Dana filled in, last minute, for Margaret.
There were no guests or visiting Rotarians today.
Upcoming Activities:
All members are invited to attend some or all of the District 5960 Conference, being held at the Kahler Grand Hotel in Rochester from April 30th - May2nd.  More information is available here.
Paul Fournier is organizing opportunities to attend a musical review at the Jungle Theater titled, "And the World Goes 'Round'.  Paul's wife Chrissy is involved in the production, so you know it will be great.  The dates are Wednesday, May 13th and Wednesday, May 20th, at 7:30 PM.  Contact Paul if you would like to attend.
There was lengthy discussion about planning for the Gold Plate Dinner which is scheduled for Friday April 24th.  To summarize:
     -There are still 40 tickets unsold, so think about who you could invite to join in the fun.
     -We need more items for the silent and live auctions.
     -More volunteers are needed for the silent auction team.  See Mary Stewart.
The NBMV Rotary Easter Egg Hunt is fast approaching and your help will be needed to make the event a success: 
      -On Sunday, March 29th, at 11:00AM, we will meet at Lakeside Homes community room, 350 Old Hwy 8 SW, New Brighton, to fill the plastic eggs with jelly beans and prize slips.
      -On Saturday, April 4th, at 10:00AM, we will all meet at Driftwood Park, 2705 5th St NW, New Brighton, to set up for the hunt. 
John Risdall is putting together a group to dine, listen (and possibly dance?) to 30's and 40's music at Crooner's, 6161 Hwy 65 in Fridley.  Call John for more information.
We are all invited to attend Achieve Services annual gala on Friday, April 17th.  For more details, please visit their website.
Our Speakers for today were our own Eric Nelson, principal of Irondale H.S., and Mindy Handberg, from the Mounds View Schools Education Foundation.  Eric spoke first with a presentation entitled "Progress Towards the Promise".  The promise referred to is the District 621 Equity Promise, ensuring that all students are prepared for post-secondary success regardless of race, class or disability.  We've all familiar with the "achievement gap" issue that frustrates educators, parents and students but Eric believes that the achievement gap will not be solved until three other "gaps" that create the achievement gap are addressed.  Eric called these the Aspiration, Opportunity, and Expectation gaps.  One pioneering way that Irondale, and now Mounds View are addressing these gaps is by making the ACT exam available to all high school juniors, without cost to the student.  Another way is Early College in High School, which creates opportunities not just for the top 20% but also for the "academic middle", the middle 60% who have often had less support while educators focused on the top and bottom 20% of students.  In 2015 at Irondale, 244 students have accumulated college credit while still in High School, compared to 175 in 2012.  To view the video "Progress Toward the Promise" click here.
The progress that district 621 is making is, in part, due to initiatives undertaken by the Mounds View Schools Education Foundation.  Mindy Handberg, executive director of the Foundation, followed up on Eric's presentation by outlining the MVSEF's initiatives for 2014-15:
-Kindergarten Literacy Centers - providing books and other materials to provide enhanced learning opportunities for the youngest in our district.
-Laurentian Environmental Center - grant expands opportunities for all district 5th and 7th graders to participate in hands-on environmental activities related to their science and math programs.
-High School Physics & STEM Career Fairs - the Foundation supports career fairs reinforcing the value of a strong science curriculum.
-Equity Promise Scholarships - provided a lead gift in support of the Equity Promise Scholarship program, a new comprehensive district initiative that aligns with the goal of positioning all students for post-secondary success.  This scholarship program recognizes students who have demonstrated success in a variety of ways, not just pure academic achievement.  Recipients will have demonstrated academic growth and sustained participation in activities throughout high school.  Overcoming challenges, displaying perseverance and exhibiting "grit" are also considered.  Eric and Mindy are pictured below.