Online Videos – What Parents Need to Know

You may have heard about issues surrounding YouTube and challenges targeting young children. We wanted to take a moment to share some important child safety information with you through the image linked below. While the “Momo Challenge” has been unverifiable, it is important to be aware of what children are watching through video apps, and nothing is ever guaranteed to be safe. If you have any concerns regarding internet safety for your children, contact the District’s Technology Innovation Specialist Jocelynn Buckentin at 320-234-2716 or

What Parents Need to Know about Online Videos





Attention Parents – Learn About Nature Play

Thank You School Bus Drivers!

School Bus Driver Appreciation Day
February 27, 2019

Thank you to Hutchinson Bus Line and all of the school bus drivers who get students to and from school safely and also interact with students – giving them a positive start and end to their school day.

Did you know . . .

  • School bus drivers perform a 42 point pre-trip inspection every day plus post-trip inspections to make sure no children are left on the bus.
  • Once a driver is licensed, they must complete 8 hours of continuing education per year and pass a DOT driver physical every two years.
  • Hutchinson school bus drivers travel 152 routes every day! 
  • Hutchinson Bus Line has 49 drivers with over 500 years of experience!
  • Drivers work to build relationships with their students, giving them a good start and end to their school day.
  • Statewide, 760,000 students are transported 750,000 miles safely every day.
  • There is less than a .3% chance of a fatality in a school bus accident.
Thank you School Bus Drivers!

Effective Talking Points for E-Cig Vaping Trend

By Carmen Morrow, Chemical Health Prevention Specialist,
REACH Counselor, Check & Connect Mentor, ZAP & MEADE Coalition

With today’s changing drug trends, parents are under more pressure than ever to adjust their talking points to be effective, according to the “US Department of Health & Human Services; a 2018 report from our Surgeon General.” This “Vaping” trend has become an epidemic as 1.7 million high school students used e-cigarettes in the past month. That’s half a million middle school students. What was promoted to help adult smokers quit has become an epidemic among teens. Millions of teens now struggle with a nicotine addiction.

The combination of increased stress levels, wanting a quick stress relief, limited knowledge and practice of healthy coping skills added to the epidemic of teens vaping. The E-Cigarette companies appear to be targeting our children with flavored e-liquid juices like tutti frutti, cotton candy, and sour gummy worms.

The vaping epidemic has parents asking; “how do I talk to my child about this new craze?” According to “The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Vaping-What Parents should know” here are some  examples of what to say when your child asks:

Q: Isn’t vaping safer than smoking cigarettes?

Your child is exposed to less toxic substances when vaping (as compared to smoking), but there are still significant concerns. Their lungs are exposed to fine particles, metals, other toxins and nicotine which can harm them. You may use the example that, “Driving 90 miles an hour with a seat belt on is safer than without one, but neither is safe.” The same goes for vaping. It may be a safer alternative than smoking cigarettes, but neither one is without harm.

Q: They are just flavorings, so what’s the big deal?

Flavorings are common and considered safe when added to food and eaten, but relatively little is known about the long-term effects on your lungs. For example, there is a chemical called diacetyl that is used as a butter flavoring for candy, yogurt and popcorn, among other foods, and has been found in several e-juices. How these additives interact with the stomach is different than how it may affect your lungs. Diacetyl has been linked to “popcorn lung” which results in scarred lung tissue in workers who have inhaled diacetyl in popcorn factories. Also, e-liquids contain more than just flavorings. Whether it contains nicotine or not, teens also may be taking in fine particles, metals and other toxins. In some cases, teens have vaped e-liquids thinking it didn’t contain nicotine, when in fact it did. Deliberate or accidental exposure to e-liquids, whether from drinking, eye or skin contact or injecting it, can be severe, causing seizures or even death.

Q: Everyone is doing it, so why do you care?

You can say, “I know you may say this because of what you see in school or even on social media, but the real fact of the matter is that the majority of seniors (and more in lower grades) aren’t vaping. While it may be a popular activity for some kids, it doesn’t mean that it’s safe.”

Q: How can I respond to peer pressure?

You can say, “Let’s figure out what you may be comfortable saying to your peers. It’s best to be direct and use assertive body language (i.e., direct eye contact with strong posture) and to say something like, ‘No thanks, I’m not interested,’ or ‘You guys can, but I don’t want to.’” Another strategy for younger teens is to use an “X” policy. Whenever your child is in an uncomfortable situation and wants an easy out, they can text an “X.” You can respond by texting back to say that something has come up and they must head home immediately, or you will pick them up.

Q: You smoke, so why shouldn’t I?

If you’ve tried to quit, respond by saying “You’re right, smoking is unhealthy and I’ve tried to quit and I wish I had never started. I don’t want you to start an unhealthy habit and struggle the way I have, trying to  stop.”

Q: It’s legal, so why worry?

