The Christmas Spirits of NLA

At North Lakes Academy, we are made of many families and every family has it’s own holiday traditions.

Every year Madolyn Burgess (12) and her family go to her grandmothers for Christmas. They celebrate with a quality meal and good company. Like most families they pass around gifts, ripping through tissue paper and squealing with unexpected delight. But there is one quirk, every Christmas the cat gets pulled into the celebration. It is only fair that the cat gets to dress for the occasion as well.

Ever since Isabel Horn’s (12) little sister, Sadie, was born, the Horn Family started to travel to Oklahoma for the holidays. Horn loves staying home, but loves her grandparents just as much. The only problem is handling her overly excitable little sister. They open presents, enjoy eggnog, and try to find time away from family, out of love of course. Then the Horn Family returns home, welcomed by the frigid cold of Minnesota.

A nice stay at home Christmas can be found at the home of Ryan Teich (11) each and every year.  Teich’s family stays home with his older brothers, who come to visit them during that time. They play games, open presents, watch Charlie Brown, and rough house in the snow. Ryan plays 21 with his older brothers and of course snowball fights ensue during the occasions.

The family of Amanda White (11) enjoys a simple Christmas. It involves a day full of presents at home, then follows with a visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s to enjoy even more gifts. The TV is stuck on the fireplace channel. One Christmas stands out amongst the rest. “We took a family photo where it looked like I was floating and kicking my brother on the groin whilst he licked my ear and our cousins acted like they didn’t know who we were” White said. Of course every holiday is unique for students of NLA.

In the past, Adriana Perkins (12) has spent Christmas with her grandparents and her little sister. She enjoyed quiet mornings full of excitement and impatience. In the evening they enjoyed clam chowder together. Every Christmas had something special. One year, Perkins and her sister were going to give their grandmother a fragile glass snowflake, but when they set it down, it shattered. Horrified, they collected the pieces together and dashed downstairs to their grandfathers workshop, where they worked hard to put each piece back together. They glued it back to perfection and gave it to their grandmother. When Perkins was twelve, she opened her gift only to be filled with terror when her eyes landed upon a Cabbage Patch Kid. “Those things are creepy,” she said. The Perkins have a running gag in the family; their grandmothers hates skulls, so every year, they get her different kinds. For example, one year, they bought little glass skulls and decorated a little glass tree with them and gave that to her. Perkins remembers many other fun Christmases with her grandparents and little sister, treasuring those memories.

My family, the Leonards, has a lot of traditions that we hold dear. For example every year when I return home on Christmas Eve there are always a pair of new pajamas waiting for my brother and I. I am the last to leave the house and the first to come back, but there are always pajamas. We also always go to my aunt’s house, on my Papa’s side, and that’s where the official Leonard Christmas begins. Sometime in January the Hickman Family, my Mama’s side, celebrates. Every Christmas morning, my big brother, Calvin, and I run downstairs and get everything we need for breakfast, then we wait for our mother and father. Papa always comes down first and makes breakfast. Then, when Mama comes downstairs, finally, we eat. After breakfast we find out, one present at a time, whether our family actually remembered what we wanted. We then open our stockings and take out the fillers like chapstick, toothbrushes, chocolate and other various stocking stuffers. Every Christmas we watch Fred Clause and A Christmas Carol. We always have fun and enjoy each other’s company; we have a happy Christmas, and I hope you do too.


Written by Madelyn Leonard


Old Man Winter

Old man winter has come rolling in with frigid temperatures along with the complaints of the cold from students here at North Lakes Academy. For many of the inexperienced drivers of North Lakes Academy, skeltering along the treacherous, poorly plowed roads of Forest Lake has been hell on Earth. That is if hell froze over, because it has been a cold winter for Minnesotans.

Although some people find it detestable, others find the weather delightful. Student Brandon Rowe (11) favors the snow over summer vacation.

“I am an avid snowmobiler; I don’t mind the weather as long as I can fire up the ol’ snowmobile,” said Brandon Rowe (11).  “Without snow, I wouldn’t be where I would be today!”

As students strive to survive the unbearably blistering weather, they brave it as best as they can.

Mens’ Ensemble

At North Lakes Academy Upper School there has always been a Women’s Ensemble to help spread holiday cheer and add to the choir performances. This year, something new is being added to the mix: a Men’s Ensemble.

