Celebrating excellence


Music pumped into the Maple Lake High School gym. Shammy the Shamrock high-fived elementary students as they flooded in. They stayed on their feet and participated in Wellness Wednesday exercises, along with many guests from the community.
The occasion? To celebrate Maple Lake Elementary School’s designation as a School of Excellence.
“Although 2013 has been an exceptional year for winning honors, being a School of Excellence is something I believe Maple Lake Elementary has sustained over a much longer time,” Principal Kris Harlan said. “ … I have come to realize that the foundation for excellence lies with the character of the people involved with our school. Excellence is not something that occurs merely by chance, but rather something that takes a conscious effort.”
Harlan credited her staff for making that conscious effort.
“They care about one another and care deeply for the students they work with,” Harlan said. “They celebrate the victories with students, both large and small. They embrace change and challenges with a team effort.”
She also spoke highly of the involvement of parents, guardians, volunteers and the community at large, referencing 100 percent attendance at conferences and large crowds at concerts, National Hot Lunch Day, Grandparents’ Day and Track and Field Day.
“Our school is located in a community that continually supports the schools,” Harlan said. “ … It takes a village to educate children today (and) our kids at MLE are so lucky to go to school in the village of Maple Lake.”
Speaking of those kids, each grade had the opportunity to share why they believe Maple Lake Elementary is a School of Excellence.
“At Maple Lake Elementary, we are like a family,” kindergarteners sang in a video. “We work hard and really try. We learn to count and read and write. A school of excellence are we. A place to grow for you and me.”
First graders shared the top 10 reasons MLE is a school of excellence. 
“We show our Irish Pride by being respectful, responsible and ready,” was No. 9 and No. 5 said, “Maple Lake families and Maple Lake Elementary are a team to help us learn.”
Of course, No. 1 was, “We love Maple Lake Elementary!”
Teacher Chad Hammerschmidt led second graders in an original song.
“Some things don’t fit, like a round peg in a square hole. Some things don’t matter, like if it’s country or rock ‘n roll. Some things you can’t answer like, ‘How much wood could a wood chuck, chuck?’ Ford or Chevy, which is the best pickup truck?
“When the stars align with the right people in the right place, with kindness in their heart and a warm smile on their face,” the song continued, “It’s more than just luck. It’s more than just happenstance. It’s more than just luck, the right school, right teachers, not a chance. It’s more than just luck.”
The bridge of the song nodded to Harlan’s earlier analogy.
More information appears in this week's Messenger.