Two groups of West Fargo teachers are among the North Dakota recipients of 2011 Teachers and Technology grants presented by the Qwest Foundation and the North Dakota Educational Technology Council last week.

Each of the individual teachers or groups was given $5,000 to start a new technology program.

  • Molly Bestge, Gretchen Peterson and Gretchen Stafslien of the West Fargo STEM Center got funds to buy 10 Apple iPads to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics in their "iPads for Learning" project.
  • Virjean Cramer and JoAnn Teets of Westside School in West Fargo will offer lessons in several STEM courses for elementary students in their project. It includes a fifth-grade robotics and engineering unit called "Lego Education WEDO Robotics."
  • Kelly Dokken, Grafton Middle School. Her "A Novel Way to Read" project uses Apple iPads and e-book software to inspire readers.
  • project aims to improve classroom achievement through an audio enhancement system, iPods and netbook technology.
  • Joel Foss and Brett Omdahl, Manvel Public School. Their "Interactive Classroom Response with Quizdom" project uses software and student clickers for interactive learning.

The grants were awarded through a competitive process administered by the Technology Council.

To learn more about the program, go to

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Undebatably good

The Fargo Shanley High School debate team was named one of the top 32 teams in an international debate competition sponsored by New York University and Bickel and Brewer Foundation.

The team advances to the next round of the International Public Policy Forum competition and remains in the running to win the $10,000 grand prize.

The final eight teams win an all-expenses-paid trip to the finals in New York City in April.

The competition involves written and oral debates on issues of public policy. More than 340 high schools from 42 states and 36 nations took part.

The students wrote a 2,800-word essay affirming or negating the topic "Resolved: NATO military operations in Afghanistan are not justified." A review committee determined the winning teams.

Shanley now competes against Brookfield (Wis.) East High School. The teams will exchange a series of papers by e-mail, which will be reviewed by another panel.

Shanley students participating include: Teagan Lende, Zach Lipp, Brett Johnson, Chase Johnson, Thomas Startz, Sebastian Startz, Jennifer Vetter, Jon Lipp and James Seefeldt.

The team is coached by Christopher Dietz and Jessica McClellan.

Time to celebrate

Barnes County North's north central campus in Rogers, N.D., is ready to celebrate its Blue Ribbon School award.

Principal Daren Christianson said the school is inviting the public to an open house from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, including barbecue and chips, a short program, music by the school band, and the presentation of the award to the school and community.

The pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade school was the only school in the state to earn the award this year. Just 304 out of 132,000 public and private schools in the U.S. received the honor this year, the Department of Education announced.

Christianson and Jeanie Magee accepted the award in Washington, D.C., last week.

The school was nominated for the award due to its high test scores, even as many of its students come from homes with low incomes, Christianson said.

Sweets for charity

The Lake Park Audubon FCCLA club sold more than 1,100 cookies Nov. 13 to bring in more than $300 to benefit several charities.

The charities the Minnesota school's club members helped include the National FCCLA Service Project, Children's Miracle Network, Christmas Anonymous Gifts for Children, Christmas Gifts for the Homeless Shelter and Elementary Educational Lessons.

Family Career and Community Leaders of America is a student-led group that focuses on the family.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583