RELAY - Summer 2021

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:

  • In the News
  • Let's Celebrate - June & July Birthdays
  • Community Resources
  • District Highlights

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

Big picture

Students share art, dreams, with the community

Actor, Thomas Mann once said, “Art is to the community what the dream is to the individual.” Young learners in USD 428 are inviting the community to view their dreams and art education journey by showcasing accomplishments of the past year through a virtual art show and public art installations.

The 21st Annual “Watching Young Artists Grow” art show, typically held at the Barton County Historical Village each spring, will engage the community on a virtual platform again in 2021. The show is categorized by school building and features over 1,000 works of art from USD 428’s K-6 students.

“There are 1,232 pieces of art to be exact,” said Shannon Wedel, USD 428 art teachers. “Although we are unable to showcase the work in-person, we’re thrilled to celebrate our students’ talent, curiosity, and creativity.”

A link to the virtual show is available on the USD 428 homepage at

Further exploring public art, USD 428 Elementary Art teachers Shannon Wedel and Miraya Starnes are leading 6th-graders in a classroom unit on the topic.

“We have been discussing with students how public art can build community,” said Wedel. “We have looked at famous examples of public art, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Wall, as well as local examples like the metal sculptures done by B&B Metal Arts, the bronze sculptures installed by Rosewood, The Gift and The Rifleman in the Barton County Courthouse Square, as well as numerous murals throughout Great Bend.”

Putting theory into practice, students collaborate to design and execute an outdoor mural. In 1998, panel cases were installed in front of each building in collaboration with a citywide mural project in Great Bend. More than twenty years later, students still contribute to the public art landscape each year. Every student contributes at least one square, or more, to the finished mural project. Individually, students also complete a small sculpture project, a small-scale model for a hypothetical public art installation.

“The individual project is to think of a local destination - park, business, sports complex, etc. where they would like to create a public sculpture. It’s fun to see the landmarks that resonate with them most and the ideas they imagine,” said Wedel.

As for the mural projects, Wedel commented, “at this point, three ‘school pride’ murals have been completed and installed (Lincoln, Park, and Eisenhower) with plans to tackle the rest before the end of the school year.”

The new murals are located outside the elementary school buildings in the permanent display cases near the front entrances. The community can view them during daytime hours.

For more information about the “Watching Young Artists Grow” art show or the K-6 art program, please visit or contact the District Education Center at 620-793-1500.
Big picture

Community members celebrate school attendance

As Great Bend Schools concluded the 2020-2021 school year on Wednesday, May 26, school officials and community members joined a collective chorus of gratitude for the ability to complete a challenging school year with buildings remaining open and students learning on-site. Again in 2021, a group of dedicated community members chose to recognize students with “awesome” attendance through the annual Perfect Attendance Bike Program.

“The challenges faced this school year did not deter many dedicated students,” said Karen Shaner, program organizer. “We would like to thank all the students for their hard work and persistence in their education. That also includes a big thank you to the families and caretakers who make it possible for students to be on time and to not miss out on a day of learning.”

The program is in its ninth year, thanks to the generous support of the Midwest Energy Community Fund, Wal-Mart, and a lengthy list of community donors. This year, 69 elementary students in USD 428 qualified for perfect attendance. Local donors supported the purchase of 46 bicycles in all, a record number since the program began.

“This is an amazing program that honors many well-deserving students,” said Khris Thexton, USD 428 Superintendent. “We know the past year presented extra challenges, but students and families stepped up to keep their children learning in school and remotely when needed. We are fortunate to have such a great program organized by Karen Shaner and generous community sponsors to celebrate this notable accomplishment.”

In 2021 the Great Bend Pilot Club joined the effort and provided helmets for each of the winners. Since 1992, Pilot International has focused its philanthropic efforts in the area of Brain Safety and Health. May is Brain Health Awareness Month, and the local Pilot Club members are working to boost awareness and habits that support brain health.

