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Compassion: It’s the Bluejacket Way

As we bid farewell to 2021, still filled with uncertainty for what lies ahead, two words stand out in my mind: community and compassion. Our Cambridge-Isanti community is filled with compassion, and it seems to be magnified this holiday season. From the Giving Tree at the High School to the Care Closets in each of our schools filled with donations of basic food, clothing and personal care items children may need—this is a community that steps up over and over again to support neighbors and families in need.

There are so many studies that show compassion (one of our five Bluejacket character traits) can improve both mental and physical health. Acts of kindness are also a wellness focus of the Orange Frog — Isanti County’s initiative to combat loneliness and depression in our community. Based on Shawn Achor’s book: The Happiness AdvantageOrange Frog is a parable for building wellness habits. And service to others is one of the habits that yields positive returns in one’s life. 

Helping others has been shown to improve one’s health (regardless of age), lower blood pressure, and promote positive behaviors in teens (including better grades and more self confidence). You see, service provides youth a sense of accomplishment, personal satisfaction and purpose.

Our schools have a number of annual traditions, and we have been teaching kindness and compassion for decades (even before the Orange Frog). This year though, service to others seems to have extra special meaning. A few of our school service activities include:

Our PTOs have also stepped up to serve our school communities. They have hosted Family Reading Nights, School Bingo Days, Halloween events and are planning Kids of Character events to celebrate students who model our Bluejacket traits. Volunteering with our PTOs is a great way to build social connections, serve others and help strengthen our community. Yes, it’s been an exhausting two years, yet still our volunteers show up for kids and families.

On any given day, we can listen to the news and worry about our world. But as I walk around our schools and get out in our communities, I am filled with hope and gratitude for this community. I am inspired by our students, staff and community volunteers who have come forward with whatever time and talents they have to share and make our community a better place. 

We are thankful for our city leaders, school board, public health, first responders, and county officials who have worked collaboratively this year to address some of our communities’ most pressing needs. We appreciate all the volunteer coaches, mentors, club advisors, and advisory council volunteers. We could not do what we do without the support of our local businesses, Chamber and service clubs. We may be in the darkest days of December, but if we choose to look for the good, we will see the brightest lights in the eyes of those we serve. 

Our students, staff and schools are so blessed to have your ongoing trust and support. From all of our Bluejacket students and staff, Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Nate Rudolph 

  • At each of our schools, toy and food drives brought in thousands of items for families in need — donations of toys, toiletries and basic necessities were continuing to come in through this last week at schools.
  • Intermediate school students wrote letters of thanks and encouragement to bus drivers and Veterans.
  • At CMS a student club wrote thank you notes to school staff (who are a special kind of exhausted this year).
  • Our Cambridge-Isanti Early Childhood Coalition held a book drive and is setting up learning spaces inside of both the Cambridge and Isanti laundromats.
  • At the high school, student clubs like the Model U.N. and FCCLA are learning how to leverage compassion at a public policy level as well. Our own Abigail Bettendorf is serving as that state President for FCCLA this year, and recently traveled to Washington to meet with Congressman Stauber.
  • Trust is about Keeping Committments

    Posted by Superintendent Rudolph on 12/2/2021

    December is an important month for school finances, and we are grateful for the community support that allows us to move into fiscal year 2023 in a stable position. Our school district referendum was approved with 63% voter support on November 2. And after three years of budget cuts, we are committed to responsible spending and oversight of the new funding. We will continue to work with the Citizen’s Finance Advisory Committee to ensure the funds are only used for their intended purpose.

    The referendum will provide $3.5 million annually — less than the $8.5 million cut since 2019 — and can only be used to hire/retain high-quality staff, reduce class sizes, expand career technical education and college readiness, and support student learning. Thank you to everyone who took time to learn about the issues and vote in November.

    Doing what we promised

    In the decision leading up to the referendum, the School Board made a commitment to reduce other tax levies to minimize the impact of the referendum. At the last School Board Meeting, the Board took the first step to do just that by refinancing and restructuring 2012 capital bonds to take advantage of lower interest rates and reduce taxes. For agricultural landowners this reduces the school district portion of their property taxes for 2022 and there is no additional cost associated with the passed referendum.

    In recent weeks, all property owners should have received their preliminary tax statements. Included on the tax statement was a sentence that said if our school referendum was approved, your property taxes may be different than the amount listed. For a property valued at $200,000 (other than agricultural land) the additional taxes will be about $144 per year. For your convenience, we have a tax calculator on our website for property owners to calculate their individual tax impact based on estimated market value. Please visit

    We are hiring

    For the first time in three years, we are hiring with a positive outlook for continued employment instead of layoffs and budget cuts. Like many other businesses, our schools continue to be short-staffed following the pandemic. We have multiple positions open — bus drivers, food service workers, custodians, instructional assistants, and substitutes. We also have a need for before and after-school childcare workers, along with  other various community education jobs. Many of the positions require no previous experience and include training. We only ask that you believe in the potential of every student, every day.

    We are a community of learners. If you have a growth mindset and believe there is always something new to learn, if you enjoy lifting others up and helping young people discover their path, if you are optimistic about the future and want to serve your community, if you are responsible and believe in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, please consider joining our team. Our schools are the heartbeat of our community, and we are hiring!

    Cambridge-Isanti Schools is also actively recruiting among a very competitive teacher candidate pool. There is a teacher shortage, and it started long before the pandemic. In 1975, one in five college students majored in education. In 2016, fewer than 5% of college freshmen planned to major in education (according to the National Education Association). The top teacher candidates will be looking for communities that value education, are growing, and can provide job stability and mentoring during their early years in the profession. We can proudly say — that’s Cambridge-Isanti Schools. If you have a teacher-education major in your family, encourage them to contact us about student teaching and a potential future career as a Bluejacket.

    Strong Schools, Strong Communities

    Strong communities have strong schools, and the vote of support our district received on November 2 will allow us to remain active in local economic development plans by attracting workers with families who value a small town and want a good education for their children. Our community has a long history of excellence and a positive outlook for growth. It is indeed a great day to be a Bluejacket, and we thank you for your continued support.

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