NWPHS Updates | Northwest Passage High School

4/30/20 Update

Next week May 4th – 8th is Teacher Appreciation Week.  Please take a moment to recognize yourself for all of the hard work you are putting in to support your students.  We recognize how challenging it is to balance your own work life and supporting your students on their school work.

As a reminder this Friday, May 1st and Monday, May 4th are designated as planning days for schools, hopefully you and your family can take some time away from schooling and get outside to enjoy the beautiful weather.

As always if you are in need of anything please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.


4/22/20 Update on Distance Learning Extension, Graduation, Etc.

Today, Governor Waltz has ordered the closure of all Minnesota schools for the remainder of the school year. I have been on multiple calls with the Commissioner of Education and the Governor and this decision was not taken lightly and a great deal of data and science has gone into their planning.  I have also spoken with all of the staff and there is much disappointment and definitely some tears over ending the school year this way. However, we are grateful that the state leadership shares our stance on safety as our number one priority.

With the extension of the school closure order we want to share the steps we are taking to ensure the continuity of support for students and families:

*Students and staff will continue distance learning through the end of the school year, June 5th.

*May 1st and 4th have been designated as planning days for school staff. Students will not be required to check-in with advisors and other meetings on those days.

*We will continue to support students and families with wellness services including food delivery and pick, as well as mental health and other emotional health services.

*The Explore Your World silent auction/fundraiser scheduled for May 2 has been postponed until at least fall of 2020.

* Our hearts truly go out to our graduating seniors who will be missing out on many important milestones in their lives, but we promise that we will conduct a face to face graduation when it is safe to do so. In the meantime the senior work deadline has been extended to May 21st.  In order to honor and celebrate our graduates we will have a virtual senior dinner on Thursday May 28th.  Details will be sent to graduates at a later date.
• Summer expeditions have been cancelled.  We will be updating students and families about summer options (most likely distance learning) as soon as we know more from the Department of Education.

As always please do not hesitate to contact us if you or your family are in need of anything.  Take care!


4/15/20 Daily Update

Just a reminder, tomorrow April 16th is student/parent/advisor conferences.  If you don’t have a conference scheduled please reach out to your students advisor to schedule one.  This Friday April 17th is a staff development day, so students can work independently if they choose.
Have a good weekend, stay healthy and safe.

4/14/20 Daily Update

As we approach conferences this Thursday it is important to recognize that distance learning was not something any of us planned to be doing this school year.  As a staff we are striving to adapt to this new reality by putting the words of a fellow Minnesota educational leader into practice everyday, “Relationships before rigor. Grace before grades. Patience before programs. Love before lessons.”

As parents it is important to recognize some students are going to thrive during this time and some are going to struggle.  We also realize that as parents it is not always possible for you to be available throughout the day to help out, many of us are also trying to balance our professional roles as teachers and helping our own children navigate distance learning so we understand.
There is some good news!  By being enrolled at a student centered project based learning school your student has been provided with a number of skills that other students may not have.  Your student better understands self-motivation, autonomy, problem solving and critical thinking.  They know how to collaborate, self advocate and talk with adults.  They have an academic outline in place through the Personal Learning Plan to manage their distance learning.
If your student is struggling to accomplish work ask them to show you their PLP and project modules in Headrush.  Modules will include project outlines, learning targets to be met, to do lists, in progress reports and learner reflections.
Project Modules include an organized flow of work for students to follow that typically is arranged in the following series: Research; Notes; Learning target alignment; Multiple drafts with feedback loops from the advisor; an end product; a presentation and learner reflection/self evaluation.  If you want to help monitor this process have your student share with you where they are in this process with their projects.
Finally there are some structural keys that will help students be more successful.
1) Be sure your student is participating in advisory group check-ins
2) Make all one to one student/advisor meetings
3) Read for a minimum of 45 minutes each day
4) Complete a minimum of 45 of Khan Academy (Math) each day
5) Focus on 1-2 projects each day
6) Participate in 30-60 minutes of mindfulness or physical activity (outside if possible) each day.
7) Help students maintain both healthy eating and sleeping habits, along with a daily schedule.
We look forward to “seeing” you all at conferences this week.  If there are additional questions or resources we can talk more about those at conferences.
As always if you are in need of anything please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay home.

