrote the forward to the student collection of poems and essays that were written by Risa Cohen’s reading class. Professional artists designed the cover and illustrations that accompany each selection in consultation with the authors.

The highlight of the publication event was the impressive student performances. Reading from the book, the authors brought their stories to life and received enthusiastic applause. After the program, the authors signed copies of the book for the audience.

• The 2017 Como Prom, “A Night on the Town,” was held on May 20 at the U.S. Bank Stadium, on the suite level of the Vikings’ new stadium. The venue received rave reviews from the Como juniors, seniors, guests and staff as everyone enjoyed the dance and atmosphere.

The annual senior barbecue was held on June 2 at school, the last day of classes for the 2017 graduates. The barbecue is hosted by the Como staff and community, with assistance from local businesses and boosters. The Graduation ceremony was June 6 at Roy Wilkins Auditorium downtown in the RiverCentre. Student speakers included Eli Freberg, Divine Uchegbu and Angela Aryiku.

Graduation concluded with the 35th annual all-night party at school, which was transformed by the volunteers of the Como Booster Club. Activities included arcade games, dancing, basketball, swimming, catered food from local restaurants, caricaturists, air brush tattoo artists, henna artists, and more all in a safe, fun environment to celebrate with friends and make a final Como Park High School memory.

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Midway police, Russ Stark, discuss crime trends with residents

Posted on 05 June 2017 by Calvin

With summer’s start comes the potential for an uptick in crime. More than three dozen Midway area residents met May 24 with Ward Four Council Member Russ Stark and members of the St. Paul Police Department Western District staff to discuss crime trends and ways the public can be proactive in deterring crime.

Stark said he wanted the discussion to focus on safety, to have the Hamline-Midway neighborhood be a safe and welcoming place. Last summer there were issues with violence at Hamline Park Playground, the Snelling-University area, and the Snelling Ave. corridor. Shootings, drug sales, vandalism, theft and other activities raised concerns. Stark said it was a different situation than he has seen in his 18 years of living in the neighborhood.

The meeting provided an overview of what police are doing in the area this summer and was meant to be a discussion of proactive community engagement. But the gathering grew tense at times as it became a debate about police-community relations. Some attendees angrily accused police of racial profiling and raised concerns about police brutality and officer-involved shootings. Some said children and young people are afraid of the police after negative interactions.

But others said they are afraid to call police because of worries about retaliation by criminals. A few people had to be asked to not use their cell phones to record other meeting attendees.

The Police Department breaks the city into three districts—Western, Central, and Eastern. The Western District incorporates the Midway, Como, St. Anthony Park, Front, Frogtown, Merriam Park, Summit University, Grand Ave. neighborhoods, and extends all the way down through the Highland Park neighborhood. In the Western District, there has been a 26 percent increase in weapons discharged, or shots fired calls. Other crime categories have had either small increases or decreases.

Shots fired calls are up citywide, said Western District Senior Commander Steve Anderson. That launched what has become a frequent debate, over whether noises are indeed shots fired or firecrackers. Anderson and other police personnel at the meeting said people need to call in, whether or not they know the source of the noise.

Pam McCreary, who leads community crime prevention efforts, said people need to call in and make reports. “Then you can talk about it on social media,” she said.

Another issue is public intoxication and disorderly conduct. In recent weeks one problem area has been University and Snelling avenues, where a group of people is hanging out. Members of the group, whom Stark has dubbed “the drinking club,” hang out in front of stores. They aggressively panhandle business customers, drink, urinate and defecate in public and cause disruptive behavior.

Tom Stranksy, owner of Midway Bookstore, 1579 University Ave., said he has had customers harassed. It is affecting his business and other businesses.

Anderson grew up in the Midway. He outlined plans for the summer including stepped-up bicycle patrols. People may see the mounted patrol or equine unit from time to time. St. Paul Police have recently had more training in deescalating situations and in community engagement.

Other issues raised include speeding motor vehicles and dangers to pedestrians, motor vehicles with loud stereo systems, and other quality of life issues.

Another part of the meeting focused on curfews. Unaccompanied minors, 15 years of age or under, are not allowed to loiter or play on or in public places from 10pm to 4am daily. Unaccompanied minors over 15 and under 18 are restricted from public places from 12:01am to 4am daily. It is unlawful for parents, guardians or other adults having charge over a minor to allow or permit that minor to violate curfew. To report violations, call the police at 651-291-1111.

