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From left are Larry Aitken; Cass Lake-Bena students Dakotah Morris-Usher, Shantell Jourdain, Antinoa Archambault; District Interim Superintendent Diane Lehse; High School Principal John Klinke; and District Athletic Director Mike Hanson. For their first day of school students and community members participated in a traditional sanctioning ceremony at each of the schools. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Cass Lake-Bena ceremony has teachers, parents agreeing to work together

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It was the first day of school for students at Cass Lake-Bena School District, but students weren't the only ones to be welcomed back.

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A sanctioning ceremony was planned for the first day of school, which involved students, parents, and teachers dancing together, shaking hands and promising to work together.

Having just received $1,059,036 in the form of a school improvement grant from the federal government, the school district wants start this school year on a positive note.

"We're trying to build a bridge between the community and the school district to show the state we're moving forward," said Mike Elke, the district's administrative manager and turnaround school officer.

According to Elke, the district decided to create the event after the Minnesota Department of Education cited in a report that the district was inconsistent in the relationship between the school and the community.

"Our goal is to strengthen the bond between the (district and the community) to feel a sense of ownership in our school," Elke said.

At the event, Elke said he was happy to see parents and other community members out to visit the school and taking part in the activities.

"We want to get the community into our school and show them what we have to offer. We want to build a partnership," Elke said.

Larry Aitken, spiritual leader, tribal elder and Itasca Community College professor from Cass Lake, lead the sanctioning event at the elementary school, high school and Alternative Learning Center. He said the ceremony is traditionally performed prior to anyone sending a child or children to school.

"I tell teachers to accept children as if they were their own. I tell parents to fully give their children over to their teachers," Aitken said. "I tell students to honor and respect the ones that teach them."

Prior to Tuesday's ceremonies, Aitken said he had performed a sanctioning event six times. In the past, he said, he would typically conduct a ceremony after a school faced some type of controversy or had trouble with students not getting along.

"I feel good doing this in the beginning of the school year before issues arise," Aitken said. "I feel it's the right place to start. When issues come up, we can remind people they participated in this ceremony and they agreed to work together."

More than 40 booths promoting student organizations and local businesses were on display at the event, along with dancing and drumming performances scheduled throughout the day.

"This was a wonderful way to start the school year," said Diane Lehse, interim superintendent at Cass Lake-Bena School District. "It's really good for everyone to work together and for students see their teachers and parents support them."

Y awilliams@bemidjipioneer.com

It was the first day of school for students at Cass Lake-Bena School District, but students weren't the only ones to be welcomed back.

A sanctioning ceremony was planned for the first day of school, which involved students, parents, and teachers dancing together, shaking hands and promising to work together.

Having just received $1,059,036 in the form of a school improvement grant from the federal government, the school district wants start this school year on a positive note.

"We're trying to build a bridge between the community and the school district to show the state we're moving forward," said Mike Elke, the district's administrative manager and turnaround school officer.

According to Elke, the district decided to create the event after the Minnesota Department of Education cited in a report that the district was inconsistent in the relationship between the school and the community.

"Our goal is to strengthen the bond between the (district and the community) to feel a sense of ownership in our school," Elke said.

At the event, Elke said he was happy to see parents and other community members out to visit the school and taking part in the activities.

"We want to get the community into our school and show them what we have to offer. We want to build a partnership," Elke said.

Larry Aitken, spiritual leader, tribal elder and Itasca Community College professor from Cass Lake, lead the sanctioning event at the elementary school, high school and Alternative Learning Center. He said the ceremony is traditionally performed prior to anyone sending a child or children to school.

"I tell teachers to accept children as if they were their own. I tell parents to fully give their children over to their teachers," Aitken said. "I tell students to honor and respect the ones that teach them."

Prior to Tuesday's ceremonies, Aitken said he had performed a sanctioning event six times. In the past, he said, he would typically conduct a ceremony after a school faced some type of controversy or had trouble with students not getting along.

"I feel good doing this in the beginning of the school year before issues arise," Aitken said. "I feel it's the right place to start. When issues come up, we can remind people they participated in this ceremony and they agreed to work together."

More than 40 booths promoting student organizations and local businesses were on display at the event, along with dancing and drumming performances scheduled throughout the day.

"This was a wonderful way to start the school year," said Diane Lehse, interim superintendent at Cass Lake-Bena School District. "It's really good for everyone to work together and for students see their teachers and parents support them."

awilliams@bemidjipioneer.com

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