Metcalf Bridges program

Posted on April 8, 2015

This year, William Byrne STEM Elementary partnered with Metcalf's Bridges program to provide tutoring in second grade science classes.

Through the partnership, Bridges students have assisted second graders in learning many exciting science lessons. For example, some lessons include fast and slow changes and landforms, the water cycle and measuring with science tools.

"Working with my tutor is the best!" exclaimed Alec Ericson, as he and his tutor used their sense of touch to finish their matter mystery bag activity.

Metcalf advisor Stephanie Pranschke and William Byrne advisor Tracey Plante hope to continue the project in the future as it has been very beneficial for both schools. The advisors have appreciated the sense of community and the hard work from all of the students that are involved.

Tagged science, tutoring, william byrne, metcalf

BHS Robotics Team 3184 wins regional competition, receives three awards

Posted on April 8, 2015
Burnsville High School’s Robotics team, Team 3184, was one of three winning teams on the first-place alliance at the 10K Lakes Regional FIRST Robotics competition at the University of Minnesota on April 1-4. Team 3184 also received three team awards.   
“During competition, the team was given extremely difficult challenges and quickly learned how to overcome them,” said mentor Darcy Schatz. “All of the team members demonstrated incredible determination, grace and calm under pressure. Even when their robot – Orion, who took six weeks to design, build, rebuild, program and reprogram – was not working as hoped at times, our team still made time to assist other teams.” Because of this, the team received three awards.
The team won the Gracious Professionalism Award, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. This award celebrates the team that exemplifies the core values of FIRST in their relationships with other teams.
They also received the Imagery Award, given in honor of FIRST founder Dean Kamen’s father, Jack, for his dedication to art and illustration and his devotion to FIRST. This award celebrates attractiveness in engineering and outstanding visual aesthetic integration of machine and team appearance.
Lastly, Team 3184 was presented with the BeFIRST award, which is a peer award given to a team that best exemplifies the ideals of FIRST. The team was honored to receive this traveling trophy and will pass it on next year.
In its fifth year at BHS, Team 3184 consists of 18 students, including Brandon Kass, Nick Schatz, Evan Fuller, Jack Dominick, Vincent Dam, Spencer Robinson, Chris Tyler, Ryan Codner, Adam DeCurtins, Dustin Rahier, Jenna Foertsch, Katie Kleinow, Julie Herzog, Merissa McDowell, Matt Schoer, Logan Heinrich, Brian Lu and Alex Pham.
The team’s mentors are Sean Lenhard, Leo and Marilee Kaas, Nathan Rood, Scott McDowell, Bill Coughlin, Mark and Sherri Fuller, Craig Huber and Darcy Schatz.   
Team 3184 had previously received a lottery entry to the World Championships on April 23-25 in St. Louis, Mo. The regional victory now gives the team an earned entry to the championships, where more than 17,000 students from across the world and their robots will converge.
Posted in Achievement, Student Success | Tagged bhs, blaze robotics, 10K Lakes Regional, FIRST

BHS choir invited to perform at New York City Jazz Festival

Posted on April 7, 2015
Last year, Burnsville High School choir director Erik Akervik submitted a recording of his FreeStyle choir to the New York City Jazz Festival with the hope of gaining entrance to the international event, which will take place at the Apollo Theater April 9-12.
To Akervik’s excitement, FreeStyle was one of only 10 choirs invited to participate in the festival, which affords ensembles from across the country the opportunity to perform as part of a ticketed daytime performance at the world-famous theater and collaborate with legendary performers and jazz professionals.
Only four of the 10 choirs are high school groups. The other six participating ensembles are from various colleges. Akervik is thrilled that BHS students will be able to showcase their amazing talents on the big stage in New York. The last time FreeStyle was in New York was in 2010, when they performed at Carnegie Hall.  
FreeStyle is slated to sing a 25-minute set on stage at the Apollo Theater, performing the best of their jazz pieces, including “Long Ago and Far Away,” “Flowering Almond Tree,” “Sakkijarven Polkka,” “Tico No Fuba” and “Smile.”
While the focus of the trip is to perform on a historic stage, work with world-class vocal jazz artists like Bruce Rogers and Pete McGuiness and hear other talented jazz ensembles, the choir will have the opportunity to visit New York’s important sites, such as the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, the Metropolitan Opera and Central Park. The trip promises to be a great learning experience for members of FreeStyle, including Hayley Broich, Erika Cao, Will Diedrick, Mark Fitterer, Lucas Heyne, Andra Hiebert, Nathan Johnson, Linden Kirscht, Jasmine Lim, Kallie Lyon, Tess Mueske, Maddie Mulcahy, Derek Racek and Collin Wenda.
Posted in Arts, Student Success | Tagged bhs, freestyle choir, new york city jazz festival

