Westside Pride

February 2019

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A Message From The Superintendent

To the Westside Schools Community,

Love is a powerful word. By definition, it means: an intense feeling of deep affection. So when I say, tweet, or write about my love of Nebraska’s public schools, I hope whoever sees or hears it understands the passion behind my words. To me, public education is the foundation of our society and democracy.

On January 23, 2019, tens of thousands professed their love as well, proudly sharing #ILovePublicSchools on shirts, on social media, in classrooms and in our communities. It’s no longer simply understood or even accepted that public education is a good thing. We know parents and children have a choice on where and how they want to be taught. We realize and agree that every tax dollar we spend is (and should be) scrutinized to ensure we are best using all resources provided to our schools. But we also hope to prove that investment is being well spent to fuel the minds and hearts of all of our learners.

Mary Morris, a 3rd grade teacher at Westgate Elementary, tweeted: “as a daughter of immigrant parents, I have a different perspective on public schools. It prepared me to become an educator myself and teach in the same school I went to!” Mrs. Morris is now one of our beloved educators here at Westside, named a Teacher of the Month last school year. She sees the beauty in every single child that comes into her life; today, they may be reading their first chapter book together, and tomorrow, that same learner may be opening their first business here in Omaha. No matter their background, no matter their home or their circumstances, children come to us with untapped potential, and we as public schools have the power to unleash that into our communities and our world.

Examples of the impact of public education are all around us. Andrew Liakos, co-founder of Proxibid and 1994 Westside graduate; Brian Halla, 1964 graduate who helped create the Sony Playstation; Matt & Scott Egermayer, owners of Lighthouse Pizza, who used to eat cafeteria pizza at Loveland Elementary. These are real stories of the learners educated in our public schools who are now finding success as adults.

No matter how you define the success of a society, whether it be through economic growth, measures of emotional happiness, or people of different backgrounds and beliefs finding that they have far more in common than they thought, the power of public education is all around us. Movements like #ILovePublicSchools remind everyone that, whether you are a Westside Warrior, a Gering Bulldog or a Kearney Bearcat, we all have one, united mission: to provide every child in our state the tools and support they need to find success; to help them know their strengths and talents; and to show them that they can help create a better world for all of us.

I encourage you to help us tell our story, and to join us to not just support, but to truly love our schools.


Chase Thompson, Westside High School

Congratulations to Westside senior Chase Thompson on his career 1,000 points, a record he hit in January! Westside Boys Basketball was ranked #5 in the latest state Class A standings by the Omaha World Herald!

Congratulations as well to Westside Girls Basketball, 1st Runner Up in the Metro Tournament and ranked #8 in the latest Class A standings!

Photo courtesy Yamilett Ramirez for Westside Journalism

Louder Than A Bomb Poetry Team, Westside High School

Five Westside High School students and one Westside Middle School student were selected to perform at the first 'Living The Dream' High School music, dance and poetry competition. ZamZam Farah (Poetry/Spoken Word), Adam Kamal Eddine (Poetry/Spoken Word), Anne Devries (Vocal Music), Mohamed Adam (Poetry/Spoken Word) and Sakari Chatmon (Poetry/Spoken Word) competed alongside students from across the Omaha metro area at the Holland Performing Arts Center on January 21. 8th grade student Julia Wuestewald was not eligible to compete due to her age, but was named guest poet of the event and shared her poem 'Dysphoria.'

Westside Connection, Westside Middle School

Westside Middle School's Westside Connection won 1st place at the Millard West competition in January and swept caption awards for Best Vocals and Best Choreography! 11 WMS vocal music students were also selected for Nebraska Honor Choir including Ava Dembowski, Meg Parsonage, Maddy Andrysik, Lilly Johnson, Josie Bartek, Sammy Gillotte, Ainsley Meyerson, Aaron Cardinale, Evan Wedergren, Jack Meehan and Kaden Guzman.

