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GRACE House Supply Drive a Success

The Itasca Community College Psychology Club once again partnered with ICC Student Support Services to sponsor a supply drive for GRACE House. This year’s effort benefitted from an additional sponsor, the “Northern Stellas.” The Northern Stellas is a charitable organization that strives to empower women by helping them find their strengths and potential. They collaborate to provide support to individuals and/or organizations in the community.

The Northern Stellas, along with employees and students on the ICC campus, donated needed goods as well as cash to GRACE House.

GRACE House is a nonprofit organization that provides safe, temporary shelter for people who are experiencing homelessness. As Itasca County’s only homeless shelter, GRACE House typically serves more than 200 individuals and children each year.

Donations to GRACE House can be made on-line, by mail, or in person. For more information, visit or call 218-326-2790.

Source: Grand Rapids Herald Review

Elementary Education Program: St. Scholastica at ICC

The College of St. Scholastica announces the launch of an Elementary Education Degree Completion program at Itasca Community College (ICC). This bachelor of science degree will provide students with the knowledge, skills and disposition required to be successful in a variety of elementary education settings.

The program will be offered in a blended format of online and in-person courses two evenings per week and one Saturday per month. Additionally, the program will allow students the opportunity to gain valuable in-classroom experience beginning their first semester.

Through the articulation between ICC’s Class Act Pre-Education Program and St. Scholastica, students are able to seamlessly transfer and complete their bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in two years if all prerequisites are met.

"I was blessed to be a part of The College of St. Scholastica community," said Taylor Mundis. "I gained great career experience in my field while getting taught by hospitable and caring professors. I am grateful to have received my teaching education from St. Scholastica."
The Elementary Education Degree Completion program has been offered by the College since 2014 and courses are taught by qualified local instructors with classroom experience. At $425 per credit, the program is highly affordable.

For more information, visit

St. Scholastica is a 109-year-old private, independent college founded in the Catholic Benedictine tradition. It is nationally recognized for quality and value. It has been named the top Minnesota college for economic mobility, and U.S. News & World Report includes it on its Best National Universities and Top Performers on Social Mobility lists. The College is ranked on Money magazine's “Best Colleges for your Money ” list, Princeton Review’s 2020 list of Best Midwestern Colleges, and Forbes’ Top Colleges list. The Center for First-Generation Student Success has named St. Scholastica one of the top 80 colleges in the country for commitment to first-generation students. CSS currently offers a BS in Management at ICC. Learn more at

Itasca Receives Hunger Free Campus Designation

During the 2019-2020 academic year, the Itasca Community College Student Senate led the college in an effort to become a hunger-free campus. This important designation means that the college is committed to ensuring that no student goes hungry. The Hunger Free Campus designation was awarded by the statewide student association, LeadMN. Itasca was one of 16 colleges in Minnesota that received the designation.

Factors that contributed to this achievement include: have an established food pantry on campus, provide information to students on food assistance programs in the community (such as SNAP), have an emergency assistance grant for students in need, establish a Hunger Task Force, and host an awareness event regarding food insecurity.

The Student Senate worked hard to meet all these goals. More information about the Hunger Free Campus campaign can be found here.

Food insecurity is a real problem for people everywhere. If you are an ICC student and you are experiencing food insecurity, please call or text 218-308-8570 to be connected to resources.

Award Winning Teaching in a One of a Kind Program

Pictured above: ICC’s Applied Psychology/Human Services faculty, left to right: Jackie MacPherson, PhD; Marlo Gangi, M.A. & Jenny Wettersten, M.A., L.P.

On October 2, 2020, Dr. Willie Garrett, President of the Minnesota Psychological Association, presented Jenny Wettersten, MA, LP with the Outstanding Teaching of Psychology in Community/Two-Year Colleges Award. The award recognizes a faculty member who brings a special quality or commitment to working with psychology students in the community college/two-year college setting, with specific focus on demonstrated influence in interesting students in the field of psychology and effectiveness in the classroom.

In nominating Jenny for this award, her colleagues and students stated “In a nutshell, what makes Jenny an outstanding educator is her passion for psychology, enthusiasm for teaching and learning, and investment in promoting students’ transformation academically, personally, and professionally … her teaching style emphasizes academic rigor, she excels at connecting with her students, connecting her students with one another, and connecting students with the material they are learning.”

Willie Garrett, MS, LP, CEAP, Ed.D -- President, Minnesota Psychological Association

Willie Garrett, MS, LP, CEAP, Ed.D
President, Minnesota Psychological Association

In congratulating Jenny, Dr. Bart Johnson, Provost of ICC, stated “This award is well deserved. ICC and our community are extremely fortunate to have Jenny in our Applied Psychology/Human Services program. Along with her colleagues, Jenny brings a wealth of clinical/counseling experience into the classroom, which combined with her passion and highly-effective teaching strategies provides an outstanding learning experience for ICC students.”