Bowls for BrainPower set for April 23

Posted on April 3, 2015

Bowls for BrainPower, previously known as Empty Bowls for Full Bellies, is set for April 23 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Campus Cup Café at Diamondhead Education Center, 200 W. Burnsville Pkwy. in Burnsville.

Students and other community volunteers have been making bowls throughout the school year for the Bowls for Brainpower event.

Now in its fifth year, this annual fund-raiser supports BrainPower in a Backpack, a largely student-supported community service program that provides weekend meals to local students in need. BrainPower currently sends food home with 470 children each weekend during the school year.

Like in past years, attendees of Bowls for BrainPower can make a free-will donation and receive a simple meal of soup and bread, along with a homemade pottery bowl as a reminder that children in our community face empty bowls every day. In the first four years of the event, more than $37,000 was raised to support BrainPower in a Backpack. Organizers say their goal is to raise $13,000 this year

BrainPower in Backpack is a collaboration between the Burnsville High School art department and the District 191 Community Education Youth Service Program. The program relies on volunteers, including high school students, and donations from organizations including Foundation 191 and the Burnsville Noon Rotary.

This year’s Bowls for BrainPower sponsors also include BHS Blaze Fund, Blick Art Materials-Edina, Campus Cup Café, ISD 191 Community Education, Continental Clay, Dakota Electric Association, Foundation 191, Skyline Displays Midwest, Target, and Valley Natural Foods.

For more information about Bowls for BrainPower and BrainPower in a Backpack, go to or contact Tim Hammes at 612-308-0789 or

Posted in Community, Arts | Tagged Bowls for BrainPower, BrainPower in a Backpack, volunteer, community service, service

Get the dirt on kids and nature at the next ‘Contents’ event

Posted on April 2, 2015

As part of this year’s “Contents” series of community discussions, District 191 Community Education is partnering with Children & Nature Network and the Theater of Public Policy to present “The Child-Nature Connection: The Dirt on Kids and Nature” on April 21. The event starts at 7 p.m. in the Campus Cup Café at Diamondhead Education Center, 200 W. Burnsville Pkwy.

Though sometimes hard to articulate, a growing body of research suggests that being disconnected from nature is harmful for children, leading to diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, higher rates of emotional and physical illness, and contributes to obesity.

Sarah Milligan-Toffler, national executive director for the Children and Nature Network (C&NN), and local C&NN administrator Linda Madson will be on hand to discuss the role of nature play and education for children. Then, Theater of Public Policy will explore the idea further through improvisational comedy.

