District Update

January 26, 2021

Video Recap of January 26 Newsletter

January 27 Newsletter Overview

Board of Education Recap Article

This is not a full recap of all issues discussed at the Board of Education meeting. These are not official minutes. For more information on the Board of Education meeting, click here.

Superintendent Van Ranken went over with the board KSHSAA’s changes to for spectators at athletic events and what the high school’s recommendations would be. KSHSAA approved allowing up to four spectators at events beginning January 29, 2021. However, the district’s recommendation would be to allow up to four spectators per participant for all seniors at NHS. All other participants will be allowed up to two spectators. Again, this would only be in venues where it is possible to do that and safely socially distance. The league will still be meeting to talk about their recommendations.

The board also approved two additional days without students in February. There will be more information on that below.

Full board meeting:

- YouTube

Facebook Live Q&A

January 26 Facebook Live Q&A and BOE Recap

Q&A With Mr. Van Ranken

What are the plans for prom and graduation?

Principal Caleb Smith met with a group of students to work on the prom piece. They are suggesting an outdoor prom on May 1 at Fischer Field. They still have some hurdles they have to jump. Graduation will be on May 22 at Hartman Arena. Mr. Smith also worked with some groups of students as well as parent advisors for this. With current conditions, Hartman would allow for about 4,000 tickets with social distancing. We also won't have to plan around or make changes due to weather concerns.

Are there any updates on Summit at Chisholm?
You should be getting some information from them on grade adjustments soon. When we were looking at grades at the end of the term, the way to platform is set up it doesn’t correspond with semesters or terms like we’re used to and so there’s going to be some adjustments. There is a grade breakdown in the board packet.

I feel better about the direction we are going. There still is a lot of communication to do with parents and helping them understand how the platform works and also ensuring its the best thing to do for our kids and families. There’s a lot of things that are going to take place between now and the end of the school year.

Superintendent's Corner

The numbers this week taken from logs maintained locally are (1/22/2021):

● Students quarantined: 160 on 1/22/21 (169 on 1/15/21)

● Staff quarantined: 38 on 1/22/2021 (28 on 1/15/2021)

● Active cases: 19 active cases the morning of 1/22/2021, including 8 student and 11 staff(25 active cases the morning of 1/15/2021, including 18 student and 7 staff)

Valentine’s Day

The elementary principals met to discuss and decide how to do Valentines’ Day this year. Here are the guidelines:

● Students will need to have a box or bag for valentines by February 5.

● They may bring their valentines to put into the box/bag as early as the February 5 but no later than February the 8

● Boxes/Bags will be quarantined (72 hours) through February 11.

● Students may open them in the afternoon on February 11.

● Take them home at the end of the day.

Newton Community of Racial Justice Project

Below is a link to a Newton Community of Racial Justice project, with input from

teachers, students & community members.


New Information

Thank You, Culinary Arts.

Thank you to our culinary arts students as well as their fearless leaders Molly Schauf and Kim Powell for all of the work they've been doing lately.

The group cooked dinner for our board members on Monday night. They made a delicious spread of soups, salad, homemade bread and dessert! The board really appreciated the food as well as all of the kind gestures and words during Board Member Appreciation Month.

Culinary Arts also provided food for Tournament of Champions as well! They've really been working hard.

Important Reminders

No School February 12 or February 23

Please mark your calendars. On February 12, we will not be having school to allow time for parent-teacher conferences or family engagement time. This does not mean that your school’s conferences will fall on that day. Here are the times and dates for each building (please check your email for additional information or any changes from your building):

Cooper Early Education Center

2-2-21 4:00-7:30pm

2-4-21 4:00-7:30pm


2-8-21 3:30-7:00pm

2-10-21 3:30-7:00pm

Slate Creek

2-2-21 3:30-7:00pm

2-11-21 3:30-7:00pm

South Breeze

2-4-21 3:30-7:00pm

2-9-21 3:30-7:00pm


2-9-21 3:30-7:00pm

2-11-21 3:30-7:00pm

Walton Rural Life Center

2-9-21 3:30-7:00pm

2-11-21 3:30-7:00pm

Santa Fe

2-8-21 3:30-7:30pm

2-9-21 3:30-6:30pm

Chisholm Middle

2-2-21 3:30-7:00pm

2-9-21 3:30-7:00pm

Newton High School

2-17-21 3:30-7:00pm

2-18-21 3:30-7:00pm

Opportunity Academy

2-18-21 3:30-7:00pm

4-27-21 3:30-7:00pm

Additionally, February 23 students will not be in attendance. This will allow our staff to participate in a professional development day for required training. The state-wide ACT assessment will still be occurring during that time.

