EdNotes Express

Lincoln Public Schools Communication Services continues to look for the most effective way to provide you with information.  EdNotes is written and published specifically for the faculty and staff of Lincoln Public Schools.

If you have information you would like to include, please email Mary Kay Roth at

Lincoln Board of Education: Highlights of April 22 meeting < New

Lincoln Board of Education:  Highlights of April 22 meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met on April 22 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. Highlights are below. The next regular Board meeting is May 13.

Transportation Plan

Each spring an updated transportation plan is prepared for Lincoln Public Schools, and this year LPS transportation officials are recommending one reduction.

The proposed plan would eliminate transportation of 26 Goodrich Middle School English Language Learner students to Schoo Middle School, because those students will now receive ELL services at their home school of Goodrich. The reduction would save $20,531 – and will likely be applied to the ELL program.

No new routes are recommended at this time.

The Board will take a final vote on the proposal at the May 13 Board meeting.

State law governs the rules for the students who qualify for transportation:
1.  Elementary and middle school students residing more than four miles from the school in the attendance area within which they reside.

2.  Special Education students whose individual education plans (IEP) require transportation as essential to learning.  

3.  Students who have been moved for the benefit of the district to relieve overcrowding, due to major facility renovations, efficiency in use of buildings and/or staff.  

In addition, the Board, at its discretion, may approve other transportation areas based upon unique circumstances and for the purpose of equalizing school enrollments and facilitating programs.  


The city of Lincoln has annexed three parcels of land, automatically bringing these properties into the LPS district.

The Board of Education officially assigned attendance areas to these parcels: 

  • Grandview Estates Addition, South 70th Street and Countryview Road, Annexation #19877, for 2013-14 school year:  Maxey Elementary School, Pound Middle School, and Southeast High School.
  • Railpark, Northwest 27th and Highway 34, Annexation #19952, for 2013-14 school year:  Arnold Elementary School, Schoo Middle School, and North Star High School.  
  • Broadmoor Ashbrook Apartments, Highway 2 and Ashbrook Drive, Annexation #20000, for 2013-14 school year:  Maxey Elementary School, Lux Middle School, and East High School.

Superintendent’s Update

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel related that the inter-local group of LPS and Southeast Community College representatives met Tuesday to discuss the continued development of the high school career academy. Construction is ongoing at the academy site on the SCC campus, the parking lot has been removed and work is beginning on the foundation.

Celebrations of Success

The Board of Education presented a special resolution to Schoo Middle School and Lincoln East High School, both honored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) with the RAMP designation – Recognized ASCA Model Programs – which means the schools have demonstrated a comprehensive, data-driven approach to school counseling. 

The Board also officially congratulated LPS schools for participation in the recent BackPack Walk – raising funds for the BackPack program through the Food Bank of Lincoln. The Board specifically recognized the top fund-raising schools:

  • Elementary Schools:  Maxey Elementary School, raising almost $20,000 (Team Captains Greg Tebo and Sheri Christen)
  • Middle Schools:  Lux Middle School, raising more than $11,200 (Team Captains Brent Burch and Bill Bucher)
  • High Schools: Lincoln East High School, raising more than $14,600 (Team Captain JJ Dugdale)



Posted on April 22, 2014

Avery elected to board of directors for SHAPE America < New

Marybell Avery, Ph.D, curriculum specialist for Health, Physical Education and Character Education at Lincoln Public Schools, was recently elected in the first ever all-member vote to the Board of Directors of the nearly 20,000-member Society of Health and Physical Educators, doing business as SHAPE America. Avery’s three-year term of office began at the 129-year old organization’s recent National Convention & Expo in St. Louis, MO, where a new name, logo and brand were launched. It was formerly known as the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). The organization’s mission is: “To advance professional practice and promote research related to health and physical education, physical activity, dance and sport.” Its vision statement is: “Healthy People – Physically Educated and Physically Active!”

As a member of the SHAPE America Board of Directors, Dr. Avery will promote quality health and physical education, physical activity and health education programs and lend expertise to tackle the growing epidemic of physical inactivity in children and the importance of physical activity for everyone.

For over 20 years Avery has directed the curriculum, instruction and professional development program for 120 health and physical education teachers who serve over 37,000 students. Avery’s passion is helping teachers learn to nurture in their students the skills, knowledge, habits and desire to be physically active and make healthy choices now, and for the rest of their lives.

Under her direction, Lincoln Public Schools received Carol M. White PEP grants in 2002 and 2009. In the fall of 2010 the Lincoln Public School Board of Education approved the first increase in the physical education graduation requirement in 15 years.      

An established leader, Avery has served SHAPE America/AAHPERD in a variety of elected and appointed positions at the state and national levels. She was the President of one of AAHPERD’s associations, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) in 2001-2002, a member of the Assessment Task Force that developed PE Metrics, the national standards assessments and was the NASPE representative to the Alliance Board of Governors from 2003 to 2006. In 2007 she received the Margie R. Hanson Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contributions and leadership on behalf of quality physical education programs for children and was the recipient of the 2011 Channing Mann K-12 Physical Education Administrator Award.

A native of North Carolina, Avery completed her B.A., M.A.T. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before serving as Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Education and Exercise Sciences at Creighton University in Omaha. She has taught physical education at the preschool, elementary, high school and university levels during her 38-year career.

Posted on April 21, 2014

UNL College of Music offering 'Evenings of Dance' < New

The ninth annual Evenings of Dance, a concert of work by dance faculty, guests and selected students, will take place April 24-27 Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Lied Center's Johnny Carson Studio Theater. Tickets are $7 general admission, $5 students and seniors, at the door. 

“It seems like each year we get busier and busier in the dance program,” said Glenn Korff School of Music Associate Professor of Dance and Director Susan Levine Ourada. “We were thrilled to host a large posse of amazing dancers/choreographers/teachers from New York City who gave of their talents and wisdom so generously to our students.  Their presence and accessibility truly helps the Nebraska dancers see their own futures in dance.

“Evenings of Dance is the highpoint of our season and also bittersweet as we know it will be the last time our soon-to-be-grads will perform in this program… at least as students,” she added. “We hope that you will enjoy the concert and think a good thought for these dancers as they give of their hearts for what they love.”

Posted on April 21, 2014

New principal named at Lux

Lincoln Public Schools announced today that Duane Dohmen will be the new principal at Lux Middle School, following Bill Bucher who is retiring at the close of this school year.

Dohmen is now the K-12 principal of Dorchester Public Schools and has worked with Norris High School, Waverly High School and Creighton Community Schools. He earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


"Mr. Dohmen brings great passion and instructional strength to the position - and we are thrilled to have him joining LPS," said Eric Weber, associate superintendent for Human Resources at LPS.  "He was formerly a teacher and coach at both Norris and Waverly, and his wife is currently a music teacher for us here in LPS."


Dohmen says: “During the time at Dorchester, I have worked to create a culture of learning and improvement for all stakeholders. I strive to be an administrator at Lincoln Public Schools because it is my belief that I can have a greater impact on students in a larger organization."

Posted on April 18, 2014

A school - and speaker - with a focus on how to handle bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

It didn’t take long for this innocent bit of kindness to have an impact.

Sometime during a Fall Family Night at Lefler Middle School, 1100 S. 48th St., - where the theme, not incidentally, was Changing the Culture - two students thanked a custodian for keeping the hallway floors clean.

The custodian admitted to being a bit teary eyed over the thank you he had just received, when sharing the anecdote with Lefler Principal Jessie Carlson.

He didn’t expect the kindness. It impacted him.

The next day, internationally-known speaker Brooks Gibbs told Lefler students a similar message with a different twist: Treat the bullies with kindness, and understand not everyone is going to want to be your friend.

About his own youth experiences, Gibbs humorously said, “The more they would make fun of me, the more upset I would get and the wierder I would look and the more fun they would have.”

So Lefler students recited, “Don’t get upset” back to Gibbs over and over again.

There will always be bullying, he said. Schools, workplaces, homes and about anywhere else you go, someone will try to make you feel bad.

For five years, he tried to talk to bullies, trying to tell them to be nice.

“Meanwhile, the victims were still struggling,” he said. “One thing no one can ever do is make people be nice.

“We don't need social skills on how to deal with nice people, we need social skills to show us how to interact with difficult people.”

He quoted President Abraham Lincoln: “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend,” and Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Exchanging mean words with a bully, he said, and believing what the bully says, lets the bully win. Being nice, saying thanks and listening to your true friends require resiliency and allows you to retain your own dignity

And so it begins, a school where niceness and random acts of kindness get more attention than harsh words. 

“What I like about (Gibb’s speech) is that every kid can take away a point of empowerment about what they do when it happens,” Carlson said.

So English teachers worked the lesson into their curriculum, families were invited to hear from Gibbs himself, and participate in family-buliding activities.

The families and students watched a short video about a 22-year-old celebrating his 22nd birthday with 22 random acts of kindness: making time to talk to a busboy, giving water to construction workers, writing thank you notes, and so forth. (Watch the video here -

Next steps include the school student council and the group’s sponsor will seek out ways to honor those doing great things. When it catches on, the change will be just beginning.

“We wanted familes and kids to walk away with ideas on what they can do to change the way we interact with one another in society and help change the culture,” Carlson said. Kindness spreads, kids feel better about themsevles, and they will be more accepted by their peers, she added.

“I hope it leads to kids being thoughtful about interactions with one another. We don't want it to be a one-time event, but the beginning to ongoing work with one another. We've got a great start.”

Posted on April 17, 2014

Maxey Elementary Enjoys Education in “Skyros” Style

You can learn a lot from a string quartet! Maxey Elementary School students were both educated and inspired when they had the opportunity to hear a performance by the Skyros Quartet. First they got started with a call and response activity:

“We are Skyros! We are Skyros!”

