November 6, 2015

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November 6, 2015

Lakota Community Stocks Reach Out Lakota Shelves through February
Annual Food Drive Amounts to 12,000+ Pounds of Food

Lakota West students (left to right) Sara Parente, Trey Weinberger and Cheyenne Battle accept the traveling trophy on behalf of Lakota's west side schools, the winner of this year's district competition.

(Left to right) Lakota Board member Ray Murray, State Senator Bill Coley, State Representative Margy Conditt, Lakota Board Vice President Todd Parnell, Lakota Board President Lynda O'Connor, Lakota Board members Ben Dibble and Julie Shaffer, West Chester Township Trustee and Vice President Mark Welch, Liberty Township Trustee and Vice President Tom Farrell and West Chester Township Trustee and President George Lang.

The annual “Reach In for Reach Out Lakota” food drive, hosted by the Lakota Board of Education, is the single largest source of donations all year long for the local food pantry.

“If it weren’t for Lakota’s support, we would not be able to properly support the hunger needs of West Chester and Liberty townships,” said J. Peyton Gravely, who oversees the organization’s fundraising and donor relations activities. “The support of Lakota’s administrators, educators, parents and students truly is a blessing to Reach Out Lakota and the families we serve.”

This year’s district-wide drive, which ended Oct. 30 at the East vs. West football game, amounted to between 12,000 and 15,000 pounds of mainly food, and some personal hygiene items. The non-profit has seen a steadily rising clientele base since June. Paired with a drop in donations over the summer months, the shelves were nearly bare before Lakota’s two truckloads arrived.

According to Gravely, the Lakota community’s contributions will stock Reach Out Lakota’s shelves into early February. The organization serves about 2,200 clients during regular distribution hours three days a week, in addition to a large distribution of Thanksgiving meals.

“Lakota has a deep-rooted partnership with Reach Out Lakota that extends even beyond this annual district-wide tradition,” said Lakota Board President Lynda O’Connor. “I am always humbled by what we can accomplish when all our schools work together and so grateful for the unfaltering generosity of our students, staff, parents and others in our community.”

The annual competition plays off the spirit of the East vs. West football game, pitting Lakota’s East side schools against the West side schools. The West side schools brought in the most donations and retained this year’s trophy.

Schools designed their own local programs and competitions to encourage donations. At Lakota East Freshman, for example, it was a battle among the homerooms. Intervention Specialist Ellen Bowmann turned the opportunity into a service learning activity, engaging her students in discussions about financial need, healthy food choices and even consumer decision-making and fiscal responsibility.

Students raised money for the food drive and made a trip to Kroger to work in small groups to calculate price differences and make smart purchases. In the end, the class contributed 803 items, the most of any homeroom at East Freshman.

“Practical lessons with a very real and positive outcome are always the best kind of lessons,” Bowmann said.

Lakota West students (front, left to right) Brennen Martin, Evan Cook, (from left, inside the pod) Brandon Whited, Dominic Schivone, Garrett Jackson and Josh Harrison add their donations before the start of the East vs. West football game.

(From left) Lakota West 2015 graduate Lara Aull and West senior Maya Andrews add their donations to the West side truck.

Lakota East Freshman students turned this year's drive into a class service learning activity, making a trip to Kroger to purchase donations with the money they raised.



Elementary Schools


New Literacy Workshop Supports Parents and Students

The media center at Independence Elementary was transformed Thursday night to mirror the plot of the popular children’s book, “Corduroy.” Like the book’s night watchman, students and parents used flashlights to search for Corduroy’s lost buttons. Their mission: To find buttons displaying words with the “o-r” sound, as found in the book’s title.

The school’s new family literacy workshop, for students and parents alike, is offered one night a week for nine straight weeks. Each session centers on a different children’s book and usually features an activity, craft and snack to help feature a different combination of letters that prove challenging to new readers.

“It’s all based on explicit phonics instruction,” said Independence second grade teacher Christy Williams, who developed the program as part of her doctoral work and tested it with her homeroom class last year. Data showed such positive improvement in students' reading levels that she wanted to make it available to more students and their parents, too.

The program’s highest priority is fun and engaging activities, which help students get excited about reading and also gain a more lasting comprehension of why different combinations of letters produce different sounds. At one session, participants used magic wands to demonstrate the impact of the magic “e,” for instance.

