Inspire 199 - December 2016
Published on Jan 2, 2017 17:19

Inspire 199 Family Newsletter

ISD 199 wishes you a happy, safe, and healthy new year! Reminder: School resumes Tuesday, January 3.



The Inver Grove Heights School Board met on Monday, Dec. 12, with the following items on the agenda:
  • District highlights
    • The board recognized Simley’s National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, Moriah Elkin and Annika Herdtle.
    • The board recognized Larisa Baumann for being selected and representing Simley High School and ISD 199 as a student speaker at the Minneapolis AVID Summer Institute.
  • Consent agenda
    • Minutes from previous School Board meetings
    • Cash disbursements
    • Personnel transactions and donations
    • Gifts and grants
  • Information items
    • Director of Business Services, Heather Aune, presented the annual Truth in Taxation information.
    • Board committee reports
    • Membership reports
  • Action items
    • Approval of the Certification of the 2016 Payable 2017 Property Tax Levy.
    • Approval of the FY17 Revised Budget.
    • Approval of the FY16 Audit.
    • Approval of the Intra-District Transfers and Open Enrollment Parameters for the 2017-2018 school year.

The meeting video and supporting documents are available on the district website. Future School Board meetings include a Special Meeting on Monday, January 9, at 5:30PM to decide school board committees and officers, followed by a Work Session, and a regular meeting on Monday, January 23. Both meetings will be held at the District Office, 2990 80th Street East in Inver Grove Heights, at 5:30PM.



ISD 199 Food Service Angel Fund Supports Students in Need
Inver Grove Heights Schools offers complete, nutritious meals to its students so they are prepared to succeed in the classroom. However, some families experiencing financial difficulties cannot afford to keep money in their student's lunch account. Nothing should stand in the way of a child's access to a nutritious meal. That is why ISD 199 has an Angel Fund. 

Families and community members can donate to the Angel Fund, and their generosity will pay for a meal for a student in need. A donation of only $10 can feed a student for a week. Please consider donating to the ISD 199 Angel Fund. Click here to find out how to donate to the Angel Fund and help students have a healthy, successful school year.

Thank you for helping a student this season.

ISD 199 Opens Part-time Food Service and School-age Care Positions
Inver Grove Heights Schools currently has part-time positions open in food service and school-age care. Food service positions are worked mid-day, and school-age care positions are worked before and after school.  To read more about the positions and apply, please visit and click "Careers" in the main menu. 

Simley Yearbook Club Recognized in National Yearbook Showcase
Simley Yearbook editors 15-16
Simley High School’s Yearbook Club submitted its 2015-2016 yearbook in the Lifetouch Yearbook Showcase Contest. The book earned an honorable mention, being chosen from thousands of books submitted from across the U.S.

Lifetouch, a photography company known for publishing yearbooks, selects three grand prize winners per category: elementary schools, middle schools, high schools with more than 1,000 students, and high schools with fewer than 1,000 students. Yearbooks are chosen based on theme and theme development, design, continuity, photography, writing, creativity content, and coverage.

“The books reflect hours of hard work by the staffs and advisers,” Lifetouch yearbook education specialist and contest coordinator Laura Schaub said. “The books are some of the best … in the nation.”

8th Graders Design, Build, and Test Earthquake-Resistant Structures with the Help of a Parent Volunteer
8th Graders Learn about Earthquake-Resistant Structures

Inver Grove Middle School 8th graders had the opportunity to design, build, and test their own structures with an earthquake simulator. IGHMS parent and engineer, Dean Smith, visited the 8th graders to talk about his career studying the effects of earthquakes and to introduce students to the earthquake simulator he uses in his work. Students researched how buildings withstand earthquakes before engineering their own structures. Students then used the earthquake simulator to test their ideas.

Goldy Gopher Surprises Pine Bend Students
Goldy Gopher visits Pine Bend

Goldy Gopher ran into the Pine Bend Elementary School gym to the excited screams of hundreds of students. Goldy had scheduled a visit to help students learn about good sportsmanship. The students had the chance to dance and “do the gopher,” another dance that University of Minnesota fans do with Goldy at football games. Students also talked about how to show good sportsmanship and read the Howard Binkow book, “Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Sportsmanship.” After the assembly, Goldy took pictures with each Pine Bend class.

Youth Frontier Hosts Kindness Retreat for Salem Hills 5th Graders
Salem Hills Kindness Retreat

Youth Frontiers is a local organization that hosts retreats for students of different ages to develop positive school culture. This month, Youth Frontiers hosted a Kindness Retreat for Salem Hills Elementary School and Atheneum Gifted Magnet Program 5th graders. Students spent the day learning strategies to build empathy, promote kindness, and prevent bullying with hands-on activities.