4/13/20 Daily Update

It was quite the weekend – 60’s one day and snow the next, but the sun is melting the snow as we speak and it looks like spring will be here again by the weekend.

I hope everyone is doing well and the adjustment to distance learning hasn’t been too difficult.  I really appreciate all of the feedback we are receiving from the survey I sent out last week.  We will compile all that information to make adjustments to our distance learning plan.  As a staff we would like nothing more than to be able to be back in school, and we can relate to the struggles of balancing work and family in ways that most of us never have before.  Hopefully we will know soon if that is going to be this spring yet, or not until next fall.
We have conferences scheduled for this Thursday, April 16th.  If your student’s advisor hasn’t contacted you yet feel free to call or email them to schedule a time.  While conferences won’t be able to be face to face, it is very important that advisor, student and parent(s) meet to plot a course forward for the remainder of the school year, whatever that ends up being.
I have attached an article that was shared with me today about social isolation tips to help everyone stay grounded.  Enjoy.

Social isolation tips from polar explorer Ann Bancroft

As always if you are in need of anything please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay home.

4/9/20 Daily Update

Now that we have completed two weeks of distance learning we would like to hear from you on how things are going.  We definitely recognize that this is not the ideal learning situation and we truly wish we could all be back at school, but since this isn’t an option currently and we are all new to this style of teaching and learning we are hoping for any constructive feedback we can get. If you would please complete the attached feedback form we will use your input to make the most of our current situation.  Thank you.
As always if there is anything you need from us please don’t hesitate to ask.  Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay home.

4/8/20 Daily Update

I have had the pleasure of joining three advisory check-ins this week and was so impressed by how students were staying connected and checking in with each other.  I am looking forward to joining all of the advisories over the next couple weeks and seeing student groups again. As a school we believe strongly in building and maintaining connections between students and staff.  We want to continue to do as our mission states and build our community, even in these unprecedented times.

As we progress through distance learning it is important to reexamine and reinforce the norms of group meetings.  Despite having a number of filters and protocols in place, a small group of students have significantly disrupted a couple of meetings recently.  It is important for students to recognize that building community during distance learning, similar to in person learning, only works if everyone is willing to agree to and uphold a respectable level of group norms.

The following agreements will be in place for online meetings moving forward:

  • Students will only be allowed into meetings when they use their school approved email address or name.  Students will not be allowed to change names once they join a meeting.

  • Students should use appropriate language during meetings.  It is important to remember that in a distance learning environment other people including younger siblings, or staff children might be within ear shot.

  • Students should plan to participate appropriately throughout their meetings including verbally, in group chats or polls.  It is important that we stay connected with each other throughout distance learning.

  • If a student is found to “hack” or “Zoombomb” a meeting with pornographic, racist, sexist, or hate speech content it has been recommended by the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools to report perpetrators to the FBI.  NWPHS Administration and the school board will consider this option if necessary.

If students are not able to follow these basic norms the following changes will be made for the individual:

  • Students being inappropriate during a meeting will be immediately removed from the group.

  • Students will be provided with one on one meeting times with their advisor, case manager or a paraprofessional.

  • If a student can not abide by the distance learning norms in a one on one meeting they will work with the appropriate staff to complete their school work either with a parent present or through Google Classroom, Headrush or another staff approved digital platform.

We recognize that this is not how any of us envisioned our school year going, but if we all – students, staff and parents, work together for the common good of student wellbeing and academic success we will come through this with a greater appreciation of our time together.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything from us.  Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay home.


