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Archive | December, 2018

German-Immersion-School- slider

Debate on St. Andrew’s Church continues; City Council to decide fate

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

The Twin Cities German Immersion School is planning to tear down the former St. Andrew’s Church building and construct a new three-story structure with two gymnasiums, a cafeteria and classroom space. This drawing shows the south view from Oxford St. The plan is to use precast concrete panels with red brick inlay, while the metal panels above are the same color and pattern as the 2013 addition. The glazed blue brick between the cafeteria and the 2013 addition is intended to be a backdrop for an art installation. It could showcase work from either known public artists or from TCGIS students. (Photo provided)

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Should the former St. Andrew’s Church building designed by St. Paul’s first city architect be saved or razed for a new school building?

The discussion has continued at some local meetings, including a St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission hearing and St. Paul Planning Commission meeting.

On Nov. 5, 2018, the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission determined that the former church building meets four of the possible seven criteria for preservation and voted 8-1 to forward the nomination to the St. Paul Planning Commission and Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office for review. (See related article on page 7)

Later that month, on Nov. 28, city staff recommended that the Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee recommend that the former church be preserved as a heritage preservation site, citing that the application conforms to the city’s comprehensive plan and policies.

However, some members of the committee disagreed, saying it was “their responsibility to take a broader look at whether other principles and policies in the comprehensive plan justify opposing historic designation. They also said commissioners should consider comprehensive plan topics such as education, neighborhood vitality and character, and the potential for designation leading to a different use, a vacant building, or other unintended outcomes.”(1)

On Nov. 30, the Planning Commission members put off making a recommendation and sent the issue back to the Comprehensive and Neighborhood Planning Committee to review the range of potential impacts heritage designation could have.

The committee revisited the issue on Dec. 12; the Planning Commission revisited the issue on Dec. 14 (both were after Monitor’s press date).

Save Historic Saint Andrew’s filed an extensive data practices request on Nov. 29, asking the school to provide details on expansion alternatives it considered that would relocate the school, otherwise not demolish the former church building, and reasons it is not pursuing those alternatives. The request also seeks a wide range of information on costs, decision-making, and communication.

At the request of the city, the school is conducting a study of traffic flow, parking, and pedestrian activity near the school.

Detailed and unique building
The imposing former church building that is about 70 feet by 107 feet is well known for its three towers. It cost about $150,000 to build circa 1927 and had a seating capacity of 810. The complex building features various bays, wings, towers, and roof forms. Resting on a raised basement, the building is clad in brown brick, in several dark tones, and trimmed with Bedford limestone.

The elaborate brickwork features various patterns including Flemish, American, running, basket weave, and herringbone bonds, as well as extensive brick corbelling. A broad intersecting-gable roof, with multi-colored ceramic tiles, covers the main body of the church. The building achieves a highly-polychromatic effect through the use of dark brick, light stone, and multi-colored tiles.

Photo left: St. Andrew’s design is unique in many ways, including the use of dark brick, light stone, and multi-colored tiles that contribute to a highly polychromatic effect. Larry Millett, local architectural historian, noted in the AIA Guide to the Architecture of the Twin Cities that St. Andrew’s Church is, “One of St. Paul’s best period revival churches” and “by virtue of the quality of design and its beautiful detailing, [it] certainly deserves a high rank.” (Photo provided)

The historic exterior integrity of St. Andrew’s Church is ranked good to very good.

Is a win-win possible?
TCGIS Board Secretary and Past Chair Kelly G. Laudon stated that the school will continue to challenge the historic designation and seek approval for its plan to build a new, purpose-built structure that will serve the needs of its students.

“TCGIS claims that the building can’t be reused, in spite of deep evidence to the contrary,” said nearby resident Bob Spaulding. “Churches across St. Paul are being used today for homes, schools, and non-profits.” He added, “There is a win-win possible, but all parties need to step up. This community is ready, but we’re still waiting for TCGIS.”

SHSA will next work with qualified architects to perform a design charette, an intensive design exploration which stakeholders work together and map out and find solutions. TCGIS has been invited to participate.

District 10 Committee approves variances
During a two-and-a-half hour-long meeting on Wed., Dec. 5, the District 10 Land Use Committee voted to approve three variances that the Twin Cities German Immersion School is seeking for its expansion.

There were over 200 people at the meeting. The committee recommended:
• One percent variance in lot coverage on a 100-74 vote. This will allow the school to increase its footprint to 36 percent of its property.
• 3-foot, 1-inch height variance on a 96-76 vote. This would allow the school addition to reach 33 feet, 1 inch. (The former St. Andrew’s Church is 47 feet at the peak of its roof, according to St. Paul staff report.)
• 37-space parking variance on a 101-76 vote. “The school’s site plan accounts for only 50 of the 87 off-street parking spaces that are required by code. The school anticipates 26 spaces in the existing west parking lot, 15 spaces that will be leased from Mission Orthodox Presbyterian Church across the street, and 9 spaces that will be offset by additional bicycle parking. The 37 spaces that are unaccounted for likely would be absorbed by street parking in the surrounding residential blocks, or by staff taking alternate forms of transportation.” (1)

These recommendations now go on Dec. 18 to the full District 10 board, which can accept, reject, or modify the recommendations. The board will forward its recommendations to the St. Paul Planning Commission’s Zoning Committee on Dec. 20. That committee’s recommendations go to the full Planning Commission on Dec. 28.

(1) This information is taken from the official website of District 10 Como Community Council.

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Women’s Drum Center slider

Women’s Drum Center beating the drums in their new space

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
The Women’s Drum Center (WDC) was bursting at the seams a couple of years ago, so they traded in their 350 square foot studio in the Dow Building for one three times that size. Still located in the Dow Building at 2242 University Ave. W., the 20+-year-old non-profit organization now has all the room they need for classes, workshops, and equipment storage.

Bettie Seitzer is president of the WDC board, a member of the drumHeart Ensemble, and an enthusiastic instructor. “Historically, women were not allowed to drum in many parts of the world,” she said. “At WDC, we understand the transformative power of drumming for both individuals and groups. We support the nurturance of women’s talents as musicians, composers, teachers, and leaders.”

Photo right: Drummers practice on the West African Dundun Drum, which comes in small, medium, and large sizes. The three sizes produce different tones (which correspond to size) from high to low. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

While there are some co-ed opportunities for men and for families to drum together, the bulk of the classes offered at WDC are for women. Newcomers often share their music experiences in their first drumming class and, according to Seitzer, more than a few say something like, “I wanted to drum when I was in elementary school or junior high, but the music teacher handed me a flute instead.”

