Jan 01

Meet our 2022 National Merit Students


Holy Family Catholic High School is proud to announce the 2022 National Merit Scholarship program recognizes two of our seniors, Makenzie Pavelka and Alexander Beer, as National Merit Commended Students. Out of 1.5 million entrants, roughly 34,000 earn Commended Students recognition. Congratulations to Makenzie and Alexander on their well-earned recognition! To learn more about the National Merit Scholarship program, click here.

At Holy Family, our National Merit Commended Students are more than scholars. They are active participants in school activities and generous volunteers in the broader community.

Makenzie Pavelka

2022 National Merit Commended Student Makenzie Pavelka

Name: Makenzie Pavelka

I will miss being in a learning environment where I feel supported by each and every teacher and having a school counselor who is so willing to answer any questions and chat with me at a moment’s notice.

Middle School: Shakopee Area Catholic School

Activities you are involved in at HF:

  • Girls Soccer
  • Nordic Skiing
  • Latin Club
  • Math League – State Champions 2021

Volunteer Experience

  • Feed My Starving Children
  • Vacation Bible School at the Parish of Saints Joachim and Anne
  • Coaching recreational soccer and assist at soccer camps at Shakopee Soccer Association

If you know your college and major and are ready to share, please include: I am not sure yet on what college I am going to attend, but I plan on studying Exercise Science or Kinesiology.

HF: Only 34,000 of all students who took the PSAT will be recognized as Commended Students. Congratulations. How did you prepare for the PSAT?
: I prepared by getting a good night’s sleep, eating a good breakfast, and showing up early so that I was calm and ready to go.

HF: You are also an AP student. Rigorous academic course loads can be stressful; how do you deal with that stress, and what advice do you have for students who are going through similar situations?
Makenzie: I deal with stress by talking to people I trust, like my close friends, family, and Mrs. McCoy. I also combat stress by using my planner to help manage my homework load and stay on top of studying. My advice for students going through the same situation is to remember that studying is important but so is sleep! I try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night, especially before tests in AP classes (or standardized tests!) And also to use a planner to stay organized!

HF: What makes you most proud about being a National Merit commended student?
I am most proud that the effort I put into academics daily was able to be displayed and recognized.

HF: What will you miss the most after you graduate from HF?
I will miss being in a learning environment where I feel supported by each and every teacher and having a school counselor who is so willing to answer any questions and chat with me at a moment’s notice.


Alexander Beer

2022 National Merit Commended Student Alex Beer

Name: Alex Beer

Middle School: St. Hubert Catholic School

Activities you are involved in at HF:

  • Football
  • Nordic Skiing
  • Lacrosse – (Captain 2022)
  • Campus Ministry
  • Leadership Team of Transfer Student Ambassadors

Volunteer Experience:

  • Metro Area Youth Pheasants Forever Mentor
  • Member of Student Ambassador Program
  • Fire Family Visit Tour Guide

If you know your college and major and are ready to share, please include:

Interested in pursuing a Biochemistry Degree on the pre-med track.


HF: Only 34,000 of all students who took the PSAT will be recognized as Commended Students. Congratulations. How did you prepare for the PSAT?

Alex: After taking the PSAT sophomore year at Eden Prairie and receiving a decent score, I realized that I was close to the benchmark for earning acknowledgment. With a little hard work and determination to study over the next year, I stood a real chance of achieving recognition. So, as the procrastinator in me dictates, I walked in to take the PSAT a year later cold turkey.

HF: You are also an AP student. Rigorous academic course loads can be stressful; how do you deal with that stress, and what advice do you have for students who are going through similar situations?

Alex: Three AP classes on top of three sports last year made me arrive at the mantra I now live by to manage stress – “It always gets done.” In three-plus years of high school, no matter how seemingly impossible the test or unbearable the workload, it always works itself out. The work will not do itself and there have been plenty of nights of staying up to 1:00 am after practice to finish schoolwork.  But, with hard work, a little sleep deprivation, and lots of coffee, anything is possible. The key is starting and prioritizing what matters most to you. There are sacrifices that have to be made but ask yourself what you truly value and pursue it relentlessly.

HF: What makes you most proud about being a National Merit commended student?

Alex: Being a National Merit commended student places me into a cohort of some of the best and brightest students in America. It will hopefully present opportunities that will allow me to truly offer the world the best I have. I am also hopeful it will make college hurt the wallet slightly less.

