Springdale Schools Blog

Jessica Olson Becomes First Marshallese Teacher in District

posted Aug 17, 2017, 12:19 PM by JACKSON BRASWELL   [ updated Aug 17, 2017, 7:57 PM ]



                 Born in Guam and raised in the Marshall Islands before moving to Springdale as a second grader, Jessica Olson becomes the first with a Marshallese background to become a teacher in the Springdale School District. She is excited to be teaching health and physical education at Sonora Middle School while also coaching eighth grade basketball at Lakeside Junior High.

                  “I majored in kinesiology at the University of Arkansas and was interested in athletic training,” Olson says. “Then I got involved working with the Sonora Middle School after-school program. That got me interested in teaching. I am certified to teach k-12 but Sonora was the job I wanted.

                  “Besides working with the after school program I also helped Coach (Trudi) Spencer with the basketball team. She was a mentor to me. She moved to another position at the school and her job became available. I had not made any other plans. I wanted to work at Sonora. It was very stressful until I got the job. I only got it two weeks before school started.”

                  Olson has thoroughly enjoyed her first few weeks at Sonora, noting, “The atmosphere is so inviting because of the people. Dr. (principal, Martha) Dodson regards everyone at the school as part of a big team. We hold each other accountable and the staff has the same values I have.”

                  A major change for Olson, though, will be preparing basketball players to become Springdale Bulldogs. Olson played basketball for Springdale Har-Ber.

                       “I’ve been playing basketball my whole life,” she says. “When we got to Springdale, Coach (Sandy) Wright was my coach in travel basketball. Eventually I played for her at Har-Ber. I played a year at Kansas Wesleyan before transferring to the University of Arkansas.”

                  Her father, who is a retired teacher, coached basketball in the Marshall Islands after teaching in Wisconsin. Her mother, Camron, works in the Language Academy at Har-Ber High School.

“Having parents involved in education has been helpful,” Olson says. “It was a help in getting through school. I started at George Elementary and went to the second, third and fourth grades there before being in fifth grade at Walker. Then I went to Hellstern Middle School, Central Junior High and Har-Ber.”

                  Does she remember her transition from the Marshall Islands to Springdale?

                  “The first year it was crazy getting used to the difference,” she responds. “The culture was so different. It took a while to make friends. One major difference is the opportunities females have in America.”

                  The opportunity she likes the most is teaching at Sonora and coaching at Lakeside.

                  “We have good equipment and a great gym,” Olson says. “I like working with this age group. You can really see them growing as students and basketball players. I couldn’t be in a better place.”

                  Jessica Olson is another example of why Springdale is #THEChoice.

Journey Around the World Leads to Westwood For Phillips

posted Aug 16, 2017, 1:08 PM by JACKSON BRASWELL   [ updated Aug 18, 2017, 7:02 PM ]

For many new teachers in the Springdale School District, the journey to becoming an educator looks similar. However, first year Westwood Elementary teacher Ezra Phillips has done it all leading up to his first week in a third grade classroom.


Phillips majored in anthropology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and moved to the Middle East after graduation to pursue his dream of becoming an Egyptologist.


“I moved to Egypt and lived there for several years,” said Phillips. “I worked for the Egyptian National Museum of Antiquities and worked on some archeological science.”


Throughout his time in Egypt, Phillips would travel back and forth from Egypt to the United States finishing degrees and once he acquired his masters, Ezra moved to Turkey to teach English for a summer. This decision to begin teaching sparked a number of future moves that would highlight Ezra’s ability to teach and relate information to people. Phillips traveled for a few more years throughout Asia, Africa and Europe and after pursuing another degree in Social Science at the University of Chicago, began teaching at the college level.


“I taught anthropology at Chicago State University and then decided I wanted to be closer to my family,” said Phillips. “I decided to move back to Arkansas and worked as a professor at my alma mater, UALR.”


If it seems like Mr. Phillips has already pursued enough degrees and seen enough of the world for a lifetime, hold on, his journey gets even more interesting. After a few years at UALR, Ezra decided he needed a break from the educational setting and began working for the Arkansas State Parks as a Park Ranger. This opportunity led to a position with the National Park Service.


