• District 622 offers award-winning Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) program

    Posted by Cathleen Hess on 6/26/2020 2:30:00 PM

    Since 2006, North High has proudly offered the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) program to high school students enrolled at North and Tartan as well as in neighboring districts and students who choose homeschool.

    Led by Senior Master Sergeant Wilkinson and Master Sergeant Buesgens, AFJROTC is an elective class. The objectives of JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) are to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship, promote community service, instill responsibility, character, and self-discipline, and provide instruction in air and space fundamentals.

    The goal of the program is to make each cadet a better person and a more productive citizen through a host of curriculum opportunities including academic studies, life skills education, leadership opportunities, team-building experiences, intramural competition, and field trips/training opportunities.

    Enrolled cadets also have the opportunity to join one of our many competition teams and special groups that do various events. Our cadets compete with many other JROTC schools in Fitness, Drill, Color Guard, Knowledge Bowl, and perform various community service projects throughout the school district and local community. You will see our cadets at every parent teacher conference and participating in the North St. Paul Parade. We like to get them involved in as much as possible!

    Although the program is currently enjoying a host of hard-earned and well-deserved accolades, that wasn’t always the case. From 2017 up until just recently, the program was placed on probation by our JROTC headquarters due to a lack of cadets. The program requires at least ten percent of the school population to be enrolled in the program, or 100 students (whichever is smaller). If a program is on probation, it could potentially be closed down. 

    This year, through a team effort of district leadership, North High’s administration, counselor support, and current cadets convincing their friends to join the program, we reached our goal of 100 cadets and were removed from probation.

    Since then, our program has also had a formal, three-year inspection from a director sent by our headquarters in Alabama. After considering many factors, including a formal briefing by our senior cadets, our unit received an "Exceeds Standards" rating. This is the highest rating that can be achieved.


    During the inspection, two of our cadets were recognized with the "Top Performer" award.

    In addition, the team also earned the Distinguished Unit Award with Merit, meaning they are in the top ten percent of all AFJROTC programs worldwide (there are programs in Europe and Asia as well!). Based on the inspector’s observation of the unit and the outcome of the inspection, he nominated both instructors, MSgt Buesgens and SMSgt Wilkinson for the national AFJROTC Instructor of the Year award. We hope to receive the final results of this nomination very soon.

    Cadets in our program include students of varying academic abilities. Students represented include athletes, musicians, science enthusiasts, gamers, dancers, and those who like to draw. It is so exciting to watch the different dynamics of our students learn to interact with each other!

    Our instructors are proud to instill into our cadets the importance of giving back to others. They also instill basic morals and values of how to treat others. Both instructors are very proud of knowing that the overwhelming majority of our graduating cadets know exactly who they are and where they are going in life.

    If you are interested in learning more information, email instructor Wilkinson or Buesgens at dwilkinson@isd622.org or bbuesgens@isd622.org. You may also call them at 651-748-7673. 

    Note: Joining this program does not obligate a cadet to military service. The instructors are not recruiters and are not concerned with whether a cadet joins the military or not.

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  • District 622 Embraces Distance Learning Challenges

    Posted by Cathleen Hess on 4/20/2020 9:30:00 AM

    You’ve probably heard the old English proverb, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Well, clearly March of 2020 had a different plan.

    As we look back, District 622 (along with our friends in 833 and 834) enjoyed an early March spring break, unaware of how dramatically our world was about to change.

    During the two weeks that followed, teachers and school staff worked tirelessly to quickly redesign the delivery of our (200-year-old) education system in preparation for ‘Distance Learning’. This team effort was like nothing that we had ever done before. 

    Prior to the COVID crisis, District 622 did not have enough technology to provide 1:1 devices for our students. In fact, earlier this spring, we finally had enough funds saved to be able to buy extra technology so that we could allocate a device to each of our high schoolers. Ironically, we had just placed an order for new chromebooks in March before the crisis hit. Our plan was to use the summer to barcode new devices, install software and district security filters, and provide professional development for teachers so we would be ready for distribution to students in August. As you can imagine, that plan quickly changed! Instead, our amazing technology team sprang into action and worked around the clock over an entire weekend to get 4,000 laptops ready for distribution. What an accomplishment that was!

    Next, with the assistance of a family survey, we were then able to repurpose existing laptops from our secondary schools to the homes of every middle school family who didn’t already have access to a personal device for schoolwork at home. Mobile hotspots were also distributed to connect families without internet access to schoolwork and district communication as well. 

