News

Story Ideas

Lincoln Public Schools Communication Services continues to look for the most effective way to provide you with information.  Story Notes are written and published primarily for those in the media looking to cover the Lincoln Public Schools.

If you have a story idea or questions about one, please email Mary Kay Roth at mkroth@lps.org or Zachary Baehr at zbaehr@lps.org.

Cans4Books: Helping the earth and our libraries one can at a time < Updated

National School Library Month and Earth Day happen in April, so what better way to honor both than participating in the 15th Annual Cans4Books drive taking place April 1-30.

 

Students and their families can bring their aluminum cans to A-Can Recycling (3255 S. 10th Street) or A & J Recycling (3250 N. 20th Street) and the money raised from the cans will go to their school’s media center. The top three schools with the most earnings per capita will receive gift certificates to the SouthPointe Barnes & Noble.

 

For more information, contact Brittney Albin or Marti Franti at (402)436-1072 extension 82006.

 

Posted on April 01, 2015


East wins 14th straight speech title; LPS teams take 3 of top 4 spots

Lincoln East won the Class A State Speech Championship for the 14th straight year, this time accomplishing the year's title with no individual champions. The event was held Thursday, March 26 in Kearney.

Instead, East earned three second-place finishes, three third-place finishes, two fourth-place finishes and a sixth-place finish. The Spartans are coached by Matt Davis.

Lincoln Southeast finished third in the Team Sweepstakes, and Lincoln Southwest finished fourth. Southeast was led by John Golden and Taylor Griffith with a gold-medal performance in Duet Acting. It's the first time any LSE students have won the title in Duet.

Southwest was led by Margaret Gies, who won gold in Persuasive Speaking.

Lincoln North Star's was the fourth LPS team at the state meet. It's Oral Interpretation of Drama won sixth place.

Posted on March 27, 2015


How one school flipped 100% trash into 90% compost

Watch the video below

Sheridan Elementary School started composting the food waste in their cafeteria after Spring Break. So far, they are composting an average of 90% of the waste leftover from their lunches.

This means, a measly 10% is now being sent to the landfill instead of the 100% from before. The daily total of compost is approximately 158 lbs, and the trash is less than 20lbs. Sheridan is the fifth school in the district to implement the food waste compost program in their cafeteria. Saratoga and Beattie Elementary, and Irving Middle School and Lincoln Southwest High School are the others. Rousseau Elementary School will being on April 22 (Earth Day).

Sheridan Principal De Ann Currin has encouraged students to be problem solvers and figure out ways to eliminate trash from their lunch. While straws are available, students are encouraged to ask themselves, “Do I really need to take a plastic straw that will just end up in the landfill?”

More and more students are electing to drink their milk out of the carton instead of using a straw. Students are also taking the initiative to make other envi-ronmentally responsible choices as they go through the lunch line. When presented with the choice of compostable or noncompostable packaging, they are choosing as many compostable items as possible. Many of the students are excited to declare that everything on their tray can go into the compost container.

There are many students at Sheridan who bring a lunch from home, and they have also found ways to reduce their waste. They are making easy changes like reusing their empty bags instead of throwing them away after one use, or taking leftover food home instead of throwing it away.

The compost program is a team effort, said LPS Sustainability Coordinator Brittney Albin, and it takes the work of the principal, kitchen and custodial staff, and teachers and students to make it work.

The expansion of the composting program is possible thanks to a grant from the Solid Waste Department of the City of Lincoln. LPS is hoping to work with new vendors coming to Lincoln.

 

Posted on March 26, 2015


Eastridge Elementary celebrating 60 years

Eastridge Elementary School will be hosting a special celebration on Sunday, April 19, from 2-4 p.m. in honor of their 60th Anniversary.

Alumni are asked to share their favorite Eagle membories by sending them to 6245 L Street, Lincoln, NE 68510; or by emailing them to breeker@lps.org.

Posted on March 26, 2015


1..2..3..Fredstrom and North Star waltzing towards opera

In an effort to get students involved in music, Fredstrom Elementary and North Star High School will be collaborating on performing a song from “The Merry Widow”. North Star students having been teaching the Fredstrom students how to waltz.

Posted on March 23, 2015


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 zbaehr@lps.org.

