Teachers at Orchard Public School sacrificed some of their own time in order to show students how what they are learning in the classroom will help them in the real world.
For the past two years, OPS has had a science, technology, engineering and math program known as STEM.
“We started it last year and did a lot of challenges and activities,” Orchard teacher Jana Wilhelm said, giving a brief summary of last years program.
Tami Kuhfal, who also teaches at Orchard, then explained how the program had changed compared to last year.
“We are being a little more deliberate, focusing more on the engineer and design process and making it a little more applicable to things,” she said.
Kuhfal said children learn in many different ways, and the STEM program shows who may struggle with traditional classwork ways to thrive with the hands-on program.
“It’s so much fun to see the joy when they see they have moved up. Reading is not their things, but STEM is,” Kuhfal said.
Kuhfal was also responsible for the “maker-space” that was added to help enhance the tools used in the STEM program.
“I proposed it to the teachers, ‘What if we sacrifice some teacher workroom time?’ and they were willing. Then I proposed it to the principal and superintendent, and they both were completely on board. After I created the maker-space, I went to the teachers and asked. ‘Well, how are we going to structure this?’ and no one had an idea,” she explained.
After a bit of trial and error, the teachers discovered what worked best for the students and themselves. Kids picked an activity to complete that month keeping the program student oriented.
Ideas are found in several different places. Kuhfal said most of her ideas came from classes and professional development, but inspiration can come from anywhere.
“Or just Google it. There are a lot of STEM projects on the Internet,” Wilhelm said.
When asked what projects they had done in the past, the pair of teachers had no hesitation to mention project after project, including marble ramps, flying hoopsters, boomerangs, towers, designing and making instruments as well as weaving mats for the homeless.
“They have to work cooperatively; they have to problem solve,” Wilhelm said.
Kuhfal then went on to add more detail into how this closely relates to real-world problems.
The problem-solving aspect of life is constant and situations happen in Kuhfals words, “things just come up.”
“If you work at the register at a restaurant and the power goes out do you close? How do you deal with that?” Kuhfal asked.
The program has spread throughout the school with even the younger grades joining in. Tony Tabbert, a janitor at OPS, helped with a project and seemed to enjoy it, according to the teachers.
A program that gives all students a chance to thrive, the STEM program is evolving and proving to kids more and more that not everyone has the same talents.
Yazlin Zermeno smiled at the mention of the STEM program. “I’m seeing that I may be bad at reading, but I am good at other things like problem-solving,” she said.
Three Orchard students were selected to participate in Hawkfest, a new music festival at Northeast Community College in Norfolk.
Nalleli Zermeno and Anthony Marino were selected for the festival's honor band, and Kaci Wickersham was selected for the honor choir.
Hawkfest will be held Monday, Oct. 22 and will feature more than 80 students from 17 area high schools.
Orchard celebrated Homecoming with Clearwater last week.
Along with crowning the 2018 King and Queen, Blake Hoke and Erin Schwager, students showed their school spirit by parading around town, followed by games for the elementary students and a dodgeball tournament.
The top classes in the sign contest were the freshmen class in third place, the sophomore class in second and the senior class in first.
The sophomore class came out on top with their parade float, followed by the eighth grade class in second.
Winning the dodgeball tournament was the senior class, barely scraping by the freshmen class.
The overall school spirit points winner was the senior class.
The Orchard Advisory Board did not take official action on a feasibility study — and could not without the entire Original Board of Education — but agreed to have Superintendent Dale Martin voice support in a potential study. Martin will share that during tonight’s joint board meeting between Ewing and Clearwater.
Board members said they would like the feasibility study to look at not only the financial aspect of a consolidation, but also the curriculum. They also said would favor a study with many options, including some options with Verdigre.
The Ewing/Clearwater meeting will be at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Nearly two dozen cookers braved the cool, wet conditions Saturday for the annual Orchard Rib Fest at Double D's Saloon with the Orchard Young Men's Club.
Jim and Tanner Schutt took the top prize with the best ribs with Doug Wright and Riley Fisher Devall second. Third went to Tate Heiss with Curt Mitteis fourth. Winning best beans was Garrett Forbes.
With a little help during the delivery, Orchard’s music department celebrated a new arrival last week - a baby grand piano.
The piano has a rich history in Orchard, originally belonging to Charles Alexander. Alexander gave the piano to the United Methodist Church where it was used in the sanctuary for several years. From there, it went to the school for a short time before arriving at the Masonic Lodge.
Orchard’s band and choir director, Emily Heithoff, knew there was a baby grand piano in the Masonic Lodge when it was being sold. Doug Wright, owner of Double D’s Saloon in Orchard, purchased the piano.
“The gentleman who bought the building said to donate [the piano] to the school, that he wasn’t going to use it, so just give it to the school,” Heithoff said.
On Thursday, the piano was moved intothe classroom with the help of Jeff Shabram and some of the football players. “We literally just had to lift it up, stick it on the trailer, and drive it a block to school, and then we tipped it on its side to get it in the building,” she said.
Heithoff is excited to have a baby grand piano. “There are not a lot of class D schools that have a baby grand piano sitting in their classroom, so it’s really awesome that we can brag that, ‘Oh, well we have one,’” she said.
She plans to use the piano to demonstrate to the students about how vibrations make sound happen.
“It’s really cool to have a baby grand because the lid of the piano opens up, and so the kids can look inside the piano, and we can talk about the mechanics of how it actually works and how the hammer comes up and touches the string and the string vibrates,” Heithoff said.
In addition, she said she will use the piano for choir practice and to accompany band soloists in preparation for competition.
“We will not use it for concerts because of what it takes to move it out of the classroom, but if/when we host NVC choir, then we will move it into the gym for a big event like that,” Heithoff said. “It’ll be my daily piano. I’ll use it for choir, band, anything I can think of. I’m going to play it as much as I can.”
The students are also very excited to have the baby grand piano in the classroom. “When they walked in, their eyes lit up. They were really excited to see it, and I’ve already shown a couple classes how it works. I set up the lid and showed them the inside,” she said. “They just think it’s the coolest thing because they haven’t seen it before, and they don’t really have the opportunity, even really in churches anymore…to see a baby grand like that.”
After looking up the piano’s serial number, Heithoff discovered that it was originally manufactured by the Milton Piano Company in New York around 1908 to 1910. “It’s in really good shape for being 100 years old plus,” she said.
Heithoff is extremely grateful for the donation. “It means a lot to me because I love Orchard and I love where I work, and just the community, that they would say, ‘Oh, absolutely take this baby grand.’ That they would do that for us is just amazing. I love the support that our music department gets.”
Fire up your grills! Orchard’s 3rd Annual Ribfest is set for Saturday, Sept. 29.
Check in begins that day from 7 to 9 a.m. at Double D’s Saloon. Cookers must be in place by 10 a.m. Entrants must cook four racks of ribs, provided by Double D’s Saloon. (Those with extra room on their grills may be asked to cook more.) There will also be contests for side dishes.
Prizes are $1,000 for first, $750 for second, $500 for third and entry fee money back for fourth. The cost to enter is $40 per person. Ribs will be pulled between 5 and 5:30 p.m. To enter, call or text Doug Wright 402-340-8271 or Dawn Wright at 402-340-9026.
Meal tickets may be purchased from any member of the Orchard Young Men’s Club for $20. Half of the proceeds will go toward building the Orchard Community Center. Entrants will cook a total of 620 pounds of ribs this year. The Husker football game will be on in the afternoon and Prairie Thunder Band will play that night.
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.
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