Joe Bowen covers education and health for the Bemidji Pioneer.
He is a Minneapolis native and a 2009 graduate of St. John's University. Before moving to Bemidji, Bowen covered education, local politics, crime, and everything in between for the Perham Focus in Perham, Minnesota, and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis.
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WASHINGTON, D.C.—A pair of Red Lake Middle School students showcased their dance and drum skills in Washington, D.C., last weekend. Seventh-graders Amaya Pemberton and Rhozaria McClain performed with students from two other Minnesota elementary schools and a trio of professionals at a national talent show for "Turnaround Arts" students at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts last Sunday.
BEMIDJI—Bemidji Area Schools' new elementary school is rounding into form. Construction staff estimated Gene Dillon Elementary is about 75-80 percent complete after a Thursday afternoon public tour, and school district leaders expect to move in this July.
RED LAKE -- About half of Red Lake High School’s student body and a handful of Red Lake Middle Schoolers left class Wednesday as part of a nationwide protest against gun violence in schools. The walkout here was one of thousands, big and small, held across the country on the one-month anniversary of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead and motivated a sustained political push for tougher gun control and school safety measures -- and it carries a deep significance in Red Lake.
BEMIDJI -- Minnesota’s top election official talked shop with some Bemidji High School government students Tuesday. Secretary of State Steve Simon did a quick Q&A with students in Jeff Aas’ American Government and Politics class about the 2016 election, barriers to voting, and reasons to vote beyond participating in a community or honoring the sacrifices of people who fought for voting rights.
BEMIDJI -- As they make their final push for a championship, most teams are sharpening the winning strategy that got them that far to a razor’s edge. But one of Bemidji Middle School’s robotics teams is adding another way to win. They’ll compete at the VEX Robotics World Championship next month in Louisville, Ky., with a retooled robot they hope will be even better than the one that helped them win a state championship in February.
BENA—An audacious plan to build a new school in less than a year will take longer than expected. Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school and the Bureau of Indian Affairs were on track to replace a shoddy, subpar high school building with a new one built in sections by Arizona-based Modular Solutions, which started the project last spring. That plan, as school and company staff outlined it in August, would have the building completed in late fall or early winter 2017. But that construction is now months behind schedule, according to interviews with school and bureau staffers.
BEMIDJI -- A Bemidji charter school is headed to a new home. Schoolcraft Learning Community is set to move to the former Deer Lake Elementary building and grounds about 15 miles north of Bemidji. Bankers approved a loan to Dave Bahr and Deer Lake Properties LLC for renovations to the property, which means the company has presumably cleared the last hurdle before it can lease the building and grounds to the charter.
BEMIDJI—Leaders at Schoolcraft Learning Community are taking another shot at an out-of-commission elementary school. The charter school's board voted last month to enter into a lease agreement with Deer Lake Properties for the former Deer lake Elementary building about 15 miles north of Bemidji. The school needs to clear up some language in a tentative lease and the property company needs to secure financing for some hoped-for renovations at the site before the move is official.
BEMIDJI—Bemidji High School students hope to organize a pair of events in lieu of a now-cancelled walkout demanding action on school shootings. The school's student council wants its classmates to perform 17 acts of kindness on March 14, one for each of the people killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that reignited a national debate over gun violence. Other student bodies have pegged that same date for a nationwide walkout. BHS student leaders also hope to put together a "school safety forum" where students can submit questions to Bemidji-area lawmakers.
BEMIDJI—As her daughter's dispute with some staffers at a Bemidji nursing home continues, MaryAnn Papp says she still wants a camera in her room there. Her daughter, Lisa Papp-Richards, joined a statewide push to reform elder care after state investigators concluded workers at the Bemidji nursing home emotionally abused the 75-year old. Last winter, Papp-Richards installed a camera in her mom's room at the nursing home, she said, to check in on her and verify that workers were performing the care they claimed they were.