It’s that time of the year to deck the halls, or in Orchard’s case, deck the streets.
Poinsettias and candles line main street in Orchard this year, different from the normal snowflakes.
Brenda Harrison, Village Clerk/Treasurer, said the old lights “were outdated and we always had to fix them.”
Harrison, along with Bruce Horstmann, brought up purchasing new lights at the Village of Orchard board meeting last month. The board approved the purchase of new lights through the city’s Keno Account.
Several Orchard Economic Development Association (OEDA) board members were present, including Tammy Cheatum and Stephanie Cleveland, who gave their ideas of what to get for the new lights. It was decided to purchase poinsettias and candles.
The lights went up the week before Thanksgiving and were officially turned on last Friday. They will remain up until the new year.
Also new this year, the town of Orchard is having a Christmas light display in the park. The idea for the light display came from Orchard Economic Development Association (OEDA) board member Tammy Cheatum.
Cheatum thought of the idea last year when she and her husband Glen were taking down their Christmas lights.
“We should put up lights in the park,” Glen said.
Tammy was shocked because Glen normally grumbles while putting up the lights at their house, but once the idea was lit, Tammy sprang into action.
She first mentioned the idea to Lynae Stelling, who told her sister Janice Mosel, who donated multiple totes filled with lights and other supplies. Stelling also rescued Christmas decorations from her father-in-law, Richard, who was disposing of them. Becky Moser was also a huge donor of decorations.
Tammy also took to Facebook asking for donations of lights and decorations that people were no longer using.
After realizing it would take many volunteers to help put up the decorations, Tammy enlisted help from the OEDA group and members of the community.
After watching “Christmas Light Fights,” Tammy got the idea to build an arch over each entrance to the park. Ro Hurtig donated two 40-foot long PVC pipes, and Steve Stelling and Glen constructed the arches.
The park lighting will officially take place on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m., with hot chocolate and cookies being served.
“I believe that this an event to continue to build upon each year and continue to add more lights and other attractions,” Cheatum said. “It is so exciting to promote new things in our town and have the OEDA spurring growth within our community.”
The lights will be lit each night and will continue to be on display until January 1.
The Orchard Public School Health Advisory Council met on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 4 p.m. in the OPS library. Members of the council in attendance were Principal Cathy Cooper, Advisory Board president and parent Candice Hoke, elementary teacher Cheryl Schwager, cook Anita Tabbert, health and P.E. teacher Lindi Ferguson, administrative assistant and lunch supervisor Bailey Schwager, and parent Kerry Wickersham. School nurse Christy Knutson was not in attendance.
Anita Tabbert provided information about school lunches, the fruits and vegetables program, and the Eat Smart to Be Smart class meals. Members of the OHS Student Council requested that salt and pepper be provided on the tables, but Anita explained that federal guidelines do not allow this.
This year Orchard qualified for the federally funded fruits and vegetables program for the kindergarten through fourth grade students. Mrs. Cooper said that the fifth and sixth grade teachers requested that this program be extended to their students as well, but after checking with the Nebraska Department of Education, this program cannot be extended beyond fourth grade this year. When the application for this program is prepared next year, fifth and sixth will be included. Some issues with the program are finding enough of the different types of fruits and vegetables and getting them at the right time so that they do not go to waste.
Mrs. Ferguson gave a few highlights of what is happening in PE and health classes at OPS. Heart monitors were purchased and are being used by the fourth through sixth grade students; they not only use the monitors as they jog but also manually check their own pulses and calculate their heart rates. This encourages the kids to push themselves to attain the appropriate heart rate while exercising. Workout Wednesdays are also a part of the PE program. During these days, students participate in relays. Hula hoops were purchased this year, which have added a fun new twist to some of these relays.
Mrs. Schwager shared some of the things that elementary teachers are doing within their classrooms to
promote being active. She stated that research indicates putting movement with song increases learning. Go Noodle videos are widely used in the elementary classrooms to get kids active, but many of these are also learning videos as well. Standing desks and wobble chairs have also been added to several classrooms, which accommodate students as well. Following lunch and prior to recess, rather than students sitting in the bleachers, they now are encouraged to walk laps around the gym, and some
teachers even lead games such as Simon Says.
Other innovations that are helpful to increase healthy practices were also discussed. Monday Morning Motivation, which was started last year. Every Monday at 8:05 a.m., all students and staff go to the gym for a motivational activity such as knockout, line dancing, games, videos, etc., led by staff members and students. One goal is to develop activities that will motivate junior high and high school students more.