    After our secondary students were finally connected, we were able to problem-solve the issue of technology access for our elementary students. Thanks to a generous (and timely) grant from the 3M Foundation, we are now finally able to connect all of our students to the internet where they can interact with their teachers and classmates in this new virtual classroom environment. For more information on this initiative, including resources for families, visit https://www.isd622.org/distancelearning.

    This COVID crisis has, without question, challenged and strengthened our school district and our community.

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  • Waste reduction and recycling initiatives across District 622

    Posted by Cathleen Hess on 4/13/2020 4:20:00 PM

    District 622 is proud to implement numerous waste reduction and recycling initiatives. Since August 2019, our 23 locations have recycled over 481 tons of recyclable materials! These recycling efforts have conserved the equivalent of:

    • 2,879 mature trees (equal to 35.67 million sheets of newspaper)
    • 1,877,260 kilowatt-hours of electricity (enough power to meet the annual electricity needs of 156 homes)
    • Avoided 1,353 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions
    • 1,713,144 gallons of water (enough fresh water for 22,800 people)

    Currently, the district uses large volume containers (dumpsters) for trash and large volume multi-sort containers for recycling. When recycling is disposed of in the district buildings or placed in the dumpsters, we do not use plastic bags. The multi-sort recycling containers can be filled with a mix of aluminum cans, plastic bottles, steel cans (from kitchens), standard copy paper as well as newspaper. These items can be put into the same container and are sorted and separated at the waste disposal facility where each item is sorted on a conveyor, separated and recycled. 

    Additionally, our trash waste is taken to a facility and incinerated and converted to electricity. No district waste or recycling goes to a landfill. Within our district buildings, we currently have seven-gallon trash and recycling containers in most classrooms and offices. We use larger trash and recycling containers in hallways and bathrooms. Custodial staff use larger 32-gallon trash containers and blue recycling containers when gathering trash and recycling from the buildings as they go about their cleaning responsibilities. Custodial staff will also place cardboard and allowable food service containers into the recycling dumpsters.

    In the near future, District 622 plans to place additional trash and recycling containers at strategic locations such as hallways, entryways, restrooms, exterior entrances, and athletic fields. We plan to add signage and training materials to better educate students, staff, and guests as to what can be recycled and what should be placed in a trash container.

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  • Community Invited to Open Houses at Renovated Elementary Schools

    Posted by Cathleen Hess on 12/16/2019 1:15:00 PM

    District 622 is in the midst of an exciting transformation and is thrilled to unveil two newly-remodeled elementary schools to the community.

    As part of Phase I of the District 622 Facilities Master Plan, Castle and Richardson Elementary Schools are in the final days of large-scale renovations. The work at these two schools will ultimately help guide the renovation of all District 622 buildings over time.

    The start for both projects was in the Spring of 2018 as teams went to work with planning and design. Construction began in the Fall of 2018 and will wrap up later this month. The decision to work on Castle and Richardson Elementary schools first aligns with current enrollment planning, as there is projected growth in the district and the need to expand for more students on the north end of District 622.

    Both buildings were designed with safety and security in mind and feature new secure main entrances, as well as new car and bus loading zones. In addition, all learning spaces have been updated and include new flooring, lighting, cabinetry, technology, and furniture, there is an abundance of natural light throughout both buildings.

    Our preschool and kindergarten classrooms are outfitted with attached bathrooms and are sized for your youngest learners. Both buildings also have updated media centers, gyms, cafeterias, and renovated bathrooms making them fantastic buildings for community use. 

    Come see the wonderful outcomes of these projects! As the heart of our community, you will be delighted and proud of the advancements made to Castle and Richardson Elementary Schools. Thank you for supporting District 622.

    Castle Elementary Open House

    Wednesday, January 15, 2020

    4:30 - 6:00 pm

    6675 50th Street North

    Oakdale, MN 55128

    Richardson Elementary Open House

    Wednesday, January 29, 2020

    4:30 - 6:00 pm

    2400 17th Ave East

    North St. Paul, MN 55109

    If you would like more information about the construction projects in School District 622, including photos of current projects, visit the district website at www.isd622.org/construction.

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  • Middle School Leadership Council

    Posted by Cathleen Hess on 12/9/2019 3:45:00 PM

    District 622 is dedicated to prioritizing student voice and leadership. In addition to many leadership programs at the High School level, and a recent launch of an Elementary Leadership Program, District 622 recently kicked off its inaugural Middle School Leadership Council on November 5. 

