Longhorn Notes

A newsletter for the Kimball Jr/Sr High School Community

October 2, 2020

Spotlight on the Classroom

In this edition, we want to share some exciting activities from our classrooms. We have amazing teachers and support staff who are doing a great job keeping students engaged and learning.

Mr. Mekelburg - Physical Science

Mr. Mekelburg is new to Kimball this year but definitely not new to teaching. He is a 30+ year veteran science teacher and is teaching junior high science and Physical Science. He is a believer in active learning and more times than not when you walk into his classroom, students are performing experiments and collecting data. In Physical Science last week, students were learning about velocity and acceleration. To help students understand the concept, Mr. M (as he refers to himself) set up several cones 15 yards apart on the practice field. He assigned a student to each cone to collect data. Then he had several runners. Each runner was given a specific task - for example, one runner might start with a sprint, then when the 3rd cone was reached slow down to a jog, then finish with a sprint. Another student may have speed-walked at a constant pace through the course. After students collected the data, they spent the next class period analyzing the data and calculating velocity and acceleration at each cone. Understanding the difference between velocity and acceleration can be difficult for some students - this approach allows students to visualize what happens at each cone which gives them a better understanding of the concept. In the video below, Jon Dunegan is running through the course as his classmates collect data.

Mrs. Wheeler - Junior High Ag Class

In Mrs. Wheeler's Junior High Ag class, students worked on a project called Wealth of a Nation. The objective of this project was to help students understand the role agriculture plays in determining the wealth of a nation. Students were declared the ruler of their own nation and were given a cup of M&Ms representing their country's "assets". Each M&M represented a different type of asset and held a set value. Inventory was taken and the richest country was established. The class discussed the importance of diversity in their holdings. Students were then given time to trade with other countries to establish whatever goals the students determined were important. Students then performed a re-inventory of their assets and established an increase or decrease in wealth. Next, students rolled dice to establish what their country's population was. Students determined if they had enough wheat (brown M&Ms) to feed their people. Then they discussed the importance of food to a population and what often happens when there is a shortage. Students were then allowed to trade one more time to try and secure enough wheat to feed their populations or increase their wealth, if they had enough wheat for their people. Students wrapped up the activity by reflecting on how their priorities and strategies changed throughout the activity. In the photo to the right, Aaspyn Tyan and Jarrett Schutz are counting their country's assets.

Mrs. Heidemann - Freshmen English

In English 9, students are working on a project called 20Time. The idea was first developed by large corporations like Google and 3M. Their philosophy was that their workers were more productive when they got to spend 20% of their time working on things that suited their passions (that's how we got GMail and Post-It Notes!) In class, every other Wednesday is dedicated to the development of the students' projects. Unlike a normal school project, this is completely student run. Students make the decisions, they put together the requirements, and they decide how they are going to be graded. This allows a lot of room for choice, growth, and failure (in fact, they are encouraged to fail and fail often!) By doing this, students are working on problem solving skills, being better citizens, and opening their minds to a world much larger than Kimball.

Some of the projects are big, others are less extravagant. Some projects range from a suicide awareness campaign and a social media app made for Kimball students, to youtube videos explaining how to fix your car on a budget and a cookbook that will be published and made available to the community.

You might be asking yourself, "How is my student getting graded?" and "What does this have to do with English?" Students are graded on the process, not the final product. Throughout the process, students will be learning how to write and speak professionally as they create and present their projects. Each student will keep a blog of their journey. Here they will turn in various assignments that help continue project development. They will work with their peers and ask for help on frustrations and celebrate their successes. At the end of the semester, or the end of the year depending on the complexity of the project, they will then give a speech about their project to their class where they walk them through the process and reflect on how their final project turned out. Many English academic standards will be met throughout the process. They are not required to complete work outside of class but are always encouraged to do so. If you have any questions or concerns about your child's project, or if you would like to be a parent mentor to a project, feel free to e-mail their teacher, Ashley Heidemann, at aheidemann@kpslonghorns,org.

Two students, Jasmine Gawith and Aspyn Kiefer, volunteered to discuss their 20Time projects in the video below.


Last winter, students were given an NWEA Map test to help our school identify areas in reading and math in which students might need additional support to help them succeed. Students identified for extra support were provided an opportunity to work in a program called My Path by Edgenuity. My Path allows the school to provide an individualized path for students providing them additional help in specific areas. For example, a student in Algebra 1, who may still be struggling in foundational skills (fractions, for example), may find it more difficult to be successful. If our school can provide support in the foundational skills they may be missing, students have a better chance for success in their current classes. High school students who were given this additional support in the spring were placed in an Intervention class as an elective this fall. Junior High students work on interventions during their Access period. The program provides short direct-instruction online lessons by a teacher followed by opportunities for students to practice and then take an assessment. In the upcoming winter, students will be tested again. If they have gained the foundational skills necessary to be successful, they may choose another elective in the spring semester. If not, we will continue to provide them support in Interventions. At this point, we are focusing on interventions; however, we are developing a process to also provide enrichment to students who have accelerated skills and want an opportunity to get ahead. The video below is an overview of the My Path program. Hopefully this will provide a better understanding of the content and purpose of our Intervention program.

New Foreign Exchange Student

We are pleased to welcome a foreign exchange student to our school and community. Andrea Wold comes to us from Hovik, Norway. She recently turned 17 and will participate at our school as a senior, although she will have one year of school left when she returns to Norway. She is very excited to get involved with our school activities and we are thrilled to have her! Her host family is Mark, Tiffani and Trevor Anderson. If you see her at events, please introduce yourself and welcome her to Kimball!
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I am amazed everyday as I watch teachers and staff work with our students. The care and concern they give each student and their desire to see students succeed is evident to anyone who visits our building. We are all so grateful to be back in person! We have such a great staff and our students are hard working, respectful and actively learning in and out of the classroom. In all the craziness of the Covid pandemic, it is refreshing to get to spend our days in such a positive environment!
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  • Friday October 2 - Varsity Football at home at 6 pm (Senior Parent Night for Football, Girls Golf and Cross Country)
  • Monday, October 5 - Junior High Volleyball at Bridgeport at 4 pm
  • Monday, October 5 - District Girls Golf at Ogallala
  • Tuesday, October 6 - Varsity Triangular at Potter/Dix at 4 pm
  • Thursday, October 8 - JV/V Volleyball at Morrill at 4 pm
  • Thursday, October 8 - Junior High Volleyball at home at 4 pm
  • Thursday, October 8 - Cross Country at Grant (SPVA) at 4 pm
  • Friday, October 9 - Noon Dismissal (Junior High Quiz Bowl)
  • Friday, October 9 - Cross Country at Bridgeport (WTC) at 11 am
  • Friday, October 9 - Varsity Football at Hyannis at 7 pm
  • Saturday, October 10 - ACT Test
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Kimball Jr/Sr High School - Serving Kimball's Future!