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With the release of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment-II scores, area school officials are reviewing the data to assess student proficiency in math and reading. The Bemidji School District outperformed the state in reading, but remained below the state in math, said Kathy Palm, director of curriculum and administrative services for the Bemidji School District. She said 57.76 percent of the school district's students show proficiency in math and 71.6 percent show proficiency in reading.
The National Student Congress recently convened with a local high school student serving as a senator. Marcus Wax, who will be a senior in the fall at Bemidji High School, traveled to Las Vegas for the National Forensics League's 2008 John C. Stennis National Student Congress. The competition was part of the Desert Lights National Speech and Debate Tournament held June 15-20. "It's more or less a mock Congress for high school students," said Wax, one of six senators from Minnesota. "We would debate or amend or vote a bill up or down." Students authored bills prior to the competition.
Whether recent high school graduates, members of the workforce or long-time retirees, people who want to further their education locally have an abundance of opportunities. Bemidji is home to Bemidji State University, Northwest Technical College, Oak Hills Christian College, Professional Salon Academy and the Academy for Lifelong Learning.
Seven decades ago, Milton Dieterich established what has transformed into the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra. As the BSO marks its 70th anniversary, another Bemidji musical establishment, Headwaters School of Music & the Arts, is celebrating 15 years. "Those are huge milestones," said Janet Brademan, executive director of Headwaters School. "And we're not just existing.
As a first-grader at Schoolcraft Learning Community, Jessica Pickett wanted to play in the school orchestra. So, the Bemidji girl started violin lessons at Headwaters School of Music & the Arts. The violin caught her attention at concerts she attended with her grandmother, Janet Brademan, who is the executive director of Headwaters School. "I just loved the sound of them," said Jessica, who is now 14.
Being named one of the 20 best towns for hunters and anglers to live confirms what locals have always known about Bemidji, VisitBemidji Executive Director Gayle Quistgard said. Earlier this year, Outdoor Life magazine ranked Bemidji No. 19 of the top 20 U.S. towns for hunters and anglers to live. "It's nice to be recognized," Quistgard said. She said many people live in the Bemidji area for the outdoor recreation opportunities it offers.
Fishing guide Paul Nelson has fished Bemidji area lakes since he was a child visiting his grandparents in the summer. "My grandparents had a cabin on Lake Marquette," said Nelson, who grew up in Rush City, Minn., and now lives in Bemidji. Nelson moved to Bemidji after college in 1979 and took a job with Xem's Sporting Goods. He started his career as a fishing guide in 1982, but not before researching the lakes in the area.
When his son headed to Bemidji State University 20 years ago, a Bangladeshi diplomat asked Steve and Bonnie Williams if they would meet his son after he arrived on campus. The Bemidji couple -- whom the diplomat connected with through an acquaintance -- agreed and soon learned about the Family Friends program. Steve and Bonnie Williams joined the program, which introduces BSU international students to American families, and have since befriended many students from around the world. "I think it is really a great way to share a piece of the world," Steve Williams said. International students
Thousands of miles from her native country, Ching Ching Suaw of Malaysia made Bemidji her home for two years. The recent BSU graduate, who hopes to work for a year in the United States and pursue a master's degree, embraced campus life in Bemidji. "I'm glad I just put myself out there and tried things out," Suaw said. Suaw, who majored in psychology, transferred to Bemidji State from HELP Institute in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, through an exchange program between the two schools.
For the second year in a row, Bagley High School student John O'Shea presented a project at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Last month in Atlanta, he was named a semi-finalist in the microbiology category for his project, "Formation and Gram Stain Identification of a Water-Purifying Biological Layer." He qualified for the International Science and Engineering Fair this year by winning first place in the Northern Minnesota Regional Science Fair in February at Bemidji State University.