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 or Zachary Baehr at

Lincoln High School honored as ‘School of Opportunity’ – one of eight in the country

Schools of Opportunity 2017 Gold RecipientLincoln High School has been recognized as a “School of Opportunity” by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder – one of only eight high schools in the country to earn the honor this year.

Lincoln High joins schools from New York City, Chicago, San Diego and Denver, among others, that made the final cut after going through a rigorous application and evaluation process. According to the NEPC, the winning schools were recognized for “creating rich learning experiences for all of their students.”

Lincoln High Principal Mark Larson called the honor “amazing.”

“The ‘Schools of Opportunity’ criteria align with our building's mission and values of providing opportunities for all of our students,” Larson said. “This award is an affirmation of the amazing work that our staff does every day. This recognition also speaks to the unique culture that has been in place at Lincoln High for many years and hopefully will continue for years to come.”

NEPC evaluates schools on 10 possible criteria. As part of the comprehensive evaluation, recognized schools went through a six-phase review process that included a self-assessment; criterion-based and holistic reviews by school district and university experts, as well as past awardees; and site visits by project evaluators.

In its final assessment, NEPC said this about Lincoln High: “Diversity and unity drive a culture of support and academic challenge in a school where everyone…finds a place to belong.”

This year’s winners join 37 previously honored schools – all of which, according to NEPC, can serve as examples of how “equitable learning environments can exist right now—not merely in some imaginary future.”    

See the story about Lincoln High School as featured in The Washington Post.

Posted on January 24, 2018

High School Information Nights for 8th-grade families

At Lincoln Public Schools, students have an option to choose which high school they would like to attend. All the high schools provide a high-quality educational experience for all their students, but each school also offers different opportunities and programs.

Each high school will still be offering open houses for eighth-grade families to tour and ask questions before the enrollment deadline. 

High School Open Houses:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 East High School 6:30 p.m
Thursday, January 11, 2018 Southwest High School 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Southeast High School 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 18, 2018 North Star High School 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Northeast High School 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, January 23, 2018 Lincoln High School 6:30 p.m.

4 ways 8th-grade students and families can make the most of high school information nights

#1 - Attend as many high school information nights as you wish. They are scheduled on different nights for this reason. Start discussions early with all involved (see #2). Also, remember to file the High School Choice Form by the now extended February 2nd deadline.

#2 - Consider the student’s current and future interests and talents prior to the event. Then ask questions about those topics to teachers and current students at the information event at each school.

#3 - Any student can be successful academically at any school. Look for ways the student can get involved and participate, while staying on top of their studies.

#4 - Consider the student’s current friends, but also consider the opportunity to make new friends. Making new friends exposes students to new activities and common interests.

Posted on January 22, 2018

Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Rally

The planning committee and community stakeholders for the 23rd Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Rally and March are pleased to announce the January 15, 2018, theme and activities associated with the annual experience. 

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!
The decisions we make today will impact what is above the fold tomorrow!

 “Youth scholars have planned an event to inspire, engage, and educate the community on how the headlines, actions, and front page issues of today impact the future.  Our committee is remaining vigilant and mindful of those once prominent headlines that stirred us to act in the 1960’s.  Our goal is to develop a program with content recognizing the contribution of youth and others who have been instrumental in keeping the dreams of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Leola Bullock on the front page,” said planning committee member Sophia Olson.

The Youth Rally and March is organized by a diverse group of area youth and is held in conjunction with the national recognition of the birthday of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  All components are intended to celebrate his legacy and the mission of the planning committee: “…promotion of the life and dream of the late Rev. Dr. King, Jr. through positive youth action in the community.”

The January 15th Call to Action experience will include content intended to inspire, educate, and entertain.  Content will include original and adapted work including but not limited to:  Plaintiff: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Planning Committee Challenges the School System; Call to Action keynote – From Paper to Pixel, How The Headlines of the Past and Present Intersect; Sacrifices For You – A Letter from Dr. Leola Bullock; the Idea Scholars of Belmont Elementary School (Lincoln) performing a choral reading; Be the Headline dignitary challenge; Because of Them We Can tribute and recognition; and performances by Ignite Choir and Freedom Dancers of the Edge Dance Academy.  The day’s events will begin with a pre-rally celebration emceed by comedian and inspirational speaker Jarell Roach.  Activities will include performances from I Am Dance Performance Academy, face painting by the Lincoln Southwest High School girls’ basketball program, Lincoln High Drum Line, the annual I Am Somebody youth pledge, and more.

Pre-rally doors open at 8:00 a.m., and the program begins at 8:45 a.m. in the UNL Student Union Ballroom at 14th & R St., and is followed by a Unifying March at 9:45 a.m. through the streets of downtown Lincoln, climaxing with the Call to Action program at 10:30 a.m. (or when the marchers arrive and are seated) in the Warner Chamber at the Nebraska State Capitol.

For more information, contact Peter Ferguson, Community Adult Adviser, at 402.730.8709 or  You can also receive updates and follow the rally on the Facebook page and Twitter @MRally93.    

Posted on January 04, 2018

LPS to play two high school football games at Memorial Stadium

Lincoln Public Schools has worked closely with the University of Nebraska Athletics Department to bring a pair of high school games to Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 30.  The games were originally scheduled to be played at Seacrest Field on Friday, Sept. 29, the same evening as the Huskers will play the University of Illinois at 7 p.m. 

Questions and Answers along with parking, entrance and seating maps can be found here

The two games scheduled at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 30 are Lincoln Southwest vs. North Platte, and Lincoln Northeast vs. Fremont. The first game between Southwest and North Platte will kick off at 1 p.m., with the Northeast-Fremont contest to follow at 4:30 p.m.  Game ticket prices - which include all-season athletic passes and individual game prices - will be the same as at Seacrest Field. 

"Lincoln Public Schools and the University of Nebraska Athletics Department both recognize the great importance of high school football across the state," said LPS Director of Athletics Kathi Wieskamp. "Given the unique challenge associated with the Huskers playing a Friday night game at Illinois, we worked together to provide a special opportunity for four Nebraska high schools to play their games at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.  This is a special opportunity to showcase Nebraska high school football and support the Huskers." 

The contests are the first regular-season high school games in recent memory to be played at Memorial Stadium, and are the only regular season games scheduled to be played at the stadium this fall.  Nebraska Athletics has partnered with the Nebraska School Activities Association to stage the Nebraska State High Football Playoff finals at Memorial Stadium since 1996.

Any inquires or requests for further information about the games should be directed to Lincoln Public Schools. NCAA rules regarding publicity and recruiting guidelines prohibit Nebraska Athletics from any further comment.

Posted on September 25, 2017

COMMUNITY AWARENESS SERIES: Promoting Healthy Behaviors

Lincoln Public Schools is partnering with School Community Intervention and Prevention (SCIP), Bryan Independence Center and the Lancaster Prevention Coalition to put on a series of valuable presentations about how to support the health and well-being of our community’s youth. These events are open to parents, students, school professionals and community members.The first in the series will be Promoting Student Mental Health on September 26, at 6:30 p.m. at Lux Middle School.

Speaker Carrie Gottschalk has spent over 20 years in the fields of education and mental and behavioral health working with children, adolescents and families.  Her presentation will help raise awareness and offer opportunities for meaningful discussion surrounding the mental health of children and adolescence. Gottschalk will be sharing information about social emotional development and its role in mental and behavioral health, de-stigmatizing diagnosis and healthy steps that can be taken to support youth.

Future presentations will include:

  • Digital Citizenship - November 16, 6:30 p.m. at Southeast High School

  • Healthy Relationships - February 27, 6:30 p.m. at Southwest High School
  • Promoting Healthy Choices - April 26, 6:30 p.m. at North Star High School

Posted on August 29, 2017

Every Knight Needs a Castle

Hoping to inspire current and future students in the spirit of service, Lincoln Southeast Principal Brent Toalson created the Service Wall of Fame to honor those students and staff - past and present- who contribute to the community.

The first project honored last year was the playground at Antelope Park. This year, Toalson honored the Every Knight Needs a Castle project from the 1998-99 school year at the winter pep rally.

During the project, then LSE principal Nancy Becker was looking for something the whole school could get behind.

“We were starting to get really big and I could see that there was all these different groups and they weren’t connecting,” Becker said. “They just needed to be presented with a challenge and then they took it from there.”

Becker met with the leadership from student organizations and presented the idea of participating in Habitat for Humanity, but with a twist. This home would benefit one of their fellow classmates and his family.

“Because of Darnell’s situation we had to change the whole layout of the floor plan because we needed to have everything accessible. That’s where our industrial arts kids got involved with design and it was great,” Becker added.

