U.S. Bank® and the Nebraska School Activities Association are proud to announce the 2018-19 local school winners of the Believers and Achievers award. Every member school is able to submit two senior students for recognition in this awards program.
Erin Schwager been chosen to represent Orchard. The announcement of the 48 statewide winners of the U.S. Bank® Believers & Achievers award will be announced by the NSAA at a later date.
The Orchard homecoming candidates and court have been announced.
Candidates for king are Jaccob Bennett, Blake Hoke, Anthony Marino, Derek Maxwell, Tommie Peed and Ryan Wilhelm. Queen candidates are JoCee Johnston, Holly Schacht, Erin Schwager, Julian Tuttle and Nalleli Zermeno.
Members of the court are first-grade crown bearers Jaden Robinett and Braxton Schwager; freshmen attendants Lizett Marino and Mason Hoke; sophomores Kaci Wickersham and Joseph Ferris and juniors Gage Switzer.
The annual homecoming parade will start at 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5 and the dance is set for Saturday, Oct. 6.
After an Orchard daycare closed its doors, three local women decided to pursue some options for youth in their community.
Desirae Schwager, Lynae Stelling and Tammy Cheatum all met and discussed how to solve the issue when the Little Willow Daycare closed in December 2017. They later presented it to the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church council. After several meetings, they finally decided on a 3-year-old preschool program and began their search for someone to run the preschool.
Jill Walmer, a 2012 Orchard graduate, said she could no longer resist the urge to come home and was approached by church members to run the faith-based preschool. Walmer said she felt as if it was meant to be.
“I was moving back and looking for a job so they asked me to start here in their church,” she said.
Like all good things, it takes time and Walmer had to go through several steps in order to pursue this program, including getting her license, buying curriculum, undergoing inspections from the fire marshal and getting help from the community with donations.
Orchard Principal Cathy Cooper said with the lack of daycare in the community, this “is offering one more avenue” for families.
The preschool children attend class from 8 a.m. to noon, the opposite hours of those attending the 4-year-old preschool provided by the public school.
“We are hoping since we have the opposite hours of the public preschool we can open up spots at daycare,” Schwager explained.
Walmer runs the program with the help of a few volunteers, but is looking for more help.
“I would really like permanent volunteers,” she said. “And, if anyone such as a firefighter, policeman, or dentist would like to come in and talk about their job, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Schwager said she hopes this faith-based program not only helps the community, but also helps give kids the headstart they need.
“We’re just hoping to spread faith-based education,” Schwager said with a smile, showing the pride she has for the new program.
A Hunter Safety Course will be offered in Orchard at the community room in the back of the Fire Hall.
Classes will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 26 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 29 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
All participants will need to be pre-registered online before class time at huntersafenebraska.org or outdoornebraska.ne.gov. Select Firearm Hunter Education Classroom Courses. Scroll through the dates and locations and select the Orchard site. Register for the course, and please be sure to print off the permission form at the end.
Students must be at least 11 years old by class date.
For any questions, call Dennis at 402-893-5461 or Duane at 402-893-2085 (days) or 402-893-4355 (evenings).
Orchard alumni from the classes of 1993, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 are asked to pick up their school cumulative folders.
They have been scanned to digital form. Alumni may stop by the school, or have a parent, sibling, or friend pick it up.
The deadline will be extended to September 30. If they are not picked up, the contents of the folder will be shredded. They will not be sent out.
Orchard Public Schools has jumped on the Beef in Schools bandwagon to improve school lunches and provide more educational experiences thanks to lots of community support.
The school celebrated last week with one of its biggest donors, the Bob and Shari Ickes family. Grilled burgers were served for the celebration.
Common ground was eventually discovered Wednesday night as school boards from Ewing and Orchard met to discuss future options. Although no commitment was made, both sides indicated they want to continue talks.
With a round-table feel, the board members and school administrators faced one another during the 68-minute meeting rather than the audience in an effort to open the conversation toward a goal of working together, potentially to become one school in the future. Although the meeting was between Orchard and Ewing, including Clearwater with a potential reorganization, was part of the conversation by both schools.
