Category Archives: Local News

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.

Life Can’t Possibly Top Prom

Nope. It really doesn’t get much better than this.

After attending this year’s senior prom, a local girl reported that it was in fact “the best night of [her] life.” Although she did have some doubts that a high school dance could be the highlight of her entire life, those doubts quickly faded.  From coordinating her dress with her date’s bow tie to riding down Highway 61 in that rented limo, prom proved to be “the most amazing and rewarding experience [she would] ever experience in [her] life.”

“We took pictures by that oversized chair at Big Apple Bagels, which was really meaningful for me, because I practically grew up on that chair,” she said, wistfully looking at the eight acrylic nails that remained of her prom manicure.

“The dancing was rad, and then we all sat around drinking that punch with those little berries in it, just soaking up each other’s awesomeness. It’s true what they say, high school really is the best years of your life!”

In short, it could be summed up in three capitalized words separated by periods: BEST. NIGHT. EVER.

Billboard Concerning Fate Stirs Response

A billboard was recently erected across from the North Lakes Academy high school. Normally, this isn’t news. But this particular billboard has raised many unanswered questions. It features, on the top, a question stating “If you die tonight:” and beneath it are two options. “Heaven,” shown in a beautiful blue light, or “Hell,” shown red with the flames of eternal damnation. This billboard refuses to mince words and has stirred many responses among the student body, who can indeed see it from inside the classroom. In classrooms on the other side, students may see another billboard concerning abortion which has been there for as long as most can remember. Due to its extended presence, many shrug it off in time. The same can be assumed if the religious billboard stays.
“That’s sort of weird placement, don’t you think? How to make kids sit and question their fate while they’re learning in class,” says Kari Achenbach, a mother.
Some students have attempted to call the phone number featured at the bottom and have discovered it is by a local religious group. One student retells her phone experience.
“I was automatically redirected to some sort of pastor. He asked what he could do for me today and I asked ‘How can I get into Heaven?’ so he’s like ‘Well, if you have been reborn and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior’ and he went on for like a minute and I could not keep up with what he was saying so I finally said ‘I’m a Leviathan Satanist,’ and hung up.”
While the response has ranged from outrage to friendly acceptance to mocking humor and everything in-between, the billboard looks to be here to stay through thick and thin as it has been up for around two-and-a-half weeks. Perhaps the students in high school currently will be able to graduate with the lovingly dubbed ‘Hell billboard’ still standing strong across from the public school. Many question its presence but as an individual, I hope it remains so I may look upon it and point it out to friends because did they not consider placement at all? 

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

teacher-appreciation-weekSince this week is Teacher Appreciation Week, I thought I’d find out just what NLA students appreciate about our teachers:

Kassie Helke (10) “A lot of them want you figure things out on your own. I appreciate that. So thank you for not force-feeding me!”

Cody Warren (11)  – “I like how the teachers (generally speaking) are very relaxed. They provide you with everything you need to be successful, but don’t force education down your throat. If you want to blow a class off they let you, it’s your choice and they don’t force you. Special shout out to Mr. Saunders, Mr. Nelson, and Mrs. Thielen, for giving education a genuine appeal.”

Sammie Ostlund (10) – “They’re really open to helping you. And they know everyone on a personal level.”

Branden Flasch (11) – “The teachers here teach you to set your standards high and not let yourself fall short, just by living by example.”

Miss Abigale Millerbernd (11) – “I really like how involved the teachers get with the students. It’s not even intentionally, the students just allow them into their lives.”

Science teacher orders dead stuff, students excited

A few days ago I was walking down to the science lab, pondering Mrs. Thielen’s  fervent desire for this article. (“Did you know you can get a giant squid for $50!?”) I found Mr. Saunders going over some psychology with a student, just one of the many science courses he teaches. When I told him why I was there he laughed maniacally, strode across the room, and opened the fridge.

Inside was a jar of Dijon horseradish mustard, an avocado turkey club, 1% milk, and right beside the Minute Maid juice, a dead pig. “I was kind of sick of people putting their lunches in my fridge, so I thought a dead pig might keep ’em out,” he said.

Mr. Saunders with his fetal pig, Bob.

Mr. Saunders with his fetal pig, Bob.

Yep, for Mr. Saunders, NLA zoology teacher, it’s that time of year again. Time to open the catalog of deceased animals and order a few dead pigs, some unplucked pigeons, and maybe a shark or two. “I consult the Carolina Biological Supply,  my catalog of dead animals.”

All-in-all he enjoys teaching zoology, although he does have to replace the tools sporadically. “Yeah I have to replace the scalpels every now and then. They tend to break when you’re trying to pry open shark cartilage or pig skulls.”

Abbey  Millerbernd (11) is one student who is excited for the class, which runs every other year. “When we dissected frogs and cow eyes in elementary school it was interesting and I’ve always wanted to do more with dissecting. I like looking at the insides of animals. Sorry to all the vegetarians out there!”

Mr. Saunders agreed. “When you get into it, and kind of get past the stigma of what you’re doing, it’s really interesting. Like when you get to see how the lungs expand and the tendons work, it’s cool.”

Editor’s note: You can totally get a squid for under $50. 

St. Paul Horse Expo – something for everyone

The Horse Expo is the largest equine trade show and breed exhibition in Minnesota. It was held April 26, 27, 28 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul, Minnesota. The expo featured different presenters like Ken Mcnabb,a horse trainer, and Dale Myler, a bit expert. They have presenters who specialize in dressage training, roping, and equine message therapy. The event is very diverse within the equine field.

