NLA Softball Team Makes Its 2024 Debut

By Marquise Poncelet

The Huskies of North Lakes Academy have started their softball season. Their first game was against Legacy Christian on April 11. Coached by Morgan Thielhorn, Jessica Klima, and Chris Stewart, the team has scheduled 10 games that they will play. The HP sat down with Captains Reagan Jensen and Brenna Theisen to find out more about the season.

HP: What are your team’s strengths?

Jensen: “I would say that our team’s strengths this year especially are that we have good hustle and many of us have been playing together since we were little, so, as we get older, we’ve been able to grow together and get into a rhythm that’s crucial out on the field.”

Theisen: “I believe our strengths are our at bats. We have a lot of younger girls with a lot of experience who being good athleticism to the team.” [sic]

If someone was thinking about joining, what would you say to convince them to join the team?

Reagan: “If somebody was on the fence about joining softball, I’d tell them that they’re not going to regret joining because the team always has really great spirit and we work really well together. The team is really good at taking new girls because we get a lot of newbies every year, so there’s no pressure to join and there’s always room for more.”

 Brenna: “It’s a short season and you only get to try something once! There are is bunch of girls who love to help and teach and I guarantee you’ll have fun. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it but at least come try!”

The North Lakes Academy team has been practicing vigorously for their upcoming game. Their toughest games of the season will be against West Lutheran and Spectrum. If you want to watch these games, you can find the schedule here.

Life of a Multi-Sport Athlete

By Kaden Hine

Tanner Rosenthal is an eleventh grade student at North Lakes Academy. He is also a part-time PSEO student, takes part in AP classes, and plays multiple sports. Today, I interviewed him to get an inside scoop on what the life of a multi-sport athlete is like, both in sports and out.

Kaden: First question: Who has supported you the most while playing sports?

Tanner: My parents

Kaden: Great. Next question: What are the sports that you play?

Tanner: I run cross country, I play baseball, and I run track.

Kaden: Do you have a favorite (sport)?

Tanner: Nah, they’re even.

Kaden: They are all even? Every single sport?

Tanner: Uh, Baseball and cross country are tied.

Kaden: Ok. Next question: What was your favorite moment while playing sports?

Tanner: Probably hitting a home run at 11-U traveling.

Kaden: Was it a close game?

Tanner: No

Kaden: No? Were you up or down?

Tanner: We were down. It was for Andover and we lost to Forest Lake.

Kaden: Ok, Next question: How much sleep do you get per night during the sports seasons?

Tanner: Like 6 ½, 7 hours.

Kaden: That’s good. That’s pretty good for being a PSEO (student) and sports player.

Tanner: It’s not bad

Kaden: One of my last questions: Where is your favorite place to run?

Tanner: I like to run on the Hardwood Creek Trail, the North South Trail in Forest Lake.

Kaden: Do you like it  hot or cold (when you run)?

Tanner: Definitely cold. Like a lot better than hot.

Kaden: That’s it.

Tanner: Thanks for having me!

Kaden: Of course! Thanks for letting me interview you.

Husky of the Month Comes to NLA

By Claire Erickson

Husky of the Month is a brand new thing to NLA, so not everything is known about it. Chris Stewart, a 7-12 building co-lead, started this program because he believed that there was a lack of recognition for student leaders at NLA, and he wanted to change that. 

Voting is done by all NLA staff. A student’s IQ, EQ, and contribution to the learning environment are the main items looked at when voting on the winners, Stewart said. Winners are announced the first week of the following month at school and in the weekly NLA newsletter. The chosen student from each grade, K-12, gets a certificate, a social media shout-out, and a $10 prize. 

Stewart has wanted to do this for a while. 

“It is something that I think was missing from our culture for some time,” he said, “It didn’t really take off until I was able to find a sponsor for the prize.” 

Amanda Jensen, an NLA parent and local realtor, sponsored the cash prize.

Voting is relatively simple.