The group also discussed law enforcement on the Green Line light rail and A Line bus lines, and how police work with Metro Transit police.

One focus this summer is the Safe Summer Nights Program, which provides positive interaction with police and the community. As part of that program, Hamline Park’s event is 5-7pm on Thur., July 13 in the park at Snelling and Thomas avenues.

One big takeaway from the meeting was that people should call the police when something isn’t right. Get to know neighbors and who should and shouldn’t be in an area, a piece of advice which also prompted some protests. That may be less germane in areas where someone is waiting for a bus or walking to a destination, some at the meeting said.

Another piece of advice is to pay attention to behaviors and not focus simply on what a person looks like. But if there is suspicious behavior, make as thorough a report as possible. Saying someone had on “a white T-shirt and blue jeans” doesn’t give police a lot to go on.

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Dennis Boom spent life believing in power of community

Dennis Boom spent life believing in power of community

Posted on 05 June 2017 by Calvin

Dennis Boom will be remembered in the Midway area as someone who was always smiling, who took an active role in his community and who helped families in their time of need. He was the longtime owner of what is now Holcomb-Henry-Boom-Purcell Funeral Homes and Cremation Services, which has facilities in Hamline-Midway neighborhood and Shoreview.

Boom, 77, died May 20 in Texas. He’d been battling pancreatic cancer and was staying with his daughter Elizabeth and her family. Services were held June 2-3, with burial in Calvary Cemetery.

When Holcomb-Henry-Boom-Purcell observed its centennial in 2016, Boom in an interview recalled the importance of serving clients as they helped make funeral arrangements for their loved ones. He and his late wife Elaine lent a personal and compassionate touch to every service they helped to plan.

Photo right: (L to R) Dennis Boom, Roswitha Holcomb, and Sharon and Richard Purcell. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

“We’re honored to have served our community for 100 years,” said Boom. “We feel we are very much a part of the Midway. We’ve always believed in community service and being part of the greater community. That’s part of our tradition.”

Boom started working at what was the Holcomb-Henry Funeral Home as a young man. Boom stayed active with the funeral homes after selling the business and property to Richard Purcell. He knew generations of area families.

He was proud of the funeral home’s long history in the Midway neighborhood and at last year’s open house enjoyed poring over the many scrapbooks with guests.

He attended Hamline University and later the University of Minnesota. He earned a degree in mortuary science from the U of M in 1962.

The Booms lived above the Midway funeral home and later, above the Shoreview funeral home. That location was opened in 1993. Their home was full of antiques and souvenirs from their world travels.
Dennis Boom was active in Hamline Church United Methodist, Midway Chamber of Commerce, the Midway Lions Club, the St. Paul Rotary Club, Tusler-Summit Masonic Lodge #263, St. Paul Osman Shrine, Honolulu Aloha Court #1 ROJ, and Waikiki Yacht Club. He especially enjoyed years of service to the St. Paul Winter Carnival and served as the royal family Prime Minister in 1996.

He loved to sing and sang in church choirs at Hamline Methodist and Honolulu’s St. Andrew’s Cathedral. He enjoyed playing tuba and keyboard instruments, including the Shriners’ Calliope. He loved to sit at a keyboard and entertain. He was a skilled bridge player.

In 2015 he received a 50-year volunteer award from the Minnesota State Fair for his many years of service at the Hamline Church Dining Hall.

He is also recalled as being thrifty as well as generous. The Booms’ philanthropy included gifts to their churches and a dining room at Hamline University’s Anderson Student Center, which looks over Hamline (formerly Hancock) Elementary where Elaine taught.

Elaine Segale Boom died in 2015, also of pancreatic cancer.

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City Council restores funds for ash stump removal

City Council restores funds for ash stump removal

Posted on 05 June 2017 by Calvin

Residents of streets where ash trees were removed won’t have to look at stumps too much longer. On a 5-1 vote May 17, the St. Paul City Council approved transferring $450,000 from contingency funds to chip out boulevard stumps and replace trees. That money partially restores emerald ash borer mitigation funding for 2017.