HF: What will you miss the most after you graduate from HF?

Alex: I transferred to Holy Family as a junior after attending Eden Prairie High School for two years.  In that short period of time, I feel extraordinarily fortunate to have a circle of friends, teachers and staff that I trust to have my back.  The camaraderie, loyalty and absolute trust that we all want the best for one another make this a place I look forward to coming to every day.  That is what I will miss the most.


Interested in learning more about Holy Family?

Please join us for a Fire Family Visit. Fire Family Visits are small group, on-campus information sessions with personalized tours led by our student ambassadors. Click on the link below to find the time and date that works best for your family and then reserve your seats! See you soon.

Register for a Fire Family Visit

Jan 01

Barth Receives Community Star Award


Holy Family junior Jack Barth is one of nine recipients of the 2020 Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Upper Midwest Community Star Award. This award, introduced for the 2020 RMHC Gala, recognizes young people who are dedicated to the organization’s cause. These recipients have gone above and beyond to embody the Ronald McDonald House values of respect for every individual, excellence in all you do, and compassion for those in need. 

Jack first became involved with the Ronald McDonald House in eighth grade. He immediately saw the value of helping his community members. When asked why he chose this charity he said, “I felt an instant connection to this organization because my uncle and his family needed to use a home like this when he was sick with cancer. It was so good for his family to be able to be together during [such a] hard time.”

Jack is a member of Holy Family’s Honor Society which promotes and celebrates volunteering with non-profit organizations beyond campus borders. His membership with the honor society inspired Jack to invest a significant number of hours at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis. There he cooked for guests, worked in the yard, and assisted with food drives. When he’s not volunteering, Jack plays on the Holy Family hockey team.

Membership in Holy Family’s honor society is not Jack’s only motivation to volunteer. For Jack, the real reward is “knowing that the work I do actually makes a difference in the lives of people living there… Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House has made me a kinder, more empathic, and compassionate person. I hope to remain involved with the organization throughout my life.”

Click HERE to learn more about Holy Family’s Honor Society.

Jan 01

The Lasting Power of Holy Family’s Campus Ministry


Behind the Scenes: The Lasting Power of Holy Family’s Campus Ministry

Almina Katie Galioto ’14 on the Lasting Power of Campus Ministry

The squishy black couches were the same. The motivational posters stuck to the white cinder-block walls were the same, as was the whiteboard covered with colorful scrawls. Mrs. Bosch was there, of course, with her trusty clipboard and pencil, the only tools she needs to command her cohort of Holy Family’s campus ministers.

But as soon as I entered the room, my eyes were drawn to the back wall. A few inches above some orange flames framing the word “FIRE” was a signature—my own, from 2014, the year I graduated from Holy Family. My black Sharpie autograph was surrounded by my classmates’ black Sharpie autographs, which were surrounded by those of our predecessors and successors. Almost a decade of campus ministers are represented on that wall.

I walked over to one of the squishy black couches and handed my sister a coffee. Anna is a senior at Holy Family now, and I am a nice older sister. Also I needed some caffeine in my veins to stay awake for a B Period class.

I perched near another squishy black couch and opened my little reporting notebook. I’m working as a journalist nowadays, which I’m guessing is the reason my alma mater asked me to write about its Campus Ministry program.

In some ways, it is hard to describe what exactly Campus Ministry is. The program is something so special, so unique to Holy Family. But I will try my best.

Shaping the Spiritual Foundation

The goal of Campus Ministry, as Assistant Principal John Dols describes it, is to train Holy Family students to minister to other students.

The school first offered Campus Ministry as a class in 2007, an option for students’ senior-year theology requirement. That inaugural group of campus ministers took charge of planning and leading daily convocations, class retreats and community service projects—work previously handled, for the most part, by faculty.

In the years since, Campus Ministry transformed into an institution at Holy Family, a privilege for those in their final year at the school. Seniors who choose to sign up for the class are tasked with providing opportunities for the school community to grow in faith, service and community.

Campus Ministry is responsible for the Lenten spiritual programming including the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“It certainly is the vehicle where we have students who shape the spiritual formation of Holy Family,” Campus Ministry instructor Lynnae Bosch said. She and Dols have provided guidance to campus ministers over the years, but the bulk of the decisions are made by students.

“As a school, we have said we are so proud of our kids and we are so confident that we have, for three years, trained them so that we’re comfortable with them going out, giving messages, teaching kids,” Dols said.

