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It's time for Bulldog Brain Olympics
Oct. 24, 2011

By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

LESTER PRAIRIE, MN – Could your brain use a workout?

Lester Prairie School students in grades three through seven, as well as their parents, are encouraged to participate in Bulldog Brain Olympics Thursday, Oct. 27.

“They’ll come in the high school entrance, and receive maps to the classrooms where there are activities,” Lester Prairie Parents for Education President Darlene Schmidt said.

Participants who complete the minimum number of activities will be eligible for prize drawings, provided by Parents for Education (formerly known as Lester Prairie Advisory Council).

The grade-level prizes will be Target gift cards, and the grand prize will be an iPod Shuffle.

The event begins at 6 p.m., and prizes will be awarded at 8 p.m.

“It is really geared toward being fun,” Schmidt said. “It’s all academic related activities, and the focus this year is science and measurement.”

According to Lester Prairie Elementary Principal Pam Lukens, this is the third Brain Olympics the school has hosted.

It began as a way to increase parental involvement in academics, in compliance with adequate yearly progress (AYP) improvement requirements.

“Parental involvement is key to this event,” Schmidt said. “Each student must be accompanied by an adult.”

Typically, the event took place in late winter, but it was difficult to find a time that didn’t conflict with other extracurricular activities.

“This is the first year we’re doing it in the fall,” Schmidt said.

In 2010, 43 students participated, and Schmidt said she hopes the turnout will be even higher this year.

“It’s a great opportunity to network with teachers, and see the types of things your kids are working on in school,” she said.

Nine hands-on, brain-stimulating activities are planned, with variations to accommodate each student.

“It is a challenge for seventh graders, too,” Schmidt said. “They’re the same activities, but teachers can tailor it to the student.”

Younger students might only do a portion of the activity, and they can also receive help from parents, teachers, and members of the Lester Prairie Student Council.

“It’s not a competition, and it’s not scored,” Schmidt said. “When students complete an activity, they’ll get a punch on their card. After they complete a certain number of activities, they can turn in their card to be eligible for the prize drawings.”

Parents for Education
The Lester Prairie Advisory Committee (LPAC) recently changed its name to Lester Prairie Parents for Education.

“We wanted a name more tailored to what we really do,” Schmidt said, explaining that before, some people thought of it as an “advisory council,” and mistakenly thought members had to be appointed.

“They thought it was more formal that it really is,” she said. “Also, it was always confused with the Prairie Arts Council (PAC).”

The organization is open to all parents of Lester Prairie students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade.

“We could certainly use more members,” Schmidt said, explaining that there are currently seven to 10 active participants.

The group meets monthly, and organizes several education-focused events throughout the year.

“The next one we have coming up is the teacher Christmas gift program,” Schmidt said.

For this, teachers submit a wish list of items they’d like for their classroom, and Parents for Education members purchase items with money they receive from parents.

“The teachers love that we do this,” Schmidt said. “Then, they get something the kids can benefit from, too.”

Other events include a spring carnival fundraiser, teacher/staff appreciation breakfast, donuts/coffee for bus drivers and custodial staff, and more.

The spring carnival will take place March 22, 2012.

“This is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year,” Schmidt noted. “It really brings the parents and teachers together.”

Parents for Education’s most recent fundraiser involved selling personalized backpacks, embroidered with a The next Lester Prairie Parents for Education meeting is Monday, Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the school library.

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