The Beef in Schools Program is up and running, and the grilled burgers kick-off was a big success. Mrs. Cooper is working on getting a banner created to hang in the lobby and organizing a way to auction off the prime cuts from the first critter to fund the program. She is also in the process of trying to get another beef donated or sold to the school at a reduced cost to keep the program going.
The OHS Student Council purchased another water-filling station like the one in the main lobby to be put on the fountain by the new locker rooms. Students constantly use the current one, so another will be a great addition.
Big projects come with bigger risks. When an Orchard woman asked students in the construction class at Orchard Public School to build a shed, the project ended up a little bigger than expected.
As luck would have it, the project has now turned into a big fundraiser for the SkillsUSA organization.
Bob Evans had just begun his first year as the shop teacher at Orchard Public School when he agreed to have his students construct the building.
“I believe that skill building and leadership development cannot start too soon in education,” Evans said.
The project started in August of 2017, but due to some complications, the original buyer backed out of the purchase, leading to the 10-foot by 12-foot shed becoming a fundraiser for SkillsUSA. The SkillsUSA program encourages students to dabble in different fields of work in hopes to make them “job ready from day one.”
The organization is selling raffle tickets for $5 each or five for $20 to help pay for students to compete at state competition. With just siding and electrical work remaining, Evans said community support has been incredible.
“People that have heard about the shed are stopping by to check our progress. We have also pre-sold hundreds of tickets, and staff members are lining up to purchase them,” Evans said.
Tickets will be sold at home basketball games by SkillsUSA members with the winner of the shed announced on February 7. The white-sided building is valued at $4,000 and has five windows and two barn-style doors, along with two lofts inside for storage. The roof is also barn-style with a gambrel roof and gray shingles.
Students were a huge part of the project, doing all of the planning and building under the careful guidance of Evans, with the help of the Clearwater shop teacher Mike Odell.
“It’s kind of crazy to think of how critically important each and every one of the students is to the future of our community and the job. I am blessed to have been involved in helping them on their journey,” Evans said.
The number of students fluctuated as they cycled in and out of school due to graduating, but 11 have played a role in construction, including Derek Maxwell and Jacob Bennett. Both said they plan to further their learning in construction and later use it as a career.
“This allows students to show their talents and abilities. In our case, it was almost like a way to validate that we can truly see ourselves doing this for the rest of our lives,” Maxwell said as he reflected on the project. Not only did this project help the students realize their potential, but it also encouraged more to join the program.
“This project is one of the main reasons I joined SkillsUSA,” Bennett admitted.
The SkillsUSA program allows students that are not only interested in industrial technology, but of many different interests.
Students are allowed to participate in competitions that range from cosmetology to drone flying. This allows hands-on experience so that students can be ready for the workforce from the start.
With the increasing amount of competitions being added yearly, the SkillsUSA program needs funding in order to allow their students to excel. Each competition requires different materials and sources in order to compete. With funding and guidance, students can blossom in a variety of areas.
“In 32 years of teaching, I have asked every school to let me provide the program,” Evan said. “This is the place and this is the time for me to be part of this great program. OC has a long-standing tradition of excellence and now we have added a national champion to our list of accomplishments.”
Last summer, Madison Melcher won the job skills demonstration in the open or middle school division at nationals.
“Students will not only gain technical skills, but they will also develop the leadership skills that the workforce so desperately needs,” he said.
Check out how the Orchard 1st and 2nd graders are cooking their Thanksgiving turkey!
I love cooking turkey with mom! First I go to the store and by a turkey. Then I stuff the turkey. Next, I cook it for 24 hours at 10 degrees. Last I eat it. Thanksgiving is the best!
By: Jaden Robinett
Every Thanksgiving we cook turkey. First, I go hunting with my dad and kill a turkey. Next, I go home and cook the turkey 5 minutes at 50 degrees. Then, we put the turkey at the table. Last, we eat the food and the turkey. Thanksgiving is fun!
By: Braxton Schwager
Have you ever cooked a turkey? Ferst I get a turke frum the store. Next I cook the turke. Then I eat it. Last I put it in the frij. I love Thaxsgiving.
By: Kami Martin
I love cooking turkey with mom. First, I go to the farm for a turkey. Next, I pit it in a pan. Then, you cook it 5 minutes at 3 degrees. Last, I eat it. I love Thanksgiving!
By: Efrain Verdin
I love cooking turkey! First I shot a turkey. Next I cut the turkey. Then I bake the turkey 3 minutes at 3 degrees. Last I eat the turkey. I put the turkey in the frig for later. I love Thanksgiving!
