RELAY - February 2022

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:

  • District Highlights
  • In the News
  • School Counselor Appreciation Week, Feb. 7 - 11
  • Let's Celebrate - February Birthdays
  • Community Resources
  • District Highlights

Keep up the great work and keep it safe, 428!

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Staff Appreciation Event

USD 428 wants to thank you for being part of the team! Please join us for a fun evening as the GBHS Panthers take on the Buhler Crusaders.

As always, admission is free for USD 428 staff. Stop by the main concession stand and present your staff ID to receive a free popcorn & drink.

5:30 pm through Halftime of the Boys Varsity Game (approx. 8 pm)

Jack Kilby Commons

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Schedule Of Events:

Girls Varsity Basketball Game - 6:00 pm

Boys Varsity Basketball Game - 7:30 pm


428 Staff are invited to enter their name into a drawing to win gas/grocery gift cards and "GB" swag. Visit the table near the concession stand to enter!

Cheer for the Panthers and cheer for your colleagues and friends as announcers share fun facts about 428 staff and special recognitions. A few lucky staff members will be drawn at random from those in attendance for several all-star prizes!

This is a small token of appreciation for your dedicated work EVERY DAY for the students of Great Bend USD 428. We hope you'll join us!

SupportLinc now available to all USD 428 Employees

Life can be a juggling act. It takes time and energy to balance your work, family and personal challenges. To help you manage life’s daily challenges, USD 428 Great Bend is pleased to announce the SupportLinc employee assistance program (EAP). SupportLinc offers confidential and professional support, at no cost to you or your family.
Visit Support Linc

web access log-in: usd428 (no password neccessary)

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‘Give Back’ award provides life-changing opportunity for GBHS senior

An important phone call earlier this month brought the educational aspirations of one Great Bend student from dream to reality. Recently named a 2022 Give Back Scholar, Jonathan Ruiz will receive a full-ride scholarship for college. Beyond the financial impact, Give Back Scholars also receive mentor opportunities that support, challenge and guide them through their educational journey.

After an extensive application and interview process that began last fall, Ruiz, received the award announcement just as he begins his final semester at Great Bend High School.

“I am so impressed by Jonathan’s hard work and determination,” said Lacy Wolters, GBHS ACT/Career coordinator. “When he began the application process it was for Give Back’s new program called ‘Give Back Careers’ that seeks to provide mentorship in high school and promote attendance of junior college. However, during the interview process, Give Back learned of Jonathan’s desire to attend a university and ended up offering him one of the few remaining spots at Baker University.”

Ruiz plans to pursue a degree in physical therapy at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., and while he does not plan to play collegiate sports, he said athletic training might be something he will explore as a student.

“This is why I transitioned into education from the business world,” said Wolters. “Helping students of ours receive these opportunities is one of the most fulling aspects of my job.”

Wolters describes this as a life-changing opportunity for students. Every Give Back scholar receives a full scholarship that covers college tuition, fees, room and board, lifting the financial burden associated with higher education.

The Give Back program is highly competitive with only 30 awards given in the state of Kansas each year.

“This is the fourth consecutive year that Give Back has selected at least one GBHS student,” said Wolters. “We’ve had a total of eight students selected for the program since 2019, three are currently in college while the other five are in high school and participating in mentor opportunities.”

Give Back’s mission is to provide mentoring and financial support for education to students who have faced economic hardship and other adversities. Their website describes Give Back Scholars as academically motivated and resilient. Most are first-generation college or trade school students who come from families below the poverty line. Special outreach is given to students who have experienced heightened social risks such as foster care or the incarceration of a parent. Learn more about the Give Back Foundation at
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Siefkes selected first chair mallets in All-State Band

GBHS junior, August Siefkes, was recently selected for the All-State Band where she will be first chair, mallets.

Siefkes was selected for the State Band after performing with the Southwest Kansas Music Educators Association District Band last semester and auditioning earlier this month.

“The All-State student musicians are truly ‘the best of the best,’” touts the KMEA website.

Siefkes has participated in the district honors band for 3 years and was also selected for the State Orchestra as a freshman.

Developing her talents in percussion since fifth-grade, Siefkes plans to pursue a degree in music performance after high school.

