Westside Pride

April 2019

A Message From The Superintendent

To our Westside families and community,

I serve on the Future Ready Team organized by the Nebraska Department of Education. We are working to ensure that Nebraska’s students have access to technology and online learning. We understand that 70% of the jobs in 2030 have not yet been created. We know that artificial intelligence and algorithms will drive learning and work in the near future, if they are not already. From self-driving cars to reviewing medical scans, technology will impact our lives and create new jobs. Consequently, our students need to be prepared to work with technology as it continues to evolve.

This has been a very exciting week for educators throughout the state of Nebraska. Teachers and administrators gathered in Omaha for the Annual NETA Conference, the Nebraska Educational Technology Association. I am proud to say that District 66 is a leader in educational technology, as several of our staff members demonstrated this week.

District technology leaders such as Director of Professional Learning Dr. Greg Betts, teachers Dustin Carlson (Rockbrook) and Allison Pontious (Oakdale), librarians Deb Saetveit (WMS), Kelly Kenny (Hillside) and Alex Essen (Prairie Lane), and Personalized Learning Collaborator Andrew Easton were among the presenters at this conference, attended by hundreds. Educators exchanged ideas on everything from using Apple classroom apps to engage students to personalizing learning through technology to enhance and redefine the learning experience for students.

The learning of our staff doesn’t stop once the bell rings at the end of the day or when the school year ends. Many of our teachers, administrators, and educational professionals attend conferences like this, pursuing their own degrees or certifications, and they are participating in online networking opportunities to help colleagues across the country.

When I begin my tenure with Westside Community Schools seven years ago, I promised the BOE that we would become a learning organization. An organization that is generative and constantly learning; not a reactive organization stuck in the past or afraid to innovate.

This is exactly what I had hoped to see from Westside staff members; that they are lifelong learners, improving themselves and, therefore, improving the teaching they provide to our students. Teachers like Westside High School’s Michael Fryda, who comes to school each day with thoughts like ‘Improve the message you send to students about their value with two simple responses: "What do you think?" and "Tell us more!"’

Small reminders like that reinforce our philosophy of getting to know students as people first, and learners next. We are teaching the whole person, and molding good human beings and citizens ready for life, not just more school.

We are constantly designing and reevaluating how we teach in our schools. Albert Einstein once said, ‘a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new’. We’ve all made mistakes, but we are confident that in thinking creatively and constantly evolving how we learn and teach, we will see greatness in our results and, most importantly, through our students.

I applaud all of our educators who continue to push themselves in the pursuit of knowledge. And I hope all of you, our staff members and students alike, are refreshed from Spring Break and ready for our final quarter of learning and growth in our schools.

Yours in education,

Blane McCann


District Highlights Outstanding Speakers

CONGRATULATIONS to Westside 6th grade District speech contest winners:
1st Place: Elaina Kratky, Prairie Lane
2nd Place: Marina Drelicharz, Oakdale
3rd Place: Joseph Simon, Paddock Road

Each elementary school sent a representative to the District competition, a speaker who had to win at the building level first. All were terrific!

Paddock Road Sets Reading Record

The Paddock Road Community Club organized a Read-a-Thon fundraiser, inspiring students to read a record-breaking 146,822 minutes! A top reader was announced for each grade level, many classrooms were awarded $50 to spend, and the entire school won a snowball fight! Great job, Pandas!

WMS Dancer Represents Nebraska

Westside Middle School 7th grader Claire White qualified for the Irish Dance World Championships being held in Greensboro, North Carolina April 14-21! Claire is the only dancer at any age level from Nebraska that qualified for this world competition, in only the third global event held in the United States. Claire dances for Dowds Irish Dance Academy. Congratulations and good luck, Claire!
Click here to read more!

This month, Westside students and staff earned District, State and Regional honors in academics, athletics, and activities. Click here to learn more.


Westside DECA Dominates at State, Heading To Nationals

Congratulations to the students who participate in Westside High School DECA - dozens of whom have qualified for national competition with top finishes at the Nebraska state competition! The team is now raising money to compete at national competition in Orlando, Florida. Can you help? CLICK HERE to support to the team trip.

