STRIDE Academy

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STRIDE (Students and Teachers Reaching Individual Dreams through Education) Academy began over a decade ago as a thought written on a napkin in the basement of Amy Dvorak (former board member). Countless planning meetings took place with Dale and Dory Beutel (founders and former director) Liz Bergan (former board member) and Rassier’s. Eventually a building was secured and recruitment started.

When I was hired, in the summer of 2005, STRIDE was located in an office in Waite Park. Staff was hired and asked to start right away with registering students and testing them in reading and math there. We patiently waited for our building to be completed while training as a team on the campus of SCSU. We started the 2005-2006 school year with students in grades K-5. We originally planned to house only

K-4, but had many parents requesting fifth grade. So at the very last minute the decision to add fifth grade was made. We were full to capacity and even had waiting lists for most grades.

 STRIDE Academy Charter School was started by the Beutel’s, and a few others an educational option for our community. I believe STRIDE was, and still is, the best school option around. At STRIDE we level in math and reading, and we cap our enrollment so as not to overpopulate the classrooms. We require a dress code, and participate in community service learning projects by grade level. We learn and live The 7 Habits, require families to volunteer 30 hours a year, and we operate on a year round schedule. For these reasons and many more STRIDE Academy is THE best option for children in Central Minnesota.

At STRIDE our mission is to provide educational experiences for all children, promoting a strong foundation in all core academic areas. Using researched based curriculum, students will excel academically through real-life educational experiences in a challenging, caring, and student-centered environment. By meeting each student’s unique educational, emotional and social needs, students will be empowered to become responsible life-long learners and leaders.

In the last decade I’ve been able to see STRIDE grow from a K-5 school to K-8. We now have 95 staff members, 700 students, and we recently became one campus again after having an elementary and middle school for the last few years. It feels good to be back together in one place. We have also been chosen as an official Leader in Me School, which allows for the integration of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People into our daily routine. We are the only Leader In Me school in Central Minnesota. This is truly an honor and one we plan to uphold proudly.

Since STRIDE Academy is its own district our school board ultimately makes the decisions, along with our sponsor (Friends of Education). We at STRIDE are held to the same standards as the public schools so parents can feel good about choosing STRIDE over the neighboring community schools.

I am proud to be a teacher at STRIDE Academy, proud my own children do or

gone to STRIDE and extremely proud to have helped shape some of the best individuals while teaching here. We have a motto we like to say and that is “Live, Love, Learn, Leave a Legacy”. STRIDE has left a lasting legacy on students here in Central Minnesota.

Angela Schmitz,

Teacher and Parent

Assumption Chapel, Cold Springs, Minnesota.

Copyright © Bonnie Underwood. 
Not to be used for any reason without my written permission.

Grasshopper Chapel

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This chapel in Cold Spring, Minnesota, stands testimony to a miracle that hap-pened in 1877. Crop failures due to Rocky Mountain Locust infestations occurred in 1873, 1874, 1875, and 1876.

Each year the hoppers ate everything in sight, laid their eggs, and flew away to torment another place. When the eggs hatched, the hatchlings could not fly for 5-7 weeks. During these weeks, they marched across the Midwest, searching for food. When mature, they laid their eggs and flew away. The cycle repeated.

The grasshoppers settled like a huge teardrop across Central North America, from the prairies of Canada down to Dallas, TX. Flour mills closed, farmers starved and governments were desperate. The economy crumbled. Many folks packed up and left.

A Catholic priest in Cold Spring gathered his strug-gling flock. He said that if they would build a chapel and hold an extra weekly service for 15 years, God would deliver them from the locusts. It seemed impossible–but they obeyed.

At the same time, Governor Pillsbury called for a day of prayer and fasting to ask God for deliverance from the Rocky Mountain Locusts.

In 1877 the grasshoppers flew away without laying their eggs. Some credit divine intervention. Others think a late April snowstorm disrupted their cycle. For whatever reason, the grasshoppers left and have been extinct ever since. The Grasshopper Chapel in Cold Spring remains.

It’s a beautiful spot. You’d enjoy a road trip to see it for yourself.

The Paper Collector

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Art gallery and custom framing

Kate Evens is the familiar face of The Paper Collector, located in downtown St. Cloud. The shop’s primary focus is the art gallery and custom framing services. However, as the name suggests,

the business also sells antique paper items.