Do you make a turkey? I do! First I hunt for a turkey. Neax I cook a turkey for 3 hours at 3 degrees. Neax I make othr food. Last I eat it with a fock. Make a turkey is eez! I love Thanksgiving!
By: Ali Sonnenfelt
Thanksgiving is the best holida evr. First, I hunt for a trke. Next, you cook trke the uven for 5 minutes. Then, you get meat and bones out. Last, eat it with a fork. Thanksgiving is the best!
By: Ryder Jeffords
Cooking turkey is hard. FIrst you go to the store to get a turkey. Next, we cook it For 10 min at 50 degrees. Then we eat it. Last we sav left overs. I love thanksgiving. It is a speshle holuday.
By: Ryker Heller
I am cooking a turkey wit my mom. First, I shoot a turkey with my dad. I scir a turkey at the barn. I gut it at the house with my dad. Next I put it in the oven at at 400 degrees for 4 hours. Finally, I eat the turkey with a for and knife. I love thanksgiving and turkey.
By: Brayden Heller
I know how to make a turkey. First you find on in a forest. Next you kill with turkey with a knife. Next you wash the turkey in the sink. Now you eat it in a feast. Making a turkey is easy.
By: Scarlett Verdin
Every Thanksgiving my family cooks a turkey. First I hunt with my dad. We shot a turkey. We take off the feathers. Next I cook the turkey. 5 min at 3 degrees. Then we eat together at the table. I love turkey legs.
By: Brogan Billings
Have you ever made a turkey? I have with my mom. First, you hunt the turkey in the woods. Next, you gut the turkey in the woods. Then you cook it for 5 minutes at 5 degrees. Mom and I cut the bones out of the turkey. Last, you eat it at your house a fourk. I love thanksgiving because it is a special holiday.
By: Denise Murphy
How you ever cooked a turkey? First, you shoot the turkey at a place with lots of trees. Next, you guy the turkey on the ground. Then, you put it in the oven for 20 min. And the oven should be at 50 drees. Last, you eat the turkey in your house with family. I love Thanksgiving because you give thanks to everyone that sacrificed their life for us long ago.
By: Ellie Heiss
I like baking turkey with my family. First, we go to the office and get the turkey from the mail. Next, we take the turkey home and start grilling it. We grill it for 50 minutes at 50 degrees. Then, we set the table so we can eat. After grilling the turkey, my dad and I stuff the turkey with stuffing. Last, we eat the turkey with the Hammer family in Creighton. I love eating turkey with my family on Thanksgiving.
By: Dylan Gray
I like shooting a turkey on Thanksgiving. Frist, we find a turkey and shoot it with a gym. Next. we pull the feathers off and put it in the pikup. Then, we shed the skin, add oil, and put it in the uven for 10-20 minutes at 5 degrees. Last, we take the turkey out of the oven and take it to the table to eat. We pray before we eat. I like spending Thanksgiving with my family.
By: Carson Sayers
Imagine that the local power provider needs to refuel at the nuclear power plant. Unfortunately, the robotic arm used to replace the fuel cells has malfunctioned, and the engineers need to develop a safe alternative.
This is one of many scenarios that students at Orchard Public Schools are working through with the Nebraska Public Power District STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Connection Lab.
According to NPPD, the lab “is a model for how you (teachers) can implement open-sourced learning and the Maker’s mentality into your classroom.”
Orchard has nine of the 11 stations offered by NPPD — MakeyMakey+Rasberry PI Lab, Electronics Lab, Afinia H800 3D Printer, Carvey 3D CNC Machine, Engineering Workshop, Sensor Station, Smart Home Internet of Things, Wearables Lab (virtual reality) and Creativity Lab.
The labs are divided into four categories, including Make it DO, where the students have to take existing equipment and make it do something, Make it NEW in which students implement their ideas to make a new product, Make An IMPACT, in which students use data to make an impact in the community and Make it YOU in which students have the opportunity to be creative.
Tami Kuhfal, 5th grade teacher at Orchard Public Schools, was responsible for bringing the NPPD STEM lab to the school. The lab arrived at the school last week and will remain there until the end of this week.
The lab is geared toward sixth through twelfth grades, but Kuhfal explained that Orchard has trustworthy fifth graders, so they’re letting the fifth graders use the lab.
“I did have some younger students who are in our coding club that is on Mondays participate a little bit, but it’s definitely geared toward sixth grade through twelfth grade,” Kuhfal said.
Each station comes in its own box to make for simple set-up.