The rest of the student body got involved by volunteering hours to work on the house, or by raising funds. In all, over $30,000 were raised by the Knights for the project.

Dianna Utley and Darnell, her son and Southeast student at the time, worked alongside the students to complete the house that they would eventually move into.

“I just want to thank everybody. We wouldn’t have what we have if it wasn’t for you,” Utley said.

Toalson used the event to announce a new initiative at Southeast High School.

“I’m excited to announce a new service opportunity for next year’s seniors. Juniors, if you are interested, we encourage you to submit a proposal or business plan that would partner with local businesses or non-profits to complete a service project. The winning project will receive a cash reward to complete the project during their senior year.”

The Pay It Forward Service Project will begin in the 2017-18 school year. Lincoln Southeast High School will be working with the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools on funding for the project. More information on the Pay It Forward Service Project can be found here:

Posted on December 14, 2016

LPS names first principal for new Marilyn Moore Middle School

Gary Czapla, currently principal of Culler Middle School, will serve as the first principal of the new Marilyn Moore Middle School, which opens next fall for the 2017-18 school year. 

Steve Joel, superintendent of Lincoln Pubic Schools, made the announcement Monday:  “We are excited to have Dr. Czapla as principal of our newest middle school. He is a proven leader of innovation as it relates to improving teaching and learning for all students. As a pilot school for the district technology plan, Culler was instrumental in helping determine the ‘do's and don’ts’ of a large-scale rollout. His belief that students need to be inspired to learn through creative engagement will serve as the backbone for a 21st century school that will emphasize creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.”  

Jane Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction at LPS, said: "Dr. Czapla is a great fit for Marilyn Moore Middle School and brings both the experience needed to open a new school, and the energy for creating new opportunities in our newest learning spaces.”  

Czapla has been principal at Culler for seven years – and previously served as principal at the Bryan Community High School Program, associate principal at Lincoln Southeast High School, and instructional coordinator and team leader at Bryan. 

In a message to Culler parents today, Czapla wrote: “Culler has been my family in many ways over the past 7 years and I have the greatest admiration for all of you. You have all treated me with the utmost kindness and caring and I will always be grateful for what each of you has given me. However the chance to open a brand new middle school is an opportunity that only comes around once in a great while and I felt I needed to take advantage of this opportunity.” 

Czapla earned his Bachelor’s, Master of Education and Doctorate of Education degrees all at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Posted on October 24, 2016

Invitation to name new LPS support facility

Lincoln Public Schools is asking for suggestions from our community to name a new school facility that supports both the LPS Nutrition Service Program and school district Professional Learning.

Please submit ideas before Oct. 26, by going to:

The facility will have two major uses:

  • For Nutrition Services:  The facility will house the freezer, cooler, dry storage and support offices that facilitate distribution of food to school sites district-wide.  On any given day, the LPS Nutrition Services program serves 7,200 breakfasts, 26,400 lunches, 3,200 snacks and 150 dinners. In total over seven million dollars of food will be distributed through this facility each year.
  • For Professional Learning: LPS is committed to high-quality professional learning opportunities for all staff.  The facility will house a large professional learning space, smaller classrooms and conference room settings to meet the various needs of staff.

All suggested names will be forwarded to a special committee made up of Lincoln Board of Education and community members who will give their recommendation to the Board of Education. The Board of Education will make the final decision.

Posted on October 18, 2016

Preparations for first Unified Bowling underway

This is the first year for Unified Bowling and several Lincoln teams are getting ready for the first season which begins October 17.  Lincoln Southwest High School describes what's been happening as the team prepares.

With little over a month before practice and competition begin, the Lincoln Southwest Unified Bowling team is getting ready for the inaugural season. Participants met recently for shirt and ball fittings to begin to prepare for the NSAA's newest sanctioned sport.

"It's an incredible opportunity for our school, the district, and the entire state," said head coach Brandi Benson. "I think that this could really be something that brings the school together and starts to create a more socially inclusive culture within the building."

Unified Bowling combines equal teams of students with intellectual disabilities and individuals without intellectual disabilities. Team members are referred to as athletes and partners and bowl using what is known as the Baker format.

"I am so excited to have an opportunity to work with students from my school," said LSW partner Arabelle Jackson. "I look forward to making relationships with my bowling partners and competing with them."

Currently, there are over 40 teams throughout the state that have committed to the first year for the sport. Practices and competitions begin in mid-October and continue to the State Tournament at the beginning of December. A date for State is still being decided.

"What's exciting is that I get to be on a team," said LSW athlete Clint Adams. "I get to make friends and go Hawks!"


 Unified Bowling partner Hunter Paxson gets fitted for a bowling ball by Jason Johnson of Let's Talk Bowling Pro Shop.

Posted on September 21, 2016

Making connections through interactive media

“This year it won’t be so easy for people to just walk on by.”

That’s what Lincoln Public Schools district media coordinator Chris Haeffner wants any way when MOSAIC goes on display at the district office September 6 - 15, and later as it rotates through area schools over the next two years.

MOSAIC is a collection of multicultural literature selected by a committee to help students make connections with the many different cultures from around the world. This year, MOSAIC is modernizing with more hands-on and interactive displays to help create more connections with the books.

Over 280 titles will be part of the interactive displays which will include things like:

  • QR codes on the books and readers so students can watch video clips related to the stories;
  • Augmented reality viewers with virtual tours loaded on them;
  • Building blocks with specialized pieces from different cultures;
  • Cards with QR codes so students can watch popular music videos from around the world;
  • Or Chinese calligraphy mats and instructions.

“It took a lot of hours for our staff to research the multimedia support for each title and then compiling them all together,” added Haeffner. “Our hope is to get them to stop and look more deeply at the literature, giving them a richer experience and a deeper connection.”

The display will be at the LPS district office located at 5905 O Street in Lincoln and is open and free to the public during regular office hours. Click here to see all of this year’s titles selected for MOSAIC.


Posted on September 13, 2016

LHS, Venable recognized nationally for strength training program

Lincoln High School has been awarded the 2016 Strength of America Award by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

This award recognizes the Lincoln High initiative - led by Lincoln High coach Stewart Venable - that represents the gold standard in strength and conditioning programs.

Matt Avey, LPS curriculum specialist for health and physical education, noted: “Stewart Venable has been instrumental in moving our Lincoln Public Schools Strength Training curriculum forward.  Over the past school year, he has worked tirelessly and collaboratively with all of our teachers to implement the most recent research-based programs and integrate curriculum concepts and instructional frameworks into the district’s strength and conditioning program.”

The Strength of America Award measures four major categories: supervision, education, program and facilities. Selected from hundreds of eligible schools, Lincoln High will receive the award during the NSCA’s National Conference Awards Banquet in July  in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“From day one at Lincoln High, Stewart has shown initiative to improve the program so that our students will benefit from the instruction that our teachers provide,” Avey said.  “His dedication to Lincoln High and our Physical Education program in the Lincoln Public Schools is very much appreciated, and our students will only continue to improve because of his passion for teaching.”

When the award was announced, Venable said: “I'd like to especially thank Coach Matt Bertsch for his hard work and dedication in working with me throughout this entire comprehensive process.  Matt, I couldn't have done it without you man. Also, a huge thank you to all of our LPS administrators - Mr. Gatzemeyer, Dr. Avey and Ms. Wieskamp - for your guidance and leadership regarding Strength and Conditioning in LPS.  It would not have been possible for us as a district to achieve as much as we have in such a short period of time had it not been for the vision of our administrators.”

With the increasing number of inconsistent gym conditions and strength programs across the country, the NSCA and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition are working together to provide all high schools concise guidelines.

“I am proud to have Lincoln High be part of our ongoing mission to improve the education and programs for all our youth,” says Coach Scott Caulfield, the NSCA’s Head Strength and Conditioning Coach.

Posted on June 22, 2016

LNE announces new girls tennis coach

Lincoln Northeast High School announced Michael Mason-D’Croz as their new Head Girls Tennis Coach.

Coach Mason has been a teacher and coach at Northeast for the past six years. He has been an assistant coach for several sports at Northeast including boys basketball, boys soccer for six years, and boys tennis the last two years.

“His knowledge and passion for teaching and coaching are very evident by the relationships he develops with his students,” commented LNE athletic director Clayton Heath. “Northeast is very excited to have such a quality person, teacher, and coach as Michael Mason-D’Croz as their next Head Girls Tennis Coach.”

Posted on June 07, 2016

Update on Bond Issue Progress

Posted on December 23, 2015

Students prepare for culinary competition

Students at The Career Academy in the Culinary Pathway are preparing for a competition that will determine which Lincoln Public School students will compete in the ProStart competition in February.