    Last year, our Elementary Leadership Council was first created. The group included two fourth and two fifth grade students from each of our nine elementary schools. These student leaders came together to create strategies for making our schools welcoming to newcomers. Please visit this link to watch the 2018-19 Elementary Leadership Summit video.

    At the end of last year, each site received a Buddy Bench. Buddy Benches are a place on the playground where students can go if they are lonely or looking for a friend. Students know that if someone is sitting on the Buddy Bench, they can sit next to them and ask them to play or sit and talk with them. It is a simple and beautiful way to decrease loneliness among young students. 

    This year, students who were then fifth graders in the Elementary Leadership Council have now moved on to middle school. Together, they are now forming our first-ever Middle School Leadership Council, which connects students across our three middle schools to focus student leaders to build up their school and local communities. In partnership with the Voyageur Outward Bound School Twin Cities Center, students are participating in six field trips that take them out of their comfort zone and help them to dive deeper into what it means to be a team of leaders. 

    During a recent field trip, students created a team flag. Each student drew their hand on the flag and wrote what they brought to the group. The words “work together and trust each other” were written in the center of the flag as a reminder that all team members agree this is both their definition of what it means to be a team and their mission going forward.

    We are thrilled to have student voice driving our important work of improving outcomes for 622 learners!

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  • District 622 learners take part in The 2019 Student Conference

    Posted by Cathleen Hess on 11/20/2019 12:50:00 PM

    On October 21, 50 high school students from District 622 joined nearly 1,200 of their peers from 50 metropolitan schools to share their vision on how school systems should be designed to offer ALL children equal access, opportunity, and equity by 2030.

    Planned and led entirely by students, The 2019 Student Conference hails as the largest student voice conference in the Midwest. Students chosen to attend were selected by teachers and administrators. During the event, 20 rooms were dedicated to breakout sessions where high schoolers designed their vision for physical spaces, technology, school culture, health/wellness, college/career, and more. The information and data obtained from the conference with help to further inform the Reimagine Minnesota work that AMSD (Association of Metropolitan School Districts) districts are collectively working on.

    The 2019 Student Conference was powered by the Minneapolis Foundation, Paula Forbes of Forbes Solutions PLLC, and Dario Otero of Youth Lens 360, with the support of School District 622 and AMSD.

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  • Adult Basic Education (ABE) program offers free learning opportunities

    Posted by Cathleen Hess on 10/1/2019 2:00:00 PM

    Conveniently located inside the Harmony Learning Center in Maplewood, the Adult Basic Education (ABE) program offers free educational opportunities to area adult residents. Last year, ABE served over 1,300 students, totaling more than 74,000 hours of class. In fact, Harmony has been the largest GED testing site in the state of Minnesota for five years. 

    The success of ABE is made possible by students and teachers who are passionate about learning and driven by programming that makes a difference. Adults meet their educational goals through English as-a-Second Language (ESL), General Educational Development (GED) preparation and testing, Citizenship Testing, Skills Brush-Up, and Test Prep. Career Pathway classes are offered in the areas of Information Technology, Paraprofessional, Health Care, and the ability to earn a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) needed to become a school bus driver. These opportunities continue to make Harmony Adult Education a fantastic learning environment for adults from our community.  

    Currently, there is no cost associated with the program and classes run from 9:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. To remain cost effective, the programming combines programming with White Bear Lake Schools and Mahtomedi schools and has multiple sites. There are multiple sites for ESL/Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) parent and child classes as well. Please call 651-748-6202 or reach out to us at harmonyabe@isd622.org if you would like to learn more about Harmony Adult Education.

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  • District 622 Construction Plans and Updates

    Posted by Cathleen Hess on 8/5/2019 2:15:00 PM

    Exciting things are happening in School District 622 as construction projects are well underway! Castle Elementary and Richardson Elementary are in the final months of major renovations. Both the Castle and Richardson projects started in the spring of 2018 and were not part of the recent bond funding. With a lot of work being done at both buildings this summer, Richardson and Castle are on track to welcome students back to beautiful, updated learning spaces in September. In addition, both buildings will have new main entries designed with safety and security in mind, as well as new car and bus loading zones. Construction will continue through December 2019, the planned finish for both the Richardson and Castle projects.

    Projects that were included as part of the voter-approved bond last May are also now underway. The first two projects, Carver Elementary School and John Glenn Middle School, are in the planning stages. In both the Carver and John Glenn projects, the design teams are looking to increase student capacity, design safe and secure entrances and features in both buildings, and create flexible, innovative learning spaces for students. These projects are slated to be completed by the fall of 2022.

