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Austin HS graduation goes to one ceremony

In the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the title character laments to viewers this very simple advice: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

That’s certainly the case in the revelation last week that Gov. Tim Walz was rolling back restrictions on attendance to big events giving Austin Public Schools a whiplash opportunity to change some big plans, namely for graduation.

Principal Andrea Malo, during Monday night’s School Board meeting, reported to the board that Austin was now going through with a full graduation at 7 p,.m. on June 4, in Knowlton Auditorium.

“We’re going to be able to have all of our students attend the ceremony,” Malo said happily, adding she was as happy as the students. “I’m equally as excited about this.”

Last week Malo reported that graduation would be split into two sessions — an afternoon session and night session on June 4. However, later in the week Walz made the announcement that nearly all restrictions would be dropped by Memorial Day, though school restrictions will be in place up until the last official day of school.

“Schools must continue to follow the state’s safe learning place,” Superintendent David Krenz said. “We must follow those guidelines through the last teacher-student contact day and June 2 is our last day.”

“As we all know, four comes after two,” Krenz added with a smile.

Each student will get four tickets for family.

The restrictions will still play into other events this spring including Austin High School prom this weekend, but for this one event, it’s like a breath of fresh air for staff and students alike.

And it’s a sign that the school has done things right throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It still sends a message we value you as parents, we value you as a community and most importantly we value the health of the students,” Krenz said.

Budget betterment

APS Executive Director of Finance and Operations Lori Volz reported to the board of an amendment to the unassigned general  budget (operations) to reflect a better picture in deficit spending.

The district is now looking at around $660,000 in deficit spending as opposed to $1 million in deficit spending from earlier in the year.

The new spending includes grant money that has come into the district.

“There are still some variables that could come into play that could slightly improve (the budget),” Volz said. “This is giving us a clear picture coming through this year, sets the stage and planning for next year’s budget.”

Honors

• Krenz was honored Monday after John Alberts, executive director of Educational Services, announced that Krenz was the recipient of the Minnesota School Board Association’s Polaris Leadership Award.

“(David Krenz) was selected as this year’s Polaris Leadership Award recipient and well deserved at that,” Alberts said.

However, Krenz in turn indicated that the award is a reflection of staff and teamwork.

“It’s all about the team, all about the community support and here in Austin — bar none — this community supports what we do each and every day,” Krenz said. “That is so critical to the success of any public school.”

• The board also recognized school representative Sarahi Deunes Santellanes for her time with the board.

“Austin has a proud tradition of inviting high school students to be part of our process,” Board Chair Kathy Green said. “Sarahi, you’ve been with us two years and what you have added to your plate is very impressive. You’ve been a strong leader in the high school, but also in the community.”

The board had seven applicants this year and have chose sophomore Katherine Diaz to join the board next year.