Campus ministers are in charge of some of the school’s biggest events, like the highly anticipated Thanksgiving and Christmas Convos debuted each year before holiday breaks. They’re also in charge of the small behind-the-scenes details—the type of work, Bosch said, that can be overlooked.

The 17- and 18-year-old campus ministers coordinate all-school Masses, and they design reconciliation services during Advent and Lent. They organize spiritual retreats at local elementary schools, just as they do for their Holy Family peers—students have an all-class retreat each of their four years at the school.

Campus Ministry students prepared rocks for the 6th grade retreat at St. Hubert Catholic School in Chanhassen.

The campus ministers are the ones who set up the giant projection screen for assemblies and run to Costco to pick up enough snacks to feed more than 100 hungry high-school students. Each day, they stand before the entire school community and lead them in prayer.

“For the younger students, to see someone your age do that every day, I think there’s power in that,” Bosch said.

The Cornerstone of Community

The bell rang, announcing an end to B Period, and I join the herds of students parading to the gym—a walk down memory lane.

As some 500 students clamber to their spots on the bleachers, I watch the group of campus ministers leading the day’s convocation. They scramble to check in on all the last-minute details, exchanging whispers and a few nods, before one grabs the mic and says the magic words.

“Let us remember we are in the holy presence of God.”

I’ve never tried it, but I wonder if you said those words someplace—a bar, perhaps, or a crowded restaurant—full of Holy Family alumni, would a hush fall over the room? Would we remember the days we spent in those bleachers, when those words were uttered and all the chatter—the gossip, the gabbing, the giggles—ceased?

The convocation on the day of my visit was Holy Family Feud, a knockoff of the popular game show created by surveys campus ministers collected. On the gym floor, senior Ryan Bowlin quizzed competing students and faculty on the preferences of Holy Family students — their favorite uniform tops, their favorite sporting events, their favorite cafeteria foods.

It was clever. It was funny. The team of teachers crushed the team of students, though, to be fair, they had years of institutional knowledge on their side.

Then we prayed. A campus minister grabbed the microphone and thanked God for creating our family with a purpose. “We know that you have plans for us individually and for our family as a whole,” she prayed. “Help us to have an appreciation for each other’s personalities, gifts and even our weaknesses.”

We clasped hands and said the Our Father. We turned to the American flag and said the Pledge of Allegiance. After announcements, the chatter resumed as students and teachers began to make their way to the next class. I stayed for a moment at the top of the bleachers.

It is impressive, I thought, that a group of 17- and 18-year-olds is in charge of everything that just happened. A straggling group of campus ministers was still taking down the giant projection screen.

Leaving her signature on the wall, just like the alumni before her did.

In preparation for my visit, Mrs. Bosch asked the current campus ministers to write down what they learned from the class and why they valued it. Many said it gave them great public

speaking experience or helped them practice organizational skills while planning large events. Some spoke of creativity, of cooperation, of faith, of leadership.

I thought back to my own time as a campus minister. Certainly, I learned those skills—skills that would prove to help me immensely in future leadership roles I took on in my college dorm and campus newspaper. But like I said, it’s hard to articulate exactly why I think Campus Ministry is so valuable to the Holy Family community. Because it does so much more.

“It is a cornerstone of Holy Family culture,” one student wrote.

“I personally think,” another wrote, “it’s the center of the community aspect that makes HF so great.”

I went back to the Campus Ministry classroom to grab my bag and looked at the back wall, the wall my sister and her classmates will sign before they head off to college. This year’s campus ministers will soon pass on the torch to the next group. And the Holy Family tradition of faith, service and community will live on.


Katie Galioto (’14) graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May 2018. Since then, she has reported for the Star Tribune and the Chicago Tribune as an intern on both papers’ metro desks. She currently works as a breaking news intern for POLITICO in Washington, D.C. You can follow her work on twitter @katiegalioto.

Jan 01

Student Artists Contribute to Empty Bowls Fundraiser


Holy Family students artists will once again contribute to PROP’s Empty Bowls fundraising efforts. Proceeds from this event help to alleviate hunger in our local communities. Run by People Reaching Out to People (PROP), Holy Family began participating in 2012 and has continued to do so every year since. According to PROP, “Empty Bowls is an international project to fight hunger, personalized by artists and art organizations on a community level.”

