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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.

Welch honored for wellness efforts < Updated

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 < Updated

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 < Updated

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 < Updated

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


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.

February 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

26-28 - 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

March 

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

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

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

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

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

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

3-11 - Theater: Spring Play, East HS, April 3-5 and 9-11, 7 p.m., auditorium

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

9-11 - Theater: Arsenic and Old Lace, 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 Media Center

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

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

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: Spring Play, East HS, April 3-5 and 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

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 Media Center

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 January 21, 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