Vaping is not legal for anyone under 18 (and at 21 in some states). Many things are legal, but that doesn’t mean they are safe or harmless. Alcohol is an example of a legal substance, but can result in DUIs, car accidents and major health problems, including liver disease. Similarly, cigarettes are legal, but are highly addictive and proven to cause birth defects and cancer.

Q: I’m just doing it once in a while and nothing bad has happened.

Respond by asking what your child’s experience has been with vaping and pose a question like, “What keeps you from vaping more often?” This isn’t to suggest you condone or approve of vaping, but rather to get a sense of what the barriers are to your child’s use that you may be able to reinforce. These open-ended questions can help you understand what your child sees as the pros, and potentially the cons, of vaping.

To be effective a parent, you should be clear about expectations, listen, know the facts, in addition to reinforcing healthy behaviors that compete with vaping. A healthy parent child relationship  is one of the most important roles in helping your child manage and avoid drug trends. This relationship develops resilience and fosters open, honest, dialogue helping children avoid the temptation to vape.

Who Do You Think You Are?

By Dave Ellefson, High School Counselor

Adolescence is a time in a person’s life where he/she goes through many changes. Both emotionally and physically.  It is a time to discover strengths and weaknesses. It is a time to learn about the effort and grit it takes to find success in our areas of weakness and to overcome setbacks as we follow our compass into the future. Career Theorist Eli Ginzberg states that there are three stages of career development.

The first stage is known as the Fantasy Period. This period ends at about age 11. During this time in a child’s life, careers are usually based on play. Ginzberg believed children transition from playful imitation to work imitation near the end of this stage.

In middle and high school years, adolescent children are able to better focus on, and recognize, work requirements and move into the Transition Stage. There are four components in this period. The first component is “interest,” where children learn likes and dislikes. The second component is “capacity,” where the child learns how much his/her abilities align with his/her interests. The third component, “values,” sees the child at 15 become aware of how work may fulfill his/her values. The final component of this period is called “transition.” Transition begins when the individual assumes responsibility for his/her own actions, becomes independent and exercises her freedom of choice.

The final stage of career develop will also begin during a student’s time in high school. The realistic period begins at age 17 and goes into the early 20s. The first phase of the realistic stage is “exploration.” During this phase, the student chooses a career path but remains open to other opportunities. The next phase, “crystallization,” is when the student  becomes more engrossed in a particular career, committing to one direction more than ever. The third period is “specification,” in which the student commits to or develops a preference for a specific area of work.

You may be asking, “Why is this important?” It is important because students need help with this process. Over the past few years, we have been very intentional at the high school level about helping to guide our students through this process with the creation of Tigerpath Academies, 4 year plan development, and Advisory lessons which guide students through the career development process. High School class registration will be beginning in the new year and we need the whole Hutchinson community to be equipped to help our youth as they make decisions about their future and explore interests and abilities. Hutchinson, our region, and our state are all affected by how well we do this. In the state of MN, only 60% of students who attend a 4 year college have graduated within 6 years of enrollment. In community colleges, only 29% who are enrolled compete a degree in 3 years. April Hanson, a representative of ACT, says one of the main reasons qualified students do not compete a degree is due to the fact that they do not have a clear career path in place. Hutchinson High School is committed to helping our students to be on the positive side of these statistics.

Stephen Smith and Shaun Fanning have written a book titled Who Do You Think You Are? It is an excellent resource for those who influence teens including parents, educators, employers, youth leaders, etc. Its intent is to give suggestions on how to coach teens to achieve college and career success by helping them to discover strengths and interests. It also gives suggestions to help teens decide on the correct path to reach career success. This may include college, the military, an apprenticeship, or work experience to reach personal goals. We have 20 copies of this book available for check out at the high school media center. Join us in helping our students to direct their individual career paths by asking them the following questions:  Who are you?, Where are you heading?, and How will you get to where you want to go?.

Tiger of the Week: Conner Hogan

Congratulations to Conner, our TIGER of the Week:

Conner Hogan – Boys Swim and Dive

Conner finished first in the 100 Backstroke at the Hutch Invite and 100 Freestyle in the Delano/Watertown dual meet. As a 7th grader it is very difficult to compete with junior and seniors, let alone win races against them. That is exactly what Conner has done to start the season. Conner has given great effort in practices and meets so far this season. He shows the utmost respect for his coaches, teammates and opponents. Conner is showing tremendous promise and should have a great season.

Empathy + Compassion = Kindness

By Jill Bridge, Licensed School Counselor

It is the season of hope, love and joy for many as they celebrate the holidays, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. As people enter the holiday season they are embracing empathy, compassion, and kindness. Regardless of how large or small a gesture of kindness is, each gesture is a way to teach our kids, families and community about empathy and compassion. We shouldn’t need an award or recognition each and every time we show kindness. Knowing that you did something good and kind should be an intrinsic motivator to repeat it again and again. The goal should not be fame and fortune but about knowing that the kind act was meaningful and impacted another person’s life in a positive way.

