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Columbia Heights Public Schools Unveils North Park School for Innovation

Columbia Heights Public Schools is proud to unveil North Park School for Innovation, a PreK 4-grade 5 building with a focus on STEM, creativity and sustainability.

“We are thrilled to reintroduce the newly rebranded North Park School for Innovation to the community,” said Superintendent Zena Stenvik. “The process of creating a STEM-focused school was truly a whole community endeavor. We appreciate everyone’s efforts that led us to this moment of celebration. We have established a multi-year implementation plan that includes local partnerships, strong educational foundation and amazing opportunities for students to learn, grow and thrive.”

The comprehensive rebranding efforts came after the school, formerly North Park Elementary, underwent extensive renovations following voter approval of the 2018 Bond Referendum.

The improvements completed addressed the school’s building security and educational needs to be comparable with other schools in the District and area including:

  • A secure single point of entry for all visitors.
  • School offices located at the new entrance, which provide enhanced security and customer service.
  • A separate entrance and exit specifically for buses, separating the buses from the playground, and a new entry/exit and parking lot for other vehicles, enhancing the safety and security of daily activities at the school.
  • Updated early childhood and kindergarten space that facilitate innovative hands-on learning programs.
  • Improved learning spaces for science, art, media arts and a school library.
  • Improved learning spaces to support our students receiving Special Education programming.
  • The cafeteria separated from the gymnasium.

 North Park Photos

A 30-person, Blue Ribbon Advisory Task Force – made up of parents, students, North Park teachers and staff, District staff and representatives from Highland Elementary, Valley View Elementary and Columbia Academy – was assembled in 2019 to review and analyze data for various school models. The Task Force reviewed each of the following models, including the number of such schools in the metro area, and their success and demographics: Environmental Science, Montessori, Spanish Immersion, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and the option to maintain a traditional school.

The Task Force made their formal recommendation to redefine North Park as a STEM school to the School Board last June. Curriculum is aligned to coursework at Columbia Academy and Columbia Heights High School.

As part of North Park’s reimagination, stakeholders constructed five guiding principle statements that help illustrate the school’s new identity:

  • Our learners unlock their potential through a strong academic foundation.
  • Our learners use science and the design thinking process to develop new solutions.
  • Our learners create an environmentally-sustainable community.
  • Our learners discover their passion through creativity.
  • Our learners see challenges as an opportunity for growth.

“If you had to pick one word [to best describe] North Park, it is ‘innovation,’” said Principal Jeff Cacek. “Whether it’s the development of the learning studio, fully committing to creating an environmentally sustainable building and community, or personalizing everything we do for each of our students there are always a common denominator: developing innovators in an era and economy where it is essential to our students having successful lives.”

North Park Parent Degha Shabbeleh says there are so many things that make [North Park] their number one choice.

“The school is designed like [tech company’s] headquarters, preparing our students for the world ahead of them,” Shabbeleh said. “[I’ve seen] growth in my student's communications skills because they are taught to collaborate with one another in the classroom. The teachers are wonderful, well-trained and caring! The idea that every child learns at their pace and succeeds is in the heart of the teachers, educational assistants and other support staff.”

For more information, or to schedule a tour, contact the school at 763-528-4300 or visit colheights.k12.mn.us/NorthPark. A grand opening event is tentatively scheduled for August 2021.

North Park School for Innovation is enrolling for the 2021-2022 school year now! 

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