The 21-22 All State Bank Concert for 5A & 6A schools will be held on Saturday, February 26 at the State KMEA Convention at Century II in Wichita, Kan.

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Celebrating School Counselors

National School Counseling Week 2022, “School Counseling: Better Together,” sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), will be celebrated from Feb. 7–11, 2022, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems and how students are different as a result of what school counselors do. National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.

In Great Bend Public Schools, the continuum of support begins in the elementary setting with a Student and Family Advocate at each building and continues at the middle school and high school with School Counselors. As a student moves through their educational career, these professionals are present to support students’ social/emotional and academic needs.

“They are champions, advocates, and trusted advisors in our buildings,” said John Popp, assistant superintendent for USD 428. “They work in partnership with parents and also serve as a community connector for mental health services, medical services, and basic needs like food, shelter, and transportation.”

Popp explained that each day presents new challenges and new opportunities for these professionals as they focus on positive ways to engage with students. A closer look at each building and the various programs and supports provided illustrates the ability of each school counselor or student and family advocate to adapt and respond to the changing needs of their students.

“School counselors work with all students to remove barriers to learning by addressing students’ academic concerns, postsecondary options and social/emotional skills,” said Jill Cook, ASCA executive director. “School counseling programs help to increase student achievement and provide a much-needed resource for students, parents, teachers and administrators. School counselors are integral to student success.”

As part of its celebration for National School Counseling Week, USD 428 encourages the community to reach out and offer encouraging words to the counselors who serve Great Bend’s students. Parents or community members with specific questions can contact individual school buildings or the District Education Center. General information can also be found at

USD 428 School Counselors:

· Kathy Davis, Great Bend High School

· Kayla Meadows, Great Bend High School

· Rachel Thexton, Great Bend High School

· Sheryl Neeland, Great Bend Middle School

· Brian Williams, Great Bend Middle School

USD 428 Student and Family Advocates:

· Kelly McClure, Eisenhower Elementary

· Krystal Woodral, Jefferson Elementary

· Kylee Graves, Lincoln Elementary

· Alan Blessing, Park Elementary

· Michelle Daniel, Riley Elementary

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Board of Education visits Park Elementary

The USD 428 Board of Education visited Park Elementary on Tuesday, January 25 for their monthly luncheon meeting. While there was some regular business to take care of, the bulk of the meeting highlighted Park Students and several programs that are seeing "paw"sitive results!

Meeting at a Glance:

  • Adam Cline, Park's new principal, shared updates to Park's goals, mission and vision. He commented that the Building Leadership Team has been working hard in the face of illness and absences to keep the school operating. In line with the Capturing Kids' Hearts training, Park staff has drafted a social contract which is nearly complete!
  • Lacey Hoefflinger, instructional ELA coach, introduced four students who were some of the recent winners of Park's building-wide reading program. With 80% of classrooms participating, students log their time reading outside of the classroom in exchange for entries to win books!
  • Students from the Park Leadership Club, along with Alana Blessing, student & family advocate, shared personal stories about how strategies and new practices from Capturing Kids' Hearts are making a positive difference in their classrooms and building.
  • Kelsey Sciacca, instructional math coach, shared plans for "Innovation Hour" which is a new STEM enrichment program starting for 5th & 6th-grade students this semester.
  • Angela Peterson, tech specialist, provided a summary of Park's building-wide celebration day before Winter Break where students enjoyed collaborative STEM challenges, photo booths, games, and classroom parties. There were lots of smiles from students and staff in the photos shared with the BOE.

Before the close of the meeting, the BOE approved a list of grants and contributions as well as a personnel report which included the hiring of GBHS' next Activities and Athletic Director, Matthew Westerhaus.

For more information about the USD 428 Board of Education, you can visit our website -

USD 428 BOE Meeting - Jan. 25, 2022
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Panther Debate Claims 6th Place at STATE

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Family Tradition! Mike Esfeld and son Kaiden Esfeld (junior at GBHS) officiated a GBMS basketball game together!

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Madelyne Siefkes, 7th-Grade, participated in the John Phillip Sousa Jr. Honor Band

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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