Stump removal will take place in the weeks ahead. Replacement trees will be planted in the fall or next spring in some areas. That’s good news for residents who had trees cut down this spring. Many people were dismayed to learn that funding wasn’t available to remove the stumps and plant new trees. The situation prompted an outpouring of calls, e-mails, and letters to City Hall, as well as protests on social media. One street that was hit hard by removal of trees this spring was Montana Ave. west of Grotto St.

But not every area will get new trees right away. Macalester-Groveland homeowners will have to wait until a street reconstruction project that starts in 2018. The city delays planting new trees if a street is slated to be rebuilt, because construction can damage tree roots.

Department of Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hahm said the added dollars would help with the city’s program of removing trees and stumps, and then replacing the trees. Tight budgets meant trees were simply cut down this spring. “This (funding) gets us to where we need to be,” he said. “It will get us through 2017.”

Council members Amy Brendmoen, Jane Prince, Dai Thao and Chris Tolbert, sponsored the resolution adding funds back to the forestry program. Thao was absent for the vote; Rebecca Noecker and Dan Bostrom joined the vote in support.

Council President Russ Stark cast the lone vote against the funding shift. While saying he understands the frustrations residents have over losing trees to emerald ash borer, Stark opposes spending the contingency funds. The city is taking $400,000 from the 2016-2017 Long-Range Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) contingency fund, which is used when brick-and-mortar projects go over budget. Another $50,000 is coming from a 2018 Department of Public Works streets program contingency fund.

Spending contingency now means it won’t be available if it is needed later this construction season, Stark said. “We won’t be able to do emergency needs.” Stark also noted that the city had to turn down some small capital projects, which got set aside for the forestry needs.

Other council members said the current situation isn’t acceptable. Brendmoen was dismayed to see block after block where stumps were left sticking up along the street. She compared it to the city starting a street project and then putting down gravel and delaying pavement. “We need to finish the job.”

The city’s CIB Committee recommended approval of the funding May 8.

For 2017 the city had initially set aside an additional $892,424 to deal with emerald ash borer, supplementing almost $1.3 million. But that additional funding and many other budget proposals had to be shelved in the wake of a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling on street right-of-way maintenance assessments.* The ruling meant major changes to how the city pays for street maintenance and forced the council to plug a plus-$30 million budget hole.

Hahm said the city has had to cover the majority of emerald ash borer-related costs itself and has only received a limited amount of state assistance. The League of Minnesota Cities has tried for several years to seek a more comprehensive funding solution from the Minnesota Legislature but haven’t met success.

In 2009 emerald ash borer was found in South St. Anthony Park. That gave St. Paul the dubious distinction of being the first city in the state where the insects were found. Now, more than 95 percent of the city is directly impacted by the insects. Compared to 2015, the city has a 400 percent increase in infested trees.

What’s worrisome is that with emerald ash borer, the insects’ spread and tree loss accelerates ten years after the first insects are found.

The city has treated some trees with insecticides, and issues a permit for homeowners who want to pay to treat their boulevard trees. But the main strategy has been to survey trees and remove those that are infested or are in decline. Unhealthy ash trees can become very brittle, and branches fall, creating safety and property damage issues for the city.

The spread of emerald ash borer has meant that St. Paul has lost 9,149 of its boulevard ash trees, with another 17,909 awaiting removal. About 1,100 of the estimated 5,500 parks ash trees have been removed. It’s not known how many trees on private property have been infested.

(*Editor’s Note: St. Paul maintained that because the city is home to so many government offices, schools, universities, churches, and nonprofits, roughly one-third of the city is off the tax rolls. Unable to levy property taxes on those entities, the city used “fees” to recoup funds for essential services such as snow plowing. The Supreme Court ruled that St. Paul’s “maintenance fee” was really a tax and that it needed to be addressed as such. )

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Hamline Elemetary June 17 1

Students discover their inner baker with community oven

Posted on 05 June 2017 by Calvin


Recently Hamline Elementary students had the opportunity to discover their inner baker, courtesy of an experience created by Amy Schroeder-Ireland and a team of volunteers at Hamline Church United Methodist. Ongoing conversations between the school and the church, and aligned missions to discover and develop meaningful community partnerships, created a wonderful opportunity for both to see what kind of work they could do together.