    If you would like more information about the construction projects in School District 622, including photos of current projects, visit the district website at www.isd622.org/construction.

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  • Thank you, School District 622 voters!

    Posted by Cathleen Hess on 7/8/2019 2:15:00 PM

    On behalf of all the students, staff and families in School District 622, I send a huge THANK YOU to our taxpayers for approving our funding request to provide safe, up-to-date, and healthy learning environments for all our students to ensure they are Ready for Tomorrow. By a margin of 61% yes to 39% no, our community showed that they value strong schools - and recognize that strong schools build strong communities.

    My heart is full as I drive through our school district and think about the positive changes to come. Over the next few years, all schools will receive secure entrances, and all schools will be updated with modern furniture and more flexible learning environments. Air quality and other improvements will be made where needed to ensure our classrooms offer a healthy space for students to learn. We will consolidate and renovate our schools for more equitable and efficient schools districtwide. Every student will benefit from these updates, which will have a long-term impact on our district for years to come.

    Many people were involved in developing the plan that came before voters on May 14. I owe tremendous thanks to all the staff, architects, engineers, planners, parents and students who provided guidance, input and perspective. We changed our plans along the way, thanks to that input - and I believe the final plan is one that will serve us well for many years.

    Our community stepped up to the challenge and supported our request for the first bond referendum since 1994.  We were fortunate to be paying off old debt from the last facilities bond referendum in 1994, making the tax impact a relatively small $5 per month for the average homeowner to fund $275 million in building improvements.

    These schools belong to our community. We are in partnership for maintaining the buildings and for supporting what takes place in our schools every day. Please visit your schools anytime.

    Thank you for your vote of confidence. I am so proud to be superintendent of such a wonderful and forward-thinking school district.

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  • Making our schools and our students ready for tomorrow

    Posted by Cathleen Hess on 4/3/2019 4:00:00 PM

    One of the most exciting things about being a school superintendent is ensuring our schools and our staff are doing all they can to prepare our students for life after graduation. This preparation begins the minute they enter our schools as preschoolers or kindergartners - and continues until the day they receive their high school diploma.

    Our vision in District 622 is for safe, up-to-date, and healthy learning environments for all students to help them be ready for tomorrow. We have an opportunity to address this vision by updating facilities across the district, touching every building in some way.

    Over the past two years, district staff and building experts have been assessing the age, efficiency, and learning environments in our schools. We have engaged our staff, parents, and community members in this process, asking for their ideas and input.

    Based on that extensive review and planning process, our School Board unanimously approved bringing a request to our community for bond funds to improve schools across the district. The request will be on the May 14 ballot, and the vote is open to all School District 622 residents.

    If voters approve this request, our schools would see several improvements:

    • All schools would get secure entrances to improve school safety
    • All schools would get modern furniture and flexible classroom spaces for independent, small group, and large group learning
    • Several schools would be renovated or rebuilt
    • Some schools would be closed or repurposed

    These changes would result in a major investment in our schools, our students, and our staff. But because we are currently paying off debt, we can make this $275 million investment with a minimal tax increase. If voters approve this request, the average homeowner would see a tax increase of $5 per month.

    Why do we feel this is the right time for this districtwide investment? Several reasons, including:

    • Most of our school buildings are over 50 years old and are not designed for today’s learning environment.
    • Many buildings have traffic congestion, safety, and security concerns.
    • Teachers are using closets and other inappropriate spaces for small group work and staff offices.
    • Classroom furniture is designed for lecture, with little flexibility for small group, large group, one-on-one, and collaborative learning.
    • Many buildings have roofs, parking lots, fixtures, heating systems, and equipment in need of updates and repair.


    We work hard to be financially responsible, and taking care of our schools is part of that responsibility. We are proud to regularly receive the Minnesota Department of Education School Finance Award for timely submission of financial data and accuracy in financial reporting. We saved taxpayers more than $7 million by refinancing bonds over the last three years. And we maximize every dollar we receive. In fact, our total school taxes are lower than most comparable school districts – and would remain so even if voters approve this referendum.

    I encourage you to learn more so you can make an informed vote on May 14. Visit our referendum website at www.isd622.org/bond2019 or attend one of the upcoming public information sessions, both at 6 pm: April 4 at the District Education Center (2520 East 12th Ave, North St Paul) and April 18 at Carver Elementary (2680 Upper Afton Road, Maplewood).

    Thank you for your support for District 622 students!

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