Mask Reminder

To keep our students and staff safe, please remember to have your children wear a mask to school. This is a requirement in all buildings for everyone in the building without a doctor’s note.

You will also need to make sure your masks are washed regularly. Earlier in the year, we sent out some guidance on how to do that with information taken from the CDC.Here is the most-updated information.

If you wash your mask in a washing machine…

  • You can include your face covering with your regular laundry.

  • Use regular laundry detergent and the appropriate settings according to the fabric label.

If you wash your mask by hand…

  • Wash your mask with tap water and laundry detergent or soap.

  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove detergent or soap.

How to dry…

  • Dyer

    • Dry your mask completely in a warm or hot dryer

  • Air Dry

    • Hang your mask in direct sunlight to dry completely. If you cannot hang it in direct sunlight, hang or lay it flat and let it dry completely.

Let us know if you have any questions!

Question and Feedback Form

Question and Feedback Form

On all of our district and school websites, you will see a Questions & Feedback button on the home screen. This will lead you to a new form that you can use to get your questions answered more quickly and make sure your feedback goes to the correct person. Please use this form for any emails or questions. You’ll notice a few dropdown menus. If you choose general district, a dropdown menu with a variety of topics will appear for you to choose from. If you select school specific, a dropdown menu will appear with a list of schools for you to choose from.

District Feature

NHS Graduate To Compete In NWSL

Newton High School Graduate and Kansas State Wildcat Soccer Player Brookelynn Entz wasn’t expecting to hear her name when she tuned into the National Women’s Soccer League draft on Zoom on January 13, 2021. She was planning on entering the draft the next year after her senior season but she thought she would tune in just to know what to expect.

“I was just watching the draft kind of just to prepare for next year,” Entz said. “My name was called, and I just couldn't believe it. I kind of blacked out a little bit and I didn't know what was going on. And it was all just so surreal.”

Due to a change in the rules due to the pandemic, Entz is allowed to finish her senior season at Kansas State and join the team after the season ends. FC Kansas City, a new Kansas City women’s soccer team drafter her in the fourth round. This makes Entz the first Kansas State women’s soccer player to be drafted into the NWSL.

The 2021 season will be FC Kansas City’s first which means by the time Entz joins the team for 2022, there will still be a lot to be done. Building up a team is something Entz is familiar with, however. The midfielder joined the Kansas State soccer team in its second season as well.

“I'm pretty used to building a program, Entz said. “I’ve done that at K State and so I hope that that experience will help me.”

Entz will also have an opportunity to learn and grow on the team while playing at the next level. The team is littered with soccer talent. Just her fellow midfielders alone are Olympic athletes, Olympic medal winners and World Cup competitors.

“Now I'm in the midst of all these great players that you know, everybody knows about, everybody watches and looks up to,” Entz said. It’s just going to be a whole new level to be able to play with them and train with them every single day.”

With her name on the same roster as these soccer greats, Entz thinks about how far she’s come. How maybe her success will show other young women and girls that if they work hard enough they can achieve their dreams as well.

“I think about that a lot,” Entz said. “Just how I want other players to know that it doesn’t matter where you’re from. Just put in the work and get better.”

Railer Recognition

This is to recognize the accomplishments of USD 373 staff or students. If you know of a student or staff that should be recognized, please email info@usd373.org.

Scholars Bowl

Congratulations to the Newton High School varsity scholars’ bowl for another strong finish. Newton placed second at the Kapaun Varsity Scholars’ Bowl Invitational.

Newton also took first at the Goessel Varsity Scholars’ Bowl Invitational! The team will be participating in league today!

All-State Musicians

Congratulations to our All-State Musicians! Josue Coy Dick was selected for the All-State Orchestra. Josh Bergman, Jonah Schloneger and John Mark Koontz made the jazz band, and Kaden Anderson was named as an alternate. Way to go!