“We are Maxey! We are Maxey!”

Then students listened for the same rhythm in the music. They learned about musical terms and playing techniques. They learned about music history and great composers.

Yes, you can learn a lot from a string quartet.

The Skyros Quartet took students on a trip to countries all around the world. While visiting Finland they discussed the biosphere, tundra, the Laplander and reindeer. While in Spain they imagined what the bullfighter was saying as Skyros Quartet performed, La oración del torero by Joaquín Turina.

Yes, you really can learn a lot from a string quartet. While listening students thought about their future. “When I go to college, I will study the subjects that interest me the most. Just as the musicians of the Skyros Quartet have chosen to study music, I will choose to study what I am most passionate about.”

The Skyros Quartet is the Graduate Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Quartet members are pursuing Doctorates in Chamber Music Performance under the guidance of the Chiara String Quartet. Their members include Sarah Pizzichemi, Justin Kurys, William Braun, and James Moat.

Posted on April 10, 2014

Story of the Honor Flights - Freedom Is Not Free

Kathi Mercure, social studies teacher at Lux Middle School, recently traveled with the Honor Flight program and wrote about her experiences, the program, and her personal connection.

The Honor Flight program begin in Ohio when a retired Air Force Captain saw this as a way for WWII veterans to see their memorial which was completed finally in 2004. The average age of a WWII veteran was 80 years and it was difficult for many of them to travel there on their own.

Mr. Bill Williams and his wife Yvonne saw this story and made several attempts via private and corporate airplanes and jets to pay for the first flights. Dan Whitney, aka Larry the Cable Guy, known for his support of his home state of Nebraska, donated $70,000 for the first flight. That helped the flights get off the ground, and the stories, funding and volunteers followed. The Heartland Honor flights took almost 1,500 Nebraska WWII veterans to see their national WWII Memorial, thanks to the countless efforts of the many volunteers and the donations from so many all over the state and some beyond, which raised $1,200,000. The most substantial donor was the Peter Kiewit Foundation, which donated $365,000.   There was a dinner for the veterans and their guests the evening before each flight. Governor Dave Heineman came to each dinner not only to speak but also to meet many of the veterans.

While the veterans were gone for the day in Washington, D.C., many of their wives would enjoy their time “On the Home Front”, hosted by volunteers which would include lunch and visits to area museum or places of interest.

The pre-flight breakfast usually kicked off at 3 or 4 am in the morning and the buses would quickly be loaded, and according to one’s bus color to board the charter jets. The itinerary would include visiting the WWII Memorial; Lincoln, Vietnam, and Korean Memorials; Arlington Cemetery and the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns; and Iwo Jima Memorial, before boarding the charter jet to return to Nebraska.

The seven flights for WWII veterans took place from May of 2008 through April of 2009. Those who volunteered to help said it was an honor and a privilege and many have made life-long friends.

The on October 29, 2013, 135 Korean War Veterans from all corners of Nebraska made a one-day trip to Washington, D.C.   There were over 350 donors who made this trip possible for our Korean War Veterans from Nebraska.

Bill and Yvonne then set out to make one more attempt of sending Korean War Veterans to Washington, D.C. knowing that with their age and failing health, this would be the last Honor Flight from Nebraska. As the numbers of veterans enrolling increased, the amount of funding needed eventually reached $500,000, of which the cost of the chartered flights alone was $360,000. There were over 500 donors for the 460 Korean War Veterans headed for Washington, D.C. on three chartered planes early on the morning of March 25, 2014.

As each of the 460 veterans walked through the glass doors of the Ramada Plaza on Monday, March 24th, middle school students from St. Mary’s School in Lincoln greeted them, shaking their hand and saying: “Thank you for your service. God bless.” Each veteran was presented a book entitled “Korea Reborn, A Grateful Nation”, a shirt, jacket and Korean Veteran hat. 

Over 1,450 veterans and their guests were treated to a banquet at the Ramada Inn in Omaha. As they lined up for roll call and later during the banquet, the thank-you's continued, from University of Nebraska Board of Regents member Hal Daub, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, World War II veteran Rev. Gil Hill, Gov. Dave Heineman, South Korean representative Lt. Col. Kang Moon Ho and Mandy Freitag, a young woman born in Korea and raised in America.

The trip the next day took less than 24 hours.

Buses rolled out of the Ramada Plaza parking lot bound for Eppley Airfield at 3 a.m. packed with veterans sporting black hats, blue polo shirts and jackets courtesy of Mutual of Omaha with the words, “Korean War Honor Flight,” embroidered over their hearts.

More than 100 volunteers, dubbed guardians, pushed wheelchairs and oxygen tanks through security screening points, onto the planes and kept the wheels of the tour rolling smoothly throughout the day.

At Dulles Airport, volunteers and active duty soldiers welcomed the veterans to Washington and ushered them onto buses headed to the Korean War memorial, the Vietnam wall and Lincoln Memorial.

Veterans also toured Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial, the Air Force Memorial and the World War II Memorial.

For a day, the veterans were stars. Police escorted their buses and members of Nebraska's congressional delegation dropped by to shake hands at the Korean War Memorial.

At the National World War II Memorial, a handful of guardians broke off from the main group and boarded a bus to Arlington National Cemetery -- Section 60 -- where more than 800 war dead from Iraq and Afghanistan are buried. These guardians carry a second title -- Gold Star Parent -- as the mother or father of an American soldier killed serving their country.

Kathi Mercure was honored to be selected as one of the guardians on this final Korean War Honor Flight. Her uncle, Frank Joseph Gilbert was killed in action in Korea on April 14, 1952 and in May of that same year Kathi was born. Her mother was deeply affected by the death of her little brother, who was a Marine, in that far away land called Korea.   Ironically, Kathi and Steve adopted two daughters from South Korea, Megan in 1982 and Mary in 1985. Megan went on to serve in the Marines, following graduation from high school. Even though Kathi leads the 8th grade Washington, D.C. trip each spring break for Lux Middle School, and has visited the Korean War Memorial many times, this time she stood there among hundreds of veterans and felt the real presence of her uncle among the heroes standing there.   It was such an amazing yet emotional experience for the veterans to be in the presence of the memorial created in their honor. The 19 larger than life stainless steel statues depict a squad on patrol and evokes the experience of American ground troops in Korea. The windblown ponchos reminded the veterans of the harsh weather that they endured while serving there. Many of the veterans spent time near the granite wall with the reflected images of hundreds of faces reflecting the Americans who answered their country’s call to duty. The memorial was dedicated on July 27, 1995, the 42nd year of the armistice that ended the war.  

Friends and family packed Eppley Airfield in Omaha to welcome home the veterans nearly 60 years after their return from war. Hundreds of people carried signs, cheered, clapped and thanked the veterans for their service. Upon their return to Omaha, the veterans were presented with medals from the Republic of South Korea that were forged from old barbed wire from the Demilitarized Zone that still divides the Korean peninsula more than six decades after an armistice stopped the fighting in 1953.

These two days were truly an experience of a lifetime for everyone involved and an opportunity to say Thank You to these remarkable veterans who served America graciously and heroically.

Bill and Yvonne Williams also created “Remembering Our Fallen” to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the The War on Terror, while wearing our country’s uniform.  Its legacy will be that these men and women will never be forgotten and that their names will be remembered and spoken. 

This project was inspired after reading a story in the Omaha World-Herald in September, 2010, about a father whose pain and grief were even greater four years after his son, Joshua, had died in Iraq.   Why?

Because he felt that his son had been forgotten…and the war was not even yet over.

Man Does Not Die Until He is Forgotten

"Remembering Our Fallen" memorial displays have been created for Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, North Dakota, Kansas, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Texas, and Georgia. A display will soon be completed for Florida with plans to unveil to families in the spring of 2014. If you have any questions about the Tour or upcoming states, please contact us at:

To see the “Remembering Our Fallen” Tour Schedule, visit:

Posted on April 09, 2014

Link N Leaders event features students, Husker athletes

The first Link N Leaders event, hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Department and the Lincoln Public Schools Special Education Department, will be from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 27 at the Hawks Championship Center. 

The purpose of the event is to recognize students in Lincoln Public Schools who exhibit core values of Loyalty, Trust, Teamwork, Respect, and Integrity. These students do the right thing every day, make healthy choices, and exhibit leadership potential.The students selected from each school will have the opportunity to interact with Nebraska Student-Athletes from every sport and learn more about the core values. 

Please contact Cindy Brunken ( or Stacey Burling ( if you have any questions about Link N Leaders.

Posted on April 09, 2014

Prescott Walkathon back for improved outdoor classroom

The public is invited to join in the fifth annual Prescott Walkathon from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, May 9th at Prescott Elementary School, 1930 S. 20th St. Over the last four years, Prescott students and supporters have walked more than 5,000 miles while raising funds for Prescott Park and Outdoor Classroom.

This project is transforming a barren gravel playfield into a community green space for outdoor education, healthy family activities and neighborhood festivals.

The public can help by participating in the Prescott Walkathon on May 9th or making a donation towards the project.

Checks can be mailed to Prescott School, 1930 S. 20th Street Lincoln, NE 68502. Additional information can be found at

Posted on April 09, 2014

Vocal arts academy accepting applications for students in grades 3-6

The Nebraska Academy of Vocal Arts provides music education and performance opportunities. NAOVA is accepting registration for students in grades 3-6 at their website,

For more information, visit the website or call 402-202-0565.

Posted on April 09, 2014

LSW speech, debate teams hosting garage sale

The Lincoln Southwest Speech & Debate teams are hosting a garage sale and silent auction from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 26 in the school's commons.