ICC’s Applied Psychology/Human Services program is one of a kind; those interested in learning more about the program or ICC in general are encouraged to contact or

​Finding the Fun, Even in Difficult Times

The COVID-19 situation has brought with it many challenges in higher education. One prominent area – Student Life. Where we used to pack the Bowling Alley or the Roller Rink, we can no longer during these times. With challenge comes opportunity. Itasca Community College does not back down from a challenge, or an opportunity!

The Fall of 2020 will be a semester to remember. We will remember the way our community came together – even as we were forced to stand apart. We will remember the smiles in our eyes – as our mouths were hidden behind masks. We will remember how we flipped the script on Student Life.

The Student Life Department has truly reimagined campus activities. With a mixture of virtual activities and “socially-distanced” events, it has been a fun and exciting semester already. Events that have taken place include: virtual game night; drive-thru BBQ; virtual meditation sessions; drive-in movie; socially-distanced bike rides, kayak trips, and nature walks; a visit from the KONA Ice Truck; an outdoor ping pong tournament; a trap shooting event, and more. Events that are to come include: virtual caricature drawings, socially-distanced “Popcorn & Paint” night, virtual BINGO, trip to the Pumpkin Patch, trip to Mt. Itasca, virtual Family Feud game show night, DIY snow globe crafts, and more.

Student Life Director, Kayley Schoonmaker, talks about this shift: “I’m impressed at how resilient, understanding, patient, and FUN our students are. They just rolled with it. I was worried at first about turnout for these new events, however every event has been a success so far and it’s truly been one of the most fun semesters I’ve had. We will be doing some of these events for years to come.”

Second year student from Georgia, Jordan Huntington, has been on all of the bike rides so far. We asked Jordan his thoughts on this activity: “The bike rides were a nice exercise that I was able to do with my friends. It helped make things feel normal again.” Tia Tracy, a local PSEO student, has been to almost all the events this year and says: "I’ve been able to learn more about ICC, my classmates, make new friends, and make great memories. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to go to these events and I highly recommend going to any event that ICC hosts!"

We will persist. We will get through to the other side of this. And when we get there, we will have new and creative tools at our disposal. For more information on the Department of Student Life, including upcoming events, please visit the Student Life Webpage.

A message to our community regarding George Floyd

We see you. We care about you. We are here for you. Inclusion and equity are of the utmost importance to Itasca Community College. Racism, or any other form of discrimination, are simply not tolerated by ICC. Our hearts are heavy for the communities impacted most by the events happening around the country.

If you need a safe place to process your grief, anger, sadness, or anything else, please know that we have a caring team here to listen. Please call us at 218-322-2320 to schedule an appointment with a counselor, who can be there for you, and also refer you to other resources in the community.

A Statement from Chancellor Malhotra

"My heart is heavy for communities today. We are all impacted by the death of Mr. Floyd. For those promoted by grief and anger, who are working peacefully to effect change in our communities, remember the Minnesota State community is with you. My thoughts go out to also the residents impacted by the unrest. Times like these require unity and strong resolve. We must work together to strengthen our connection and commit all of our efforts to addressing longstanding societal ills and help create places we not only take pride in, but where we can all feel safe, valued, and respected."

Devinder Malhotra, Chancellor
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities

Blazing Toward Success in College

A standout athlete at Deer River High School, Jamaal Baird was looking for a career that offered physical and mental challenge – and an edge of excitement. In his first year at Itasca Community College, he’s well on his way to reaching that goal. He also is the student featured in the Blandin Foundation's 2020-2021 Education Grants communications materials.

SOURCE: Blandin Foundation

I graduated from Deer River High School in 2018. I was a wrestler and played football. Throughout school, I would go to my football coach when I had questions about things. He was the one who first talked to me about college. He’d ask me what I wanted to do when I got done with high school…and I didn’t know at first. He started telling me about college, like going on campus visits, who to talk to about classes, how to register. I had no idea how the whole system worked, he talked to me a lot!

I first went to a college in the Cities, but as I took classes, I realized that what I wanted was a job where I could be outdoors. Also about that time, I saw the news about wildfires in California, and the smoke jumpers fighting those fires. I thought it would be exciting to be on the front lines of a fire. So I checked out what ICC offered, and their Wildland Firefighting program looked cool, so I thought: why not?

