March 28, 2016

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Grand View goes to four-day week for rest of year

by Hunter Lane/Tahlequah Daily Press

Grand View Public Schools is dropping down to a four-day week for the rest of this school year to help offset financial losses and cuts received from the state.

Marty Kimble, president of the Grand View Public School Board of Education, said the decision to cut the remaining Fridays from the schedule was made during Thursday evening’s school board meeting.

“There’s only four days that we actually had to call off and they were technically snow days,” Kimble said. “I know it’s not a popular decision with all parents, but most of the parents we talked to, and the one who showed up at last night’s meeting, were for taking the rest of the Fridays off. The problem with most of these cost-saving solutions is that they’ll have negative impacts as well.”

Kimble said the only days the school is actually taking off will be April 1, 8, 15 and 22, because school was already scheduled to be out April 29. Kimble said it’s harder to take off days earlier in the year due to testing, and the school will meet its state-mandated minimum number of hours, regardless of the change.

Kimble said that in April, the board will be voting on whether to change next year’s schedule to a four-day week, and he added that the option is “definitely on the table.” Kimble said he’d like to see parents become more involved and vocal in pushing the state government to better fund education.

“Parents need to contact their state representative and kindly request they do something about school funding,” Kimble said. “One of the things we see and hear about is the tax credits. Why should we be giving tax credits to companies that are going to drill here, anyway, especially when school are struggling?”

March 25, 2016

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Butt out! SWAT groups clean park, promote awareness of tobacco use

by Hunter Lane/Tahlequah Daily Press

Local student organizations linked up at Sequoyah City Park Wednesday afternoon to promote a healthy, tobacco-free lifestyle.

The Healthy Living Program for Cherokee County, an Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust program, hosted a celebration and clean-up day for Students Working Against Tobacco organizations. Eight groups from around Cherokee County met at the Armory Municipal Center to make tie-dyed shirts, eat hot dogs with local firefighters, clean up Sequoyah park and celebrate with other SWAT members the hard work they’ve put in throughout the year.

Lora Buechele, assistant coordinator for the Healthy Living Program, said this event was just one of many for SWAT team members, and this one directly coincides with the national Kick Butts Day. According to the Kick Butts Day website, it promotes activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco.

Buechele said this event has been going on for about 10 years in an effort to raise awareness for tobacco use prevention, while also cleaning up the community.

“A few years ago, when we cleaned out Sequoyah, they picked up over 5,000 cigarette butts,” Buechele said. “That was a big moment to be able to go to city council and say there is obviously an issue in our parks where our kids are playing, and they’re being exposed to secondhand smoke. The students actually went to city council and advocated for tobacco-free parks, and the SWAT students played a huge role in that.”

Buechele was an active participant in SWAT when she attended Tahlequah High School, and she believes some of the best advocates for encouraging youth to be tobacco-free are the youth themselves.

“It’s just as easy for peer pressure to convince you to do something, as it is to convince you not to do something,” Buechele said. “The youth are such big advocates for other youth, and that’s why it’s so important to be involved with something like this, because you really are making an impact on your friends. It’s about standing up and saying, ‘No, I don’t want to try cigarettes.’ or ,’No I’m not going to take that dip.’ I think your peers can be very influential.”

Anders Ahlander, seventh-grader at Grand View, is part of that school’s SWAT team. Anders said his SWAT group participates many events throughout the year to raise awareness about the risks of tobacco use.

“We try to go out in the community to help them stop using tobacco and to have a healthier environment,” Ahlander said. “When I first moved to Tahlequah, I noticed that a lot of people smoked – more than where I used to live in Arizona.”

Ahlander said that late into last school year, SWAT members wrote letters to State Rep. Mike Brown and asked if he could present legislation about e-cigarette advertisements.

“Just recently, he wrote up a bill, and we were really excited for it,” Anders said. “It ended up not being heard, but it was still something.”

Anders is a youth advocate for a tobacco-free lifestyle, and he knows being a tobacco user affects people other than just those who use it.

“Like with secondhand smoke, you’re not only hurting yourself, but others who don’t want to be a part of that,” he said. “If you don’t smoke, it’s healthier for the environment and for the people around you.”