The public can also drop off items on April 25 from 3 to 9 p.m. in the west parking lot area of the school. Suggested items include: books, small appliances, toys, bikes, freshly laundered or new clothing, craft supplies and holiday items. Items that can not be accepted include computers, TV's, car seats, chemicals or house paint, recalled or expired items, food (unless it is specifically for sale by Forensics). Donated clothes should be freshly laundered and in good condition.

Posted on April 09, 2014

Lincoln Board of Education: Highlights of April 8 meeting

The Lincoln Board of Education met on April 8 at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. Highlights are below. The next regular Board meeting is April 22.

Policy changes

The Board of Education discussed policy changes that involved a wide range of subjects including: student fees, student attendance, student transfers, extracurricular activities code of conduct, and more.

Counseling grant

The Board was presented with a grant that would provide funding to add four new full-time elementary school counselors at LPS – allowing the school district to expand services through the use of more counselors.

“We think this is appropriate given the growth we’re experiencing and the needs we’ve seen,” said Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction at LPS.

Memo of intent with YMCA

The Board approved a memo of intent related to the local YMCA, establishing the intent of LPS to work collaboratively with the YMCA in the development of a new middle school to be built in southeast Lincoln.

National School Board conference

Board members commented on lessons learned in recent attendance at the recent national conference of Boards of Education – and LPS Superintendent Steve Joel thanked them for their participation.

“Thank you for your commitment to continued education,” Joel said. “I always come out of this conference feeling really good about what public education represents. If we don’t stand up for public education then who will…More and more emphasis gets placed on public education – what we get blamed for, what we get more responsibilities for….But we never apologize in our school district. We put our heads down, surround ourselves with good people, address goals and get busy. We have the highest of expectations in Lincoln, and we have the results.”


Posted on April 08, 2014

UNL hosting sports communications panel

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the College of Journalism will host a panel presentation by award winning national and local journalists, PR and advertising professionals. It will be two hours of narratives of how these individuals got their jobs, rose to the top and what advice they have for an aspiring reporter in TV or print, or advertising executive or producer in sports TV production.

The event is at 4:30 p.m April 10 at 15 Andersen Hall at 200 Centennial Mall North. It is a free event and open to the public. Moderated by four-time Emmy Award winning ESPN reporter, Shelley Smith, the panel includes:

--Bryan Burwell, an award-winning journalist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch and ESPN’s Sports Reporters.
--Elizabeth Conlisk, the Big Ten Network’s vice president for communications and university relations.
--Dirk Chatelain, award-winning columnist for The Omaha World-Herald.
--Paula Lavigne, an award-winning TV and print reporter for ESPN.
--Elizabeth Merrill, an award-winning long-form writer for
--Dan Gibson, creative director of Archrival, a youth marketing agency that makes brands relevant with youth culture.

Topics of discussion include:
--How has coverage and business of sports changed with regards to the many platforms that now exist, including social media?
--In what way has intensified media coverage of athletes caused too much intrusion into personal lives and lives of their families?
--What’s next? What is the future?

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications began offering students the opportunity to obtain a sports communication emphasis this spring. Students may elect a traditional reporting track or do their coursework in advertising and public relations. Students interested in sports are already presented with professional opportunities unique to the university, such as working at HuskerVision, interning with sports marketing groups or working with ESPN when the network broadcasts in Lincoln.

Posted on April 03, 2014

Growth in 50s, 60s led to many new schools

Ed Zimmer capped his architectural historian's viewpoint on Lincoln Public Schools with his April Learning Lunch in the LPS District Office. Zimmer, an LPS board member and Historic Preservation Planner for the City of Lincoln, began last fall with his monthly presentations on the history of LPS. Here are a few highlights:

Very dramatic population growth in the 1950s and 1960s leads to a lot of new schools in Lincoln, including Mickle Junior High, Morley Elementary and McPhee Elementary in the early 60s.

Student population in 1970 was slightly more than 30,000, but by 1980 it had dropped to about 25,000, near the same enrollment number of 1960. This led to the closing of schools like Hayward, Havelock, Whittier and Bethany in the 1980s, mostly schools that were built independently of LPS. Yankee Hill became part of this district in this era, and is still used for an LPS program today.

By 1990, growth has resumed and has continued through today, though the pace is both steadier and more moderate than in the 50s and 60s.

McPhee sits on the original block as assigned in the original plat of the city from 1867. This school sits just a block to the south of the Nebraska State Capitol.

School architecture was not as distinctive, according to Zimmer, in the 60's as opposed to earlier decades, with buildings not featuring the strong front entrances that define older schools.

In 1967, Lincoln East High School become the fourth high school. It lacked windows overall, but some have been added.
In the 1990s, the configuration of grades changed from junior high (7-9) to middle schools (6-8), and names of the schools accordingly changed as well.

Kahoa Elementary and Zeman Elementary was built in the 1970s based on an open plan, with few walls. Updates since have created more traditional classrooms with defined classrooms.

Humann Elementary School doesn't look like an old school, as Zimmer noted, but mechanically it needs updates. Not all updates are obvious to the outside eye.

The phrase Campbell-Cavett-Maxey-Roper is common in LPS-ese, with the four elementary schools using a nearly identical architectural plans and geothermal heating and cooling system. Today, 85% of school square footage in LPS use geothermal to heat and cool the buildings. It is now possible to heat and cool a building for the same price that it used to cost to just to heat the building.
Bonds issued in 1999 were used for Lincoln Southwest High School and Lincoln North Star High School, using the same plan adapted to their respective sites, and opened a year apart.

Posted on April 02, 2014

VNA offering shot clinic

A staff immunization clinic has been scheduled for April 29, 2014 4:30-6:30 PM at LPSDO. The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) will be offering Tdap, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B immunizations for employees, their spouses and dependents.

Click here for Registration Information and details regarding cost, date, time and location. 





Posted on April 02, 2014

Lefler’s new grab-n-go style breakfast gaining popularity

Welcome to Lefler Middle School. Grab your breakfast, change out books at your locker, and head to class.

Complete the objective written on the board, finish your juice and yogurt, and we’ll begin the rest of class in a few minutes.

Grab-n-Go breakfasts at Lefler, 1100 S. 48th St., are the first of its kind for the school and Lincoln Public Schools. Students wait outside their grade-level entry door, then at 7:50 a.m., the breakfast eaters get in line for cereal, a drink, and other nutrition-minded food.

When students eat breakfast at home, they may go five to six hours before they have lunch at school. But, even more likely, middle school students skip breakfast, which means they don't eat anything from bedtime to lunchtime the next day.

That had Principal Jessie Carlson concerned.

School nurse Sharon Baker noticed it. Teachers, too. Students would complain of hunger, lose focus easily and disrupt others. Teachers would either provide some small snacks of their own, or send the student to the nurse’s office where some snacks were available.

A lost breakfast had once again turned into lost instruction time.

The Lefler leadership team began picking up ideas from others schools, both nationally and in-state ones like Grand Island Public Schools and Norris Public Schools. Those schools provided models that show breakfast at school can lead to more focus, better academic achievement and improved behavior. Lefler also gets help from the YMCA, Community Learning Center, an internship program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and from nursing students at the Bryan College of Health Sciences.

These best practices – which in education means it’s backed by evidence – told Carlson and Baker it not only could be done, it had to be done.

To get it done, it required the school leadership team, nurse, nutrition staff, custodial staff and teachers, and school district staff. The models suggest students should have breakfast available at the door when they arrive, and eat in the first few minutes of class. 

Students typically spend the first part of class working on a short assignment, warm-up activity, turning in papers, or writing in planners. That gives them enough time to eat, do their school work and clean up before the rest of the class continues.

“It works really well,” said sixth-grader Karlee Alrdridge. “It helps people get breakfast because sometimes they can’t come early, but now they come at the normal time and they still get breakfast.”

There were no models, however, for the physical layout of Lefler. There’s no elevator, some hallways features a few stairs up followed a few steps later by a few steps down. Carrying food and drinks up-and-down stairs or hauling them on wheels outside aren’t safe for people or food.

Thanks to a make-this-work attitude, it is now possible for students to grab their breakfast immediately after coming inside the school.

“I used to eat in the cafeteria but when they started doing this I thought was an easier way for getting everybody,” said sixth-grader Morgan Weier. “For some people, they don’t want to walk all the way up to the cafeteria and then all the way back.”

The hallway serving plan required extra work:

- internet connection was improved so computers could log-in their breakfast from the hallway just as they would for lunch in the cafeteria,

- spaces were made available for coolers and food storage,

- food distribution is made to each doorway every few days,

- coolers were purchased through various grant funding, 

More one-time funding will be needed to purchases warmers to expand menu options. 

“It’s a healthier breakfast for them and that’s the more important thing,” said P.E. teacher Jefferson Pappas. “They are getting good food in their system to start their day and that’s making them more successful.”

The earliest indications from parents, staff and students are positive. Baker said her long-term view dictates a culture change: students who eat breakfast in middle school are more likely to eat breakfast in high school. So students who start eating breakfast as sixth-graders are more likely to continue in seventh and eighth grades.

“Kids are developing their behaviors and their health-styles now, so if we don’t catch them now, that’s going to continue on into high school,” Baker said. “So this can be a big changer in terms of their grades and how they function.” 

The numbers through two weeks show popularity is gaining quickly. On the first day, the first Monday after Spring Break, 89 students ate breakfast. The following Monday 142 students ate breakfast. The two-week high was 187, a 47 percent increase from day one. 

Just eight eighth-graders ate breakfast the first morning, compared with 60 sixth-graders. But that number has risen too, with 37 eating by the end of the first week.

Making breakfast cool will be a challenge that Baker hopes will get easier each year.