Each elementary school awarded nine bikes. Winners were drawn from all who received “awesome attendance” in the 2020-2021 school year. 2021 Bike Winners Include:

  • Eisenhower Elementary – MaKinzie, Brooklyn, Cade, Connor, Ellie, Jamison, Karys, Emma, and Tristian
  • Jefferson Elementary – Faith, Trista, Kade, Branson, Corbyn, Ellie, Kamri, Callan, and Kristian
  • Park Elementary – Dariel, Kinley, Enrique, Alexander, Devin, Owen, Kade, Petyon, and Cameron
  • Lincoln Elementary – Darrien, Jace, David, Dustin, Hailie, Joanna, Makenzie, and Daniel
  • Riley Elementary - Rosa, Jayden, Olivia, Arleth, Alexis, Justin, Diego Tilly, Cristian, and Justin

Questions about the Perfect Attendance Bike Program can be directed to the USD 428 District Education Center at 620-793-1500 or to Karen Shaner, the community organizer at

Big picture

“A Goat for Shadrack” Students find passion and purpose in serving others

When singer Jake Gill visited Leann Miller’s 5th-grade class at Jefferson Elementary last fall, he shared his musical talents, led students in a creative song-writing exercise, and invited students to think beyond the walls of the school and consider sponsoring a child from Kenya.

“He told my students it would take just 50 cents per week from each student to sponsor a child,” explained Miller. “My class jumped on the opportunity!”

The class sponsored a 3-year-old boy named Shadrack. They received letters and pictures from his family and continued to correspond with them from Great Bend to Kenya during the school year.

“Around Christmas time, I was sharing that the gifts Shadrack’s family wanted were goats, chickens, cows - things that could benefit their family,” Miller said. “At first they thought it was funny and imagined sending a goat all the way to Kenya. But as they really thought about the need and importance of food for Shadrack and his family, they asked how much it would cost. When I told them $100, three girls in my class quickly stepped up to the challenge and championed the cause.”

The “Goat for Shadrack” campaign soon began and students brought contributions of all sizes, from 10 cents to $20. It took several weeks to collect the funds, but the persistent work of the students made the gift possible and Shadrack’s family received a goat in February.

Photo Caption: Reaching beyond their classroom and sponsoring a child from Kenya, students in Ms. Miller's 5th-grade class at Jefferson Elementary post with a photo of their new friend, Shadrack.

Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
There is lots to look forward to this summer in Great Bend! If you don't already, follow Explore Great Bend on Facebook to say in the loop on events happening in our area.
Big picture

K-96 June Jaunt Festival

June 4-6 in Great Bend, KS

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of this event happening June 4th-6th! Don't miss out on this fun, 3-day festival with something for everyone to enjoy!

Click Here for Weekend Schedule

Great Bend Bat Cats Baseball

Cheer on the Great Bend Bat Cats at Al Burns Memorial Field this summer! Admission is always free thanks to generous team sponsors.

Home Games in June:

  • 4-5th vs Sunflower Seeds
  • 8th vs. Newton Rebels
  • 12th vs. Newton Rebels
  • 13th vs. El Dorado Broncos
  • 15th vs. El Dorado Broncos
  • 22nd vs. Hutch Monarchs
  • 25th vs. Hutch Monarchs
  • 26-27th vs. Sluggers

Click Here for the full schedule and game start times.

June Coupon Calendar

View Coupon Calendar Here

Calendar Highlights:

All Month - Wetlands Waterpark

Open all through June (weather permitting), check out the Wetlands Waterpark! As a participating water park in the "Splash Across Kansas" summer program, check out all of our great water features, pool space and shady spots to enjoy a summer day! For more info, Click Here.

Thursdays - Summer Street Stroll Every Thursday in June from 4-7 PM at the southeast corner of Jack Kilby Square, come buy fresh veggies, snacks, home-made crafts and more form local vendors at this farmers market! Click Here for more information.

Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture