On Friday, November 8th, a group of students from Pillager Area Charter School went to see an educational WWII film called Hacksaw Ridge. Hacksaw Ridge was written about the real life events of a WWII Veteran named Desmond Doss. Desmond was a field medic that did more during his short time in the war than anyone would have thought possible. While there were many medics in the war, Desmond’s story is special.
Desmond decided he would go into battle without any sort of protection against the enemy - no gun, no grenades, no knife. The only thing he brought was the medical supplies he was issued and a bible his wife had given him before he departed. He chose this course of action both because of his religious beliefs, and because of earlier events that happened during his childhood.
Desmond’s father, William, played a big role in Desmond’s decision to not touch a weapon during the war. His father was also a veteran. He had served in WWI, and had returned home with PTSD due to the things he had to do to save himself and his friends. After the war, he became an alcoholic, and was verbally and physically abusive to his wife and two sons. One day his father was very drunk, and threatened to shoot Desmond’s mother. Desmond stepped in and took the gun away from him, and aimed it at his father, but didn’t pull the trigger. Ever since that day he swore not to pick up another gun.
During the movie, students got to see a glimpse of the bravery that Desmond had. Students were shown the magnitude of the things that some of the soldiers had to face. After going through basic training, Desmond and his platoon were sent to Hacksaw Ridge to fight the Battle of Okinawa. Upon arrival the soldiers geared up and said their prayers as artillery was fired onto the top of the ridge. After the artillery shells stopped being launched, they were ordered to scale the sheer cliff, using only a rope ladder than had been there from previous attacks.
During the first wave of attacks, Desmond managed to escape death several times, and save over twenty-five men. During his second day atom the ridge, Desmond’s platoon was overrun with enemy soldiers and ordered to retreat. Before they even managed to get off the cliff, they had called in artillery as a means of defence against the Japanese. Though artillery was to begin shelling again, Desmond decided to stay to save as many wounded men as he could.
Even with the hellfire of explosions around him, he managed to drag men across the gritty, charred and mangled battlefield to the edge of the cliff. It was there he tied a special knot to lower each and every man to safety below.
Desmond went above and beyond the call of duty, not once stopping to think of his own well-being, but instead asking God to help him save “just one more”. Desmond pushed forward so he could bring other men back home. Throughout the next two days he saved a miraculous seventy-five men, including two enemy soldiers. Desmond was only sent back home after sustaining injury to his leg and buttox after kicking a grenade to save the lives of the men around him. Desmond risked his life countless times, and all to save the lives of men he had never known. For his amazing acts of bravery and compassion, Desmond Doss will be remembered as one of the greatest men to serve in the United States military.
By: Braden Beach
On November 9th and 10th, seven PACS (Pillager Area Charter School) students went to Camp Ripley for the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs (MAAP) Fall Leadership Conference. We listened to different motivational speakers, and we were able to meet other students just like us! We spent one night in a little hotel house, which had six rooms. Each student had their own room, and tv. There was a nice kitchen and a big living room where we played “Apples to Apples”.
On the first day, we checked in and had to get our room keys for the hotel house. Then we went to Pizza Ranch for dinner. Afterwards, we went back to Camp Ripley and attended the leadership conference at 6:00 pm and it concluded at 9:30 pm. The following day we had to wake up at 6:30 am to go eat breakfast (which ended at 7:25 am). Our first class with one of the motivational speakers was named Derek Emery; it started at 8:00 am, and we spent an hour learning about teamwork and doing fun activities. After that, we had another class with Derek Greenfield, who was very inspirational. He made everyone feel like they could just be themselves and talk about life. One of the things he said was ,”When life gives you poop, fertilizer”.
