Alexander Prep School sets open houses

CHASKA, MINN. – Alexander Prep School, a new private prep school opening this fall at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, is hosting a series of open houses that will give the public an opportunity to meet school officials and learn more about Alexander Prep, tour the grounds, and visit with local luminaries with strong ties to academics, the arts, and athletics. Special guests include Neal Broten, Natalie Darwitz, Richard Cash, Jim Bartsch, and Ken Dragseth.

 Alexander Prep currently is enrolling students who will be entering grades 7 through 10 in fall 2013. The school’s students will enjoy small class sizes and a world class educational model that prepares them for college and the 21st Century workforce. In addition to core classes such as language arts, math, science and social studies, students will begin and end every school day with exploratory seminars that they choose based on their unique interests.

“We’re creating a culture of excellence at Alexander Prep School,” said JJ Vold, the school’s founder and director. “We firmly believe all kids can be successful, and that we can nurture their progress with dedicated teachers who are invested in the future of every student.”

Academics are the first priority at Alexander Prep School, but extracurricular activities are high on the list as well. While success in academics prepares students for college and their eventual careers, extracurricular activities such as sports and fine arts afford students with both balance in their lives and other ways to excel.

School officials will be on hand at each of the five open houses to provide more details about Alexander Prep’s academic and extracurricular plans. Free apple cider will be available. In addition, the open house special guests are well known in their fields, which range from fine arts to academics to athletics.

January 26 (10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Snyder Room)
Special guest: Natalie Darwitz

Darwitz, now the head girls’ hockey coach at Lakeville South High School, was the youngest player ever named to the U.S. women’s national team when she joined the squad at age 15. She was a silver medalist at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, and scored a team-high seven goals. She was a bronze medalist at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, where she scored three goals and had three assists. She was a silver medalist in the 2010 Olympics, during which she also was team captain and led the team in scoring.

Darwitz also has three world championship gold medals, and five silvers. At the 2008 Worlds, as team captain, she led the tournament in scoring and was named Best Forward in the world by the International Ice Hockey Federation. As captain again in 2009, Darwitz led the team to another world title, and was the scoring leader.

Darwitz played for the University of Minnesota through the 2004-05 season, her junior season. In her three years, she worked her way to the top of the school’s all-time points (246) and assists (144) lists. In 2004-05, she set a single-season NCAA record with 114 points. And with college linemates and fellow 2006 Olympians Krissy Wendell and Kelly Stephens, the Gophers won their second-straight national championship. Darwitz graduated from Minnesota in 2007 with a degree in business.

Jan. 27 (1 to 3 p.m. in the Carlson Room)
Special guest: Dr. Richard Cash

Dr. Richard M. Cash has worked in the field of education for 25 years. His range of experience includes teaching at the elementary and middle school levels as well as the college level, and more recently serving as district gifted program administrator for the Bloomington Public Schools, in Minnesota. Dr. Cash received his doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, with a focus on quality school programming. He holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

Currently, Dr. Cash works as a private consultant to many school districts around the U.S. and internationally. His areas of expertise are educational programming for gifted students, curriculum development, differentiated instruction, creativity, and brain compatible classrooms. Dr. Cash recently authored the book Advancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st Century, (2011) published by Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.

Jan. 28 (6 to 8 p.m. in the Carlson Room)
Special guest: Jim Bartsch

Jim Bartsch is the Director of Education with the Minnesota Orchestra, and is responsible for Young People’s Concerts, Family Concerts, and other community engagement programs with the Orchestra. In addition, he is a conductor with the Minnesota Youth Symphonies, and a violinist/violist, performing with the Minnesota Opera Orchestra and other area ensembles.

Feb. 2 (10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Carlson Room)
Special guest: Neal Broten

Neal Broten is one of the best-known Minnesota hockey players of all time. As a player for the Roseau Rams, he appeared in the state tournament in 1977, 1978 and 1979. He went on to play at the University of Minnesota, where he was voted WCHA rookie of the year, and in 1981 he won the Hobey Baker award, which recognizes the nation’s best hockey player. He won an NCAA hockey championship at the University of Minnesota, and is perhaps best known for his play during the 1980 Olympics. During those Olympics, he was a part of the “Miracle on Ice,” when the United States team beat the Soviet team. Broten’s team went on to win a gold medal in those games. He also played 17 seasons in the National Hockey League, including for the Minnesota North Stars, and, in 1995, won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils. Broten is the only hockey player to have won a Hobey Baker award, Olympic gold medal, and Stanley Cup. Broten now resides in Wisconsin.

Feb. 4 (6 to 8 p.m. in the Carlson Room)
Special guest: Dr. Ken Dragseth

Ken Dragseth, Ph.D., is the Director of Administrative Licensure at the University of Minnesota School of Education. He is the retired superintendent of the Edina Public Schools in Edina, Minnesota. He has had experience as a principal, curriculum director, assistant superintendent and superintendent in a highly successful metropolitan district that has been recognized nationally for the excellence of its programs.

He has received many honors including being named National Superintendent of the Year in 2003 by the American Association of School Administrators, Minnesota Superintendent of the Year in 2002, Executive Educators top 100 educators, University of Minnesota College of Education Distinguished Leadership Award, and has received other local, state, and national recognition. Ken has conducted local, state and national workshops on a variety of topics including school board/superintendent relationships, high school start times, gender bias issues, ethical values, data-based decision-making, and leadership skills. He has published numerous articles in national and state journals.

The University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is located at 3675 Arboretum Boulevard in Chaska.