With support from its community, Dassel-Cokato School District has seen many changes take place this year
By Kristen Miller
In 1921, the National Education Association (NEA) designated the week before Thanksgiving as American Education Week to highlight education.
In the resolution, the National Education Association called for, “An educational week . . . observed in all communities annually for the purpose of informing the public of the accomplishments and needs of the public schools and to secure the cooperation and support of the public in meeting those needs,” as stated on the association’s web site.
To make it official, Cokato Mayor Bruce Johnson signed a proclamation from Cokato Legion Post 209 and its auxiliary urging the citizens to “reaffirm their commitment to improving and supporting education at all levels, and translate this commitment into action by visiting the schools.”
To do their part, the Cokato Legion will bring apples to all the district teachers during American Education Week, and the Cokato Legion Auxiliary will bring cookies, according to Theresa Liepold, the Legion secretary.
Last year, the Dassel-Cokato community showed its support for the local school district by passing a levy referendum providing roughly an additional $1 million a year.
With that monetary support, the school district has been able to make some necessary improvements, allowing it to lower class sizes and provide more educational opportunities for its students.
Changes in the district
High School Principal Dean Jennissen highlighted some of the exciting and new opportunities for his students this year, including an additional foreign language class (German), Project Lead The Way to excite students about engineering, an advanced biology course, and, coming this spring, a certified nursing assistant course.
In the middle school, students are getting familiar with Project Lead the Way, as well. Also because of the levy dollars, two new teachers have been hired to lower class sizes, and there are more opportunities for students to catch up on math with remedial courses.
Because of the additional levy money, Dassel Elementary was able to add another first grade section to lower class sizes.
By doing this, class sizes in first grade are around 19 students, as opposed to 26.
“We appreciated the community’s support of the levy to keep class sizes manageable,” said Rob Nudell, Dassel Elementary principal.
According to Cokato Elementary Principal Lorene Force, every spring, her student council presents a “wish list” to the school board.
On it, the students would request more books for the media center to replace books falling apart and giving them more to choose from.
With the levy money, Cokato Elementary was able to purchase more books and therefore satisfy the requests of the students.
As far as technology, each school was able to purchase SMART boards to use as an interactive teaching tool for their classrooms.
Currently, there are five SMART boards in the Cokato and Dassel elementary schools, six in the high school, and eight in the middle school.