“Staff are all invited to vote on the grade levels they interact with regularly,” Stewart said, “Voters are asked to nominate one student who demonstrated key characteristics of strong academic performance (IQ), emotional intelligence (EQ), and an overall contribution to our learning environment over the past month.”

To close everything he said, “I want students to hear that this is not a popularity contest, above all else…Teachers notice the big and small things that you do in the classroom, the hallways, on the playing field, and everywhere else…Leadership comes in a lot of forms and every single student is capable whether or not they get a monthly certificate,” Stewart concluded.

Former NLA Teachers Finding Their Way

By Katy Kempf

Due to budget cuts and teachers moving up to NLA’s high school building, two teachers, Mrs. Schlag and Ms. Weaving, were let go last semester. Here is how their lives have been like since then.

Mrs. Schlag is doing well, having found a temporary job as a substitute teacher until a full time Spanish teacher position opens up. She misses her old coworkers and students.

 “It was nice to be part of an awesome community,” she said. So far, none of her interests have changed since being let go. She has been working on a book, and is nearing the halfway point of her first draft. She and her family are planning to go on a cruise sometime in 2026, and it’ll be her first ever cruise.

Ms. Weaving is also doing well, jumping between different substitute teacher positions. She misses her former students here.

 “Every student is so unique, funny, and kind that you left such a lasting impression on me,” she said. 

She also misses her colleagues, though she keeps in touch with a lot of them. Her interests haven’t changed, though she stopped a lot of them when everything was going down. She has found a new interest in going on long walks with her dog, Izzy. An interesting thing that’s happened to her is that she went to a music conference in February and was surprised at how many connections she had made with other educators and music store workers.

Girls’ Basketball Season Wrap Up

By Asher Beimert and Micah Schock

Forest Lake, Minn. – The NLA girls basketball team recently played its last game of the year against Liberty Classical Academy, on February 20th, losing with a final score of 33 – 65. The loss was tough, but the team’s growth over the season is a real success story. 

“The season was definitely challenging for the girls because we have a lot of beginner players,” said Aleena Riviere (10), one of the captains.  

Brenna Theisen (11), the team’s other captain, emphasized hard work. 

“[The season was] good; it was a lot of positivity and working through the tough stuff.” 

Coach Jeff Beimert considers the season a success for a young team. 

“We knew going into this season we were going to be a very young and inexperienced team at the Varsity level.  If you look at the season as a whole, the team showed tremendous growth, and I am looking forward to that continued growth into next season,” Beimert said.

As far as growth and improvement, it came in many different aspects of the game.

 “I think it is really hard to pick just one player who improved the most.  So many girls on the team showed a lot of growth,” he said. 

One season highlight was the immense community support. 

“This was by far the most supportive [the community] has been for a girls team in my time here,” Beimert said.  

Another highlight was the first win of the season. 

“We had played our opponent for that game earlier in the season and lost by 22 points.  To come back and win by 18 points was a testament to the work ethic and positive attitude of this team,” Beimert said. Theisen also agreed that this win was a major highlight.

While the season had its challenges, it was, overall, a success.

“It took time and it was not always perfect due to our experience and youth, but we knew this team was going to have to play good team basketball for us to be successful,” Riviere said.

Building Strength with Weight Training Club

By Zander Rothstein

Forest Lake, Minn. – North Lakes Academy students are growing stronger thanks to the Weight Training Club. The club is for students who want to get in shape, build muscle, or just lift weights with friends. 

Brandon Rothenhoefer, also known as Mr. R to students, is the staff advisor for the club, and he has a positive outlook for its future:

“I see this club lasting the rest of the year, going into summer, and as well starting next year,” he siad.

Rothenhoefer joined the club when Mitch Houle, NLA teacher and basketball coach, was managing it. 

“He started [coaching] basketball and didn’t want to do both, so he told me I could lead the club myself,” he said. “I’ve wanted to do weight lifting for a while before that point so it was perfect for me.”

If you would like to join the Weight Lifting Club, it is open to all and meets every Monday through Wednesday after school from 2:30 to 3:30 PM.

