Posted by Anna Maristela

Robb Virgin, Victor Johnson, and Josh Swanson - EPHS Principal, Associate Principal, and EP School District Superintendent

Academic Redesign with Capstone Programs

Robb Virgin

Adam Seidel, School Board Chair, introduced the speakers to set the stage for the program. This past year, only six high school students didn’t graduate. Students were in the principal’s office the morning of the graduation ceremony in order to finish their last assignments. This is only one example of how EP Schools gives individual students the attention they need to succeed. 

Josh Swanson, EP School District Superintendent, started with a little history behind the new vision of EP Schools. In 2015, they started to engage in their community around what they wanted their academic vision to be. What did they want their experience to be at Eden Prairie Schools? After a year and a half, thousands of people were surveyed to create a 10-year vision. Their mission was to “Inspire Each Student” and to know each student’s interests, gifts, and curiosities in order for them to explore and flourish within those. This is the Designing Pathways concept: students are able to move through EP Schools knowing their potential and options after they leave. Kindergarten through fifth-grade students have INSPIRE Choice Programming, while sixth through eighth grade students are in the Exploratory stage; they take at least one course in each of the five Pathways. The high schoolers are in the Career Pathways stage, where they focus on one Capstone in at least one Pathway.

In his upcoming fourth year as EPHS Principal, Robb Virgin shared a little about what they want students to gain from EPHS. At EPHS, they want a learning progression that is transparent, accessible, and personalized, where there is flexibility to have more than one interest. They want students to be able to say “Yes” to the following questions: “Do I belong here? Is this meaningful? Can I do this?”

They then spoke more on the five different Pathways that EPHS focuses on: Business and Management, Civic and Social Service, Natural and Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology, and Communication and Entertainment. In the new school year, EPHS is particularly focusing on Entrepreneurship and Computer Science and Information courses. At the end of each Pathway, students will then have some form of Capstone experience.

Associate Principal Victor Johnson then explained how Capstone experiences are a culminating experience for students after their exploration and learning at the end of their Pathway. A student can take their learning and put it in practice in a way that they choose to do. One example of a Capstone experience for the Computer Science path is the iOS App Development course. For business, students can take the Entrepreneurship course to design and launch their own business proposal. To make it as authentic to an experience in the field as possible, collaboration with professionals in these different fields is necessary. This is where the community can get involved. Principal Virgin discussed three main areas for partnership with the community: Project Partners, Guest Instructors, and Off-Campus Field Experience Hosts.

Project Partners would engage with Capstone students in the classroom by discussing a project that revolves around an idea or issue that needs to be addressed in their field. It would take one or two course periods to talk about the problem area and ideas that students have for solutions.  

Guest Instructors and Off-Campus Hosts are a great opportunity for a “one and done” volunteer opportunity. EP Schools is seeking professionals from different fields to present on topics relevant to a course at EPHS. The stories that are told bring the learning to life for students. Additionally, Off-Campus Field Experience Hosts would host class trips to witness professionals in action.

Johnson then discussed the next steps to take for EP Schools, as well as for the community at large. In August 2021, they plan to send out an interest form for those willing to partner in the aforementioned three areas. After connecting with those that fill out the form, they will hopefully plan for specific partnerships in the fall and implement them during the school year. Furthermore, EP Schools hopes to build and expand these partnerships; it is an ongoing process in which the community’s engagement shapes the program. Everyone is encouraged to reach out with ideas, proposals, or connections.


  • There is no meeting on September 7th.

  • The Community Service Committee is working to come up with opportunities to volunteer, especially "one and done" opportunities.

  • Meals on Wheels: September 13-17 is our week to drive and deliver meals. Contact John Goergen to help!

  • Edenbrook Buckthorn Removal Project on September 18: Buckthorn, an invasive species, is overtaking a preservation area in Eden Prairie. Sign on to help solve this issue from 9am-12pm on Saturday, September 18. Contact Glenn Olson to get involved!

Vocational - Bob Starr

Bob StarrBob Starr was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. Being the third of six children, he attended Chaney High School. He then went on to attend Youngstown State University to study accounting and later received his Master of Business Taxation from the University of Minnesota. Bob has now been married for 40 years to his wife, Michelle; they have three children. In terms of work, his first job was helping out with his dad’s soft drink bottling business, where he was eventually promoted to Sales Manager. After graduating, he worked with the IRS at Rochester for three years, then moved to Minneapolis, where he continued his work with the IRS as an Appeals Officer. He noted how challenging the job was–trying to resolve tax controversies between businesses and the IRS. In 1985, Bob left for a new company where he was promoted to Tax Partner. He eventually retired in 2011, and since then has owned his own tax consulting business. Bob then joined Rotary in 1991 and was shortly asked to become the Club Treasurer. After 30 years as Club Treasurer, he then worked as the Foundation Treasurer. When he isn’t golfing, he and his wife are building their new home in Arizona; however, he will continue participating in our Rotary Club and will be back for the summers!


Happy Fives

  • Due to time, Happy Fives were skipped for the week.