Winter Break(fast)

by Erika Schmidt, junior writing coach

During school we all tend to skip the “most important meal of the day” a few times too many. So as winter break approaches and the opportunity to sleep in and eat a real breakfast is nearing, chances are you will be looking for the perfect breakfast place. I have taken the time to narrow down your breakfast and brunch options to five that you absolutely cannot go wrong with!


     1.  Hazellewood Grill and Tap Room

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5635 Manitou Rd, Minnetrista, MN 55331

Hazellewood has a fantastic selection of breakfast items and is perfect for a family brunch. Their popovers are to die for and fortunately come with every order. Their menu has a large variety of options to choose from and they also offer healthy and gluten free options! However if this is your breakfast plan I highly recommend getting a reservation because it can fill up very quickly.


     2. yum! Kitchen and Bakery

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6001 Shady Oak Rd, Minnetonka, MN 55343 or 4127, 4000 Minnetonka Blvd, Minneapolis, MN 55416

Admittedly I have only ever been to yum! for dinner but they have many breakfast options and their bakery is fantastic. I don’t even like cake but their cakes are amazing – my favorite is their coconut cake. Everything I have eaten from this restaurant has been absolutely sensational and it has proven to be one of my favorite restaurants of all time. Also, they tend to change their menu from time to time so every couple of weeks you might find a new favorite dish!


     3. Bellecour

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739 Lake St E, Wayzata, MN 55391

This French restaurant and bakery is an amazing experience. Bellecour’s food is fantastic and with their many brunch options you are sure to find something you will love. If you want to sit down for brunch I do recommend grabbing a reservation because this place is a hit! However, my favorite part of Bellecour has to be the little bakery to the side which has a variety of traditional French items including macarons, scones, and of course, croissants. Many of their bakery items come with a gluten free option as well!


     4. School of the Wise

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1750 Tower Blvd, Victoria, MN 55386

This cozy little restaurant in the booming center of Victoria, Minnesota is a fantastic stop to get some avocado toast, waffles, or an acai bowl. The environment is warm and friendly and the service is great. It’s a little bit quirky and a lot of fun. They have coffee and bakery items as well so you can kick back on their free WiFi and relax.


     5. Isles Bun & Coffee

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Isles Bun & Coffee, 1424 W 28th St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

I am not exaggerating when I say this little bakery produces cinnamon rolls, buttercream frosting, and coffee as close to the ambrosia and nectar of the Greek gods as humanity will ever get. Isles Bun & Coffee may be a little bit out of the way and you may have to park at a meter but I promise you it is worth it! The recent expansion also gives plenty of room to sit and enjoy. Take it from somebody who has bought their “puppy dog tails” (not made from real puppies don’t worry) for years- this place is absolutely marvelous!

I hope these five options have inspired you to find your perfect breakfast spot. If you do end up going to one these places feel free to tell me how it was. I would love to hear your review!



A Guide to the Classics

by Becca Schumacher, senior writing coach

The classics can be an intimidating genre. For a long time I was intrigued by the idea of reading prestigious authors like Dickens or Tolstoy, but never actually cracked open a book. However, in that past couple of years I started exploring the arena of classics, and I’ve picked up a few strategies along the way that might assist you on your classics journey.

  1. Be patient.

For those of us who are used to drama and fast pace of modern books, the classics can seem dry and boring. It’s important to remember that, with classics, there is no instant gratification.  While modern books can be like speed dating, classics are a long term relationship. You have to commit. Trust me, it’ll be worth it in the end.

  1. Don’t be too proud to give up.

There are some books that have stood the test of time because of their literary brilliance or their beautiful prose or their compelling characters, but there are some books that are still around because English teachers really like them. For example, I read A Tale of Two Cities in eighth grade and I have to say, that was five hundred pages of pure agony. I mean, a chapter long cryptic conversation with a ghost to tell us that this guy just got out of jail? Come on Mr. Dickens. If you’re ever a hundred pages deep in a classic and are getting absolutely nothing out of it, it’s okay to move on to something else.

  1. Appreciate the gift that is Sparknotes.

For some reason, classic authors seem to have never heard the phrase “just get to the point.” They love confusing, page long paragraphs about sunflowers that somehow translate to commentary on the fickleness of humankind. Sometimes you need a little bit of help to make it all the way through one of these ancient tomes, and that’s perfectly alright.