Mrs. Lindsey Jagels, Sunset Hills

Congratulations to Mrs. Lindsey Jagels, 6th grade teacher at Sunset Hills Elementary, named a Star 104.5 Teacher of the Week! The Chris and Terri radio show surprised Mrs. Jagels at school Thursday to honor her and her class!
Click here to read more!

Learn more about the Westside students and staff recognized this month throughout our schools, community, and beyond!


Westside's Next Superintendent: Dr. Mike Lucas

On January 21, the Westside Board of Education voted unanimously to select Dr. Mike Lucas as the next Superintendent of the District. Dr. Lucas is currently the Superintendent of York Public Schools in York, Nebraska. He will officially start work with the District later this summer when Dr. Blane McCann begins his retirement.

The following is a message from Dr. Lucas to the Westside community.

"I am extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity to join the Westside Community Schools Team this summer as your next Superintendent of Schools. I am completing my 25th year as a professional educator, having served as a 3rd grade teacher, high school basketball coach, high school football coach, K-6 principal, Migrant Education Director, 9-12 principal, and Superintendent.

Westside is such an amazing school district with a rich history and proud traditions. Back in the 1940's, Westside Community Schools was founded on the pillars of innovation, excellence, and community and we will continue to embrace those ideals as we build for a bright future. Thank you for your commitment to this amazing school district. Enjoy the rest of this school year and I look forward to getting to know you in the coming months."

School Board Appreciation Week

Please help us thank our Westside Board of Education representatives for their dedication to our students, staff and schools! Click here to find out more!


Will the Government Shutdown Affect My Child?

A message from Erin Vik, Director of Nutrition Services

Many of you closely followed the government shutdown and how it might have affected your family and our schools. Nutrition Services monitored the situation throughout as our department receives federal support for multiple programs. For instance, approximately 37% of our learners qualify for free or reduced meals, a program funded through federal resources. Throughout the shutdown Westside Nutrition Services received all expected reimbursement for school meals. Furthermore, if the shutdown would have continued, federal funding was sufficient through March and Nutrition Services reserve funding would have ensured all student meals at the existing level through the remainder of the school year.

While the shutdown was a specific time of focus, Westside Community Schools would like to remind all of other resources that are available year round. We encourage parents who may be facing financial shortfalls at home to consider our Westside Food Pantry and Westside Clothing Closet. These facilities are open to all, no questions asked, to help you make ends meet when challenges arise. Both are stocked through donations, and if you are able, we humbly ask you to consider helping us continue to support our families and students. For hours and information on accessing these resources, please talk to your school counselor.

Our goal always in times like this is that we make it through without any child experiencing a change in their day-to-day. We thank you for your help!

Boundary Engagement Process

Dr. McCann will present his recommendations regarding elementary school boundary changes at the February 4, 2019 Board of Education meeting. Click this button for details and updates.

Gallup Parent/Child Nights

All Westside 6th grade students have had the opportunity to take the Gallup Strengths Explorer tool during first semester. We have encouraged parents to discuss their child's three top strengths as a family, to learn more about what their children are sharing about this experience at school.

All of these students and their parents are invited to an interactive evening to further explore this tool and each child's strengths. A Gallup representative will facilitate this event, and parents will receive their child’s full report along with a Parent Playbook. Families can enjoy discussing the report together. If a child is unable to attend, parents are welcome to come on their own.

The Gallup Parent/Child Nights will be held from 6:00 to 7:00 in the Westside Middle School cafeteria. Parents, please contact your child’s school counselor if you have any questions. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 7th: Hillside, Sunset Hills, Swanson, Oakdale and Westbrook

Monday, February 11th: Rockbrook, Paddock Road, Prairie Lane, Loveland and Westgate

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Nominate a Westside Teacher of the Month!

This year we are once again recognizing a Westside educator every month with a $100 check thanks to PinPoint Home Sales Group with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Ambassador Real Estate. Simply click this link to submit a nomination!