WDC strives to be a safe place for women and girls (12+) to start drumming, and to offer ongoing opportunities that explore female expressions of drumming.

An excellent place for new women students to start is the Beginner’s Class on Tuesdays from 6:30-7:30pm. No previous drumming or music experience is needed; owning a drum is not a prerequisite either. WDC has plenty to share! The class is taught by Seitzer, and the atmosphere is encouraging, educational, and fun. From 7:30-8:15pm, the more experienced drummers in the group stay for an advanced beginner class called “Women who Groove.”

Seitzer started drumming nine years ago, and it took just a few drum beats for her to know that she had found her instrument. She said, “I’m excited about the direction that WDC is headed right now. We’ve done a good job for years with our classes and with our work out in the community, and recently, we’re doing more to broaden the scope of our performances. I attended a West African drum and dance retreat in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania this fall, and talked with the staff there about the cultural appropriateness of non-Africans playing performing African drum music. Their response was, “You are welcome to play our music, but please tell the stories behind the songs too.”

The performance ensemble at WDC is called drumHeart, with the “H” capitalized to emphasize heart. Seitzer explained, “Authentic performance of this music features elements of drum, dance, and voice—and we approach all three with Heart.” The ensemble is made up of the center’s most experienced drummers, whose mission is to serve the community with world percussion music that nurtures and inspires. They are out and about in the Twin Cities almost every summer weekend, drumming, singing, dancing, and explaining where their eclectic music comes from. They bring their joy and spirit to energize walkers fundraising for organizations like the National Kidney Foundation, the Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, and many others. To inquire about hiring drumHeart for an event in 2019, email info@womensdrumcenter.net. The ensemble charges an honorarium to perform.

Drumming has many social and musical benefits, but did you know that it’s also good for your health?

“There’s verifiable research out there about the health benefits of drumming, especially for people over 40 years of age,” Seitzer said. “Several students have told me their sleep patterns improved, they had fewer chiropractic problems, and less depression since they started drumming.”

Part of the mission of WDC is to use drumming, percussion, and music to help participants find avenues to better heath and healing.

To view their class schedule, visit www.womensdrumcenter.org or call 651-206-7616 with questions.

 

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Mass Shooting Presentation slider

$300,000 awarded to research mass shootings in the U.S.

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Mass shootings—what causes them, and what can be done to prevent them? Dr. Jillian Peterson, associate professor at Hamline University in criminology and criminal justice, and Dr. James Densley, Metro State University associate professor in criminal justice, are creating a database to better understand these questions.

The Center for Justice and Law at Hamline University hosted an event for the researchers to present their findings on Nov. 9, called Pathways to Prevention. Peterson and Densley recently received a $300,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice to finance their ongoing research for the next two years.

Photo left: Dr. Jillian Peterson, Hamline University professor, said, “I’ve seen over and over again that the worse the crime, the worse the life story of the perpetrator.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The overflow audience, which contained several law enforcement officers, got a crash course in what is true, and what is not true, about mass shooters.

The modern American history of mass shootings officially began on August 1st, 1966, in Austin, TX. On that day, 25-year-old Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the university tower and began firing indiscriminately with multiple firearms. The attack lasted more than 90 minutes; 17 people were killed, and 31 were injured.

Densley explained, “The FBI defines a mass shooting this way, four or more people are killed by guns in a public place within 24 hours. By that definition, there have been seven mass shootings so far in 2018. Mass shootings are relatively rare, but ‘focusing’ events since they make up less than one half of one percent of all firearm deaths in the US annually.”

Contrary to how it feels, mass shootings are not happening more often, but they are becoming more deadly. From 1966 to the present, there have been 151 mass shootings in this country.

“This has been a difficult database to compile,” Peterson said, “but we believe that if you’re going to have data-driven conversations—you need to have data. The scope of our project is considerable, and there’s only one way that we could take it on: with the help of our Hamline students. We have 20 research associates who have worked long hours, and made invaluable contributions.”

The students have been tasked with coding known mass shooters based on 53 variables such as past trauma, family makeup, history of mental illness, and social media profiles. “The data are still being compiled,” Peterson explained,” but we have noticed two consistent characteristics: hopelessness, and a desire to achieve notoriety either in life or in death.”

The public assumes a lot about mass shooters. According to their research, 58% of mass shooters coded positive for mental illness (depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or other mental disorders). But, 50% of the US pop­u­lation would code positive for one of those factors. “Mental health doesn’t hang out there on its own. It’s a slow build over time, with other risk factors piling up. When there’s a lack of a healthy support system, and access to firearms, that’s when everything falls apart,” Peterson said.

Densley said, “Add social media to all that, and you’ve got a really different reality. Sites like Gab (described as a safe haven for neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the alt-right) reinforce violent ideas in an echo chamber. Social media can have a very negative contagion effect. It’s not uncommon for attackers to be making posts on social media while they’re shooting. Suddenly we’ve got a world where some people are performers, and some people are audience members—but everybody’s watching.”

So, what’s a country to do?

“Last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas was the catalyst for our project,” Peterson said. “We are trying to find ways to identify people who might turn into motivated shooters and strategies to prevent future attacks. Our first recommendation is that when an attack happens, the shooter should not be named. Focus media attention on acts of heroism instead.”

Peterson and Densley hope to complete their project by 2020 and begin sharing it with the public. Between now and then, they’re scheduling five interviews with living mass shooters who are incarcerated across the country. They plan to interview them face-to-face about what their lives were like growing up. They’ll also talk with family members and friends, to help them understand the support systems that mass shooters either had or didn’t have.

The topic of mass shootings is highly emotionally charged. In Minnesota, although a student is six times more likely to be struck by lightning than to be shot while at school, we spend $25 million annually on school safety measures. Several major retailers are now selling bulletproof backpacks for kids.

Peterson said, “We’re traumatizing a whole generation of students with lockdown drills and talk of active shooters. Why aren’t we also spending more money on crisis intervention skills?”

To learn more the Pathways to Prevention Project, go to www.theviolenceproject.org.

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Microsoft PowerPoint – Jennie Hausler

Meet St. Andrew’s Church designer Charles A. Hausler

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

Hausler was St. Paul’s first city architect and drew from a range of styles during a distinguished career

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
St. Andrew’s Church was designed by a prolific and creative architect known for his diverse range of styles and high-quality designs.

Charles A. Hausler (photo right at age 20 provided) was born in St. Paul and left an indelible imprint on the city he lived in for all but a few years of his life.