Follow one team as they create a culinary masterpiece.


Posted on October 28, 2015

LPS Learning Lunches: ‘Homeless students’ set for Oct. 27

The second Lincoln Public Schools Learning Lunch of the school year is called Homeless Students and Families: Building Stability, set for 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, in the Board Room at LPS District Office, 5905 O St.


This year’s series is called, “Untold Stories” – and Tuesday’s presentation features Bryan Seck, homeless outreach specialist at LPS.  


This is an annual series of bring-your-own-lunch presentations open to the community. Doors to the Board Room will open at noon, the program will begin at 12:15 p.m., questions-and-answers will happen at 12:45 p.m.


This year’s schedule:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 24. Makerspaces and Other Wonders of LPS Libraries, Mary Reiman and Chris Haeffner of Library Media Services for LPS.
  • Tuesday, Jan 26. Dogs, a school’s best friend, stories about the value of canine companions in our schools (with appearances from two-legged and four-legged critters).
  • Tuesday, Feb. 23. One in Five: Students Facing Mental Health Challenges, Brenda Leggiadro, coordinator for LPS Counselors and School Social Workers.
  • Tuesday, March 29: A Guide to Mathematics Education Today, Matt Larson, curriculum specialist for Mathematics at LPS.
  • Tuesday, April 26. The Rhythm of Music in our Schools, LPS student musicians and Lance Nielsen, supervisor of Music for LPS.

For more information: Mary Kay Roth, director of Communications, 402-436-1609,

Posted on October 19, 2015

Sophomores and Freshmen: Learn more about The Career Academy

Current sophomores and freshmen, along with their parents/guardians, are invited to attend information sessions at The Career Academy in the coming weeks of October and November.  These sessions will cover the 16 career pathways and how students can prepare to attend The Career Academy for two hours per school day during their junior and senior years in high school. 
During their time at TCA, students will earn anywhere from 20 to 44 SCC quarter credits and get to know business and industry people throughout their two years. 
For more information and to sign up to attend the information sessions, please go to: or click here.  This is an amazing opportunity to explore a career and take advantage of free transportation, free books, and free or discounted tuition.


All sessions will be from 7-8 p.m. at The Career Academy, located at Southeast Community College (8800 "O" Street)

Tuesday, October 20         Engineering, Welding, Precision Machining, Construction (Residential, HVAC-R, Electrical, Masonry)

Thursday, October 22       Health Science, AgBio Science, Food Science

Tuesday, October 27         K-12 Education, Early Childhood Education, Culinary

Thursday, October 29       IT: Networking, Programming, Database; Business:  Administration, Client Relations, Entrepreneurship

Tuesday, November 3       Health Science, AgBio Science, Food Science

Thursday, November 5      Engineering, Welding, Precision Machining, Construction (Residential, HVAC-R, Electrical, Masonry)

Tuesday, November 10      IT: Networking, Programming, Database; Business:  Administration, Client Relations, Entrepreneurship

Thursday, November 12    K-12 Education, Early Childhood Education, Culinary

Posted on October 14, 2015

Bryan Community Culture Night

The Bryan Community Focus Program will be hosting its second annual Culture Night on Thursday, October 1, from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

The event will feature performances starting at 6:00 p.m. by Southeast Step Chain, Ground Zero, Poi Art, LDT Productions, and the Hoodlums. Classroom cultural projects will be on display, along with samples of foods from many different cultures.

For more information, contact (402)436-1308.

Posted on September 28, 2015

Harvest of Books

Lincoln Education Association's 19th Annual Harvest of Books drive kicks off October 1, and wraps up on the 16.

To participate, you can purchase books at a 25% discount at participating books stores, or mail a donation to Harvest of Books, c/o LEA, 4920 Normal Blvd., Lincoln, NE 68506.

Local book stores participating in the event include Barnes & Noble (both Lincoln locations), Indigo Bridge Books, Gloria Deo, University Bookstore, and Usborne Books at Home.

Since its inception in 1997, Harvest of Books, Inc. has distributed over 156,000 brand-new books to Lincoln's first and second grade students in public, private and parochial schools—a book of their very own to keep.  For many children, this ends up being their first “real” book that they get to choose, own forever, take home, and read with their families. 

The books will be distributed to first and second graders the week of November 23, and this year they anticipate distributing around 10,000 books.


Posted on September 28, 2015

MOSAIC on display at district office

Over 24 years ago, a new rule from the Nebraska Department of Education insisted schools include current and unbiased information about different cultures in their libraries. Lincoln Public Schools stepped up to the challenge by creating a Multicultural Committee to review materials and make recommendations to schools about appropriate content.

“Our media specialists are doing an amazing job opening the world to students through books,” said district media coordinator Chris Haeffner. “With all the time they spend in the classroom with kids, they don’t have the time required to research and review all the new materials that fit within Rule 16.”

Haeffner said the MOSAIC committee helps with that. The committee consists of current and retired media specialists and volunteers. Each member reviews between 10 to 20 books each year depending on the reading levels. Even though this year’s books have just been announced, these reviewers have already begun selecting and reviewing titles for the 2016-17 school year.

“We have a rigorous evaluation process with a set of guidelines for each grade level, and only the books that receive a very good or higher rating make the cut for our display.”

By having the MOSAIC committee making recommendations, media specialists in the schools can preview the books through the traveling display and see which books are popular with their students. Then librarians can order those titles to house in their school’s library.

“We know that it is critical for kids to find themselves reflected in books,” added Haeffner. “Not only can these books help them relate to things they are feeling and doing, it can open their minds to our global society and also take them to places a world away to learn about new cultures.”

This year’s MOSAIC display includes over 278 titles, and will be at the District Office until September 16. Then the display will be split into smaller groups to travel to different schools around the district.

For more information about MOSAIC, log-on to the Library Media Services webpage.

Posted on September 11, 2015

Students travel 440 miles in a matter of minutes for field trip

How can you take 570 Lincoln elementary students on a field trip to a paleontology dig 440 miles across the state of Nebraska for free?  With a virtual field trip set up between Lincoln Public Schools and other organizations across the state, the hassle and costs of these learning experiences are minimal.

"National parks and other places in our state offer these opportunities to our students free or at little cost, without needing to get parent permissions slips signed, buses scheduled, lunches packed. It's a great opportunity for our students to get out of the classroom and experience the world around them," commented LPS distance learning coordinator, Linda Dickeson.

The virtual field trips are done using a two-way interactive videoconferencing system set up between the schools and the host organization. The most recent of these virtual field trips was conducted with Agate Fossil Beds in the Panhandle of Nebraska and Prescott Elementary. Park rangers gave tours of their facility, showcased fossils and displayed artists' renderings of prehistoric animals found at the national park.

"I'm going to tell you about some animals we have," said Park Ranger Ann to the 102 kindergartners sitting around the projector screen. "Right behind me is the beardog. Looking at his head, what can we tell about what he eats?"

The experience was set up as part of Prescott's Expressive Arts Day.  Prescott principal Ruth Ann Wylie challenged the school’s specialists to find creative and engaging ways to make the most of shortened PLC days.

“They did a great job developing what we call Expressive Arts Day. They plan physical activities, arts events and other things that relate to what we are doing and expand what students are learning in the classroom,” Wylie said. “Today our students can make the connection to our newly created fossil dig out back in our outdoor classroom.”

The tour of Agate Fossil Beds is just one of the 37 field trips offered to Nebraska educators through the Nebraska Virtual Instruction Source. Schools interested in setting up a virtual field trip can go to at the Field Trip link to choose a location and topic that fits into their lessons. Topics and organizations range from NASA to national parks, art museums, and how food gets from the farm to our tables.

For more information about distance learning opportunities, contact Lincoln Public Schools distance learning coordinator Linda Dickeson at

Posted on August 26, 2015

TCA students gain valuable experience

High school students participating in the first Career Academy health services pathway received hands-on experience in working with needles.

During class time, instructor Amy Holst, along with two EMT volunteers from Kawasaki, worked with students on drawing blood, giving injections and starting IVs.

“This should take a little edge off of being nervous, as far as working with needles,” said Holst. “At least they get introduced to it and learn how to use them, hold them correctly.”

Students of the class see the experience as a way to get a jumpstart on their future.

“I think it's going to help me because I'm learning right now, practicing, so when I get into the real future, I'll know what to do. It’s really exciting,” commented Khadiya Mengelkamp.

Another student Carolyn Hopkins added, “It's made me more confident in things I'm going to be doing in my career in the future. Even though I'm just starting, I know I can do it.”

