- WedMay22 Creative Play Center ends
- WedMay22 Early Childhood Screening 10:00 AM to 5:00 PMFCC
- WedMay22 FHS Vocal Pops Concert 7:00 PMFHS Auditorium
- ThuMay23 Creative Play Center ends
- ThuMay23 Early Childhood Screening 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
NEWSView More News
For Coach Mac, teaching and coaching goes hand in hand. Longtime Fridley High School teacher and varsity boys basketball head coach Jim MacDonald has dedicated his life to supporting the students of Fridley Public Schools - both in the classroom and on the court. This fall, MacDonald will officially be inducted into the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association (MBCA) Hall of Fame. This prestigious honor is given to only a handful of coaches each year. Honorees are individuals who have made significant lifetime contributions to coaching basketball.
“This induction isn’t just for me,” said MacDonald. “It’s for every student that’s put on that Fridley uniform - I’m glad that they are recognizing all the success that we’ve shared. This is a part of them and the parents who have allowed me to coach.”
MacDonald has been head coach of the Fridley boys basketball team since 1988, coaching more than 30 basketball teams. He has also served as head and assistant coach to the Fridley boys and girls track and field teams, totaling over 15 years, and Fridley football team assistant coach for four years.
MacDonald first started student-teaching at Fridley High School in 1987. Over the years, he’s taught physical education and health classes at every building in the district, but has remained at Fridley High School since 2004. In addition to Phy. Ed., MacDonald teaches a character education leadership class, which focuses on nationally-recognized character education called “Top 20 Training.” The curriculum surrounds social-emotional training to empower students to make a positive difference - life lessons that are important to students.
MacDonald takes pride in teaching these life lessons to Fridley students and athletes. Teaching students how to lead by example, even when no one is looking, are lessons that are integrated into his coaching style.
“I really want every student I teach, every player I coach, to be the best they can be,” said MacDonald. “We teach resilience, achieving goals, I want to help students as a whole person. Our students are here for a reason and I want all our kids to take something positive away.”
Assistant basketball coach Bryce Richter has taken those lessons to heart. Richter grew up in the Fridley school system and has known MacDonald since he was five years old.
“He was my gym teacher in elementary, middle and high school, and he also ran all the youth camps,” said Richter. A 2006 alum, Richter played varsity basketball and remembers MacDonald as a big motivator and excellent mentor.
“He was a huge piece to our success – he called us the Golden Boys, we were a big senior group,” he said. Richter later returned to Fridley after college, where he began to pursue his interest in coaching and reconnected with MacDonald.
“We formed that niche and friendship right away. It’s been a really fun ride and he is extremely deserving of this Hall of Fame honor,” said Richter. “Overall, he’s done a great job at keeping our basketball program stable and he always forms great bonds with the kids. We have so many alumni who return for games, summer events, helping with camps – it speaks a lot about his character and the kind of person he is.”
McDonald grew up in Two Harbors, Minnesota and credits his teachers and coaches for inspiring him to pursue his career in education and coaching.
“I will always remember how patient and kind my teachers were. They played such an important role in helping shape who I am,” said MacDonald. “I idolized my high school coaches so much - I wanted to be like them.”
After graduating from University of Minnesota-Duluth, MacDonald began working in sales, but soon decided he wanted to contribute more. Making a career change, he returned to school to earn his master’s degree in education.
When he was hired at Fridley, he said he knew it was the perfect fit. He first began assistant coaching the boys basketball team during his first year in 1987. Coincidentally, the varsity basketball coach at the time, Steve George, retired a year later in 1988, and MacDonald officially took on the role.
“I’ve lived through a lot of changes in this district, but one thing is for certain, we always stay true to who we are,” said MacDonald. “We know who we are and there is something to be said about that.”
When looking back at his coaching career, it’s not the championship games that mean the most. It’s the smaller moments and the irreplaceable lifetime connections he’s made. It’s the behind the scenes, above and beyond actions that make Coach Mac the person that he is. He still remains close with many of his former players, a special bond that began on the basketball court.
“I have so many memorable moments and so many memorable players,” said MacDonald. “Even though the state and conference championships are fun, it’s all about the relationships that you share. To me, it’s just really neat to have been a part of these student’s lives, even to this day.”
According to Activities and Athletics Director Dan Roff, he is proud of MacDonald’s legacy, “old school” coaching style, and positive impact that he’s had on many Fridley students.
“You don’t find that kind of longevity in one school district anymore,” said Roff. “You can come here on a Friday morning at 6 a.m., and you’ll find Mac with nearly 30 grads, community members, staff – playing in a pickup basketball league – that’s his legacy and influence. He’s character-strong, leads with integrity and determination to teach students to be the best they can be. This honor is well-deserved.”
As part of the MBCA Hall of Fame Class of 2019, MacDonald joins a list of legendary high school basketball coaches that dates back to 1984. He is the first Fridley boys basketball coach to be awarded this honor. Additional Fridley coaches who have been inducted into the Minnesota Coaches Association Hall of Fames include: girls basketball coaches Pat Barrett (2003) and Dave Morgan (2018), and wrestling coaches Don Meyers (1970) and Joe Frank (1994). Congratulations, Coach Mac!
