Minnehaha Academy Blog

Rebekah Peterson

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First Day of Online Learning

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 31, 2020

The first day of online learning is in the books at Minnehaha Academy. Students from preschool to Upper School met with teachers and classmates to embark on the adventure of distance learning. 

Classes prayed together, sang together, and shared with each other.

In challenging times we are grateful for our strong community and our faith in God. We are praying for each of our students, families, faculty, and staff.  


Topics: Online Learning

A Letter from a Student

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 30, 2020

Untitled design (5)-1We are continually blessed by our students on a daily basis in big and small ways. The letter below was sent by an Upper School student last week and provided encouragement to us all. Especially in times like these, acts of kindness do not go unnoticed. May this be an encouragement to us all to show kindness and grace to those in our lives. It matters.

To the teachers, staff, and faculty of Minnehaha Academy,

I hope this email finds you well in this crazy time in history. I also hope that you and your families are all healthy. For those who I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, my name is Rebecca from the junior class. 

I know this is a very unprecedented time for everyone, which frankly no one has control over. I wanted to write personally, and informally to everyone to try my best to lift some spirits. Not to brag, but many of my hockey teammates have looked up to me for positive energy. Many of us have differing opinions on just about everything in today’s world, which you can add this pandemic to the long list. However, I’m here to find the middle edge of a coin and shed some positivity. 

As educators, you all were given an extreme challenge, one that is very frustrating, stressful, overwhelming, and seemingly impossible. I cannot imagine the stress and pressure that has been put onto you these last three weeks. In saying that I would not trust anyone else in the world to help the students get through this than the current faculty and staff of MA. I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the most passionate teachers I’ve ever had, and have come to know many of you on a more personal level these last three years. The amount of resiliency and determination I have found in this staff alone is overwhelming. 

I understand I am only a seventeen year old girl who hasn’t lived much life yet. As cliche and cheesy as it sounds, I have full faith that everyone can make it out of this. You will need to work harder than ever before to help your students get through this too. But, like I said before, I don’t trust anyone else more than I trust you. It is absolutely going to be hard, but welcome to delayed gratification. I know you have all been through so much so far, but I’m asking you to keep going. Keep planning, keep re-writing those lessons, keep answering emails, keep re-working schedules, keep making selfless sacrifices, keep finding that small thing in life that keeps you going. You have worked so hard already and I just want you to know that there is at least one student who sees that. I am forever grateful for everyone who makes Minnehaha what it is. Lastly, I love you all. I hope this helped a little. 

Something that has helped me through this is a prayer I say everyday: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. 

From Junior,


Topics: Upper School, Caring Community, Online Learning

Blessing Jar: A Family Activity

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 24, 2020

IMG_5111 copyMany of us now have more time with our families and are looking for activities to keep our kids busy. One activity we recommend is creating a blessing jar. Not only is it a fun daily activity for families, but is also a good way to teach children to look for blessings and things to be thankful for, despite the circumstances. A blessing jar can be a daily reminder of what we do have. 

How To Make A Blessing Jar

  1. Find a jar or container.
  2. Cut up paper into small strips.
  3. Pick a set time each day (perhaps at a meal) for each family member to write down one blessing from the day on a small piece of paper.
  4. If they'd like, each person may share what they wrote with others.
  5. Write the date on the paper.
  6. Place the paper in the jar.
  7. Continue doing this each day.
  8. When you need a reminder of your blessings, reach in the jar and read a few of the notes. 

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Topics: Caring Community, Online Learning

Transferring from Chinese Immersion to Minnehaha Academy

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 20, 2020

2019-SUMMER-ANNIKA-3 copy

We checked in with senior Annika to ask about her experience transferring from Yinghua Academy (a Chinese immersion school) to Minnehaha Academy. Read on to discover more about the transition.

Q: At what point in your school journey did you transition from Yinghua to MA?
A: I came to Minnehaha my freshman year, after I graduated from Yinghua.

Q: What concerns do you remember having about this transition? How did it work out?
A: Apart from the general nerves of attending a new school, I was nervous about leaving my close group of friends (we had 25 people in my class) and nervous about maintaining my Chinese. Minnehaha has given me another close and welcoming school environment and has provided me with opportunities to continue learning Chinese.