March 

19 - All-city instrumental festival, Southeast, March 19, 7 p.m., Prasch at Southeast HS

21 - Spring Swing Dance, Hosted by LNE Honors Jazz Band, Northeast, March 21, 6 p.m., LNE Center Gym

24 - Wind Ensemble performs at the District Middle School Honors Event, Northeast, March 24, 6:30 p.m., LNE North Gym

26 - Concert: Choir, Southwest, March 26, 7 p.m., auditorium

28 - Competition: Jazz Spring Swing Dance at Lincoln Northeast HS, March 28, 7 p.m.

April 2015

8 - Spring Vocal Concert, Northeast, April 8, 7 p.m., LNE Auditorium

9-11 - Theater: Fools by Neil Simon, East, April 9-11, 7 p.m., auditorium

9-11 - Theater: Arsenic and Old Lace, Southwest, April 9, 10, 11, 2015 at 7 p.m., Tickets go on sale March 9, call 402-436-1335

13 - Concert: Bands and Orchestras, East, April 13, 7 p.m., auditorium

15 - Spring Instrumental Concert, Northeast, April 15, 7 p.m., LNE Auditorium

15 - Concert: Choirs, Southeast, April 15, 7 p.m., Commons

16 - Concert: Spring Choir, East, April 16, 7 p.m., auditorium

23-24 - Theater: Evening of One-Acts, April 23-24, 7:30 p.m., LNE Black Box

25 - Competition: Lincoln East Jazz Festival at EHS, April 25, all day, auditorium

27 - Concert: Jazz Band Concert Cafe, East HS, April 27, 7 p.m., auditorium

30 - Musical: Southeast, April 30-May 3, 7:30 p.m. with 2 p.m. Sunday matinee, auditorium

30 - Theater: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lincoln High School, April 30-May 1 at 7 p.m., May 2 at 2 p.m., Ted Sorensen Theatre, LHS

May 2015

1-2 - Theater: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lincoln High School, April 30-May 1 at 7 p.m., May 2 at 2 p.m., Ted Sorensen Theatre, LHS

1-3 - Musical: Southeast, April 30-May 3, 7:30 p.m. with 2 p.m. Sunday matinee, auditorium

1, 2 - Rock Show, Northeast, May 1-2, 7 p.m., LNE Auditorium, ($5)

7 - Concert: Jazz Band, Southeast, May 7, 7 p.m., auditorium

8-9 - Concert: Expressions, East HS, May 8-9, 8 p.m.

11 - Concert: Band & Orchestra, Southwest, May 11, 7 p.m., auditorium

11 - Concert: Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble, Southeast, May 11, 7 p.m., auditorium

12 - Concert: A Little Knight Music, Southeast, May 12, 7 p.m., auditorium

12 - Concert: Bands, East HS, May 12, 6 p.m., auditorium

13 - Concert: Choir, Southwest, May 13, 7 p.m., auditorium

13 - Concert: Orchestra, Southeast, May 13, 7 p.m., auditorium

13 - Finale Concert and Awards Ceremony, Northeast, May 13, 6 p.m., LNE Auditorium

16 - Concert: Spring Swing, Southeast, May 16

18-19 - Theater: Nunsense - LSW Faculty Production, May 18-19, 7 p.m., Tickets go on sale April 18, call 402-436-1335

24 - Concert Choir@ LNE Graduation, Northeast, May 24, 4:30 p.m., Devaney Center 

School Listing

Lincoln East High School

Competition: Show Choir Showdown at Lincoln Southwest HS, Feb. 8, all day

Concert: Bands, East HS, Feb. 9, 7 p.m., auditorium

Competition: Vocal/Instrumental Solo & Ensemble at Lincoln High, Feb. 21, 8 p.m.

Concert: Orchestra Finale, East HS, March 3, 7 p.m., auditorium

Competition: Jazz Spring Swing Dance at Lincoln Northeast HS, March 28, 7 p.m.

Theater: Fools by Neil Simon, East, April 9-11, 7 p.m., auditorium

Concert: Bands and Orchestras, East HS, April 13, 7 p.m., auditorium

Concert: Spring Choir, East HS, April 16, 7 p.m., auditorium

Competition: Lincoln East Jazz Festival at EHS, April 25, all day, auditorium

Concert: Jazz Band Concert Cafe, East HS, April 27, 7 p.m., auditorium

Concert: Expressions, East HS, May 8-9, 8 p.m.