Pete Funk of Ewing wasted little time in telling Orchard that Ewing was ready to consolidate with Clearwater but felt Orchard created a “perfect triangle” for a three-school merger.
“I wanted to invite you to consolidation with us and Clearwater. As you guys know, we’re going to pursue them anyway. We’re going to do something. We don't want you left out. We’ve been trying to get three all along,” he said. “We knew Neligh wasn’t a good fit, but we had to listen to it. You guys are a perfect fit, and the mileage between the three schools is almost a perfect triangle. I don’t know how you can do any better than that.”
Among the key topics discussed were unification vs. consolidation, constructing a new school, sports co-ops and a potential timeline.
Unification vs. Consolidation
Ewing immediately used the term consolidation, and members said they were not interested in joining the Nebraska Unified District #1, which consists of Orchard, Ewing and Verdigre. Orchard’s board appeared blindsided by Ewing’s lack of interest in unification, having spent much of their last board meeting discussing the benefits of expanding the Unified District to include Ewing.
Orchard members repeatedly attempted to steer the conversation back to unification. Midway through the meeting, Terri Hergert, who represents Orchard on the Unified Board, asked Ewing point-blank, “What do we have to say to help sell you on that?”
Funk was equally as candid, “You have to be a good saleswoman to convince me.”
Board members agreed there were really two differences between unification and consolidation. One — consolidation would be between Orchard, Ewing and Clearwater while unification could include Orchard, Ewing, Clearwater and Verdigre. Two - consolidation is permanent and unification is fluid since the state requires only a 3- to 7-year commitment.
While they agreed on what the differences are, those remained the sticking points during discussion. Ewing does not support including Verdigre, and Orchard is hesitant on the permance of consolidation.
Orchard voiced its loyalty to Verdigre, which had several board members in the audience Wednesday night. Funk said because of the taxbase, Orchard stakeholders pay about 20 cents toward Verdigre’s general fund through unification, and he doesn’t favor continuing that. DeAnna Clifton said Orchard benefits from the agreement with Verdigre with educational opportunities for students.
Orchard also offers similar financial support to Clearwater, and board members agreed that valuations have shifted over the years. Although they were more equal when unification was adopted nearly 20 years ago, Orchard now makes up about half of the taxbase, leaving Clearwater and Verdigre at around 25 percent each.
New Cornfield School
The other key issue was the permanance of consolidation. Funk said if Ewing consolidates with Clearwater, they likely will not build a new school. However, with a three-school merger, he said a cornfield school would eliminate conflict between which town will house specific grades. Among the figures thrown out was an estimated $32 million for construction.
Hergert questioned why one option kept the schools in respective communities as compared to a new school with the other option. Funk said he believes tax dollars would be less with a new school and said it would lower the levy by 20 cents to build a new school. Hergert asked if that included the bond payment, and Funk said no. The bond payment would take that 20 cents, making it a wash financially for the first 20 years.
Orchard’s Kristi Schutt said she’s not against consolidation, but questioned if there could be smaller steps rather than taking a leap. Schutt said she’s not asking to wait 10 years; she’s asking to take steps to see if the schools work well together.
“Let’s build into this. Not saying you have to join the unification, but let’s try to work that. Then by 2020, let’s be looking at maybe this will work, and maybe this will work and we need to consolidate,” Schutt said.
She added that Orchard has been through rushed conversations before. “That’s why we’re all hesitant of it. I think we would rather take little steps and work our way into it,” she said.
When site location was brought up, Orchard’s Nate Schwager immediately said that should not be discussed until Clearwater board members could be present to voice opinion. Funk said he would suggest “the most neutral place.” A school at the intersection of Summerland Road and the Orchard Road has long been the site location commonly discussed.
Hergert asked if the site location could be in the middle of a district that included Verdigre as well. Ewing's Jason Schindler shook his head and said he lives 16 miles south of Ewing.
Mark Ramold added, “When something finally does happen, and I feel it will, I would rather send our kids five, six or seven miles to a school rather than 20 miles. I feel if we don’t start on the road to do something, the latter will happen, rather than the former.”
