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Boreal Community Media

2019 Common Ground Summit Recap

Mar 05, 2019 02:43PM ● By Editor

Logo designed by Hazel Oberholtzer

Media Release from Cook County Schools - March 5, 2019


On Friday, March 1, the ISD 166 Diversity Committee hosted the Common Ground Summit for students in grades 6-12. The goal of the Common Ground Summit was to provide opportunities for students to develop the skills needed to be successful citizens in a diverse community. This was done through developing storytelling and listening skills in order for students to safely and respectfully engage in conversations about identity and diversity.

Students began their day with their regular 1st block academic classes. During that class, they received their personalized name tag with their schedule for the day. At the end of January, students received the workshop descriptions and completed their preferences to help the committee create over 200 individual schedules based on student choices.

Students then headed to the gym for the Keynote Session with Ricky White. Ricky White, Niigonanakud, is Anishinabe from Whitefish Bay First Nations in Ontario, Canada. He is Pizhew or Lynx Clan and is a lifetime member of the renowned drum group, the Whitefish Bay Singers. As a result of growing up on his isolated reservation, Ricky retained deep knowledge of the Anishinaabe language and culture. These teachings continue to drive his spirit and leadership today. Ricky has been recognized as the next leader of the Anishinabe Nation of Treaty #3 in his homeland. He has been awarded Indian Education Teacher of the Year and  Minnesota Indian Education Administrator of the Year. In addition, he is often sought after to emcee pow-wows, gatherings, conferences, radio, television, and to deliver keynote addresses at public speaking events. His message was a highlight for both students and staff.

Students then participated in small group workshops facilitated by Cook County staff and community organizations. The first block of workshops focused on students understanding and accepting themselves through exploration and self-care. Students created self-portraits in “Looking Closely at Ourselves”, practiced self calming techniques in “Mindfulness” and challenged themselves with “Yoga for Self-Care.”

The second block of small group workshops focused on understanding others. Some of the workshops offered during this time included: “Building Communication with Legos”, “The Biology of Race”, “All About Autism”, “Minnesota Anishinaabeg Trivia” and “Allyship: United through Experience.” Students also spent time reading to Sawtooth Mountain Elementary students and created a collaborative paint-by-number mural that will be installed in the school.

The day concluded with a large group activity in the gym. Students and staff shared their life experiences by responding to a series of prompts. It was powerful to see the commonalities and differences we all share. For many students, it was the most surprising and impactful moment of the day.

The planning committee would like to thank, first and foremost, all staff at Cook County Schools. Their selfless dedication to students created a day full of community building activities. Thanks must also be given to the administration and school board for their support. Finally, our deepest gratitude to our community, especially the businesses and individuals who financially supported this endeavor. Without your generous donations, the event would not have been possible.


Platinum ($500+)
Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts
Kids Plus

Gold ($250+)
Crawford Excavating
Mary Sorenson & Rena Rogers
The McFarlands

Silver ($100+)
Grand Marais Family Dentistry
Kai-Zen Solutions
The Big Lake

Bronze ($50+)
Sophia Stalzer Wyant
Bob Carter
Coldwell Banker North Shore
Arrowhead Electric Coop