Garretson Blue Dragon Tales

February 2023

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Superintendent's News by Mr. Guy Johnson

School Board Passes Resolution to Opt Out and Hold an Election.

At a special meeting on January 25th, the school board passed a resolution to opt out of the tax limitations for the general fund and put the issue before the voters in an election to be held March 21, 2023. Our intent over the next two months is to do our best to ensure that our public has clear, factual information regarding the school’s finances, what steps have been taken to reduce our expenses and why this opt out is important for not only our school, but also our community. We will be putting out information to the public via our website and social media and also hosting an informational meeting to present information, but also allow the public to ask questions to ensure that folks have accurate information.

We want the community to speak through their votes regarding the opt out. The law does not require the board to hold an election, but our school board has made it clear that this is an issue that should be considered by the entire school community. Both the board and administration understand that asking the public for additional tax dollars to fund school programming is no small thing. That is part of the reason we want to be as open and honest about the school’s finances as possible. If you have questions, please ask us. We will be happy to answer them.

We have prepared a document that will answer many of your questions and hope you will take the opportunity to read it to find out more about why this opt out is necessary to preserve our educational programming at the school. It was presented to the board at the January 25th special meeting. A link to the document can be found here:

If, after reading the document, you have questions, please call the school office at (605)594-3451, and I will do my best to provide you with the information you are looking for.

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from Mr. Chris McGregor, MS/HS Principal

Happy 2023! The new year is here, and I wanted to share a story that you probably have heard before. It is a good message about the need to be kind and really makes you think about how important it is to choose your words carefully. We can all stand to be reminded of this from time to time. Let’s choose kindness and make 2023 a great year.


There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, 'You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry, the wound is still there. ‘A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. Friends are very rare jewels, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share words of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us.'

-Author Unknown

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Little Dragon Corner by Mrs. Katie Hoekman, Elementary Principal

We have one more new face in our elementary this year to introduce. Mrs. Amanda Nelson is teaching kindergarten this year. Mrs. Nelson is in her 4th year of teaching kindergarten and first year in Garretson. The Garretson community has been her home for several years and the place she plans to raise her own children. She wanted to come back home to teach in the same place where she can watch the children of this community learn and grow for years to come! She also substitute taught in Garretson many years ago. Everyone has been incredibly kind and welcoming! She knew this would continue to be true when she returned. She is so grateful to be back home. Her favorite part of being apart of the Garretson School is her students and their families, the encouragement, commitment, and collaboration with other teachers, and the sense of pride for the Blue Dragons! Mrs. Nelson is looking forward to making meaningful lifelong connections with my students and their families.

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I feel it is important to reiterate the importance of attendance of students in school. Just as important as it is for your child to be in school, it is important they are getting the right amount of sleep and good nutrition to help them through the school day. Below you will find a resource that shows the importance of student attendance in school.

Attendance LINK


The state of South Dakota has a couple amazing resources for extra help for students and families I wanted to share with you.

Also, Please see the attached document from The SD Statewide Family Engagement Center regarding an available stipend for an Early Literacy course completion.

Feel free to contact Darbi Hunt at or 605-641-6382 with questions.

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Tech Tips with Mr. Matt Schrank, PK-12 Tech Coordinator


If you are someone who forgot we have a School App, or just haven’t had a reason to use it, then I am going to ask that you go get the Garretson App downloaded again on your phone because of a new feature. The new feature is called Rooms. This is similar to other software, websites, or apps you have used in the past. It is done through our website and app provider Apptegy. We are going to a new way of communicating and sharing classroom information to hopefully make it more of a 1 stop shop for parents and guardians. Many of you might be connected to your teachers “SeeSaw” classroom, or a Class Dojo. This is going to be very similar to that, but again hopefully a lot easier and through the Garretson School App! Just go to your app store on your phone, and search Garretson School and click the blue icon with the white dragon. Then there will be an option to click rooms and put in your information. Within rooms you will see each of your child’s classes and be able to checkout pictures that teachers post from activities, and receive messages that are sent from the teacher to the whole class, or to you personally. We really hope that Rooms creates a more connected environment between our parents and guardians and our classroom teachers!

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February Calendar Link

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From the Desk of the Activities Director, Kevin Steckler

Participation in High School Athletics Has Long-Lasting Benefits

High school athletic programs have been studied for more than a century. Early studies focused on how athletics help create an identity and generated pride for participants and community members. These studies evolved to explain how participation brought about improvements in physical health, stress management and academics. Today there are numerous studies that focus on all types of participation benefits, but what sometimes goes unappreciated is the impact that high school athletics has on students after they graduate.

Participating in high school athletics has long-lasting benefits, especially when athletic leaders create an environment that challenges and rewards the growth mindset. When participants are supported in this way, they develop lifelong habits that last beyond high school.

Three off the most important participation takeaways that students continue to practice after graduation are: 1. Building Relationships Through Team; 2. Understanding Limitations and How to Push Past Them; 3. Foundations of Fitness

Last month I discussed Building Relationships Through Team

*This Month…Part 2

Understanding Limitations and How to Push Past Them

Being part of an athletic team also allows students to expand their understanding of themselves and others. At the beginning of the season, students may not clearly understand how their participation will affect themselves and their teammates.