It’s been a great change for me. Some classes are a lot of hands-on, others are more regular learning. This past summer I worked at the North Dakota Forest Service out of Bismarck on their fire crews. It was great, and I loved the work.

I also worked in spring 2019 as a scholarship counselor at Deer River. I’d go around the lunchroom and talk to the seniors, ask them what they planned to do after high school – just like my coach asked me. Then I would give them information about scholarships that applied to their area of study.

I’d tell them, fill out as many scholarship applications as you can. If you don’t, your chance of getting one is zero. Just even filling out the form increases your chances!

Besides filling out scholarship forms, there’s three main rules I’ve used for being successful in college:

  • Show up to class on time.
  • Pay attention.
  • Do the work.

It sounds easy, but it’s not always.

Outside of classes, college is really fun. People at college are all in the same boat: they’re in a new place, away from family and friends. It’s important to get in with a good group, because it’s not all studying and classes and staying up late doing homework. I’d also tell kids thinking about college to join a sport – I wrestle for ICC. It’s the best way to get to know other people, to get in with a good group and make connections.

If you are attending ICC, you apply for a Blandin Foundation grant directly through ICC. Grant funds are still available for students attending Spring Semester 2020. Just download the Blandin Educational Grant Application from our Student Forms page. The grant application for students starting Fall 2020 will be available soon!

Football Team Makes Bowl Debut Dec. 7

Itasca, Chaparrals meet in fourth annual Red Grange Bowl

A newcomer and a postseason regular will clash in the fourth annual Red Grange Bowl.

Itasca Community College of Grand Rapids, Minn., will make its bowl game debut Saturday, Dec. 7 when the Vikings take on the host College of DuPage Chaparrals in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) football game exclusively dedicated to non-scholarship programs.

Kickoff is 1 p.m. at Bjarne Ullsvik Stadium, located on COD’s Glen Ellyn campus, 425 Fawell Blvd.

The Vikings (8-3 overall) bring a sound offensive attack that features the quarterback duo of Brandon Hokkanen and Javon McInnis. The two have combined to throw for more than 2,500 yards and 28 TDs. Wide receiver Antwan Downs has hauled in 15 TDs and more than 1,000 yards through the air.

Sophomore running back Joshua Booker leads the NJCAA in rushing touchdowns with 19 after scoring three TDs in the Vikings’ 47-19 loss to Central Lakes in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference title game Sunday.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings are first in the nation in fumbles recovered (25), and second in both interceptions (21) and sacks (55).

“We are extremely honored and excited to be part of the Red Grange Bowl game and all of the related events,’’ said third-year head coach Weldon Braxton. “This is a historical moment for our college as it is the first ever bowl appearance in Itasca CC history. Our kids have performed on a high level throughout the season. Team-wise and individually, we have performed among the best teams in the country if you look at the numbers.’’

After opening the season 1-3, the Chaparrals have won six of their last seven games and bring a 7-4 record into the postseason. They will make their 22nd all-time bowl appearance and the game marks their third time as host of the Red Grange Bowl.

The Chaps feature a spread-the-wealth offense with quarterback Brayden Miller. The Lexington, Ky., native has thrown for nearly 900 yards in nine games with 10 TDs. His personal-best effort came against Ellsworth that featured five TD passes and 296 yards on 16-of-25 attempts that included a 32-yard Hail Mary TD pass to Jayvon Blissett as time expired in a 39-35 victory on Sept. 28.

Four wide receivers — Lazerick Eatman, Jaden Lacy, Jordan Robertson and Luke Junkroski — have totaled at least 200 yards, while running back Isaiah Nwokenkwo is the leading rusher with 630 yards and six TDs. He averages 9.4 yards a carry.

The Chaps lead the NJCAA in rushing yards/attempt (7.4).

Linebacker Nathan Clark is the Chaps’ leading tackler with 41 solos and 44 assists. Defensive back Alaric Wooten is among the nation’s top aerial thieves with six interceptions. Lineman Christian Wills has five sacks.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be a part of postseason play at any level, and for us to play in the Red Grange Bowl is a great testament to the kids and the coaching staff,’’ Chaparrals head coach Matt Foster said. “We’re proud to represent College of DuPage in the postseason. Our team has stepped it up after our slow start. We had a young team at the beginning of the season and went through some growing pains. They’ve responded very well and I’m really proud of our team and our staff at what they have shown.’’

The game is played in honor of the late Red Grange, one of football's all-time greats and arguably the game's greatest all-time offensive player. The Wheaton native, nicknamed the "Galloping Ghost" and the "Wheaton Iceman", is a charter member of both the Pro (1963) and College (1951) Football Halls of Fame. His single-greatest feat remains almost fantasy — scoring four touchdowns in the opening 12 minutes vs. Michigan in the University of Illinois Memorial Stadium dedication game on Oct. 18, 1924. All told in that game, he was responsible for six TDs against the Wolverines and totaled 409 yards.