The mix of The Paper Collector’s inventory is impressive, and it might give customers insight into the personalities of the proprietors who operate the gallery/antique store. Everywhere one looks, in every display or cozy nook, there are treasures

from years gone by to today’s contemporary interests.

Artwork from local and regional artists
Prints from major publishers, abstract to traditional renderings
Greeting cards and pottery from the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict (Kate is a “Benny.”)
Antique paper: advertisements, postcards, plat maps, trade cards, books, sheet music, and magazines
Vintage photography

Almost all of the art the shop features is from local artists, says Kate. Customers also appreciate the quality of the custom framing. Today, Kate’s daughter, Cath, handles the framing as Kate offers her expert consultation.

“Choosing the right style of matting and frames can enhance the art,” says Cath. “However, the wrong combination of mat and frame can take the focus away from the art, putting too much importance on the framing.”

The Paper Collector’s selection of frames features several frame companies, each with its distinctive look. Frame styles range from contemporary colored lacquer or metal frames to gilded antique frames. Specialty frames might display embossed dragons, or be made of birch bark, or possibly, shell. Customers find the sheer number of styles from which to choose––numbering over 2,000––is truly impressive.

“Everyday items can be framed, not just art,” says Cath. Sports jerseys, trip souvenirs, and photo collages are the most common items she’s framed. However, occasionally, Kate and Cath are asked to frame an unusual piece. These have included a violin, military medals, wedding gowns, shark teeth, and a jeweled necklace.

The Paper Collector routinely participates in St. Cloud’s Downtown Art Crawls, and both Kate and Cath welcome the crowds that come.

“People like to come to look at everything,” says Kate. “Downtown is really the place to browse and to shop. People get a better feel of ‘customer service’ when store owners know your name, are personable, and build relationships… We have the greatest customers!”

Many of their customers have been with them since the shop’s opening. In 1984, Kate established The Paper Collector on Fifth Avenue, to expand her longtime interest in art and antiques. She moved the store a year-and-a-half later to its present location, just across from the Stearns County Court House.

Stop in and say, “Hello” during the Art Crawl, when you’ve got a framing project, or simply to view the treasures of this unique shop––The Paper Collector.

Why the Y? The Advantages of Visiting the St. Cloud YMCA

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Original Image by Doug McCaughan via Flickr

There is nothing like a local YMCA to bring a community together, and the St. Cloud Area YMCA is no exception. In fact, as our community grows bigger, so does our Y.

The new YMCA facility is under construction just across the street from its current location at 1530 Northway Drive in St. Cloud. A new, larger community center with an indoor aquatics center will bring kids, families, and community members together to celebrate youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility!

The Y is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring access to quality facilities and programs, regardless of a family or child’s ability to pay. A cornerstone of the Y’s success is the fact that they aim to enrich all members of the St. Cloud community regardless of gender, age, race, religion and economic status.

The Y is all about families and our community. Its programs and activities serve all ages with the mission to build strong kids, healthy families and an energetic community. Annually, the Y has provided more than $200,000 in financial assistance with the help of our generous community!

Here are just a few ways you can get strong with the YMCA:

Family Fitness: Exercising as a family sets the foundation for lifelong health. Taking walks together, playing a game of basketball, even hitting the pool for water fun is a great way to get fit as a family!
Youth Sports: The YMCA prides itself in offering youth sports programs that help develop the skills needed to go on to become a competitive athlete! We offer flag football, soccer, volleyball, basketball and more. Parents are encouraged to be involved as volunteer coaches working side by side with their kids.
Group Exercise Classes & Rainbow Room: While mom and dad get fit in one of our many group exercise classes, kids can stay active playing in our two-story jungle gym! Kids 10 years and older are welcome to join their parents in the group exercise classes.
Swim Team: Perfect your technique, get in a great workout, and build endurance. The Gator Swim Team is for ages 6-18 and our Masters Swim team is for our adult swimmers.
Volunteering: The YMCA offers many volunteer opportunities for families and individuals. From our fitness events to fundraising to our great events, you can make a difference in our growing community!

For more information on the St. Cloud Area YMCA, check out our website at or stop by for a tour. Welcome to the community!