Holst said thanks to community support, this experience was possible for students. “For Kawasaki to send these EMT's out, there is no way I could watch 25 students with needles and run four different lab stations. It's huge that Kawasaki and the community itself, lends a hand and comes out to help us.”

Posted on August 25, 2015

Ribbons cut, speeches made: LPS/SCC Career Academy is game changer, difference maker

High school students will arrive this week on Wednesday, but on Monday at The Career Academy – a partnership of Lincoln Public Schools, Southeast Community College and local business and industry – the community cut ribbons, gave speeches and celebrated a great new facility on the SCC campus that will offer career pathways for high school and college students.


LPS Academy student Anthony Marks helped offer tours of the new school and also spoke on the official program, thanking the audience for providing him the opportunity to follow his dream of engineering: “I’m ready to get started, I’m excited about getting started.”


LPS Superintendent Steve Joel proclaimed “there is no career academy model like this in America….We have partnered academic institutions, brought in business organizations and industry that had needs, but also had a willingness to support this Academy with resources, mentorships and internships. We wouldn’t be here today if they weren’t willing to roll up their sleeves and imagine this dream…This will be a game changer and a difference maker in the lives of our kids.”


Dan Hohensee, director of The Career Academy, said: “This will serve as a connection between academics and the real world.”


Great comments from the morning:

  • Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts: “This is a wonderful celebration of a variety of things…helping make sure we have the 21st century work force in Nebraska…But ultimately the best thing about this new Academy is what it’s going to do for our kids: Give them an opportunity to have that great career.”
  • U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer: “This is an innovative, entrepreneurial program, and we can only imagine what it will be like in a few more years.”
  • Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler: “This Academy represents one more instance, an example of where public democratic institutions work with private sector forces – to make great things happen.”
  • Paul Illich, president of Southeast Community College: “This will not just change Lincoln, it will charge the entire area of southeast Nebraska.”
  • Lanny Boswell, a member of the Lincoln Board of Education and a member of the joint LPS-SCC Career Academy Board, said research indicates that students who have personal meaningful connections to school are more likely to graduate on time, “and The Career Academy provides a new way for students to connect with school.”
  • Dale Kruse, a member of the SCC Board and joint LPS-SCC Board: “I believe this also contributes to keeping our young people here in Nebraska.”
  • Kevin Keller, Union Bank: “Today we celebrate the beginning of a student’s journey into a new career….They have a spark and it is our job to help them…to help fuel the fire they have within…. The Career Academy represents the best of our community…all joining their hands together…to help students into their future.”
  • Nick Cusick, co-founder and CEO of IMSCORP – and one of the first to suggest a notion for the Academy – stressed that the success of the community and country depends on the success of every student – and every student has unique learning needs: “I applaud LPS and SCC for their vision to make this possible….I applaud students and families who have made the choice to attend this Academy...I applaud my fellow businesses who have stepped forward.”
  • Wendy Van, president of the Foundation for LPS, noted that Monday’s audience was filled with “noble men and women…Each of you believe in the children of Lincoln, NE…and what they are capable of…and we thank you.”

Posted on August 10, 2015

Back to school

First-Day Videos from the past

Summer is winding down and we are getting ready for students.  The first day of classes for grades K-9 is August 12, the first day for grades 10-12 is August 13.

Here are some key reminders for families as they prepare for the start of the 2015-16 school year:

Elementary School Supplies
Pencils, erasers, crayons, glue, scissors, etc...traditionally, one of the rituals families participate in as they prepare for the new school year is to purchase school supplies.

In accordance with the Nebraska Constitution and state and federal law, Lincoln Public Schools provides a free, public education to all students. This generally means the district provides the supplies needed for instruction at no cost to students. For this reason, please do not send school supplies for your child’s individual use at school.

If you enjoy shopping for school supplies, and would like to make a donation to your child’s classroom, this list provides suggestions. Items donated will be shared with all students at each grade level. Thank you!

Immunizations/physical requirements
Parents need to provide a student immunization record in order to enroll in school. The requirements and approved waiver form are listed on the Health Services website, which has lots of other health-related information.  Still have a question? Call our Health Services team at 402-436-1000.

Free/Reduced Lunch Applications / Lunch Money / Menus
Lunch prices will stay the same this year, however, there are some changes. Free and reduced applications are not renewable, so you must fill it out again. Start here - You can find a lot of information about menus, paying online, and nutrition information for meals. Also, you can get daily meal announcements on Twitter at @LPSMenus and Facebook.

Parent StudentVue
Students and parents / guardians can get secure access to grades, assignments, and attendance information through Synergy ParentVUE and StudentVUE. ParentVUE is not intended to replace direct communication between students/parents/teachers or other school staff members.

Information available via ParentVUE includes:

  • Communications from teachers
  • Attendance
  • Progress Grades
  • Assignment Calendars
  • Student Schedules
  • Course History

You can learn a lot more here - - but you can get this information via web or mobile apps. An activation key is required to login to Synergy ParentVUE and StudentVUE.  Call the school to get your activation key.

Volunteer sign-up
Once a week, once a month, once a quarter, once a year — no matter how much time you can give, you have the power to make a difference in the life of a student and school by serving as a volunteer. Volunteer roles might include …

  • Helping in the front office with a mailing
  • Shredding paper
  • Stapling forms
  • Counting flyers for teacher homerooms
  • Shelving books in the media center
  • Decorating in the classroom
  • Examples
  • Room parent
  • Classroom readers
  • Field trips assistants
  • Chaperones for school events where students are supervised by an LPS employee (school dances, celebrations, homeroom parties)
  • Chaperoning an overnight band trip
  • Sponsoring an after school club
  • Driving for school or club events
  • School Activity outside of the school building that driving or an overnight stay is involved

For the safety of our students and volunteers, we ask all our volunteers to fill out an application. Application to Volunteer

Posted on August 04, 2015

Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra Announces 2015-16 Young Artist Competition

Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra invites young musicians to enter LSO’s 2015-16 Young Artist Competition. Funded in part by the J. Edmunds & Thelma D. Miller Fund at the Lincoln Community Foundation, the competition allows an accomplished young musician to perform with Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra as a featured soloist.

To be eligible, musicians must be 20 years old or younger on the day of the audition, must play an instrument, participate in an audition and submit an application with a letter of recommendation. The winner will have the opportunity to perform as a soloist with the orchestra at LSO’s Young People’s Concerts at the Lied Center and a family concert at Wesleyan’s O’Donnell Auditorium. The winner also receives the title of LSO Young Artist Winner for the 2015-16 season, a private rehearsal and coaching with LSO Resident Conductor, Dr. Tyler White, a $500 cash prize and media exposure.

"The Young Artist Competition is such a great opportunity for local music students to audition to solo with a professional orchestra,” said Barbara Zach, executive director of LSO. “In addition to the winner having the unique experience of rehearsing and performing with Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, they also get the chance to become a role model for more than 4,000 4th and 5th grade students at our Young People's Concerts."

The audition panel includes LSO Music Director Edward Polochick, Dr. White and two representatives from Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra. Recent Young Artist Competition winners include Lukas McIlhaney, flute, from Wahoo High School; Jennifer Ahn, violin, from Westside High School; and Nicholas May, saxophone, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Applications are available online at or by contacting the LSO office at (402) 476-2211. The application deadline is Wednesday, November 11, 2015. Auditions will be held Saturday, November 21, 2015 at 5:00 p.m.

Founded in 1927, Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra has a mission to enrich, educate and entertain current and potential audiences through the performance and advancement of symphonic music. For more information about Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, visit or call (402) 476-2211.

Posted on July 22, 2015

LPS educators to be featured at TEDxLincoln event

Two LPS staff members will be presenting at the Oct. 1 TEDxLincoln event at Kimball Hall on UNL's downtown campus.

Sarah Staples Farmer, English teacher at Lincoln East High School, will address system/court involved youth, and how we can take on the challenge of true rehabilitation, providing emotional, social, and academic support for youth transitioning back to their communities and schools.

Rob McEntarffer, Assessment/Evaluation Specialist for LPS, will talk about the so called “education crisis” in America’s schools. He will shine a light on our perceptions and misperceptions of schools, assessments, and teaching and learning.

Posted on July 22, 2015

Teachers become students with CLASS

“The kids will not have an issue with this.”

Perhaps that’s part of the reason more than 325 Lincoln Public Schools secondary educators became students themselves during a special training day this summer - as LPS prepares to enter the first phase of a new three-year Instructional Technology initiative in 2015-16.

Library media services coordinator Chris Haeffner further explained.