Q: How was the adjustment to the differing academic style for you? (Different styles and culture around teaching, assignments, etc.)
A: Teachers at Minnehaha are less strict but just as caring as my Chinese teachers at YA. My teachers are my favorite part about Minnehaha. Adjusting was very smooth because Yinghua prepared me well for the rigor of high school. It was also my first time learning math in English but that wasn’t a problem! 

Q: What have you been doing to keep up your Chinese? How has MA supported this journey for you?
A: I finished the course curriculum sophomore year and then continued it on my own and took AP Chinese my junior year. Journalism has also given me the opportunity to keep it up. I’ve written bilingual articles and also created my own bilingual podcast with Mr. Westrem’s help. Now my family is hosting a Chinese exchange student from MA which is helpful because she speaks Chinese with me. It certainly took a bit more initiative to self teach and maintain Chinese on my own but Minnehaha has been helpful throughout the process.

Q: What was your journey of finding new friendships like? Looking back, do you have any advice for other new students who might transition into the community?
A: My process was good, even though I came from a class of 25 it doesn’t feel that much bigger now. I wish I had known to reach out more earlier on and to try and connect with as many people as possible. Minnehaha is small so you can really make connections with almost everyone here and they can make a big difference.

Q: What have you most enjoyed about your time at MA?
A: I enjoy all the opportunities MA offers me. I’m able to be involved in so many areas, hold leadership roles, and contribute in a way that I couldn’t at other schools. Classes are engaging and challenging. I like that at MA I can push myself to become the best student I can be.

Q: What classes have you most enjoyed during your time at MA?
A: I’ve loved the journalism program here. I’ve learned so much practical knowledge and have gotten to do real-world articles and interviews. I’ve also gotten to attend events like the final four and broadway plays through journalism. Right now, I love AP Econ as well, it gives me an interesting perspective from which I can view the world.

Q: Do you plan to keep up with your Chinese in the future or do any post-secondary related work? How?
A: I’m potentially interested in foreign service and global health. Right now global health feels especially relevant and I would love to be a part of that and help in any way I can. No matter what career path I choose I know that I can find a way to utilize my Chinese knowledge just because Chinese people and culture are relevant almost everywhere you go. I really love the culture and want to continue learning about it. 

Q: What advice would you give to Chinese immersion students considering MA?
A: Take every opportunity to learn Chinese in creative new ways here, those have been my personal favorites. Getting to practice Chinese by creating a podcast and conducting interviews has been a new way to push myself and develop valuable and practical language skills.

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Topics: Upper School

Spring Staycation: 7 Museums to Tour from Home

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 19, 2020

2020-US-Students-Online-MinnehahaAcademy-Minneapolis-Minnesota-5 copyIf your spring break is now a staycation, we wanted to show how you can travel the world without leaving home. One of the best ways to do this is by virtually touring museums. Here's a list of the best virtual tours of the museums from around the world: 

British Museum

Check out this fascinating Museum of the World. Exhibits are on virtual display that showcase items from around the world throughout history. Travel through time and history in this interactive experience.

Guggenheim Museum

Walk through the Guggenheim, and get up close to a wide range of art work. 

Musee d'Orsay

With a click of the button you'll be in Paris taking a virtual tour of the famous Musee d'Orsay. Check out works by Impressionist painters!


Walk your way virtually through this beautiful building, housing masterworks from the Dutch Golden Age. 

Van Gogh Museum

Experience the work of Vincent Van Gogh as you walk through this museum in Amsterdam. 

Uffizi Gallery

This museum was designed to house the works of the powerful Medici family in 1560. Don't miss the gilded works of art in this spectacular Italian collection. 

J. Paul Getty Museum

Take a trip to Malibu and virtually visit the J. Paul Getty Museum. The Getty collection features art from the 8th century to the 21st century. 

Discover More!

Google Arts & Culture provides an endless amount of interactive stories and information to discover as you staycation this spring. For even more interaction, download the app and discover new ways to play and learn.

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Topics: Fine Arts, Online Learning

Online Discussion: 5 Tips for Creating Constructive Conversations

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 18, 2020

2020-US-Students-Online-MinnehahaAcademy-Minneapolis-Minnesota-3 copyConnecting through the internet has never been more critical than it is right now. We are thankful for this technology that can bring us together when we can't safely be together in person. We can support each other, learn from each other, and create meaningful connections with classmates, colleagues, friends, and family if we approach our conversations in a mindful way.