Grange went on to earn three All-American honors at Illinois and became the first major signing by Chicago Bears owner and head coach George Halas. Later that year, Halas took Grange and the Bears on a coast-to-coast tour in which the club played 16 games in nine weeks. That effort is thought to have saved the National Football League and fortified Grange as a household name in America, among the likes of such legends as Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey.

The Dec. 7 game will feature the 2019 recipient of the Red Grange Award, given since the 1970s to a local athlete exemplary on the field and in the classroom. Additionally, all proceeds from the game will benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, where College of DuPage football players regularly give their time each season to assist staff and clients.

Tickets to the game are $5. Tickets for the banquet, set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at the DoubleTree Lisle, are $25. Tickets are for sale (cash only) at the point of entry at each event.

The Red Grange Bowl is made possible in part with support from the Illinois National Guard, Evviva Restaurant, DoubleTree Lisle, Packey Webb Ford, Ellyn’s Tap & Grill, Glen Ellyn Walmart Supercenter, Riddell, Sports Decals, Field Turf and BSN Sports.

College of DuPage is a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association, National Junior College Athletic Association Region IVand North Central Community College Conference (N4C). The College’s Athletics programoffers nine men’s and eight women’s sports teams each year, including outdoor track and field, indoor track and field, cross country, football, volleyball, golf, basketball, tennis, baseball, softball and soccer. All home games are played on the Glen Ellyn campus, 425 Fawell Blvd., and are free and open to the public.

Bowl Notes: COD is 2-0 all-time in the Red Grange Bowl, winning the inaugural title game in 2016 against Central Lakes 25-22 OT and in 2017 versus Mesabi Range College, 35-0 … Itasca is the fourth MCAC school to make the trek to Glen Ellyn, joining Central Lakes, Mesabi Range and Northland Community & Technical College (2018) … Both teams enter the game unranked but each received votes in Monday’s top-20 poll.

Engineering Program Partners with County Probation

The Wood Works program is no stranger to Minnesota’s Itasca County—and it’s no Paul Bunyan lumberjack tale, either.

For more than 20 years, the Itasca County Probation Department has provided its customers with reasonably-priced heating materials—but the community benefit goes both ways.

It enlists the help of juvenile and adult offenders to ring up their community service hours, with local student engineers also contributing to the program’s success.

“The program serves as a swift consequence to get criminal offenders back on track,” says Jason Anderson, director of Itasca County Probation Department.

“But there’s of course the mutual benefit that their work contributes to a valuable business.”

Using the helping hands of former offenders creates efficiency for the program, while teaching valuable work skills. In 2018, over 180 participated in the Wood Works program—a combined total of over 4,000 community service hours.

Historically, wood has been sourced from a narrow radius of trees in Itasca County due to strict regulations around tree cutting. That is, until the invention of the kiln, eliminating the threat of transporting invasive beetle species and thus changing how far wood can travel across states.

“The rules change drastically for the better when the wood is put through a kiln,” says Anderson. “It can legally travel further and has an environmental benefit as well.”

But kilns aren’t cheap, which is where the student engineers of Itasca Community College come in.

But kilns aren’t cheap, which is where the student engineers of Itasca Community College come in.

Itasca County Probation Department formed a two-year partnership with engineering students to build a kiln that the county could give to a contractor as part of the students course work. Next year, junior engineers will calibrate the kiln and create a user manual while ensuring the burning machine is operational.

Enbridge's $2,000 donation supported this multifaceted community project and helped purchase the kiln for Itasca County Probation Department.

It’s tough to say who benefits more from this arrangement between engineer students, criminal offenders or wood purchasers. Though Anderson works in probation, he can be proud of the residual benefits felt by the community.

“Our purpose is to be a community work service site for offenders, and our goal is to always remain cost-neutral,” he says.

Once the Itasca kiln is in operation, the department will be able to sell its products to gas stations and other geographically widespread locations.

As for the offenders, Anderson says he calls Wood Works somewhat of a springboard program, which he credits with building skills and reversing habits. It’s not uncommon for the program’s crew foreman to be an employment reference for former participants.

“In many cases, this program is why our participants regain employment after serving time,” he says.

(TOP PHOTO: The Itasca County Probation Department's Wood Works program produces both home heating firewood and campfire bundles for the general public and regional resorts and campgrounds.)

SOURCE: Enbridge Blog