Students pay $1.30 or less for each breakfast depending on their participation in the free-and-reduced lunch program. It will take about 200 students to make the program sustainable, but Carlson and her team have set 300 students as the goal.

Carlson said teachers will read more about engagement next year by reading ‘Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind’ by Eric Jensen. While poverty itself may be a factor beyond teacher control, there are ways to help all students to be more engaged and successful at school, she said. One such factor - in fact, the first such factor in the book - is a healthy breakfast. 

As family lives have increased in speed, Baker said, and some students prefer sleeping in instead of eating breakfast at home, an unhealthy trend has developed. 

Staff will use the book and ensuing conversation to improve engagement and instruction. 

If offering a grab-n-go breakfast, at the door, at the beginning of the school day, is one way to accomplish that, then breakfast is served.

Posted on April 02, 2014

Firearms amnesty day

NeighborWorks Lincoln and the Lincoln Police Department are hosting a gun amnesty day from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 10, 2014. 

Firearms should be transported in the trunk or back seat of a vehicle in an open box, bag or container. Once at the drop off site tell the person that contacts you at your vehicle where the firearm is located and let them retrieve the firearm. It is preferred that firearms be surrendered unloaded and any breaches, slides, bolts, cylinders or actions should be open. However, if citizens are not familiar with how to unload their firearm and attempting to do so would create a hazard, transport the firearm to the site and inform the person that contacts you at your vehicle that the weapon may not be unloaded.


For information contact: Captain Koluch 441-7751, Sergeant Sheridan 441-6000, Officer Ripley 441-6000

Posted on April 01, 2014

State Treasurer encourages savings for college with NEST

Parents and grandparents of students in Lincoln Public Schools can learn about saving for college through the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST), thanks to a new online program offered by the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office.

The program provides basic information about 529 college savings plans including a section on myths vs. facts and a section for users to check their knowledge. Another feature is a calculator that suggests how much parents or grandparents should be saving based on a child’s age. Audio is provided during part of the presentation.

State Treasurer Don Stenberg launched the new online program to provide information about state-sponsored 529 college savings plans in general and NEST in particular. The new program, introduced Oct. 1, 2013, is called Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars for Families.

The easy-to-follow, interactive program was developed by EverFi, an educational technology company in Washington, D.C. The 15-minute tutorial can be accessed through the home page on Treasurer’s website at There is no charge. Visitors can return as often as they like to seek answers to specific questions or to review the content.

The Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars for Families program is supported by the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust. EverFi is continuing to work with local banks, foundations, and corporations to secure additional funding for the program.

As State Treasurer, Stenberg is Trustee of NEST. First National Bank of Omaha is Program Manager. All investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council.

NEST has received national recognition for its fund selection by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Also, two NEST plans were among 32 college savings plans nationwide to receive medals from Morningstar, an independent investment research firm. The two NEST plans moved up from Neutral to Bronze in Morningstar’s 2013 ratings. The same two plans also received the top five-cap rating from the website,, in 2012, the latest year for which those ratings are available.

Effective for taxes due in April 2015, Nebraska NEST account owners will enjoy a $10,000 state income tax deduction for couples filing jointly, up from the current $5,000 deduction. The increased income tax deduction was approved by the Legislature in 2013.

NEST has more than $3.4 billion in assets with 214,000 accounts nationwide. More than 61,000 of those accounts are owned by Nebraskans.

For more information about Nebraska NEST Financial Scholars for Families or the NEST college savings program, contact Rachel Biar, director of college savings for the Treasurer’s Office, at 402-471-1088 or at


Posted on April 01, 2014

LARSP presents funds for Fund-A-Need

Lincoln Area Retired School Personnel recognized local philanthropy groups at their Philanthropic Presentation program. On the list of those groups acknowledged was the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools. LARSP presented the Foundation with a check of $312.00 on Monday, March 3rd.

FLPS President Wendy Van was present to accept the award on the Foundation’s behalf. The contribution funded Fund-A-Need classroom grants which provided take-home books to Mrs. Schurman’s Kindergarten class at Arnold Elementary and Junior Scholastic Readers to help Mrs. Catlett at Park Middle School share history, geography and current event lessons with students in vibrant, thought provoking ways.

Van speaking at the presentation stated, “The Foundation for LPS’s goal is to build and strengthen relationships with people like you who work hard on behalf of our students. You do great work. I’m here today give you a huge thank you for what you have done and continue to do for Lincoln’s children.”

Posted on April 01, 2014

Mourning Hope Grief Center Delivers “First Aid Kits for Grieving Hearts” to LPS Elementary Schools

Library Media Services partnered with Mourning Hope Grief Center to get the grief bags into school libraries to be checked out by children who need them. This year they got the additional funding for secondary schools. 

The grief bags were essentially funded by two grants – one from the Roger’s Foundation and the second from The United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County.

  • Unfortunately, many bereaved children never arrive on Mourning Hope’s doorstep. This may be due to lack of parental support, having caregivers who work in the evening and cannot physically bring their children through the program, limited transportation, or a lack of awareness that the children’s grief center even exists in the community. Most likely, adults may be so absorbed by their own grief that they do not recognize the bereaved child's need for additional grief support.
  • Through funding provided by the Rogers Foundation and the United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County, the Mourning Hope Grief Center has placed two grief kits for youth and their caregivers in each elementary-, middle- and high school-library within the Lincoln Public School system. These kits are also now available in Waverly and they are currently being offered to all parochial schools within the Lincoln Community thanks to additional funding from the Rogers Foundation.
  • The grief book bags allow children to gain immediate access to effective grief-related resources following the death of a loved one.
  • The elementary kits are essentially care packages that include 14 grief books for the entire bereaved family, including disparate educational books, DVDs and other materials focused on the needs of grieving youth and their caregivers following the death of someone significant in their lives. And the middle school / high school kits contain 8 books about how to cope with the death of a loved one. Similar to other educational materials in school libraries, these resources are available for checkout as needed.
  • Providing children with materials that are carefully selected to assist them and their caregivers in the grieving process contributes to the resiliency of the entire family at a critical period. These kits will help create an environment for bereaved children that is safe for sharing, for asking questions, for seeking help, and for giving permission to mourn.

Original story

The Mourning Hope Grief Center has placed two grief kits for youth and their caregivers in each elementary school library within the Lincoln Public School system. This was made possible through funding provided by the Rogers Foundation. “First Aid Kits for Grieving Hearts” will allow children to gain immediate access to effective grief-related resources following the death of a loved one.

The “First Aid Kits for Grieving Hearts” are essentially care packages that include 14 grief books for the entire bereaved family. These grief kits contain disparate educational books, DVDs and other materials focused on the needs of grieving youth and their caregivers following the death of someone significant in their lives.

Similar to other educational materials in school libraries, these resources are available for checkout as needed, and the bags contain materials for all members of the family.

Childhood grief can have a detrimental, life-long impact on children, their families, and the community-at-large. Unresolved childhood grief is often linked with depression, violence, truancy, school failure, substance abuse and suicidal tendencies. By supporting bereaved children who are at risk of developing these complications and providing them with life coping skills, the potential social, emotional and health problems associated with unresolved grief can be minimized.

“Providing children with materials that are carefully selected to assist them and their caregivers in the grieving process contributes to the resiliency of the entire family at a critical period,” stated Carly Runestad, Mourning Hope Executive Director. “We sincerely thank the Rogers Foundation and Lincoln Public Schools for partnering with Mourning Hope to develop and distribute these critical resources. These kits will help create an environment for bereaved children that is safe for sharing, for asking questions, for seeking help, and for giving permission to mourn.”

Contact: Carly Runestad, (402) 488-8989,

Posted on April 01, 2014

Southwest hosting speaker on Rwanda situation

Lincoln Southwest High School will host Philip Gourevitch in an interactive Q&A format designed to help our students further explore and understand the tragedy and the recovery that is taking place in Rwanda. The speaker will visit at noon on April 17. 

Philip Gourevitch is a long-time staff writer for The New Yorker, the former editor of The Paris Review, and the author of three books: The Ballad Of Abu Ghraib / Standard Operating Procedure (2008), A Cold Case (2001), and We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda (1998), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the George K. Polk Book Award, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction, the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award and, in England, the Guardian First Book Award. He has written extensively on politics and culture for The New Yorker and other journals, reporting from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and his reportage, essays, criticism, and short fiction, too, have appeared in numerous publications at home and abroad. In 2010 he was named a Chevallier de l’Ordre des Arts et Des Lettres in France. In 2011, “We Wish To Inform YouThat Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families” was included in the Guardian’s list of the hundred greatest non-fiction books from the past two thousand five hundred years. His new book – You Hide That You Hate Me And I Hide That I Know, in which he revisits Rwanda twenty years after the genocide - will be published in 2014.


Posted on April 01, 2014

Summer Technology Program

The 2014 summer schedule for the Technology program is now available.

The Lincoln Public Schools Summer Technology Program is provided for students entering grades 5 through 9 in the fall of 2014. The goal of the program is to provide upper elementary and middle level students a fun, exciting, and challenging opportunity to explore their interest in computers and technology. To see the full schedule, see the brochure.

Session Dates for 2014

  • Session 1: June 2 - 6
  • Session 2: June 9 - 13
  • Session 3: June 16 - 20
  • Session 4: June 23 - 27
  • Session 5: July 7 - 11

Posted on April 01, 2014

LHS, LNS advance to semis in poetry competition

Lincoln High School and Lincoln North Star High School are both advancing to semifinals of "Louder Than a Bomb Great Plains," a poetry competition.

LHS won both of their preliminary events, while North Star got a second place and a first place to move on in the state championship process. 

Posted on April 01, 2014

East wins state speech

Lincoln East High School won the Class A State Speech Championships.

