Among the flurry of activities that characterize back-to-school season is the Great Minnesota Get-Together, that all-American, upper-Midwest festival that is said to rival all others. While a couple of million people make the fair a part of their late-summer activities––deep-fried dilly dog, anyone?––the Minnesotans most notable for their activities at the fair are the hundreds of school-aged children who turn hobbies or learning opportunities into projects for state-wide competitions. RCLS middle-school students Evan Kuball, Madeline Weimer, Taylor Atwell, Brett Boie, and Isaac Nelson were among those young competitors this year––something we here at RCLS were delighted to learn.
Evan Kuball’s project––Cream into Butter––started as a science fair project here at RCLS last winter. This 7th grader investigated what temperature cream turns into butter. Did you know? Cream turns into butter faster at room temperature than if the cream comes straight from the fridge or freezer. One never knows when it will be helpful to know such a thing! After completing this science fair project, Evan first entered the project at the Olmsted County Fair through his Rochester 4-H club. In the state competition, Evan rose to the challenge of responding to a judge’s queries to earn a blue ribbon for his project.
Madeline Weimer, also in 7th grade, entered a project she completed through her 4-H club: Clothes You Buy. This project demanded that Madeline learn how to build a wardrobe, be a smart consumer, and properly care for the clothing and accessories she buys. Conference judging was a new experience for Madeline, but this rather pragmatic project earned her a blue ribbon and the life skills necessary to consume wisely in a market that offers an abundance of options.
Taylor Atwell entered two projects at the Olmsted County Fair, where she earned a grand championship in Showmanship with her two rabbits and a blue ribbon for three pieces of hand-crafted pottery. While the rabbit competition was not an event eligible for state-level judging, Taylor did submit her pottery to the state competition in the Fine Arts division. Taylor learned to create pottery first at RCLS and then at Rochester’s Earthbound Designs Pottery Studio, where she shaped her competition pieces on the pottery wheel and then worked through all the steps of firing and glazing. These careful efforts plus an interview with a competition judge earned Taylor a blue ribbon for her three creative pieces at the State Fair, an accomplishment this hard-working 8th grader will never forget.
Brett Boie’s state fair entry was inspired by a new puppy he got last fall. Brett trained and showed his young dog at the county fair this year in Obedience, Showmanship, and Rally. His excellent showing earned him the privilege of taking his dog to the state 4-H dog show, but it was the preparation for that county competition that was the genesis of his state fair project: a discussion of heart worms for the Veterinary Science division of judging. For Showmanship at the county fair, competitors must answer various questions from the judge on topics related to dogs and their health, so Brett decided to do some research on heart worms to learn more about this disease. Impressively, this RCLS 8th grader earned a purple Award of Excellence for his veterinary science project.
Finally, in his 8th year in a local 4-H club, RCLS 8th-grader Isaac Nelson took a Consumer Education project to the state fair after earning a Grand Champion title at the Olmsted County Fair. For his finance project, Isaac compared the costs of fast food, school lunches, and home-packed lunches. This young man tells us that the annual savings of packing one's own lunch is at least $1000 for a student and $1700 for an adult––a noteworthy finding, indeed. Isaac typically completes and enters a number of projects in the county fair competition, but this recent project, which ultimately earned a blue ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair, is among his favorites.
We anticipate these students added to their state fair experience in the same way that most of this year’s record-breaking crowd did—surely they enjoyed some Sweet Martha's cookies?—but we’re so impressed by the level of commitment these students demonstrated to compete with their creative or research endeavors. We are especially encouraged to learn that some of these projects were inspired in the classroom at RCLS, which is brimming with the creativity these students exhibit.
Because of these and so many other students who have wide and (often) deep community engagement, RCLS is a rich place to learn and grow. We spend a lot of time and resources at RCLS to ensure that the whole child is educated, so we are thrilled to hear about all the ways our students extend that education. Art, science, finance, dance, animals, athletics––these are just a few of the disciplines that engage our students, on and off campus. We are quite certain that RCLS can decidedly boast some of the best kids in Rochester. We are so thankful to partner with parents who raise kids who are Committed to Learning for Life, and, as the school year begins, we are pleased to welcome new, committed families to our learning community.
Happy school year, everyone, and congratulations Evan, Madeline, Taylor, Brett, and Isaac!