by Maxwell Maveus, sophomore writing coach

I was holding in my hand the last reminder of the past.

It sparkled and glistened in the twinkling lights, 

Serving as a delicate reminder of our past delights. 

I covered it gently in tissue and placed it away, 

In hopes that my memories would never fray.

I feared this Christmas might be different from the last, but

Why reminisce over an experience of the past?

The tree stood tall as a beacon of hope


All I could do that year was mope. 

Now in the future, I recall with envy

That Christmas Eve which never was to be


A melancholy hung over us that night, the snow stifling our feelings of joy. It wasn’t very noticeable, and it was more like a mist amid our happy feelings. We tried to ignore it with food and gifts, but it was omnipresent. The night is one I look back upon with joy, but what made it difficult was knowing it would never happen again. 

It was December 2018. Many families have their holiday traditions, and ours happens to be celebrating Christmas. My father had recently gotten engaged to my current stepmother, Jen. Our home was to be put on sale in January. My parents had been divorced for the majority of my life, and so our tradition was to celebrate Christmas twice: once with my father on Christmas Eve and once with my mother on Christmas Day. We would always have a filet and cookies and open gifts around our fireplace. Unlike some divorcées, my parents considered themselves good friends. We still spent Christmas Eve together, and so it was one of the few times our whole family was along. 

My father became engaged to Jen shortly after her pregnancy was announced. He asked for the blessing of my brother and me, which we gave. I knew everything was going to change from that moment forward; I just hadn’t realized the pace that it would. And with that ring, a new future for all of us began, starting with my holiday traditions. 

The night began well enough. To an outsider, it would have looked like every Christmas Eve we had spent together. We lit the fire and laughed at old stories; we ate a nice meal and downed the cookies; we opened gifts to great delight. Yet, the future found its way into our night. Afterward, when the night was over, I realized nothing was ending. Yes, things are changing, but it’s not a house that matters, or even that my family comes together on that particular night. It’s the feelings between all of us. Of course, it was still painful and sad to say goodbye to things of the past, but I began to look toward the future with a feeling of hope and optimism. 

As of writing this, I am about to have the same holiday with a new family. I have a half brother and step-siblings, a new house, and a step-mom. So much has changed, and while I will always cherish the past in my heart, I look forward to starting a new tradition. The holidays are not about history; they’re about the present, and what someone chooses to make of them.

Voyage 2: Elm Creek Ski Opener

On this voyage, we went to the Minnesota Nordic Ski Opener at Elm Creek Park Reserve in Maple Grove. We carpooled with fellow Nordic-ers and enjoyed the drive, singing Christmas songs all the way up. Taking advantage of the snow and cold is an essential skill for any Minnesotan, so we were thrilled to get out on our skis. 

Fresh Air


After checking out the atmosphere and getting our free stuff (see: Sunny Day), we made our way onto the course to start skiing some loops. It was pretty chilly at first but as we maneuvered around the civilians enjoying a day out skiing, it began to warm up. The frosty air turned into a beating sun and sweaty limbs as we put in effort to get in a workout even on a Saturday. We were moving fast and still we could appreciate the glowing snow and trees adorned with flakes of white. After working hard we decided to lesisurely ski back to the parking lot through a path that felt more in the heart of the woods. Going this way we could really see the beauty of “natural” ski trails, these were the trails that there were branches and leafs to avoid and little hills and a narrowing path that we attempted to navigate. This felt like true skiing. 

Happy Campers

The entire community of outdoorsy people seemed to all assemble at the opener. Newbies, amateurs, and experts alike were snapping their toes into their bindings and skating away. Grinning faces surrounded, even as people struggled to get up their very first hill. 

On the subject of skiing experts, we even stumbled upon a retired Olympic skier while looking for help on a pair of broken bindings. He casually gave his advice on what to do about the bindings and asked us about our team. Upon hearing that we were from Minnetonka, he mentioned how he knew our coach and he had come talk to us in past years. We both were very surprised and when questioned further we figured out in fact that he was an olympian. To us, this just showed how tight knit the ski community is, even through fame, and it’s a great thing to be a part of. 

