Participation in activities at Alexandria Area High School increased this past school year, led by an 8.5 percent jump in winter activities, while fall participation fell by 3.1 percent.
At last week's Alexandria School Board meeting, activities director Bob Brakke outlined the district's philosophy, which is: We prepare, plan and play to win, but winning is not our purpose. Instead, the purpose involves three components: teaching and learning; human growth and development; and connecting students to caring adults.
He said that all of the high school's coaches have come up with their own purpose statements, and added that he believes everyone at the school should have a purpose statement.
Brakke, who is stepping down as activities director to turn his full attention to his assistant principal duties, gave a presentation on the 2018-19 highlights that included 10 gold academic teams, seven Central Lakes Conference championships, four section titles and five section runner-ups.
The track and field teams produced three state champions - Mya Lesnar, Drew Olson and the 4x100 boys relay team of Olson, Kristen Hoskins, Cody Branson and Nolan Morical - while the Cardinals boasted at least 19 all-state athletes and more than 80 state participants.
Other accomplishments: the FIRST robotics team was a national qualifier and a chairman's award winner; 135 students participated in DECA, with 107 qualifying for state, where 71 were finalists and 14 brought home trophies, and 25 qualified for nationals and two placed in the top 10; the one-act play won a sectional title, and was one of three schools to receive a star performance at state; the orchestra was named the program of the year by the Minnesota chapter of the American String Teachers Association; and the NAMM Foundation named Alexandria one of the best communities for music education in 2019.
Individually, the Cardinals girls basketball program won its 600th game under head coach Wendy Kohler, who also was inducted into the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Mark Storhaug was also honored in the Minnesota Swim Coaches Hall of Fame.
Ty Granning was named Minnesota assistant track coach of the year. In addition, four head coaches - Jake Munsch, Kohler, Kathy Walker and Meghan Orgeman - and two assistant coaches - Jerry Amundson and Julie Wrobel - were named section coaches of the year.
In other matters
In other action, the school board:
• Approved raising activity fees for grades 6-12. The biggest increase, $25, was for students who participate in high school sports, DECA and marching band. The fee for the 2019-20 school year will be $150. High school fees for FFA, Jazz Band, Knowledge Bowl, One-act Play, Rainbow Strings and Robotics, along with Speech for grades 7-12, will rise $15 to $100. All middle school sports, along with the math team for grades 6-12, the Carolers, musical and spring play for high school, and middle school activities are going to $75, a $10 increase. Adult and student admission passes are increasing, and lunch for all grades is rising a nickel.
• Approved adding the following booster coaching positions: two assistants for varsity and one each for sophomore and ninth grade, all for football; and one assistant for cross country.
• Approved the retirements of bus drivers Marcia Hoffman, Phyllis Turner and Hank Wessel, and learning resource teacher LeAnn Fogelson.
• Dissolved the cooperative agreement with Parkers Prairie and New Testament Christian School for boys tennis.
• Adopted a resolution requiring all student activities funds be under the control of the school board. All Minnesota districts are being required to do so. The district has about 85 student activity funds.
• Accepted several grants and donations, including $10,000 from the United Way to support preschool growth and development, $6,000 from the United Way for Lunch Buddy and Match 2 Mentor programs, and $5,220 from 3M for the robotics team to travel to the worlds competition.
• Approved a field trip for French and Spanish students to Concordia Language Village in Bemidji from Dec. 6-8.
• Heard presentations from Assistant Superintendent Rick Sansted on a teacher evaluation plan and a district operation plan.
• Learned that Ford Johnson and Christopher Bienusa were both awarded Academic all-state at the state high school league robotics competition.