Hamline Elementary Site Coordinator Aqueelah Roberson’s had an idea that 3rd-grade students could bake bread as a thank you to the Hamline Midway Elders who read with them once a month. Building off of that idea, Schroeder-Ireland developed a learning opportunity and experience students will not soon forget: making bread from scratch and baking it in the community brick oven at Hamline Church.

Having received an in-class lesson on the process, on a sunny May afternoon around forty-five 3rd- graders were greeted on the lawn in front of the brick oven by nine church volunteers (photo right provided). Students learned how the oven worked and helped carry wood to feed the fire. When it was time to make the dough, students moved inside, put on aprons and chef hats, and worked in teams to measure and mix ingredients and knead and store the dough. Students moved back onto the lawn to enjoy a slice of freshly baked pizza, part of the preparations underway for a community event later that evening.

The following week, when students were to return to the church to place the bread dough into pans and sample some freshly baked bread, a thunderstorm kept the kids at school, and the opportunity to complete this process seemed lost. Undeterred and committed to seeing the students have the full bread-making experience, Hamline Church volunteers, Hamline Elementary staff and families loaded up a van with supplies, dough for setting into pans, and freshly baked bread—still warm. A quick trip across Snelling Ave. and the supplies made their way up the stairs to the 3rd-grade classrooms. Students sprinkled corn meal in the pan, carefully transferred the dough, wrapped it, and then enjoyed the fruits of their labor: fresh-baked bread. Each student took a copy of the recipe home to share with their families.

Hamline families and staff remarked that experiences like this not only give students a new way to use their math and science knowledge, it helps them feel connected to and valued by people and places within the community—it becomes another place to learn, grow, and find support and encouragement.

It is also an important experience for the church community; to get to know kids in the neighborhood and create opportunities for shared experiences. Even though these communities are just a block apart, they’re just starting to get to know one another. Schroeder-Ireland is excited to see this happen, “The oven’s purpose is to give back to the community, and it’s important to our congregation to engage with our neighbors and provide opportunities to build relationships in the community.”

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Monitor In A Minute

Posted on 05 June 2017 by Calvin


One more year for preschool
Children’s Center Montessori, which has served Hamline Midway families for 45 years, won’t have to move this fall after all. The school has been given a one-year lease extension by its landlord.

That is welcome news for school leaders, staff, and families. The school has been housed in the former Knox Presbyterian Church, 1536 W. Minnehaha Ave., for its entire history.

The church’s closing and sale to a faith-based organization a few years ago put the preschool’s future in doubt. But officials were told this spring that they would be able to stay for another year.

McMurray drainage is eyed
Drainage issues at McMurray Field, 1155 Jessamine Ave. W., are washed away with help from the Capitol Region Watershed District. The St. Paul City Council May 24 approved a cooperative cost share agreement with the watershed district, to provide reimbursement of $80,605 for construction costs of storm water diversion infrastructure at McMurray Field in Como Park.

The plans for McMurray are part of the watershed district’s 2017 budget and work plan. City Parks and Recreation and watershed district officials have worked on plans for many months. Stormwater runoff is a longstanding problem at the fields, which are heavily used.

The solution reached is a volume reduction and stormwater reuse project beneath the fields. The watershed district has asked for city indemnification for the project, which the city has agreed to provide.

Steps taken on pedestrian plan
The long trek to a St. Paul Pedestrian Plan moved steps closer May 17 with St. Paul City Council approval of a $50,000 grant. The grant, which is from the Ramsey County Public Health SHIP Program, will help the city develop a comprehensive plan to improve pedestrian access throughout St. Paul.

The plan will help the Department of Public Works analyze pedestrian infrastructure needs, set priorities and develop implementation strategies. Many parts of the city still lack sidewalks. Other sidewalks are in poor condition or aren’t don’t meet disability accessibility regulations. Many neighborhood leaders have also asked for more to be done to promote pedestrian travel through St. Paul.

Additional funding will be taken from the city’s 8-80 Vitality Program, to provide a match of $51,731, to provide a total budget of $101,731.

The plan will be developed over a period of several months and will include opportunities for input. Public Works and the Department of Planning and Economic Development will be involved in the plan.

The city’s Long-Range Capital Improvement Budget Committee recommended approval of the project funding May 8.