Three individuals also won gold:

  • Humorous Interpretation: Trisha Miller
  • Persuasive Speaking: Shuowei Qin
  • Poetry Interpretation: Prestyn Hartman

Other individual gold medalists from Lincoln Public Schools are:

Lincoln Southwest’s Oral Interpretation of Drama with Margaret Gies, Michael Goberling, Johnna Guernsey, Jala Howard, Edward Welles; and Southwest’s Duet Acting with Hunter Maude and Mattison Merritt.

It is the 13th straight title for the Spartans. East has finished first or second in every state speech meet but one since it began in 1976.

Champion, Runner-Up
2013-Lincoln East, Lincoln Southwest
2012-Lincoln East, Lincoln Southwest
2011-Lincoln East, Millard North
2010-Lincoln East, Millard North
2009-Lincoln East, Millard North
2008-Lincoln East, Millard North
2007-Lincoln East, Bellevue East
2006-Lincoln East, Millard North
2005-Lincoln East, Bellevue East
2004-Lincoln East, Millard North
2003-Lincoln East, Papillion-La Vista
2002-Lincoln East, Papillion-La Vista
2001-Papillion-La Vista, Lincoln East
2000-Lincoln East, Papillion-La Vista
1999-Lincoln East, Papillion-La Vista
1998-Lincoln East, Papillion-La Vista
1997-Millard South, Lincoln East
1996-Millard North, Lincoln East
1995-Lincoln East, Millard North
1994-Papillion-La Vista, Lincoln East
1993-Millard North, Lincoln East
1992-Papillion-La Vista, Millard North
1991-Lincoln East, Papillion-La Vista
1990-Lincoln East, Papillion-La Vista
1989-Lincoln East, Norfolk
1988-Lincoln East, Millard North
1987-Creighton Preparatory, Lincoln East
1986-Lincoln East, Millard North
1985-Lincoln East, Millard North
1984-Lincoln East, Millard North
1983-Lincoln East, Lincoln High
1982-Lincoln East, Norfolk
1981-(AA) Norfolk, Lincoln East
1981-(A) Gering, York
1980-Lincoln East, Norfolk
1979-Lincoln East, Lexington
1978-Lincoln East, Seward
1977-Lincoln East, Seward
1976-Lincoln East, Bellevue

Posted on March 31, 2014

Sister inspires brother to educate friends on syndrome

Bennett, a third-grade student at Adams Elementary School, shared valuable information with his fellow students about Down syndrome last October for the 2013 Capital City Step Up for Down Syndrome walk at Antelope Park.

Bennett is an "expert" on Down syndrome as his Kindergarten sister, Claire, was born with Down syndrome.

Prepared with print and digital resources, Bennett educated his classmates about Down syndrome. He focused on the importance of getting to know a person with Down syndrome because they have the same interests, feelings, and dreams as their peers.

Posted on March 31, 2014

LPS High School Music/Theater Calendar

High schools in Lincoln Public Schools perform various music and theater performances throughout the year. For more information about a specific event, call the school. To add a music or theater performance to this list, email



April 2: Music - Lincoln Northeast: Spring Vocal Concert - 7 p.m.

April 3 - 5: Theater - Lincoln East Auditorium: 'William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew,' 7 p.m.

Apr. 7: Music – Lincoln East Auditorium: Bands & Orchestras Concert, 7 p.m.

Apr. 8: Music – Lincoln North Star: Choral Concert, 7 p.m.

April 9: Music - Lincoln Northeast: Spring Instrumental Concert - 7 p.m.

Apr. 10: Music – Lincoln Southeast: Court Choir, Queens Court Concert, 7 p.m.

Apr. 10-12: Theater – Lincoln Southwest: Anything Goes, 7 p.m., Tickets go on sale March 10; Call 402-436-1335

Apr. 13: Music – Lincoln East: Lincoln Youth Symphony Concert, 7 p.m.

Apr. 14: Music – Lincoln Northeast: NSAA District Music Contest, all day

Apr. 17-19: Theater – Lincoln Southwest: Anything Goes

Apr. 14: Music – Lincoln Northeast: NSAA District Music Contest, all day

April 24-25: Lincoln Northeast: Theater - A Night of One-Act Plays, 7:30 p.m.

Apr. 28: Music – Lincoln East: Jazz Concert Café in Commons, 7 p.m.

Apr. 29: Music – Lincoln East Auditorium: Choral Concert, 7 p.m.


May 1-2: Theater – Lincoln High: Call Me Shakespeare, 7 p.m.

May 1-4: Music – Lincoln Southeast: Musical: Fiddler on the Roof, 7:30 p.m., 2 p.m. Sunday Matinee, Admission charge 

May 2: Music – Lincoln Southwest: Swing Night Jazz Band, 6 p.m.

May 2-3: Music - Lincoln Northeast - Rock Show, 7 p.m.

May 3: Theater – Lincoln High: Call Me Shakespeare, 2 p.m.

May 8: Music – Lincoln Southeast: Jazz Band I, II & III Concert, 7 p.m.

May 9-10: Music – Lincoln East: Expressions, 8 p.m.

May 12: Music – Lincoln Southeast: Symphonic Band & Wind Ensemble Concert, 7 p.m.

May 12: Music – Lincoln Southwest: Band & Orchestra Concert, 7 p.m.

May 13: Music - Lincoln Northeast: Finale Concert, 6 p.m.

May 13: Music – Lincoln East Auditorium: Bands Concert, 7 p.m.

May 13: Music – Lincoln North Star: Choral Concert, 7 p.m.

May 13: Music – Lincoln Southeast: A Little Knight Music, 7 p.m. Admission charge

May 14: Music – Lincoln Southeast: Chamber Ensemble & Orchestra Concert, 7 p.m.

May 14: Music – Lincoln Southwest: Choir Concert, 6:30 p.m.

May 15: Music – Lincoln North Star: Instrumental Concert, 7 p.m.

May 19-20: Theater – Lincoln Southwest: Faculty Production, Pageant, 7 p.m., Tickets go on sale April 19; Call 402-436-1335

By High School

Lincoln East

April 3 - 5: Lincoln East Auditorium: 'William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew,' 7 p.m.

Apr. 7: Music – Lincoln East Auditorium: Bands & Orchestras Concert, 7 p.m.

Apr. 13: Music – Lincoln East: Lincoln Youth Symphony Concert, 7 p.m.

Apr. 28: Music – Lincoln East: Jazz Concert Café in Commons, 7 p.m.

Apr. 29: Music – Lincoln East Auditorium: Choral Concert, 7 p.m.

May 9-10: Music – Lincoln East: Expressions, 8 p.m.

May 12: Music – Lincoln Southeast: Symphonic Band & Wind Ensemble Concert, 7 p.m.

May 13: Music – Lincoln East Auditorium: Bands Concert, 7 p.m.

Lincoln High

Apr. 14: Music – Lincoln Northeast: NSAA District Music Contest, all day

May 1-2: Theater – Lincoln High: Call Me Shakespeare, 7 p.m.

May 3: Theater – Lincoln High: Call Me Shakespeare, 2 p.m.

Lincoln North Star

Apr. 8: Music – Lincoln North Star: Choral Concert, 7 p.m.

Apr. 14: Music – Lincoln Northeast: NSAA District Music Contest, all day

May 13: Music – Lincoln North Star: Choral Concert, 7 p.m

May 15: Music – Lincoln North Star: Instrumental Concert, 7 p.m.

Lincoln Northeast

April 2: Music - Lincoln Northeast: Spring Vocal Concert - 7 p.m.

April 9: Music - Lincoln Northeast: Spring Instrumental Concert - 7 p.m.

Apr. 14: Music – Lincoln Northeast: NSAA District Music Contest, all day

April 24-25: Lincoln Northeast: Theater - A Night of One-Act Plays, 7:30 p.m.

May 2-3: Lincoln Northeast: Music - Rock Show, 7 p.m.

May 13: Lincoln Northeast: Music - Finale Concert, 6 p.m.

Lincoln Southeast

Apr. 10: Music – Lincoln Southeast: Court Choir, Queens Court Concert, 7 p.m.

May 1-4: Music – Lincoln Southeast: Musical: Fiddler on the Roof, 7:30 p.m., 2 p.m. Sunday Matinee, Admission charge

May 8: Music – Lincoln Southeast: Jazz Band I, II & III Concert, 7 p.m.

May 12: Music – Lincoln Southeast: Symphonic Band & Wind Ensemble Concert, 7 p.m.

May 13: Music – Lincoln Southeast: A Little Knight Music, 7 p.m. Admission charge

May 14: Music – Lincoln Southeast: Chamber Ensemble & Orchestra Concert, 7 p.m.

Lincoln Southwest

Apr. 10-12: Theater – Lincoln Southwest: Anything Goes, 7 p.m., Tickets go on sale March 10; Call 402-436-1335

Apr. 14: Music – Lincoln Northeast: NSAA District Music Contest, all day

Apr. 17-19: Theater – Lincoln Southwest: Anything Goes

May 2: Music – Lincoln Southwest: Swing Night Jazz Band, 6 p.m.

May 12: Music – Lincoln Southwest: Band & Orchestra Concert, 7 p.m.

May 14: Music – Lincoln Southwest: Choir Concert, 6:30 p.m.

May 19-20: Theater – Lincoln Southwest: Faculty Production, Pageant, 7 p.m., Tickets go on sale April 19; Call 402-436-1335

Posted on March 28, 2014

Southwest choirs win double Grand Champion

History was made as two Lincoln Southwest High School choirs brought home Grand Champion trophies!