Concert: Bands, East HS, May 12, 6 p.m., auditorium

Lincoln High School

Musical: Once On This Island JR, Lincoln High School, Feb. 26-27 at 7 p.m., Feb. 28 at 2 p.m., Ted Sorensen Theatre, LHS

Theater: International Baccalaureate Student Directed Productions: Melancholy Play, The Mousetrap, Gruseome Playground Injuries, Lincoln High School, March 5-6, Time TBA

Theater: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lincoln High School, April 30-May 1 at 7 p.m., May 2 at 2 p.m., Ted Sorensen Theatre, LHS

Lincoln North Star High School

Concert: Choral, North Star, Dec. 7, 7 p.m., Auditorium

Concert: Instrumental, North Star, Dec. 7, 7 p.m., Auditorium

Concert: Choral, North Star, Dec. 9, 7 p.m., auditorium 

Concert: Instrumental, North Star, Dec. 16, 7 p.m., auditorium

Lincoln Northeast High School

Performance: Jazzy Strings Soup Supper, Northeast, Oct. 28, 6 p.m., LNE Commons Area

Recital Night, Northeast, February 17, 6 p.m., LNE Room 170 and 006

Theater: The Treason and Death of Benedict Arnold, March 3-6, 7:30 p.m., LNE Black Box

The Rock Show Choir Competition, Northeast, March 7, 8 a.m. - TBA, LNE Auditorium

Spring Swing Dance, Hosted by LNE Honors Jazz Band, Northeast, March 21, 6 p.m., LNE Center Gym

Wind Ensemble performs at the District Middle School Honors Event, Northeast, March 24, 6:30 p.m., LNE North Gym

Spring Vocal Concert, Northeast, April 8, 7 p.m., LNE Auditorium

Spring Instrumental Concert, Northeast, April 15, 7 p.m., LNE Auditorium

Theater: Evening of One-Acts, April 23-24, 7:30 p.m., LNE Black Box

Rock Show, Northeast, May 1-2, 7 p.m., LNE Auditorium, ($5)

Finale Concert and Awards Ceremony, Northeast, May 13, 6 p.m., LNE Auditorium

Concert Choir@ LNE Graduation, Northeast, May 24, 4:30 p.m., Devaney Center

Lincoln Southeast High School

Night of Knights, Southeast, Feb. 5-7, 7 p.m., auditorium

Concert: Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, Feb. 16, 7 p.m., auditorium

Choir: Queen's Ct, Southeast, Feb. 19, 7 p.m., auditorium

Concert: Jazz Band, Southeast, Feb. 23, 7 p.m., auditorium

Concert: Choirs, Southeast, March 4, 7 p.m., auditorium

All-city instrumental festival, Southeast, March 19, 7 p.m., Prasch

Concert: Choirs, Southeast, April 15, 7 p.m., Commons

Musical: Southeast, April 30-May 3, 7:30 p.m. with 2 p.m. Sunday matinee, auditorium

Concert: Jazz Band, Southeast, May 7, 7 p.m., auditorium

Concert: Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble, Southeast, May 11, 7 p.m., auditorium

Concert: A Little Knight Music, Southeast, May 12, 7 p.m., auditorium

Concert: Orchestra, Southeast, May 13, 7 p.m., auditorium

Concert: Spring Swing, Southeast, May 16

Lincoln Southwest High School

Competition: Show Choir Showdown at Southwest HS, Feb. 7, all day

Concert: Jazz Band, Southwest, Feb. 23, 7 p.m., auditorium

Concert: Band & Orchestra, Southwest, Feb. 25, 7 p.m., auditorium

Concert: Choir, Southwest, March 26, 7 p.m., auditorium

Theater: Arsenic and Old Lace, April 9, 10, 11, 2015 at 7 p.m., Tickets go on sale March 9, call 402-436-1335

Concert: Band & Orchestra, Southwest, May 11, 7 p.m., auditorium

Concert: Choir, Southwest, May 13, 7 p.m., auditorium

Theater: Nunsense - LSW Faculty Production, May 18-19, 7 p.m., Tickets go on sale April 18, call 402-436-1335

Posted on March 13, 2015


Scott students complete research, writing project with annual Make A Difference fair

On Thursday, March 5, students from the 6A team at Scott Middle School hosted a “Make a Difference” fair in the school’s Multipurpose Room. This event was open to the public, and approximately 220 students from the 6A team presented information to help educate visitors about problems that occur in our community and around the world. 

Students had multiple booths set up (in a science fair format) and shared information about an organization that helps others in need.The students hoped that visitors would make a small donation to the organization of their choice that was represented at the fair. Nearly 1,000 people attended. 