Leading the group is a double effort by Evan Klein(12) and Dan Johnson(12). Group members include Logan Haller(11), Dan Johnson(12), Evan Klein(12), Andrew Warren(10), and Josh LeClair(10).

When Haller was asked why make a men’s ensemble this late in the year, he responded with, “Well, why not, we’re guys that want to sing, so let us.”

The Men’s Ensemble practices on B days in the choir room at eleven o’clock. The song they’re working on right now is called “Pompeii” by Bastille, but they have many more songs they’d like to perform. They say that they won’t be completely prepared for February’s concert, but will be ready to perform for the Spring concert. They’re open to new members as long as you love to sing and are willing to give up some of your own time to be part of the ensemble. They’ve only just begun but the school thinks they’ll go a long way!

Christmas Musical… More Like Christmas Miracle for Fine Arts Students

On December 11th students from choir and band went to the Stepping Stone theatre to see a Christmas musical.  They had the additional privilege of having one of their fellow students in the cast. Makayla Bode (9) is playing the role of “Beth”, who is the featured daughter in the play, which happens to be one of the main roles.

Choir has not actually been on a field trip in the past couple of years. Many students were ecstatic that they finally got to go, and others wished they had stayed in choir for one more year.

“The one year I’m not in choir they go on a field trip,” said Maria Svenkeson (11).

Students who are taking band or choir this year seem to love their new teacher, Nicole Ottjes. The last concert she put together got Jackie Saunders, NLA’s executive director, to shed some tears.

“The performance was phenomenal, everyone did a great  job,” Saunders said.

As students began to arrive back to school after the musical it appeared that most had really enjoyed the performance. The Christmas musical was a nice break for choir and band students alike.

“I would go see it again,” said Naomi Scott (11).

The field trip was a hit, so hopefully North Lakes Academy will provide more field trips like this in the near future.


Written by Chelsie Rosa

The Pranksters

On November 11th, North Lakes Academy Upper School math teacher Josh Ogaard walked into his classroom to a horrendous surprise. Thanks to Naomi Scott (11) and a couple of other students, Ogaard’s world was turned upside down, literally. Almost all of Ogaard’s class items, ranging from desks to chairs, had been completely flipped upside down – including the writing on the whiteboard. The students also managed to flip every poster in his room.

“We flipped everything – including the Albert Einstein poster and it remains flipped today,” Scott said.

Due to weather conditions the previous day, students who drove or could be picked up were allowed to leave school early. Staff members who lived far away, or had the longest commute home, were also sent home. Ogaard, Ben Saunders, Marie Waterworth and many others left early. Isabel Thompson (10) and others from the group of pranksters explained why they picked Ogaard over every other teacher in the school.

“He can often relate to students, he’s got a great sense of humor, and knows how to take a joke” Thompson said.

Ogaard was initially perplexed.

“My initial reaction was ‘what the heck happened?’  I immediately stopped in my tracks and was actually speechless for about a minute after it hit me.  I was definitely a little upset with what had happened.  I had many things that I needed to do that morning, but instead I had to use the time to fix my classroom and was scrambling to get my materials ready for class,” Ogaard said.

NLA Upper School Dean Cam Stottler left any consequences up to Ogaard. Stottler doesn’t consider pranks bad if they don’t disrupt things like learning and they don’t harm anyone.

“I wasn’t sure what the point of it was – what disappointed me was that whomever pulled the prank didn’t rectify the situation before learning started the next day and we had to disrupt several classes to get students to come back and put the room back to normal,” Stottler said.

In the end, it was an interesting situation for students as well as teachers.


Written by Chelsie Rosa

Sports Update

Tuesday, December 2nd, both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams played home games in the Activity Center. This was the first game of the season for the girls, the entire team was more than excited to finally get to play an official game in the new gymnasium. Unfortunately, the girls lost to Lakeview Christian with a score of 47-12. The boys’ game was much closer, but they still suffered a loss with a score of 73-55.

Updated by Keeley Grey

The Zoo is Brought to NLA

Who ever heard of a school allowing the zoo in? Well here at North Lakes Academy, the culture is definitely more unique than most schools. “Wow, for a school to let in a zoo and allowing us to pet and hold these animals is just amazing!” Senior Kali Reitmeier explained.