“I worked all over the country as a Park Ranger but spent the majority of my time at the Oregon Caves National Monument and Reserve and in the Everglades,” said Phillips. “In the warmer months I would work in Oregon and then in the winter I would work in the Everglades.”


There is no denying that spending time at these beautiful locations would be an incredible experience and for Ezra it was but in the end it was too removed from society and from his passions for it to be a permanent career.


“I got lonely, said Phillips. “Living in places where there are very few people and no cell service or internet is hard in today’s society. I knew when I left the parks that it was time to go back to teaching.”


Fast forward to the present and Mr. Phillips’ move back to teaching has landed him in Springdale at International Baccalaureate curriculum based, Westwood Elementary, a place he feels he can flourish.


“I believe that this curriculum creates internationally minded students and I think my background as an anthropologist will really pay off in teaching these kids about culture and the world,” said Phillips.


After teaching only college students in his career so far, Phillips knows third grade will be a leap. However, he has the blood lines and family support to do it.


“I come from a family of school teachers,” said Phillips. “I am familiar with teaching students of all ages and I kind of always wanted to be a school teacher for k-12. My mom wanted to make sure that I had things in my classroom that were from both of my grandmother’s classrooms and her classrooms. It will just be some stuff on the shelves, some books and a few bulletin board things that are a reminder of them.”


Mr. Phillips has been looking forward to the first day with his third graders and hopes to provide a family atmosphere in the classroom that they will remember for a lifetime.


“I am looking forward to getting to know my students and build a relationship with them so that they feel safe and comfortable in here and ready to learn,” said Phillips. “Elementary students absorb everything and I want to instill in them to be life long learners and in order to do that you have to start them early.”


Throughout Ezra’s travels he has become fluent in four languages: two dialects of Arabic, French, and obviously, English. While he isn't fluent in Spanish, he hopes to continue to grow his Spanish language skills to better relate with some of his students and has decided to begin taking Marshallese classes as soon as possible to add that language to his repertoire.


“I have always been good at picking up languages, said Phillips. “It is a gift and it gives me the opportunity to speak on a more personal level with people around the world and will help me connect with my students.”


Phillips has had quite the journey to Westwood, and with the skills that he has picked up on his way, looks to be a great addition to the school and will help make this year a fantastic one for a group of third graders eager to learn.





Sojas Wagle Wins International Brain Bee

posted Aug 10, 2017, 1:37 PM by JACKSON BRASWELL   [ updated Aug 10, 2017, 1:39 PM ]

    Even though he is the first Arkansas student ever to win the International Brain Bee, it should come as no surprise to those who know Sojas Wagle. The recent victory was among an amazing list of accomplishments the Springdale Har-Ber High School junior has accumulated during his academic career.


    Still just 15 years old (soon to be 16), Wagle won the United States Brain Bee and finished third in the 2015 National Geographic Bee after winning the Arkansas title in both events. In the summer of 2016 he won $250,000 as a participant on the “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” Whiz Kids Edition. As a sophomore he scored a perfect 36 on his ACT exam. He is a member of the Har-Ber Debate Team and plays violin as first chair for the Arkansas Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.


    He does it all while maintaining humility and a desire to help others.


    “After he won the International Brain Bee, he already was thinking about what he could do next,” said his mother, Aparna Wagle, who works at Parson Hills Elementary. “Since he has made 36 on the ACT, he would like to help other students at Har-Ber prepare to take the test.”


    He’s also thinking about his next academic challenge.


    “Taking AP (Advance Placement) Biology got me interested in neuroscience and that’s how I found out about the Brain Bee,” Wagle said. “This year I’m taking AP Chemistry so I am going to look into the Chemistry Olympiad. I want to explore the chemical makeup of the world.


    “I also want to work on National Merit and have a good year with the Debate Team, including Mock Trial.”


    What was it like competing against top students from 24 other countries at the International Brain Bee in Washington, D.C.?


    “I was more nervous than I was at the National Brain Bee,” Wagle responded. “I had never been in international competition and I didn’t know what to expect. It was great, though. Everyone was so nice. They all spoke English and I learned a lot about their cultures.


    “There were six sections and they never announced the scoring. We all knew it was real close going into the second day. Most of the sections were answering questions but the hardest part was patient diagnosis where they used live people who would describe the neurological problem they were having. We had to diagnose the problem from the symptoms they would describe. Even though it was hard, I felt pretty good when it was over.”