Several members of the Lincoln Elks Lodge No. 80 attended the Fair for the second year in a row. The organization made substantial donations to five of the charities that students represented. Stephen Wirth (Public Relations Chairman of Elks Lodge No. 80) said, “The booths (story boards) and youngsters we able to visit with were so excited to tell us about the organizations they were representing. Each one of them had a personal connection and a story they could share.  It may have been about a family member, a good neighbor or a friend. Some were very touching stories as well.”

Students raised over $12,000 during the event for local and national charities.  In 2011, the first Make a Difference Fair raised around $2,500. The money raised will go directly to the charities students represented. A few of these organizations include: The American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Alzheimer’s Association of Lincoln, Autism Speaks, We Stop Hate, Capital Humane Society, Child Advocacy Center, American Lung Association, Down Syndrome Association for Families, The Food Bank of Lincoln, The Hope Venture, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Lincoln Literacy, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Make a Wish Foundation, Susan G. Komen, Team Jack, and Wounded Warriors Family Support.  Students represented more than 40 organizations.

Ava Spinar said, “(The Fair) taught me that not everything for school is just for a grade.  We actually made a difference in our community.  I think that is amazing!” Ava’s organization was Hearts United for Animals.

Emma Wood reflected, “The Make a Difference Fair was a chance for sixth graders to think more about people around the world than just themselves.  People just need to be a little more compassionate.” 

Brock Merkel who raised awareness for WaterAid stated, “The Make a Difference Fair” was a lot of fun.  I realize we take a lot for granted.  People in Africa have to work really hard for water and we don’t even think about it (fresh water).  Right now people are thinking about building the Pipe Line and it can contaminate our water right here at home.”

Kalli Kroeker who raised money and awareness for the March of Dimes said, “It feels good to make a difference about something that matters to you.  With this project, I finally got to learn about something that I actually wanted to learn about.”

Anna Johnson shared, “It was really eye opening.  It really taught me some people skills.  There are all these people that are coming up to talk to you.  It was cool to reach out to people to teach them about Special Olympics.”

“The Make a Difference Fair really reminded me to care about other people beside myself.   I also liked how so many people are willing to help,” said Garret Osborn who raised awareness for the Make a Wish Foundation.

Leigha Moore said, “(The Fair) is like giving an animal or person a light in the darkness.  When they donated, though, it was like a big, warm, and welcoming hug!”  Leigha raised awareness for Hearts United for the Animals.

The “Make a Difference” fair was a continuation of the 6A team’s yearlong effort to focus on individuals and groups who help others and make a difference.   

For more information please contact Debbie Beran (dberan@lps.org) or Suzie Olberding (solberd@lps.org) or visit  https://sites.google.com/site/1415mad/

Posted on March 10, 2015


Riley Elementary to celebrate 50 years

Riley Elementary School, 5021 Orchard St., is having a 50th birthday party open house on Sunday, March 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. 

Posted on March 09, 2015


Three students earn high finishes at state Braille event

Lincoln Public Schools had three students attend the Nebraska Regional Braille Challenge, and all three placed in their division.

Frank Bomberger, first-grader at Prescott Elementary School, took third place.

Samantha Bomberger, sixth-grader at Irving Middle School, won first place.

Brandon Peters of Lincoln Southwest High School also won first place.

The Braille Challenge is a national program of the Braille Institute hosted by regional schools and agencies that serve blind and visually impaired children. It is the only national braille literacy competition of its kind in the country.

The Nebraska Regional Challenge took place in Nebraska City on February 11, 2015. Our attendees competed with other braille students from across the state.

Posted on February 20, 2015


How and when to apply for Early Childhood Preschool

Lincoln Public Schools provides a half-day Early Childhood Preschool program for children in the Lancaster County area. The Early Childhood Preschool is located in many of the elementary schools across Lincoln. Children who turn 3 or 4 by July 31, 2015 may apply for enrollment starting March 2nd. Preference will be given to 4-year-olds.

Applications are available at any elementary school, on the Lincoln Public Schools website, www.lps.org, or at the Early Childhood Preschool Office at the Lincoln Public Schools District Office. Completed applications may be submitted to the Lincoln Public Schools District Office at 5905 O Street, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please bring your child with you so they can complete a pre-enrollment activity. Children are selected based on a variety of criteria listed on the application.