NHS Artists' Work On Display

Congratulations to:

Ethan Kioski

Keria Mock

Ashton Myers

Morgan Heibert

Their hand-framed paintings were displayed at Foot in the Door exhibit at the Wichita Art Museum. They will be on display until April 18th)

Another congratulations to:

Daisy Buller

Matthew Olson

Logan Headings

Their artwork was in the Salina Art Center Sunflower Biennial and will be on display at the Salina Art Center from February 3 to April 14

NHS Students Of The Week

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Staff Shout Outs

Have a staff member go above and beyond for your student? Did a coworker go the extra mile to make a difference? Let us know and they'll be featured here! Please email info@usd373.org with the information.

I would like to say a big thank you to Christina Gonzalez and Mary Valdivia. I appreciate them so much for helping me communicate with a remote student and his mother. I can't say thank you to them enough!!

Brian Becker deserves the biggest shout out this year for his dedication and commitment to ALL district athletics and managing the various requests from parents, the community, students, schools, districts, and KSHSAA. Brian genuinely cares about all athletes and coaches and is continuously working to ensure safety standards are being met in order for seasons to be completed successfully. Brian does a great job of ensuring the Newton School District is following the latest guidelines from the health department, CDC and KSHSAA. It's definitely not an easy task so we appreciate your support for Newton athletics!

I subbed several days in Ms. Paul's South Breeze kindergarten class. The ELL aide, Adriana Grajeda-Trevizo, and para, Robyn Letcher, were a huge help! They pitched in to do anything I needed help with.Thank you ladies!

Shout out for Ms. Dugan. She has worked very hard to make sure all of her students have the supplies they need whether she sees them in person or not. She has done an amazing job of being flexible and helping students improve their art skills in whatever environment they find themselves in. I love seeing the work her students have produced throughout this year.

I would like to shout out Jane Nichols for always helping food service out. No matter what is needed from her she is always willing to help.

I would also like to shout out to Caleb Smith for working tirelessly whether it's following the sports teams around to take pictures or to cheer. He is always here earlier than food service staff. (LOL) So many people in our district go above and beyond the call of duty.

I don't know who the person is that serves as the crossing guard at Santa Fe, but a shout out to our crossing guards at Santa Fe and to Mrs. Waltrip for making sure Santa Fe students can cross the street safely in the morning every single day.

I want to recognize Jesus Martinez. He works very hard to reach our students and their parents. He is always willing to help out when asked and is always kind to everyone he interacts with. He is a great fit at CMS and we are lucky to have him here!

I would like to say thank you to Barbie Burdick. She is a very kind coworker and always says hi and checks in on a regular basis. Mrs. Burdick is always willing to listen and offer support. I am thankful for her!

Shout out to Mrs. Abby Carr at Opportunity Academy for the punch and mints for our graduation ceremony for a student. She always goes above and beyond to show our students how much they are loved!

Monty Graber does an incredible job of keeping kids engaged and learning while on Google Meets! I had the privilege of listening to my son's meet this week and I was so impressed and thankful that my son gets to learn from Monty. :)

Mrs. Pickerill is the best!! She was my son's teacher last year. Due to covid, we started this school year out at home. We needed some teacher input on some medical forms, and she was more than willing to help us even though my son was no longer her student. She goes above and beyond for her kids and it is noticed and appreciated! We love her!!

I want to say that Mrs Scates and her team always go above and beyond every day for my daughter. No matter what they are doing, I can not thank them and say enough about how grateful we are for them. Great job ladies and keep up your amazing work. Truly blessed for you ladies.

Mrs. Gillespie has gone way above and beyond with my son more than any teacher in 17 years. I am super impressed with her passion. I had the privilege to tell her face-to-face at a basketball game while she was working the concessions.. only the second teacher for both my boys to make such an impact as hers.

I would like to shout out to Mrs. Hammel. She is amazing with our children, very patient but strict. She always has something good to say about our kids and was always available for questions during the remote times. I truly appreciate her and her dedication to not only my daughter but all of the children.

Alexander McCartney teaches two of our students. She sends encouraging messages and patiently answers their questions and, no matter how discouraged our daughter gets, Ms. McCartney is always upbeat. We appreciate her and all she does for her students!