“He was a son of St. Paul,” observed his granddaughter Jennie Hausler, who resides in Miami, Fla. “A visionary ahead of his time.”

Decided to be an architect at age 16
Hausler grew up in the W. Seventh St. neighborhood, the son of a German immigrant. He attended Adams Elementary School, Mechanic Arts High School, and the St. Paul School of Fine Arts. As a boy, he pedaled newspapers.

At 16, he decided to become an architect and began an apprenticeship with Clarence H. Johnston of St. Paul. He then apprenticed with several other major architects in the region including Harry Wild Jones in Minneapolis and Louis Sullivan in Chicago.

His apprenticeship with Sullivan is particularly notable as Sullivan is considered the father of the modern skyscraper and he exerted an important influence on a group of architects who practiced in what became known as the Prairie style, according to a St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission staff report.

Hausler was drawn back to St. Paul from Chicago and began to practice first with Peter Linhoff and then William Alban. Alban and Hausler designed some notable buildings in St. Paul including St. Anthony Park Methodist Episcopal Church (1911-1912) and Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation (1913), both designed in the Gothic Revival style. The firm also designed the Prairie style Knox Presbyterian Church (1912-14).

In addition to being an architect, Hausler was also a structural engineer, pointed out his granddaughter, J. Hausler.

Named St. Paul’s first city architect at age 25
At just 25 years old, Hausler was appointed St. Paul’s first city architect (1914).

One of his initial assignments was to serve as the supervising architect for the James J. Hill Reference Library. He also wrote the city’s first building code. Later, as a senator, he appointed a council to revise the code and bring it up to modern standards.

During his tenure, numerous municipal facilities were designed in his office, including schools, branch libraries, fire stations, and park buildings.

Hausler designed the William L. Ames School (1915) and the Como Park Elementary School (1916), both classically inspired buildings. He also designed the Randolph Heights School (1916), which features elements from the Mission Revival style.

While her grandfather was a man of great humility who always shared praise with others, he was also “proud of what he did,” remarked J. Hausler. During a recent tour of St. Paul schools, J. Hausler looked for where her grandfather had signed his name on the buildings, including the cornerstone at Como Park Elementary and an alcove near the door at Randolph Heights Elementary.

Photo left: St. Paul’s first city architect, Charles A. Hausler, designed numerous churches and buildings in St. Paul during his distinguished career, including St. Andrew’s Church. He is shown here with his granddaughter, Jennie Hausler, who spoke about her grandfather’s contributions to the city of St. Paul and the Warrendale neighborhood during the Heritage Preservation Commission meeting on Nov. 5, 2018. (Photo provided)

Hausler designed three branch libraries for the city, St. Anthony Park, Arlington Hills, and Riverview. The three classically inspired buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He also designed the Mounds Park Pavilion (1916).

Every one of her grandfather’s designs were unique and innovative, observed J. Hausler.

In 1915, Hausler hired Clarence “Cap” Wigington as the office’s senior draftsman. Wigington was an African-American architect who grew up in Omaha, Neb. Today, Wigington is recognized as the nation’s first black municipal architect. Buildings he designed include the Harriet Island Pavilion, Roy Wilkins Auditorium, and Highland Park Tower. Hausler also appointed a second African American architect named William Godette in 1919.

Plus, her grandfather treated women well, and rather than seclude them to a corner, he welcomed them at the draftsmen table in the middle of the room, pointed out J. Hausler.

Senator 1922-1939
Even while he was employed as city architect, Hausler maintained a private practice. One of his partners was Percy Dwight Bentley, who along with Hausler was also a notable practitioner of the Prairie style. The partnership produced a number of finely crafted Prairie style residences in St. Paul including the Frank and Rosa Seifert House (1914) and the Albert Wunderlich House (1915). Hausler also designed his own house (1917) in the Prairie style.

Innovative features in one home included a dehumidifier and there was an early form of air conditioning in a funeral home he designed.

“He was a man who was way ahead of his time,” stated J. Hausler.

Her grandfather always had two jobs, J. Hausler observed. With his German heritage, “he came from a strong work ethic,” she said.

Hausler resigned from his position as city architect in 1922 when he was elected to the state legislature. He represented St. Paul in the Senate, starting as a progressive Republican and ending up as a member of the Farmer-Labor party. Hausler left the Minnesota Senate in 1939 to resume his career in architecture full-time and continued working into his 70s.

Important clients
The Catholic Church was a very important client for Hausler. He designed dozens of churches, schools, convents, and rectories for the Catholic Church, which are located in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. His most notable designs include St. Boniface Church (1929) in Minneapolis, St. Joseph’s Church (1929) in Owatonna, and St. Mary’s Church (1930) in Hague, N.D., which is listed on the National Register and is referred to as “the jewel of the prairie.”

Stylistically, these later churches typically featured the Romanesque Revival style, rather than the Gothic style that was common for Hausler’s early church designs.
In 1929, Hausler designed the Minnesota Building in downtown St. Paul. The building is considered the first in the Twin Cities to employ the Art Deco style and is listed on the National Register. Hausler was always concerned about fire safety and pushed for the use of concrete materials at the Minnesota Building, stated J. Hausler.

Hausler also designed a new Art Deco style façade for the Minnesota Milk Company Building on University Ave., which is also listed on the National Register.

Hausler’s architectural practice extended far beyond St. Paul. He designed schools, churches, and commercial buildings throughout the region. According to H. Allen Brooks, who wrote “The Prairie School: Frank Lloyd Wright and His Midwest Contemporaries,” Hausler was “an excellent public relations man and was particularly persuasive with school boards.” He designed schools in Minnesota communities that included Tracy, Fulda, Farmington, Buhl, and Greenbush.

Designs as artwork
During his time in the legislature, Hausler continued to practice architecture, and it was during this time that St. Andrew’s Church was constructed in 1927. Hausler’s design for St. Andrew’s draws its inspiration from a variation of the Romanesque style that developed in southern France and northern Italy, which is characterized by complex designs and colorful ornament. At the time of its construction, the building was described as Byzantine, a style that preceded the Romanesque. Design elements in St. Andrew’s that reflect this style include the interior spatial arrangement in the form of a Greek cross and the interior groin vaults.

“As a structural engineer, he built this building to last,” stated his granddaughter J. Hausler.

He also factored in the characteristics of each community where he designed buildings, she pointed out, and St. Andrew’s was no exception. “If they want to demolish this church, I don’t think it’d be for the benefit of the community,” J. Hausler said.

