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Applause for EMID, Perpich in Crosswinds saga

Rep. JoAnn Ward

Legislative Viewpoint

The East Metro Integration District (EMID) board recently authorized two contracts for St. Paul arts and magnet schools, both known for their unique approach to integration and a diverse school environment. EMID is a coalition of 10 school districts founded to help St. Paul and the east metro better integrate schools. The first contract to be resolved was for Harambee, an elementary in Roseville, and the second was for Crosswinds, a middle school in Woodbury. These schools successfully serve the St. Paul community with excellent academics and innovative curriculums designed to educate the world citizen.

While their futures were uncertain a few months ago, EMID's recent approval means that both Crosswinds and Harambee will remain open under new leadership that will ensure their continued success. Moving forward, Harambee will be managed by the Roseville Area Schools District 623, and Crosswinds will be managed by the Perpich Center.

During the legislative session, we worked closely with parents, students, EMID, Perpich and education advocates to ensure that these schools would remain an asset to our community. Over the course of the past few months, we have heard from many Harambee and Crosswinds parents and students about the benefit that these unique schools provide not only their students but the entire St. Paul community. The educational experience that these schools provide is truly unique - offering students from different areas the opportunity to join together to learn about themselves and the world.

We applaud EMID, Perpich and the Roseville Schools for entering into this agreement to ensure that these schools have a strong future of serving area students and parents. Keeping these schools running is vitally important and we simply cannot overstate the success of the new agreement. Some legislative action is needed next session, but these schools will continue to serve with secure and bright futures.

Crosswinds has served the east metro for 15 years, as both an arts and science magnet school and an inter-district integration magnet school. Crosswinds is a free public year-round school, and offers an International Baccalaureate Middle Years program, serving grades 6-10. This program provides a framework of learning which encourages students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers. The MYP emphasizes intellectual challenge, encouraging students to make connections between their studies in traditional subjects and to the real world. It fosters the development of skills for communication, intercultural understanding and global engagement - qualities that are essential for life in the 21st century.

Harambee serves kindergarten through 5th grade students as a year-round community cultures and environmental science school. Their curriculum is unique and effective, building confidence among students to celebrate their own strengths and continue to be empowered learners. Like Crosswinds, Harambee values and celebrates the diversity that each individual brings to the school because of the uniqueness of our cultural backgrounds. Harambee also focuses on environmental science through consideration of ecological, cultural, and social systems and the relationship between us and the living world around us. The Harambee School is located on 28 acres where students can study natural habitats and develop a "hands on" environmental learning area. Projects include designing interpretive trails, restoring the prairie, creating vegetable and flower gardens, and landscaping to improve wildlife habitat.

Both schools can supply transportation for students from the 10 EMID member districts, and both schools also welcome open enrollment students. The EMID districts include Forest Lake Area Schools, Inver Grove Heights Community Schools, Roseville Area Schools, St. Paul Public Schools, South St. Paul Public Schools, South Washington County Schools, Spring Lake Park, Stillwater Area Schools, West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan School District, and White Bear Lake Area Schools.

Harambee is currently full and has a waiting list, but Crosswinds is accepting new students. We want to encourage interested parents to enroll their students in these schools that provide such a rewarding and challenging academic and social experience. More information can be found at

Crosswinds and Harambee will remain open and continue to provide area students with a world-class education for the 21st century.

Ward, a Woodbury Democrat, represents House District 53A in the Legislature. Reps. Carlos Mariani, Peter Fischer and Jason Isaacson also contributed to this Viewpoint.