Schutt suggested a sports co-op would be step forward in this process. Schinder said the junior high teams currently co-op, and that is a baby step in his mind. Schutt asked if they could consider a high school co-op.
Orchard and Clearwater are currently in the first of the two-year football cycle, as is Ewing with Chambers/Wheeler Central. Orchard and Clearwater also co-op other sports but are on opposite cycles, meaning they have to contact the state soon to continue co-oping those sports. Orchard, Clearwater and Ewing could potentially co-op all high school sports, except football, as soon as next year.
“I just think if you’re truly committed to it, the sooner you get the kids together, the better,” Orchard President Candice Hoke said. “I don’t mean to always lead with sports, but if it’s something we’re all committed to, and that’s where we’re going to go, then let’s start doing what we can do. . . . If that’s the intent, then let’s start doing more.”
Funk said his time frame is “the sooner the better,” but he said consolidation could wait until 2020, which is when the current unification agreement either concludes or will be renewed.
However, that’s simply the agreement end date. Orchard, Clearwater and Verdigre must notify the state on how they will proceed with unification by November 2019.
Funk said discussion of a merger between the three schools has been going on since February 2016, so “this has been out there quite a while.”
Considering a new school would require a bond, Schwager asked Ewing what their Plan B would be if the bond fails.
“We’re sitting at Plan B right now waiting for the other shoe to drop,” Ramold said.
Unified District Superintendent Dale Martin said the bond would have to pass in all districts to move forward with construction of a new school. When asked if consolidation is contingent on building a new school, Funk said it is to him.
The boards agreed that the next step would be more meetings, though not only between these two schools. Orchard said they owed Verdigre a meeting to discuss the future since they are part of the unification. The boards said including Clearwater in future merger talks was also key.
Hoke said the possibilities are exciting for the schools.
“I’m very glad you came over. I think this long overdue,” she said. “There are a lot of questions, but we’re very excited about opportunities. We hope to meet again.”
Would you like to play guitar, but think it’s too expensive? Think again.
A box, strings, and a piece of wood were all the basic supplies Jordan Schaller needed.
Schaller, a pastoral intern at Grace Lutheran Church in Neligh, taught K-6 students how to make their own instruments at an assembly program at the Orchard Public School on Thursday morning.
“When i was growing up, I played a lot of different instruments,” he told them. “My dad had almost every single instrument you could think of.”
He said his dad collected instruments and taught him to do the same. “So I have a trombone, trumpet, bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, a ton of different drums, and then it started getting expensive to buy instruments and I’m poor, so I had to stop,” Schaller said.
Then he remembered seeing a photo in history class. It was a man playing a fiddle or violin made from a cigar box.
“So I thought that might be a better way to collect instruments,” he said. “Maybe I could make one like that out of a box.”
To create a guitar, Schaller used a cigar box, piece of scrap wood, pegs, a door hinge, pencil and guitar strings he had lying around. However, he admitted that it doesn’t sound quite as nice as the $2,000 he purchased.
“So I spent about $7 total with everything and it sounds like a $7 guitar, but it’s still a lot of fun to play,” Schaller said. “I got to thinking if I made cheap guitars, I could make a lot of them because all I needed for that was a stick and a box. So I started thinking, what else could you make a guitar out of? So at home, I have a tennis racket and I put strings on it. So now I can play a tennis racket as a guitar.”
He also showed the kids a drum made from a wooden box and told them, “You can make instruments out of almost anything.”
The Orchard students will have supplies available at school and make some instruments in the coming weeks as part of the Makerspace program, according to teacher Tami Kuhfal.
School boards from Orchard and Ewing will meet Wednesday evening to discuss possible reorganization and future options.
Orchard president Candice Hoke said she’s looking forward to the meeting and is open to all conversation and options.
“I think that’s their intent — fact finding,” Hoke said. “I’m excited they’ve invited us to do this.”
Hoke said she wants to be “open minded and pro-active.”