PROP began in 1971, when an Eden Prairie pastor asked Gerry Beckmann and others to make Thanksgiving food contributions to local needy families. The organization has grown in scope and participation since then, but at its heart the goal is the same.

For this particular fundraiser, students at local schools make clay bowls on the wheel at school and donate them to Empty Bowls. Here at Holy Family, students can make bowls for the next few weeks after school on Mondays and Tuesdays. The goal is to create 100 bowls to donate. All students and staff are invited to participate.

The event itself is free, and will take place on February 21st at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie from 11am – 1:30pm and 4pm – 7pm. At the event, you receive one of the hand made bowls with soup served in it. The food is donated by local restaurants. Attendees get to keep the bowl, which was made by an artist from the local community.

In addition to the food, there will be entertainment and a silent auction at the fundraiser. A donation is asked for but not required. The donations assist PROP in their service of over 1,100 families in the Southwest Metro. Nearly half of those PROP provides food service to are under the age of 17.

Anyone interested in helping should stop by the art room after school and check it out. Help glazing the bowls will be needed closer to February.

Jan 01

Students Take Seats of Government Officials in newly-renovated Capitol


Youth In Government (YIG) – Model Assembly

By Jack Geadelmann

Model Assembly is one of Holy Family’s shortest but most unique extra-curricular activities. Every January, for an extended weekend of four days, it summons 1,600 students from across Minnesota to the Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis to form an intricate simulation of state government.

Participants can serve as legislators, judges, attorneys, lobbyists, cabinet members, media representatives, or introductory leadership corps members. Most students take the opportunity to make daily commutes to the Capitol in St. Paul to take on these roles and sit in the chairs of real political officials.

This year was one of Holy Family’s most successful in the program. Students participated in the House of Representatives and the Senate, debating bills and passing some in the two chambers of state legislation. Others had the opportunity to act as both lawyers and justices in cases for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Finally, several students debated bills that reached more broadly in the National Issues Forum. All these great programs were located at the Capitol (some even required walks through underground tunnels to get to the correct building).

While many students did well in their court cases, victory was more apparent in the legislature, where a Holy Family record of five student-made bills passed into law. For a bill to be “passed” it must receive a majority vote in a legislative committee, in the House, in the Senate, and then be signed into law by the governor (who in this case is a fellow student elected from last year to preside over the government this year).

If rejected in any of those areas, the bill will fail. This is why it’s such a difficult task to pass one. Some students had great bills that the legislature didn’t even get time to discuss, since there were only three days to discuss them all and every representative or senator makes one.

Emily Bauer, Evan Epple, Gabi Shiffler, Walter Treat, and Bryce Villanueva did great work in passing their bills through the legislature.

What’s truly amazing is the graciousness the state government has shown in allowing young students to make a large-scale simulation within the Capitol building. Only four other states actually allow Youth in Government (YIG) students to have this great privilege. Furthermore, the Minnesota Capitol building has been in construction for 3 yrs, and renovations were completed for the real state officials for just two days before they were asked to recess so a bunch of students could use it for a four day weekend.

As a result of the large sum of money spent on the renovations, the Capitol looks amazing. While YIG participated in activities throughout the building, crowds of excited citizens took tours and photographs. Colin Dosedel, a sophomore who participated in Court of Appeals, said that his first YIG experience was “A great way to learn more about how the government works,” and that ” being inside the Capitol was the coolest part.”

Dr. Pottebaum has been running Model Assembly for eleven years at Holy Family. It all started when a transfer student from New Prague approached her about starting up the program, which she had enjoyed at her previous school. So, a Holy Family “delegation” ended up being created at Model Assembly, and Dr. Pottebaum has supervised the program for students ever since.

When asked why she keeps coming back to run it, she said, “I recognize the importance for students to understand their civic duty as Americans. In this program, they are actively involved in how our government works, whether it be courts or legislature. Understanding parliamentary rules and the voices of peers, researching current issues, putting the facts before personal opinion in court cases… there are just so many life skills that you’re exposed to. Since adolescents rarely have much of a voice in politics, seeing them sit in the chairs of today’s representatives reminds me that they will be the generation who take them up in the future. The idea of kids civically participating is so important, because they are the future of America.”

While Holy Family students may come to YIG from different grade levels, they all naturally come together to support each other in Model Assembly, learning how to be citizens that will dictate society’s future.

 See a slideshow from YIG

Read more articles about student life on the school newspaper.