In learning to understand their own personal limitations athletes discover how their own choices affect them and their teams. It is this experience that allows them to gain a better understanding of themselves, sacrifices they need to make to achieve a common goal or help they can offer to teammates, and what individual ways they can change and hold themselves accountable. The situations that athletes experience allows them to have a more realistic understanding of how they can set goals and what they can achieve as they move forward collegiately or in the real world.

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Breakfast/Lunch Menus Link

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Children with Disabilities by Mrs. Kayli Coburn, MS SPED teacher/PK-12 SPED Director

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6-12 School Counselor Connections: Making wellness a priority in school is a great way to set students up for success in college and beyond! · By Michelle Pliska

Are you ready to move towards a healthier lifestyle? Garretson School Counseling Department is encouraging its students in grades 6-12 to do just that with their new wellness campaign. Thanks to a grant from the SD Department of Health and their initiative to provide better health for all South Dakotans by addressing health equity and cultural competency, the Garretson School Counseling Department has implemented a Wellness Campaign for students in grades 6-12 for the Spring 2023 semester.

This program is aimed at teaching students crucial skills that will cultivate resilience and inner strength. In addition to physical fitness, we recognize the importance of mental health in order for our students to be successful academically.

Garretson School Counseling Department is providing various educational resources for their 6-12 students to learn more about all aspects of wellness – emotional wellness, creative expression, physical wellness, mindfulness, and resiliency. The goal of this wellness program is to empower every student in the community by fostering a culture of wellbeing through healthy habits.

You can't pour from an empty cup. Fill up on self-care and emotional wellness today! #selflove Take time off, practice mindfulness, and connect with yourself. Make it a priority to journal, meditate and do something that brings you joy. Take yourself out on a date; go for a walk in nature or watch your favorite movie. Practice self-compassion and be gentle with yourself. Reach out to others when you need support and remember to take care of yourself. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and it deserves the same level of attention and care. Invest in yourself today; your future self will thank you for it!

Highlights and benefits of Garretson School Counseling Department’s Grade 6-12 Spring 2023 Wellness Campaign include:

* All School assembly with the Tour of Kindness.

* Kick off with a sledding party was held on January 11, 2023.

* The cold winter chill of SD air enveloped the Garretson Athletic Complex in hills of snow for a perfect way to kick off the Spring semester – a sledding party!

* Wellness Wednesday Activities:

* MLK Day of Service January 18, 2023 – Students made dog treats to donate to the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society. Book and make-up drives were started as well. Giving generously lowers your blood pressure, lowers stress levels, lessens anxiety and depression, and increases self-esteem!

* Organized activities to get students moving and unplugging. These activities include outdoor activities such as the sledding party, yoga in the park, fun indoor exercises that are inclusive to all students of abilities like bocce ball, 9 Square in the Air, as well as team-building games.

* Guest speakers on all aspects of wellness are planned for classroom presentations and Lunch and Learn sessions.

* February 1 & 18, 2023: Hurdle Life Coach will share their knowledge about resiliency and creative expression.

* February 22, 2023: Poetry Outloud will share teach us how to use poetry for self expression.

* April 19, 2023: Wes Eisenhauer from Kick Turn Studios will share his knowledge about audio and visual technology and creating positive hip hop.

* SDSU Extension office will present on a variety of topics, including Financial Wellness, Sleep Hygiene, Positive Thinking and Mindfulness.

* David Jal with Khor Wakow Project will share his book “David’s Journey” and his story of resiliency.

* Cassie Nagel with Children’s Home Society will share her knowledge about relationship wellness, resiliency, and prevention of sexual exploitation.

* SD Army National Guard will share lessons on resiliency and physical wellness.

* Creation of a Mindfulness Space in the Garretson School Counseling Department for staff and students to utilize.

* Creation of a lending library of tools to be used for play therapy and creative expression that can be accessed by school counselors and visiting professionals to enhance their work.

* Provide hygiene products in school restrooms and locker rooms. According to “Aunt Flow” organization providing period products increases school attendance. When basic needs are met, students are able to focus and learn better. Commonly asked for hygiene items include tampons, sanitary pads, chapstick, laundry soap, shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Hygiene products, mindfulness space and lending library resources for counselors will be available starting Monday January 23, 2023 at no cost to students and staff.

About Garretson School Counseling Department: In the Garretson School District and within the School Counseling Department, we believe that investing in our students’ health is essential to their educational success – not only in terms of their academic performance but also their overall wellness. We hope that this wellness campaign will provide them with the tools they need to lead meaningful lives both during and after school. We want our students to be healthy and active members of their community, so we’re equipping them with education and resources to help achieve their goals.

We know that physical activity, meaningful connections, and creative expression can improve mental health and academic performance, as well as reducing stress. Our vision is for all students to graduate prepared for college and career, with the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain their health and well-being.

Garretson Administration and School Board


Mr. Guy Johnson, Superintendent

Mr. Chris McGregor, MS/HS Principal

Mrs. Katie Hoekman, Elem. Principal

Mr. Jacob Schweitzer, Business Manager

Mr. Matt Schrank, Technology Administrator

Mrs. Kayli Coburn, SPED Director

School Board Members

Mr. Shannon Nordstrom, President

Mrs. Kari Flanagan, Vice President

Mrs. Tana Clark

Mrs. Jodi Gloe

Mr. Andy Hulscher

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