USD 428 News
GBHS Robotics Club tackles first tournament
January 29, 2019
The excitement was electric as Great Bend Robotics Club members prepared for their first competition, the VEX Turning Point Robotics Tournament held in St. John, Kan on Tuesday, Jan. 29. The Great Bend High School team competed against more than 25 teams from eight school districts.
The teams use robots from VEX Robotics. While each team gets exactly the same robot pieces, the design and programing are entirely up to the individual teams. Coached by Jake Hofflinger (GBHS) and Amber Lucchesi (GBMS), students began designing their robot last September and have been working diligently after school since the beginning of the year to prepare for this inaugural tournament. Working within a 12’x12’ playing area, the robots have to work autonomously (by themselves) for the first 15 seconds of a round then the driver takes over for the remaining 1:45 seconds.
“In the fast-paced tournament format, the kids were able to score and overcame some of their programing errors,” said Hofflinger. “It was impressive to watch them expose design flaws and come up with alternative programing on the fly.”
“Sometimes you see that your design is not going to work,” said Gregory Aumiller, eighth-grade club member who accompanied the high school team for research. “You just have to start over. You can’t get too attached to a design idea.”
While the Great Bend team placed 21 in the tournament, their sights are already set on their next opportunity to compete. “I am happy and surprised with how we did today,” said Mayra Ramirez, club president. “We did not have time to practice before we competed at the venue, but the months of preparation kept us competitive.”
A next step for the Great Bend Robotics Club is to identify a corporate partner/sponsor to enhance the technology available to the middle school and high school students. “Access to better equipment would make the team more competitive at the tournaments, in addition to the robust skills they’ll gain using the technology,” said Hofflinger. Anyone interested in learning more about the program or sponsorship opportunities is invited to contact Jake Hofflinger, GBHS technology teacher and robotics coach.
The Great Bend High School Robotics team, accompanied by two middle school observers, competed in their first ever tournament this week in St. John.
Meet the Team - front row: Mayra Ramirez, club president and designer, Amy To, driver, Ana Alvarez, programmer; back row: Sawyer Stoskopf, eighth-grade, Gregory Aumiller, eighth-grade, Justin Owen, logistics
100th day of school transports kindergartners back 100 years
January 25, 2019
Kindergartners at Jefferson Elementary School left a few modern conveniences behind as they traveled back 100 years to celebrate the 100th day of school on Friday, Jan. 25.
Abigail Jonas, kindergarten teacher, spent extra time at the school transforming her classroom into a one-room schoolhouse with brown paper walls, a prop word burning stove, chalk board details, and a portrait of Thomas Jefferson, the school’s namesake, for a finishing touch. The day was made possible with the help of Denise Morrison, Renee Owen and many other enthusiastic parents who helped with clothes to complete the experience for the kids.
“Beyond the fun and games, the 100th day of school gives my students a chance to reflect on what they’ve learned so far,” said Jonas. “This year’s 1919 theme also gave them an appreciation for the technology, and classroom tools we use every day to learn. And an added bonus is the memories they made!”
Christmas came early at Great Bend Middle School
December 20, 2018
When needs were identified, Special Education Teacher Connie Ward, got rolling on a solution. A new trike was recently delivered to the Great Bend Middle School Special Education program, meeting the physical needs of their students while generating confidence.
“Last May, when I decided to follow my students from Lincoln Elementary to the Great Bend Middle School, one of my first priorities was addressing the absence of a playground with something to get my students moving,” said Ward. “I knew these students had never enjoyed the experience of riding a bike. Thanks to the help of Todd Vanskike, I’ve seen smiles, heard joyful singing, and listened to the kids talk about the freedom they feel on the trike.”
Eager to try out their new wheels, the class is utilizing the multipurpose room at the Great Bend Middle School to ride the trike. As temperatures get warmer this spring, the trike will easily move outdoors. Due to the nature of their disabilities, 7th & 8th grade special education students are bussed to the Great Bend High School for Adaptive PE, the trike provides a social and emotional outlet, as well as physical exercise for the students in a much closer proximity.
To select the right equipment, Ward provided a list of safety and security requirements to Todd Vanskike, owner of Golden Belt Bicycle in downtown Great Bend. Balance and stability were two of the issues that were a priority. Vanskike worked Worksman Cycles to customize the bike with seat belts, two sets of pedals and other elements to meet the needs of the students.
“I’m always happy to help a customer find the right bike,” said Vanskike, “but this project was pretty special knowing it will provide a new experience for the students and be something they can enjoy.”
Miller achieves national certification
December 10, 2018
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards celebrates 3,907 new National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) and another 4,446 Board-certified teachers who successfully renewed their certification in 2018. Traci Miller, second-grade teacher at Riley Elementary School was the only candidate from USD 428 in Great Bend, KS to complete the three-year process and achieve NBCT.
“The NTSB process has made me a more reflective practitioner,” said Miller. While Miller has been a successful teacher for over 20 years, she explained how the road to certification provided a fresh look at her classroom. “It’s a connected approach,” she said, “seeing students as individuals, acknowledging their preferences in learning and applying evaluation tools to monitor my teaching methods for positive outcomes.”
“Going through the National Board Certification is one of the most difficult things a teachers can do,” said Khris Thexton, USD 428 superintendent. “NBCT shows the dedication Mrs. Miller has to her profession, assuring our students, parents, and community she has met the highest standards of the teaching profession. Mrs. Miller is an outstanding educator and we are extremely proud to have her as a part of the USD 428 family!”
