Minnehaha Academy Blog

Rebekah Peterson

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Commencement 2020 [Video]

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Jun 24, 2020

Watch Minnehaha Academy's entire 2020 Commencement ceremony. Congratulations, 2020 graduates!




Watch Commencement Clips





A Letter from Rev. Dr. Donna Harris in the Wake of George Floyd's Death

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Jun 1, 2020

Dear Minnehaha Community,

We are in the midst of a suffocating season of grief, pain, anger, and fear. We are reeling from the shock of witnessing the horrific death of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of a police officer and are aggrieved by the massive chaos and rioting in its aftermath. Our hearts ache for loss of life, loss of dignity, loss of voice, loss of unity, and for many, loss of hope. Our cities are fractured, and neighborhoods are torn. As a mother of two African-American sons, Mr. Floyd’s agonizing cry for “Mama” still reverberates in my heart. It will cause an ache deep within my soul for a very long time. My prayer is that this horrible tragedy will strengthen our collective resolve at Minnehaha Academy to amend injustices, heal festering wounds, galvanize our communities toward positive action, and turn our eyes to God, our Savior and Refuge. 

Because of God’s reconciling grace, our lasting hope of healing and the cure for all hearts that are prone to wander, rests in the full embrace of our common humanity and selfless love for one another— a love rooted in and nourished by our love for God. Only then can meaningful action, demanding courage and persistence, take flight. 

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18

The mission of Minnehaha Academy is to provide high quality education integrating Christian faith and learning. Within a distinctively Christian context, the educational experience at Minnehaha develops both intellect and character. The why of our mission from Luke 2:52 is so that students grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and others. This is our sacred commitment to students and families. Minnehaha’s mission intersects with God’s reconciling work in the world. In partnership with parents, this work begins by demonstrating to each child that they are created in the image of God, possessing inherent honor and dignity as a unique individual. We aid them in seeing God’s beauty in them, their God-given potential and the many gifts and talents God has bestowed on them for His service. When this inherent honor and dignity permeates deeply within the soul and spirit of each child, we gain fertile soil at Minnehaha to nurture a love for God and our neighbors. From this place, all good work flows. Our prayer is that as students mature, that they will be inspired to not just set life goals, but to set their gaze on seeking their life purpose.  This is how the bright light of Minnehaha’s mission is cast and becomes an enduring guidepost in the lives of students. 

Now is a pivotal time for Minnehaha to chart our path forward as a community of faith. We must come together as brothers and sisters created in the image of God to discern how we collectively, passionately, and sacrificially approach the essential Kingdom work of establishing racial righteousness in our nation, thus becoming laudable agents of change. The heaviness of this moment in time is reminiscent of other uprisings in our nation’s distant past and more recent history that have called for justice and systemic change. It has become a deafening refrain that pleads for more ears to hear and hearts to listen. The time is now to take action.

We cannot distance ourselves from the battle. Our Christian identity does not provide immunity from the layers of race-related trauma, institutionalized racism, and its effects. Our work is not done! We cannot be silent as silence often signals consent. We must courageously call out our own prejudice, arrogance, and pride, take them to the feet of Jesus, then work diligently toward harmony and peace in the space we own.  We must engage students in critical conversations about complex problems that plague our country, including issues of racial discrimination, and trust that our guidance will  shape their values, resulting in positive change.  And we must continue to be the justice seekers, peacemakers, wound healers, and bridge builders that students witness every day. Crucial conversations and actions in the days, weeks, and months to come must reach beyond strategies to resolve peripheral symptoms, but must expose the ugliness of root causes. The work of racial reconciliation is a protracted and arduous journey where sharing the weight of the work, bearing the burden of the pain, and operationalizing our words into clear action, is the rallying cry. With unrelenting resolve through Christ, we can accomplish immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). With arms locked and love our weapon let us partner with God to heal the land. Together we rise! 

For those who are weary in this work of racial reconciliation and facing opposition in being a voice of hope, receive the comfort of Scripture. 

2 Corinthians 4: 8-10

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 

For those who walk in fear and whose hearts are faint, receive courage from Scripture.

Psalm 91: 1-11

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;

A Prayer for Justice

Dear Lord,

Help us to follow your example, by looking out for those who each day feel that they are marginalized, who cannot find hope, who believe that they have little to offer, who are overcome by the challenges of poverty,

Help us to widen our horizons, to make space for the stranger, to watch out for those who feel invisible, to give time to the outsider, to talk to the person facing silence, to restore justice and value.

Give us the courage to undertake this, the determination to join with others in seeing grace in every human face, and the faith to embrace the opportunity in your name. Amen. 