Sunny Day


At events like these, free stuff abounds! The front area of the park was lined with tents of outdoor businesses, clubs, and outfitters, each eager to discuss their services – so eager, in fact, that they lured you in with the promise of free stuff. It was clear to see which visitors were frequenting the tents, as some walked away with their arms full: ice packs, stickers, water bottles, bags, and more. Games were also a welcome attraction: LL Bean held a boot toss while Midwest Mountaineering had a wheel for spinning. 

And that’s not even to mention the main attraction: THE FREE BUFF. Buffs are an absolute essential for any winter adventure, and are incredibly versatile. Packages boast 16 different styles; trying each one is a rite of passage. Therefore, as there are “only 1,000” buffs available for skiers at the opener, it is a race to get one. Everyone in our group got one, so of course we celebrated with a selfie!

Lace Up

Some of you may be thinking, “But I don’t even know how to ski!” Never fear, lessons are available, and at the opener, they’re free! Ski rentals are also free, so this event is the best opportunity to learn! There are also rentals and lessons available throughout the season. Any Nordic-er you know is bound to offer to teach you (we are a very passionate bunch). 

Elm Creek is also a great destination for many other winter opportunities: downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding, and even dog sledding, if that’s your thing. 

When next December comes around there snow way you can miss the opener! The welcoming community, fun skiing opportunity, and promise of free stuff is highly worth the wait. 


Flight 2020

By Jeff Erickson, Minnetonka High School Principal



We’ve all heard the message please put on your own oxygen mask first before you assist others.” 


Pretty simple advice–take care of yourself before caring for others.  I’ve said the same thing to you, students, teachers, and my very own children.  Yet, while I understood the words I was not living that advice myself. For many years, I did not make myself the priority to better serve and care for those around me.  Yearly visits to my own doctor were repeated reminders of where I was falling short. I knew what I needed to do and I was not doing it. Yet, as a good friend once told me, the lesson will continue to present itself until you learn it.  In March of this year, I decided it was time for change. It decided to time to make myself and my personal wellness a priority. After much thoughtful reflection during Spring Break 2019, I committed to making a change.


There is no quick solution. It came down to two changes: being intentional and careful about what I was choosing to eat and daily exercise.  Gone are the daily cans of Coke, and carb-filled bagel sandwiches…. and in its place? Homemade breakfast burritos, fruit, and yogurt. For me, it mattered to slow down and make better choices each and every day.  Also, the start to my day is different. Instead of a series of excuses of why I cannot make time to exercise, I have a 5:00 am start time on my treadmill. My changes have been simple and thoughtful, and as your health teachers can affirm, that’s what it takes. 


Over the past eight months, these choices have become easier and frankly my world has changed more than I thought.  I feel better, both mentailly and physically. I start the day with new energy. I feel I can do more and I feel happier.   I told my staff in August I will be able to better serve our school community by taking care of myself and in modeling good self-care.  


As you know, I close each Beyond 140 on the bridge.  So I end my Writing Center Blog with a virtual bridge from me to you.  Tonka, a two-week break provides an opportunity to reflect on your own and I ask you to think about 3 ideas–


  1. How are you investing in yourself?
  2. How will you make space for personal growth (both physical and mental)?
  3. How will these areas of growth allow you to better help those around you?


Tonka, welcome aboard to Flight 2020 with a direct service to a new year.  Remember, you don’t need to wait for the emergency to act. Pull the mask down and tighten the string, then feel free to assist others.   Thank you for listening to this important safety message. Buckle up. We are ready to take off.


Happy New Year!

Have a great break.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

HE 1

by Hailey Ens, junior writing coach

Following Thanksgiving and the massive snowstorm that accompanied it, it is definitely starting to feel like a classic Minnesotan winter. It’s getting colder, the workload is picking up, and despite the winter break being right around the corner, it can be difficult to keep spirits high at this time of year. So whether you want to maximize your festivities for this holiday season or wish to make the most of winter, here are some ways you can put your stresses and chilliness aside and take advantage of this magical time of year.