The meeting will be at 8 p.m. at Orchard Public School in the business room. The open meeting will be live streamed on the Antelope County News.
The only item on the agenda is the discussion. There will be no action taken at the meeting.
At last week’s Orchard Board of Education meeting, Principal Cathy Cooper told her board that Ewing requested the meeting. Members said they were open to discussions with Ewing and weren’t limiting those to Ewing joining the Nebraska Unified District.
Hoke said she doesn’t want Ewing to think Orchard “is selling unification” and wants to be open to all conversation and options. Board members agreed and said they want the benefits of unification to be known but that the conversation doesn’t hinge on that aspect.
DeAnna Clifton added that Ewing may not be aware that a unification agreement doesn’t have to be for seven years even though that is the current agreement between Orchard, Clearwater and Verdigre, which make up Nebraska Unified District #1.
Terri Hergert, who represents Orchard on the Unified Board, said she wanted Ewing to know that not only can the time frame be less, but also that the unification may be dissolved if a school wants out.
“If it’s not working after a year, if you get a majority vote, you can get out of it. You’re not tied to it for another three years,” she said. “If for some reason it’s not working or Ewing decides they absolutely don’t like it, it can be reversed and (they can) get out of it.”
Board members said dissolving may be considered a benefit to unification, compared to consolidation, which is “forever bound.” Hergert specifically asked the board if they were only interested in unification, and Kristi Schutt immediately replied, “At this point, we have to open to other options.”
She added, “I’m not totally against consolidation. My whole thing is we need to work into it slowly.”
During discussion of utilizing teaching staff from multiple schools, Hergert said combing classes with Verdigre would be difficult geographically, which leaves Clearwater and Ewing as closer options.
“Do we need to protect ourselves so we don’t end up on an island out there by ourselves?” she asked. Nate Schwager immediately responded, “Definitely.”
Hoke said it was important to discuss goals with Ewing to see if theirs were in common with Orchard’s. She asked if goals were to improve curriculum, use existing buildings and keep some grades in the towns.
Sports co-ops were also discussed as a topic for the meeting since Orchard, Clearwater and Ewing co-op junior high sports, except for football. Clearwater and Orchard co-op at the high school level. The football co-op is set for another year, but the other OC sports must be submitted after Christmas.
Terra Williby, who participated in the meeting via telephone, said she was encouraged by Ewing’s initiative to set up the meeting. “I think it’s a positive step, and we have to go in with an open mind to hear out everyone’s concerns and try to make something work,” she said.
Schwager shared the enthusiasm and said the meeting “is the first of many meetings."
Nalleli Zermeno loves graphic design and taking photos, but is that the career for her?
Thanks to a new “community career” opportunity at Orchard Public School, the senior is spending the fall semester paired with the Antelope County News to learn more about journalism before she moves forward with that as her career choice.
“In such a small town, most of the opportunities are agriculture related or a family business,” Zermeno said. “(Pitzer Digital has) four counties for news, and that’s what I want to do. It kind of runs like a machine, and I want to see all of the different parts and how they work, so I can see what area I want to go into when I get to the University of Omaha.”
Other Orchard seniors experiencing similar work studies are JoCee Johnston, Julian Tuttle, Holly Schacht and Erin Schwager.
ACN Publisher Carrie Pitzer said she was contacted last spring by then-guidence counselor Tammy Cheatum to see if Zermeno could spend a class period twice a week with her and the ACN staff.
“It’s really a great opportunity for the both of us,” Pitzer said. “We are going to pack a lot of information in our time together, so Nalleli will have a better understanding of what the job entails. And for me, I love her outside perspective, especially on what teenagers want to read and how they are getting their news.”
Cheatum continued working with the businesses over the summer and she’s excited to see what kind of experiences the students have, as well as how they impact their career choices.
For Zermeno, she is planning a major in journalism, which made the ACN a perfect choice for her to spend the semester.
“I love to write. I have a creative mind, so it’s cool to put things into words,” she said. “I also like photography. Anyone can pick up a camera, but it takes someone special to find the right angles and timing. I also like graphic design, making backgrounds and putting things together.”
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