Jan 01

Our Advent Journey: Walk the Talk


Campus Ministry students continue to lead us through our Advent focus, Walk the Talk, during this final week before Christmas.  Along with daily Convocation reflections and prayers, they also prepared and led last week’s Advent Reconciliation service for our school.  Campus Ministry student, Caitlyn Shipp ’17, shared the following reflection this year’s Advent theme.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust, French novelist

The quiet whispers of the wind spoke through the air of a king. Three wise men swayed side to side on their camels as they traveled across the uneven terrain of the desert. Mystery hung in the night sky like a blanket. The men walked in a starlit path leading them to the true light, the king that shined in the darkness. These three wise men had to prepare, for it was no ordinary journey. These men traveled with clothes of prayers and hope, shoes of charity and justice, a map in the form of a shining star to lead them through the darkness, food to sustain them, and each other to walk side by side. These men embarked on the first Advent journey to discover God made human in the birth of a King.

Advent is a journey of discovering God’s presence in the world. For the three wise men, theirs was a physical journey; Christ came to Earth as a humble human being. For many, it is hard to see God’s presence in the world. Christ was crucified and rose from the dead to fulfill His promise of eternal life in heaven. Despite His death and resurrection, God’s presence is still incarnate in the world today. God’s incarnation is us. The spirit of God that dwells within each of us becomes God’s living presence in the world. Advent  is a journey of discovering his presence. In order to discover this, we must learn to use our eyes to see those around us who are hurting, lonely, hungry, and cold. We must “Walk the Talk” and be God’s living presence to others with acts of service and kindness during the Advent and Christmas seasons, but, also each day throughout the year.


Jan 01

Students and Staff Sponsor Families for Christmas


As Christmas approaches, students and teachers of Holy Family reach out to those families in need around our community. For the past eleven years, Holy Family contributed to the program called Sponsor A Family MN. This program provides Christmas gifts and other goods for families in need of financial help.

Every classroom receives a family to sponsor and a list with the specific gifts that each family needs. This usually ranges anywhere from toys and winter coats to toothbrushes and shampoo.
This year, Holy Family sponsored twelve families between seventeen classrooms. This comes to a total of seventy six people sponsored. Everyone in each classroom donated money to the family they were sponsoring and a few students volunteered to purchase the items on their family’s list.

One of the directors of Sponsor A Family MN, Patrick Fitzpatrick, said, “Holy Family and Sponsor A Family MN have been partners for a long time. In early September, when we reach out to Mr. Dols and ask if we can count on the school’s support once again, we always get an enthusiastic ‘YES!’” This quote exemplifies the dedication Holy Family has to the program.

Fitzpatrick also showed his appreciation by saying, “What this means is that, not only is each class sponsoring a family but more important, Holy Family Catholic High School understands and embraces the idea that not all families get a fair shake in this world and through the kind, caring and compassionate generosity of your community, you can bring a smile, provide a gift or put a meal on the table for a very, very appreciative and grateful family.”

The gifts were blessed at Convocation before being delivered to Sponsor A Family MN for distribution.

Marissa Endres ’17
December 7, 2016

This article originally appeared in the school newspaper The Phoenix. To read more articles from the school newspaper, click here.

Jan 01

Students Join Fellow Lasallians to Fight Homelessness


Night to Fight

November 5, 2016

A group of 19 Holy Family students and two teachers, Mr. Dwyer and Mr. Dols, were bused to Cretin-Derham Hall, the host location for 2016’s Night to Fight Homelessness. At Night to Fight, four local Lasallian schools, Cretin-Derham Hall, Totino Grace, De La Salle, and Holy Family, get together to gain knowledge and create awareness for homelessness.

We started out the night with Mass, praying for the homeless. After a light dinner, Joe Surber, a representative from Families Moving Forward, spoke about the factors of homelessness and how we can help. None of the factors he mentioned were things someone can choose, making the point that homelessness is not a choice.

He also focused on the action aspect of Families Moving Forward and how students can act upon this issue. He encouraged students to become involved through social media and connect with Families Moving Forward: Twitter- @believeinhome and Facebook- @beaconinterfaith.

After icebreakers and fun team building games, we eventually went outside to sleep for the night. Most people slept in tents; however, some brave souls decided to sleep in a box. Luckily for us, the weather could not have been more perfect fall night: 52-degrees and no wind.