You must provide the following documents before your child may be considered for placement:

  • Early Childhood Application
  • Bring in your child’s certified birth certificate so we may verify your child’s birth information and we will make a copy of it for our files. If you do not have a certified birth certificate or other proof of the child’s identity and age (i.e.,official birth records/passport), we will assist with a notarized affidavit.
  • Child’s immunization record.
  • Income verification for the family for the past 12 months. (For example: 2014 Tax Return 1040, W-2, Pay stubs for previous 12 months, ADC, Child Support, Grants, Scholarships, SSI, Unemployment Benefits.)

If you have any questions about this process, please contact Toni Jafferis at 402-436-1941.

Posted on February 17, 2015


Lux students headed for nationals after state title

Lux Middle School won state championship Science Bowl, and with it a spot in the national competition.

The coach is Rich Powers. Students on the team included Ina Bhoopalam, Crystal Xu, Alix Cui, Suzie Cho and Trevor Anderson.

“The National Science Bowl® has grown into one of the most prestigious science academic competitions in the country and challenges students to excel in fields vital to America’s future,” U.S. Energy Secretary Moniz said. “I congratulate these students for advancing to the National Finals, where they will be among some of the brightest science and math students from across the country.”

The NSB brings together thousands of middle and high school students from across the country to compete in a fast-paced question-and-answer format where they solve technical problems and answer questions on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, Earth and space science, physics and math.

The U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz today announced that a team of middle school students from Lincoln, Neb. won their regional competition for the 2015 National Science Bowl® (NSB) this past weekend and are advancing to compete at the National Finals in Washington, D.C., in April. This year marks the 25th time the national competition has been held.

A series of 118 regional middle school and high school tournaments are being held across the country from January through March. Winners will advance to represent their areas at the National Science Bowl® held from April 30 to May 4 in Washington, D.C., for the final middle school and high school competitions.

The top 16 high school teams and the top eight middle school teams in the National Finals will win $1,000 for their schools’ science departments. Prizes for the top two high school teams for the 2015 NSB will be announced at a later date.

Approximately 240,000 students have participated in the National Science Bowl® since it was established in 1991, and it is one of the nation’s largest science competitions. More than 14,000 students compete in the NSB each year.

DOE’s Office of Science manages the NSB Finals competition. More information is available on the NSB website: http://www.science.energy.gov/wdts/nsb/.

Posted on February 11, 2015


LHS to celebrate 100 years on J St. on March 29

Lincoln High School will celebrate 100 years on J street - with an Open House 2-4 p.m. Sunday, March 29
Details to come!

Posted on January 27, 2015


Welch honored for wellness efforts

Michelle Welch of Lincoln Public Schools been chosen as one of WELCOA's Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals. Welch is the district's wellness coordinator. This award is unique to the field in that scoring is based not only on votes from your peers, but also by the empirical review of a distinguished judging panel.

Posted on January 27, 2015


Students to ride bikes, make smoothies at Campbell

Campbell Elementary students will treat themselves with a smoothie challenge at the school, 2200 Dodge St. What makes this event extra cool is that the school will have students making some of the smoothies via human power on a device called Rock the Bike, a blender attached to a bike. Students pedal the bik to power the blender. Students will be learning about the importance of physical activity and dairy on bone health. All 705 students will be involved. Activity from 9:30 to 2:30 (might avoid 11:30 to 12:30 because of busy lunch time). 

Posted on January 27, 2015


Flagship, LNS team match up knowledge and robots

Lincoln North Star High School participated in the 1st Robotics Competition, held at Southeast Community College & sponsored by Lincoln Public Schools. Members of the Gator Boys team were lead engineer Stephen Bui, and team members Bailey Berndt & Conor Gray. The Gator Boys engineered their robot named “Flagship” to compete in the Skyrise competition, and finished 13th out 24 teams from across Nebraska.

The Gator Boys also won the 'Sportsmanship Award' at the event.

These competitions are made up of middle and high school teams from around the state. Each team must design a robot to compete in a challenge arena with another team versus two other bots trying to score the most points. The game changes every year.

This year the challenge is called Skyrise (learn more). 

The Gator Boys will be competing again April 17th, 2015 at the SkillsUSA State Conference & Championships at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha.

Posted on January 26, 2015


North Star trainers earn top honors for student-athlete safety

Lincoln North Star High School was awarded the Safe Sports School Award by the National Athletic Trainers' Association. Justin Eggleston and Shelly White are the Gators' athletic trainers.