    How did he know he won?


     “They announced the order of finish starting with number 25 and moving down to number one,” Wagle explained. “By the time they got to the top three and they hadn’t called my name, I thought I had a good chance to win. The runner up was a student two years older than me from Poland (Milena Malcharek). She was very nice and very smart.”


    All of the competitors had time to prepare. The international competition was two months after nationals. Wagle said he “did a lot of reading and studying during that time. All of the students studied hard. We were from different parts of the world but one thing we all had in common was we all worked hard and were passionate about neuroscience.”


    Has his experience with neuroscience helped Wagle determine a possible profession?


    “I want to go to medical school and become a neurologist,” said Wagle, whose father is a doctor. “I don’t want to be only a clinical neurologist but also do research. I want to help diagnose people and recommend cures we currently know about but I also want to develop new cures.”


     Wagle’s goals would fit with the mission of Dr. Norbert Myslinski, President and Founder of the International Brain Bee, who developed the competition to “motivate young men and women to study the brain and to inspire them to enter careers in the basic and clinical neurosciences. We need bright young men and women to help treat and find cures for the 1,000 neurological and psychological disorders around the world.”


    Wagle is not only the first from Arkansas to win the International Brain Bee (last year’s U.S. winner was from Little Rock Central and was the only other Arkansan ever to win the national competition), but the first from the U.S. to win the International Bee in six years. The last five winners have been from Australia (three), India and Romania.


    “It was great to win but I have to give a lot of credit to my parents, brother, teachers, doctors who spent time helping me prepare, other students and friends who have supported me,” Wagle said. “They keep me pumped for the next thing, whatever it is.”


Springdale Schools, Tyson Foods Combine For Amazing Event

posted Jul 25, 2017, 1:39 PM by JACKSON BRASWELL   [ updated Jul 25, 2017, 1:41 PM ]

                  Neither Springdale School District principals and administrators nor Tyson Foods executives knew what to expect but the response was overwhelming when Tyson’s Berry Street operation hosted an event that allowed their employees to register their children for school.

                  Over 1,000 family members swarmed the area east of the Berry Street plant and enjoyed free hot dogs, chips and ice cream after making sure they were registered for the upcoming school year. District officials and Tyson Foods executives both called the event “a huge success.”

                  “I cooked 800 hot dogs,” said Tyson Berry Street chaplain Kevin Scherer. “It was a great event, everything we had hoped for. We did this as a pilot to try at our other plants. Springdale was a natural school district for us to partner with because so many of our employees have kids in their schools and they have creative leadership in relation to reaching minority students.”

                  A grant from Tyson Foods and cooperative effort from several community members made it possible.

                  “We had somewhere between 15 and 20 members on our committee and had been working on this since late March,” said George Elementary principal Annette Freeman. “Kevin (Scherer) and Donna Davis were on the committee from Tyson. There were several of our principals and members of our community, including some from the Amazeum in Bentonville.

                  “We wanted to make it easy for parents to have the opportunity to register for school in plenty of time. Before being admitted, each adult had to show his or her badge proving he or she worked at the Berry Street plant. Then we handed them a passport. They had to get three parts stamped before they enjoyed hot dogs and ice cream.”

                  The first station insured their students were enrolled in the proper school. There were almost 20 students who were brand new to the district and several students had moved from one school to another. Their registration cards will be delivered to their schools this week.

                  At the second station parents were asked about insurance. Several had students that were uninsured. They were given appointments to take care of insurance. At the third station parents who had not already done so filled out forms for their students to receive free lunch at school.

                  Each station had translators to help with the paper work. Scherer noted, “Every year when school starts we have employees who ask us to help them with the paperwork for the free lunch program. It can be intimidating for them. It takes up a lot of our time. This is great for us to get this done early.”

                  Once all the paperwork was finished, students and their parents ate the hot dogs, chips and ice cream that was provided for them. Over 1,200 ice cream treats were distributed.

                  Then, every student was given a backpack loaded with school supplies and a free book of his or her choice from the Scholastic Book Fair. Students included all ages from pre-K to high school.

