Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Nebraskans who believe that public schools could be far more cost-effective, avoiding multi-million dollar bond issues and still providing top-quality education, should take heart from a huge development out of Katy, Texas, near Houston:

Voters turned down a proposed $261.5 million bond issue earlier this month after a small group of citizens waged a campaign to educate voters on how the district has been spending the big bucks already entrusted to it, and how taking on additional debt would actually decrease funds for instruction, rather than enhancing classroom revenues. Apparently, voters agreed that better management was the answer, not more dough, with a margin of victory of more than 10%.

According to education activist
www.peytonwolcott.com, it is highly unusual for a bond issue to fail in Texas. She said the striking defeat was brought about by the efforts of six local citizens (www.katycitizens.org and www.radiofreekaty.com) and members of New Media (www.EducationNews.org and www.katytimes.com). Mrs. Wolcott reports that a bond issue has NEVER failed before in Katy.

Note to Nebraskans: See what a tiny group of citizens can do against Big Schools and Big Media!

Marian choir first in Texas

It was a whale of a 50th anniversary present to Marian High School, as its Select Women’s Choir took first place at the Heritage Music Festival in Dallas a few weeks ago. The young women sang an original song, “I Will Rejoice in the Lord,” commissioned by Marian from world-renowned composer Z. Randall Stroope of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The song commemorates the Nebraska high school’s 50th year; Stroope is the father of a Marian graduate. The choir obtained superior ratings across the board at the Texas festival and returned to rate a rare 1+ at music districts in Nebraska.

Power Drive: North Platte, Bancroft/Rosalie Win

One of the neatest events in Nebraska education took place recently as the OPPD/NPPD Power Drive Championship Rally laid scratch on the pavement. North Platte High School took first place in the standard division, while Bancroft/Rosalie won the advanced category.

In Power Drive, high-school students are assigned to build a car big enough to climb inside and drive around in, powered with electricity. At competitions, the students have to start them up, fix them when they stop, maneuver around cones and each other, and do it quickly and safely. OPPD started the contest in 1999 with 12 cars; this year there were 60.

Check results on:

Teeny Tiny Schools Score Big in History Contest

Last week’s report on Nebraska students who earned the right to compete at Nationals for the History Day competition focused on the number of private schools vs. public schools in the competition. But it should be noted that a disproportionate amount of the winners were from Nebraska’s smallest schools as well. Here’s the same list, with the relatively small towns in bold. Note, for example, Kewanee Public School, which is a teeny tiny school on Highway 12, just west of Sparks in Cherry County east of Valentine.