  1. Pay attention to the details.

So you thought TJ Eckelberg was just some random doctor that Nick happens to notice on a billboard in the Great Gatsby? Turns out that’s symbolism for the eyes of God looking down on what F. Scott Fitzgerald saw as a materialistic, moral wasteland of a country. Classic authors love to foreshadow, create symbols or throw in metaphors that seem random but are actually central to the plot. Make sure you’re paying attention (and still awake) when this happens.

So now that you’re armed with these strategies, go forth and conquer the classics world. Not sure where to start? I recommend To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, the Count of Monte Cristo, by Andre Dumas, or anything by Jane Austen. Happy reading!

The Act of Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes: John Green Style



By Daniluz Schueller, junior writing coach

“We never really talked much or even looked at each other, but it didn’t matter because we were looking at the same sky together…I mean, anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.”

John Green, Turtles All the Way Down


In the first book debut of Walk a Mile Book Club, we decided to read the novel Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green to connect to this year’s theme of what it means to walk in another’s shoes. In the Walk a Mile Book Club, we are interested in selecting books that reach beyond our comfort zone and help us to develop our sense of empathy as we encounter many perspectives similar and/or different from our own.

Turtles All the Way Down is a young adult fiction novel that features the life of 16-year-old, Aza, who in cracking the case for a missing millionaire is also struggling with anxiety as she tries to live a normal teenage life. I will say that for me personally, this beginning of this book made me feel uncomfortable because it felt so personal, but once I kept reading and got to understand the characters better, I eventually felt myself becoming more and more invested in the book to the point where I could not put it down until the very end.

As a student who is becoming more aware of the stigma around mental health, I found that this story was a good start in understanding the reality of those who suffer from mental illness and how that affects people’s relationships with others. In Aza and her best friend Daisy’s case, their relationship did not always include sunshine and rainbows, but their bond is strong. Like all friendships, their relationship needs to be cared for and though it is not perfect, finding ways to be each other’s support system has caused them to support each other when they needed friendship most.

I have heard talk about mental health, but the reality of it did not fully reach me until I read this book. I hope to read more books like this in the future to expand my ways of thinking and challenge them too. I encourage all you readers out there to reach out and try to understand other points of views. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. There are many books to start with doing so, and I would humbly suggest this one as a recommendation.



Kids for the Boundary Waters


by Julia Ruelle, junior writing coach

I spent nearly every free moment of Thanksgiving break writing thank you letters. No, not to my family or friends. Instead, these thank you’s were intended for mailboxes in Washington D.C.. About a week before, I had been in D.C. meeting with politicians with an organization I’m incredibly proud to be a part of: Kids for the Boundary Waters. I first camped in the Boundary Waters with my family when I was around 8 years old and my love for the wilderness has only grown since that inaugural trip. For those who may not be familiar with the Boundary Waters, it comprises 1.1 million acres of wilderness interconnected by lakes and rivers and is our nation’s most visited wilderness.

I became involved with Kids for the Boundary Waters last May, after entering and winning the Ely Outfitting Company’s teen essay contest for a fully-outfitted parent-free trip to the Boundary Waters. A young man named Joseph Goldstein was one of the judges for the contest and later founded Kids for the Boundary Waters, assembling a board of directors from the best entries in the contest, to encourage youth to advocate for the protection of the Boundary Waters from an especially polluting industry: sulfide-ore copper mining.


My first trip to D.C. with Kids for the Boundary Waters was in June, right after the trip I earned from the essay contest. It was thrilling to transition straight from the place I loved to taking an active role in protecting it. Clearly I was hooked, as five months later, I caught another plane to D.C.. There, I joined 5 times more teens than the first time from around the country.

On this trip, I learned that I am far from being the only one in my generation with a passion for the Boundary Waters. The first night we arrived, we all piled into a hotel room after the more official orientation meeting and began to get to know each other a little better. Hearing story after story of ridiculous fun in the Boundary Waters, the shared joy and passion of the room was palpable. I was blown away by the depth of their love for the Boundary Waters.


Our two days of lobbying were action-packed. From 8 am to around 4 pm, we had meetings all around the Hill. As a board member, I led a group of about 6 teens to numerous meetings. Meetings often were with staffers whose specialty was natural resources or environmental issues but in some we were lucky to have the congress member’s own attention. For example, four of us were from our district, MN-03, and got to meet with newly-elected Dean Phillips for his first meeting with constituents since elected! Phillips kindly made time for a meeting with us in a makeshift office (maybe a large closet?), as he is not yet settled into an office of his own. It was thrilling to be making direct contact with decision-makers and knowing that we were making a difference.