This event is free to attend and recommended for high school students and adults. Learn about the C&NN at and about Theater of Public Policy at

Posted in Community, Parents | Tagged nature, children and nature network, theater of public policy, Contents

BHS Quiz Bowl team moving on to nationals

Posted on April 2, 2015
The Burnsville High School Quiz Bowl team went 7-3 at the State Championship at Eastview High School on Saturday, March 7, finishing in sixth place. Now, the team has its sights set on  the High School National Championship, held May 30 in Chicago.
With the team’s most recent successes, Quiz Bowl coach Les Moffitt, who’s in his third year of coaching and runs competition-like practices twice a week to prepare his team, is optimistic about their upcoming events.
“Our team has grown from a casual participant to a serious competitor, and I want to continue developing into a dominant program,” says Moffitt. The team has had unprecedented success this year, displacing former divisional rivals like Rosemount and St. Thomas Academy, and scoring victories over the state’s top two programs, Eden Prairie and Wayzata. Burnsville is looking for a top 100 finish at the national championship.
The BHS Quiz Bowl team consists of 30-40 students and has had five teams compete in the league this season.
Junior Mitchel Fischer is the team’s highest individual scorer, consistently ranked as one of the top students in the state. Other members of the varsity team are Jacob Tangney, Dakota Wickham, Kien Truong and Drew Ehlers. Additional key individuals with recent, highly ranked individual scores include Katie Smith, Noah Pahl, Blake Andert, Nick Schatz, Connor Hume, Sabirina Dauid and Trang Truong. Quiz Bowl truly winds up being a team effort because each round contains a wide range of topics and many members have specialties in certain areas such as history, geography, art, music, literature, mythology, math and science.
“I am very proud of the work that our students have put in this year,” says Moffitt. “One thing that is very nice to see is that Burnsville has a wider range of diversity than many other schools. I am proud of our inclusivity.”  
The BHS Quiz Bowl Team is currently ranked 164th in the world and fifth in the state of Minnesota for the 2014-15 high school quiz bowl season. Recognized for its top finishes, the team has been invited to participate in additional national tournaments. With two such tournaments on radar, the team will be hosting a community event to raise funds to go to Chicago and New Orleans and hopes that community members will participate.
The next event for the team is the Burnsville Area Quiz Bowl Tournament on April 18 at Burnsville High School.  
Posted in Achievement, Student Success | Tagged bhs, quiz bowl team, les moffitt, nationals

Students finding balance, strength in yoga class

Posted on April 2, 2015

Picture an elective high school physical education class in your mind and it probably involves a lot of boys getting exercise and letting off steam by playing some competitive sport. But that’s far from  what you get if you visit the wrestling gym at Burnsville High School during the first and last hours of the day.

Lori VanderWoude is in her sixth year of teaching “Yoga, Pilates and Fitness” to BHS students who are looking for something different than action-packed competition. Instead, her students — mostly girls, but more than a handful of boys, too — experience dimmed lights, quiet background music, and time learning how to relax through movement.

Practicing yoga three days a week with pilates and cardio exercises the other two, VanderWoude says the skills students learn will help them stay healthy and deal with the stresses they have in their lives.

“It’s a fitness class, but we do talk about relaxing, breathing and dealing with stress. We talk about using deep breathing and other techniques to help stay relaxed and focus if you’re getting ready for a test,” VanderWoude said. “I’ve had kids tell me that it works. It’s great that they can take what they learn here and use it in their lives.”

Senior Kelly Keenan echoed those sentiments as she explained why she registered for the class.

“It gets me active and motivated,” Kelly said. “And school stresses me out and this is great stress relief.”

On Fridays, VanderWoude has introduced an extended period of deep relaxation time. It’s hard to imagine, but at those times, her class has 30-plus teenagers who are completely still, quiet and unplugged. She says she wasn’t sure it would work, but once students learned how, they are thriving on that down time

VanderWoude says the class was developed as a way to appeal to students who weren’t interested in the more competitive classes. Plus, she says, it’s something everyone can do.

“From athletes to students with special needs,” VanderWoude said, “this is a great option for a wide range of students.”

Posted in Health, Athletics | Tagged bhs, fitness, health, yoga, pilates

NCAA information meeting slated for April 6

Posted on April 1, 2015

There will be an NCAA clearinghouse informational meeting on Monday, April 6, at 7 p.m. at Burnsville High School in the Mraz Center. This meeting is for all student-athletes interested in participating in collegiate athletics. Students of all grade levels and parents are invited to attend.