The zoo was actually Megan Pills’ pets. She had brought them in for a demonstration the TLC course had planned. They had the chance to learn about the animals and how most are endangered species throughout the wild. Among these animals included Chris the tortoise, a shy guy who was exploring the gymnasium floor while constantly being picked up by students wishing to test their strength. A skunk who loved hugs and seemed more like a house pet in nature. A large female gator by the name of Roger. A cute monkey like animal by the name of Emily who climbed on top of students heads in search for bugs, or simply just willing to give them a head massage. An arctic fox, who appeared very timid when introduced to the class. Lastly a walibi who gave kisses to students who were brave enough to stick their fingers in the cages.

It was a highlight for most students as their days passed. Even the staff of NLA were excited to see the animals, several of the teachers were even able to pose with some of the exotic creatures. Overall it was an enjoyable day for students at NLA.


written by Angela Adams


Newly Mysterious NLA Mascots

Students and parents were surprised to see three men run out onto the court wearing blue full body suits during the opening girls’ and boys’ basketball game. The men in these suits are none other than Andrew Warren (10) and Zachary Germany (12). The point of these new Mascots is to encourage NLA’s teams and inspire more school spirit.

Yes, during the opening night there was three blue men on the floor. Social studies teacher Eric Nelson was only a temporary third member; Warren and Germany are currently looking for a permanent third member.

They have yet to come up with an official name, but have been dubbed as “the blue men” or “the blue man group” by students all over North Lakes Academy. They will be performing at most major events that involve the newly constructed Husky Den, such as the girls’ and boys’ senior night for basketball and the Frozen Five week. Although NLA no longer has its cheerleaders, it now has Mascots.


Written by Madelyn Leonard

Snow Day’s at NLA

North Lakes Academy almost had a snow day cancellation on the day of Minnesota’s first snowfall. Considering this, then what will the rest of the this year’s frigid Minnesota winter look like? “I just want to get out of here.” explained Mr. Good during the day of the first snowfall. If the majority of the NLA staff were concerned about keeping students in school that first day, what will student and staff expectations be in the middle of winter when it is much worse? How many school days will NLA undergo this school year?

More than half of the school left that first day of snowfall with rides home because of the blizzard, just as if school was dismissed early. “This may cause days to be added on, at the end of the year if this continues”, anticipates Karley Landwehr.

Last school year, the school had six snow days in which the school had to make up one of those days. “We will always act in the best interest and safety of the students and staff, but will always attempt to do that in a way that maximizes learning opportunities. NLA has had a practice of following the lead of ISD 831 (Forest Lake District) when it comes to snow days.  This is mainly due to the fact the Forest Lake provides the busing for students.  Knowing that, NLA must cancel when Forest Lake cancels.” Mr. Stottler, NLA’s school dean, explained to students.

It has always been thought that teachers for the most part disapprove of snow days, but in fact most enjoy the free day off. “There is a persistent myth that teachers don’t like snow days…if this is true about some, it definitely isn’t true about all of us! I like snow days as much as any student. Who doesn’t love a surprise day off? It does make for some more work for us, and if they become too frequent it can be a nuisance, but one every now and again is just fine with me. Again, ultimately as a teacher and a Board member, I care most about the safety of my colleagues and my students.” explained Christopher Stewart, NLA’s social studies teacher.

Knowing that the students safety is the main concern of the school board is reassuring. Students were given the opportunity by the school of NLA to leave school with parental permission, even though busses were not in transit. This gave students a way to get home safely before the worst of the blizzard hit.

Yes at times the cancellations may be a hinderance on the progress of the curriculum NLA provides, but its better to have a slight inconvenience than risked lives. Snow Days are a major necessity and are needed during snowstorms. Weather can’t always be predicted and nobody knows how the approaching weather conditions will go, but at least students enrolled at North Lakes Academy know they are safe.


Written by Monica Dorsher

NLA vs. PACT Varsity Basketball

The North Lakes Academy boys’ varsity basketball team played a home game against PACT charter school on November 24th. NLA has played PACT before, but has never won.

“They’re better than we are because they’re a double A school and we’re a single A, it’s a lot harder to beat a school with the size that they have,” said Noah Nei (11).

Single A and Double A refers to the size of the school. When asked if he thought the NLA boys’ team would win, Nei replied, “Optimistically yes. Realistically, I’d have to say no.”

Unfortunately, Nei’s prediction was accurate. The boys lost with a score of 77-26.


Written by Keeley Gray