As it is easy to fall into apathy with test after test at school, I found it extremely refreshing to step back and get some perspective on what is really important to me. I’m not saying that it is necessary to miss a week of school to take stock of your passions, but I am positive that finding something that drives you can make a huge difference in your outlook on life.


What does Thanksgiving Mean to You?

By Ellie Retzlaff, sophomore writing coach

As the Thanksgiving feasts start to be assembled across America, there are a few things that you should remember before you dig into your food:


  • Give Thanks


Everyone says it, from you parents nagging you to be grateful for what you have to your teachers reminding you that you are lucky to be able to go to school each day. But truth be told, there’s a reason that everyone says to give thanks, that’s because it is important. The meaning of Thanksgiving, like many holidays, sometimes gets lost in the modern day consumerism that takes place across our country. Especially with Black Friday being the day after, it becomes easy to fall into the trap of eating your delicious food, going to bed, then waking up bright and early the next day to go shopping. But in the age where there are school shootings going on, wildfires tearing across the country, and countless disasters that are destroying people’s lives, I challenge you to remember all the things that you have to be thankful for. Write it down or tell it to your family, because your gratitude is important and deserves to be remembered.


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  • Connect with your Relatives


Part of the fun of Thanksgiving is that, in many cases, you get to see your extended family. And while some would argue this to be a reason to hate Thanksgiving, I disagree. Family can be tricky at times but these moments with your siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, and cousins, are valuable, even if you constantly disagree with everything they say. Thanksgiving is a time where you can eat your food and simply be glad for the fact that you get to see all of these people who you love, even if its deep, deep, down. I recommend starting conversations, especially with people you don’t see often, you might learn some things. And if your struggling for what to say, here are a few tips:


  • Avoid Politics


This should go without saying, but don’t talk politics with your relatives. Don’t do it, you will just regret it.


  • Ask people about things they are passionate about


If you are looking to have meaningful conversations, this is a good way to go about it. Talking to someone who is passionate is far more interesting than a monotone discussion about the weather. And if you have to talk to a lot of people, interesting conversations is the only way you will survive.


  • Care about the conversations you are having


You know how when you hate what you are doing, time seems to pass five times slower? Well a great way to not be bored, is simply to listen and care about the conversation. Not only is this polite, but it also helps you to enjoy getting to know your relatives better.

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  • Be Helpful


Thanksgiving is a lot of work. There is the food that needs to be prepared, like the turkey which takes literal hours and is extremely confusing on how to actually cook the thing, and then there is the other hundreds of foods that goes into making Thanksgiving one of the best food holidays of the year. Besides the food there is other things to do, like cleaning the house before guests arrive and making sure there is enough plates, and then there is actually setting out those plates and making the dining room look nice. All in all the point being that putting on a thanksgiving gathering, whether it be for two people or twenty people, is a lot of work. So don’t be the person that hangs out in there room for the day or avoids the kitchen at all costs. Being helpful is the nice thing to do, and it can even be fun to help your family all while making memories.


  • Plan your Black Friday Shopping


In the tradition of Thanksgiving, I had to include something about Black Friday shopping. Black Friday is a complete mess of crazy people buying things they don’t need, for deals that aren’t even that great. But yet, it can still be very fun, especially if you go with your friends or family and find your way through the chaos together. Because Black Friday is insane, my only advice to you is to plan your trip beforehand. Know which places you are going, what deals are where, and have a buddy system in case anyone gets lost in the crowd.


Thanksgiving is one of the greatest holidays out there, but it can be even better if you remember to be thankful, actually talk to your family, help out the host, and have a complete plan on Black Friday for when things get crazy.


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3 Poems + Artist Statement


by Stuart Pease, Minnetonka High School teacher



Taken against the long, blind body of time,

this night and every other will be lost.


We offer them names, but the stars don’t talk to us.


I wonder if I’ll ever really be here, right now.

I think of this life as a record and time as the needle

pushing me closer to the end.


I wonder how many times I’ve been played.


On a two-way street, staggered street lamps

pull me in out of darkness.


I want to be small enough to lay down between two blades of grass.



In the beginning it was said

that time would be our rival.

That only at our end we would see

the true meaning of our lives.

We wanted it sooner.

We broke up against it

like shale against diamond.

It was obvious, then, that

time would not bend. Not

limestone bedding with a saltwater tongue.

It would not break clean enough to set.

Just fracture,


and burn,

but never bend.

Only a gifted few would see the truth of this sooner,

their lives taken early for this single,

threadbare vision.


Road, Wall,  and Body (revisited)

Taken against the long road of time,

my life is not yet a borderline.


