Atchison Alternative School

Standard 2 Indicator 2.4

The Day The Kids Did Not Say Thank You

The Day The Kids Did Not Say Thank You

By Paulette Augustine, Atchison Alternative School USD409

Thursday, February 13th was supposed to have been a special day for twenty-six people and one dog. It should have been a celebration honoring the work of people in five different jobs. It should have been celebrated—but wasn’t. All the certificates, photos, words of thanks, presentations, banners, chocolates, pens, thank-you cards, and desserts had to be cancelled when a blocked sewer pipe closed school the morning of the event. Students were sent home, staff began notifying the honorees with the message “do not come to the celebration,” and teachers took the lovely desserts home. As students left the building that day, the question most asked was, “When will we get to say thank you to all the people who have done their jobs for us?”

The idea for the “Just Say Thank You” day began with a discussion by students about jobs that were necessary to a community. Students discussed jobs that were important to people. Students thought that sometimes people worked hard but did not get much thanks for the jobs they do. The idea of getting a “thank you” seemed important to the students. They nominated businesses and jobs from the following: The Atchison Humane Society because without their work, animals would not have caregivers and might starve. The Atchison County Treasurer, Sheila Bilderback, was chosen because without her taking care of our money, bills and people would not get paid. The Coin Mart Laundromat and Dry Cleaning’s Sandra Dunbar was honored because many people wouldn’t have clean clothing without a laundry service. The Hilligoss Shoe Store’s Sarah Kim Biechele was given the award because she is a businesswoman who sells good shoes and clothing for a good price. Finally, all of the sixteen Custodians and Maintenance Staff of USD409 were remembered because they work day and night shifts to keep our schools clean, painted, shoveled, mowed, and safe for all students.

Once the business people were notified that they would be getting an award, students visited all the businesses, took pictures for a movie presentation, made hand-decorated thank-you cards, wrote a public assembly script, collected signatures for certificates, made banners for the halls, and had picture collages made for posters. Speeches were practiced, presentations were timed, and desserts were baked by staff members—all for the day when the honorees would walk through the door, be greeted by the student greeters, and be taken to their places of honor at the decorated tables in the gym. All preparations were made, but the thank-you gifts had to be delivered to the honorees the following week without music, speeches, or decorations.

The students delivered greetings to the businesses on Tuesday without the planned ceremony—but with great appreciation for work well done. As one student said, “It is just the right thing to do—to say thank you. I think the dog at the Humane Society really liked seeing us.” It is not often that adults get a certificate for doing their job each day. The students at the Alternative School were glad they had a chance to thank some people who are important to the community.

Note: The Just Say Thank You video presentation can be viewed on the AAS website.


Atchison Alternative School is fortunate to have very creative and committed staff members. We do not have elective teachers so the teachers are willing and to make sure that the creative arts are also a part of the student’s experience. The photos that I am sharing are examples of the things that happen when teachers collaborate.

The pictures are: Students working on a community mosaic, students and staff building social skills, a high school student entertaining everyone with an original song written about a moment in history, a teacher visiting with parents at an end of year picnic, a high school student portraying her character in a wax museum, middle school students honoring a teacher, samples from our first art show, seniors visiting a business in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Mini Career Day

Mini-Career Day

The Lifetime Math class is designed to help students apply math as they will use it in their every day lives, including their careers. In Lifetime Math, the students had been discussing how their career choice will affect their budgets, abilities to get insurance, credit choices, and lifestyle. On October 3, 2013, three experts in their fields were brought in to talk to the students based on the students’ career interests.

Staff Sergeant Halter was brought in to talk about the Marine Corps as well to provide motivation for success both in high school and out of high school. Staff Sergeant Halter discussed how he went from being a senior graduating from an Alternative School to a Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps. He reminded the students that once out of high school, what employers are looking for in the real world is “what makes you different from someone else who has the same degree as you.” Staff Sergeant Halter’s main message was: “The difference between success after high school and lack of success is having a plan. If you have a plan, you will be successful. Make sure that you distinguish yourself from everyone else around you who has the same degree you do. Employers want to know why you are better than anyone else. Use your plan to make yourself that person employers will choose.”

Janet Adrian came to discuss Nursing and how to succeed in college. Janet talked about throughout her college experience in becoming a nurse, she was constantly seeking help from professors, mentors, and counselors to help herself become the best nurse she could be. Janet Adrian’s main message was: “If you need help, seek help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help.”

William Shade discussed the engineering field, all of the options in the field of engineering, and his personal life experiences that led him to being an engineer. William Shade started as a hay baler, then a grocery bagger, then a painter, a roofer, and a handyman while at college taking his engineering degree. Even though he took a pathway different from the normal pathway to becoming an engineer, William Shade still found success and became an engineer. William Shade’s message was: “The path you take to getting to where you want to be is not what matters; getting to where you want to be and never giving up is what matters. Always push yourself to be the best you can be at what you are doing.”