The Varsity Concert Choir and Chamber Choir performed in the beautiful United Methodist Chicago Temple in Downtown Chicago. They competed against choirs from the United States and Canada. Chamber Choir won the Concert Choir competition as well as the caption award of "Best Choral Tone."

On Saturday, Resonance and Ambience performed in the fabulous historical Genesee Theater in Waukegan, Ill. They also competed against choirs from the United States and Canada. The Varsity Show Choir "Resonance" won the Show Choir competition and members of Resonance, Maddie Stuart and Caleb Petersen, won "Best Female Soloist" and "Best Male Stage Presence" for individual caption awards.

Resonance also won the caption awards of "Best Vocals" and "Best Choreography"! Also by placing 1st at the competition, Resonance earned a bid to the FAME Show Choir National Championships in Chicago on April 25th-26th.

Posted on March 28, 2014

Seven students qualify for state geography bee

The Nebraska state Geography Bee competition will be held on April 4 at the University of Nebraska - Omaha. Seven students have qualified from Lincoln Public Schools.

Ethan Bruha, Irving Middle School

Divith Rajagopal, Lux Middle School

Christian Russert, Mickle Middle School

Colby Slukam, Park Middle School

Lorenzo Catalano, Lefler Middle School

Thomas Casburn, Pound Middle School

Eli Bryan, Goodrich Middle School

Posted on March 27, 2014

National School Nurse Day May 7, 2014

May 7th will be deemed National School Nurses Day at the Nebraska Capitol with a proclamation from Gov. Dave Heineman. All proclomations are signed on one day, so the actual signing ceremony will be May 14.

The Proclamation
Whereas, children are the future and, by investing in them today, we are ensuring our world for tomorrow; and

Whereas, all students have a right to have their health needs safely met while in the school setting; and

Whereas, children today face more complex and life-threatening health problems requiring care in school; and

Whereas, school nurses have served a critical role in improving public health and in ensuring student’s academic success for more than 100 years; and

Whereas, school nurses are professional nurses that advance the well-being, academic success, and life-long achievements of all students by serving on the frontlines and providing a critical safety net for our nation’s most fragile children; and

Whereas, school nurses act as a liaison to the school community, parents, and health care providers on behalf of children’s health by promoting wellness and improving health outcomes for our nation’s children; and

Whereas, school nurses support the health and educational success of children and youth by providing access to care when children’s cognitive development is at its peak; and

Whereas, school nurses are members of school-based mental health teams; and

Whereas, school nurses understand the link between health and learning and are in a position to make a positive difference for children every day, therefore be it

Resolved, that the Nebraska School Nurses Association and the National Association of School Nurses celebrates and acknowledges the accomplishments of school nurses everywhere and their efforts of meeting the needs of today’s students by improving the delivery of health care in our schools and offers gratitude for the nation’s school nurses, who contribute to our local communities by helping students stay healthy, in school, and ready to learn, and keeping parents and guardians at work, not just on this National School Nurse Day, but at every opportunity throughout the year.

Now, THEREFORE, I (Name), Governor of (State), do hereby proclaim May 7, 2014, as “School Nurse Day” in (State), and commend its observance to all citizens.

Posted on March 27, 2014

Hour of Code event popular among Lux students

The Lux Middle School Hour of Code was a huge success with the support of Nanonation, UNL student, Nik Leger, Kent Steen, in addition to Lux staff members Kay Paulsen and Lori Feldman. Students were introduced to concepts of computer programming using the resource of

Plans for future computer science activities will be planned due to the popularity of the event.

Posted on March 27, 2014

20th Annual Multicultural Leadership Institute: The Emotions of Cultural Proficiency

20th Annual Multicultural Leadership Institute
“The Emotions of Cultural Proficiency”
Wednesday – May 28, 2014 at Southwest High School

2 Recurrent Sessions

AM Session 8:00-11:30
PM Session 12:30-4:00
An A.M. and P.M. session will be offered, please register for ONE session only.


Register online through the Lincoln Public Schools staff development website.

Registration ends on May 9th.

Please contact Lameakia Collier ( in the LPS Multicultural Department. Her phone number is 402-436-1605.

Our Speaker
?Lee Mun Wah

Lee Mun Wah is an internationally renowned Chinese American documentary filmmaker, author, poet, Asian folkteller, educator, community therapist and master diversity trainer. For more than 25 years he was a resource specialist and counselor in the San Francisco Unified School District. He later became a consultant to private schools, working with students that had severe learning and behavioral issues.

Mun Wah is now the Executive Director of Stirfry Seminars & Consulting, a diversity training company that provides educational tools and workshops on issues pertaining to cross-cultural communication and awareness, mindful facilitation, and conflict mediation techniques. Thousands of people from government and social service agencies, corporations and educational institutions have taken Lee Mun Wah’s workshops and partnered with Stirfry Seminars & Consulting on their diversity initiatives.

His first film, Stolen Ground, about the experience of Asian Americans, won honorable mention at the San Francisco International Film Festival, and his most famous film about racism, The Color of Fear, won the Gold Medal for Best Social Studies Documentary. Part Two of this film, Walking Each Other Home, won the Cindy Competition Silver Medal for Social Science. In 1995, Oprah Winfrey did a one-hour special on Lee Mun Wah’s life and work that was seen by over 15 million viewers internationally.

In 2005, Lee Mun Wah directed and produced the film, Last Chance for Eden, a three-part documentary on sexism and racism. His newest book, Let’s Get Real- What People of Color Can’t Say & Whites Won’t Ask About Racism, was released in 2011, and in 2013 he will be releasing his latest film, If These Halls Could Talk, a documentary that focuses on college students and their dialogue about race and racism, as well as other diversity issues, in higher education.

It is Lee Mun Wah’s belief that we cannot wait until tomorrow for some charismatic leader to appear who will bring us all together. We each must take a stand and personally participate in this important journey of confronting our fears and beginning a conversation not only with those we love but also with those we have been taught to fear. We cannot continue being separate and unequal without there being a cost to each and every generation. Our survival and the very future of our children depend on all of us embracing our differences as well as our mutuality. If we can accomplish this in our lifetime, we can then look back and know that we have found a way to live together authentically and harmoniously, using and honoring all of our gifts and special contributions. To Lee Mun Wah, that is the true meaning of multiculturalism.

Posted on March 27, 2014

Red Cross has emergency apps available

The American Red Cross has apps available in iTunes or Google Play for emergency situations. For more information, search American Red Cross in the app store of your choice.

Posted on March 27, 2014

Vision for digital learning classrooms at LPS takes shape

The Lincoln Board of Education met for a work session and a regular meeting on Tuesday, March 25, at Lincoln Public Schools District Office, 5905 O St. The next regular meeting for the Board is scheduled for Tuesday, April 8.

Highlights of Board of Education’s work session

Technology Plan highlights

This school year the vision for digital learning classrooms for Lincoln Public Schools is beginning to take shape, according to an update on the LPS Technology Plan presented to the Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday.

“We feel very strongly, we’re confident in our approach, that we are letting instruction drive what digital conversion needs to look like in our classrooms,” said Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction at LPS.

Kirk Langer, director of Technology at LPS, described the many steps and stages that were started – and in some cases finished – during this school year in what has been titled the CLASS Action Plan (CLASS: Connected Learning Achievement Students Staff).

Those include projects such as:

  • Laptops for teachers (in addition during this conversion, LPS moved 6.24 million files into a private LPS “Cloud”)
  • Web conferencing software
  • New Student Information System/Synergy
  • Program Evaluation Software
  • Online Assessment System
  • Instructional Technology Specialist
  • Instructional Technology Coaches/2 (advertising now)
  • System Support Specialists/5
  • Digital Learning Environment Pilot
  • Wireless Upgrades
  • Fiber Construction for Science, and Arts and Humanities focus programs, Seacrest and Copple Athletic Center

Langer also explained what he sees as three major recommendations for use of bond issue funds related to technology:

  • Increase the capacity of the fiber network to ensure timely delivery of curriculum content to all district locations, and support anywhere/anytime use of collaborative and creative software environments.
  • Upgrade the wireless network infrastructure in every classroom and instructional space.
  • Provide every classroom with infrastructure essential to create a learning environment that supports interaction with digital curriculum content.

Langer said the approach is sensible and efficient, summing it up this way: “Technology-ready classrooms: Infrastructure is the stuff in the ceilings and the walls.”

Construction work inside the first two groups of schools that will receive technology infrastructure will begin late this spring – and be completed before the new school year begins this fall. The technology projects in all schools will be completed by the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.

Digital math program

Langer is also recommending that the school district conduct a pilot program for a digital mathematics program in one middle school during the 2014-15 school year with every student in mathematics – grades 6-8 – excluding algebra. (Algebra is excluded because the algebra program was implemented in 2010-2011, and is the same as the high school program).

“We would like to bring the digital classroom into reality,” said Matt Larson, curriculum specialist for mathematics at LPS, “as we plan on middle level math curriculum delivered digitally…This is about high quality instruction, first and foremost, and technology is a tool to provide it.”

Larson explained that two conditions are converging in the next few years: The current middle school math curriculum and textbooks are aging dramatically – and the LPS student population is growing with significantly large numbers of students moving into middle school.

A Middle Level Math Study Review Committee has started reviewing publishers of digital math curriculum – and will make recommendations for the top choice in April. The selection of curriculum will guide the selection of personal devices that will be purchased for delivering lessons.

By doing this in one building with all students will allow LPS to realistically evaluate the curriculum, Larson said, as well as evaluate the issues surrounding the implementation – such as teacher workload and professional development, infrastructure, necessary support and devices – and what it would take to move beyond the pilot and scale the program district-wide.

Final selection of the middle school for the pilot has not been made, but factors will include: Building readiness, building leadership, size and demographics of middle school, willingness to take on technology, current use and enthusiasm for technology.