The Cherokee County Health Department was one of the organizations with which the Healthy Living Program partnered to host the Kick Butts Day celebration. Lindsey Sarver, health educator at the CCHD, said it’s a good way to educate children so they are better prepared to reject tobacco use and to understand how Big Tobacco companies are affecting them.

“It’s just a good time to get together and let people meet each other and collaborate about what they are doing at their specific schools,” Sarver said. “One of our main core values at the state health department is children’s health and tobacco use. So we’re just trying to help the lives of the children and help the community to live longer.”

March 25, 2016

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On March 5th & 6th Grand View Fire and Ice teams competed in the Jam Fest Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Both teams placed first with the Fire team winning both High Point and Choreography awards.  Both teams will compete in US Finals on April 16th, in Kansas City, MO.  In this competition they will be recorded and judged by a panel of judges for the top spot in the US.  Good Luck ladies and gentleman!! You make Grand View proud!!
March 24, 2016

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Kids learn how to create paper airplanes, and how flying works

by Hunter Lane/Tahlequah Daily Press

Children are out of school this week, and area libraries are doing what they can to keep students entertained.

Monday afternoon, the Tahlequah Public Library hosted a science event during which kids learned how to make their own paper airplanes. Participants made simple planes, a more complicated “master plane,” and a special kind of plane called a “hoop glider,” using a straw and paper shaped into a loop.

Jane Adams, library clerk at TPL, used to be a teacher, and she said creating airplanes is an entertaining and effective way to teach kids about the physics of flight. Adams even used a ping-pong ball and a hair dryer to show the youngsters how lift and air resistance works.

“When I taught school, one of our units was physics, and we did an airplane experiment that was a little more involved than this one,” Adams said. “But at the end, we would make airplanes and gliders, and the kids always really liked it, so we thought we could try to do something like that for Spring Break.”

Adams said it’s a good project because not just because the kids get to learn in a fun way. Many of them nowadays have never made paper airplanes, so it’s a fresh and unique activity.

“It’s relatively simple: If you don’t have experience folding, that’s probably the hardest part,” Adams said. “It looks hard, and it is hard at first, because the directions seem incomprehensible. Once you’ve done it a few times, though, you can whip them out pretty fast, but usually the kids enjoy getting to make them and fly them.”

Hunter Ford, a fourth-grader at Grand View Elementary, didn’t know how to make paper airplanes before going to Monday’s event, and he said he was surprised at how well the hoop glider flew. He heard about the event at his school’s literacy fair and was interested in learning how to make airplanes.

“I like building and tinkering with things,” Hunter said. “I like taking stuff apart and trying to put to put them back together again.”

He was happy the library offered the airplane science class and said it gave him something to do besides sitting around at home during Spring Break.

“It’s something fun to do and to get out of the house,” Ford said. “That way you’re not just watching TV. The library is a fun place, and every once in a while, they have projects like these, but I like to come down here every once in a while, anyway, to see how it’s changed.”

Stephanie Alonso brought her son, Jayden, to the airplane science event. She said Jayden wanted to learn how to make different kinds of paper airplanes, so she thought it would be a fun way to start Spring Break.

“He only knew how to make one kind of airplane and he wanted to learn more,” Stephanie said. “I found out about the event on Facebook, but I also go the library’s adult coloring book event.” 

Stephanie frequents the library and considers it a good resource for families and kids, especially while students are out of school. 

“I’m a stay-at-home mom right now, and with them being home with me, I can just bring them over here for any kind of event they are having, and they enjoy it,” Stephanie said. 

Six-year-old Jayden, a kindergartner at Briggs Elementary School, said learning about the ping-pong ball was his favorite part. He’s going to show his cousins how to make the paper airplanes, but probably not the hoop glider.

“I’m going to keep that one as my secret,” Jayden said. 


March 23, 2016

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Grand View among schools seeking ways to save money

by Hunter Lane/Tahlequah Daily Press

Rural schools are hurting in the wake of state budget cuts, and administrators are trying desperately to save money wherever they can. Four-day weeks, reduced transportation and staff cuts have become last-resort options for Oklahoma schools, and Grand View Public Schools is no different.

Superintendent Ed Kennedy thinks the discussions among his team members are similar to those being held across the state. He and other staffers have been going to various workshops and meetings, looking for ideas to help with the budget crisis.