Hausler didn’t do anything that was boilerplate. “This church is absolutely gorgeous,” said J. Hausler. “You could come back every day for a week, and you’d see something new. He surprises you.” She pointed to the six different types of brick used and the other whimsical components designed into the building.
“If you take a look at his other churches, this stands apart,” J. Hausler said. She added, “His architectural designs are artwork.”

Hausler died in St. Paul on July 12, 1971.

 

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Art Academy slider

Started with a belief that art is learned, just like reading or math

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

Como residents James Robinson and Sarah Howard celebrate the 25th anniversary of Art Academy

By JAN WILLMS
Any child can learn to draw or paint well.

With this thought in mind, Como neighborhood resident James Robinson started the Art Academy 25 years ago, with about 30 children in attendance during its first month.

Today, the art school has 400 students at its location at 651 Snelling Ave. S.

Robinson, a Chicago native, first came to the Twin Cities to study at Atelier Lack with its founder, Richard Lack.

“At that time, in 1990, there were not a lot of schools out there doing what Atelier Lack was doing, which was teaching academic drawing and impressionist painting concepts,” Robinson claimed. After attending classes at Atelier Lack, he was an instructor there but also started making plans for opening his own art school.

“I was after something different,” he recalled. “I felt when I was young I had been shortchanged in art instruction. I knew that I wanted to draw well, and most of the art classes for kids were craft-paced, so they were not fully addressing how to teach a young person how to draw.”

“I thought that in the past, not every apprentice could have been talented. Some of them were just average people who were studying to have a career, yet they all learned how to draw and paint well. But not everyone was a Leonardo or a Michelangelo,” Robinson continued.

He said that he started doing a lot of research on drawing and painting techniques dating back to the Renaissance. Then he started his school, the Art Academy, and began teaching kids how to draw.

“The idea was that everyone is talented; talent isn’t some God-given gift,” Robinson explained. “And if you think about it, it’s kind of the right idea for kids.”

Photo right: James Robinson (right) and partner in life, Sarah Howard, who is also his partner in operating the Art Academy. Their rescue dog Pavo is a fixture at the school every day. (Photo by Jan Willms)

According to Robinson, we believe kids can learn to do math and write well and do history and science. “We even think this extends to dance, for example. If your daughter takes a dance class, you think she will improve. But in the visual arts, it’s kind of a different thing, because we believe some people are talented and some are not, and I wanted to see if that was true.”

He started his school out of his house, and within six months it became obvious to him that any child can learn to draw or paint pretty well. “They just were not being taught,” Robinson said. He ended up getting a patent on his teaching methods.

Within a year, the school grew so much that he moved it out of his house and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary building on Summit Ave. For a while, he rented space at the Holy Spirit School. The Art Academy has been at its present location for the past six years.

The success of the students at the Art Academy, who have won numerous awards over the years, has proven Robinson’s theory to be true—any child can learn to draw or paint well.

Looking back to the school’s beginnings, he said the most challenging part was building a reputation. Another continuing challenge is the amount of time it takes to operate the school. “We used to think there would come the point when all of this would be easy, and the school would run itself,” Robinson said. “That has never happened. It is pretty demanding regarding time.”

But all that pales when it comes to appreciating the relationships that have developed over the years with the students. “We have kids that start classes at age 5 and continue until they leave for college,” Robinson stated. “We end up having these really wonderful relationships with these kids, and it it’s amazing seeing them grow up and what wonderful people they turn out to be.”

Robinson’s partner in life, Sarah Howard, is also his partner in operating the Art Academy. “I went back to school in the mid-80s,” Howard recalled, “and took classes at Atelier Lack, and Jim was teaching there.” She took classes from him, and after graduating joined him at his school four years ago.

The staff at the Art Academy consists of an additional 16 part-time teachers, all of whom are alumnae.

And then there is Pavo, the rescue dog who is at the school every day. “He is just great with the kids,” Robinson said. “When he comes in, it’s like some religious saint has entered. All the kids are trying to touch him.”

Classes are taught six days a week, with Friday the only day off. Students range in age from 5 to adults in their 90s., Robinson said. Although the school originally started out focusing only on children, it soon expanded to include adults, and today about 90 of the 400 students are adults.

Robinson said that with many of the adults, a sort of pattern emerges. They are around the age of 40 or older, and they call the school explaining that they had a passion for drawing and painting when they were younger, and then life got in the way. “They come in and want to know if they can still do it,” he said.

Regarding the younger students, Robinson said that every five years aesthetics with kids change. “It was Harry Potter and wizards five years ago. We had a group of girls interested in drawing dragons, and others want to draw unicorns. Then Japanese animation took off. We try to find teachers well versed in those areas,” he said.

A large number of students have gone on to win awards. “Over 150 Art Academy students have won prizes at the Minnesota State Fair,” Howard said. “One of our students, Fina Mooney, recently traveled to New York to attend her first group show at the celebrated Salmagundi Club. What makes this unique is that Fina, at age 13, is the youngest person in the world to win an award in the highly competitive Art Renewal Center’s International Salon Competition.”

Robinson cited another student, Molly Dekarski, who is preparing to go off to college to study art. “She put in the time, and little miracles started happening,” he said. “She really took to watercolors, and won all major prizes at the state fair, including the Compass Award, which is rarer than a grand prize.”

Howard said one of their current students, Selena, is from Islamabad, Pakistan. She was at an art conference and saw the woman next to her drawing. “Where did you learn to draw like that?” she asked. The woman replied, “St. Paul.”

Selena looked St. Paul up on a map and saw that it was a twin city to Minneapolis, where her uncle lived, according to Howard. “She moved to Minneapolis to stay with her uncle and attend classes here,” she noted.

Robinson said it is experiences and relationships like these that have enabled his school to continue operating for 25 years.

“Once you can get the students to understand they can draw well, their skill level goes straight up,” he commented. “They become so focused.”

As well as believing that any child or adult can learn to draw, the other core principle of the Art Academy is that art history matters. “If we’re going to be giving a figure class, we will research for months regarding how historically these were taught. That streamlines the teaching process.”

“We want people to leave here feeling like they really have a leap,” Robinson continued, “So we put in a lot of efforts behind the scenes to make that happen.”

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Commission favors saving St. Andrew’s from wrecking ball

Commission favors saving St. Andrew’s from wrecking ball

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

Heritage Preservation Commission considers church to be significant to St. Paul’s history and votes 8-1 to preserve it

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
After hearing from both sides of the issue, the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission voted 8-1 in favor of preserving the historic St. Andrew’s Church (photo right by Tesha M. Christensen) that is now being used by the Twin Cities German Immersion School (TCGIS). The recommendation now moves on to the St. Paul Planning Commission and the St. Paul City Council.