Ms. Cathlina Bergman has very much gone beyond my expectations as a student. I loved her very lax but strict ways when receiving our assignments and she was alway very nice when giving class and seemed very into what she was talking about and always made me want to learn more with her. I especially loved how she wrapped up the semester with a very nice finish; like a very pretty bow being tied on an equally pretty present.

Shout out to Mr. Penner, Ms. Smith, Mrs. Duncan, and Mrs. Naylor for being excellent remote teachers at Santa Fe! My 6th grader has thrived this year as a remote student and I’m thankful for their collaborative teaching approach, excellent organizational skills, and for adapting so well to a new style of teaching. Thank you!

Ms. Adkins at Northridge--she has helped my son and me this entire school year. She has been so helpful I seriously appreciate her from my heart. She has been patient with my son. She is the teacher ever!!! We love and appreciate you so much, Ms. Adkins!!

I'd like to give a shout out to the 7 Gold Team at CMS! My son is a student there, and I have really appreciated the communication they are having with parents/guardians. They send a newsletter letting us know what is coming up and what assignments are due. They had students fill out a progress report and parents sign it, so we knew what grades were and where students needed help. His SLD teacher also sent a progress report via email. I also get messages as well as my kiddo to let us know what assignments are missing! I am grateful in a time of teaching in an unconventional way that they have found a way to help the students as well as parents keep the kids accountable and able to be successful!

Kate Bremmerman - Kate has done a wonderful job as the principal of Walton Rural Life Center - we are SO lucky to have her! She is constantly asking what she can do to best support her staff, keeps us informed of what is happening each week, is very transparent and does many "just because" things for her staff. Thank you so much for your leadership Kate!

Angela Black - Angela has stepped up and is the only second grade teacher at Walton Rural Life Center this year - so she has the largest class in the building and during a pandemic! She continues to give her students the best she has and is making a difference in all of their lives. Her passion can be seen and felt whenever you are walking by her room. Choose joy.

Mindy Arreguin - Mindy is an amazing para who has stepped up so much this year! She is a great role model for the kids, and a kind ear to vent to when needed. She makes an effort to see how you are doing, and is always ready and eager to rise to the occasion.

Brian Skinner - Brian does an amazing job at NHS all the way around. He has stepped up and taken on even more of a leadership position this year (hard to believe, as he has already taken on many leadership roles). He is one of my go-to guys for questions related to processes and paperwork, and is always willing to listen and help out where he can. Thanks for being such a team player Brian!

Tayvia Kemp -- Tayvia has absolutely ROCKED it at Walton Rural Life Center! She is negotiating up to six schedules a day and is on top of it, even when she says she isn't. She has worked hard developing relationships with all of her students, and it shows. Her upbeat personality is such an asset to this school, and the students. She is dependable and goal oriented. Thank you so much for what you do for our students and staff!

Olivia Lyles is constantly going above and beyond for EVERYONE who she comes in contact with. She is always looking for better ways to assist students, not only with their academics and IEP goals, but in their quality of life as well. Oliva supports the families of her students by always making time to make and grow relationships and explain what she is seeing and student progress which is being made. She supports the other staff members by being positive and encouraging, assisting with progress monitoring, gathering and making materials, continuously asking what she can do to help out in any way. Olivia does all of this with a smile on her face!!

Ashley Nottingham is amazing at showing others how to love oneself. I am grateful for her here at Santa Fe.

Deana Waltrip- Thank you for being a wonderful administrator at Santa Fe.

Gina Skinner- You are such a great person to look up to. You are kind, caring and compassionate. I am glad you are here at Santa Fe.

Coach Buchanan- Thank you for caring for my kids.He goes over and beyond to make them feel cared for.

Coach Jarrel- Thank you for being a great sounding board. I like that you are true to yourself. What a great assets to our team.

Michelle Regier- You are so sweet! Thank you for caring about our kids.

Kim Fischer- Where in the world would I be without you? You are so knowledgeable and a strong leader. Thank you for all that you do.

Kirstie Thompson- You are a pretty fun teacher. The kids are so excited to come back each day!