“Students can turn their work in digitally, you can respond to it digitally, and return it to them digitally, without having to print. It will require a change in the way we do stuff, and a change in the way we think about it.”

The Connected Learning for the Achievement of Students and Staff (CLASS) Bootcamp focused on implementing the student Chromebooks in the classroom by demonstrating best practices and tools available.

CLASS is perhaps better known as the initiative that will place a Chromebook computer with each student in third- through twelfth-grade over the next three years. Chromebook 11 from Dell will be distributed to students entering sixth grade and the focus programs (Arts & Humanities, Zoo School), the International Baccalaureate program at Lincoln High School, and The Career Academy this fall.

Topics during the bootcamp included Google Drive basics, intro to Chrome and Chromebooks for the classroom, Google Classroom, using Synergy’s new tools to communicate, and Hapara for digital classroom management.

Hapara, for example, is a suite of tools that helps teachers facilitate digital work done by students in LPS Google Drive, as well as allowing them to interact with and manage Chromebooks in their classroom.

When choosing between Google Classroom and Hapara, computing services application specialist Chris Pultz encouraged the group to find what fits them best.

“You have access to both of these tools. You can choose the one that fits with what you are trying to do, that feels most comfortable for you,” Pultz said. “Or, you might find you don’t have to choose. You may find you can use both of these tools, ebb and flow.”

By the end of the four sessions, staff were excitedly talking with their peers and team members about ways to implement the Chromebooks into their current teaching and curriculum.

“All of my students already use some kind of technology in the district, and I think the Chromebooks are going to be a nice addition to what they already use,” said Patricia Daberkow, a team leader in the LPS special education department.  “Some of my students have really struggled with writing for years and never really turned in complete projects or really struggle with completing any of their assignments. I think the Chromebook will offer lots of different opportunities, and their software, apps and extensions will support them so that they are able to complete their projects.”

Scott Middle School sixth-grade teacher Suzie Olberding added, “We are looking at all curricular areas. So let’s say we want our math students to research a famous mathematician, or our science students, or even going into social studies, the different elements of research we can bring into the classroom using the web through Hapara and through google classroom amazes me.”

Kim Ridder, also a sixth-grade teacher at Scott Middle School, was enthusiastic about the possibilities of being the first to introduce Chromebooks into the classroom, “This is just making everything better. It's not going to replace anything. It's going to make everything better for our students.”

The teachers agree that with these new tools, they will be able to use current classroom management techniques to increase student engagement.

“We have wonderful management techniques already instilled in the classroom,” said Rochelle Senkbeil, Lux Middle School sixth-grade teacher. “We are talking as a team to get some things in place too, so that if we have signals for the students, they are able to follow them and respect that when we are not using the devices, that they be where they are suppose to be - on task in the classroom.”

Lori Nakagawa from Lincoln Southwest High School added, “The idea that you can do selective or focus browsing I think is really positive. Just some of the features that make it easier for teachers to see what students have done, what they are working on, in real time I think is just important.”

Nakagawa continued on saying, “I also like that as far as the classroom management, in Google Classroom you can give the assignments and just have the papers there for ready access. So if they lose the paper it's there; and program, the name, and the title of the assignment. There's just a lot of things that it helps to make it easier for the teacher and the student and I think students will really respond to that.”

When asked about whether or not students will be ready to embrace the Chromebooks, Scott Middle School sixth-grade teach Mark Danley summed up staff perceptions best, “They're ready for it. I think there are a few kids that'll need to get caught up, but for the most part, it's the world they're in that we are trying to get caught up to. We're looking forward to it.”


Posted on July 22, 2015

Project allows students to observe behavior

A wide-eyed 2-year-old sucking on a slobbery cherry sucker was placed in a solitary desk in the hallway. In front of him on a plate is a large squishy marshmallow. He is told not to eat the marshmallow, and then his older cousin left him alone and stood in the classroom peeking out the doorway behind him. Will he leave the gooey temptation alone? 

Walking into room A101 at Lincoln North Star High School, there were 16 similar stations scattered around the classroom. All of them are designed to assist students in John Clark's summer human behavior class in observing not just any human behavior, but the intricate workings of a child's reasoning.

During this activity, each student designed a station for children between the ages of 2-13 that could test their cognitive skills, how they react to situations, and why. Questions ranged from math problems, to testing short-term memory, naming parts of the body, or to draw a house. At one station, the children were asked to tell the observer a story. This was set up to test imagination, complexity and coherence.

During the moral reasoning station, students are told a story about a loved one being ill. The loved one needs a medicine at the drug store down the street, but can't afford it, nor can they ask friends for assistance. What does the child choose to do? After the child's answer is given, the story changes. The loved one will die without the medicine. Now what will the child do?

The high school students brought their younger siblings and family members to class, the students then watched and recorded results as the children rotated through each station and completed each task. Their findings are then compiled and written into a report and shared with the rest of the class.


Posted on July 07, 2015

Dashing into robotics

Approximately seventeen 5th - 7th graders participated in the first session of the Summer Technology Program. 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.

There are various topics presented through the month of June in five different sessions with classes in the morning and afternoon. During the "Dashing Into Robotics" session, students work with Dot and Dash to move beyond two dimensional coding into a more intense three dimensional atmosphere.

"It's awesome we get to work with robots and scratch more than just in school," commented Zoey, future Culler 6th grader. "My favorite part was a competition where we put Legos on the robots to make snowplows and see how many cotton balls we could clear."

Other sessions this summer include working with GarageBand, MineCraft, Stop Motion Animation, Photoshop, and After Efects. For more information, or to register, go to

Posted on June 08, 2015

Eastridge students become book illustrators, complete with book signing

A two-year collaboration with the Teach A Kid To Fish organization and Eastridge Elementary School came to fruition at Firespring in southwest Lincoln.  Ten student illustrators along with art teacher sponsor Bob Reeker were honored at a premier book signing. The book was written by Rick Helweg, former Eastridge parent and Teach A Kid To Fish staff member. 

Karla Lester, Teach A Kid To Fish Founder, and Deb Dabbert, Eastridge principal were key members of the team. Others who supported the book were Nelnet, Peterson's Publishing, and the Dunlap Family. 

The first book in a series of six — books two and three are being illustrated by Holmes Elementary and Beattie Elementary — focuses on eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Books are on sale at Eastridge for $15 a copy.  All proceed benefit the Eagles' Nest, an outdoor natural play space.

Posted on June 02, 2015

Multicultural Institute: LPS urged to practice racial literacy

Lincoln Public Schools employees told stories to one another on Wednesday at Lincoln Southwest High School.

  • Stories from a 57-year-old who still remembers when she was five, and the ice cream man made a racially inappropriate comment.
  • Stories from someone whose family immigrated to America and looked like other folks who lived in Nebraska, “but as soon as one of us spoke, we didn’t sound the same and were categorized in another way.”
  • Stories of mothers who feared what might happen as their children grow up.
  • Stories of teachers who have encountered powerful moments with their students.

We tell our stories, and we practice. We must have the knowledge. But we must also practice.

This is how you begin your journey of racial literacy, the keynote speakers explained at the annual Lincoln Public Schools Multicultural Institute Wednesday: “We tell our stories, and we practice. We must have the knowledge. But we must also practice.”

When that trauma hits you in the heart in a moment of racial stress: Do you have appropriate responses? Do you have a comeback for this moment? How do you take care of yourself in the moment? If someone is slighting you because of your difference, how do you avoid internalizing the comment?

Superintendent Steve Joel welcomed Institute participants and underlined the work of multicultural competency for the school district. “But we have to start with ourselves, how we’re creating that understanding, assuring that we go to great lengths to learn about all the various cultures our students represent…We must promote acceptance in all of our classrooms…That’s the only way we will eradicate the anger in our country. We have to stand true to what we believe in public education.”

And that racial literacy begins with our stories – and practice-practice-practice, according to Howard C. Stevenson (author of If Elephants Could Talk: Promoting Racial Literacy in Schools). “We will make mistakes, but we need to move through that, and we can change how we interact day to day….It is essential to have awareness of what is happening in the moment of a stressful situation, and story telling is a way go get to that…But you have to start with yourself. We all judge the world from our unique perspective.”

You have to start with yourself. We all judge the world from our unique perspective.

When people share their stories of racially stressful situations, Institute speakers urged, “they need to get in tune with what they are feeling and how they’re doing….When you tell and retell your stories, pause and assess your body. How do you feel? Are you breathing? Where are you holding stress?”

The speakers said they believed that teachers and educators have particular power and influence in a young person’s journey of racial literacy.