                  “We gave out 750 backpacks and ran out,” Freeman said. “We have ordered 150 for those we missed. Scholastic Books provided a tremendous opportunity for us by giving us a free book for every one we sold. So, each student got a book and we will be able to use the books we receive free throughout our district.”

                  The event began at 9 am but by 8 there were many families already in line. Springdale principals, assistant principals, teachers, nurses, registrars, ESL workers and some student volunteers started early and cleaned up everything after the event concluded shortly before 1 pm.

                  “It wasn’t just the school district and Tyson Foods,” Freeman said. “Amazeum had a tent. So did Beaver Water District, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Hispanic Women’s Organization, YouthBridge and Ozark Guidance. The Springdale High School cheerleaders hauled backbacks, greeted families and did some cheers.”

                  Scherer and Freeman are already thinking about how to make it even better next year.

                  “This event was not about hot dogs and ice cream but about helping our families,” said Scherer. “Things many of us take for granted, like completing paper work, can be obstacles for them. We wanted to make sure there were no obstacles for the kids to start school.

                  “The reason so many of our workers are here is for their kids. They want a better life for their children. I think we pulled off something special. Springdale Public Schools has some incredibly talented and dedicated educators.”

                  Freeman added, “This was a huge success because we went to them and the place where they work. Now they will be more comfortable coming to our schools. And, Tyson Foods knows our teachers and principals are available to help them with their Upward Academy where we could help their employees with literacy and answer their questions.”


Becoming a Dentist is Har-Ber Senior’s Goal

posted May 18, 2017, 8:43 AM by JACKSON BRASWELL

While in junior high school Ismael Salgado shadowed a dentist. He has been fascinated by “the anatomy of teeth” since he was much younger. Now a graduating senior at Springdale Har-Ber High School, Salgado’s future plans include becoming a dentist.
“Dr. Johnny Baker is my dentist and I am always asking him questions,” says Salgado. “He has talked to me about schools I should consider. I am going to the University of Arkansas (with a Whitlock scholarship) to major in pre-dental. After that I’m thinking about St. Louis for dental school.”
Why St. Louis?
“I went there with my church on a mission trip and liked it,” Salgado responds. “I’ve also made mission trips to Sandusky, Ohio and McAllen, Texas. On those trips we serve the community. We work at homeless shelters and food banks as well as the Boys and Girls Clubs. In McAllen we worked at the immigration center and counseled people on being in the United States.”
Service is in Salgado’s DNA. So is being bi-literal. Even though he has been in the Springdale Public School system since elementary school at Elmdale, Salgado is proficient in Spanish and was in the first group of students to receive an Arkansas Bi-Literacy Award.
“Ismael has been one the best of the best in my AP Spanish classes this year,” says Har-Ber instructor Ellen Rainey. “He is an outstanding student, classmate, friend and leader. He is dedicated, driven, a great communicator and collaborator. I’ve known his family since 2011 and they are good people.”

Salgado values any compliment from Rainey. He says, “Mrs. Rainey always motivated me to do my best. She is a good influence. I have had a lot of good teachers in Springdale. I like the opportunities to learn we have in Springdale. I took seven Advanced Placement courses and feel well prepared for the University of Arkansas.”
While Salgado is ready for the next step, he will always have a desire to serve.
“I like to help people,” Salgado says. “A dentist helps people. I liked to help my friends with homework and other things. I like to help my dad. He works in the school system but also has a landscaping business he does on the weekends.”
Even though he will be at the UA soon, he doesn’t expect to lose contact with his classmates. After starting at Elmdale, he advance to Hellstern Middle School and Central Junior High before finishing at Har-Ber. He still has friends from elementary school.
“I have a lot of friends,” he says. “I like to meet new people and also have friends going back to Elmdale. In fact, elementary school seems like yesterday. I was in the fifth grade talent show. I did a dance routine with a partner and we finished in third place.”
His fondness for Elmdale hasn’t faded. He has a brother in the third grade there. His older brothers are in the Air Force and at the University of Arkansas, where Ismael will be a freshman in the fall.

“It’s exciting to graduate and move ahead in life,” says Salgado, who is a Spanish and Medical honor graduate. “I’m look forward to life after high school.”

Salgado is looking forward to his next steps because he is well prepared. He is a testimony to Springdale Public Schools being #THE Choice.

