RELAY - May 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
  • KS Challenge Award Recipients
  • Let's Celebrate - May Birthdays & more!
  • Community Resources
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Board of Education Meeting Highlights

The USD 428 Board of Education held its last luncheon meeting of the 22-23 school year at Riley Elementary School on Wednesday, April 26 at 12 noon.

BOE Members and guests enjoyed a school lunch, movie theatre-style popcorn provided by Riley, and a building report from Riley Staff & Students.

Report Highlights:

Beth Rein, principal of Riley, provided a creative "building report" in the form of a quiz game called Kahoot. Kahoot is an interactive online tool used in many classrooms across the district. A few of the highlights included:
  • Academic Data - Rein shared the challenges and opportunities of academic data and how Riley staff is working to identify the best tools and predictors of student learning.
  • LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) - Rein shared that 14 Riley teachers, nine of which are classroom teachers, are working beyond the school day to learn the science of reading. Rein commented that what they're learning is visible in interventions, meetings with families, and targeted and specific areas of phonics and reading.
  • Attendance - Riley boasts 95% attendance for K-6 grade students.
  • 18 students passed the KELPA
  • Christian Garcia won the Barton County Spelling Bee and placed 37th out of 86 students at the State competition.
  • Rein also shared that the condition of the playground is a significant challenge for the school community. They are hoping to add accessible equipment for a wheel-chair bound student and other potential upgrades to the 25+-year-old playground.
  • The program concluded with two students providing a demo of the Dot & Dash robots that are at "home" in the library. With a recent mini-grant, Riley will have 15 robots next fall that are used to introduce the basics of coding to students.


Grants & Contributions: The following were approved by the BOE.

  • Marmie Motors, Inc. wishes to contribute $100.00 to the 6th-grade band and orchestra program for student t-shirts.
  • Eisenhower Elementary School wishes to accept $1,288.72 from Eisenhower PTO for Playground Equipment
  • GBHS Activities Department wishes to accept $200 from Pick Chiropractic for GBHS baseball athlete meals
  • GBHS Activities Department wishes to accept $500 from the Panther Booster Club for State Wrestling Ad


Personnel Report: Approved by the BOE

Licensed Resignations:

  • Mrs. Kinzie Behrends, 4th-grade teacher at Jefferson
  • Mrs. Tina Vondracek, special education teacher at Eisenhower
  • Kiley Wahramn, 4th-grade teacher at Eisenhower
  • Ms. Hannah Laurin, 6th-grade teacher at Riley

Licensed Appointments:

  • Mrs. Katie Zimmerman, teacher of special education at Eisenhower

Administrator Appointment

  • Mr. Myron Ellegood, Principal at GBMS

Director Appointment

  • Mrs. JoAnn Blevins, director of teaching and learning at District Office

Network Security Update

USD 428 IT Director Ryan Axman shared a brief overview of measures the district has taken to support secure network systems, processes, and procedures to enhance and protect information technology throughout USD 428.

As features have been implemented, the IT Department often communicates the "How" to staff, but maybe more importantly to help staff understand the importance of these measures, they want to share the "Why."

Why do we need KnowBe4 training? Phishing attacks are the number one way hackers get access to our network. Not only can they steal our data they can ransomware our servers and shut down the entire district's network. This happened to Hays and Newton in the last year.

Why do we need two-factor authentication for our email? With so many people's passwords available on the internet it is important to protect our email accounts from being taken over by someone outside our district.

Why do we need DUO to sign into our computers? This prevents people from outside our district from logging into your computer with your credentials. Since they do not have your phone they cannot receive the authentication code.

Axman shared that USD 428 is more secure than a year ago, but that nothing is full-proof. Cyber security is a moving target and USD 428 IT will continue to make adjustments in the future as needed.

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Confidence in Kansas Public Education Task Force announces 2022 Challenge Award recipients

The Confidence in Kansas Public Education Task Force has named 91 schools as recipients of the 2022 Challenge Awards. Great Bend USD 428 is proud to celebrate two of your schools receiving Certificates of Merit, Park Elementary School & Riley Elementary School.

The awards recognize Kansas schools making a notable difference in student achievement despite facing significant challenges in their school population. Since its inception in 2002, more than 1,800 awards have been presented to schools across the state.

The Challenge Award recognizes schools for outstanding achievement and uncommon accomplishments based on Kansas Assessment results in math and reading, graduation rates, chronic absenteeism rates, and the socio-economic status of those taking the test.

The Confidence in Public Education Task Force is a nonprofit corporation whose primary purpose is to strengthen confidence in Kansas public education and to increase awareness of the positive aspects of public education in the state. The Task Force was created in 1981.

Members of the Task Force include the American Association of University Women; Kansas PTA; Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB); Kansas National Education Association (KNEA); Kansas State Board of Education; Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHAA); Kansas Partners in Education; League of Women Voters – Kansas; and United School Administrators of Kansas (USA-Kansas).

For more information about the Challenge Awards program, call Tamla Miller, public service administrator for Communications and Recognition Programs at the Kansas State Department of Education, at (785) 296-4950.

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Welcome, baby!

Natalie & Chance Deforest welcomed Molly Jean to the world on 4/1/2023 @ 11:07 am in Great Bend.

8 lb. 9 oz.

20.5” long

Big brother Meyer enjoys looking at her and saying “baby”!

Mrs. Natalie Deforest works at Jefferson Elementary as an instructional coach.

Wagner earns National Bowling Championship


Paige is a 2022 GBHS Graduate and the daughter of Tim & Cheri Wagner. Cheri is a paraprofessional at GBMS. Paige is attending WSU where she is a member of the Chocker Bowling Team.

Wagner beat Lara Kurt from SCAD 235-226, then won with a 211-203 against Anna Maxwell from Maryville. Congratulations, Paige!

Do you have a celebration to share?!

We want to celebrate with you! Please send announcements such as engagements, marriage, birth, etc. 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!

Art & Wine Walk, May 5

Stop by and visit more than 20 participating retail stores for the 2023 Art & Wine Walk in Downtown Great Bend.

Friday, May 5, 4:30 - 7:30pm

Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Check out this awesome event in Downtown Great Bend!

Saturday, May 6, 11 am - 7 pm - Jack Kilby Square

  • Parade at 11 am down Main Street
  • Music
  • Food Vendors
  • Dancing & Entertainment all day!

*Stop by and support Riley Elementary 6th-grade, who will have a booth to raise money for their end-of-the-year field trip!

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June Jaunt 2023

Make plans to kick off summer at the 2023 June Jaunt, June 2-4 in Downtown Great Bend!

  • Live music all weekend
  • Car show & cruise night - June 2, 6-9pm
  • Mural tours on the Dolly Trolly
  • Paint in the Park
  • Vendors, yard games, bounce houses, and MORE!

Learn more:

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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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