“Our schools are socialization jungles of avoidant racial coping,” Stevenson said. “We need to make sure young people have the engagement skills they need to know when racial conflict arises. We need to help them resolve racial stress in everyday life…We tend to focus more on large-scale events and politics, but we must consider and think about what people do when someone is right in front of them.”

He urged participants to talk directly to children about the world they are going to face, “because we live in a world where people get training but don’t use the training…It starts with knowing yourself. It starts with practice.”

Stevenson explained that racial literacy involves a series of skills: reading, recasting and resolving racially stressful encounters.

  • Reading: Decoding racial subtexts, subcodes and scripts, accurately interpreting the meaning of what is going on.
  • Recasting: Reducing stress using racial mindfulness – reduces, recasts and reframes the negative meaning of racial stress.
  • Resolving: Negotiating toward a healthy conclusion, assertively communicating affection, protection, correction and connection.

Bottom line, Stevenson stressed: “Racial literacy takes practice. Practice?  Practice, we’re talking about practice.”

The other two keynote speakers who shared the podium were:

Valerie Adams-Bass: University of California, Davis
Keisha Bentley-Edwards: University of Texas, Austin

Posted on May 27, 2015

Fredstrom Elementary Dance on the Green

Fredstrom Elementary will be holding their “Dance on the Green” today beginning at 1:30 on the grassy hill between the park and the school. This event is only held every three years with all students celebrating spring through music and dance. A traditional Maypole dance will be performed by 3-5 graders. Scott Young from the Lincoln Food Bank will be the emcee for the event, and spectators are encouraged to bring donations for the food bank.

This will be a wonderful photo/video opportunity as each grade level is wearing a different color shirt, providing a bright sea of colors.

For more information, you can contact Judith Bush at Fredstrom Elementary at (402) 436-1140.

Posted on May 14, 2015

Spotlight Art Open House

Middle school and high school artists across Lincoln Public Schools will be featured in the annual Spotlight Art Open House, Thursday, May 14, from 5-7 p.m. Over 200 pieces of art will be displayed at the district office to honor the outstanding artists from the 2015-16 school year.

The event is free and open to the public. Those unable to attend will be able to view the art throughout the next year as it will be displayed in the district office until March 2016.

Posted on May 07, 2015

Campbell's Wilmot named Apple Distinguished Educator

Jason Wilmot, computer teacher at Campbell Elementary School, has been named a Apple Distinguished Educator. Wilmot talks about his application process, his goals going forward and the impact this will on on students in his classroom. He can be found on Twitter at @MrJasonWilmot.

What did you do to be considered for this award?

Last Wednesday night, my wife and I were just finishing up dinner when I received an email notification on my phone. I looked down to see “Congratulations! ADE Class of 2015” appear on my screen. My heart skipped a beat or two as I fumbled to punch in my code on my cracked iPhone screen.

Back in February, a colleague encouraged me to apply for the 2015 class of Apple Distinguished Educators. In all actuality, it wasn’t the best timing as I was trying to finish up the final course work for my degree in Educational Leadership. Nonetheless, after doing a bit of research about Apple Distinguished Educators, I realized that passing up the opportunity was not a choice I was willing to make.

The application, which only comes available every two years turned out to be extremely competitive. Applicants all over the world are required to answer four essay questions and create a 2-minute video featuring the educational highlights of their classrooms.

So, I got to work. I spent my days teaching at Campbell and came home to work on the application for hours every night for about two weeks. I wrote essays on how I have used technology to leverage learning, my philosophy on creating a positive classroom climate and how I have attempted to influence the broader educational community. 

It was within the writing portion of the application where I described how the experiences I’ve had thus far in life have helped to shape my understanding of the world around me. I wrote about how traveling to places like Central America, Israel, China and Pakistan have impacted my worldview and taught me a lot about what life can look like within cultures very different than my own. Additionally, I shared about my multiple ventures to India to labor with and train teachers working in highly impoverished areas. I explained how all of these experiences have impacted my understanding of education and have helped shape my ever-evolving paradigm of pedagogy.

I also noted my five-year involvement as a founding board member of The BAY, an ever-growing youth advocacy non-profit based here in Lincoln. I went on to highlight that I hold two master degrees, am a soon-to-be published author (on teaching with MinecraftEdu), a $10,000 grant recipient, and a contributor to our district’s new Computer Science curriculum. I shared how I seek to influence the local educational community through speaking in university classrooms, presenting at conferences like UNL Tech EDGE and NETA and blogging my thoughts about things like Flipping the classroom, programing with Logo, all the way down to insomnia-curing educational philosophy. 

In addition to the essay questions, I also got to create a film showcasing what the creative minds at Campbell were doing in the computer lab. Within this portion, I tried to weave in my own philosophy and pedagogic beliefs and how they find their way into my computer lab. I highlighted Campbell kids learning with MinecraftEdu, using web resources like and how the kids use our mini Makerspace to learn about robotics and engage within STEM activities.

More than anything I tried to convey my chief aim as a teacher: The more we listen to kids and let them have a say in their own education, the more we empower them for the encounters the face today. I explained that as an educator, it’s my responsibility to see all these kids as individual people with individual makeups.

To me, this means meeting kids where they are. It means getting to know what kids find interesting, what they find relevant, and what they find meaningful. I think the best way to do this is to treat them like people; listening to them and being authentic with them, talking with them and making an effort to recognize their humanity and individuality. 

So far, in my journey as an educator, I have surrounded myself or put myself within environments that have forced me to reflect and realign my understanding of what education can and should look like. All in all, the more I learn, the more I hesitate to lay claim that I have a corner on any of it. Nonetheless, it is my hope to continue down this path of investigating what learning looks like in such an exciting time of exponential change.

What does this mean to you personally?

Currently, I am the Computer Science teacher at Campbell Elementary and finishing up my eighth year within LPS. Prior to this position, I was fourth grade teacher at Saratoga Elementary for six years. Just like Saratoga, Campbell and every other building in this school district, there are loads of amazing educators advocating everyday for the children in our community.

So, to be singled out amongst this group is humbling to say the least. There are veteran teachers with whom I work alongside that have been serving this Lincoln community for decades longer than I have been walking. Much of the credit goes to these teacher leaders: the heartbeats of school culture, the giants of education. All real praise should go to them.

But more than anything, I think the lion’s share of the credit really goes to my kids. The good little souls that grace my classroom make me look good – real good, apparently. My role has been to create a space for that student creativity and infuse real world connections. When schools like Campbell set aside time for relevant and engaging learning environments, good things will inevitably take place.

All in all, I’m grateful, a little nervous, but all-around delighted for the honor. Opportunities like these seldom come our way, and I am overjoyed to get to represent all the good things happening here in Lincoln. It means a great deal to be recognized; it means even more getting to advocate for my neighbors and community.

How will this impact students that you teach?

For the 2015 class of Apple Distinguished Educators, Apple selected 646 individuals from 48 countries worldwide. Being a part of this group, I will have the opportunity to attend the ADE Institute this summer in Miami, Florida. At the gathering, I will be honored to be meet and work alongside some of the most influential and innovative teachers on this side of the globe.

Undoubtedly, I will have the opportunity to showcase what my Campbell kids are doing and share it with these top-shelf educators. To think that the goods and creative works my students have produced will actually spread more ideas than I could ever do alone is staggering. What I hope to convey to my students is that my role will be as an ambassador to highlight what they are doing and how we go about learning in our classroom.

Lastly, I am looking forward to Apple’s ADE Institute to simply learn, play and discover. A great deal of teachers use their summers to attend professional development, seminars and conferences. They do this because educators know the value of continual learning and the perpetual development of their practice. I am looking forward to the ADE Institute for this very reason. I will be able to grow my network of learning professionals, share my own experiences, and be able to display the amazing works of the wonderful kids at Campbell Elementary School. The platform I have been given is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I hope to represent Lincoln Public Schools, Campbell Elementary and the Lincoln community well.

About Apple Distinguished Educators, from Apple's website

ADEs are part of a global community of education leaders recognized for doing amazing things with Apple technology in and out of the classroom. They explore new ideas, seek new paths, and embrace new opportunities. That includes working with each other — and with Apple — to bring the freshest, most innovative ideas to students everywhere.

ADEs advise Apple on integrating technology into learning environments — and share their expertise with other educators and policy makers. They author original content about their work. They advocate the use of Apple products that help engage students in new ways. And they are ambassadors of innovation, participating in and presenting at education events around the world. Being part of the ADE community is much more than an honor — it’s an opportunity to make a difference.

There are now more than 2,000 ADEs worldwide, from the United States to China, New Zealand to Turkey. And they gather every year at ADE Institutes and education events around the world as well as online in the ADE community to collaborate on solutions to the global education challenges of today and tomorrow.