Get Cozy

If embracing the cold weather isn’t your forte, there are plenty of ways to stay comfortable during this time of year.

  • Read a book next to the fire
  • Create a pillow fort
  • Make tie blankets
  • Host a bonfire

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Explore the Outdoors

It might have been a long time since you last truly enjoyed the outdoors and let out your inner child. Take this chance to fully embrace what it means to live in Minnesota.

  • Go ice skating
  • Play in the snow
  • Go sledding
  • Visit the Minnesota ice sculptures

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Eat Up

It’s no secret that one of the main reasons that winter is the most wonderful time of the year is because of the food. There’s no reason to wait until the holidays to start enjoying some of your favorite flavors.

  • Bake cookies
  • Make a warm and hearty soup
  • Bake a pie
  • Make peppermint bark

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Get Festive

No matter if you are planning on celebrating any holidays this season or not, here are some things to boost your joyous spirits.

  • Have a holiday/winter movie marathon
  • Make DIY ornaments
  • Go caroling
  • Put up holiday lights and decorations

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Spread Joy

It wouldn’t be the season of giving without giving thanks for what you have and giving to those who may not be as fortunate.

  • Volunteer or donate to somewhere you are passionate about
  • Make a list of things you’re thankful for
  • Write letters to soldiers overseas
  • Make cards and gifts for loved ones

HE 6

So maybe you don’t get overly excited over the first snowfall, or maybe you find the rest of the year mundane in comparison to the excitement of December. Whether you’re overwhelmed by schoolwork, busy prepping for the holidays, or facing any other stresses this time of the year, don’t let these things take away from your ability to enjoy this joyous time of year. Gather some friends and play out in the snow like you used to. Snuggle up with a cup of hot chocolate while wearing your favorite socks. Write letters to your family members about why you are thankful way. The options are endless so make sure to take advantage of them before the snow turns to grass!


What’s That One Word Again?? The One That Means… You Know???

by Aspen Schrupp, junior writing coach

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Imagine this: 

You’re at your desk furiously typing away as you add the final touches to your essay that’s due in less than two hours. You’re almost done with your conclusion paragraph when it happens: you’re in the middle of a sentence and you blank on the word you’re looking for. You pause and allow yourself to think, until panic sets in. You know you know this word, yet it eludes you. Ultimately, and unfortunately, you cannot think of the word, so you must either a) rephrase the sentence or b) choose the second best, but not nearly as perfect of a fit, word.

Sound familiar?

Well, don’t let these small things slow you down any longer! Here are some of the best websites that will get you out of even the biggest memory lapse:

    1. Thesaurus (

While this first one may be obvious, it is a must to include! This thesaurus lists numerous synonyms for any and all kinds of words along with- *drum roll*- phrases! Not too many other thesauruses, or websites in general, will give you synonyms for short phrases, so this is a good tool to have in your back pocket.


2. WordHippo (

Although this website also serves as a thesaurus, it can do lots of other things, too! Have you ever known the opposite of the word you were trying to say? If so, WordHippo is for you! WordHippo can give you the antonyms of words, and if you’re a poet, it can also help you find words that rhyme. Plus, if you’re not sure how to use a word in context, type it into WordHippo, and it will give you examples!


3. Writer’s Web (

This website is a lifesaver! If you’re anything like me, you use “therefore” way too much and “however” out of context, but do not fear! Writer’s Web provides a bunch of transition words all grouped into categories to help make your writing flow!


4. Tip of My Tongue (

If there is a word you simply cannot remember, Tip of My Tongue was made for you. I recently found out about this website, and it’s super cool! You can type in things such as “sounds like,” “starts with,” and “means” to find the word you’re thinking of!

With these websites in mind, go! Write your essay! Discover the power of a really good thesaurus!