K-W Speech Team

The K-W Speech Team had their first official meet of the season hosted by Cannon Falls in an online format.

Jordan Blowers finished in second place in the Novice Prose category. First-year speaker, eighth-grader Izzy Chmelik placed sixth in Novice Poetry, and Addison Donkers took fifth- place in Novice Dramatic Interpretation.

In the varsity competition, Sophia Culuris had a fourth-place finish in Original Oratory, and Ashley Rechtzigel placed sixth in Varsity Great Speeches.

Elliot Olson was a first-time competitor in the Varsity Prose category. In past years Olson and Lucas Brezina have competed in Dramatic Duo. Due to pandemic restrictions, only students from the same household may record unmasked in the same room.

With the online format’s uncertainty, some past speech team members have chosen to sit out this season.

“Those on the speech team have adapted well to the new format,” according to Coach Heidi Hanson.

Indigenous People’s study

In K-W Elementary School’s hallway, the fourth-grade students’ culminating projects from their study on the Indigenous People of North America are on display.

The assignment included creating a sample of the housing used by the indigenous people and how they lived before the re-settlers arrived. One student used marshmallows to make an igloo to demonstrate the Inuit people’s housing while on hunting trips.

The students learned that Native Americans lived a variety of lifestyles. Not all of them lived a nomadic hunting life. Many of the First People of America built villages and were farmers and hunters.

Hero Squad Donations

The Hero Squad program raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s research to achieve its goal of a world without blood cancer. In a school setting, the Hero Squad helps students understand empathy, learn to work together for a common goal, and feel motivated to help reach that goal.

In February, the K-W Middle School Student Council is collecting donations for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Hero Squad program. There are collection bins in the fifth and sixth-grade rooms and the second-hour classrooms for seventh and eighth-graders.

As an incentive for students to donate, there is a competition between grades with Middle School Counselor Katie Kelly weighing the collection bins each week and posting the current donation weights on the student news. Also, there are weight milestone rewards for all of the Middle School students.

K-W High School Knowledge Bowl

The K-W High School Knowledge Bowl teams competed against teams from Northfield, Chatfield, Kingsland, and St. Charles on Feb. 3.

The Black team of Rachel Nesseth, Elliot Olson, Lucas Brezina, and Hayden Poquette placed ninth in the written round and after the three team rounds finished the competition in tenth place.

The Red Team of Brady Bauer, Louie Breimhurst, James DeWitt, and Sophia Poquette tied for fourteenth place.

Garden planning

In late winter, gardeners are inundated with seed catalogs and planning suggestions arriving in their email boxes.

Milkweed is not a plant most gardeners consider putting into their plantings but it is needed to improve the monarch butterfly population. The University of Iowa has done research showing that the monarch needs the native milkweed for its nectar and also as a host for the butterfly eggs and larvae. The monarch caterpillar relies solely on the milkweed plant for its nourishment and without the milkweed the larvae would not survive.

The monarch, the Minnesota State Butterfly, is a welcome sign as the seasons change from spring into summer.

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, an international nonprofit organization that works to protect the natural world, writes that in the 1990s, hundreds of millions of monarchs would migrate in the fall of the year from the northern plains of the United States to their winter gathering place in Mexico.

Today researchers and scientists estimate that only a fraction of the monarch butterflies remains. An estimated 80% decline in their population is due to loss of habitat, climate change, and the overuse of herbicides and insecticides.

In December 2020, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that listing the monarch as an endangered or threatened species is reasonable but is prevented by higher priority listings.

The Xerces Society has provided gardeners with steps to take when planting their gardens to help preserve the monarch.

One way is to build a pollinator garden, that would include milkweed and other native flowers providing nectar.

A female butterfly will lay about 400 eggs, with only about eight surviving to adult butterflies. A hands-on way to improve the butterfly population is by collecting and raising the monarch caterpillars in a protected environment until they go through metamorphosis and the butterfly emerges.

If we do not heed the Xerces Society’s information about the monarch’s dire situation, we may see the monarch butterfly population’s extinction in a few years.

Kevin Anderson is a guest columnist for The Kenyon Leader.

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