Longtime Central, Como leaders honored
Longtime Central High School Principal Mary Mackbee was honored May 18, when the St. Paul City Council declared it to be Mary Mackbee Day in the City of St. Paul. The honor is one of many that caps her 50-year career.

Mackbee is credit with changing the face of public education in St. Paul Public Schools. She was the district’s first female assistant high school principal and the first African-American female appointed as high school principal.

Mackbee mentored and coached hundreds of principals and assistant principals over her career, and is sought out by colleagues for her advice, support, and wisdom.

She spent the last 23 years at Central and led the school through its 150-year anniversary celebration. The City Council saluted Mackbee for continuing Central’s tradition of excellence and for providing quality learning opportunities for all students.

The council also honored Theresa Neal of Como Park Senior High School for her long career. Neal is a longtime social worker and school administrator.

She was honored as an “unsung hero of the education system” and had May 17 declared as Theresa Neal Day in the City of St. Paul. Neal was also recognized for her work with Camphor United Methodist Church and the YWCA,

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Como Community Council Corner

Posted on 05 June 2017 by Calvin

By MICHAEL KUCHTA, Executive Director

Working together to improve Como Lake
Runoff from local streets and landscapes carries leaves, grass clippings, soil, salt, and pet waste to Como Lake. Find out what the latest research tells us about the lake’s water quality and overall health, the challenges a shallow lake like Como faces—and how we, as residents, can be part of the solution. The Capitol Region Watershed District unveils the latest findings on Como Lake’s ecology during District 10’s final Sunday Series event for 2017.

The free presentation is Sun., June 11 from 1-2:30pm at the Como Lakeside Pavilion, 3rd Floor, 1360 Lexington Pkwy. N. It is co-sponsored by Capitol Region Watershed District, Como Active Citizens Network, Como Dockside, and Como Community Council District 10.

ComoFest will be here before you know it
ComoFest returns this summer, with free fun for everyone the last three weekends of July. For a sneak peek at new events, and old events with new twists, see www.ComoFest.org.

We can help with your party
District 10 has street barricades and portable recycling containers that community members can use for block parties or other neighborhood or family events. You can borrow the recycling containers for free; there are two kinds:
• For cans, bottles and other items, you can include in your weekly recycling
• For food scraps and other compostable organics

The street barricades are required by the city when you block off your street or alley—but ours are a more affordable option than getting them from Public Works. Barricades:
• Require a $50 deposit. We return $45 when you return the barricades.
• Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis.
• To borrow our barricades, you must have an event permit from the city.

To reserve any of this equipment, call our office at 651-644-3889, or send us an email at district10@district10comopark.org.

Streetcar Station open on Sundays for the summer
The Historic Streetcar Station is now open every Sunday from noon-4pm. District 10 board members staff the station. You can drop in to pick up organics recycling starter kits (including kitchen bins), see the new paint job inside, learn a little bit about the history of Como Park, or just share comments and suggestions. The Streetcar Station is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

Upcoming District 10 meetings
• Como Community Council June Meeting: Tues., June 20
• Environment Committee: Wed., June 28
• Land Use Committee: Wed., July 5
• Neighborhood Relations and Safety Committee: Tues., July 11
Community members are always welcome to attend and participate. All meetings begin at 7pm at the Como Park Streetcar Station, which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

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Special emphasis on kids programming the for summer

Special emphasis on kids programming the for summer

Posted on 05 June 2017 by Calvin


This June and July, the Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave. is serving up a wide range of programming, with special emphasis on programming for kids.

Preschool Storytimes in English happen Fridays from 10:30-11am, with upcoming storytimes on June 9, 16, 23, and 30 and July 7, 14, and 21. These interactive events include fingerplays, songs, stories, puppets, and more, and are a great way for young children to build school readiness skills and bond with their caregivers. Children of all energy levels welcome!

Evening/Pajama Storytimes start up on Tues., June 20, 6:30-7pm. Pajamas, blankets, and stuffed animals are all welcome at this bedtime storytime! Additional evening/pajama storytimes take place June 27 and July 11, 18, and 25.

The Teen Book Club meets on Sat., June 10 from 3-4pm. This discussion group, for Grades 9 and up, focuses on teen books, from Battle of the Books and Read Brave to graphic novels and beyond! The July meeting on July 8, also from 3-4pm.