Junior Group Exhibit: 1. "Woman Taking a Stand on the American Home Front during World War II," Alexandria Walenz, Bailey Mangers, Morgan Jacobi, Rachel Lemke and Sarah Wolf, St. Cecilia Middle School, Hastings; 2. "Standing Firm as a Crusader for the Mentally Ill: Dorothea Lynde Dix," Emily Simmons and Sarah Simmons, Kewanee Public School, Valentine.
Junior Individual Exhibit: 1. "Gentlemen the Fences Must Come Down," Travis Johnson, Glen District, Crawford; 2. "Abraham's Moment of Decision," Luke Evans, Wisner-Pilger.
Junior Individual Performance: 1. "Doolittle Takes a Stand Against Japan," Brandon Rossell, Elkhorn Ridge Middle School, Elkhorn; 2. "Rosie the Riveter: Taking a Stand for the U.S.," Kate Miller, Elkhorn Ridge Middle School.
Junior Group Performance: 1. "Workers and Farmers Take a Stand in Loup City," Angie Wieser, Ben Heusinkvelt, Hannah Spenceri, Kevin Connelly and Sara Dolezal, St. Isidore Elementary School, Columbus; 2. "No Really Bad Boys: One Man's Stand," Andrew Heusinkvelt, Emily Neville, Nicholas Preister, Stephani Jarecke and Thomas Schumacher, St. Isidore Elementary School.
Junior Group Documentary: 1. "A Country Torn: Women in the Islamic Revolution," Carey McGehee and Sara Babcock, Hastings Middle School; 2. "Standing Tall: The Story of Boys Town," Chloe Kucera, Alex Bolte, Kelsey Newman, Michael Esch and Trey Stuthman, St. Isidore Elementary School.
Junior Individual Documentary: 1. "Suzette LaFlesche: The Voice of Native Americans," Jenna Moore, St. Isidore Elementary School; 2. "Oscar and Emilie Schindler: Standing Up for Victims of the Holocaust," Kellie Sholes, Ainsworth Middle School.
Junior Individual Paper: 1. "The Heroic Life of Oscar Schindler," Karen Koch, St. Rose of Lima Elementary School, Crofton; 2. "Native Americans in the French and Indian War," Dustin Aherin, Syracuse.
Junior Web Site: 1. "Candy Lightner: Taking a Stand Against Drunk Driving," Morgan Rezaei, Elkhorn Ridge Middle School; 2. "Enola Gay - Taking a Right in History," Anna Haneline, St. John the Baptist Elementary, Plattsmouth.
Senior Group Exhibit: 1. "Rosa Parks: Sitting Down to Take a Stand," Laura Herbolsheimer, Meagan Zautke and Nathan Bilau, Pierce; 2. "Changing Lives through Photographs," Amanda Ball, Jessica Harris and Joan Yule, Science Focus Program (Zoo School), Lincoln.
Senior Individual Exhibit: 1. "The Vietnam War: Taking a Stand for Peace," Adrienne Hoffmann, Pierce; 2. "John Walsh: Taking a Stand Against Crime," Elizabeth Jones-Owens, Omaha Mercy.
Senior Individual Performance: 1. "Taking a Stand Against a Social Evil," Erika Goergen, Omaha Burke; 2. "William Jennings Bryan," Adam Brown, Science Focus Program (Zoo School).
Senior Group Performance: 1. "Carry Nation: Taking a Stand Against Taking a Drink," Chelsea Liska, Emilee Seier and Morgan Otto-Berglund, Pierce; 2. "Standing Up to Hitler: Andrew Jackson Higgins," Chelsea Rieckman, David Foote and Derek Edwards, Columbus.
Senior Group Documentary: 1. "Theodore Roosevelt: Conserving America's Future," Evan Wilson, Mitch Paine and Richard Carlson, Science Focus Program (Zoo School); 2. "Stetson Kennedy: One Man Against the Klan," Roger Carlson and Thomas Zimmer, Science Focus Program (Zoo School).
Senior Individual Documentary: 1. "Harry Truman and the Integration of the U.S. Military," Taryn Overton, Science Focus Program (Zoo School); 2. "W.E.B. Du Bois: Standing for Civil Rights and Serving His Race," Derek Hutchins, Science Focus Program (Zoo School).
Senior Paper: 1. "Barbed Wire: Taking a Stand to Transform the Events, People and Ideas of the Wild West," Kylie Kinley, Blue Hill; 2. "John Thomas Scopes vs. the State of Tennessee: Defending Fundamental Freedoms," Lauren Pohren, Omaha Duchesne.
Senior Web Site: 1. "Einstein: Taking a Stand for the Preservation of Life," Sam Davis, Elkhorn.

Millard West Principal Honored for Science Expansion

Millard West High School Principal Richard Kolowski has been singled out for excellence in science education for fostering good relationships between the school’s science program and the community, and plans to add another 55,000 square feet to the school that would include eight new science classrooms.

He was awarded the national “CIBA Specialty Chemicals High School Principal Award” by a group including the Busch Entertainment Corporation, DCAT, Delta Education, the Discovery Channel, Dow Chemical, Ohaus Corporation, Shell Oil Company, Vernier Software & Technology, and VSP.

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