“Everyone is hosting these because it is such a dire situation,” Kennedy said. “People are looking at strategies and what to do, and they talk about everything from personnel policies to things you can do with transportation, and the things we’re doing right now are going to carry over to next year.”

Kennedy will be talking to the school board about a couple of alternate calendars, and one of those will feature a four-day school week.

“We entertained that once before, and I have some experience with that at another school I was at,” he said. “It’s not a tremendous savings, but it saves on buses and bus routes, it saves on child nutrition costs, and it saves on wear and tear of facilities as well as facility costs.”

Kennedy said the school will also be eyeing personnel reduction, and in that respect, Grand View may have a bit more wiggle room than others.

“We don’t have much in the way of attrition, as far as retirement and things like that,” Kennedy said. “But we’ve got a situation where if someone is on temporary contract, you aren’t bound to rehire them. We’ll give a letter to those people so they know they can look for another job because we aren’t guaranteeing them any re-employment next year.”

Kennedy doesn’t think Grand View would go to the extent of eliminating buses because of the constraint it would put on parents. He said there’s a possibility of moving to hybrid routes, similar to inclement weather routes, where students would meet at a more centralized pick-up spot.

“The problem with that is, all of a sudden, you’re picking up 30 students at one time and they’re all waiting there,” Kennedy said. “Then you’ve got the discipline issue of older kids and younger kids there all mixed together, so that concerns us.”

He pointed out that many people don’t realize providing transportation is not mandatory.

“It is something schools get a reimbursement for but we elect to do,” Kennedy said. “The problem with that is the formula used to fund it hasn’t been changed since the ‘80s. With gas prices what they are now, it isn’t as big a deal, but when it was $4.25 a gallon two or three years ago, it was very painful.”

Margaret Carlile, federal programs director at Grand View, said the school isn’t just focusing on changes for next year, but actions are being taken this year to save money. End-of-year out-of-town trips, excluding those funded by extracurricular groups, are among the examples of activities being curtailed.

“We put the lid on purchasing,” Carlile said. “We’re metering our copier, along with other things. We’re trying to not buy disposable items, except where we have to. We’re looking at what we spend on paper towels, and we’ve been looking every place we could possibly get a lower bid on things. We’re trying to get everyone to shut doors, turn of lights and shut down the computers. We’ve been going down the checklist, trying to find what else we could do.”

Kennedy said continued cuts to Oklahoma education will have immediate and long-term effects on the state, and teachers have already approached him saying they are unable to continue working in such a stressful environment.

“I have a teacher who has kind of thrown up her hands and sees the writing on the wall for education in Oklahoma, and she’s an Oklahoma native,” Kennedy said. “She’s given us her resignation. She said she isn’t going to fight the battle and get too far into the retirement system only to find out she’s made a decision to stay in a state that isn’t going to fund education. So she’s going to go to

Texas and make $10,000 to $15,000 more just by crossing the border.”

Kennedy believes teachers will be jumping ship in escalating numbers.

“It’s like if I have a good apple tree but every year I prune it back further and further, and then suddenly wonder why I don’t get a basket full of apples in the fall – well, heck, I’ve cut every limb off the dadgum thing,” he said. “What they’re doing in some instances is pruning the tree back so far that it dies, yet they are still advocates of there being too many school districts.”

Carlile said this battle for funding has been going on since 2009, when Oklahoma led, and continues to lead, the nation in budget cuts to education.

“Schools have been operating in the cut, contain, cut, contain mode. We’ve done as little harm as we could each year, and I think parents, teachers and the general publichave gotten complacent,” Carlile said. “Because until now, we’ve been able to pretty much sustain sports and music and trips. Now we’ve hit the point where we can’t keep doing this, and suddenly it’s a crisis. Schools will have had such grievous harm that teachers will go to Texas or Arkansas, and the most important thing in a classroom is to have an experienced and qualified teacher.”