The Summer Spark program kicks off on Tues., June 13 from 10:30-11:30am with Como Zoo and Conservatory presenting A Journey Through Africa. The program takes children on a “tour” through the African desert, savanna, and tropical rainforest, meeting live plants and animals along the way. Learn to count in Swahili and explore an African folktale, too!

Summer Spark continues on Sat., June 24, 2-3pm, with Hunter Marionettes. Accompanied by music ranging from classical to lively dance tunes, each member of this cast of intricate, hand-crafted marionettes will entertain with their unique talents. You might see a penguin soar on a flying trapeze, an ostrich try to fly, and much more.

On Tues., July 11, 10:30-11:30am, Summer Spark features the Splatter Sisters, an exciting family show filled with music, dance, and a bit of fun with favorite books. Yes, there will be singing and moving in the library!

In addition to arts and science programming for kids and families, the Summer Spark program also offers kids and teens a chance to earn points toward a free book by logging reading time or tracking their activities during the summer. Visit the library or ask a librarian for more information.

On Thur., June 15, 6-7pm, Open Eye Figure Theatre presents “Molly and the Magic Boot.” A city girl named Molly is stuck on Grandma’s farm all summer with no TV, cell phone, or video games. With the help of some fantastical footwear, her fabulous friends, and a little imagination, Molly discovers how fun the outdoors can be.

The Show and Tell Book Club meets Sat., June 17, 1:30-2:15pm. Join librarian Shelly to share books and do fun literacy activities. Best for first, second, and third graders.

On Mon., June 19, 4:30-6:30pm, the library hosts Nature Smart Programming as part of its new designation as one of the St. Paul Library system’s Nature Smart libraries. Join the librarians for fun, hands-on nature-based activities!

Kids and their families can Blast Off into Summer on Wed., June 21, 5:30-7pm. Create a soda bottle jet pack that you can take home to show your friends. The evening will also include a rocket science experiment. How high will your rocket go?

On Wed., June 28, 1-3pm, Jody’s Documentary Series features two short documentary films from PBS’s POV series. “The Jazz Ticket,” directed by Noel True and Rob King, focuses on an inspiring high-school teacher. “Mr. Smith’s Peach Seeds,” by director Stewart Copeland, tells the story of Roger Smith, who’s carved hundreds of peach pits into astonishingly detailed pigs, giraffes, and even entire villages. These events are a co-presentation by POV, the Hamline Midway Elders Association, and the St. Paul Public Library.

The movie fun continues on Wed., June 28 with Teen Movie Night from 5:30-7:30pm. Come and join other teens for the animated masterpiece “Iron Giant,” directed by Brad Bird, the acclaimed writer-director of “The Incredibles and Ratatouille.”

The Saints and Sinners Mystery Book Club meets Sat., July 1 from 1-3pm. This month’s book is “A Vintage Murder” by Michele Scott. Contact volunteer G. Balter for more information at gerribalter@gmail.com or 651-224-5570.

All libraries will be closed on July 4 for Independence Day.

On Wed., July 12, 4-6pm, kids, teens, and families are invited to Decorate a Backpack. Supplies provided—make and take!

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Dickerman Meeting #3.indd

After 115 years, Dickerman Park finally to take shape?

Posted on 08 May 2017 by Calvin

First phase construction of Dickerman Park may actually begin soon.

The space that will be known as Dickerman Park was originally donated to St. Paul in 1910, but never functioned as a viable public space. In fact, some businesses used the designated park land in front of their buildings as their own, including parking spaces and a school playground.

Dickerman Park will incorporate a quarter-mile stretch of land running north of University Ave. between Fairview Ave. and Aldine St.

According to the Dickerman Park Design Advisory Committee, “The advent of the Green Line, the associated redevelopment in the Fairview Station area, and the lack of visible public green space along the corridor make Dickerman Park an incredible opportunity to create an authentic landmark gathering space reflective of the surrounding community.”

A multi-generational stand of White and Burr Oak trees still exists within the park’s boundaries. The oak trees are iconic. The trees are celebrated in the park’s redesign through the planting of low-growing brightly colored gardens underneath each tree. The gardens span the park’s width, drawing attention to the oaks and beginning a dynamic rhythm of spaces perceptible from University Ave.