School opposed to historic designation
The Heritage Preservation Commission received about 200 letters opposing the historic designation of the former St. Andrew’s Church. Nearly all of the letters were written by people who said they were parents of children who attend school at TCGIS or were teachers and staff members. The school currently has about 520 pupils and seeks to grow to about 630.

About 100 of the letters were from St. Paul residents including some who identified themselves as neighbors. The rest came from Minneapolis, Roseville, and other suburbs.
TCGIS supporters asked the Heritage Preservation Commission to avoid giving “a crumbling former church building, owned by the Twin Cities German Immersion School, a historic designation will put an unrealistic financial burden on this public charter school.”

The letters referred to it as a “short-sighted petition” that is “being presented by a small, vocal and selfish minority of neighbors.”

In his letter to the commission, TCGIS Executive Director Ted Anderson pointed out, “The school is a model for successful charter schools in both cities.”

Anderson added, “The non-profit school’s future is at stake if it is to be forced into maintaining an old building that is falling apart and is functionally obsolete.”

TCGIS does not think that historic designation should occur over the property owner’s objections—“Especially when the property owner is a non-profit entity such as a public charter school,” wrote Anderson.

Additionally, he wrote that historic preservation is not a benefit to a non-profit like a school; it is a burden.

“When my husband and I first saw the school, we were impressed with the beautiful building and excited that our children would attend a school with such a unique feature. However, the beauty of the building and the memories that it holds for our neighbors does not and should not take precedence over the education of our children,” wrote Theresa Gardella of Roseville.

“Sometimes in order to move great educational missions forward, spaces that no longer function (and that are unsafe and prohibitively expensive to repair) need to be demolished and replaced by new facilities that are more efficient and better designed with contemporary architectural knowledge about space and learning,” stated Kerten Warren of Roseville.

“I believe that historic preservation fails when it is used as a tactic to exclude or limit owners from their right to utilize or modify a property in a manner congruent with similar properties not deemed worthy of preservation,” wrote John Steingraeber of St. Paul.

“I live in St. Paul because its history and landmarks appeal to me,” wrote TCGIS parent Mike Mitchelson who lives along Como Lake. “But I also appreciate progress and the idea that neighborhoods—including historic ones—need new landmarks to continue their relevance and attract new generations of residents. The Como Lake area is such a neighborhood.”

Neighbor and TCGIS school parent Kyle Johnson who lives along Englewood is opposed to the request for historic designation. “The ‘neighbors’ have already taken resources from the school by making it look at alternatives,” he wrote. “That’s money that could have gone for books or teachers.”

In favor of preservation
The Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) received about 11 letters from people, most of them neighbors, who support the designation of St. Andrew’s as a heritage site.
Earlier this year, 600 people signed a petition asking that the school wait on expansion until June 2020 to provide time to review various options and to gather more concrete estimates for work needed on the building. School representatives have stated that it would be prohibitively expensive to update the old church building while neighbors argue the amount is part of regular maintenance fees and any repairs needed are much lower.

However, the school voted on July 30 to raze the structure and had initially scheduled partial demolition for early October, but after receiving pressure from the grassroots group Save Historic St. Andrews it agreed to wait until the summer of 2019.

Save Historic St. Andrew’s (SHSA) raised funds to complete a historic evaluation of the building that was designed by the city’s first architect, Charles Hausler, and then applied for heritage preservation on Oct. 1.

Murial Gubasta’s paternal great-grandparents, Coleman and Justina Horvath, immigrated to the Como Park neighborhood in 1900 and were among many other Hungarian immigrants who settled in the Warrendale neighborhood and contributed money to build the new St. Andrew Church building on Como Ave. They were married in the first church building in 1908, and their children attended school at St. Andrew’s. Gubasta was the fourth generation of her family to attend school there and was followed by her nephew as a fifth-generation student.

“There are several hundred other family stories that are similar to mine,” wrote Gubasta in a letter to the HPC. “Even though many of these proceeding generations have moved on it does not mean St. Andrew’s Church building no longer has historic and cultural value. To raze St. Andrew’s Church building is to destroy the rich, historic and cultural identity of this beautiful neighborhood in Como Park.”

SHSA member Kevin Anderson pointed out, “We have had a school in this neighborhood since 1920, and we value the vibrancy that it brings to our community. However, development by any institution or resident needs to take into consideration the essential character of the established neighborhood. I believe that the current expansion plan proposed by TCGIS is not consistent with the St. Paul Comprehensive Plan or congruent with the existing character of our neighborhood.”

According to SHSA member Steve Greenwood, “St. Andrews deserves historical designation, as it is comparable to Hausler’s other buildings on the National Register (St. Anthony Library, Riverview Library, Freedom Library, Minnesota Building, Minnesota Milk Building, and St. Mary’s in Hague ND). It is also comparable to the six District 10 buildings on the Register (Footbridge L-5853, Bridge 92247, Conservatory, Salvation Army Women’s Home, and Northern Pacific Railway Co. Como Shops), in terms of architectural beauty, design architect significance, social significance, and impact on the neighborhood.”

What makes it significant?
St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission, in its 8-1 decision for historic preservation, said the former church building is eligible for local designation under four of St. Paul’s Heritage Preservation criteria.

St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, built in 1927 by the McGough Brothers, is architecturally significant as a well-designed example of the Romanesque Revival style. According to the HPC report, the church is not only significant in the Lake Como area, where it maintains a strong architectural presence, it is also among St. Paul’s most distinctive period revival style churches.

St. Andrew’s Catholic Church is also significant for its association with Charles A. Hausler, who served as the first city architect for the city of St. Paul and whose large and diverse body of work had an important impact on the city. (See related article on page 6)

St. Andrew’s Catholic Church is also historically significant as an important institution in the Lake Como area that became a community center for the working-class congregation that it served, according to the information reviewed by the Heritage Preservation Commission. The church served a community of Hungarian immigrants and is significant for its association with the Hungarian immigrant experience.

Another criterion is that its unique location or singular physical characteristic represents an established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood, community, or the city of Saint Paul. According to the HPC report, the Warrendale neighborhood has a unique layout designed by H.W.S. Cleveland, as it is not a grid, but a curvilinear plan and St. Andrew’s Church is sited in a unique location within that plat.

Debate over 1983 preservation report
In deciding on the status of St. Andrew’s Church historic status, the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) cited a “1983 Historic Sites Survey of St. Paul and Ramsey County” that stated that St. Andrew’s Church was a “Site of Major Significance.”