Kirstyn Pracht- Thank you for really picking up the slack and becoming a great leader. You are one of the best.

Janine Clayton- It is hard to express in words what this woman means to me. She has been so kind, caring and loving to me. I am unbelievably blessed to have her in my life.

Ryan Emmitt has really been working hard on the art of teaching. I am impressed with how much he has improved.

Jenny Duncan is a blessing! I am glad I work with her.

Dr. Pfannenstiel is a great person to work with. She is fun and loving.

Nick Sisson is a leader and a strong one at that. He is kind and caring and always does what is best for students.

Brooke Bowman is a kind teacher with a warm heart. I like how she brightens the kids day each day.

Jennifer Duncan is a sweetheart. She is such a kind and caring person. I am blessed to be able to call her my friend here at Santa Fe.

Teana Savage is rocking it in the lunch room at Santa Fe!

My shout out is for Sherri Nicholsen at South Breeze. She has gone above and beyond to help my children adjust to moving into a new school mid-year. She's wonderful!

Sandy Tozier: For always keeping our school organized and running smoothly, for working with students and creating a bond so they have someone to come to.

Jen Magnall: Jen always is looking for ways to help get students and going the extra mile to create relationships with them.

Shana McGinnins: Shana always is looking for ways to uplift staff around her.

Laurie Behymer: Laurie is kind and caring and really works alongside her students against the material. She does a great job and makes sure she finds the best way for students to complete courses.

Tonya Mayfield: Tonya is always positive and smiling and happy to work with our students.

Greg Krotz: Greg is always thinking in an analytical way and always has a great perspective for the staff.

Amy Whitlock: Amy does a wonderful job bonding with students and being very insightful into what is going on.

Kerry Fryhover: Kerry does an excellent job at creating an accepting environment for a very diverse group of students.

Laura Schmigel: Laura is always pleasant and calm and does an excellent job helping students do the same.

Rhonda McKibbin: Rhonda is a ray of happiness and sunshine, she always brings a positive outlook and spin for students

Robin Pedigo: Does a fabulous job at interacting and forming bonds with our most challenging students.

Scott Stuhlsatz: Scott is always calm, cool, and collected. He also offers some very well thought out perspectives to the most complex problems.

Abigail Carr: Abigail does a fantastic job at working with our struggling students, she does an excellent job at bonding with them and helping them grow.

Kati Zimmerman: Kati does an awesome job as our gym teacher, she meets all students where they are at and makes sure that all kids find something fun about PE.

Elizabeth Dold: Elizabeth is doing a fantastic job as a first year counselor helping kids stay regulated, assisting them with their problems and making sure they are in all the right courses.

Shannon Garton: Shannon does a fantastic job serving our students meals. She does an excellent job with all of our kids.

Maria Meza is an incredible asset at Northridge Elementary. She fills in when staff members are absent, she works with students with kindness and grace and she always shows up and with a smile on her face!

I’m wanting to praise Mrs. Crawford for being so dedicated to my son’s education and wellbeing. Mrs. Crawford always makes an effort to reach out and communicate any concerns. As well as making sure us parents are always aware of what is going on in our children’s classroom. I feel very connected to my son’s educational journey thanks to Emily!

Ps: give her a raise she is worth it!

Shout out to Deb Helberg and the teachers that are helping facilitate some of our computer-based learning courses this semester in order to accommodate remote learners.

It's been tough to balance the needs of our students within the structures of our system and these teachers with Deb's leadership have handled it great.

Kim Fischer has been an amazing help with the new special education staff at Santa Fe. I appreciate her knowledge and willingness to share to share that knowledge.

I want to give Mr. Brian Kennell a shout out. Students report that Mr. Kennel is supportive and engaging. Mr. Kennell is always willing to work with students and families. He is truly dedicated to the profession. Thank you for working at NHS!

Brett Bogunovich
is a part of the maintenance crew at NHS. I have been incredibly impressed by his work ethic and commitment to keeping the facilities at NHS in top shape. Anytime we submit a request he is on it quickly and the job is done professionally. He is also proactive in attending to jobs that need done. Recently, he took it upon himself to regrade a gravel lot to help with drainage and to keep our vehicles from having to park in the mud. Without his work, we would not have many of the improvements around our campus completed!