Archer Senior Looking Forward to Medical Career

posted May 18, 2017, 8:26 AM by JACKSON BRASWELL

Estefany Mancia is ready for the next step. The Archer Learning Center senior and winner of a Kiwanis Scholarship is preparing for a career in medicine even though she spoke very little English when she moved to the United States.

“Eventually I would like to go to medical school but right now I am taking it a step at a time,’ says Mancia. “I finished my CNA at NTI and I plan to work on my Licensed Practical Nurse degree at Northwest Arkansas Community College before transferring to a four-year school.”


Mancia has been a high achiever at Archer for two years after spending her sophomore year at Springdale High School.


“Archer has been good for me,” she says “My grades are good and I’ve been able to catch up on credits faster so I could graduate in three years. It was hard in the beginning but I’ve pushed myself and finished the work.”


Archer principal Dr. Shawna Lyons adds, “Estefany is helpful, always here and does her work.”


Mancia has succeeded academically even though she is a young mother and also works part time.


“It hasn’t been easy but I have a son who is two and I work at McDonald’s,” Mancia says. “Now that I am receiving my CNA certificate, I plan to apply to work at a nursing home and hope to work there while I am at NWACC.”


 Mancia is used to overcoming obstacles. She moved from El Salvador to New Jersey early in her elementary school life.


“I didn’t speak any English,” Mancia recalls. “It was hard because all the teachers and kids spoke English. I didn’t understand. I wanted to cry. I didn’t want to be there. It took me about a year to be comfortable with the language. By the time we moved to Springdale, I was okay.”

Her father’s family lives in Arkansas so Mancia came to Springdale as a seventh grader and was enrolled at J.O Kelly. Language was no longer a barrier but the culture in Arkansas was quite different than that of New Jersey.


“There were a lot more things to do in New Jersey,” she says. “New Jersey has the ocean. But, in Arkansas you do have more space for yourself. There is a lot of nature to explore. There are some fun places to visit. Also, I’ve made a lot of friends here. We all have come to Archer for a reason. I love this school. The teachers have helped me a lot.”


Archer’s staff also suggested she apply for the Kiwanis Single Parent Scholarship. She did and was the winner. That will help her considerably in her post-high school education.


“I’m looking forward to NWACC,” Mancia says, “but I’m a little nervous, too. It’s great to finish high school but college will be way different.”


It shouldn’t be that much different for Mancia, who has balanced school, work, parenting and still spent recreational time running and playing soccer. Her academic success so far and promising future are indications of why Springdale Public Schools are #THE Choice.

SHS Academy Partners with Kawneer

posted May 16, 2017, 1:17 PM by JACKSON BRASWELL   [ updated May 16, 2017, 9:41 PM ]

The academies at Springdale High School have produced numerous successful students and helped students find their calling for a career after they leave SHS. The engineering academy is no exception and thanks to a partnership with Kawneer in Northwest Arkansas, seven SHS seniors will be interning at the local architectural manufacturer this summer.

The partnership with Kawneer began eight years ago when Springdale High was looking to launch the robotics program. With robotics being an expensive endeavor to start, professor Claire Small reached out to community businesses to help fund a grant and Kawneer, stepped up.

“They picked up our grant and have been supporting us ever since,” said Small.

The relationship that began with funding the grant has then carried over to Kawneer and other businesses visiting SHS to see the senior engineering academy students’ capstone projects. Professor, Jeff Holland teaches the capstone class and every year he asks students to identify a problem, research it and then spend the entire year building a prototype that solves that problem. The students then get to test their prototypes and show them off to those companies.

“Having the companies come to the school and see the students is great exposure for them,” said Holland. “The cohesiveness of these students as seniors is incredible and they really do some amazing work.”

After last year’s exhibition, Kawneer brought in a Springdale High student for a summer internship and after a successful summer, the representatives from the company said they wanted more engineering Bulldogs.

“They loved the student from last year,” said Small. “They came back this year and said they would take up to six kids. We had students fill out resumes and go through an interview process and after all of that was done they actually chose seven of our students.”

SHS senior Reece Williams is one of those students that will be working for Kawneer this summer and is excited about the opportunity.