Schools may earn a 1st Team or 2nd Team Safe Sports School award. 1st Team awards, which North Star received, are given to schools that have acted on all recommended and required elements of the Safe Sports School checklist.

All of the schools listed below are Safe Sports Schools that gone above and beyond to help ensure the safety of their student athletes. 

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) is the professional membership association for certified athletic trainers and others who support the athletic training profession. Founded in 1950, the NATA has grown to more than 35,000 members worldwide today. The majority of certified athletic trainers choose to be members of the NATA – to support their profession, and to receive a broad array of membership benefits.

Bios for Eggleston and White:

Justin has been the head athletic trainer at North Star since the doors opened in 2003.
Justin attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney, graduating in 1996.  While at UNK, received the Athletic Training "Rookie Trainer of the Year" Award. Following graduation, Justing worked briefly in his hometown of Broken Bow initializing an outreach program to provide athletic training services to 6 small communities. From 1997 to the fall of 2003, Justin worked for an orthopedic physicians clinic providing athletic training services to communities outside of Lincoln.  Since beginning at North Star Justin has served on the Nebraska State Athletic Training Association executive board as Secretary/Treasurer and Vice President.  In 2004 Justin was awarded the George Sullivan Athletic Trainer of the Year Award.

Shelly began her position as assistant athletic trainer at North Star in 2011.  A native of Omaha, NE, Shelly attended Doane College for two years on a softball scholarship before transferring to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Shelly graduated in 2011 from UNO with Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education with emphasis in Athletic Training. Throughout her college career, Shelly gained experience working with NCAA Division II football and women's soccer, NCAA Division I softball, and out patient physical therapy. While working at North Star, Shelly has completed a Master of Science degree in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at Tyler, and became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. 

Posted on January 26, 2015


Middle school intramural underway for debaters, speechers, thespians

The 33rd Middle School Drama/Speech/Debate Intramural Program (the only academic intramural) began last Saturday and continues through February 28th. The group meets every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. This story tip is guanteed to have plenty of animated students for photos and video and quotes! For more information, contact Michelle Stewart at mstewart@lps.org or 402-436-1304.

Posted on January 23, 2015


Pathfinder focuses on education for detained youth

Randall Farmer didn’t plan to go to college.

He thought he wanted to be a small engine mechanic, then decided to go to college on a whim, spent six years doing archeology with the National Park Service, then thought to try teaching because, after all, they get summers off.

He ended up helping at a psychiatric hospital his first ‘summer’ and began working with Lincoln Public Schools, specifically with the Behavioral Skills Program. After a decade of work in Pennsylvania working with primarily inner city youth, he began working at the Juvenile Detention Center in Lancaster County, and was totally unprepared.

“One, these were the most challenging kids I have ever seen, and two, they were the most amazing and brilliant kids I have ever seen,” Farmer said. “So how do you get the kids excited about learning?”

Today Farmer is the supervisor of the Pathfinder Education Program in LPS. He acknowledged that the Pathfinder program needed outside help, and it came in the form of a national collaboration of National Partnership for Juvenile Services. There were very few places to go for help eight years ago, he said, but that has changed.

Students at Pathfinder typically have a law violation, or violation of probation or parole. They attend Pathfinder for their own safety, the community’s safety and to limit flight risk. The program is housed at 1200 Radcliff St. When the building was designed, LPS had a key role. The building itself, is designed around the classrooms.

The goals are credit recovery, filling gaps in knowledge and skills, and inspiring students to learn. 

He says the ones we hear about in the news, are the kids he knows. And, he says, “Yes, they are still kids.”

Later he added, “Remember this, juveniles are not adults.”

They do not think like adults, they still lack impulse control, logical reasoning, and predictive skills. And this is due to a brain that is still developing, Farmer said. 

The Pathfinder program had 639 student enrollments last year – though average daily attendance is in the 50s - and every one of the student stories is different. 

“The key is helping them understand that the struggles they are going through have an explanation,” Farmer said.

Helping youth understand how they reached this point in their life is critical for their maturation.

“That’s the way it is …” is a common statement, he said. They aren’t just justifications. “What we have to do is show them there is a different way.”

Most students have lived life one way for 14 years, and that’s what they know. It takes time and repetition and caring to understand the same social contract that makes most people follow traffic signals.

It can come down to the right moment, the right phrase from a guest speaker or just the right person.

