Four sixth graders at Lincoln Elementary School talked about the All Stars program Tuesday when the Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education hosted a luncheon meeting at the school. Lincoln Principal Misty Straub asked the students, along with two staff members, to talk about how the school connects with the community.
The programs aren’t unique to Lincoln School. All Stars, sponsored by Juvenile Services, is offered to all sixth graders in the district.
“It encompasses some skills and strategies that kids will need as they grow into adolescence and move on to middle school,” Straub said. “Mr. (Jose) Arias, our Student and Family Advocate, is here to share with you about the program and we have our four sixth-grade representatives here that will share their experiences with All Stars and their engagement with the community.” The other piece Straub chose to highlight was the Unity program managed by Family Engagement Coordinator Kylynn Keeler.
The parents of sixth graders Ethan, Kayden, Kieyerra and Connor were also invited to watch their students address the school board. Ethan said he’s learning leadership and how to be a good role model.
Kayden talked about his participation in last Saturday’s Youth Crew Kickball Tournament. Before All Stars, he said he probably would have been too shy to meet other students and join a team.
“I’ve learned about confidence in All Stars,” he said. He didn’t think he was good at kickball but didn’t let that keep him from trying. Ten minutes later, he was having fun. “I think we should keep using this program All Stars as well as community activities that allow me to get involved.”
“All Stars is a program that will help us prepare for Middle School,” Kieyerra said. She said the program has prompted her to think about the future and what she wants that future to be.
One project they did was to create a crest that represents who they are and choose a quote to go at the bottom. “My faith is a big part of who I am,” she said. Her favorite quote is, “I can do all things.”
Conner said he also learned that his choices now will affect his future. “I want to be an architect, game developer and YouTuber.” To meet those goals, he said he’s learned some things he doesn’t want in his future, including “addition, discrimination and many other traits. All Stars is an amazing program and I think we should keep it.”
Arias said the program prepares sixth graders to go on to middle school and high school, “with good preventive measures against substance abuse, premature sexual activity, bullying, fighting and delinquency.” Sixth graders will graduate from the program at the end of April and will receive a certificate. They’ll also take a field trip to Great Bend Middle School before the semester is over.
The Youth Crew’s first annual kickball tournament was open to students in grades 6-12, he added.
"Lincoln had two teams show up and did an amazing job.”
The Unity Program at Lincoln and other USD 428 schools is similar to the LIFE Program that was previously funded by Kansas Reading Roadmap. “This is a home-grown model in our community,” Keeler said.
At Lincoln, five families participated in weekly meetings that included sharing a meal. Then the students would join helpers from the Barton Community College baseball team while the parents talked about things that are going on in the school and in the community. This was a time for working on strategies for moving forward.
“And then we’d always have an educational piece,” Keeler said. Students were given books to keep, played math games and conducted science experiments.
“Overall, the program was a huge success.”
In action items, the school board:
• Chose the firm McCownGordon as the district’s Construction Manager at Risk. Assistant Superintendent John Popp said a CMAR selection committee narrowed the list to three prospective candidates and then committee members scored the candidates independently. This group will represent the district as it makes plans for the future Maintenance, Transportation, Custodial and Food Service complex at the property at 625 E. 10th St.
• Approved a quote for aluminum bleachers from Heartland Seating, based in Shawnee, for $48,639. Superintendent Khris Thexton said these replace bleachers at Great Bend High School that were damaged in the wind storm on Dec. 15, 2021. The district has submitted a claim with insurance for reimbursement but is also upgrading the bleachers to provide better seating for people who use wheelchairs and more space.
• Approved the appointments of Wendy Sundahl, school counselor at Great Bend Middle School, and Kara Schridde, speech language pathologist for Barton County Special Services.
• Approved contributions from the GBMS Booster Club and from Isern Carpenter Law Firm. The booster club donated $1,000 to the Student Pride Prize Fund, $100 to the Family Engagement Coordinator Unity Group Prize Fund, and $879.99 to purchase a training soccer goal. The law firm donated $250 for staff recognition.
• Met in executive session for 20 minutes to discuss an individual employee’s performance pursuant to the non-elected personnel exception to the Kansas Open Meetings Act.