3rd Grader Wows Crowd During Musical

We are so proud of Landon, a 3rd grade student at Rockbrook Elementary. Landon, who is on the autism spectrum, auditioned for and earned a solo in the school musical this semester. He stole the show! Thanks to the dedication and love from Landon's teachers Sarah Davenport and Nolan Pribnow, Landon proudly said after his performance 'he was officially a superstar!' From a staff member: 'the pride on that child’s face radiated out to those around him. His family was in tears. What an incredible opportunity for ALL to see what this kid is capable of. It takes my breath away.'

THIS is Westside. Ensuring excellence to serve the unique needs of ALL learners.

April Construction Updates

Click here to learn more about construction progress at Swanson, Prairie Lane, Westside High and Westbrook as part of the 2015 Facilities Master Plan, and private projects.

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3/30 Otte-Blair Middle School Honor Band Festival

3/30 WHS Track & Field Invitational

4/2 Pre-ACT & ACT Testing Grades 10 & 11; NO SCHOOL Grades 9 & 12

4/2 Prairie Lane Community Information Session, 6:00pm

4/2 Westside Vocal Music Festival, 7:00-9:00pm @ WHS

4/4 Paddock Road Pizza & Bingo Night, 6:00pm @ WMS

4/4 Oakdale Science Fair, 6:00pm

4/9 Bond Oversight Committee Meeting, 6:00pm @ ABC

4/9 District Music Contest Concert, 7:30pm @ WHS

4/10-4/13 District Music Contest

4/11 District Art Fair, 5:30pm @ Ramada Plaza by Wyndham

4/11-4/13 WMS Musical: 'Annie', 7:00pm each night @ WMS

4/11 OD & RB STEAM Night, 6:00pm @ Oakdale

4/11 Prairie Lane Kindergarten Parent Meeting, 6:00pm

4/12 Rockbrook Grandfriends Day

4/12 HS STEAM Night, 6:00pm

4/15 Board of Education meeting, 6:30pm @ ABC

4/16 Swanson 3-4 Grade Musical, 7pm @ WMS

4/18 Westbrook Kindergarten Musical, 2:45pm

4/18 Sunset Hills Talent Show, 6:00pm

4/18 Loveland Kindergarten Parent Meeting, 6:30pm


4/22 PR & SW Kindergarten Parent Meetings, 6:00pm

4/23 WHS Journalism State Championships

4/23 WHS National Honor Society Induction Ceremony, 3:30pm

4/23 RB & WG Kindergarten Parent Meetings, 6:00pm

4/23 Paddock Road K-2 Grade Music Concert 7:00pm @ WMS

4/24 WMS National Junior Honor Society Induction Ceremony, 3:30pm @ WMS

4/24 WHS Scholar Athlete Banquet, 6:30pm @ UNO Scott Conference Center

4/24-4/28 WHS Spring Musical: 'Get Smart'

4/25 Paddock Road Art Show, 5:30pm

4/25 HS & WB Kindergarten Parent Meetings, 6:00pm

4/25 Oakdale K-2 Music Program, 7:00pm @ WMS

4/26 Sunset Hills Kindergarten Round-up

4/26 Westgate School Carnival, 6:00pm

4/26-4/27 Loveland presents Disney's Aladdin Kids

4/29-5/2 WHS District Soccer Tournament

4/29 Board of Education meeting, 6:30pm @ ABC

4/30 Metro Track & Field Meet, 3:30pm @ WHS

4/30 Mentor Recognition Reception, 4:30pm @ ABC

4/30 SH & OD Kindergarten Parent Meetings, 6:00pm

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Vaping: An Emerging Epidemic

Vaping is a concerning trend in schools across the country. Our thanks to our friends at Grand Island Public Schools for producing this informational video. We encourage you to watch this to learn more, and talk to your children about the risks and dangers.
Boundary Engagement Process

Families affected by boundary changes have been contacted individually about transportation options, In-District transfer options and more. The Westside Welcome Center is open for questions during business hours at 402-390-2100.

Creighton Organizes Earth Week Contest

Do you have creative students in grades K-12 who also have an interest in science and helping the environment? If so, please encourage them to participate in the Chemists Celebrate Earth Week illustrated poem contest sponsored by the American Chemical Society (ACS). This contest is a great way to engage K-12 students in this year’s paper chemistry theme. Please see the attached flyer and entry form for more details. Winners of each grade category will receive a Periodic Table of Moles poster! To enter, download the contest flyer and entry form below and email Erin Gross, Professor of Chemistry at Creighton University, at ErinGross@creighton.edu
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