Monday, April 10, 2017

BHS: It's Student Shine Time

“It’s like being a Swiss Army knife in a Fishbowl.”

Sitting behind his desk with a sorta straight face, those metaphoric words of imagery flowed from Superintendent Travis Miller:

(Along with students that tread the manicured hallways of BPS, methinks he referred to April being BPS Student Recognition and Achievement month)

Where to begin?

In BGS reading program, students set goals of reading a predetermined number of books during the semester. This year, to add suspense, the grade school teachers and administrators dangled an additional challenge; could any student read 500,000 or even a million words during the semester?

Well, three sixth graders grabbed the bait and unwound the lines of words wrapped around a large reel of book titles.

On Literacy Night, Treasure Whiteley, Cambree Schmaltz, and Elizabeth Hoskovec received their million word Certificates of Achievement. (Unfortunately, their eyes were too tired to read what the certificates said.)

Next, on April 11, starting at 5:30 and 7:00 pm, respectively, Student Showcase and the Spring Concert exhibited the inborn creative tendencies of BPS students. The events outlined what’s inside the participants; what flows naturally and needs no prompting to pour forth.

At Student Showcase, literary patrons felt the inner murmurings of a poet’s heart while reading a student’s artistic penning. Likewise, do-it-yourselfers probably envisioned every angle of every cut on every wood project, sanded to the softness and smoothness of a cat’s coat. You marveled at the range of imaginations with Ag shop projects, the science fair, and honed art work.

This all came from kids who, at home, probably can’t figure out how to make their beds in the morning. Go figure.

That evening, sometime before 7 pm, after viewing artistry in motion, hordes of aesthetic Bayardites traipsed across Eighth Street to hear the harmony that would fill the auditorium in fluid motions.

They wouldn’t be disappointed.

Through the melodious overtures of the annual Spring Concert, musical-telepathy arrived. The Babic’s displayed the fruits of their musical heritage.

Like buds of spring that deck barren branches, so vocal chords and instruments adorned the inner chambers of BHS, while choreographing musical fantasies into the psyches of the attendees.

The tapping of leather-clad pedal extremities matched drumming digitals that kept time with the sweet-sounding angelic overtures that whispered from the stage.

Yes, the month of April engulfed east Eighth with examples of ambition, fortitude, and imagination that streams from the inventive souls of the future of Bayard.

Thank you.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Life is Like a Game of Basketball

Decades ago, like a bouncing basketball, we seniors dribbled our personal embryo of existence onto the court of life. It wasn’t long, though, before we realized it didn’t matter how high our ball bounced; it was the “swish” that counted.

However, we learned life is not always a “swish,” and we had to rebound. Rebounding meant chasing our ball of being after it’s missed its mark. We needed to have it before we could dribble through the myriad of ruses life employed to take it away from us.

Furthermore, time and experience taught us when we played within the rules of our contest of survival the more rebounds came our way and our drives led to lay ups.

Now retired, we mentally replay game films from our championship trophy days.

They include pictures of our personal coaches who sired us with the traits of champions, and snapshots of those we taught how to rebound.

We anticipate the arrival of future grand-reserves, who’ll be trained as we trained and were trained. 

The process of learning to rebound transcends each new generation.

We lean back into the comfortable folds of our favorite recliner and snuggle within the warmth from the built-in heat pad.

“Ah, yes.”

Our warm smile winks within our well-earned wrinkles. We recall game winning rebounds; those that were tough to chase down and hold on to.

We gaze across the room at professional photography; the room fills with the subject’s presence.

We delve into archives and recall riding home in the team bus, after a special victory.

Even though our game ball doesn’t bounce as high as it once did, we can still resurrect special rebounds and swishes.

Life: no one gets out alive, but the thrill of dribbling through ancient mazes to where we are now makes it all worth it.

Amen, brother and sister, Amen. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

BHS: Eight Man Football

At March’s School Board meeting, AD Mrs. Tammy Tillman outlined the path BHS will tread if they decide to explore switching to eight-man football.

In addition, Coaches Jacob Martin and Randy McKibbon voiced their opinions.

This year, according to Tillman, twelve more Nebraska small schools will switch from eleven man to eight-man football; they’ll join the ranks of the Western Nebraska small schools who’ve already switched.

The reasons schools change include declining enrollments, declining numbers of students who play football, and expenses, like traveling many miles to play games. (Because fewer small schools play eleven-man football, Bayard travels to the Valentines and Cambridge’s for games; they’re far away and not exactly Bayard-type small schools.)   

Safety on the field is another factor. When small schools play larger ones, players from smaller schools play most the game, and they tire. However, bigger schools have more players and stay fresher through substitution.

Tiredness leads to slower reflexes and lack of attentiveness, thus more chances for injury.
Furthermore, smaller schools lose their competitive edge because they’re often blown away when they play a larger school. It doesn’t take many blowouts until, like a dangling chinstrap, a smaller schools team attitude droops.

When Coaches Martin and McKibbon spoke, they both said they want to do what’s best for Bayard’s athletes, whether that means remaining an eleven-man team, or playing eight-man.