Posted on May 07, 2015

Paint brushes, the periodic table and ceiling tiles

Teachers of all subjects aim to connect the classroom experience with the outside world. At Lincoln Southwest High School, science and art classes are doing just that with the periodic table.

Art students in Julie Walstrom's classes choose an element, research it, create a two-by-two foot piece of art on a ceiling tile.

Those tiles, with about 15 more to come, form the ceiling of the classroom of Greg Cooper, Southwest science teacher. Now students can gaze at the ceiling and wonder about the elements and the artist's viewpiont at the same time. 

It's been a two-year project since Cooper first mentioned it to Walstrom: the idea, the planning, the how-to, the approval and the art.

"Part of art is learning about what it is you have to portray, so that other people can get the message of it," Walstrom said. "That's my job, to teach them that, show them other examples, how art tells a story, we're telling the story of these elements in the world."

The artwork for each element relates directly to the element's role in life, such as Berylium ('Be' on the periodic table, for the curious minds), which is found in airplanes, so the art depicts an airplane flying amid a blue sky.

More examples include:

  • At - Astatine, a radioactive element used in treaing cancers;
  • Gd - Gaddinium makes the colors on a television;
  • PM- Promethium is used in car parts because it turns harmful exhaust gasses into less harmful ones.

Some elements are in cell phones, computers, and nature, so relating it to teenagers wasn't always difficult, Walstrom noted.

"I think anytime artists connect with the otuside world, kids find it a lot more meaningful," Walstrom said.

That sounds a lot like what a science teacher would say.

“Lots of times they will ask me uses of things, and it can be hard for me to remember, so I have a periodic table that lists uses,” Cooper said.

Cooper said he had the idea in college while watching a documentary on an art teacher who had the ceiling painted. He added the science aspect to it, and is happy to see it fully carried out.

One student learned about newly discovered elements, some so new they hadn't even been officially named yet.

It all fit in with Walstrom's observation: students using art to explore other curriculum areas.

"Once they find meaning with it, they seem to get more interested in it," Walstrom said. "Once they found items they use everyday, that show up in their own lives, they seem to think about it differently."

Posted on May 03, 2015

LPS to celebrate School Lunch Hero Day

Between preparing healthy food, adhering to strict nutrition standards, navigating student food allergies, and offering service with a smile, Lincoln Public Schools nutrition professionals have a lot on their plate.

To celebrate their hard work and commitment, Lincoln Public Schools will celebrate School Lunch Hero Day on May 1. This day, celebrated annually since 2013, was designated by The School Nutrition Association and Jarrett Krosoczka, author of the “Lunch Lady” graphic novel series.

School Lunch Hero Day provides an opportunity for parents, students, school staff and communities to thank those who provide healthy meals to 30 million of America’s students each school day.

School nutrition employees must balance many roles and follow numerous federal, state and local regulations to ensure safe and healthy meals are available in schools. School Lunch Hero Day provides the opportunity for the community to thank these hardworking heroes. Federal nutrition standards ensure that school cafeterias always offer low-fat or fat-free milk, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. School meals also meet limits on calories, sodium and unhealthy fats. The importance and nutritional value of school meals are well documented. For many children, school lunch is the most important and nutrient-rich meal of their day. 

For more information, contact Edith Zumwalt at

Get the details about School Lunch Hero Day at

Posted on April 28, 2015

LPS awarded Green Ribbon for sustainability efforts

Lincoln Public Schools has been selected as a 2015 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Awardee 

The honor is given to schools and school districts for work that includes environmental education, a focus on health and wellness improvement and reducing environmental impact and costs.

LPS is one of 14 school districts across the nation to have earned this award.

Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs in LPS, said the district is honored to have received the recognition.

“Our school district and community have a long history of investing in sustainable practices,” Standish said. “A few of the practices invested in by the district include geothermal heating and cooling solutions, waste composting, and recycling. This recognition represents extraordinary efforts by the staff, students, and our community as a whole."

James Blake, science curriculum specialist for LPS, worked with Scott Wieskamp, LPS director of Facilities and maintenance, and Michelle Welch, district wellness facilitator, to gather the needed information for submission.  

“Green schools require a collaborative effort on the part of many within our large district,” said Blake. “Putting together all of the pieces helped us recognize how far our district has come in making our schools health conscious and environmentally green.”

“It is great to see the combined impact of our work as a district to walk the talk of helping students learn to care for the environment and themselves. Our schools are integrating approaches to science, health and wellness which makes so much sense if we are taking the whole child education approach,” said Welch. “Our students learn from what they see, what they hear and what they do. From composting at lunch, to learning about life cycles to wellness challenges, it all adds up to better citizens and sustainability impact for the foreseeable future of our community. That schools are modeling these best practices means so much.”

Today, 85 percent of school square footage in LPS uses 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 a building.

LPS also focuses on:

  • construction waste management in an effort to eliminate 90 percent of construction waste,
  • an energy management system for facilities so lights and HVAC systems are used efficiently and only when necessary,
  • recycling a growing number of electronics,
  • a high participation rate in its recycling program,
  • environmental assessment to ensure students and staff have fresh air in classrooms, for example.

LPS has six schools composting after school means, with plans to add more in the fall of 2015. One school turned food and food product waste into 90 percent compost materials in just a few weeks, with the help of students, nutrition staff and school staff.

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan: “These honorees are compelling examples of the ways schools can help children build real-world skill sets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments.”

Posted on April 22, 2015

Two LSE seniors honored by 'NY Times' for editorials

Two students at Lincoln Southeast High School have been named to the Top 10 of the second annual Student Editorial Contest of the New York Times.

Seniors Jeffrey Wood and Zoie Taylore will have their editorials published under the "Top Ten Winners" section on the Times' website.

Wood's editorial is titled: "Journalistic Objectivity was Yesterday's Saving Grace," and Taylore's is titled, "Redefining 'Ladylike'." You can read their winning editorials below, learn more about the competition on the Times' website.

Brianne Keller, journalism teacher at Southeast, expressed great pride in the work of her students.

"With nearly 5,000 entries from across the country, I knew statistically - the odds were against us. But I was optimistic," Keller said. "I am immensely proud of them, and the rest of my staff."

Journalistic Objectivity was Yesterday’s Saving Grace by Jeffrey Wood

As an aspiring journalist, I thrive on facts. I am delighted by well-made infographics from nonpartisan research groups, quotes from primary sources, and balanced articles from well-established media. As a Millennial, however, I was born and raised on the internet.

With the democratization of information, anyone can become a journalist. For the first time in the history of written, daily news, the hierarchy of knowledge has been overturned. I, without leaving my desk, can report in detail the political views of villagers from Ayartharmam, India.

But this is not journalism. This is parlor talk. Though tense conversations exchanged over cups of cooling decaf have been replaced with social media diatribes, asserting their veracity with forked-tongued ferocity, the sources are still uncited, the details still misunderstood, and the nuances still lost. Context and complexity have never had a place in these political arenas.

What has changed is the effect. In the past, these exchanges were ephemeral, dying at the doorway, forgotten on the drive home. Now, they linger, forever stored in the bizarre grandeur of the internet.

Bloggers have become synonymous with reporters. These men and women, untrained and unqualified, have become the folk heros of this new frontier. Their spin is heralded as innovative, rebellious, and refreshing.

According to Ohio State Communications Professor, Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, “People have more media choices these days, and they can choose to only be exposed to messages that agree with their current beliefs. … They’re not looking for insights that might change their mind.”

Glenn Greenwald, who broke the Snowden Surveillance story, balks at objectivity. “Human beings are not objectivity-driven machines. We all intrinsically perceive and process the world through subjective prisms. What is the value in pretending otherwise?”

The value is freedom of thought. The truth of the matter is that information remains inaccessible. If we’re lucky, we get second-hand news, harvested raw from an intrepid reporter for the Associated Press and refined by a major news outlet. More often, we get sensationalized, third-party headlines, regurgitated by colleagues, family, and friends.

The facts back up Knobloch-Westerwick’s finding. The Pew Research Center found the percentage of Americans expressing a consistently liberal or consistently conservative view has doubled, from 10% in 1994 to 21% in 2014.4

Similarly, the portion of each party that believes that the other is a threat to the country has increased to 36% of republicans and 27% of democrats.

It is our job as journalists to deconstruct the hierarchy of knowledge, one article at a time. This won’t be done by filtering the news through our opinion. It is our duty to pass down the information just as we found it, letting the reader think for themselves.