The parents’ involvement is paramount, too. “That immediate and one-on-one feedback and positive reinforcement is difficult to achieve in the classroom. Students get that when they’re working side-by-side with their parents,” Williams said.

“Plus, we weren’t taught to read the same way kids are taught today,” she added. “I’ve had parents tell me that the program has actually made them a better speller. It just makes them look at letters and words in a different way.”

The program has drawn increasingly larger groups as more families learn about it, often including student siblings coming from other Lakota schools. Williams says the more individuals who can benefit from it, the better.

Literacy is a top priority in Lakota’s early childhood and elementary schools, where school-based family literacy programs like this one help parents partner with their child’s teacher in developing lifelong readers.

Junior High Schools

First-Ever Community Service Fair Helps Students Give Back
At the end of last week’s Community Service Fair, Hopewell Junior students walked away inspired to give back to the community. And they also received a folder full of service opportunities specifically designed for seventh- and eighth-graders to help get them started.

Spearheaded by parent Karen Miorin, the fair brought together five local organizations to share their goals for improving the community. Students rotated through stations manned by Animal Friends Humane Society, Reach Out Lakota, Partners in Prime, Butler County Water and Soil, and Habitat for Humanity. Teams of 150 students met in the gym, first hearing from Principal Jeff Rouff and Assistant Principal John Wise about the importance of giving back. Then the students rotated to each station for 10-15 minutes, learning about what the organization does and ways that they can help.

Students brought in items that day to donate to several of the organizations, and they even got to participate in a service project at the Habitat for Humanity station by placing personalized thank you notes and goodies into bags to thank volunteers.

“We wanted the students to learn more about the rewards of giving back, but also provide them with service opportunities that 13- and 14-year-olds can take part in,” said Rouff.

He added that an important piece will be following up with students to help them plan ways that they can get involved in community service projects. Students took home a folder with ideas to discuss with their families, and staff members are meeting with students during their advisory period to discuss the experience they had at the fair.

The school counselor is also in the process of starting an after school community service group that can seek out service projects, and then share them with the entire student body.

Hopewell Junior held a Community Service Fair, inviting five local organizations to come and share ways that students can help support the work that their group does. At the Habitat for Humanity station, Daniel Legters (right) and Chance Cook (left) helped assemble goodie bags to thank volunteers.

High Schools

Students Attend Live Surgery Experience and College Exploration Day

Ten Lakota West students got a real-life look at healthcare careers last week as part of Christ Hospital’s Live Surgery Experience and College Exploration Day.

Hundreds of area high school students attended the all-day event. In the morning, students watched as Dr. Mark Magner, neurosurgeon with The Christ Hospital Physicians, performed a posterior cervical spinal fusion.

Dr. Wagner spoke to the students as he was performing the procedure, and then spent an hour afterward fielding questions from the group.

“The students had lots of questions about the pathways to becoming a doctor, and Dr. Wagner gave them lots of great advice,” said Lakota West Science Department Chair Debbie Gerstner, who helped to organize the experience. “He discussed all of the realities of being a doctor and I think it really opened the students’ eyes.”

In the afternoon, a Christ College alumni panel of Registered Nurses shared stories about their education and career experiences; students also received tours of the hospital and the college.

Gerstner had over 50 students apply to be part of the exploration day. Students were chosen based on an essay explaining their interest in the medical field, as well as recommendations from teachers, administrators, counselors, and support staff.

Selected students include Tricia Aho, Stephan Art, Brooke Huston, Keely Maloney, Emma McGuire, Chidera Okoh, Sena Omoruyi, Shelby Tommer, Tara Vezina, and Sydney Washing.

Based on the overwhelmingly positive response from students, Gerstner plans to take another group again next year.

A group of Lakota West students were selected to attend Christ Hospital's Live Surgery and College Exploration Day on Oct. 29. Students viewed a cervical spine fusion, toured the hospital and had a Q & A with a variety of healthcare professionals.

Entries Due Nov. 30 for Martin Luther King, Jr. Contest
All K-12 Students Invited to Participate

Students in the Lakota community are invited to take part in the seventeenth annual Live the Dream: Our Declaration of Unity celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

This year, junior high and high school students are invited to participate in the program by writing the equivalent to a two-minute speech in response to the following:

On August 16, 1967, at the 11th annual convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta, GA, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “There are forty million poor people here, and one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America?’”

