Supt. Ness: Film series will lead to discussion, action

Otter Tail County Family Services Collaborative, United Way of Ottertail and Wadena Counties and West Central Initiative are sponsoring two films that will begin a discussion and lead to action in our community. You are invited to the showings of Resilience on May 22, and Paper Tigers on May 29. Both films will start at 7 pm at A Center for the Arts. There will be an expert panel discussion to follow each showing.

Resilience – The Biology of Stress and Science of Hope chronicles the birth of new movement among pediatricians, therapists, educators, and communities, who are using cutting-edge brain science to disrupt cycles of violence, addiction and disease.

“The child may not remember, but the body remembers.” The original research was controversial, but the findings revealed the most important public health findings of a generation. Resilience is a one-hour documentary that delves into the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the birth of a new movement to treat and prevent Toxic Stress. Now understood to be one of the leading causes of everything from heart disease and cancer to substance abuse and depression, extremely stressful experiences in childhood can alter alter brain development and have lifelong effects on health and behavior.

Paper Tigers is an award winning documentary about trauma informed care. It is about one high school’s unlikely success story. Paper Tigers follows a year in the life of an alternative high school that has radically changed its approach to disciplining students, become a promising model for how to break the cycles of poverty, violence and disease that affect families. Stressed brains can’t learn.

Congratulations Otter Artists
Seventeen Fergus Falls High School Otter artists took part of the Section 8AA Art Show and Contest. Eight schools participated and over 120 individuals showed their individual creations. Alexandria Tech hosted the event on April 26th. Students were involved in three workshops ranging from junk assemblage sculpture, careers in art, boosting imagination to creation, painting, as well as art wars.

Nine of our Otter artists received excellent to superior ratings after their works were judged by area professional artists. Students receiving Excellent Ratings included: Andrew Balken-Ceramics, Miranda Quick-Ceramics, Alex McKinnell-Printmaking, and Kaleb Rust-Ceramics. Those students receiving Superior Ratings included: Katie Mach-Ceramics, Zach Abramson-Ceramics, Marissa Marudas-Drawing, Alex McKinnell-Crafts (Mosaics), and Sadie Marty-Sculpture.

Friends of the Prairie
I was asked to share a few comments at the Friends of the Prairie Fundraiser on April 25, so I decided to ask some questions to our 5th graders who participate in the Prairie Science Class program.

According to the students, the worst parts of the Prairie Science Class – located at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center – were the cold Minnesota weather and winds, and lining up.

The best parts of Prairie Science Class (PSC) included these statements:

  • I love being outside all day at the Prairie Science Class. When Ms. Strege says that we have to hurry to get outside, I’m insanely happy.
  • It is so fun when we hike to the top of Breathe Hard Hill, the tallest hill on the prairie. You can see for miles in almost every direction – except north which is Fergus Falls.
  • My favorite part is “getting in the moment.” I like to feel the sun on my face.
  • My all-time favorite was archery. I know what you’re thinking, an 11-year old with a bow and arrow is not the brightest idea. I enjoy it because the thrill of letting the arrow slip through my fingers is quite exhilarating. Would you rather be skiing or learning what “pi” is?
  • My favorite part is working with Mr. Kevin and Ms. Strege. They really make learning fun. I also really love reading outside in the hills with a soft breeze on my face and the tall grass surrounding you – not sitting inside all day.
  • I feel free out in the prairie.
  • I like journaling and listening to the birds chirp, while laying in the grass.
  • My favorite thing about the prairie is a seton watch in the cattails. I like it because we don’t have to worry about anybody else but ourselves.
  • My favorite thing to do at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center is to lay in the grass on a hot day and relax. I forget school and homework and just lay there.
  • Why come to the PSC? It’s an opportunity to be here, and if you just try it I bet you would like it. In the winter you could see all the amazing things like the tracks. In the spring, all the ducks and geese come back and it’s an amazing view.

And my personal favorite comment when asked why come to the Prairie? I would tell them it is great! Going outside is better than any lousy indoor classroom. Getting down in the cattails, a reedy wetland plant, makes you feel so cozy.