Miller joins over 450 teachers across Kansas, and over 122,000 across all 50 states, who have earned the profession’s highest mark of achievement through a rigorous, performance-based, peer-review process, demonstrating their proven impact on student learning and achievement.
“I’m thrilled to celebrate our new National Board Certified Teachers. This is a great personal accomplishment, but it’s more than that – this accomplishment is reason to celebrate the impact Board-certified teachers have on millions of students nationwide and on the teaching profession at-large. School principals and systems leaders from across the country regularly tell me that NBCTs are making a difference in their students’ learning, strengthening their schools and their communities,” said Peggy Brookins, NBCT, president and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
During the week of December 10, Educators across the country will celebrate all Board-certified teachers with #TeamNBCT week. The activities include in-person and online recognition of this important accomplishment.
“National Board Certification is about helping teachers become great, it is about elevating the teaching profession, and it is about helping children achieve at higher rates,” said Brookins. “The certification process impacts teaching and learning well beyond an individual teacher’s classroom.”
Signe Cook named to 2019 KTOY Team
November 21, 2018
A winner in every sense of the word, Signe Cook, a fifth-grade teacher at Park Elementary School, was honored as one of eight finalists from across the state at the annual Kansas Teacher of the Year (KTOY) awards presentation held on Saturday, November 17 in Wichita, KS. While Cook was not the top recipient, being named a finalist on the 2019 KTOY Team is a significant honor and provides ample opportunity to share her passion for teaching and influence the future of education in Kansas.
“I am honored to be a part of the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year Team,” said Cook. “The team is comprised of the best of the best, representing all the hardworking and amazing teachers across the state. In the year ahead, I am excited to use my voice to advocate in a positive way for the teachers and students of Kansas.”
As a member of the 2019 KTOY Team, Cook will spend time this spring visiting her team members’ school districts, as well as traveling to all 25 colleges in Kansas to talk with pre-service teachers.
“Each member of the team will have a different message and focus when visiting with the college students,” said Cook. “I will focus on teaching to the whole child, building relationships and creating a positive environment in which students can learn. “Teaching is the profession that makes all other careers possible. Right now, teacher shortage and retention are big issues facing our state. We hope to put teaching in a more positive light and inspire others to join the profession and stay.”
Cook has been a teacher at Park Elementary School for three years. She has also taught in a number of Kansas communities including Fowler, Junction City, Dighton, Lakin, Horton, and Winchester for a combined 20 years. Cook is one of only three teachers from USD 428 to be named a finalist since the award program began in 1992. Crystal Cross was named a finalist in 2000, followed by Joyce Anschutz in 2005.
“Signe is phenomenal teacher and leader in our district,” said Park school Principal Phil Heeke. “We will miss her in the classroom this spring while she travels with the KTOY team, but we are excited about the knowledge and tools she will bring back to our district to benefit our students.”
If you are interested in following Mrs. Cook and the 2019 KTOY Team’s journey, connect with the Facebook page “2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year Team” or on Twitter @KTOY2019 or Instagram @ktoy2019.
New Year, new options for nourishment
Remember your mom telling you breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Well, she was right!
For many students, the ‘morning rush’ causes them to skip breakfast. Beginning in 2019, the USD 428 Central Kitchen will open the cafeteria and other remote locations at Great Bend High School to provide a Second Chance Breakfast daily, between first and second period. Quick, grab-and-go menu items will be available in both the GBHS Cafeteria and the Panther Athletic Center. Students will simply scan their ID badges – making the checkout process quick and easy.
“Eating a healthy breakfast will impact just about every other dimension of your day,” said Kristy Alvord, Director of Food Service for USD 428. “It affects how you perform both mentally and physically. After a whole night of fasting during sleep, breakfast instantly raises your body’s energy level and restores your blood glucose levels to normal.”
Second Chance Breakfast is slated to begin on January 3, 2019 when school resumes after the winter break. Specific menu offerings will be announced soon.
Reading Creates Community
2018 Great Bend Reading Initiatives celebrates community connections and family engagement
In the month of November, nearly 1,300 students from across USD 428 have enjoyed reading “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” by Katie DiCamillo. Reading has the power to ignite the imagination, and when paired with family and community engagement, the positive outcomes are infinite. The 2018 Great Bend Reading Initiative provided kindergarten through students and families with a road map to complete the book in one month, as well as ample opportunities to explore the community. Kip Wilson, principal at Jefferson Elementary School, served as the 2018 coordinator and introduced partner programming with the Great Bend Public Library and the Kansas Wetlands Education Center.
“The overall goal for the initiative is to bring families together around literacy at home,” said Wilson. “We want parents to get involved; reading creates quality time and provides an avenue for parents to take an active role in their child’s learning.”
New additions to the schedule this year included “Books n’ Breakfast” and individual “Family Night” for each elementary school at the Great Bend Public Library. The grand finale was a district-wide Family Reading Night at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center that included book-based activities, an inflatable planetarium show, crafts, and an opportunity to explore newly renovated exhibits.
“The community partnerships we established this year have been great,” said Wilson. “Our partners helped connect the themes and characters in the book to engaging activities for our families. Beyond the events, our hosts took advantage of the opportunity to showcase resources and programs they provide year-round. “We hope our families will continue to utilize these resources and continue to engage as a family unit.”
In its fourth year, the Great Bend Reading Initiative is an annual program of USD 428. This program fulfills the mission of USD 428 “to educate and prepare all students to become responsible citizens and lifelong learners,” by engaging parents and families outside the classroom.