Lion's Pride

December 2018

Message from the Superintendent

It's hard to believe that the first semester is about to come to a close. It seems like it was just last week that we were having our Welcome Home Bash and greeting students and parents on the first day of school. Our staff and administration have worked extremely hard this semester to help improve student learning. One of the areas of focus for the administration has been on improving student attendance.

Arkansas students and schools are now being graded on attendance. Students are identified by the state based on the number of days that they are absent from school. These identification labels are high risk - chronically absent (missing more than 17 days of school per year), moderate risk, or low risk (missing less than 9 days per school year). Students are assigned points based on this identification and those points are used in the calculation of the school's yearly letter grade assigned by the state of Arkansas. Parents play a vital role in helping improve student attendance and thereby the school's letter grade. As students get older and advance in their courses, sometimes parents feel ill-equipped to help with their child's homework, but parents can always help with preventing student absences. Getting your child to school on time, refraining from checking your child out early, making doctor and dental appointments after school hours or on non-school days, not taking family vacations when students should be in school, and sending them to school even if they have the sniffles, all help send the message to students that school is important.

I appreciate your help in reinforcing to your student the importance of getting a good education and that regular attendance is vital in helping improve learning.

Please make sure to view the Upcoming Events section of this newsletter for dates and activities. More information can be found on the district website and calendar.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Garland County READS Event

Jessieville School District participated in the third annual Garland County READS event through the month of November. The kickoff event was held at the Hot Springs Farmers Market on October 30. Community leaders and superintendents from the Garland County school districts attended the event and read aloud to students and parents in attendance. The Jessieville School District purchased a copy of Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer for each K-6 student. Students read sections of the book each day and answered trivia questions pertaining to the readings. The purpose of the annual event is to help instill a love of reading in students and to encourage students and parents to read together daily.
Melissa Speers, Jessieville superintendent, reads to students and parents during Garland County READS event

Hanamaki, Japan Sister-City Exchange Visitors

Mrs. Mary Zunick, Hot Springs Sister City Program Director, brought the Hanamaki student delegation to visit Jessieville Middle and High Schools on October 30, 2018.

The Hot Springs-Hanamaki Sister City program was started in January 1993. Since that time, several Jessieville students and staff have had the incredible opportunity of sharing cultures with students from Japan.

During their visit to Jessieville, middle and high school students, Mrs. Pricop, and Mrs. Benson took the delegation on a tour of the school district campus, shared a lunch with them in the cafeteria, and attended classes with them.

The Hanamaki delegation, represented by Mr. Tsukasa Sugawara (Hanamaki Higashi High School), Mr. Hideki Endo (Yumoto Junior High School), Saori Endo (17), Rinka Yamada (16), Ryunosuke Yokota (13), Ayano Nakamura (14), Saya Kikuchi (14), Shuka Numata (13), Huzuki Ota (14), and Kosuke Takahashi (13), presented Jessieville School District Superintendent, Mrs. Melissa Speers, with some small gifts of origami, weaving, and fans. Jessieville students presented the Hanamaki students with gifts as well. Gift giving in Japan is a tradition for social occasions and out of respect and courtesy. Our students learned that it is the act of giving, rather than the gift itself, that is important. It is the thoughtfulness and presentation of a gift that makes it so special and valuable.

Submitted article

FACS Student Quilts

The Jessieville Family and Consumer Science program received AccuQuilt Studio Cutter equipment through Perkins funds this year. Students created rag quilts by utilizing this equipment to cut 12-inch blocks from three different fabrics. The blocks were then sewn together by the students using the sewing machines in the classroom.

Veteran's Day Program

On November 8th, the Jessieville third grade classes honored our veterans. The morning started with a breakfast for the veterans which was followed by a musical performance of patriotic songs. During the ceremony, Ethan Nussman was honored to present the local VFW with a wooden American flag that his father made especially for the program. At the conclusion of the ceremony, students gave their handwritten letters of thanks to the veterans.
Big picture

Former Jessieville Employee Honored in Home Town

Teresa Gentuso (also known as Mrs. Teresa) proudly served the students of Jessieville with a smile (and often a hug) for over fifteen years in her role as a paraprofessional. She loved working with Jessieville's students and was a bright spot in the lives of many students and staff. Mrs. Teresa passed away in May of 2018 after a valiant battle with cancer.

Mrs. Teresa grew up in Marysville, Kansas, and graduated from the local high school. In the spring of 2015, a plan was formed for Marysville to start honoring their city mascot - the black squirrel - with five-foot tall statues all over town as an attraction for tourists. The project started with 21 statues in October 2016. Thirteen new black squirrel statues were added in October of 2018 to bring the total to 34. One of the thirteen new squirrels honors the memory of Mrs. Teresa because of her love of the Black Squirrels on Parade Project and her great respect for nuns. "Sister Teresa" is holding a rosary and wearing white Converse tennis shoes.

It was a privilege to have known Mrs. Teresa and to see the lives that she touched.

Jessieville School District Purchases Mobile Hotspots

The Jessieville School District purchased two mobile hotspot units to be used while students are traveling to and from extracurricular events. These mobile hotspots will give students internet access to complete lessons and communicate with teachers when they must be off-campus due to school-sponsored events.

Elementary Pumpkin Decorating Contest

Jessieville Elementary School held their second annual pumpkin decorating contest in October. All classes in the school participated in the contest. Each class chose the theme for their pumpkin and brought supplies. The voting took place on the district Facebook page. The pumpkin with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd highest votes won! The classes received prizes for winning.

