RELAY - January 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
  • GB Reads 2023
  • Let's Celebrate - January Birthdays
  • School Highlights
  • Community Resources
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Follow Barton County Special Services on Facebook!

Barton County Special Services launched a new Facebook Page this week to highlight their work in USD 428 and across the Coop. We hope you'll give their page a "like" and enjoy the information they share!

Click Here to find BCSS on Facebook

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GB Reads: adventure and mystery await in 2023

In just a few days, Great Bend elementary students will meet two adventurous characters, Zoey and Sassafras, as they dive into the 2023 Great Bend Reading Initiative and a book filled with magical animals, science, and mystery.

The Great Bend Reading Initiative, GB Reads for short, first launched in 2015 with the goal of promoting student literacy skills through school and family engagement.

“GB Reads is a shared experience for children and parents in our school communities,” said Tricia Reiser, assistant superintendent for USD 428.

“There is a positive connection between family involvement, literacy skills, and success in school. GB Reads is a fun and engaging way to build vocabulary, foster an enjoyment for reading, and strengthen parent-child relationships,” said Reiser.

All USD 428 elementary students in grades Kindergarten – 6th will receive a copy of Zoey and Sassafras Dragons and Marshmallows.

“The series has quickly gained recognition for the imaginative and inviting adventures of a little girl named Zoey and her cat Sassafrass,” said Holly Tittel, USD 428 librarian. “While we’re excited to introduce our families and students to these characters, we’ve also stocked our elementary libraries with other books in the series anticipating their popularity.”

GB Reads is sponsored by USD 428 and presented in partnership with the Great Bend Public Library and other community partners. This year, over 1,300 students will receive a copy of the book along with a calendar providing a schedule for reading the book and information on supporting activities and events.

Calendar Highlights Include:

  • Great Bend Public Library hosts Stories and S’mores with author Shelly Simoneau on Saturday, January 21 at 10:30am
  • Classroom presentations by the Kansas Wetlands Education Center and Barton County 4-H and Extension
  • Elementary School Assemblies from Mad Science - Mad Science presenters will travel to Great Bend from the Kansas City Metro, with a presentation to engage students with experiments and innovative (and entertaining) science content
  • On-site enrichment programs hosted by the Great Bend Recreation Commission
  • Video highlighting “A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian,” produced by Animal Medical Center
  • Students at Great Bend Middle School and Great Bend High School will be encouraged to participate with younger siblings as well as join in a month-long reading program that will engage students in STEM enrichment and building student relationships through cooperative activities.

About the 2023 GB Reads book:

Dragons and Marshmallows is the first book in the Zoey and Sassafras series. Zoey discovers a glowing photo and learns an amazing secret. Injured magical animals come to their backyard barn for help! When a sick baby dragon appears, it is up to Zoey and Sassafras to figure out what’s wrong. Will they be able to help little Marshmallow before it’s too late?

For more information about GB Reads, please contact the USD 428 District Education Center at 620-793-1500 or visit
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Let's THANK our local leaders!

January is School Board Appreciation Month, a great opportunity to say thank you to the USD 428 Board of Education who are committed to the success of every student in our community.

Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education members include Jacquie Disque, president, Aaron Emerson, vice president, Chad Burroughs, Deanna Essmiller, Lori Reneau, Chris Umphres, and Susan Young.

Elected at-large to serve a four-year term, these seven community leaders volunteer hundreds of hours attending meetings, reading reports, and discussing plans and programs to support educational achievement in Great Bend Public Schools.

Join us in thanking school board members for their work this month and throughout the year. Notes of gratitude and encouragement can be sent care of the District Education Center, c/o Cathie McManaman, 201 S Patton Rd, Great Bend, KS.

Learn more about the Board of Education by visiting our website, click here.

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Do you have a celebration to share?!

We want to celebrate with you! Please send announcements 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!

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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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