Off school day options in air

TWO HARBORS - Members of the community met Tuesday to discuss what kids can do on what will be a weekday off as the Lake Superior School District moves closer to a four-day teaching schedule this fall.

TWO HARBORS - Members of the community met Tuesday to discuss what kids can do on what will be a weekday off as the Lake Superior School District moves closer to a four-day teaching schedule this fall.

"Now we are talking about a reality," said Chris Olafson-Langenbrunner, community education director for the district. When the group met earlier this year, the four-day week was just a possibility.

Community ed is weighing options using criteria such as the cost, facilities, resources and travel, when offering students options for the "fifth" day.

The district's buildings could be open, but Superintendent Phil Minkkinen said they would not be very warm in the winter. In that case, many events would have to move elsewhere.

Ideas included those revolving around athletics, art, cultural learning, volunteering, church programs, AmeriCorps and starting a newspaper.


For athletics, the Silver Bay arena is said to be open during the Fridays kids have off and there have also been discussions of keeping the gym open in Silver Bay.

Silver Bay, an official state "Fit City," received a grant that would supply the city with eight bike racks, 50 helmets of various sizes, and enough money to hold a bicycle safety rodeo in September. It comes with the help of the Statewide Health Improvement Program.

Having athletic opportunities was also at the forefront in Two Harbors. According to responses from this fall's seventh-and eighth-graders in a survey, their top interests for the day revolved around sports.

Lake County Attorney Russ Conrow said at Tuesday's meeting that he was on a four-day week when he went to Park Center Senior High School in the 1970s. He said students did a lot of skiing on the off-day and didn't even notice the days being longer.

The school had four-day weeks during winter months during the energy crisis.

Paul Deaner, executive director of Lake Superior Community Theatre, is curious as to how the open day will fit into his production schedule.

Deaner sees the off-day as an opportunity to expand theater arts in the district. He said theater is practically non-existent in local schools. Many of Deaner's production staff consists of students.

One group of people at the meeting suggested learning about cultures. Some suggested an event at the Two Harbors Community Center where students could learn about art, food, and history of various countries. One suggestion was to have an adult who still speaks the foreign language of their home country teach kids.


Deade Johnson, of the Arrowhead RSVP, thought the fifth day would provide a chance for volunteering for youth in the area to work on special projects.

Andrew Lekatz, an incoming senior at Two Harbors High School, said if students were going to volunteer he would like to see them start when they are younger, saying young people would stay involved when they got older.

Older adults could volunteer as well, and teach young people about trades such as woodworking. Bunny Thomson, of Socially Active Seniors, said it could build up the "senior population's confidence."

Pastor Phil Berge of Bethlehem Lutheran Church talked about the possibility of moving Wednesday night programs to Fridays. He said Friday would be a more difficult draw for students and parents would have too many options and likely not participate in activities as much.

Starting next year, with the help of grants and in-kind services, Minnehaha Elementary will try and put out a newspaper four times a year with the help of students. Pat Driscoll, principal at the school, said she hopes students work on it during the off-day.

The district has been notified it will receive assistance of an AmeriCorps volunteer, through Mentor Duluth, to help during the fifth day. Focus areas of that position will focus on group and community based mentoring, academic mentoring/tutoring, out of school youth programs, volunteer mobilization and civic engagement.

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