For those wanting a little more entertainment, the expo had several features.  Ma’ceo, a mix of trick riding and acrobatics, was brand new this year. It was held in a tent a little ways away from the Coliseum. Ma’ceo is made and owned by an Italian family. It has been passed down from generation to generation. They have taken many different cultural riding styles and then given them their own, unique twist. All of the performances are done with lively gypsy music. Also present was the Minnesota Mounted Shooter Association was there as well. Mounted shooting involves riding a horse and shooting at differently positioned targets.

The Parade of Breeds was held each day at noon in the Coliseum.  This display of different horse breeds showed Akhal-Teke, Buckskins, Fell ponys, Hungarians, Gypsys, Nokotas, and Norwegian Fjords, to name a few. Each horse was by an individual. Some brought in more then one breed for the parade.

Habemus Papem

Habemus Papem, (We have a Pope) was the announcement given in Latin on March 13th, at the election of Pope Francis, the first Latin American, Jesuit, and non-European pope in more than a millennium.

In these early weeks, Pope Francis has proven to be unique, shunning papal perks and embracing humility. Some of these actions include refusing to wear the luxurious papal garments or ride in the bulletproof Pope-mobile, preferring to make face-to-face public appearances.

The latest news story has been about the not-so-traditional traditional foot-washing. Every Easter the sitting pontiff washes the feet of 12 men, but this year, Pope Francis chose to go to the Casa del Marmo juvenile delinquent center, washing and kissing the fleet of twelve inmates, including Muslims and women.


Pope Francis washes the feet of juvenile delinquents.

While some disapproved of this deviance from tradition, most applauded the act of humility and kindness. According to a recent poll, 76% of Catholics say Pope Francis makes them feel more optimistic regarding the future of the Catholic Church.

History teacher Mr. Stewart offered a more historical perspective.

“I think the Church has made a selection reflective of Catholics across the world. Catholicism is growing in third world countries, so choosing a Pope from South America is a practical choice…I think the fact that he’s a Jesuit is cool, too.”

Jesuit (The Society of Jesus) theology focuses on outreach to the poor and the improvement of society through improvement of the individual. In the words of Ghandi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Only time will tell what changes will come from this unique pope at the head of an institution many believe is in need of leadership and reform.

Former British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher Passes Away

UnknownFormer Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died on Monday, at the age of 87 of a stroke. At the time of her death, she was staying at the Ritz Hotel in London.

Thatcher was the first and only woman to ever be elected Prime Minister. She was an incredibly influential woman, and was given the nickname “The Iron Lady” because she stood firmly in what she believed, and wasn’t shaken.

When students at North Lakes Academy were asked if they knew who Thatcher was, only 14% actually knew more than just her name. Several of the 50 students interviewed said that they thought she was an actress of some kind.

On the flip side of the survey, students were asked if they knew who Adolf Hitler was, and shockingly 100% of the 50 students asked knew much more than his name, but several of his life accomplishments. They knew him as the German leader during WWII, and that he was responsible for the Holocaust.

It is really sad that if you want to be remembered by the public in today’s society you have to do something terrible or gruesome. It seems less likely to be remembered if you are one of the good guys, no matter how much good you do.

Britain mourns the death of the Iron Lady, as does much of the world. Rest in peace, Margaret Thatcher.

Winter Break Part II?

It’s already April and there’s still snow on the ground! As everyone knows, the snow is getting a little old. On the bright side, the weather is finally starting to heat up.

What does this mean? For starters, the baseball and softball kids are becoming extremely anxious to get out of that tiny, smelly gym. On the downside, of all this snow melting so late in the season leads to messy fields and mud everywhere. Unfortunately, since the fields will be so messy, games may be postponed until later dates. The first game of the season is set for April 8th.

This time last year the average temperature was 68 degrees and we were all wearing shorts! This has by far been the toughest year for Minnesota, regarding the spring season.

NLA Alum Ryan Johnson deploys to Afghanistan


Over the years at North Lakes Academy,many alumni have made their marks upon NLA history. One 2011 graduate in particular, Ryan Johnson, has made a huge impact in the lives of many in the NLA community as a student, friend, and coach. Now, he is beginning another important role: soldier. On Wednesday, March 6, Johnson deployed to Fort Bliss, Texas, with the Cambridge-based Minnesota National Guard 850th Horizontal Engineer Company (HEC).  There, he will train for and then be deployed on a one-year mission to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Fond Memories

Johnson’s fondest NLA memories are those of his basketball career. One such moment was his first sectionals game. He met a lot of great people in the NLA community, especially on the varsity basketball team.

“Johnson was one of the biggest assets the North Lakes Academy basketball team has had,” said head coach Judd Yaeger.

After graduation, Johnson returned as an assistant coach. He has made a huge impact. Most of the upperclassmen have the utmost respect for Johnson, but also consider him a close friend. Brandon Flom (12) has a strong bond with Johnson; before and after daily practices, Flom and Johnson would chat and catch up.

Johnson’s influence on Flom and the rest of the team impacted the group as a whole, particularly freshman players Kyle Spillman and Noah Nei. As freshmen, it’s difficult to transition into the high school setting, especially in sports and athletics. Ryan really brought the two players into the group and engaged them with the program. He encouraged them every step of the way, and never let them get discouraged. It was kind acts of this sort that united the team.

A New Role

As a member of the 850th HEC, Johnson will be involved in construction missions.  After spending March and April training for deployment, his company will provide maintenance and do road construction, emplace culverts, haul materials, and perform limited clearing operations in Afghanistan, according to the unit overview published by the Minnesota National Guard. Additionally, the HEC will provide construction training to the Afghan National Army.

Thoughts and prayers are with Johnson and his family for a safe journey and a happy homecoming in Winter 2014.