Highlights of Board of Education’s regular meeting

Summer School 2014

Lincoln Public Schools Summer School 2014 will look much like last year with some minor changes, Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction, told the Board in an informational report.


  • The six-week high school session will again be held at Lincoln North Star High School from May 29-July 10, and offer general education, English Language Learner and Special Education classes.
  • Summer school courses will cost $65 for 2.5 credit hours - $130 for 5 credit hours – with free opportunities for students in need. There is no tuition for LPS special education students participating in special education courses.
  • Preschool classroom-based programs will take place at four elementary schools this year, an increase of one school over last year, with one classroom operating throughout the summer for children who receive continuous services.
  • LPS will offer two-week Read Ahead! Programs for K-5 students at four sites (instead of three) across the school district.
  • Summer elementary literacy/numeracy programs will be offered at multiple sites in the school district.
  • LPS will offer middle school instrumental and vocal music camps – and an elementary vocal music camp.
  • A limited summer technology program will be held for elementary and middle school students.

Update on LPS/SCC Career Center Board

Lincoln Board of Education member Richard Meginnis gave an update on the new joint Board – with LPS and Southeast Community College – governing the developing High School Career Center

The inter-local Board convened last week and will govern development and operation of the new High School Career Center. The Board will continue to meet on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.

The Board includes: Jack Huck and Dale Kruse, representing SCC; and LPS Superintendent Steve Joel and Meginnis, representing LPS.

Major decisions from the inter-local Board meeting from last week:

  • The Board voted to move ahead to find and hire an administrator to lead the new Career Center. The search will begin this spring with a plan of hiring the administrator by summer.
  • The Board considered the name of the new Career Center and talked about the possible title of Capital Career Academy. LPS and SCC communications officials will work toward name proposals for the next meeting.
  • The Board approved plans and specifications, construction costs, construction schedule and initial construction budget for the Career Center. The Board voted to establish a construction fund, operating fund, operating budget development and insurance plans.

Superintendent Update

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel highlighted the recent recognition events for teachers and staff in the school district, from the board meeting resolutions to the ‘Thank You Teacher’ event earlier this month.

“It was just so neat to be able to acknowledge some of the great work of our professionals. We truly have some very, very talented people who work for LPS. It’s why we are a successful school district. We are able to attract great talent, and develop great talent, and retain great talent. They view their work as a mission, and not just a job.”

In preparing for technology upgrades, Joel said the school district has learned from many schools across the country about what has worked, and what hasn’t. He said although there will be bugs, there is a lot of positive anticipation in the school district on moving away from print and toward digital content.

Board Recognition

The Board recognized:

* Alicia Davis, a mathematics teacher at Scott Middle School; and Katie Soto, a mathematics teacher at Lincoln Southeast High School, for Professional Teaching Standards National Board Certification.

* Troy Baker, a psychologist at Cavett Elementary School and Pound Middle School, for the honor of Nebraska School Psychologist of the Year.

* Karen Saunders, curriculum specialist for Elementary Reading and Language Arts, for receiving the Nebraska State Reading Association’s Distinguished Educator of Reading Award.



Posted on March 25, 2014

Goodrich builds solutions with robots, camaraderie with each other

Check out the video at the bottom of the page

If you want to learn how to better work with other people, you might try something like a robotics club.

Students in the club at Goodrich Middle School have learned how to program robots to do very specific tasks, how to work with fellow students who have different opinions, and, most recently, how to build a winning team and robot.

Goodrich won first place in the state First Lego League competition recently at the SAC Museum. The team advances to a national competition in California this summer, and hopes to attend if they can raise the necessary funds.

The assignment this year was Nature's Fury. Students teamed up to design a robot that would help the Smokejumpers of Missoula navigate and fight large-scale fires.

The students are judged on their robots, their quick problem-solving skills, and their ability to function as a team.

"You learn how to get along as a team," said eighth-grader Richard Sanchez. "In a school, it helps if you are going to work with someone you don't necessarily like, you have that pre-knowledge of how to work with people, how to solve problems on the spot."

The students put in many hours after school, but also enjoy working on similar projects at home. The skills they use in programming the robots, like using coordinates to determine a path requires knowing the slope formula, comes up in their school curriculum, too.

Other topics for past and future students include Senior Solutions, where students identify and create a solution for problems senior citizens face, and World Class, where students design a modern classroom for schools.

Students on the team include: Jason Vo, Keith Tran, Richard Bui, Maria Thomas, Mathew Pagan, Alex Meysenburg, Brieanna Kroeger, Andrew Anderson, Richard Sanchez and Saliman Attaie. The coach is Jesse Andres.

For more on the specifics of the events, read the Q&A with the coach conducted prior to the statewide competition.

Posted on March 24, 2014

'Charlotte's Web' voted most classic childhood book

The people have spoken, and Charlotte's Web by E.B. White has been named this year's most popular classic childhood book. Charlotte's Web received 51% of the votes in the final matchup against Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss in one of the closest matches of the LPS Book Bracket challenge.

Semifinal winners (winner, % of vote, opponent)

  • Pre-K - Grade 2: Green Eggs & Ham 52% (The Very Hungry Caterpillar)
  • Grade 3 - Middle School: Charlotte's Web 60% (Where the Sidewalk Ends)

Fourth-round winners (winner, % of vote, opponent)
Pre-K - Grade 2

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar 55% (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day)
  • Green Eggs & Ham 73% (Amelia)

Grade 3 - Middle School

  • Where the Sidewalk Ends 64% (The Hunger Games)
  • Charlotte's Web 54% (To Kill a Mockingbird)

Third-round winners (winner, % of vote, opponent)
Pre-K - Grade 2

  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day 51% (Cat in the Hat)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar 74% (Miss Nelson is Missing)
  • Green Eggs & Ham 68% (The Little Engine That Could)
  • Amelia Bedelia 60% (Frog & Toad are Friends)

Grade 3 through middle school

  • Where the Sidewalk Ends 63% (The Wizard of Oz)
  • The Hunger Games 53% (Night of the Twisters)
  • Charlotte's Web 61% (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe)
  • To Kill A Mockingbird 61% (Where the Red Fern Grows)

Second-round winners (winner, % of vote, opponent)
Pre-K - Grade 2

  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day 74% (Harold and the Purple Crayon)
  • Cat in the Hat 54% (Chicka Chicka Boom Boom)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar 68% (Corduroy)
  • Miss Nelson is Missing 52% (The Tale of Peter Rabbit)
  • Green Eggs & Ham 78% (The Three Little Pigs)
  • The Little Engine That Could 79% (George & Martha)
  • Frog & Toad are Friends 72% (The Pigeon Wants a Puppy)
  • Amelia Bedelia 68% (Olivia)

Second-round winners (winner, % of vote, opponent)
Grade 3 - Middle School

  • The Wizard of Oz 55% (Charlie & The Chocolate Factory)
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends 70% (Pippi Longstocking)
  • The Hunger Games 57% (James & The Giant Peach)
  • Night of the Twisters 51% (The Hobbit)
  • Charlotte's Web 55% (Little House on the Prairie)
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe 66% (Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret)
  • Where the Red Fern Grows 51% (The Outsiders)
  • To Kill A Mockingbird 83% (Catcher in the Rye)

First-round winners (winner, % of vote, opponent)
Grade 3 - Middle School

  • Charlie & The Chocolate Factory 58% (A Wrinkle in Time)
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends 82% (Maniac Magee)
  • Pippi Longstocking 62% (Bunnicula)
  • The Hunger Games 56% (Holes)
  • James & The Giant Peach 52% (How to Eat Fried Worms)
  • The Hobbit 59% (The Lightning Thief)
  • Night of the Twisters 73% (The Phantom Tollbooth)
  • The Wizard of Oz 63% (Mary Poppins)
  • Charlotte's Web 81% (Diary of a Wimpy Kid)
  • Little House on the Prairie 66% (Mr. Popper's Penguins)
  • Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret 51% (Anne of Green Gables)
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe 54% (Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone)
  • The Outsiders 78% (Twilight)
  • Where the Red Fern Grows 65% (Hatchet)
  • Catcher in the Rye 57% (Fahrenheit 451)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird 67% (Little Women)

Pre-K - Grade 2

  • Harold and the Purple Crayon 58% (Harry the Dirty Dog)
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom 51% (Curious George)
  • Cat in the Hat 64% (Go, Dog. Go!)
  • Corduroy 53% (The Polar Express)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar 55% (Goodnight Moon)
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit 61% (Make Way for Ducklings)
  • Miss Nelson is Missing 65% (Millions of Cats)
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day 68% (Click, Clack, Moo)
  • Green Eggs & Ham 54% (Where the Wild Things Are)
  • The Three Little Pigs 70% (Pat the Bunny)
  • The Little Engine That Could 69% (Caps for Sale)
  • George & Martha 52% (Strega Nona)
  • The Pigeon Wants a Puppy 72% (Bark, George)
  • Frog & Toad are Friends 66% (Mike Milligan & Steam Shovel)
  • Olivia 82% (Little Blue Truck)
  • Amelia Bedelia 57% (The Poky Little Puppy)

Vote in LPS 'Book Bracket' for your favorite childhood books

Take a moment today to consider your favorite books from childhood and adolescence. Perhaps you think of Twilight or Little Women, Hunger Games or Goodnight Moon.

Now share your vote with us - in the Lincoln Public Schools version of March Madness - the LPS Book Bracket. It's live and ready for your vote. Go to the links above and place your ballot for favorite childhood books from pre-K up to and through middle school. Thanks to your suggestions and those from others, we have narrowed a list of about 150 books down to 64. A special thanks to LPS Library Media Services for all their help.