In an opportunity to share their cultural identity with peers, Fridley High School (FHS) student group TIGERS United hosted Culture Week during the week of April 29 to May 3, 2019. Each day, a different ring of culture was represented, with the purpose of encouraging others to learn about and celebrate the cultural diversity at FHS. The week’s events were highlighted on Thursday, May 2 with Culture Night, which featured stories, dances and vocal performances in the Fridley High School auditorium.
“We thought this would be a great opportunity to showcase the many cultures we have at Fridley,” said Asanti Ahmed, FHS junior and one of TIGERS United student leaders. “We gathered a lot of interest from students so we decided to pull this all together.”
Examples of daily themes included “Family Culture,” where students and staff learned about roles that family members play in different cultures; “Gender/Orientation Culture,” which focused on empowerment and symbolism in the LGBTQ community, as well as promoting respect and understanding; “Ethnic and National Culture” where students wore colors that represent their own national or ethnic culture; among others.
According to Safia Hussein, senior and another student leader in TIGERS United, there was a lot of excitement and energy surrounding Culture Week, and particularly at the event itself.
“There was a lot of positive energy, which was exactly what we aimed for,” said Safia. “Whenever you’re showcasing something or trying to tell someone about your identity and culture, you want a positive response. I think it encouraged everyone to do their best.”
Asanti added that the energy made all those who participated feel comfortable.
“At first, a lot of people were shy to share,” she said. “For next year, I think more students would feel more comfortable to participate.”
The Culture Night show featured Thai, K-Pop, Oromo and Somali (Dhaanto) dances, as well as Hmong storytelling and song. In addition, students performed spoken word and closed the event with a cultural fashion show.
TIGERS United is a student group that is committed to validating and affirming the cultures of Fridley High School students. To ensure that Fridley is the best place to learn for each student, TIGERS United works with the school to ensure that it is responsive to the needs of all students who call FHS home.
The creative works and accomplishments of Fridley Public Schools students were showcased and celebrated at the annual Fridley Fine Arts Festival (FFAF) on May 4, 2019. The purpose of the event is to celebrate and appreciate art in all its various forms - from eye-catching visual pieces, musical and theatrical performances, and more. The event featured artwork from all buildings and grade levels - from pre-kindergarten projects to art pieces by Fridley High School International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP) students. The festival’s theme, “United By The Arts,” exemplified the way that fine arts brings together all people at Fridley Public Schools, in terms of students, staff, and the variety of artistic expression.
This year’s FFAF boasted the highest attendance rate to date. Hundreds of students, families, staff and community members immersed themselves in the creative process experience, allowing them to not only observe achievement, but to also actively participate in artistic self-expression. Guests were guided through the event by colored lines which corresponded to stations that featured various activities. Young students pieced together crafts and confetti glue art
To conclude the event, harmonious with the “United By The Arts” theme, all Fridley students who participated in FFAF performed as a flash dance mob to the song, “We Are Family.”
“We are so thankful to our students, staff and community who contributed to this event,” said Andrew Haaheim, FHS teacher who helped to organize the event. “Thank you for making this the best FFAF yet! Your support of this district and the arts programs it provides are appreciated and we can’t wait to see you next year!”
To recognize and honor Fridley Public Schools volunteers, the district hosted its eighth annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast on May 9, 2019 at the Fridley Community Center.
Welcoming the attendees, Superintendent Dr. Kim Hiel expressed her full gratitude for the invaluable time and energy that Fridley Public Schools’ volunteers put forth. She asked the attendees to take time to consider the importance of the moments that volunteers have spent to support district students.
“Let’s reflect on our volunteers’ time that was so willingly given to others,” said Dr. Hiel. “Let’s reflect on our volunteers’ experiences and the impact that you have made on other individuals. And last, but not least, let’s reflect on how your volunteer time has provided a branch of caring for others.”
Volunteers spend hundreds of hours each year across the district supporting schools and students, and making a powerful impact on the learning experiences of students. Examples of volunteering include company-wide donations of school supplies from local company MINCO, spending time coaching and teaching students in LEGO League (an engineering and robotics club) and the Fridley High School Robotics team, helping students to reinforce phonics and math skills, and donating time, money and effort to activities and athletics programs, and Cummins Power company who mentor high school students.
“We are so grateful for your time that you spend volunteering in our district,” said Dr. Hiel. “Thank you so much for caring. You have made an impact, and we cannot thank you enough.”
Volunteers who attended the ceremony were: Tammy Allen, Cari Anderson & MINCO, Paul Bauhahn, Ruth Bauhahn, Mary Bowen, Abba Blum, Loida Canuto, CUMMINS POWER SYSTEMS, Sharon Franz, Michelle Freichels, Daryl Gelbach, Doug Haugland, Ty Lindsay, Nancy Long, Jennie Marquardt, MINCO PRODUCTS, INC, Andrew Panning, Lyn Peterson, Pastor David Preston, Nancy Rekucki, Tom Ruwart, Jr., Tom Ruwart, Sr., Debbie Schmitt, Kaye Severson, Doug Westholter, Jerry Woods & CUMMINS, Judy Zerby, Mike Zerby and Kristi Zurowski.
Fridley Public Schools would like to thank all its wonderful volunteers. We deeply appreciate your generosity and commitment to the success of our students!