NLA Aims to Eliminate Cafeteria Waste from Trays, Utensils

By Gavin Maki-Jones

Each year, North Lakes Academy spends thousands of dollars on styrofoam trays and plastic utensils. The school is now applying for a grant through Washington County to eliminate all of that waste by installing dishwashers.  

The waste has been an environmental and financial problem for a long time.  

“We use approximately 24,780 trays at the Upper School per year and 30,975 at K-6,” said Chelsie Thielen, NLA’s environmental education coordinator. 

“Having each person use one tray, a fork, and/or spoon each time they eat lunch adds up quickly: the school spends around $7750 each year on single-use trays and utensils”, Thielen said. 

There’s also the cost of garbage collection.  

“We pay per garbage pickup,” Thielen said. “If we’re throwing away less, we have fewer pickups, so we pay less.” 

There is also the environmental component – putting so much styrofoam and plastic in the trash is not good for the environment, and NLA has an obligation to its authorizer, Osprey Wilds, to reduce waste.

“Osprey WIlds decides whether we get to continue to be a school, and it doesn’t like how much trash we are currently generating.  We need to be better about how we use our resources,” Thielen said.

While there are options like compostable trays, the best solution would be installing a dishwasher. NLA is working with a non-profit called Biz Recycling to write a grant for dishwashers, as well as reusable trays and cutlery, and the cost of installation.  If this goes through, NLA will receive somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000.  

Dishwashers would mean some changes for staff and students.

 “It will give me more work to do,” said Patty Jelinek, the 7-12 lunch coordinator. “To start, I will need to order cleaning supplies for the new dishwasher.” Jelinek will also need to attend to the kitchen more due to having to wash, dry, and store the dishes.

Student opinions are mixed. The majority are in favor of the reusable ones. Some say that the reusable trays are less sanitary; others say they are easier to eat off of. In the end, the majority said that the trays are better for the environment and the students.

 The next step is to improve the district’s recycling program.

“Garbage is taxed heavier than recycling or composting in our county, so we’d likely save a few thousand more by implementing better recycling programs to make sure that all recyclable material makes it into recycling and not the trash,” Thielen said.  “That’s our next project.”

Here Comes the K-3 Musical!

By Lily Lachmiller

North Lakes Academy elementary students will perform their first-ever musical this spring. The play is Ba da Bing! It’s Spring! by Teresa Jennings and features grades K-3. It is directed by Abigail Conzett, the school’s music teacher.

“[It] tells the story of children (played by our third graders) who are tired of waiting for the flowers (played by our kindergarten and 1st graders) to pop up after the long winter. The dandelions (played by our second graders) are disliked for being weeds, but end up discovering how to get the flowers to bloom and save spring.”

While this will be the first musical NLA Elementary has ever done, it is not the first time that Conzett will be directing it. She produced the musical at the first school she worked at, and she is looking forward to seeing new students on the stage.

So far the rehearsals are going great. The kids have already learned three out of the five songs they need to know. The next step is to assign speaking parts to interested students.

“I love this musical, and I think it is a great introduction into musical theater for young singers. It is fun, silly, and, so far, they have all been rock stars in learning everything. I look forward to seeing how they progress and the great show they’ll deliver,” Conzett said.

Conzett is no stranger to the world of musicals.

“When I was in high school I participated in every spring musical our drama department put on and absolutely loved it,” she said.

If you would like to come support NLA Elementary, come to see Ba da Bing! It’s Spring on May 9th in the elementary gym. Time is currently to be determined; The Husky Press will update this information as soon as it is available.

7-8 Teachers Acclimating Well After Move to Upper School

By Dustin Jensen

In January, North Lakes Academy went through a major change: it moved grades 7 and 8 to the Upper School building as part of a greater effort to bring the NLA community closer together. This was a major adjustment for students, but it was also a major adjustment for the 7-8 teachers – Forrest Florczak, Marcia Graetz, Dan Mendenhall, Lynda Nelson-Williams, Jeff Rapp, and Emily Thompson – had to pack up their classrooms and move across 35 as well.