“Today, our goal is to have one day where everyone in this room is treated with nothing but kindness,” Youth Frontiers Lead Retreat Facilitator Sebastian Davin said.

To reach their goal, students played teambuilding games, danced together, and sang songs. One of the teambuilding games involved students replicating the sounds of a thunderstorm together by following the lead facilitator’s directions.

Click here to see video of the team-building game.

“The only reason you could change the atmosphere is because you all worked together to do it,” Sebastian said. “When you work together, you can change the atmosphere of any room, hallway, or classroom you’re in.”

Students also talked about kindness in small groups with Simley High School student leaders and listened to the lead retreat facilitators. Sebastian taught students how kindness is like a boomerang: One must be kind to receive kindness.

“The first couple of times you throw it out there, it’s hard and it may not come back to you,” he said. “But if you keep practicing, soon it starts to come back to you every time.”

Hilltop Assistant Principal Cooper Speaks to IGHMS STRIDE Students About Success
Hilltop Assistant Principal Cooper speaks at IGHMS STRIDE

Hilltop Elementary School Assistant Principal Quennel Cooper founded the Boys to Men Program in 2014. The Hilltop program helps 5th grade boys develop leadership skills and confidence through speakers from the community. Mr. Cooper’s first Boys to Men students are in 7th grade now, and some are in Inver Grove Heights Middle School’s STRIDE Program. STRIDE invites speakers to talk to 7th and 8th grade boys about making good life choices and what is necessary to be successful.

Mr. Cooper visited the STRIDE class to speak about success from his own perspective.

“The only thing holding you back from being successful is you,” he said. He told his own story of the failures and successes on his path to becoming assistant principal and urged students to keep working hard despite the obstacles.

Mr. Cooper also had an opportunity to check in with his former Boys to Men members.

Simley’s First Year of Link Crew Connects Incoming Students with Successful Upperclassmen
Simley Link Crew

High school is a completely new experience for many students. The transition from middle school to high school can make young students feel lost, sometimes leading them to make poor decisions. Middle-High School Transition Assistant Principal Carol Ellison and English teacher Bobby Mandell introduced Link Crew to make the transition easier and provide a student resource for freshmen. The new program offers transition strategies for incoming 9th graders and leadership development for upperclassmen, helping every student succeed from the first day.

“Freshmen are welcomed to our school by older students who have discovered what it takes to be successful in high school,” Mr. Mandell said. “It's like having an older sibling who can teach you all of the unwritten rules so you don’t have to make mistakes just to learn them.” 

Students get their first high school experience at 9th Grade Orientation. Past orientations focused on the necessary tasks of turning in forms, picking up schedules, and talking with counselors. However, this year, the junior and senior Link Leaders spent the day with 9th graders to familiarize them with the school and their peers. Link Leaders played games with the incoming students to teach them strategies for success and guided them through the usual tasks.

Link Leaders stay connected with new students throughout the school year, acting as role models for the younger students.

“They are Link Leaders because of who they are,” Mr. Mandell said. “It’s so cool to see the diversity in the Link Leaders: what activities they’re in, their background, family life. It’s cool to hear how freshmen can find a leader they can relate to.”

In addition to mentoring Simley students, Link Leaders attend trainings to connect with students outside their high school. They attend the Link Crew Conference to network with leaders from other schools, discussing what has worked for them and bringing back new strategies for Simley’s Link Crew. As a member of Link Crew, students also gain leadership experience recognized by many post-secondary institutions.

The Link Crew program has only been implemented at Simley for about half a year so far, but other schools with Link Crew have noticed a positive shift in school culture as their programs grew. So while Link Crew is especially beneficial to freshmen, Simley can expect all students to benefit from the program’s effects.

Click here to read the latest 199 Reporter - Winter 2016 edition.

For more District News, visit and click the “News and Events” tab.

Check out the Inver Grove Heights Community Schools Facebook page for photos, updates, and more!
-This month, see photos of ISD 199 students giving back to their communities through fundraisers like the IGHMS “Cold Noses, Warm Hearts” Campaign, volunteering like Hilltop’s Boys to Men and 2nd grade teachers preparing meals for those in need with Feed My Starving Children, and performances like Simley Band’s holiday program at neighboring senior living communities.



  • Tuesday, January 3: School resumes after Winter Break
  • Monday, January 16: NO SCHOOL for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Tuesday, January 24, & Thursday, January 26: Evening Conferences K-12
  • Friday, January 27: NO SCHOOL for All-Day Conferences K-12