Not yet a broken Pangea.


Not yet even a Pangea.


Thrown against the wall of time,

my body is starfire bursting,


a blood-petaled begonia in bloom.


I am still a seed

falling to the ground ungerminated.


I long to the feel the rain.


Once there was soil, aching to be tilled.

Now there is a bridge spanning everything and held up by nothing,

but I still pay the toll.  


Artist Statement:

The concept of time has dominated my thoughts for as long as I can remember. Despite our attempts to measure and keep track of it, time is able to slip away and grind to a halt. My purpose with these three poems was to attempt some sort of new measure for time, to see beyond the time that was given me, and to locate myself falling through it. What I love about this endeavor to measure time is that it fights back. I both simultaneously enjoy and abhor the struggle to measure it. At times, it is downright terrifying to consider the massive amount of time that has already passed and what little amount of time I will occupy. At other times, it is humbling, and even comforting, to know my insignificance in the grand scheme of it all.

—Mr. Pease

To the Rescue!


By Ellen McRae, junior writing coach

Superman! Batman! Wonder Woman! Iron Man! Captain America! Everyone has heard of these legendary superheroes. We all know their stories of bravery and triumph.

After hearing the news of the death of Stan Lee, comic book writer and editor in chief of Marvel Comics, this past week, I began reflecting on the importance of superheroes in our society. Where did the idea of “superhero” originate? And why are superheroes so popular in our culture?

Upon further reflection, I realized superheroes act as an example of triumph over evil. Superheroes are the ultimate success story. The first comic books arose in the late 19th century but didn’t take off until the creation of Superman in 1938, during the Great Depression Era. In times of darkness where hope is lacking, superheroes rise up to save the day!


Superheroes, through their valiant efforts and daring rescues, are a source of hope and inspiration for all. People begin to believe that someone is there, watching out for them, fighting against the evils of the world. Superheroes fight crime, save people from tragedy, and always win against the villains at the end of the story. They offer the hope that society needs to make it through times of trouble.

Though they’re most famous for fighting in grand battles, superheroes also overcome daily struggles that relate to our own. Just like everyone else, superheroes deal with feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. They act as the underdog, fighting against all the big and scary problems of the world. Even though it’s difficult, superheroes rise in the face of adversity and strive to do the right thing.


At the end of the day, superheroes inspire people and exemplify triumphs over hardships. Superheroes empower those around them and encourage us to see ourselves as the protagonist of our own stories.


‘Tis the Season


by Tessa Lundheim, sophomore writing coach

Falling Into Fall

When there’s no more buzz from the bees,

and the leaves fall from the trees,


When sun rays go to bed early,

and birds fly off in a hurry,


When disguised children run through the streets,

and neighbors give out tasty treats,


When scrumptious pies wait in the oven,

and chilly days come more and more often,


When hints of holiday tunes come to the ear,

and everyone is filled to the brim with cheer,


Oh, what a great time of year!

I’m ready to fall into fall.

-Tessa Lundheim


Fall always inspires me to write poetry. I view it as a graceful and cozy time, and poetry helps me express my view of this season. However, most of the leaves are now gone, and Halloween is over, so I’d say it’s time to move on.

There’s no denying it, I’m an extremely festive person. I love everything about holidays and parties. To me, there’s nothing more fun than shopping for party necessities, baking tasty treats and decorating the house with seasonal ornaments in preparation for guests and good times. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hard when summer comes to an end and the days get colder, but once I’m used to the change of season, I’m ready to celebrate!

While many Minnesotans dread the deep winter with every inch of their being, I am without a doubt a snow enthusiast! Every time it snows, I stop what I am doing, run around the house to open all of the drapes, and admire the snow. I could stare at it for hours. I love how the intricate snowflakes flutter down to the ground. They coat the land with sparkly frosting, and they cover the trees with smooth blankets of white.