Empathy is feeling or understanding what someone else is feeling. It is important for kids and adults to realize that two people may have very different feelings about the same situation. Understanding this concept will help us put ourselves in others’ shoes; we take the time and energy to look at life from their perspective. Their viewpoint may not be the same as yours but it is important to realize that is ok. For example, I can like you, I can respect you, but I don’t have to have the same feelings and thoughts as you. We are all different, and as such, we need to respect those differences.

Once the person has the ability to understand another’s perspective, the person can start to develop empathy for others, which can evolve into compassion. When you have empathy for others, you can say or do many things to show care and concern. Saying something kind or doing something helpful for others are examples of showing compassion. Imagine what our community would be like if we took that extra moment to think about another’s feelings and did something to show compassion. As a family, talk about ways you and your children can show compassion for others. During the holidays, there are a variety of opportunities to show compassion-some that cost money while others don’t cost a dime. For example, you can contact the animal shelter and help take care of the animals, you can donate to the Salvation Army red kettles, shovel a neighbor’s driveway, leave a note and/or word of encouragement for a coworker, or any idea your family holds dear.

Kindness is an overall theme that emerges when we model empathy and compassion, with kindness being the end result. Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. How do we decide when we are being compassionate or spreading kindness? Can they be the same thing but labeled differently? They definitely can be.  The list of ways to show compassion above are ways to show kindness. When you are being compassionate you are also being kind. In order to know the best ways to be compassionate and kind we need to walk in the other person’s shoes, and use empathy.

Empathy, kindness and compassion are skills that are taught. They are not innate traits, they are learned through discussions and by seeing/hearing examples. Be a role model that helps others understand empathy, compassion and kindness. We are role models for children, family members and even strangers. Embrace the holidays, spread kindness and cheer through using empathy and compassion. Kindness goes a long way not just during the holidays but each and every day of the year.

Holiday Celebration Outreach Dinner

Character & Respect

Good Character Starts with Teaching Respect

By Bill Carlson, Middle School Assistant Principal


One of the biggest responsibilities and challenges in our schools, homes, and communities is teaching our youth respect. While researching for this article, I found a plethora of information regarding this subject. The most common problems noted in my research were: school/community culture, lack of accountability in the home setting, exposure to violent media and deficient adult example; particularly in professional sports, the entertainment industry, media and political arenas. The negative influences of today’s secular culture are causing considerable impairment to our youth’s understanding of the value of respectful, courteous behavior.

Every person who is in contact with youth has a responsibility to model and teach courtesy and respect. However, this responsibility falls most acutely on the shoulders of the child’s parents and adult mentors. Our youth observe our every interaction, both at home and in the community. They watch closely how adults verbally and physically interact with one another. They learn how to interact and conduct themselves from these examples. Our youth need and desire a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Sadly, due to the problems listed above, our youth are often inundated with mixed messages, poor examples and unclear expectations.

Apart from family, school educators and extracurricular staff spend the most time with youth during their ‘formation’ years. These adult mentors and their school districts play a very important role in the character development of their students. Teachers, coaches, advisors, directors and support staff are all role models to their students. Modeling good character and leading by example is imperative to a healthy school culture. The vast majority of my research supports the implementation of Character Education Programs district wide. These programs are adaptable and can be used in the classroom setting, advisory setting or in the home.

Community youth leaders and coaches also play an important role in helping our youth develop good character.  Many of our local churches have faith formation and youth groups that meet on Wednesday’s during the academic school year. These environments offer our youth many positive examples of integrity and self-giving. Community and association based coaches/adult mentors have the perfect opportunity to reach and teach our youth important lessons in sportsmanship and positive character development. If character development is not a principal element in any of your child’s extracurricular activities, there is something deeply lacking. It is up to us as parents and adult mentors to bring about this change.

Like with most elements of mastering a skill or desired behavior it takes clear expectations through direction and education, consistency in practice, encouragement, opportunity and guidance. All these things need to be offered to our youth by their adult mentors. It is important however, for adults to recognize that youth don’t always get it right; that they need, ‘do overs’, and, as an adult mentor, being flexible instead of rigid will get you much farther in your desire to teach these important life skills. During my research I noted a common thread: that most parents desire to be their child’s, ‘friend’.  It is felt that this parenting approach is actually detrimental, and causes confusion and mixed messages for the child. Youth want to be friends with their peers. They need the adults in their life to be their guides, mentors and disciplinarians. Adults need to listen to young people, their reasoning and opinions. In doing this we are showing (modeling) respect. Having the attitude, ‘It’s my way or the highway,’ does not teach respect, it teaches fear and resentment. It closes doors to teaching opportunities instead of opening them. Sometimes as adult mentors we need to be strict about enforcing rules regarding conduct, but that does not mean being reasonable is removed from the equation.

I will end this with a favorite quote that has circulated for years in the arena of character development.

“Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

Whalen Gymnasium Dedication

Hutchinson Public Schools

Hutchinson Public Schools