Please note, the most challenging parts were culling the list of books to 64, and trying to match them to the age-appropriate level. In addition, based on your feedback we have removed any requirement to register for participation. Just click below and start voting.

Enjoy the memories - and happy voting.

Posted on March 21, 2014

Local center offers tips on spotting gambling problems

A note from the Choices Treatment Center in Lincoln:

March Madness is now one of the biggest gambling events of the year. Filling the brackets and betting on sports may seem harmless, but can lead to problem gambling. For Nebraskans who do choose to play, it's important to know what is legal and set limits on time and money spent. When individuals spend more time gambling, playing to relieve stress, lie about gambling, or borrow from others to play, they are engaging in problem gambling.

More than 55,000 Nebraskas along with their families or concerned others will be affected by this disorder. Governor Heineman signed a proclamation on February 12, 2014, declaring that March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month in Nebraska, so that information about this issue will be spread throughout the state. More information can be obtained at or the local 24 hour help line - 402.476.2300.

For more information, visit

Posted on March 19, 2014

Lincoln Board of Education calls for special bond issue for 2014

The Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday unanimously called for a special election on Feb. 11, 2014 to ask Lincoln citizens to vote on $153 million in bonds to pay for a variety of facility and infrastructure projects for Lincoln Public Schools.

“We are investing dollars to make sure our school district stays top-notch,” said Kathy Danek, vice president of the Board of Education.  “We are looking to the future and making sure our students will be taken care of.”

Other School Board members commented:

Katie McLeese Stephenson:  “We are in a district with changing needs, we are a district with growth…and the corresponding financial plan is based on community input….I believe we are addressing the most critical needs of the district.”

Barb Baier:  “This bond issue is based on the needs of the children of our community.  It does go and hit all four quadrants of Lincoln, because all of our kids have needs.”

Don Mayhew, president of the School Board:  “If this bond issue passes, we will be able to address student growth, address security and technology needs, build a career academy…and be able to do it without raising taxes.”

Now that the Board has called for a bond issue, the Election Commissioner will determine whether the election would be a traditional polling place election  – or the city’s first complete mail-in election.

The Board Tuesday also adopted an updated 10-year facilities and infrastructure plan that will guide how bond issue money is used.

Major information about the proposed 2014 bond issue

The 2014 bond issue will be funded based on the current levy rate with no planned levy increase.

The 2014 bond issue addresses growth in the community and school district: The Lincoln Public Schools enrollment of more than 37,800 grew by 943 new students this school year. The bond issue will increase the capacity of LPS schools by adding 2,200 new seats through the construction of one new elementary, one new middle school, a high school career academy and a variety of additions and renovations across the community.

The 2014 bond issue will provide enhanced security, a new high school career academy and infrastructure necessary to support technology and learning in schools throughout Lincoln.

The 2014 bond issue was a grassroots effort that began with a group of 80 Lincoln stakeholders from the school district and the community – called together by the LPS Superintendent – that identified more than $350 million top facility and infrastructure needs necessary in the changing landscape of education. The Lincoln Board of Education evaluated and analyzed the recommendations to create an updated 10-year facility and infrastructure plan to hone down the list to $150 million of affordable projects. The school district has maintained a 10-year facilities and infrastructure plan since 2005 to systemically and thoughtfully focus planning for LPS projects into the future.

Information presentations set for LPS bond issue

Informational presentations about the Lincoln Public Schools bond issue – set for Feb. 11, 2014 – will be held in January throughout the community.  The Lincoln Board of Education is asking Lincoln citizens to consider a $153 million bond issue that will fund projects at schools and classrooms across the community

The informational presentations are scheduled for 4-5 p.m.:

  • Monday, Jan. 6: Lincoln East High School, cafeteria, 1000 S. 70th St.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 7: Lincoln North Star High School, media center, 5801 N. 33rd St.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 8, Board Room at LPS District Offices, 5905 O St.
  • Monday, Jan. 13: Lincoln Northeast High School, commons, 2635 N. 63rd St.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 14: Lincoln Southeast High School, commons, 2930 S. 37th St.  (Recommended entry: Park on the east side of the building by the tennis courts and enter the building through the commons entrance, door 18.)
  • Wednesday, Jan. 15: Lincoln Southwest High School, commons, 7001 S. 14th St.
  • Thursday, Jan. 16, Lincoln High School, theater, 2229 J St.

For more information contact LPS Business Affairs at 402-436-1636.

Posted on March 19, 2014

Former LPS teacher earns Points of Light award

Willie Shafer, a former teacher in Lincoln Public Schools, has won the Governor's Points of Light Award. Below is the nomiation letter submitted by LPS staff members Barbara Ramsey, Hollis Ramsay, Kathy Fleming and Marge Theel. Shafer will be honored at a special ceremony in the Warner Chamber at the Nebraska State Capitol on Feb. 12. Here is the nomination letter submitted:

Keeping students in school is more than just a phrase, idiom or idea for Willie Shafer.  It is what she has been doing for the past 11 years in Lincoln Public Schools. Willie is a retired English/Journalism teacher who knows the importance of supporting harmony, attention, and comfort in the classroom, especially for young students who are forming life-long learning habits. Willie’s vision for how she could help had humble beginnings. Willie started collecting donated clothing in her home for those occasional accidents including: wet sox from snowy hills during recess, spilled milk on a sweater, a sudden “puky accident”, or wet pants from a rainy slide,….for little cold hands who have no gloves and a “heavier coat” for a child who had none. She provides hats to keep little ears from frost bite and warm turtles for students with asthma….and shoes.  Willie’s list of comforts for the students expanded over 11 years as well as her tireless search for willing sponsors. Now housed in the Saratoga School basement, Willie’s Closet sustains 68 schools providing 1,900 service hrs/yr.  Funding for her project comes from willing organizations who believe in the students and the project.  Willie and her band of five volunteers open the “store” twice a month for the nurses/health techs who are encouraged to take what they need for their schools. Some high school students have fulfilled their Citizenship Issues requirement by helping at the store. For Willie co-ordination of this effort is a full time job from August to May setting up speaking engagements, procuring financial and clothing donations, purchasing, ordering and organizing clothing, screening school requests and supporting her community volunteers.  Willie’s tireless smile bespeaks her enthusiasm to keep these students in school and comfortable. She makes a positive difference in the lives of these students.

Posted on March 19, 2014

Obesity rates drop and fitness improves for LPS students

Lincoln Public Schools students in kindergarten through eighth grade are weighing in at healthier weights and testing more physically fit – for the third year in a row, according to a report released this week by LPS and the Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln (PHL).

The number of students who are obese – kindergarten through eighth grade – has fallen from 17.2 to 15.8 percent, Bob Rauner, director of PHL, and Michelle Welch, LPS wellness facilitator, told the Lincoln Board of Education this week.

In addition, the number of students who passed the school district’s aerobic fitness test has increased from 68.4 to 70.7 percent, according to Rauner and Welch, who pointed out this improvement is especially important because studies show students who pass the fitness test perform better on math, reading and science tests.

“This success is a result of the combined efforts of LPS and several Lincoln organizations,” said Rauner, who has been working with LPS curriculum specialist Marybell Avery to track these results for the last five years. Collaborating community organizations include Teach a Kid to Fish, El Centro de Las Americas, the Malone Center and the Lincoln YMCA.

Rauner said he is especially encouraged to see that improvements in healthy weight and fitness are occurring across ethnic and socioeconomic lines. “We are seeing significant improvements in both minority and low-income populations, which is especially important since studies show these populations are at highest risk.”

Welch said the school district is excited “to see a step wise shift toward a culture of wellness and that our data demonstrates its impact. Our district-wide quarterly wellness challenges have helped unify efforts across our school community and ensure education of students, their families and our staff about their daily choices.”

She said that no single program has created this type of healthier school environment, but instead a combination of gradual shifts and efforts such as daily recess and physical activity breaks at the elementary level – as well as fine-tuning the school lunch program, classroom reward choices and classroom celebrations.

She also cited school and neighborhood fund-raising efforts that have created walking tracks and outdoor learning areas that beautify and benefit the community. This year Randolph and Zeman elementary schools have added walking tracks with Eastridge and Hartley elementary schools close to their fund-raising goals.

Other community-school collaborative projects include Teach a Kid to Fish’s grants with Safe Routes to School to encourage more students to walk or ride their bikes to school, and the BodyWorks program to help children improve their nutrition. LPS’s Community Learning Centers (CLC) and lead agencies have also been working to train CLC staff on the SPARK curriculum. SPARK is a curriculum for after-school programs that adds more physical activity during the time students attend their programs.

For further information:
Bob Rauner at
Michelle Welch at
Marybell Avery at

Posted on March 19, 2014

North Star class turns plastic into beds, class into service

There are 500-plus plastic bags, a classroom of students and a feeling of civic virtue at Lincoln North Star High School.

Students in the class of Lucas Wiester and Terri Marti’s Civic class are making a bed out of plastic bags, the kind found at Wal-Mart and other retailers. The bed will be giving to a local nonprofit.

“It’s civic virtue,” said Whitney Jolliffe, a freshman. “We are doing this to help out with community service.”

Freshman Madisen Vogeler said she the class has talked about heroes serving the community, and have discussed the importance of helping others instead of oneself.

That’s exactly what Wiester hopes all students take away from the project.

“Some students very much see it already,” he said. “They are already active in their community. There are some that at first wanted nothing to do with this, but not now they are the best crocheters.”

That’s an accomplishment by itself because Wiester and most others had no crocheting experience before the project. The bags are cut, then stripped so they form a yarn-like string, then handed to the crocheting team, which Wiester points out includes both girls and boys.

The bags have been donated by local people and businesses.

Posted on March 19, 2014

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