Weather Forecast


Friends mourn Wyoming men killed in Saturday plane crash near Thief River Falls

Education notes: U.S. premiere of song at Grand Forks Red River

Alizjah Swenson1 / 2
“Canola,” by Alizjah Swenson. Submitted photo.2 / 2

The Red River High School orchestra on May 19 will be the first in the United States to premiere a piece played at Princess Diana’s funeral, according to the school district.

The song was composed for choral work in the 1990s and gained worldwide attention at her funeral. Composer John Tavener re-scored the piece for solo violin with string orchestra, and Claire Folson, a junior violinist, will be the featured soloist. The piece is one of several to be played at the spring concert, which will be held at 7 p.m.

Jeff Seabloom, orchestra director, said the opportunity to premiere the piece is a real privilege.

“When I learned that John Tavener had also written it for orchestra, and that setting had never been performed in the U.S. before, I was very surprised and we jumped at the opportunity,” he said.

Students have embraced the responsibility of playing the piece, he said. They’re also excited to perform classics and a couple contemporary jazz and rock-influenced works, he said.

Alexis Caoili, junior violinist, said she was honored to be performing the piece.

“It is a great piece and has so much meaning to people around the world, especially because it was performed at (the) funeral,” she said. “We have studied this piece of literature extensively in class and have rehearsed the piece in detail.”

Grand Forks students to rock orchestras

World-renowned rock violinists Mark Wood and Bridgid Bibbens will visit Grand Forks schools for an educational workshop later this year, thanks to recent grant from the Grand Forks Foundation for Education, according to the school district.

More than 200 middle and high school orchestra students here will participate in “Electrify Your Strings,” giving their orchestras the “rock orchestra makeover” and culminating in a live performance. Electrify Your Strings works with students across the nation to mix classical music with rock and roll and has been featured on NBC’s “Today Show.”

A public concert will be held next year at the Red River High School Performance Hall, and all proceeds will benefit music education for the district, according to Rebecca McFarlane, music teacher at Century Elementary and South Middle schools.

The Foundation awarded $36,651 in mini-and impact grants this spring toward several district enrichment projects, including Electrify Your Strings.

Grand Forks student wins art competition

A Grand Forks Central High School senior has been named the North Dakota winner of the Congressional Art Competition, according to the school district.

Alizjah Swenson’s work, “Canola,” will hang in the U.S. Capitol along with others selected from each state. She never thought that being excited about a field of canola near Langdon, N.D., would create such an opportunity, she said.

“I liked what I did and kept going, and worked out how to make the canola look more detailed up close compared to when it was farther away,” she said. “I was concerned about how to make the landscape appear like the expanse of fields I see near Langdon.”

Swenson and her mother will head to Washington, D.C., to see the artwork and attend a June 26 awards ceremony.

“I’m really excited and happy that it is in such an important place that everyone knows about it and will have a chance to see my work,” she said.

The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 as an opportunity for members of Congress to encourage and recognize the artistic talents of young adults, according to the district. More than 650,000 high school students have participated. 

NCTC to host June robot camp for kids

Northland Community and Technical College is hosting its ROBO Storm camps this summer from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. June 11 to 12 at the Thief River Falls campus and June 16 to 17 at the East Grand Forks campus.

The camp is intended for students in Grades 6 to 8 to help them creatively develop their math and science skills. Students will have the opportunity to build a robot, tour a local manufacturing facility and enjoy daily design challenges.

Space is limited and the camp costs $75 each, which includes supplies, food, activities, T-shirts and prizes. To register go to or contact Melanie at (218) 793-2484.

More info: Share K-12 education news at; include “K-12 notebook” in the subject heading. To see more K-12 education news, visit the websites of Grand Forks Public Schools and East Grand Forks Public Schools. Herald Staff Writer Dani Meyer contributed to this column. 

Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson is the K-12 education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald.  Contact her if you have any story ideas or tips and visit 

(701) 787-6736