Kennedy added that once South Dakota’s recent increase in state and use tax goes into effect, Oklahoma will rank the lowest in the nation for teacher pay.

students seated at desk
Student reading at desk
March 21, 2016

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3rd and 4th grade Academic Team won Champions March 7th in the OAAC Beta Meet.
March 21, 2016

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 Thirty-five Grand View Middle School students made a trip to the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City on March 8, 2016.  As part of Grand View School's "Do Your Best" Program, students toured the capitol building and were invited to attend sessions with the House of Representatives and State Senate.  While in the House of Representative session, State Representative Mike Brown introduced the students and later posed with the students for a picture.  State Senator Earl Garrison introduced the students during his session with the Senators and the students posed for a picture with Senator Wayne Shaw.  After leaving the capitol, the students went to the Oklahoma History Center for lunch and then explored exhibits of Oklahoma's history of geology, transportation, commerce, culture, aviation and heritage. 
Picture #320 front row L-R: Representative Mike Brown, Jovanny Gonzalez, Kyle Adair, Jesus Medina, Charley Romero, Kenny Shores, Daylan Wright, Tyeisha Williams, Shelby Walker; 2nd row L-R: Brendan Kuhns, Rylee Hunt, Anders Ahlander, Reagan McClanahan, Caden Goss, Michelle Fisher, Ms. Angie Matthews; 3rd row L-R: Kloe Bowin, Jaison Sourjohn, Justice Flute, Athena GoingSnake, Hannah Chesser, Alexa McClure, Ms. Kristin Prag; 4th row L-R: Julia Lewis, Stephanie Balderas, Joseph Gardner, Macie Sheffield, Raegan Keeling, Audrie Garcia; 5th row L-R: Mr. Shawn Cox, Aurora Gibson, Mia Vinson, Lea Adair, Emily Tyler, Canaan Hudson, Anthony Philpott, Jet Pack; 6th row L-R: Drake Park, Mr. Steve Gillman, Mr. Dean Goss, Mr. Brett Bryant, Ms. Margaret Carlile, Justin Edwards
Picture #351 front row L-R: Brendan Kuhns, Mia Vinson, Aurora Gibson, Athena GoingSnake, Kyle Adair, Michelle Fisher, Kenny Shores, Jet Pack, Shelby Walker, Stephanie Balderas, Rylee Hunt, Jovanny Gonzalez, Ms. Margaret Carlile; middle row L-R: Emily Tyler, Lea Adair, Audrie Garcia, Alexa McClure, Charley Romero, Jesus Medina, Macie Sheffield, Julia Lewis, Raegan Keeling, Drake Park, Anthony Philpott, Daylan Wright, Justin Edwards, Tyeisha Williams, Justice Flute, Jaison Sourjohn; back row L-R: Mr. Steve Gillman, Ms. Kristin Prag, Senator Wayne Shaw, Caden Goss, Anders Ahlander, Reagan McClanahan, Kloe Bowin, Canaan Hudson, Mr. Brett Bryant, Joseph Gardner, Mr. Dean Goss
March 21, 2016

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Students seated watching presentation from police officer and cartoon patrol car
Trooper Joseph R. Couch recently brought  "Bobby the Boat Safety Education" to Grand View's Pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st graders.  Students were entertained as they learned from Bobby the Boat how to use a life jacket correctly and how to be safe in the water and on the boat.  Bobby is a remotely controlled robot that can interact with children while teaching boating and water safety. All the students received a coloring book.  In the picture, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Gordon Chronister instructs the students while Joseph R. Couch controls Bobby behind the scene. For more information or to schedule Bobby for Boat Safety Education, contact Trooper Joseph R. Couch at 405-431-8391 
March 17, 2016

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Grand View student eyes national bee

by Hunter Lane/ Tahlequah Daily Press
Student posing with trophies

A local elementary student is doing his best to get into this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee.

It’s a long journey, and there are a lot of competitions along the way, but Grand View Public Schools fifth-grader Trace Russell is hoping to see it through to the end.

Trace’s winning a first-place trophy has become a regular sight for his friends and family. He has competed in spelling bees since first grade, and has won his school’s competition every year but one. His mother, Jennifer, said the one year he didn’t win, it was because he misspelled “cellar” as the homonym “seller.”

Trace recently participated in the Green Country Regional Spelling Bee. Though he didn’t win, he still might find himself in National Harbor, Md., at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Scripps is hosting a competition wherein students submit a video about their favorite words, and what words they believe are pertinent to know for a spelling bee. Trace also will compete in the Eastern Oklahoma State Spelling Bee on April 1.