How Did Obama Play In India? We Ask 4 Villagers To Weigh In – Wilbur Sargunaraj, NPR


Is Glenn Greenwald the Future of News? – Bill Keller, New York Times

7 things to know about polarization in America – Carroll Doherty, Pew Research Center

Redefining Ladylike by Zoie Taylore

“I did it five times.”

“Well – I did it 12 times.”

“I’ve got all of you beat. I did it 16 times!”

No – this isn’t a scene from a raunchy high school movie, but rather a group of young women discussing how many times they’ve said the naughty word: sorry.

Saying sorry, especially for women, has become the new norm. As natural nurturers this instinctive space-filler keeps the peace, while simultaneously ensuring our likeability and ladylikeness. This instant “belly up” tactic works to defeat women on a daily basis. 

This “sorry” epidemic is detrimental to women, especially for the future of female leadership. According to the New York Times article “Speaking While Female”, when a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. This tightrope being the fine line between being barely heard, and being too aggressive. Speaking up puts you into the automatic bitch box. But not speaking up gets you no where, creating the ultimate female-catch-22. This lexical faux pas could very well be the reason only 5.2% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are women, and that women hold a mere 1% of the worlds wealth. 

Now, sorry in itself is not a bad word, nor is it gender exclusive. In fact, it is common trait of politeness. And, according to a SALON article called “I’m Not Sorry for Saying Sorry: Women Should Feel Free to Apologize as Much as They Want,” sorry is just a “ritual of restoring balance to a conversation.” In other words, a form of chit chat to make people more comfortable. But constantly apologizing for speaking your mind, or for things that are not your fault is exhausting, incarcerating, and usually exclusive to women. 

Melissa Atkins Wardy, author of “Redefining Girly”, recently stated in a CNN article that “Our girls need to learn their voice has every right to take up space in a conversation, in a room, and in an argument.” Confidence counts just as much as competence and this generation of girls is lacking in one of the two. With 60% of all university graduates being women, it certainly isn’t competence. And in addition saying and feeling sorry for doing day to day activities causes a serious confidence gap between men and women. This is why men are more likely to feel over-confident, while women are prone to underestimation. 

The recent Dove commercial “Sorry Not Sorry” has brought attention to the sorry sickness. With more women acknowledging the excessive use of this appeaser, the apology apocalypse will hopefully be a thing of the past. 

“Women have been trained to speak softly and carry a lipstick. Those days are over.” -Bella Abzug

Works cited:

Sandberg, Sheryl, and Adam Grant. “Speaking While Female.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Jan. 2015. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.

Warner, Judith. “Fact Sheet: The Women’s Leadership Gap.” N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

Klingle, Kylah. “I’m Not Sorry for Saying Sorry: Women Should Feel Free to Apologize as Much as They Want.” Saloncom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.

Wallace, Kelly. “Sorry to Ask but … Do Women Apologize More than Men? –” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.

News, Abc. “Pantene Commercial Asks Whether Women Say ‘Sorry’ Too Much.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 18 June 2014. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.

Posted on April 21, 2015

East's Harper honored for art he uses to overcome adversity

Research shows that arts education positively affects student growth beyond the art classroom both educationally and socially.

Nebraskans for the Arts’ April Student Spotlight winner, Jacob Harper, demonstrates how the arts helped him navigate through adversity to excel in school and in helping others.

Harper, a senior at Lincoln East High School, has a passion for visual arts. So much that a portfolio of work helped him win a $5,000 scholarship to Hastings College. But his participation in school arts activities have meant more to Harper than money.

He said that the arts helped him overcome his school anxiety, depression, father’s death and bullying. “The art room has been a safe haven for me over the years and I have developed friendships and a purpose in life through the arts,” he said.

Harper, who has also grown an appreciation for helping others, was nominated for the Salvation Army’s D.J.’s Hero Award for his selfless acts for others and commitment to the community. He has also been a student ambassador to China for People-to-People.

“Jacob had many obstacles to overcome that could have overwhelmed him,” said his nominator, Lincoln East High School teacher Lynne Hershey. “But we have seen Jacob grow into an individual who has extraordinary dedication to his art studies and engaged with learning and helping others around him.”

Posted on April 17, 2015

Rousseau Elementary to celebrate 50 years

Rousseau Elementary School will celebrate its 50th Anniversary on April 19th from 1 to 3 p.m. There will be music by the school's strings, chorus, and band members, in addition to tours, refreshments, and time capsule memorabilia. The school is located at 3701 S. 33 St.


Posted on April 13, 2015

Visiting artist inspires Prescott students

Traveling and United States and telling the stories of complete strangers through photographs is Wing Young Huie's passion.  Huie is a professional photographer from Minneapolis, and he is spending the week with Prescott Elementary students teaching them about photography and inspiring them to tell other's stories through pictures.

On Friday, April 10, there will be a presentation from Huie, and a public viewing of the students' project in the Prescott Auditorium starting at 6:30 p.m.

Posted on April 09, 2015

Meadow Lane computer teacher’s wish granted

Thanks to the vision of Susan Prabulos, Meadow Lane Elementary computer instructor, students will be able to bring computer coding to life.

The Nebraska Educational Technology Association (NETA) notified Prabulos her school would be awarded a grant for $1,533.96 for her project “Kids, Coding, and Robots, OH MY!”

The project allows students to see a physical representation of coding through a robot, helping students better grasp the visual and spatial aspects of coding. The grant will assist in purchasing the iPad Minis, cases, and Dash robot.

Prabulos wrote in her application, “My goal is to bring coding off the screen and into a 3 dimensional setting. Controlling and coding a robot with an iPad takes learning to a whole new level. Students are interacting with the object they are coding and are able to visually grasp coding ideas.”

Through this project, students will learn and practice coding skills, computational thinking, and problem solving. Students will use the iPads with coding apps, and document their work with Dash and Dot, the robots.

“A major goal is to help students be in charge of their own learning,” added Prabulos. “I love how I can hand pairs or small groups of students an iPad and a robot and see their collaborative learning take off. I, as the teacher, am there to support, coach, and encourage. The students are the drivers, taking the lead in their learning.”

In addition to the grant, Prabulos is invited to attend the NETA Spring Conference in Omaha in April. Both Prabulos’ conference registration and the substitute teacher for the school day will be covered by NETA.

NETA’s purpose is to encourage the linking of technology to the curriculum. They encourage projects that directly integrate different types of technology into different subject areas (including across the curriculum) and different grade levels.

Posted on April 07, 2015

Lil' Red to visit Elliott Elementary

Teachers at Elliott Elementary wanted to stress the importance of doing well on NeSA, so they had their 3rd graders write letters to their college of choice to find out what it takes to be accepted.

Some colleges responded by sending t-shirts, and other promotional items in addition to letters, but UNL is sending something a little bit bigger.

Join the Elliott Elementary 3rd graders on Thursday, April 9th at 2:15 p.m. as they get a surprise visit from Lil' Red.

Posted on April 07, 2015

How one school flipped 100% trash into 90% compost

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 April 02, 2015

Link N Leaders event features students, Husker athletes

Students selected for their smart decision making will take part in the second Link N Leaders, hosting by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Department and the Lincoln Public Schools Special Education Department.

The students, selected for making healthy choices and displaying leadership potential, will interact with Husker student-athletes at various stations.

The event is April 26 from 3 to 5 p.m. For more information, email Cindy Brunken at

Posted on April 02, 2015

Roper students raising funds via Color Run

Roper Elementary School is having a Color Run Fundraiser. The Color Run Fundraiser is an event where kids get money donations to be able to participate in a mile run/walk at Roper at 9 a.m. on April 18.

Principal Tim Muggy will be running in a white wedding dress as the students at roper have raised enough funds for a new playground.

If the students raise enough funds there will be other teachers who dress up and join in the color run. Hundreds of runners are expected to participate.

For more information, contact the school at 402-436-1170.

Posted on April 02, 2015

LHS student earns Germany trip for academic success

Aedan Helweg, a student at Lincoln High School, has been awarded an all-expense paid summer trip to Germany for his academic success. Helweg was selected as a national winner after scoring in the 91st percentile on the Level 4 2015 National German Exam for High School Students. Nearly 21,000 students participated in the program.

After qualifying with such a high score on the National German Exam, he submitted responses to several short essay questions in German and in English and was then interviewed by a committee comprised of high school teachers and college professors of German.

Aedan is one of forty?four outstanding German students selected from across the US to receive the award. The 3-week study trip includes round?trip air transportation to Germany from New York, a homestay in a host family, and excursions to places of cultural and historical significance.

Posted on April 02, 2015

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

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

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

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

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 ( or Suzie Olberding ( or visit

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,, 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:

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 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

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