If you have any questions, please contact Jeanine Riggs in the Athletics Department at 952-707-2151

Posted in Athletics | Tagged bhs, NCAA meeting, student-athletes, collegiate sports

BHS Winter Drumline wins state competition

Posted on April 1, 2015

The Burnsville High School Winter Drumline placed first in the Scholastic A Division of the Minnesota Percussion Association (MPA) Championships in St. Cloud, Minn. on Saturday, March 28. The victory completed an undefeated season in all of the MPA competitions in which the team participated.

This year, the drumline also placed very highly at a regional competition run by the national circuit – Winter Guard International (WGI) – and placed ahead of some groups it had never beaten before.

The last time the BHS Winter Drumline placed first in the MPA Championships was in 2010. Each of the past few years, the team has inched its way to the number one spot, finishing second last year and third the year before.

This year's show, called “The Grass is Always Greener,” included music, movement, theatrics, and uniforms, costumes and props created by the staff. The show featured a huge wall in one corner of the floor and centered on the team trying to get through that wall. Through this, the team’s intent was to show that their new way was no better than what it already had. In the end, the team discovered the green inside and learned to be happy with what it had.  

“I am incredibly proud of the students for working so hard and having fun to make this show come to life,” said director Paul Connell. “I am also very grateful to have a passionate staff to help design and teach the show, a great parent group that supports us at every turn, and the support of the BHS Music Department and Activities Director Jeff Marshall.”

The BHS Winter Drumline is directed by Paul Connell and supported by a design and instructional team, including Jordan Wein and Mack Steinberg and BHS alumni Matt Schmeichel, Alex Claseman, Gavin Andersen and Alex Cole.

Posted in Achievement, Student Success | Tagged bhs, winter drumline, state championship, minnesota percussion association

Dick Hanson receives the 2015 John Gagliardi Legacy Award

Posted on March 30, 2015

The Minnesota Chapter of The National Football Foundation is excited to announce the 2015 John Gagliardi Legacy Award winner, Dick Hanson, to be recognized at the 8th Annual Minnesota Football Honors May 3, 2015 at the Hilton Minneapolis.

For 24 years from 1969 to 1993, Hanson took the Burnsville High School football program to new heights. In his time with the Blaze, he guided the team to a 192-56-2 record that yielded 11 conference championship titles, 11 sectional championships and state championships in 1972, 1980, 1985, 1989 and 1991.

A graduate of Grand Forks Central High School, where he was a member of the 1952 state championship basketball team and lettered in golf, Hanson went on to garner his bachelor of science degree in mathematics education in 1956 at the University of North Dakota before taking additional education courses at both the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas. He became the head coach at Burnsville High School after serving as an assistant coach for the team from 1960-68.

Hanson also saw success off the field when he was named the District No. 191 Teacher of the Year and the Minnesota Teacher of the Year in 1968. He was a runner-up for the National Teacher of the Year in 1969.

Later in his career, Hanson earned the Presidential Award for Mathematics Teaching, Education Minnesota’s Distinguished Educator Award and had involvement with the National Mathematics Journal Board. Hanson also became an adjunct professor at St. Thomas, St. Olaf and Bemidji State and was a consultant for NASA and Hewlett Packard.

Hanson, for whom Burnsville named its football field in 2006, was inducted into Grand Forks Central High School’s Hall of Fame in 1993, was a member of the Burnsville High School Hall of Fame’s inaugural class and was a Minnesota Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee in 2012.

The 8th Annual Minnesota Football Honors, presented by the Minnesota Vikings, will take place Sunday, May 3, 2015 at Hilton Minneapolis. College and professional football Hall of Fame inductees are scheduled to attend the event, and WCCO-TV news personality Frank Vascellaro will return for his eighth year as Master of Ceremonies. The event is open to the public. To register or for additional information about this years Minnesota Football Honors, please visit

Posted in Athletics, Achievement, Community | Tagged bhs, dick hanson, national football foundation, football