“It’s kind of neat because they come in boxes.” Bob Evans, Orchard’s Industrial Technology teacher, explained. “They close them all up, and everything fits in the little box like that, and you open them up and voila, presto-chango, it’s all in there.”
Kuhfal first heard about the lab through Jennifer Swarzik, who did a Spheros lab with her students last year. Chad Johnson, the head of the lab, sent out a form to all the teachers in NPPD’s service area, so Kuhfal signed Orchard up to have the lab.
“I think they’re (NPPD) trying to bring their product into the schools and hopefully educate our students on safety of power, as well as hopefully gaining employees one day,” Kuhfal said.
She also spoke about the skills that students are going to need in the future, like problem-solving.
“When (NPPD) set the lab up, they said that ‘Here, the adults can’t help you,’ is basically what we’re supposed to tell the kids. ‘Figure it out.’ ” Kuhfal said.
The adults were only given a simple orientation on the lab with very minimal training to encourage the students to learn and problem-solve on their own.
“Problem-solving, that’s a skill that we’re really trying to encourage. It’s kind of a lost art, and we need to bring it back to our kids,” she said.
Some of the students have had to problem-solve through issues with some of the machines, like the 3D printer and the Carvey 3D CNC Machine, which is basically a computer-run router.
Each lab contains a journal that the schools can add to when they have problems and document how they solved that problem.
“It’s a matter of using what’s down there and finding the answer,” Kuhfal said.
Evans uses the lab so his students “can learn how to problem-solve and to think critically about ideas and concepts.”
“They pick something, they can explore everything, they don’t have to do it all, they can do what’s of interest to them,” Evans said. “Every period that I can find practical application for it and problem-solving, we’re down here doing stuff, working with things.”
Kuhfal uses the lab during her students’ STEM time in the afternoons.
“We’re rotating them (the fifth and sixth graders) in groups of 10, so 10 kids are working on projects up on the main floor...then I’m taking a group of 10 down there everyday to rotate,” Kuhfal explained.
Kuhfal said her students aren’t getting graded on their time in the lab. “We’re just trying to get them the exposure.”
Both Kuhfal and Evans said that the students’ favorite station is the Wearables Lab, which is virtual reality.
“You can go into the virtual world and go to your home, they can climb skyscrapers, they can fly in helicopters, they can do all the things,” Evans said. “But mostly, the premise is that they’re supposed to go out and take 3D video, bring it back, and then solve a problem in their community with the help of virtual reality.”
They Carvey 3D CNC Machine is also a favorite among the students. Kuhfal said students have used the machine to carve initials, names and insignias in both wood and acrylic slabs.
Students are even repurposing materials from elsewhere in the school to create projects at the Carvey station, including a large acrylic slab that custodian Tony Tabbert replaced in the kitchen.
Kuhfal said that the students are really having to use math with the Carvey station, like measuring, figuring dimensions and converting fractions into decimals.
However, living in the virtual world and using the Carvey are not the only things the students are excited about. Evans also explained that one of the students is making his own game controller.
“He’s just making a simple joystick kind of thing with the MakeyMakey(+Rasberry PI Lab) so he can have a controller that was built by himself,” Evans said. “And then they get to see all the technology that goes into the controllers and try to make their own, how simple yours is.”
“The Rasberry PI is a great little $35 computer, and so they were trying to take that, along with the MakeyMakey which was developed by students from MIT, and basic simple circuitry, opening and closing circuits, and then coding that into the game controller,” Kuhfal expanded. “They’re learning just so many different aspects of programming, coding and mathematics.”
Along with problem-solving and math skills, Kuhfal said the kids are learning to interact with each other.
“It’s neat to see the kids interacting with each other,” she said. “‘Oh, you need to do this, you need to do that.’”
Kuhfal said that the students were even trying to get one of the other teachers to climb underneath a table in one of the virtual reality worlds.
One of the biggest challenges that Kuhfal said students are facing is patience. “They want instant gratification,” she said.
“We have to rotate,” she explained. “Patience, problem-solving, it’s okay if things don’t go right the first time.”
Kuhfal also explained that the lab has given confidence to those students who may struggle in the classroom.
“Students that are not good at math, students that aren’t good at reading, are really great with the hands-on,” she said. “And so that’s really elevated them, I think, in the eyes of some of the other students because it comes easy in the classroom for some of them, but they don’t have patience.”
“Kids who are in the resource room for the majority of their academics are proficient and excelling down there,” she continued. “And I think that they’re seeing that they can do things, and I’m really praising them. ‘Okay, you have to go seek out that student because they know how to operate this a whole lot better than Mrs. Kuhfal knows.’”
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