There are many things that changed my perspective on homelessness at Night to Fight.
The weather: Even in 52-degree weather, in a tent, and with multiple layers, I was still cold. Imagining a homeless person with no extra layers, on the street, and in the middle of a Minnesota winter, makes me realize how terrible the conditions for homeless can be.

We went to bed at 1 a.m. and woke up at 5:30 a.m., resulting in about four hours of sleep. These can be regular hours for the homeless, especially with Families Moving Forward. They wake up the families at 5:30 a.m. to make sure the families can make the bus to the day center so they can go to work and school.

After Night to Fight, I was lucky enough to go home and take a 3-hour nap in my bed. This is not even close to reality for the homeless. Each night is a question of where the homeless will go, creating problems of safety and health. I take for granted that I will sleep in a bed every night under shelter.

One of the Holy Family students that slept in a box was Jack Geadelmann. His perspective on homeless changed over the course of the night: “When I first got to the field and set up my box, it seemed like sleeping in it with two layers and a sleeping bag would be a piece of cake. However, when we all got settled eventually, the cold air and flat ground was much more present. After about an hour or so, I did get some sleep, but it’s not a discomfort I could imagine living with for days on end.”

Night to Fight Homeless is meant to give students a small insight into what homelessness is like. For someone who has never experienced homelessness, just one night can be uncomfortable and miserable, so imagining having no shelter for days on end is unfathomable. Fighting homelessness needs action, whether it is getting involved on the social media, creating a Families Moving Forward program in your local church, or simply being grateful for the shelter you have.

This article written by Mary Seifert first appeared in the school’s online paper, The Phoenix on November 5, 2016. Click on this link to read more articles.

Jan 01

Bringing Summer Learning to the Classroom


In July, Holy Family Catholic High School Spanish teacher and Fire For Life Club advisor, Mrs. Karen Kidrowski, completed the final year of a three-year Lasallian education and formation program through Buttimer Institute for Lasallian Studies. Located on the campus of St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California, The Buttimer Institute of Lasallian Studies is an intensive Lasallian education and formation program that studies the life and work of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the origins of the Lasallian educational mission.

Participants attend the institute from all over the world for three consecutive summers, in two-week durations, and complete three courses of study: The Founding Story, St. John the Baptist De La Salle’s Educational Vision, and St. John the Baptist De LaSalle’s Spiritual Vision.

Completion of the program requires enrollment in a practicum addressing the needs of the Lasallian Educational Community. Mrs. Kidrowski’s practicum focused on completing work for the International Young Lasallians located in Rome and networking with other teachers to generate ideas for classroom use.

Mrs. Kidrowski’s personal goal in attending the institute aligned well with the mission of the program. She stated, “My goal was to learn more about what it means to be a Lasallian educator and bring the mission and philosophy back into my classroom.”

Theology instructors Mr. Doug Bosch, Mrs. Lynnae Bosch and Mr. Andy Witchger have also completed Buttimer Institute’s Lasallian Formation Program.

Holy Family Catholic High School is a Catholic high school grounded in the Lasallian tradition. Lasallian Education centers on Catholic values and personal relationships, emphasizing academic excellence, faith formation, inclusion, respect for the individual, service, and social justice. A Lasallian Education strives to enrich each student’s cultural, intellectual, physical, social and spiritual development.

Jan 01

Garden Project Supports Local Food Shelf


Holy Family Catholic High School’s Garden Project has delivered almost 80 pounds of produce to the Bountiful Baskets food shelf in Chaska this summer. In its third year, early estimates point to a bumper crop for the 2016 harvest which appears likely to outpace last year’s donation total of 110 pounds of produce.

Long before the warm growing season arrives, project advisor and science teacher Jim Walker starts the plants in the south-facing windows of his classroom. The plants are moved to the school greenhouse in April to grow in preparation for spring planting. After soil temperatures reach appropriate temperatures, student volunteers help transplant the starter plants to the garden’s raised beds. Plants are kept pest-free without the use of chemical pesticides and weeds are kept at bay with straw mulch and willing summer volunteers.

Harvest dates are intentionally staggered to provide produce to the food shelf after donations of vegetable varieties from home gardens may have ended. The hope is to keep a manageable and wide variety of produce available at the food shelf throughout the summer months.

This fall, a small apple orchard will be added near the garden in honor of long-time employee, Mary Stenerson, who relocated to Detroit Lakes. When the trees bear fruit in approximately 2-3 years, the garden project volunteers will have fruit to share, as well.