(Amblecote Christian Centre, UK)

Blessings and peace,

Rev. Dr. Donna Harris

Hubble Thoughts: Upper School Students

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on May 6, 2020

Upper School science students were asked to watch this video of images taken by the Hubble Telescope. As they watched, they were tasked with the following:

As you watch, pay attention to what you are thinking and how you feel about this experience with the universe. Take notes, journal, sketch, write a song or poetry or express yourself in whatever way helps you capture what you are thinking and feeling as you watch the film. Then post some of these thoughts (how did it make you feel) or your notes, poems, artwork, to the Hubble Discussion.

Here is a sampling of answers from our students. We wanted to share their thoughts to give you a glimpse of what ideas and discussions happen among our students in the classroom! 

Daniel - This video really shows how much is still yet to be discovered, the colors are magnificent and there are so many stars, it is hard not to be awestruck with amazement. God’s creation is truly beautiful.

Margo - While watching the video I could notice myself getting much calmer, slower breathing, and just becoming peaceful. It was so neat to see the all the beauty up close that we can’t see normally. After watching it, it made me think about how I’m going to start to look closer at things I see and see what they’re made of.

Evelyn - While watching this video, I became completely relaxed. I felt as though I was almost part of the video; disconnected from everything around me. When it ended, I took a few minutes to reflect on everything I had just watched. I felt incredibly small, compared to our great universe. I also realized how beautiful our universe is and how grateful I should be to God for gifting us with it.

Zucy - While watching this video, I went emotionless, not in a bad way, just that I didn’t know what else was coming next. In a 10 minute video it captures how beautiful our universe actually is and the amazing gift God has given us. It felt as if I was I was floating in the universe and the music added that suspension.

Halle - The video showed me how small our world truly is in comparison to everything. There is so much beyond what we see in our everyday life. I enjoyed watching as seemingly empty spaces became colorful and glowing as they were closer. Photos that are taken make these images seem like paintings, but seeing them in a video had a different and more incredible effect.

Jack - While I was watching the video I felt more and more relaxed as it went on. When the video had ended and I stood up to go outside, I felt like earth’s gravity was not pulling me down as much. Almost as if I was walking on thin air.

Sofia - Watching this made me feel so small because it reminded me that these planets, asteroids, and stars are all out there, floating endlessly in space even if we can’t see them. I was surprised by the beauty of seeing the planets up close and how some even looked like they were from a different universe. Especially now in quarantine we only see so much and to know that there is that much other worldly stuff out there is truly eye opening and amazing.

Benjamin - For me, the biggest thing I latched onto is that even with the insane scale of our universe, and how insignificant we can feel, we’re still the only life we know about. Even with all those stars, universes, and galaxies, we are the only life inside all of that. The next thing that hit me is time. We are the only life in this time, but in another billion years or so, there might be life somewhere else, we’re just lucky enough to be alive right now.

Mayah - Sometimes darkness is calming. And sometimes the unknown is intriguing. It’s eye opening and beautiful to watch this. It’s a whole new perspective and I absolutely love it. Very amazing.

Lars - This video made me feel and awe and wonder of God’s creation. He made this whole universe out of nothing, and the beauty of space shows how incredible his work can be.

Ellie - The video made me think about how small and insignificant the earth and everything on it is, and yet how much complexity there is to it. There are nearly infinite worlds beyond our own to explore, and each planet is different in its own way, yet we still have things to discover about the smallest particles and the smallest details on our earth. Space has always interested me but this video reminded me of how much we haven’t encountered yet. I think it would be really cool if humans could learn to put our differences aside and be able to work as one unit to explore more of our galaxy and beyond.

Gabe - The video made me wonder at how the God who created all that, can care about a rebellious human like me.

Clara - Watching this video was very calming and relaxing for me. Sometimes I forget that there is so much more out there that we don't know about and that is truly amazing to think about. 

Ireland - Throughout the whole video, I felt like the time flew from the video and that I was at complete peace. Seeing the planets made me feel very small, but also made me feel like everyone on this earth was here for a purpose.

Grace - While watching this video, I felt very small. It’s weird to think how big our universe is compared to us. Also, I gained a new appreciation for our beautiful and extremely complex surroundings. This video helped put into perspective what a miracle it is that Earth perfectly supports us.

Sixth Grade Poets: Hope, Healing, Humor

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Apr 17, 2020

Our sixth graders just finished learning about poetry.

"We asked the big question: 'Why read and write poetry?' " said Middle School English teacher Ms. Ulferts. "We looked at a variety of poems and found that they are often centered around hope, healing, and humor-which is the approach we took as we began to write some of our own."