After we left Derek’s class, we went to lunch. We had a choice of teriyaki chicken, tacos, or salad. Following up after lunch, we had two more classes. The next class was with two men from the National Guard. They were talking to us about the benefits of joining the National Guard, and we filled out a paperwork showing what we wanted our future to look like. The final class we had was just a class informing us about what we were doing at the spring conference and just informing us a little more about MAAP STARS. Overall, it was an incredible experience, opening our eyes to new kinds of leadership opportunities and inspiring us to be more independent.
By: Thalia Aguilar, Anton Charfaurous & Chloe Gallant
On November 11th, a Veteran’s day program was held at Brainerd High School. As the program began, six veteran’s walked through the door - One at either end not holding a flag, and four in the middle carrying flags. Mrs. Rusk, the principal, gave a speech thanking the veterans for their service. She also went on to encourage students to thank a veteran, even if they don’t personally know any. She listed off multiple wars and asked veterans to stand when the wars they were in were mentioned. After they all stood, a great roar of applause filled the room. She spoke of the accomplishments of US Air Force General Bruce Carlson, such as his over 3,000 flight hours under his belt, most of which is combat. She later handed the speech over to Mr. Carlson.
Carlson went on to speak about veterans, but especially recognizing his parents, who both helped to serve in the war effort. His father fought in WWII, and his mother worked in a factory building tanks. Carlson went on to speak of Veteran’s Day and how it began as Armistice Day on November 11, 1919, which was the end of World War I. It was then made into a National Holiday on November 11, 1938. Carlson recognized the honor and bravery befitting veterans, going on to say: “Today we pay tribute to all American veterans living or dead, but especially giving thanks to living veterans who serve their country honorably during war or peacetime.”
Mrs. Rusk introduced the band and choir, and their rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was stirring and evoked a mood of solidarity and celebration. The program concluded with the color guard removing the flags, and the crowd responded with a standing ovation. It was a truly moving experience.
By: Braden Beach
We would like to invite you to an Open House next week Wednesday, November 23rd! We will be having a Project Presentation and Thanksgiving Meal! When, you may ask?? From 11:45-2:30! Come on in and enjoy the presentations and a tasty meal! :) We look forward to seeing you!
PLEASE RSVP through a comment on this post OR call 218-746-3875! Thanks!!
On November 4th, the students traveled to the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum in Brainerd. They went on a tour of the museum, the late 1800s county jail, and even a guided tour of the sheriff’s residence, learning of the history around the area. The entire house has been restored since it was first built, but it was made as historically accurate as possible. The students learned about the sheriff’s families who lived in the residence, discovering the sheriff’s wife was responsible for the cooking for all of the prisoners. The life of a sheriff’s family was very different from the average household considering a mere wall separated them from the prisoners. There were various items on display in the museum, including: Native American artifacts, portrait copies from Freeman Thorpe, logging and lumberjacking tools, baseball memorabilia, and two of the women’s jail cells. The students were engaged in the tour, learning all they could about early residents of Crow Wing County.
By: Jessica Avila & Thalia Aguilar
The new social worker here at the Pillager Area Charter School is Shana Crouse. She is originally from the Garrison-Brainerd area, and is married with four boys. Shana started her career in social work five years ago, most recently having worked with Crow Wing County. What she likes best about social work is making a difference in kids’ lives and the relationships she develops with them. She chose to come to PACS, because she needed something different. Family means a lot to her, and with a newborn son she wanted something more part time with more interaction with students. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and she is an avid Vikings fan.
Spencer Garness is the new Science teacher here at PACS. He hails from the small town of Hayfield, Minnesota (near Rochester). This is Spencer’s first “real” teaching job, as he spent last year completing an internship at both Rochester Alternative Learning Center and Rochester Off Campus Charter High School. His favorite part of teaching is learning with students, watching them make connections. When he first applied at PACS, Spencer was looking for something North of St. Cloud, and more importantly he wanted to work with students and get away from the more traditional “teacher” role. In his spare time, Spencer enjoys playing with his dog, Ernie, training him to be an antler shed hunter. He also likes reading, making canoe paddles, and woodworking.
