RELAY - February 2023

Great Bend USD 428 - News and Highlights

It is the goal of the monthly RELAY to connect our staff with news and highlights from across our schools and community. There are so many successes, positive stories, and virtual smiles to share!

We hope you enjoy this brief update. Take a moment to learn something new, celebrate with a colleague or friend, and pause to see the good happening all around you.

In this issue:

  • Calendar Highlights & Quick Reads
  • BOE Meeting Highlights
  • Showing Up Matters for R.E.A.L.
  • Space Week at Little Panthers
  • Let's Celebrate - February Birthdays
  • School Highlights
  • Community Resources
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Board of Education Meeting Highlights

The USD 428 Board of Education held its monthly luncheon meeting at Great Bend High School on Thursday, January 26 at 12noon.

The GBHS Building Report featured the following:

  • The luncheon meal was prepared by students in Katy Hekele's Culinary Arts class. The menu included appetizers, caesar salad, lasagna soup, ratatouille, and dessert.
  • Lacy Wolters, GBHS ACT & Career Coordinator provided the BOE with a report highlighting the results of the first semester of the internship program. Sharing that GBHS received nothing but positive remarks about the program, Wolters introduced Madelyn Gregg who was an intern at KU Health Systems this fall to share more about her experience.
  • Family Engagement Coordinators, Saylem Ryff (GBMS) and Chuy Loera (GBHS) shared information about the First-Aid and Emergency Response event scheduled for later that day. They welcomed 100 participants, representing 40 GBMS or GBHS families, to learn more about how to respond in the case of an emergency. The event included numerous community partners and covered topics like CPR, mental health crisis response, poison control, overdose, and more.
  • GBHS Principal Tim Friess closed the meeting by talking about GBHS' focus on individualized plans of study that help students reach graduation. Making a noticeable improvement in graduation rates over the past 10 years, GBHS achieved over 92% graduation in 2022 which means more students are ready for their next step in life. He attributed the school's computer-based-learning credit recovery class, the school's Independent Learning Center, and the genuine care and investment staff make in the success of each student.

Grants & Contributions:

The following were approved by the BOE.

  • GBMS - Brian Williams $500 Credit Union TGIF Grant
  • GBMS - Nikki Taylor $500 Credit Union TGIF Grant
  • GBMS Booster Club wishes to contribute $1,000 to the GBMS for the Panther Buck Store.
  • GBMS Booster Club wishes to contribute $223 to purchase a 12-year GBMS Spelling Bee champion perpetual plaque.
  • GBHS - Cristina Montes $500 Credit Union TGIF Grant for Mariachi (for El Sol dresses)
  • GBHS Orchestra GB Custard Operations LLC (Freddy’s) $279.27
  • GBHS Orchestra - $600 performance contribution from Investment Advantage
  • GBHS Activities Department - Marmie Motors wishes to contribute $850 for the Panther Football team for the 17 touchdowns.
  • Lincoln Elementary - The United Women in Faith group from Trinity United Methodist Church wishes to contribute $500 to support student needs in the hope that they know they are valued and loved.

  • Jefferson Box Tops $148.10

The USD 428 Education Foundation has contributed the following flow-through contributions from the Golden Belt Community Foundation.

  • Park Elementary - Patricia A. Schmidt Memorial Donor Advised Fund - $250 cash, and gift cards valued at $250
  • District Wide - Greg & Susan Bauer Children’s Health Endowment Fund $433 for student lunch accounts

Personnel Report:

The BOE approved the resignation of Mr. William Dutton, teacher of 6th grade at Jefferson Elementary (effective at the end of the school year).

The BOE approved the appointment of Mrs. Tammie Buckbee, teacher of special education in Ellinwood (transition to teaching program, effective immediately).

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Showing Up Matters for R.E.A.L.

It's an opportunity to...

  • Build Routines - Daily attendance routines can reduce stress, increase your child’s self-confidence, and lay a foundation for good attendance in later grades. These positive behaviors also correlate to a student’s ability to get and keep a job, as they get older.

  • Increase Engagement - Being in school helps students connect with their peers, teachers, and school staff, creating positive relationships that motivate students to participate in learning.

  • Access Resources - Schools help students and families gain access to essential resources such as meals, physical and mental health services, and fun enrichment activities including sports, clubs, music, and after-school programs.

  • Support Learning - Learning is most meaningful when it is active, social, and allows students to apply concepts to real-life situations. Showing up to school each day, helps students to engage in learning that builds skills in reading and math that will help them succeed throughout their life.

Attending school regularly is essential to students gaining the academic, social and emotional skills they need to thrive. Chronic absence, no matter its cause, has real life consequences for students, families and communities as a whole.

Research shows starting as early as preschool and kindergarten, chronic absence—missing 10% of the academic year (two days per month, or 17 days per school year)—can leave third graders unable to read proficiently, sixth graders struggling with coursework, and high school students off track for graduation.*

As schools emerge from the pandemic, chronic absence has increased significantly across the nation. Attendance data from Great Bend Schools found an average of 20.98% of students were chronically absent in 2019. In 2022, Great Bend’s chronically absent rate was just below the state average at 25.06%. The difference in this data is an increase of 100 students missing 10% or more of the academic school year.

“I believe we have the ability to make a positive impact on attendance if we all work together,” said Khris Thexton, USD 428 Superintendent. “Students learn and grow when they are connected to classroom learning and the resources school provides. As administrators, teachers, and school staff, business and civic leaders, and parents – we all play a significant role in encouraging students to arrive at school, every day, ready to learn!”

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Little Panthers Explore Space

Taking Space Week to new heights, Little Panthers Preschool Teacher, Morgan Little, went straight to the source to answer her students' questions... to NASA!

As Little prepared for Space Week, she collected questions from her students and submitted them to NASA, hoping for a response. But what she received in return beyond exceeded her expectations. Students enjoyed a nearly 8-minute video recorded by astronaut Nick Hague to answer their questions.

"The kids were over the moon excited," said Little, "and another cool fact is that the NASA Astronaut in the video, Nick Hague, is from Kansas."

The video has been shared with all classrooms at Little Panthers Preschool as well as some classes at Eisenhower Elementary. For Little Panthers, the week included other lessons, craft projects, and sensory play - all with a space theme.

"You never know what cool things can happen when you just ask," said JoAnn Blevins, principal of Eisenhower Elementary & Little Panthers Preschool.

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Do you have a celebration to share?!

We want to celebrate with you! Please send announcements to for inclusion in the monthly RELAY Newsletter. This is an opportunity to share both personal and career announcements.

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Explore Great Bend Calendar of Events

Community events and coupons for local businesses too!

Be sure to follow Explore Great Bend on Facebook for news and events!

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Share Your Stories and Activities!

It only takes a few minutes to share the GREAT things happening in your classroom! Email high-resolution photos and a quick caption and we'll share it with the community on social media!

Quick Photo Caption:

"Students are learning _______________, by doing ______________."

Submit News to

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