Twin Cities German Immersion School officials noted that the documentation for that very same report did not list the church as a site “eligible for designation.” And, that in fact, the official “Historic Sites Survey” for the church done in 1981 clearly marked “no” for National Register potential, “no” for “local designation potential,” and “no” to “historic district potential.”

According to Christine Boulware, Historic Preservation Specialist for Planning and Economic Development, reports that are more than ten years old may contain important data, but that they are “out of date” and that new or updated information should be the primary focus.

“Effectively, the current nomination that was submitted for St. Andrew’s Church is the up-to-date information that an intensive level survey would provide and more,” Boulware said. “Thus, when the HPC reviewed the nomination at the Nov. 5 public hearing, they determined the site eligible for local designation based on the information provided in the nomination document.”

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Allianz Field 09

Innovative water re-use system being built into Allianz Field Great Lawn

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

By the end of November the Allianz Field was making its permanant stamp on the Midway’s landscape. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
When the Minnesota United FC soccer team takes their opening kick at Allianz Field next spring, nearly 20,000 fans and spectators will have walked across the Great Lawn to enter the new stadium. Coursing quietly beneath their feet will be an innovative stormwater and reuse system that, in its own way, is as exciting as the game.

Wes Saunders-Pearce, water resources coordinator for the City of St. Paul, said, “This project has been a partnership from the beginning with the Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD). We kicked off a visioning workshop almost three years ago, and the ideas that emerged have resulted in our most ambitious collaboration to date. We looked closely at how stormwater was managed at CHS Field (home of the St. Paul Saints) and along the Metro Green Line. Both of these systems are on a much smaller scale than what we engineered for Allianz Field, but they definitely helped inform the design.”

Anna Eleria is the planning, projects, and grants division manager for CRWD. She said, “The key question that drove this partnership was, ’How can we change the mindset of managing stormwater as a resource—rather than a liability?’ We hope that once the public understands how it all works, they’ll start to look at how they can manage their own stormwater better.”

Allianz Field and the surrounding new developments will occupy approximately half of the 35 acre Super Block site. The masterplan is pedestrian-oriented and designates 2.6 acres of public, outdoor gathering spaces. The stadium will be ringed by three grassy plazas, and a fourth green space will be placed along University Ave., near the Snelling Avenue Metro Green Line Station. The largest of these green spaces, called the Great Lawn, is directly in front of the main stadium entrance.
All of the stormwater from Allianz Field and the surrounding new developments will be directed underneath the Great Lawn, where it will be captured in a state-of-the-art cistern system with a 675,000-gallon holding capacity. Stormwater will be treated with ozone after it has passed through a series of filters, and further purified with ultraviolet light. A water main that surrounds the stadium on the north side will distribute the clean stormwater to other properties for irrigation and non-drinking purposes.

Saunders-Pearce explained, “What we’re seeing with the Allianz Field and surrounding development properties is the first catalytic investment in the Super Block. As a water resource planner, there were a lot of things that were compelling about this project. When future developments come in, their stormwater management system will already be in place. We hope that this will help move things forward because the blocks will be ‘development ready.’ We’re looking through both a sustainability lens and a development lens at the same time.”

The Great Lawn will be available for public use and was intentionally designed to be an open space. Saunders-Pearce added, “There will only be about 20 home games each year at Allianz Field. We anticipate that people will find this area (with its variety of commercial and mixed-use properties) to be approachable—and that they’ll use it well.”

The mission of the CRWD is to protect and improve the water quality of the Mississippi River. “We’ve always been concerned about the Super Block site,” Eleria said.

“Previously there was no treatment of the stormwater runoff there; it all just fed into the storm sewers and ran directly into the river. Now, stormwater that runs off half of the site will be treated, and we think it symbolizes the future for development in the area. CRWD doesn’t own any land. We rely on partnerships with other organizations that care about sustainable approaches. Part of the funding we were able to contribute to this project came from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources’ Clean Water Fund and the Metropolitan Council’s Stormwater Grant.”

Public Art Saint Paul will likely be another partner in the eventual ‘innovation celebration’ of this building site, but a decision was made to forestall the installation of public art until after the season opens in 2019. Saunders-Pearce said, “All of the site work is done, and it has moved very rapidly. We want to give the public some time to get used to using the space, and to see how the pedestrian traffic flows. We anticipate having public art near the Great Lawn, and also some interpretive signage that explains the water re-use that’s in place underground. All of the partners agree that we don’t want to use signage as the only tool for interpreting this innovative system; we want to have something that’s more powerful, and that’s better at accomplishing the job of place-making. This is going to be a tremendous area for St. Paul.”

 

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Pedestrian Map St

Over 4,000 people weighed in on city’s new pedestrian plan

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

This map, from the Saint Paul Pedestrian Plan Executive Summary, shows the areas (in green) where High Priority Areas for Walking Investments are proposed. Almost the entire West Midway is highlighted. (Photo provided)

St. Paul has 1,080 miles of sidewalks, and 330 miles of roads without sidewalks

By JANE MCCLURE
Steps to improve conditions for St. Paul pedestrians are the focus of the city’s first-ever pedestrian plan. The plan will be released Dec. 14 by the St. Paul Planning Commission. The release marks the start of a 30-day public comment period, with a public hearing set for Feb. 8, 2019.

A Planning Commission recommendation goes to the City Council for final approval, with March 2019 eyed as a possible public hearing date. The plan will become part of the city’s comprehensive plan.

The commission’s Transportation Committee voted unanimously Nov. 19 to recommend the plan’s release, following a presentation by Fay Simer, pedestrian safety coordinator for the St. Paul Department of Public Works. Earlier in November, more than 40 people attended a plan open house.

Having a plan in place for sidewalks, trails and street crossings reflects the city’s values, Simer said. The plan calls out infrastructure needs as well and can guide funding city spending decisions. “It also can start conversations and change the culture of the city to promote walking,” she said

City officials hear strong support for pedestrian improvements, including sidewalks where none exist and safer street crossings. Mayor Melvin Carter’s 2019 budget includes $1 million for sidewalks, which is about double past spending.

St. Paul has 1,080 miles of sidewalks. Only about six to eight miles are replaced each year, meaning many sidewalks are in poor condition. What is more concerning is the number of areas without sidewalks at all. The city has only required sidewalks with street paving projects or new developments since 2017, meaning some neighborhoods have been able to opt out if residents didn’t want sidewalks.

Simer said the city has about 330 miles of sidewalk gaps. Included in the gaps are 62 miles of busy arterial streets, which can be dangerous to walk along or cross.
The 91-page pedestrian plan has been in the works for more than a year, including open houses, surveys, and focus group meetings. More than 4,000 people weighed in. A 26-member steering committee was also involved.