One young man had been struggling at the program multiple times, Farmer said. One day he approached Farmer to say, “I have a baby I need to take care of, I have to graduate and today is the day it starts.”

Some students are former student-athletes with bright futures, others are kids who have lived through horrendous situations.

When students are at Pathfinder, they:

  • get three meals a day and a snack;
  • are sleeping safely;
  • are not using any substances;
  • are 10- to 19-years-old, with an average of 15.8;
  • come from various schools across the city;
  • are males and females, two-to-one;
  • stay on average 26 days, though most come in for a few days or a few months;
  • attend based on security needs, not academic level, thus there is one general classroom for all ages;
  • attend school 92 percent of the time.

Students in special education and youth of color are over-represented in attendees (which Farmer said is a national issue).

Farmer said it’s state law that students cannot be punished academically for their problems with the law. The program is not treatment, and is just one available path for students. 

A life of incarceration costs $3-$5 million for one person, Farmer said, so every positive outcome for Pathfinder saves taxpayer money.

The program is funded by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and coordinated with Lancaster County. Staff are certified, and the program earns approval by the Nebraska Department of Education.

Kids take math, science, English, social studies and the same core classes - including P.E., which is new this year - for six periods a day. Life skills classes are taught in the evenings and weekends. 

Kids are resilient. Teachers are too, Farmer said. One student told an LPS administrator that they just needed a chance. Then two other kids admitted on the spot that it will also take more than one chance, because they will likely make more mistakes.

“They don’t need to be punished anymore,” Farmer said. “They are amazing, amazing intelligent - I would argue genius - if you see their creativity.”

“This is my passion; this is what I love to do.”

Posted on January 20, 2015


Eastridge gets active for family wellness event

Eastridge Elementary School will host Family Wellness Night on Jan. 27 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

More than 20 free food samplings, activities and information booths will be arranged for all families. A free light dinner will be served from 5:45 to 7:30 p.m.

Families can join their students as they perform in the gym at the following times:  

  • 6:00 – Kindergarten – Yoga, led by Sheila Palmquist
  • 6:15 – First grade – Yoga, led by Sheila Palmquist
  • 6:30 – Second grade – Wii, led by Jason Schmit  
  • 6:45 – Third grade – Wii, led by Jason Schmit  
  • 7:00 – Fourth grade – Jazzercise, led by Tria Pischel
  • 7:15 – Fifth grade – Jazzercise, led by Tria Pischel

For more information, contact the school at 402-436-1135.

Posted on January 16, 2015


Southwest AD elected to top position of national AD's group

Mark Armstrong, athletic director for Lincoln Southwest High School, has been elected president of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.

His role in developing coaches, helping student-athletes and building on a culture of success at Southwest is evident. The Silver Hawks won the 2013/14 U.S. Cellular Cup from the Nebraska Schools Activities Association, which is based on participation and success athletic and academic activities hosted by the NSAA.

Armstrong said his election is an honor, one that gives him a voice on issues that impact not only student-athletes and coaches at Southwest, but across the nation. His hope is to share his successes, and learn from other athletic programs in a way that benefits Southwest High School, Lincoln Public Schools, and the entire state.

Armstrong’s principal, Hugh McDermott, notes the Silver Hawks athletic director works to build one cohesive athletic program:

“... has worked in a very positive and enthusiastic way here at Southwest to unify our coaches in how we approach our academic student athletes. Mark believes coaches play a significant role in establishing positive relationships with their athletes and helping each of our coaches reach his or her potential in making this happen."

LPS Athletic Director Kathi Wieskamp said Armstrong has been a tremendous asset since coming to Southwest just a year-and-a-half ago:

“Mark has quickly built relationships with the coaches, athletes and school community allowing him to have an immediate impact on the programs at Southwest.  Mark's emphasizes the impact that coaches can have through intentional coaching helping them develop young men and women far beyond the sport itself.”

The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association preserves, enhances and promotes the educational values of interscholastic athletics through the professional development of its members in the areas of education, leadership, and service.

Posted on January 15, 2015


Pyrtle Elementary to celebrate 50 years

Pyrtle Elementary School will host a 50th anniversary celebration event from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 24 2015 at the school, 721 Cottonwood Dr.

Staff will be offering tours; have a classroom open at each grade level with videos of how school looks and sounds now; scrapbooks and memorabilia displayed; and refreshments. There will be opportunities to share and collect memories, and reconnect with Pyrtle friends.

Posted on December 16, 2014