He said that throughout the years of competition, he has run into more than a few tricky words.

“Gulden was probably the hardest word I’ve had to spell,” he said. “It’s a Dutch word spelled, g-u-l-d-e-n, and I thought it was ‘golden’ so I ended up getting knocked out on my second word at the Green Country Regional Spelling Bee.”

One don’t always have to know a word’s meaning to spell it correctly. Knowing a word’s language of origin, asking its use in a sentence, and hearing alternate pronunciations can help a contestant figure the spelling. Trace said he has spelled words correctly, despite having not heard them before.

“One time I had to spell out ‘mohair,’” Trace said. “It was like an Indian tribe’s name or something like that, and it was spelled out m-o-h-a-i-r.”

Mohair is actually a silk-like fabric or yarn made from the hair of an Angora goat, but nevertheless, Trace spelled the word correctly. He isn’t sure why he spells so well, but he gives a lot of credit to the study help from his mom.

Trace is also an avid reader. He doesn’t have a favorite genre, but just enjoys reading in general.

“I used to have books taken away from me in class,” said Trace, to which his mother responded that he still gets books taken away in class. “I like reading the ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ books or sometimes a chapter book. I just read and study a lot. In school, I probably read two to three hours a day.”

Jennifer Russell attributes her son’s spelling abilities to reading frequently, and said she never had to push him to do so.

“He’s always been a natural reader,” Russell said. “From the time he was born, I would read to him, but he just took it upon himself to start reading. There have been times that I went to his parent-teacher conferences and they’ll be like, ‘Trace is reading during instruction time.’ This is always the first parent-teacher conference every year, and I’m like, ‘OK I’ll talk to him about it.’ The next time, they tell me he’s still reading, but that they know he knows what he’s doing because he still gets good grades.”

Russell believes reading and spelling are skills that can help children succeed later in life.

“Literacy is very important,” she said. “Grand View really recognizes the importance of literacy as a basis for education, and education is very important to me. I’ve always told my children that.”

Trace chimed in with concerns about the news of budget issues with state education. He said if class sizes become too large, he thinks getting students to listen and pay attention will become a harder task for teachers.

“Something is happening to most schools in Oklahoma, and they’re going to make a budget cut for them,” Trace said. “They’re going to go from 15 to 20 kids in one class to like 30 or 35. It makes it harder, because we’re going to have to study with more people, and you might get seated next to the class clown, and they distract us and we’ll get bad grades.”

March 9, 2016

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Grand View School's Charger Band performed in the Checotah Invitational Concert Contest on Feb. 19, 2016 and garnered a Superior Rating and won the Outstanding Junior High Band Award which resulted in the Sweepstakes Award.  The Charger Band also performed at the Wagoner Band Winter Festival on Feb. 25, 2016 and won 1st place overall with a Superior Rating for the Junior High Division. The band is comprised of 85 sixth through eighth grade students.
Charger Band photo
Posing with the winning trophies are:  front row L-R: Athena GoingSnake, Paige Young, Carissa Burris, Mia Vension, Raegan Keeling, Hazel McLane; middle row L-R: Canaan Hudson, Raya Brotherton, Alexandra Marquez, Macie Sheffield, Caden Goss, Rebecca Rasmusson; back row L-R: Band Director Harvey Price, Jeremiah Ryan, Kloe Bowin, Justice Flute, Annessa Proctor, Reagan McClanahan
student band on stage
Awaiting the judges decisions at the Wagoner Band Winter Festival  L-R: Logan Payne, Justice Flute, Kloe Bowin, Athena GoingSnake, Mariah Kimble, and Jordan Gann

March 1, 2016

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Grand View School Leaders of the Month for February are:  front row L-R: Lucas Asbill, Ellanor Dunlap, Anderson Hatley, Claire Houston; middle row L-R: Ryan Shores, Addilyn Davidson, Billy Bailey, Aliya Freeman, Simon Walker, Rachel Nutt, Dylan Woolard, Gracie Brewer; back row L-R: Kyle Adair, Alexa McClure, Jet Pack, Stephanie Balderas, Aurora Gibson, Reagan McClanahan, Kloe Bowin, Diego Medina, and Principal Steve Gillman