A map showing sidewalk gaps and high priority areas for walking investments is one key outcome of the plan. Neighborhoods along Green Line light rail are cited for their lack of sidewalks. That’s despite a program during rail construction that emphasized creating more pedestrian connections to and from rail and rail stations. Neighborhoods in the west midway also lack sidewalks.

The areas mapped out were chosen using several criteria, Simer said. One is equity, and looking at neighborhoods where people may rely on walking the most. Another is safety, where streets are busiest. Four-lane and arterial streets are some of the toughest to get across on foot. Census tracts and data including transit access, population, health and employment density are other factors. City staff also looked at areas where there aren’t sidewalks.

Those at the November open house and Transportation Committee members expressed enthusiasm for the plan, although many issues were raised. Several people cited the need for ongoing funding for sidewalk and crosswalk safety improvements, not just to make the improvements but to provide ongoing maintenance. Others raised the needs for better street lighting for nighttime walking, as well as better snow and ice removal.

“I love the plan so far,” said Transportation Committee member Kevin Gallatin. He and other committee members would like to see more details on how the plan and the city’s street design policy tie together. That can be added as the plan continues through the review process.

Transportation Committee member Wendy Underwood also expressed support for the plan, although she’d like to see more emphasis on safe street crossings.

Safe crosswalks are another issue, especially on busier and wider streets. “Motor vehicle speeds and crossing distances are the biggest threats to pedestrian safety,” said Simer. “We don’t want there to be streets in St. Paul that people cannot get across.”

Snow and ice on sidewalks were raised frequently as problematic. While about 80 percent of walks are cleared after the city sends letters to property owners, that still takes filing a complaint. One challenge is that there aren’t citywide programs to assist people who need help shoveling snow.

Property owners must remove snow and ice from sidewalks within 24 hours of the end of a snowfall.

The plan identifies several short-term and long-term strategies, including consistent review processes for pedestrian crossings, seeking alternative funding to build more sidewalks, and looking at ways to address sidewalk shoveling.

One issue that has dominated recent discussions is that of funding. “Funding has been a big challenge” for those seeking sidewalks to be installed or repaired, said Simer. Sidewalks in the past have been funded through a combination of property owner assessments, city funding or outside grants.

The plan also includes a focus on four pedestrian programs the city is involved in.

Stop for Me is a targeted effort to promote safe crossings and law enforcement.

Safe Routes to Schools is a program through which school communities plan out improvements to help children safely get to and from school. Planning commissioner Christopher Ochs said he’d like to see a future safe Routes effort focused on central High School.

A third effort is regular pedestrian and bicycle counts, powered largely by volunteers. Simer said the counts provide needed baseline data for studies and funding requests.

A fourth program is Paint the Pavement, where neighbors paint a design on a street surface to calm or slow traffic.

 

Edit note: The original article reported the public hearing was going to be Jan. 25, however it was subsequently changed by the Planning Commission to Feb. 8, 2019.

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Development Roundup, Dec. 2018

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

By JANE MCCLURE

Internet business receives loan to move into the Midway
A recently merged company is closing its Hudson, WI. location and consolidating in the Midway industrial area. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board, voted Nov. 28 to approve a $175,000 forgivable loan to Alula.

Alula is the product of the acquisition and merger of Resolution Products and ipDatatel. Both companies work in home security and online businesses. The companies were operated independently until August 2017. Now that the merger has been completed, the company intends to close its facility in Wisconsin and relocate to St. Paul. Additionally, Alula would shift some workers over time from a Houston, TX facility to the Twin Cities, though the plan to continue operating the facility in Houston.

The proposed facility here will serve as the corporate headquarters for the combined operations. Alula considered spaces throughout the Twin Cities and also explored options to headquarter the company in other regions. With the approval of Strategic Investment Funds, the company will lease approximately 50,000 square feet at 2340 Energy Park Dr. They will relocate 56 existing jobs and hire 69 additional employees to staff the St. Paul office, making a commitment of 125 jobs at their new headquarters in Saint Paul.

2340 Energy Park Dr. is located in an I-1 zoning district, with all of Alula’s proposed land uses permitted. No existing businesses will be displaced or relocated as a result of this project, and there was no land acquisition that took place as a result of eminent domain.

The city funds are from the HRA Strategic Investment Fund and will be used for equipment and furniture.

Meatpacking plant in Midway wins historic status
The former Superior Packing Plant property, which has long been eyed as a redevelopment site, has won needed historic designation. On Nov. 5 the property at 2103 Wabash Ave. was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an excellent, intact, local example of a multistory straight-line production, meatpacking plant within the city of St. Paul. It was part of St. Paul’s first meatpacking district before the main district moved to South St. Paul around the Union Stockyards.

The property has been largely vacant for several years. It was built in sections over the past century but hasn’t housed meat packing operations for almost 40 years.

Various developers have looked at the property since then and sought ways to redevelop it. The latest proposal, by PAK Properties and HGB Group, called for turning the property into multi-family housing. That required a complex series of reviews by the city’s Planning Commission, as the developers sought to retain the underlying industrial zoning.

The project had the support of St. Anthony Park Community Council, Midway Chamber of Commerce, housing advocates and business groups, but was challenged by adjacent commercial and industrial neighbors due to concerns about putting a large number of residents into a busy non-residential area. The developers dropped their plans at about the same time an appeal was underway before the St. Paul City Council.

The historic designation would help a future owner-developer to receive state and federal historic tax credits. The credits have been used at other St. Paul sites, including the West End’s former Schmidt Brewery and at the Chittenden & Eastman building in South St. Anthony Park.

Higher Ground wins funding to move into Como building
A longtime Marshall Ave. charter school’s upper grades are headed in a few years for a new home at 1471 Brewster St. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), approved the issuance of up to $15 million in conduit lease revenue bonds for Higher Ground Building Company. The nonprofit is an arm of Higher Ground Academy.

Higher Ground Academy is a K-12 public charter school which has operated since 1999 in a facility at 1381 Marshall Ave. One of its founders is former City Council President Bill Wilson.

The school currently enrolls approximately 785 students. It is full, with a waiting list of 276 pupils.

The facility was originally financed with bonds issued by the HRA in 1999, with additional improvements financed through HRA issued bonds in 2004 and 2009.
In 2013, the HRA issued $13,480,000 in bonds for the school that refunded all prior bonds and financed equipment purchases for STEM labs to enhance academic programs. The current outstanding balance of the 2013 bonds is $12,125,000.