Upper School Sacred Studies teacher Dr. Crafton has created these guidelines for participating in constructive online conversations.

"Our online conversations can never duplicate face-to-face conversations," said Dr. Crafton. "So much of our communication is embedded in non-verbal elements: context, tone, timing and rhythm, facial and body language cues, and most importantly personal presence. However, with some effort we can create effective replacements. My hope through these guidelines is to move toward that goal."

Online Discussion Guidelines

  1. Speak your ideas online as you would in the classroom. Imagine that you are having a conversation in person with your classmates and your teacher when you write. 
  2. Respect your classmates and teacher. The same rules we have when face to face apply online; and please remember that it is easier to fall into bad habits online than it is when face to face. Here are some ways you can show respect:
    • Actively engage with your teacher and classmates by considering what others are saying and by contributing your own ideas.
    • Discuss rather than argue or debate; respond to ideas, don’t attack people.
    • Make sure that you understand what others are saying before deciding whether you agree or disagree.
    • Be honest and genuine in what you say; earnestly seek after truth.
    • Assume the best of others.
    • Snarky or derogatory comments are not allowed; be careful about using humor – it is much harder to interpret humor appropriately online than it is in person.
    • Observe confidentiality; you are encouraged to talk about ideas outside of the context of the class, but not about people who are in the class.
  3. Write in full sentences or phrases using good spelling and grammar; don’t use the shorthand typical of texting. And DON’T WRITE IN ALL CAPS – it’s annoying and sends the wrong message.
  4. Add to the communal conversation; simply posting “I agree” or “good idea” is not enough. Say why you agree or disagree.  And don’t simply repeat what someone else has said.
  5. Be brief and on point — remember that the other members of the class will be reading and responding to you, too.

Topics: Middle School, Upper School, Online Learning

Top 8 Tips for Online Learning

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Mar 17, 2020

2020-US-Students-Online-MinnehahaAcademy-Minneapolis-Minnesota-4 copyAs teachers and students plan for online learning, we wanted to share these top eight tips that will help set students up for success during online learning (or distance learning).

  1. Attend class: This may seem like a basic tip, but the best way to get the most out of online learning is to treat it just as you would a school day. Show up to class on time and ready to learn.
  2. Complete assignments: Assignments given during online learning are just as important to complete as assignments given during a more typical class experience. By completing your assignments on time and with care, you'll keep up with your studies and be ready to hit the ground running when you are back in the classroom.
  3. Create a workspace: Set up a special spot for you to complete your classwork and join online class discussions. Having a set spot for your learning will ensure you have the tools you need to do your work. Think about what you'll need for your class (pencils, art supplies, paper, books, digital device, headphones, etc). 
  4. Set a schedule: Your teacher will most likely provide a daily schedule for you during the school day. Keeping a schedule will help you stay on track with your work, will remind you to take breaks, and will help you create a rhythm to your day. It's also rewarding to look back at your daily schedule and see all of the amazing things you've accomplished!
  5. Reduce distractions: Working from home can be quite distracting. When you set up your workspace, find a quiet space to sit. Remember to shut off the TV, music, and eliminate social media distractions- just as you would if you were in a classroom. 
  6. Think about how you learn best: When do you do your best work? Is it in the morning or afternoon? Plan on doing work that requires creative energy and thought at those times.  Also, consider how you learn. Do you learn best through listening, reading, or doing? Work with your teacher to determine ways you can learn the material using your preferred learning method. 
  7. Participate: Just because you aren't sitting next to your classmates and teachers doesn't mean you shouldn't join in on the learning. Chime in on class discussions and set up times to chat with classmates to work on group assignments.
  8. Take Breaks: Remember to step away from your desk to stretch, take a walk around the block, play a game, or spend time with your family. It's important to take breaks that will leave you feeling refreshed. It can be easy to sit in front of a screen all day, but remember that you'll do best by stepping outside for fresh air or a conversation with family.

We've also included this Online Etiquette Guide for online learning created by our Middle School science teacher Emily Firkus with her students.

Google Meet Etiquette white background


Topics: Middle School, Upper School, Lower School, Academics, Online Learning

Sled Dog Rides for Preschoolers [Photos & Video]

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Feb 7, 2020

The snow was fast as Minnehaha Academy's 3-year-old preschool students and their parents zipped along the beautiful West River Parkway via sled dog!

