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South metro

Three local teachers are among Teacher of the Year finalists

Education Minnesota has selected 10 finalists for the 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year program, and three hail from south-metro districts.

The three local finalists, selected from among 33 semifinalists and 128 candidates, are:

• Kim Jirik, an early childhood speech language pathologist at Crystal Lake Education Center in the Lakeville district.

• Billy Koenig, who teaches high school biology and ecology at Shakopee High School in the Shakopee district.

• Kathryn Kim Westra, a fourth and fifth-grade teacher at Salem Hills Elementary in Inver Grove Heights.

The finalists were selected by a panel of 25 leaders, including educators, business people and professionals in the government and nonprofit sectors. The panel meets again May 3 to interview the finalists and vote for the teacher of the year.

The winner will be announced and receive the award at a banquet on May 4.

Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan

Students excel at speech tournament

This year, students from the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district won 33 of the 39 qualifying spots at the Section 3AA speech tournament. Those students will compete at the state tournament April 11 at Blaine High School.

Eagan High School earned the team title and Eastview High School finished in second place at the Section 3AA tournament, held March 18 at South St. Paul High School.

Eagan High School had 16 students qualify for 14 spots at state, Apple Valley High School had 10 students qualify for 10 spots and Eastview High School had nine students qualify for nine spots.

The district has a long-standing tradition of strong speech competitors. Apple Valley and Eagan high schools rank first and second, respectively, in total medals won in the history of the state tournament.


Young students' artwork is on display

Students from three elementary schools in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage district will have their artwork on display at Savage City Hall (6000 McColl Drive, Savage) through the end of May. Each display will feature 25 works of art from various students at that school. City Hall is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and during City Council meetings (first and third Mondays of the month.) For more information, call 952-882-2660.

The display schedule is:

• Hidden Valley Elementary: now through April 12.

• Marion W. Savage Elementary: April 13 to May 10.

• Harriet Bishop Elementary: May 11 to 30.

Mendota Heights

Visitation celebrates new commons area

On March 17, the Convent of the Visitation School cele­brated the grand opening of Heart of the School, a new multilevel commons area connecting several wings of the campus. As the new main entrance, the addition features a stained-glass window and display area honoring sisters who founded the school in 1873. New gathering areas feature spaces to relax and study. The renovated library includes a media lab with television-quality equipment for video and audio production. The project also includes updates to heating, cooling, water and security systems. Heart of the School includes 11,000 square feet of renovated space and 14,600 square feet of new construction.

In January 2013, the school also opened Opus Hall STEM Center, a new building focused on science, technology, engineering and math. Together, the two construction projects comprise Visitation Heart and Mind, a $10.5 million initiative.

The Convent of the Visitation School is a private, Catholic pre-K-12 school in Mendota Heights. The school is coed through sixth grade and enrolls all girls in grades seven through 12.