Free, fantastic publication for families, youngsters and educators  Originally published by, August 17, 20117



Minnesota families looking for something creative, challenging and fun for their youngster(s) have a free, terrific resource: this year’s edition of “Reach for the Stars.” This is a catalogue of, as the publishers put it, “More than 100 academic programs, challenges, competitions, events and enrichment activities for Minnesota K-12 students.” The booklet also is a great guide for educators who want to help youngsters explore, deepen or expand their interests. You can down load and/or order free copies here:

Whether a young person is interested in agriculture, art, business, current events, duck stamps, fuel efficient vehicles, government, languages, LEGO, math, mock trials, music, philosophy, the stock market, writing, or dozens of other areas, this booklet describes programs that will provide enrichment, challenge and in some cases, competition. Some of the programs are free, and some have a modest fee. Some are open to individuals, while others involve teams.

“Reach for the Stars” is produced by the Synergy & Leadership Exchange, based in North Mankato. Lifetouch Photography sponsors the colorful, 60-page booklet.

Barb Bergseth, of the Synergy & Leadership Exchange, told me that the booklet has been published for “nearly 30 years.” Bergseth sent an email explaining that Zona Sharp Burke, former executive director of Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation, told her “it started out as a poster of academic enrichment activities… the Reach for the Stars theme was selected for its dual meanings: for educators to find and reach their star students and for these students to aim high, to reach for the stars. When MAEF was disbanded, Synergy & Leadership Exchange (formerly known as the Center for Academic Excellence) took over producing Reach for the Stars.”

“Reach of the Stars” is a wonderful example of educator, community, and business collaboration. I’ve written about previous editions but the current one is even more “user friendly” than previous publications. It’s easy to find programs geared to young people of various ages, with particular interests.

The Synergy & Leadership Exchange will send free copies of the booklet to families and to educators. Looking through “Reach for the Stars,” and helping a youngster pick one or two activities to check out seems like a great way to start a new school year.


Joe Nathan, formerly a Minnesota public school teacher, administrator and PTA president, is director of the Center for School Change. Reactions are welcome at