Teaching English this year is Tracee Colgrove. She grew up all over the world, living in Illinois, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Arizona, Washington state, New Mexico and Minnesota. Tracee has been teaching for eleven years. What she likes most about teaching is helping students learn and establishing relationships with them. Tracee came to PACS after working in the restaurant industry for several years, and she was ready to return to what she loved. A friend happened to notice the job posting, and it seems it was meant to be! When Tracee isn’t working, she loves hanging out with her four children. She also enjoys playing with her two dogs, especially since Lily had TEN puppies! Tracee is also an avid gardener and loves canning.
Three staff members from Pillager Area Charter School participated in MAAP 101, presented by the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs, on Friday October 14. MAAP 101 is a professional development conference designed to provide support for educators statewide who are new to alternative programs. It takes a unique set of skills to become an effective teacher in an alternative setting. Pillager Area Charter School feels it is important to provide learning and networking opportunities for all staff, but particularly new teachers, who need a little extra support. MAAP 101 is an important step in retaining good people in alternative education. Topics covered included project-based learning, lesson ideas, MAAP STARS, adverse childhood experiences studies, and tools for positive relationship building. Those in attendance were Spencer Garness, the school’s new science teacher, Tracee Colgrove, the new language arts teacher, and Greg Zimmerman. Greg serves on the MAAP board of directors and helped coordinate the event. MAAP 101 was hosted by Ivan Sand Community High School in Elk River, MN.
By: Greg Zimmerman
Pillager Area Charter School, a 9th through 12th grade experiential school, started off the year with a bang, focusing on Renewable Energy for the first six-week session. The culminating trip involved eighteen students and four staff members traveling to Duluth for a sustainability field experience from Tuesday, October 11 through Thursday, October 13. Along the way, the group visited the Challenge Center in Superior, Wisconsin, where they learned about larger scale hydroponic greenhouse growth of tomatoes and peppers at Bay Produce; this growing method allows the company to provide vegetables to the surrounding areas year round. When visiting the Lester Creek Sawmill, the students learned how a lumber mill runs as a one-man operation. WLSSD Waste Water Treatment Plant was the next stop, showing students the process involved in treating grey water from the Duluth/Superior area in order to send clean water into the river. The group also visited the University of Duluth’s Bagley House, learning about conservation and sustainable construction. The facility is energy efficient and provides for rainwater management, using renewable and locally recycled materials; it’s a passive heating system makes use of solar heat. Jay Cooke State Park was one of the final stops on the tour, where students learned about the Thomson Dam construction and evolution, learning how they harness and create energy through HydroPower.
By: Tracee Colgrove
Every Wednesday morning students from Pillager Area Charter School (PACS) spend an hour reading with kindergarteners at Pillager Elementary School. The two groups have nicknames for one another: the kindergarteners are the “Kinder Krew”, and the students from the Charter School are their “PACS Pals”. Only five PACS students currently participate in the program so far, working with twenty of Ms. Pettit’s kindergarteners. We read with them individually and in small groups. Each PACS Pal works with a group of Kinder-Krew kids on reading, group games,sight words, and singing silly songs. The educational theme at PACS for the current session is Community. We are working to build relationships with the Kinder-Krew in order to connect with the younger children in our community while fostering a love of reading.
By: Thalia Aguilar & Jessica Avila
On Monday, October 24th, Pillager Area Charter School (PACS) students were battling local hunger by going door-to-door in Brainerd, Baxter, and Pillager to pass out flyers requesting donations for the Scare Away Hunger campaign. The Scare Away Hunger campaign is a food shelf program which utilizes the “trick or treat” theme during Halloween to gather donations. This year, the students at PACS decided to partake in the campaign, going trick or treating for donations on Halloween. The Pillager Family Center organizes a food shelf program, ensuring the donations go to local families in need. The PACS students gathered a total of 150 non-perishable items to donate to the Pillager Food Shelf.
By: Chloe Gallant