That aside, snow is actually pretty interesting. Here are five fun facts about snow:

  1. Snow isn’t actually white. Similar to liquid water, snow is clear, or translucent. We see color because some light is absorbed and some is reflected by objects with color. Since snowflakes are tiny crystals with many small surfaces, snow reflects and absorbs light variably, causing snow to appear white.
  2. An approximate of one septillion ice crystals fall from the sky each winter in the US alone. That’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 ice crystals!
  3. In 1911, Tamarack, California got the World Record for the most snow in a month. They got a total of 32.5 feet (390 inches) of snow in January. For perspective, that’s about the size of a three-story building or a stack of three elephants!
  4. The deepest snowfall was found on Mount Ibuki in Japan. The snow on this mountain measured 38.9 feet (465.4 inches) deep.
  5. The phrase “No two snowflakes are exactly alike” isn’t entirely true. It is extremely rare for two snowflakes to look the same in nature because they all experience different environments and settings. However, Kenneth G. Libbrecht, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology, found a way to artificially develop “identical” snowflakes under equal conditions in the lab. He calls his creations “identical twins because they are like identical people.” Libbrecht says (for a New York Times article) that both twin snowflakes and identical people “are too similar to just happen by chance, but not absolutely precisely identical to the last molecule.”


the place to bee: People’s Organic

By Rebecca Schumacher, senior writing coach

For the first installment of our study spot reviews, I buzzed over to People’s Organic, a coffee shop and restaurant that serves organic food and beverages with locally grown ingredients. Though the menu can be a little daunting (can anyone explain to me what nitrate free bacon means?), it’s wonderful to see a chain restaurant based on sustainability and environmental consciousness.

Could this be the prime study spot we’ve been searching for? We’ll have to see what the three categories reveal.

zing & zest

The beverage menu is extensive, featuring everything from tea lattes and apple cider to oolong and mochas. The sea salt caramel latte I ordered was not to bitter and not too sweet, although the sea salt caramel flavoring was almost too subtle. Despite the bakery’s vast array of delicious looking scones, muffins, and bars, I opted for fries and aioli. The aioli was basically sriracha sauce and mayonnaise, and the fries didn’t significantly differ in taste from McDonald’s. I’d definitely recommend sticking to the beverage menu to inspire productivity. ⅗ bees.



The aesthetic of People’s Organic aims for the earthy atmosphere that one would expect, with hardwood floors and plants hanging from the ceiling. I appreciated the mini wooden clipboards used for checks and handwritten chalkboard menus. The back to nature aesthetic would certainly inspire the innovator in all of us. ⅘ bees



Given that People’s Organic is located on Minnetonka Boulevard, a relatively busy street, and that the coffee shop aspect is pared with a restaurant, the noise of conversation and clatter of dishes rests just above the ideal studying level. However, with overstuffed armchairs tucked into the corner and dozens of whimsical coffee flavors, great things could be accomplished inside People’s Organic. ⅘ bees.


Narwhals & NaNoWriMo


By Aspen Schrupp, Sophomore writing coach

Perhaps you are a writer, perhaps you are a winner, or perhaps you are simply someone who enjoys a new adventure.


If any or all of the above apply to you, you should have NaNoWriMo on your calendar.


“NaNoWriMo… what is that?”


Don’t worry, the confusion is mutual. Upon hearing this term, I assumed NaNoWriMo was another word for narwhal. Granted, this was seven years ago, but the ambiguous nature of the title still remains.


Anyways, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Now, the word novel may seem daunting, but trust me- the most frightening thing about NaNoWriMo is its name. Simply put, NaNoWriMo sets manageable goals to help you reach 50,000 written words by the end of November. 50,000 may seem like an intimidating number, but NaNoWriMo makes it seem easy. Plus, think of how wonderful it will feel to know that you- yes you!- have written enough words to complete a short novel!


Curious how it works?


Each day you update your word count on the NaNoWriMo website ( to earn a variety of unique badges such as something in my eye, caffeine abuse, and secret noveling; not to mention the fact that if you hit 50,000 words, you win!


Seeing as today is November first, your journey may begin now- perhaps at this very moment, whereas others may be unsure of what to write about. If this applies to you, don’t worry; writers’ block always seems to be on the prowl! To help you conquer this dragon, here are some writing prompts that may spark an idea in your head:


  • In a world where magic is gained through interactions with others, how does your protagonist/antagonist gain power? What does their magic look like?
  • Experiment with perspectives! Perhaps you tell a story about humans from an animal’s, the sun’s, or different third party’s viewpoint. An example of this is The Book Thief told from Death’s perspective.
  • A character is accused of murder; what (actually) happened?
  • Retell a popular story, but alter an element- writing it from the villain’s perspective, placing it in a different setting, etc.
  • In the afterlife, a character is sent to “The Bad Place”, which- contrary to popular opinion- is not fires and darkness. Instead, it is a place to better oneself so they can go to “The Good Place”. Your character is the worst of the worst; describe their journey to get to “The Good Place”.


Perhaps you are a writer, perhaps you are a winner, or perhaps you are simply someone who enjoys a new adventure.


If any or all of the above apply to you, it’s time to begin writing.