According to most teachers, the transition went well.

“It went very smoothly,” said Thompson, who also added high school courses to her schedule in addition to the move; she now teaches 7-12 Spanish.

“It was mostly seamless,” Mendenhall said.

Multiple teachers went on to show appreciation for parents, staff, and others who helped.

“Staff and students have been supportive and welcoming,” Graetz said. “It was so helpful to have everyone help with the move too.”

All of the teachers felt that the best part about being at the Upper School was seeing former students.

“It’s good to reconnect with former students and interact with students I didn’t have in 7th and 8th grade,” Mendenhall said.

Graetz appreciates the Upper School culture.

“The culture is very inclusive and the students work very hard and are determined to be amazing adults,” she said.

When asking what the hardest part of the transition has been, most teachers agreed that “Creating a new routine” as Mr Florsak put it, has been one of the biggest struggles. 

As for their students, all of the teachers say that the middle school students are doing amazingly.

“[They] are thriving!” Graetz said.

There were understandably some parental concerns about bringing younger students over to what was, at the time, a high school-only environment. When asked what possible closure they could give to the parents who had concerns about the transition, Mendenhall comments, “I would encourage them to talk with their student(s) to get their perspective.  I haven’t heard anything but positive comments from the students.”

This is comforting, especially matched with Thompson’s response:

“I truly believe this was the best move.”

As with every big change, there is room for improvement. Most teachers agreed fine-tuning the schedule would be the best (and this is in the works for the 2024-25 school year). Graetz added that the school should focus on building career-focused opportunities for students

“[We should be] building community and business relationships and job training connections for students so they can better plan for becoming amazing working adults.”

Finally when asked what they are looking forward to for this school, all of the teachers commented on being excited to see the growth of the school and culture.

“I believe that moving to the elementary and secondary building model was a good move for our school. If we look around, we see that this is the most common model for charter schools. Now that we are settling in, I can see why. The Upper School students bring excitement and maturity, and the Middle School students get a glimpse of their future here at NLA. I can’t wait to see how this continues to impact us all!” Thompson said.

NLA Wraps Up 2024 One Act Play Season

By Kaden Hine and Marquise Poncelet

Forest Lake, Minn. – The One Act Play cast and crew just wrapped up its second season in January. The group meets after school from September to January to put together a 35 minute production that is used in an MSHSL competition at the end of January. This year’s play was The Greek Mythology Olympiaganza and featured an assortment of Greek myths, like Cronos, Pandora, Zeus, and the Trojan War.

“I think the concept of the One Act Play competition is super interesting because people who are into theater and art don’t get to compete like people in sports do, even if they want to,“ said Amber Huff (9) who played Pandora and the narrator in the production. “The One Act Play allows actors a chance at entering in a competition where they can actually have a chance at winning.”

The One Act Play helps people grow in many different skills, like acting and how to work background equipment.

“I personally did the sound for The Greek Mythology Olympiaganza this year and it was a lot of fun,” said Izaac Miller (11). “I basically add the comedic sound effects and think up new ideas for sounds we could use.”

The NLA One Act Play cast values the performance they put on, but they care about the cast having fun while doing so. One Act Play member Eztli Tallman (11), who played Orpheus, has this to say to people who might want to join: “It’s so much fun. You don’t have to be good at acting to be in it, you’ll get a role anyway, or you can be a part of the crew. It’s a fun thing we do, and we care less about the competition and more about the fun we have while practicing.”

The Upper School students got to experience the play firsthand, getting time off from school during the day to watch the performance. There was laughter, sadness, and applause from the audience, showing that the performance was very well made and fun at the same time.

Due to the success of the One Act Play over the last few years, NLA has also added a spring play to its growing list of extracurriculars. This year’s production is Game of Tiaras by Don Zolidis. Performances will be Friday, May 10th at 7:00 PM and Saturday, May 11th, at 2 and 7 PM in the K-6 gymnasium. Tickets are $5 at the door.