According to, in 2014, there were 46.7 million poor people in America, or 14.8% of the population.

With this in mind, please address one of the following questions.

How does poverty still play into the problems we see in America today?

How does poverty affect your local community?

Elementary students can respond to either of the two questions above through the artistic medium of their choice.

In addition to an individual’s entry, classes, troops, or youth organizations for students in grades K-12 who would like to answer the contest questions as a group are invited to be as creative as possible, with skits, songs, artwork or videos that can be presented within a two-minute time limit.

All contest entries will be displayed at the Live the Dream: Our Declaration of Unity celebration to be held on Monday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. at Cornerstone United Methodist Church, and winners will share their ideas with those in attendance.

Entries should be submitted to the student's building principal or to the West Chester or Liberty Township Administration office by Monday, Nov. 30, 2015 at 4 p.m. Click here to see the event flyer with details and a contest entry form.


Lakota East Craft Show Next Weekend

Event has Great Gift Ideas for Everyone on Your Holiday List

The 2015 Lakota East Craft Show will be held on November 14-15 at the high school’s main campus. Over 220 booths, featuring exhibitors from near and far, will be assembled in one spacious indoor shopping venue. Concessions, lunch food, and plenty of on-site parking will also be available for shoppers.

The event is open from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14, with a $2 general admission fee. Early bird entry from 9 - 10 a.m. is available for a $5 admission charge. Visitors can also attend the show on Sunday between 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The event is sponsored by the Lakota East PTSO, and all proceeds help to fund student programs and scholarships. Please visit the show’s website for more information, including a complete list of artisans. Click here for a flyer with more details. Mark your calendars to attend one of the region’s largest holiday arts & crafts shows!

Thunder Run 5K Run/Walk Set for Nov. 21
The Lakota East Athletic Boosters are hosting their third annual Thunder Run 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, Nov. 21. This community event is open to all ages; registration begins at 8 a.m. with the 5K starting at 9:30 a.m. Participants can designate a portion of the registration fee for a sports team at Lakota East, Hopewell or Liberty junior schools.

Click here for a registration form and more event details.

E-FLYERS: What's New this Week?

As a reminder, E-Flyers is Lakota’s way of distributing information about programs, classes, events and opportunities happening in our schools and around the community. Rather than sending flyers home with students, we are now posting all approved information on the E-Flyer page, making it easy for families to access all current opportunities.

Here is a listing of all of the new district and community-sponsored flyers for this week. 

Community-Sponsored Flyers:

To view all of the current flyers, please click here to go to Lakota’s E-Flyers page. For flyers specific to a school, please visit that school's website.

LAKOTA EAST HIGH SCHOOL: Choose Kind Initiative



A rainbow of Post-it notes blanketed the halls of Lakota East High School last Friday. Every student and staff member arrived to find a personal handwritten motivational message on his or her locker or classroom door. More notes lining the hallways, stairwells, gymnasium, weight room, library and more helped reinforce the positivity all day long.

East senior Olivia Diehl was the person behind this unique display. What started as an activity to qualify for a scholarship through grew into a personal passion. After completing about 2,000 messages by herself, Olivia enlisted the help of her peers to complete that many more. It took the group two hours after school to disperse the 4,130 messages.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction and couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” said Olivia, reiterating that the school’s “Be the Difference” character program that same day helped extend the positivity. “Kids were coming up to me for days telling me their own stories and how much the note meant to them.”

East Principal Suzanna Davis’s reaction: “Students commented on what an awesome project it was and how it started their day on a high note. The whole thing speaks to Olivia's character and embodies the concept of being the change you want to see in the world."


Saturday, November 14
Lakota East PTSO Arts & Crafts Show - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday, November 15
Lakota East PTSO Arts & Crafts Show - 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, November 16
Lakota Board of Education Meeting - Central Office - 7 p.m.

Wednesday, November 25
No School for Students/Staff in Lieu of Conferences

Thursday, November 26
No School - Thanksgiving Holiday

Friday, November 27
No School - Thanksgiving Holiday