Phase one of construction will include site improvements such as concrete walks, plaza space, lighting, seating, bike racks, native plantings, and lawn within the 1.1 acres of designated park land between Fairview Ave. and Wheeler St.

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Hamline Elementary Kindergartners with HU student

Hamline Elementary and HU team up for math literacy project

Posted on 08 May 2017 by Calvin

The partnership between Hamline Elementary and Hamline University brings an abundance of opportunities for learning and connection. One of the newest additions to the partnership is the Math and Coding Literacy Project—a weekly program serving approximately 30 students, grades K-5, with lessons designed by Hamline University faculty and taught by Hamline University students.

After budget cuts meant the loss of Hamline Elementary’s Gifted & Talented specialist at the end of last year; Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Sayonita Ghosh-Hajra, saw an opportunity to fill that gap and in so doing, instill a love of math.

“I love to teach,” Ghosh-Hajra said, “and most of the time when I say I am a mathematics professor, I get comments like, ‘Math is hard’ or ‘I’m not good at it.’ The only way that belief can be changed is through showing children that math is fun, that math is everywhere, and that whatever we do, we need math.”

Photo left: A Hamline University student helps a group of kindergarteners to understand shapes. (Photo provided)

The project expanded after a conversation between colleagues. Assistant Professor of English, Jen England, explains, “Professor Ghosh-Hajra and I were discussing the value of community-based learning projects. She mentioned her work with Math Connections, and I mentioned my work with girls’ technology camps. From there, a conversation about a collaborative project at Hamline just emerged.”

The program is divided into K-2 and 3-5 cohorts, each group meeting once a week for 45 minutes. The coding lessons are designed in a collaborative fashion, with England leading a group of university student volunteers through the process, “The coding volunteers and I met several times early in the semester to create an overall plan for our portion of the project,” England said. “Because there are no K-12 coding standards to ‘map’ our lessons onto, we decided to focus on HTML and web development/design. For the volunteers, I think this has provided an important opportunity for thinking about the ways we develop literacies and the ways we communicate new topics to different audiences. For the kids, I think this has shown them they don’t have to be computer scientists to learn and create code and that reading, writing, and design are all important factors in coding.”

If you observe this program in progress, you’re going to see a lot of learning and a lot of wiggling. “We’re not going to be laying on the tables, okay?” says Olivia, a 19-year-old business management major, with a smile on her face as she organizes her group of five kindergarten students. They begin the lesson on shapes by identifying the names of shapes by their number of sides, up to ten, and then they are invited to draw shapes on the whiteboard with 14, 15, 16 sides. As one student draws, the rest of the group counts out the sides. They learn words like “vertices” and “edges” and say things like “an octagon is just a heart” and “that’s a funny shaped shape.” The kids laugh before turning to their own papers to draw the more familiar polygons, manipulatives at their fingertips for inspiration.

The classroom is characterized by collaborative learning, exuberant giggles, and Olivia’s patient, engaging, and encouraging nature. “Math isn’t everyone’s favorite,” Olivia says, “so I like the opportunity for hands-on learning in a small setting. It’s hard for them to sit still but I love working with these cuties!”

The rest of the K-2 group, eleven first and second graders, is divided among three university students and patient explanations, enthusiastic high-fives, and smiles are everywhere.

Andi Eckl, a first-year student, got involved in this project because she loves helping kids, “Math is fun to teach because when kids understand math, they have this sort of confidence in their intelligence. And that is an amazing thing to see.” The most rewarding part of her work in this program is when kids understand the lesson.

Because Eckl hopes to work with kids in the future, this opportunity has been particularly special, “It has confirmed all my aspirations and provided for a really fun time getting to know these kids. They have a lot of personalities, and it is cool to be able to connect with them where we can laugh together and talk about weekend activities—and also learn about math.”

The Hamline to Hamline Collaboration allows for innovation, growth, and inspired ideas and the professors responsible for this inspired idea see a bright future for the project.

Professor Ghosh-Hajra looks forward to finding grants that will expand the project to include more elementary students. England hopes to expand the curriculum and connect the kids’ HTML work to a website connected to The Snelling Connection, a writing and journalism program for Hamline Elementary students advised by Hamline University students.

Stay tuned to see what happens next.

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