4/6/20 Daily Update

Hoping everyone had a good weekend.  Just one announcement for today. Next Thursday April 16th we are scheduled for Conferences.  Your student’s advisor will be contacting you shortly to schedule a 30 minute student/parent/advisor conference.  Since we won’t be able to do in person conferences we can do a phone call, Zoom meeting, or Google Hangouts.  Conferences are always important to keep everyone on the same page and support students, but in the new reality of distance learning it is especially important that connections are made.  If you don’t connect with your student’s advisor by the end of the week feel free to contact them to schedule a time.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are in need of anything.  Stay safe. Stay healthy.


4/3/20 Daily Update

I want to thank everyone for their patience and commitment as we adjust to the new normal of distance learning.  Students continue to stay connected with their advisors and other staff through a number of methods.
Today I want to share some tips about teleconferencing etiquette.  Please talk to your students about these best practices.
*Be on time to meetings, both group and individual.
*Wear school appropriate clothing.  The new normal is pajamas and sweats, but also remember that others can see you.
*Be present in meetings.  No side conversations, or walking in and out of meetings.
*Name Changing in Zoom/Google Hangout. Students will not be permitted into Zoom/Google Hangout meetings under aliases or screen names. There is a waiting room feature on Zoom that allows the host to remove people before they join. Students should display only their name as we have it on file.
*Not recording Zoom/Google Hangout meetings.  It is illegal to record and share conference video without all participants consent.
Have a wonderful weekend and don’t hesitate to connect with us if you need anything.
Stay healthy.  Stay safe.  Stay home.

4/2/20 Daily Update

Day 4 of distance learning.  The end of the first week of distance learning is fast approaching, but we still have Friday school this week.  Grade cohort leaders will be sharing a cohort assignment for tomorrow through their Google Classroom.  Students should plan to stay on top of their cohort work so that they earn that elective credit for the year.

Thank you for your continued support as we navigate through these uncertain times.  There are a number of ways you can help your students be most successful at distance learning.
* Help maintain a regular schedule
* Provide a safe place for students to do school work
* Encourage them to check in regularly with their advisor and/or case manager for group check-in, individual appointments and other meetings such as book clubs.
* Hold them accountable, but remember this is very different and potentially anxiety provoking, so also be supportive.
As always we are in this together.  Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need anything.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Stay home.


4/1/20 Daily Update

I have been meeting with staff everyday and I am continually excited to hear how many students are logging in to morning advisory Zoom meetings, book clubs, individual meetings and generally adapting to the new normal.  I recognize that none of us ever imagined school and life in general would look like this, but we will get through this together, our Northwest Passage family is strong and we won’t give up hope. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you need anything, as always we are here for you.  

  • The school website’s Covid-19 page has been updated with new links in the areas of: Education/Technology, Resources for Parents (including Health Care and Unemployment), Meal Programs, Internet Service Provider Resources and Mental Health.
  • We have been asked about rumors that school calendars will be extended into the summer months. The Minnesota Department of Education has not made any plans to extend the regular school year, rather we will continue with distance learning until we hear otherwise from the Governor.  
  • At this time, in accordance with Executive Order 2019, no scheduled school events or activities will take place in person until after April 30. We are working on alternative online viewing opportunities for some events including the school board meeting on April 21st and the Enrollment Info Night on April 28th. We will communicate about in-person events scheduled after April 30 as we know more in the future. We will adhere to guidelines issued by the Minnesota Departments of Health and Education when deciding to resume in-person events.
  • The annual Explore Your World Fundraiser is currently scheduled for May 2. We are investigating changing it to an online event.  We will keep you posted on our decision. 
  • If it is the case that large in-person events are still not recommended at the time of our graduation scheduled on May 28, we would reschedule the ceremony as soon as it becomes possible to predict when the event could be held safely.
  • At this point we will be cancelling all expeditions for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.  Summer expeditions will remain on the calendar until further notice. 

Stay healthy.  Stay safe.


3/26/2020 Update

Northwest Passage High School Distance Learning Plan

Please see the link for the NWPHS Distance Learning Plan and continue to monitor email and social media for updates from NWPHS advisors and staff.

3/19/2020 Update

The Northwest Passage High School distance learning plan will start March 30th. We will be in contact with students and families during the week of March 23rd to share the details of the plan.