Switching to eight-man football begins by applying to Nebraska’s State High School Department of Athletics. In the application the school gives their student enrolment and, for scheduling purposes, when they want to make the change.  

The State Athletic Department schedules all Nebraska’s high school football games, regardless of class. They schedule in two year increments, one year “team A” plays “team B” at home; the next year “team A” travels to “team B’s” home.

The schedule includes date and times for all games.

If, between the first and second year of their football schedule, a school switches the type of football they play, they’ll forfeit all games scheduled for the next year. They’ll play no football games that year unless the school schedules Junior Varsity games, which is tough because most athletic schedules are complete.  

(At the present time, Bayard’s just finished the first year of their two-year mandated schedule. If they switched now they’d forfeit next year’s games.)

In addition, if the State Athletic Department grants the schools request, the dimensions for an eight-man football field are smaller than an eleven-man field; the changes must be made before any eight-man games are played.  

Once again, your Bayard’s Tigers changing to eight-man football is only in the thought, discussion, and exploratory stages, and a decision is not imminent. Your Transcript will pass along information as it becomes available.

(By the way, in high school, back when I could bend both knees, I played eight-man football. It’s fast, explosive, high scoring and spectator friendly.)   

Thank you for your patience and continued support of Tiger athletics.     

Friday, March 10, 2017

BHS: Finances and Weather Promote Ingenuity

As Murphy’s Law would have it, below zero temperatures and about a foot of snow arrived on the day two huge, heavy, 26 year old heating and cooling units, firmly attached to the roof of BHS, were scheduled for replacement.

But, for the crews hired to do the needed renovations, their schedule didn’t allow for snow days.
Thus, the day’s motto became “come rain, hail, sleet or snow, BHS’s roof units must go.”

Very early that morning, say around 5 a.m., on his way to BHS, Superintendent Travis Miller dodged City of Bayard’s snow removal team s making it possible citizens could drive down the streets to wherever they wanted to go.

Meanwhile, out of sight of most everything alive, Morrill County employees tried to clear county roads so, if necessary, school buses could pick up students.

Therefore, Miller safely slid into BHS where, soon, Ed Tofoya and George Likas would remove snow from parking lots and other pertinent areas around the school. To complete the picture, BPS’ custodial crew shoveled snow from the roof, so uninstalling and installing the units could begin and finish.

The scene was the proverbial beehive of activity for some, while a snow day for others.

Fittingly, the snow emergency fit snuggly into the already nightmarish picture of replacing the two units. Previously, in a “not sent from heaven scenario,” the assumption was it would take a large standing crane to move the units. However, to bring one to Bayard came with an attached bill for $19,000.

Unfortunately, BHS administrators, teachers, staff, food, supplies, utilities, etc. also come with attached bills, and the standing crane finished a distant seventh, at best.

Thankfully, the sun broke through the renovation clouds when it appeared a gantry crane would suffice, and the bill fit into the financial snapshot. But, the school had to furnish an indoor place to temporarily park it. The ag shop had room; thus acquired an overnight guest.

Therefore, despite a spiteful visit from Mother Nature, a gantry crane and dedicated personnel replaced the worn out heating and cooling units, and the doors to BHS still swings both ways.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Mirror, Mirror, against the Wall

I sat at my writing table and pushed the computers power switch. “Top of the morning Word, I want to type a story on your bland white surface. Fyi, the story’s revolves around a full-length mirror; as a matter of fact it’s about the one that leans against a wall in my bedroom.

“I use it to gawk at my favorite ancient artifact; you know, the one I live alone with, cook for, wash his clothes, and every morning in the shower scrub his back. I’m sure you know him.

“However, this story’s about MC, My Cat, his delicate faithful feline, and the mirror I mentioned.    

“Word, wish you you should see the interaction between MC and the mirror. It would help you appreciate this story. For a first draft, though, for you, I’ll make it as viable as possible. Here goes.”

MC prances through my bedroom and sees herself in the mirror. Like in a double take she stops and looks. She stands on her back legs with her forefeet on the mirror and for three or four minutes she’ll paw her reflection.

Then, maybe because she tires of the cat in the mirror not responding the way she wants, she’ll walk around the mirror a couple of times. Perhaps, she’s looking for her.  

But, if I’m in the bedroom, I start a game that totally confuses her. When she looks in the mirror I step behind her and she sees the two of us. She meows and paws the mirror as if she wants to mingle with her two friends.

After pawing for awhile, as before, she walks around the mirror; I guess she’s looking for the familiar reflections.                                      

Her questioning kitty pose should be on cans of cat food at supermarkets everywhere.

Her crumpled mannerisms, though, looks similar to writers when they try to make sense of what’s transposing from their weak minds to their computers blank screen, all through their hands.

“Word, I think what I write on your screen and what MC sees in the mirror is similar. She sees what she imagines, and I imagine what I write. We both react to the frailty of formative foolishness, but, to us, it’s genuine.”