Middle and High School After-school Program Offerings

The Jessieville Middle and High School after school program will offer college courses to students AND parents next semester on the Jessieville School campus. Classes will be FREE for students and parents that meet the requirements for the class. The classes will begin on January 14 and end May 8, 2019.

Sociology will be offered on Monday nights from 5:00-8:00 pm. The entrance requirement is a Reading score on the ACT of 19 or the Accuplacer Reading score of 78. Mrs. Chris Benson and Mr. Cameron Hall, high school counselor, can administer the Accuplacer exam on the JHS campus if necessary.

English Composition II will be offered Tuesday nights from 5:00-8:00 pm. Individuals who want to take Composition II must complete the prerequisite of Composition I. This completion can be done by taking the course previously or successfully passing the AP exam. Proof of the successful completion of the prerequisite will have to be remitted to National Park College with the registration form. If the AP Exam results are being used, NPC will require an official AP transcript. However, for registration purposes, an unofficial transcript can be used.

If you have any questions concerning the courses you may contact Mrs. Chris Benson in the High School Counselor’s office at or 501-984-4011, or Mrs. Amanda Sarver, director of the after-school program, at or 501-984-5665.

The following classes are also being offered for parents:

  • Pinterest Projects on Monday from 5:30-6:30
  • 101 Home Repair on Thursday from 5:30-6:30

FFA Convention

The Jessieville FFA attended the National FFA Convention on October 23-27 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The group attended with Fountain Lake FFA and Perryville FFA. The students who attended were Raygan Hilton, Shelbie Lamb, Jayden Huchingson, Payne Dawson, Kelbie Hawes, and Artem Homan. Attending the national conference helps students to see the big picture of FFA. They had the opportunity to meet other FFA members from all over the country. They also attended workshops on leadership, public speaking, agricultural advocacy, and proper social media use. Students also had the opportunity to discuss their post-secondary plans at the large college, trade school, and career expo.

Students also had the opportunity to hear President Donald Trump speak to the group for over an hour. The last time a president spoke at the FFA Convention was in 1991 when President George H.W. Bush spoke.

FCCLA National Cluster Meeting

Four members of the Jessieville High School FCCLA attended the National Cluster Meeting in Louisville, KY, November 8 - 11 with sponsor Bonnie Utter. The emphasis of the conference was on leadership and personal growth. Attendees were exposed to and participated in various service opportunities and were challenged by two keynote speakers. The trip was fun, educational and a great bonding time for the students.

Thanksgiving Lunch Made Special By Cafeteria Staff

The cafeteria staff is the best! They went out of their way to have a Thanksgiving "candle light luncheon" for the students! The kids really enjoyed the meal and the ambiance.

Photos courtesy of Brenda MacKay.

Jessieville High School Named National Beta School of Distinction

National Beta is proud to announce Jessieville High School as a 2018-2019 National School of Distinction. This award is an honor for Beta Chapters striving towards academic achievement, exemplary character, demonstrated leadership and service to others. With an ongoing quest to instill these qualities in more students, the National Beta School of Distinction Award is designed to award those schools that show an increase in membership for the current school year.

Jessieville High School Beta sponsor, Liz Schiefer commented, "This growth award is exciting because it's not like we lowered our standards to let more students in. This sophomore class as a whole is exceptionally talented and motivated and so many of them qualified for induction into Beta Club that we won the award. The award reflects how special these students are and how hard they work."

Award recipients received a National Beta School of Distinction banner to proudly display as a symbol of their accomplishment. In addition, National Beta School of Distinction recipients will be publicized at the 2019 National Beta Convention in Oklahoma City, OK this June.

“This prestigious honor is a true indication of Jessieville High School’s dedication to academic excellence, leadership development and commitment to celebrating their student’s achievements,” said National Beta’s Chief Executive Officer, Bobby Hart.

About National Beta: National Beta is the largest independent, non-profit, educational youth organization in America. Since its beginnings in 1934, National Beta has been committed to providing students with a positive experience in a supportive manner in grades 4-12. The organization recognizes outstanding achievement, promotes character and social responsibility, encourages service involvement to school and community, and fosters leadership skills.

For more information about National Beta, visit

Submitted Article

HUB Holiday Spirit

Students in the Jessieville HUB program were in a festive holiday mood and used their creativity to decorate their classroom door for Christmas.

Region II All-Region Honor Band

On December 1, four Jessieville students qualified for the Region II All-Region Honor Band and will perform with the Region II Honor Band. The students are:

  • Megan Brown - 1st Band - 9th Chair - Flute
  • Ashley Gray - 3rd Alternate - Flute
  • Samantha Greer - 2nd Band - 21st Chair - Clarinet
  • John Canaan Taylor - 1st Band - 11th Chair - Trumpet

Congratulations to these Jessieville students!

Upcoming Events

Throughout the month of December - Victorian Carolers and Treble Makers will be performing in various venues

December 11 - Basketball games at Perryville High School

December 13 - Band Concert - 6:30 pm

December 14 - Basketball games at home versus Paris

December 15 - State Cheer Competition - Hot Springs - 8:00 am

December 15 - PeeWee Basketball at home - 9:00 am

December 15 - A Holiday to Remember choir concert - 6:30 pm

December 18 - Basketball games at Booneville

December 19 - 21 - Middle and High School Semester tests; early release of students at 12:45

December 22 - PeeWee Basketball at home - 9:00 am

December 27-29 Larry Ray Memorial Holiday Basketball Tournament - Arena

December 24 - January 4 - Christmas Break

Jessieville School District on Social Media

You can now follow the Jessieville School District on Twitter (@JessievilleD) and Instagram as well as Facebook and the JSD mobile app.