Hillside Slashes Trashload With Composting

This semester, Hillside Elementary partnered with Hillside Solutions to begin a new composting program! Every day at lunch, students are encouraged to sort out what's left of their meal to promote more sustainable habits. In just one week, Hillside students cut trash bag use in half, composted 676 pounds of material, and they are just 11% away from having a 'zero waste lunch'! We are proud of you, Hillside!

Check out more in this great story from WOWT.

Westside Wrestling in the Spotlight!



2/2 WHS Basketball vs. Lincoln Southeast, 3:30/5:15 @ WHS

2/4 Board of Education meeting, 6:30pm @ ABC

2/4 Swanson 1-2 Grade Music Concert, 6:30pm @ WMS

2/5 WHS Orchestra Concert, 7:00pm @ WHS

2/7-2/9 WHS Swim & Dive Metro Tournament

2/7 Gallup Parent/Child Night, 6:30pm @ WMS

2/7 Westgate 2-3 Grade Vocal Music Concert, 7:00pm @ WMS

2/8 WHS Basketball vs. Papillion-La Vista with Sparkles performance, 5:30/7:15 @ WHS

2/8 Oakdale Lancers Family Night, 6:30pm @ Ralston Arena

2/9 National ACT Testing Date

2/9 WHS Wrestling District Tournament

2/9 WHS Baseball Spaghetti Fundraiser, 6:30 @ Mary Our Queen Church

2/9 Rockbrook Parents Night Out, 7:00pm

2/11 Gallup Parent/Child Night, 6:30pm @ WMS

2/12 Bond Oversight Committee meeting, 6:00pm @ ABC

2/12 6th Grade Strings Solos & Ensemble Concert, 7:00pm @ WMS

2/13 WMS PBiS Talent Show, 2:45pm

2/14-2/16 WHS Wrestling State Tournament @ CHI Health Center

2/14 Valentine's Day parties at LL, PR, PL, RB, SW, SH, WG

2/15 WHS NSIAAA/NCA Cheer & Dance Competition

2/15 Oakdale Valentine's Day parties

2/15 Swanson Variety Show, 6:00pm @ WMS

2/18 NO SCHOOL - Professional Learning

2/18 Board of Education meeting, 6:30pm @ ABC

2/19 Westside Choral Clinic Concert, 7:00pm @ WHS

2/21-2/23 WHS Swim & Dive State Tournament

2/21 Prairie Lane 1-3 Grade Music Program, 6:30pm @ PL

2/21 Westside Band Clinic Concert, 7:00pm @ WHS

2/22 Hillside School Dance, 6:00pm

2/22 Sunset Hills Art Night, 6:00pm

2/23 WMS Battle of the Show Choirs

2/23 WHS Winter Dance/Battle of the Bands

2/25 WHS Start of Spring Practices

2/25 Hillside 1-2 Grade Musical, 7:00pm @ HS

2/26 WMS 8th Grade Band/Chorus/Strings Concert, 7:00pm

2/28-3/2 WHS Girls Basketball State Tournament

3/1 Westgate Dr. Seuss Breakfast, 8:00am

3/1 Prairie Lane Speech Contest, 9:30am

3/1 Prairie Lane Read-A-Thon Kick-Off Event, 6:30pm

3/1 Westbrook Bingo Night, 6:30pm

3/1 WHS International Thespian Society Induction, 7:00pm

3/1 Oakdale Talent Show, 7:00pm @ WMS

Unified Hockey Day

What Are Unified Activities?

The Special Olympics Unified Schools Program is a fast­ growing initiative that brings students with and without intellectual disabilities together. This year we are excited to bring a Unified Floor Hockey opportunity to our schools.

Westside Community Schools is excited to offer our fourth Unified Activity this year.

Where: Sunset Hills Elementary 9503 Walnut St, Omaha, NE 68124

When: Saturday, February 9th at 11:00am

What: Come enjoy a variety of hockey activities. You can try shooting, dress like a goalie, play tabletop hockey, play a game of floor hockey, or do a craft.

RSVP Needed for Participation

If you and your child(ren) are interested in participating, please download the following linked informational flyer to learn more and to let us know if you are planning to attend.

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