Some of our sixth grade students wanted to share their poems with the community. Listen to their poetry below:


  • Gabi: 0:00
  • Naszir: 0:43
  • Maximillian: 1:13
  • Nevis: 1:52
  • Dalton: 4:13
  • Luka: 4:56
  • Cosette: 5:38
  • Adelyn: 6:37
  • Emmett: 7:02


Topics: Middle School, Online Learning

Staying Mentally Healthy During Covid-19

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Apr 16, 2020


Middle School students have spent the week learning how to stay mentally healthy. Our Middle School counselor Sarah Rothstein is virtually visiting them in health class to teach about mental health and provide mindfulness exercises. The students watch the presentation and then participate in a live discussion.

The intent of the lesson is to recognize and acknowledge what students are feeling, give students a place to talk about it and know that they are not alone, and give them tools to use in order to destress.
Middle School Phy Ed classes are also starting each day with a "mindful minute" exercise. Students were given a list of brain break activities to use throughout the day, many of them not in front of a screen. While Minnehaha counselors always are available to provide student support, they are especially focused on giving students simple things that they can do to lessen anxiety and worry, and also fill times of boredom and frustration.  
Check out the presentation as well as the mindfulness exercises below.

Mental Health During a Pandemic 



Mindfulness Exercises

1. Breaking Down our Thoughts Activity

Write down something that you may be worrying about. Then ask yourself…

  • Is my thought based on a feeling or an actual fact?
  • Is it possible for my thought to come true?
  • What’s the worst that can happen if it does come true?
  • Will it still matter to me tomorrow or in the future?
  • What can I do to handle the situation in a positive way?

2. Deep Breathing Exercise

Inhale 4 seconds, exhale 4 second, and repeat.

3. Clenching Fist Exercise

Arms down at your sides, clench your fists as tight as you can. Hold, then release. Repeat 2-3 times. You can do both hands together, or one at a time.

4. Gratitude Exercise

Option #1: Start by observing. Notice the thank yous you say. Just how habitual a response is it? Is it a hasty aside, an afterthought? How are you feeling when you express thanks in small transactions? Stressed, uptight, a little absent-minded? Do a quick scan of your body—are you already physically moving on to your next interaction? Pick one interaction a day . When your instinct to say “thanks” arises, stop for a moment and take note. Can you name what you feel grateful for, even beyond the gesture that’s been extended? Then say "thank you."

Option #2: I’m grateful for three things…

  • I hear
  • I see
  • I smell
  • I touch/feel
  • I taste

5. Coloring Exercise

Find a favorite coloring book, or download and print these coloring sheets.

6. The Connection Challenge

Instead of social distancing, we physically distance together. For the next week, try to connect with someone (same person or seven different people) every day virtually through texting, email, or social media. Check-in and ask them how they are feeling and share how you are feeling, then challenge them to do the same!

7. Someday Soon Jar

Keep a list with your family of things you will do when social distancing is over. Turn frustration into anticipation!

Topics: Middle School, Online Learning

Art During Distance Learning

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Apr 15, 2020

20200406_092053Learning about the color wheel can be a fun activity when it involves a color scavenger hunt at home!

Lower School students searched for objects in their homes that represented different colors in the color wheel, then they assembled their wheels. 

Here's how you can make your own found object color wheel:

  1. Get a brown paper bag or a laundry basket and collect items from around the house that are a close match to the 6 different colors of the color wheel. Try for at least 2 items of each color. Look at your toys, pieces of clothing like socks, hats, fruit and veggies, etc.
  2. Now, find a clear place on the floor or on a table, place the color wheel so it will be in the middle, and then arrange your items around the color wheel in order. 

Extra challenge: Sort the items into two groups -- WARM colors and COOL colors. What do you notice about the colors now?

Watch the video from our art teacher to hear more about the color wheel lesson.


Topics: Lower School, Fine Arts, Online Learning

Music Class During Distance Learning

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Apr 15, 2020

Lower School students experience hands-on music lessons, even while distance learning.

Music teacher Ms. Benson has developed creative lessons for students using simple materials students have in their home. 

In this lesson, students were introduced to four different mallet instruments and their unique sounds. Afterwards, students were instructed to make their own "water xylophone" using glass jars or water glasses and different amounts of water. First, students checked their empty vessels to see what pitch they made. Then students added water to one or more glasses to create three different pitches. They ordered them from low to high and created a tune with their instrument! Through this activity, students discern differences in pitch and decide if they're lower, higher or the same pitch.

Watch the lesson from Ms. Benson below, then view second grader Maverick's submission!


Topics: Lower School, Fine Arts, Online Learning

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. 

IMG_5089 copy

Send me information about Minnehaha Academy!

Topics: Caring Community, Online Learning

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