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Go Jets: Jefferson students report to school board
Sixth-grade girls prepare to sing “Cowboy Take Me Away” for the school board. - photo by photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

The Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education accepted grants and donations totaling nearly $30,000 when it held a luncheon meeting Thursday at Jefferson Elementary School. The building report from Principal Adam Niedens and staff featured "Jefferson Jets" from every grade.

Grants approved Thursday included $25,000 from the Patterson Family Foundation to offset expenses incurred due to the pandemic. Superintendent Khris Thexton said the district received $25,000 from the foundation last year and this year he applied for another $16,000 to purchase vision scanners for nurses to use at each of the schools. 

Because the grant exceeded the amount requested, the additional $9,000 will be used to buy equipment for the nurses “or anything along those lines,” Thexton said.

The Patterson Family Foundation is a family-led foundation based in Kansas City, Mo., extending the legacy of Neal and Jeanne Patterson.

The district also received a Central Kansas Library System (CKLS) Kansas Book Festival Award valued up to $3,500 for books and technology at Great Bend Middle School. GBMS Librarian Holly Tittle applied for the grant from CKLS, which is based in Great Bend.

Finally, Eisenhower Elementary and Riley Elementary each received $500 Reward Incentives from Wheatland Electric for participation in the Wheatland Cram the Van event that raised donations for the Community Food Bank of Barton County.

Students’ building report

Student Gracie Hoff welcomed the board and then students from each grade in the building shared something they’ve been learning. That portion of the meeting started with sixth-grade girls singing “Cowboy Take Me Away.” The music teacher is Cassidy Childs.

Other featured students:

(Some students are identified only by their first names.)

• Fifth-grader Holly Ann Luttrell talked about Math Enrichment. Students had their choice of three projects. Holly Ann chose to look up each planet’s distance from the Sun in our solar system.

• Fourth-graders Brenna, Steel and Payton read haiku poems they’ve written and Payton shared her short essay, “What I’m Thankful For (Shelter, School and Family).”

• Third-graders Emery Brunswig and Hattie Baxter talked about their research projects on famous landmarks. Each made short videos that can be viewed online. Emery’s report on the Little Big Horn Battlefield can be seen at and Hattie’s report on the Lincoln Memorial can be seen at

• Second graders Brock Bauer and Lena Elzaki talked about the Good Things morning meeting at their school. This might include something fun, as Brock demonstrated by sharing a riddle: What vegetable was hiding in the basement on Thanksgiving? Celery (cellar-y). 

• First graders Beckam Gant, Kolbie Thexton and Kamri Peters shared the affirmations that students recite at the beginning of each day as part of the Capturing Kids Hearts initiative being implemented district-wide. It starts with “I am honest” and wraps up with “I am unique, I am not afraid to fail, and I am determined.”

• Kindergartners Mila, Wesley, Sterling, Brody, Emma and Macey showed how they are learning the alphabet with “flashlight writing.” School board members were all given tiny flashlights that can be strapped to a finger and were invited to draw the letters of the alphabet when they came up on a screen.

• Sixth-graders Vianney Rodriguez and Callie Umphres wrapped up the students’ portion of the program by sharing some of the highlights of the sixth grade so far. Among them was a social studies class where they mummified apples using vinegar and other ingredients. In that chapter they also learned about mummies and Egyptian hieroglyphics.

They’ve also looked at the best method for washing hands to kill germs, written biographies and opinion papers, and enjoined joining the orchestra.