The HRA has received an application on behalf of Higher Ground to issue up to $15 million in conduit revenue bonds, to purchase, renovate and expand an existing school building located at 1471 Brewster St. That is the former Metro Deaf facility. That school recently moved to a new location.

The Brewster building is 40,000 sq. ft. and sits on a 1.75-acre site near Como and Snelling avenues. The existing building was built in two sections, with an original one-story structure in 1973 and a two-story addition in 2009. Higher Ground wishes to renovate and expand the building. The new school site will support students in grades 7 to 12 and increase enrollment in grades 7 to 12 from approximately 300 to 450. The new site is just 2.8 miles from the Marshall site and easily accessible via main thoroughfares from all directions. The school also provides its own bus transportation service for all students.

Elementary students would remain at Marshall Ave.

Earlier this year school officials considered, but then dropped, a proposal to relocate to property on the St. Paul College grounds in the Summit-University neighborhood.

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Como High School Farley Bronze Cross Award

News from Como Park High School, Dec. 2018

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

Compiled by ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

• Como Park senior William Farley received the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross award at a special ceremony attended by family, instructors, and peers from the Marine Corps JROTC. The Bronze Cross is an elite honor earned annually by just six exceptional individuals from over 5,000 Marine Corps JROTC cadets across the entire nation.

Farley’s accomplishments in JROTC began during his freshman year and increased over time to include not just higher rank and distinction within the program, but also excellence in challenging academic coursework, extracurricular activities, and community service.

Farley carries a non-weighted GPA of 3.96 (4.39 weighted), has twice led a Como Knowledge Bowl team to the national JROTC finals in Washington D.C., has earned AP Scholar status, and is a member of the National Honor Society. He also qualified for the Minnesota State History Day, qualified for the Minnesota Personal Finance Decathlon State Competition, ran track and field, and had leadership roles in several service projects with the Boy Scouts in addition to JROTC and school initiatives.

Photo right: Cadet Captain William Farley (center, holding certificate) earned the prestigious Legion of Valor Bronze Cross Award. With over 5,000 candidates from across the nation, Farley was one of just six recipients for the JROTC top honor. (Photo by Eric Erickson)

The proclamation read at the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross ceremony included roughly 40 other awards, achievements, and accomplishments. Farley’s resume is extensive, and his uniform is highly decorated. But the quality most admired by both instructors and fellow cadets is Farley’s humility.

When asked about his award, Farley’s selfless attitude revealed itself. To him, the achievements and honors are a by-product of the experiences that were developed as part of a team. “I think truly the most wonderful experience I’ve had has been to be part of this second family,” Farley said.

The support Farley has received from the Como MCJROTC, his teachers at Como, and his parents Dana Farley and Anna Otto will serve as a springboard as he pursues his college options. Like most Como cadets, he is not planning to join the military. The goal is to use the skills and commitment to excellence he’s developed as a compass for succeeding in college, career, and life.

• Coordination between Como Academy of Finance (AOF) instructor Kris Somerville, Wells Fargo, and Junior Achievement’s “JA Inspire” outreach program created a large-scale, impactful experience at Como for 370 students. On Nov. 15, over 40 volunteers from Wells Fargo visited Como for an all-day event. Freshmen spent time with mentors and learned how to network. Sophomores developed and refined resumes with the volunteers. Juniors participated in mock interviews and mentoring sessions. Seniors presented solutions to case studies developed by Wells Fargo.

Photo left: Wells Fargo employees conducted mock interviews with Como Park Academy of Finance (AOF) students in the Como Gymnasium last month as part of the AOF Career Development Day. (Photo by Eric Erickson)

For AOF students who have been part of the Wells Fargo event before, the day was highly anticipated and did not disappoint. “It was a wonderful experience because the volunteers were really down to earth and gave me such great advice about how to improve my presentation,” said senior Selena Vue.

For Wells Fargo volunteers, the interaction with Como AOF students was insightful and inspiring. One Wells Fargo team member, Derek Fried, said. “I have done several other volunteer activities with Wells Fargo, and this was far and away the most fun and most rewarding.”

• Nine AOF students interviewed for and successfully earned marketing internships with the BrandLab. The mission of the BrandLab is to change the face and voice of the marketing industry by introducing, guiding and preparing students for careers in marketing and advertising.

Seniors who earned this opportunity were Kenneth Psalms and Curtis Love. Junior interns include Abdulaziz Ahmed, Leonce Corder-Campbell, Aleeyar Keh, Ong Vang, Paul Vang, Lisa Saechao, and Pang Dao Xiong.

• The Como Park Choirs will present the annual Pops Concert on Monday, Dec. 17 in the Como Auditorium from 7-8pm. The show will feature six choirs performing music from Moana, The Greatest Showman, Hamilton, The Tempest, and more. Admission for the Pops Concert is $2 for adults, $1 for students and senior citizens.
On Thur., Dec. 20, the choir will go on tour around the neighborhood to perform for elementary school students. The concerts will be held at Chelsea Heights Elementary, Hamline Elementary, and Como Park Elementary.

• The Chamber Singers and Concert Choir presented a musical based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest on Nov. 8-9. High-quality performance by the cast and chorus pleased audiences and directors alike. Actors included Alicia Banks, Roan Buck, Wyatt Hanson, Willow Hollister-Lapointe, Areya Khue, Jo Ann Lane, Mai Lao Lee, Chandani Lor, Emilie Pagel, Lillian Rogers, Tobias Sax, Aspen Schucker, Lila Seeba, Ava Vitali and Kevin Yang.

• Advanced Placement Government students who will be representing Como in the national Close Up Washington D.C. program in March are raising funds to support their trip. Students will be bagging groceries for customers at the Maplewood Cub Foods on Rice St. and County Road B from 10am–8pm on Sat., Dec. 22. Cub customers generously support the effort of the students with donations that help defray the expense of the educational adventure. Community members interested in financially supporting students in the Close Up Washington D.C. program can also contact the trip coordinator at eric.erickson@spps.org.

• The Cougar girls’ basketball team started the season in spectacular fashion with victories over Bloomington Kennedy, Mounds View, Robbinsdale Cooper, and Minnehaha Academy. The hot start catapulted the Cougars to the #6 ranking in the Class AAA state rankings as the Monitor went to press.

• Prospective students and families for the 2019-2020 school year are invited to Como’s Showcase Night! Showcase is an open house format where students and families have a chance to learn more about academic and extra-curricular activities at Como. Showcase will take place on Tues., Jan. 15 from 5:30-7:30pm.

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Discovery Club