These special visitors came on Alaska Day. Alaska Day celebrates what students have learned about the state of Alaska over the last month. 


Our young learners have spent the month learning about the Alaska's various animals and fish, modes of transportation, its geography, and other interesting facts. 

Before they took the ride, preschoolers learned that the dogs are working dogs and that they love to run! When the dogs had their harnesses on, they couldn't wait to do what they do best...speed along on the fast snow.

See photo gallery.

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Topics: Lower School, Preschool

A Caring School Environment in the Twin Cities

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Feb 7, 2020

2019-LS-MS-Pep-Fest-MinnehahaAcademy-Minneapolis-Minnesota-50Making sure your children get an excellent education is important for their future success. However, it is the school environment and culture that makes a child excited to go to school each day and have positive memories of their school experience after they graduate.

8 Things to Look for in a School Environment

How do you know if a school community is a positive one? Here are eight things to look for when you are considering a school for your child.

  1. Teachers appear happy to be there. When you are touring a school and talk to the teachers, do their eyes light up when they talk about their students, education, and learning? Teachers that enjoy teaching children are creative, innovative, and love to learn themselves. They are engaged in the learning process and are always looking for new ways to inspire children to learn. 

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  2. Teachers demonstrate attention to each child. Children know when their teachers care about them as a person. When there are strong relationships between teachers and students, students put in more effort and look forward to attending class each day. Teachers who care about the children they teach are interested in learning about each child's particular hobbies. By understanding each child, they can teach to that child, encouraging them to develop their talents and uncover their true potential. 

  3. Words of kindness are heard in the hallways and classrooms. As you walk through the school you are considering, look for kindness and caring in the interactions you observe. Are you greeted in the halls with a smile or "hello"? Do faculty and staff greet each other as they pass? Do students say "hello" to you or give a friendly smile? These small gestures tell a lot about a school culture and how people feel about each other.

  4. Children are kind to each other. When you watch children interact with each other are they kind to each other? Do they greet one another and seem to care about the other child they are interacting with? Look for kindness in big and small ways. From a conversation to a hug to helping another student who may have dropped a book or notes, these are all ways children can show each other that they care about one another.

  5. Hallways and school classrooms are lively but not chaotic. Children exude joy and happiness naturally. In any given day, there will always be a lot of interaction happening between students at a school, but the overall feel in a school should not be one of chaos.

  6. Children demonstrate respect adults. Observe how children talk to adults such as teachers, faculty, and parents. Do they answer when a question is asked of them? Do they listen and do what is asked of them? Children respect adults when they feel safe, secure, and confident in their surroundings.

  7. Teachers and staff demonstrate respect children. A culture of kindness and respect is mutual. Adults also need to show respect to children, just as children show respect to adults. As you watch teachers interact with children do they show respect to each child by listening to each child as they speak? Children are very perceptive, and they follow the behavior that is modeled for them. By modeling positive behaviors and being a role model, adults provide a template for a child's behavior. 

  8. Teachers, staff, and students are happy. While you can't ask each person that you see if they enjoy attending or working at the school you are touring, you can get a general sense of how people feel about their environment if you observe their behavior. Genuine happiness can be contagious, so if you find yourself feeling your mood lift as you tour a school, chances are that others feel the same way as you. 

These intangibles are hard to pinpoint, but make a world of difference in the day-to-day life of your child and your family. If your child is happy at school, the entire school experience can be elevated from ho-hum to exceptional.

If you're in the Twin Cities and looking for a private school be sure to check out Minnehaha Academy. It's impossible to describe, but when you and your family walk into Minnehaha Academy, you'll feel it. Students and parents say that our culture of kindness and care is what makes us unique. 

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Topics: Cultivating Potential, Caring Community

Visiting Minnehaha's Upper School [Photos]

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Feb 5, 2020

"What's it like at the Upper School?" 

This is one of the big things on the minds of eighth graders as spring comes into view. 

Last week, these students had the opportunity to find out for themselves what Upper School is like! Eighth graders spent the morning visiting classes such as physics, English, world history, and phy ed, participating in activities and meeting teachers. They learned about what ninth grade courses had in store for them and the fun things they would learn.

After a snack break, students learned about electives such as fine arts and world languages. 

We can't wait to welcome these students to the Upper School halls next fall!

See the entire photo gallery.

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Topics: Middle School, Upper School

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