Later, while trying to come up with a proper transitional phrase, I leaned back in my at-times-too-comfortable-office-chair. I should revamp my misguided outline, but I really want a nap.  

But I chose to loose the tether on my mind. “Watching MC, and her adventures with the mirror, pictures how rickety life is. We look for ourselves in reflections of what we think we should be. It’s like throwing a worn rock in a quiet pond; the ripples expand, but they eventually disappear because they’re not resolute.

“They can’t stop their surroundings from displacing them.

It’s the same with our wisp of time here on earth; nothing, including ourselves, stays the same.

Weather erodes or produces, temperatures change during 24 hour cycles, and different manmade products come off the production lines. Cars and truck styles change, batteries wear out, and air pressure in tires fluctuates. Humanity, too, changes. People grow and then shrink; hair appears and eventually falls out, and populations vacillate.

“On an on, ad-infinitum, everything on earth is subject to frailty.

“That puts us Homo sapiens in a bind. If everything changes, which reflection do we look at to discover who we are? We may want to mimic a certain reflection today, but tomorrow it’s changed. 

What if we don’t like the new reflection?

Where does humanity find stability if everything in the created world does not endure?

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Heb. 13: 8.

 Scripture is from the NKJV

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Seniors:The Joy of Grown Children and Grandkids

As seniors, we generally have a little different slant on life. I mean, even if we could, we’re not particularly interested in adding more children to our immediate family. (18 more years of that… again…you’ve got to be kidding.)

Nevertheless, we generally harbor interest in the reproductive plans of our married kids and their spouses.

“What are they waiting for; they’ve been married 271 days and no baby yet? I could die any ol’ day now and it’d be their fault if I went to my grave with no more grandkids. Wonder if they’ve tried osmosis? ”  

Grown children are special. We were at their birth and since walked both short and long miles with them. Then, all of a sudden, they grew up and left home. Even though our walks with them had hills and valleys, as did their walks with us, probably, the gleam of good times far outshines memories of not-so-good times.

As they walk away from us, we feel drawn toward them.

With pride we follow them through college, or however they pursue their life’s calling. It’s a transition period where we don’t intervene unless we’re asked.

Takes some getting used to…

Usually, somewhere during their life’s-calling- excursion they bring their future spouse home to meet us. Then they marry.

(Now go back and read the third paragraph of this article.)

The thought of a grandchild energizes us and we find the stamina to learn the role of a grandparent.
In the ESV Bible, Proverbs 17: 6 says “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their father.”

What a thrill to hold our creations creation in our arms and know its heart pumps our genes, good, bad, and indifferent, throughout the babies system. It may have our pug nose, our eye or hair color, maybe our high cheekbones, and, of course, our pleasant personality.

As our children are special our grandchildren are just as special, only in a different way. Now the grandparent understands about that crown mentioned in Proverbs 17. 


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

BGS: Teaching Students to Read

Reading is the most important factor that leads to academic success. In fact, research shows students who can’t read well often give up trying to learn, period.   

According to a study by the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Institute of Literary Pursuit,14 percent of the population in the United States can’t read, 21 percent of adults read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school students can’t read when they graduate. Those statistics are about the same as 10 years ago.

In other words, with the billions of dollars the federal government throws at public schools to improve education little of it sticks to the wall.

Furthermore, according to the Department of Justice, 85 percent of all juveniles in the judicial court system are functionally illiterate, and over 70 percent of Americans in prison cannot read above a fourth grade level.  

However, in spite of the national inefficiency, the curriculum in Bayard’s Grade School emphasizes teaching students to read, and it starts in Kindergarten.

During the first semester, Kindergarten students learn the alphabet along with other basics like recognizing numbers and how to spell their names. During second semester, they’ll learn the sounds of the letters and practice their new-found skills with “See Spot run” type books.

When these Kindergartners start grade school, they and the other grade school students set yearly reading goals that are broken down into quarters. The books they choose to read are worth points and range from one point for a small-one-chapter-book to 15-20 points for a Harry Potter type book, and anywhere in between.

At the end of a quarter students are awarded prizes for accomplishing their reading goals, based on the number of points they’ve earned. Prizes range from activities like a game day at school, roller skating, bowling, swimming, and rock climbing.

This year 91 students met their reading goals. The grade schools objective is for 150 students to reach their chosen standard.

If, perchance, you didn’t notice, the rewards are all physical activities, which is not a coincidence. 

The grade schools faculty and administration decided to pursue two objectives with one activity; they combined a sedentary pursuit, reading, with the above mentioned physical activity awards.

One good turn deserves another.

For ideas about different reading programs Bayard teachers visited other area schools. From a-give-and-take approach of different programs, Bayard’s Grade School now has a reading plan that’s solely based on age, grade level, and ability. To achieve this standard, teachers test reading levels and assign students accordingly; mobile students take a reading test their first day in school.

Since Bayard’s Grade School started its reading program, representatives from area schools now visit Bayard to observe their initiative in action, as I had the pleasure of doing.  

Good job BGS.

(I hope I reach my reading goal this semester.)