“It is a huge honor,” said Williams. “Before this process I never had to create a resume or go through a formal interview and going through that process and then actually getting the internship is a great feeling.”

Williams and the six other students will have a chance to get real workplace experience in a variety of engineering fields. By building a relationship with Kawneer now, that will give them the opportunity to return to Kawneer during the summer while they continue to improve their working skills as the material advances in their college courses. The idea is that by the time they graduate, they will be set up for full time employment at an engineering company. Kawneer representative, Brian Lehman hopes they stay with Kawneer.

“We want to grow the community and have a good involvement with the community and with these students pursuing a technical degree, we want to see how we can support them,” said Lehman. “As a company, the best thing for retention is hiring people who live in the area. That makes you a stronger company.”

As their time at SHS winds down, the students are excited about their next step at Kawneer as well as their time in college. However, they may not be as excited as their teachers. After years of pushing their students to take the hardest courses and put in the time to succeed, the reward of seeing the students put it all together is the icing on the cake.

“That is why we teach,” said Small. “To see these students grow from their first year and then go to college and actually become engineers is extremely rewarding for us all here in the Engineering Academy.”

Setting students up for success truly is what teaching is all about and Springdale Schools and the SHS engineering academy continues to find new and innovative ways to get students opportunities to show their skills in the community, something Kawneer’s Lehmann is thrilled to see.

“After working with Springdale High for the last eight years, we have seen these students grow and have seen the projects and curriculum they have tackled and that is just great for our community,” said Lehmann. “To have that technical knowledge being poured into the students of Springdale is a great asset.”

Springdale Schools is hopeful and confident that the SHS engineering academy will continue to churn out future engineers and professionals and is proud to say that the academy is one reason why Springdale Schools is #THEChoice


Har-Ber Senior: From Little English to Future in Medical Field

posted May 12, 2017, 12:50 PM by JACKSON BRASWELL   [ updated May 12, 2017, 12:51 PM ]

 Har-Ber senior Estefany Rivas-Lemus moved to Springdale from El Salvador when she was in the ninth grade. She spoke some, but not much, English and was slow to adjust to a new culture. Four years later her adjustment is so compete she is about to embark on a future in the medical profession.


“Even though I was in the ninth grade, they enrolled me in the Bilingual Academy at Har-Ber,” Rivas-Lemus recalls. “I knew colors and numbers but not enough English to communicate. My personality is to want to do things fast. By the time I was a sophomore I was out of the Bi Lingual program and was taking regular classes.”


Regular classes have included several in the medical area. In fact, she not only has a 3.91 grade average, she will graduate with Medical and Spanish Honors.


“I started in engineering because I like math but discovered I liked medicine more,” says Rivas-Lemus. “I’m going to start by taking nursing classes at NWACC (Northwest Arkansas Community College), then transfer to pursue becoming a doctor. I’m not sure which field. I’m interested in radiology and optometry.”


How has she made so much progress in four short years?


“My father has had a business here for 18 years and he would visit us once a year in El Salvador,” Rivas-Lemus explains. “He speaks English and so does his brother, who we lived with when we first moved to Springdale. My mother, sister and brother came at the same time.


“My sister is older than I am. She wants to be a dentist and is at NWACC now. My brother is in the fourth grade at Elmdale. So, it is easier for him than it was for us since he has been learning English since he started school.


“The Language Academy was especially helpful because there were other students there who were just like me. They came to the United States when they were already in high school. We were all motivated. It gave me friends who spoke my language. It was hard leaving friends in El Salvador but it helped being around others who all wanted to achieve.”


While Rivas-Lemus advanced quickly, she still says adapting to speaking English all the time was tough. However, to take on a new challenge, she added a third language when she took classes in Mandarin Chinese.


“I was done with Spanish so I wanted to do something out of the box,” she says. “I only took Mandarin Chinese for a year but I made new friends and learned a great deal about the Chinese culture. It’s very different. I learned how they look at us.”


Rivas-Lemus also has learned how the Har-Ber staff looks at her. She was nominated for a Migrant Scholarship by Barbara Arnold, the Migrant tutor at Har-Ber. In her letter to the scholarship committee, Arnold was quite complimentary of Rivas-Lemus.


“Estefany is well-organized, utilizes her time efficiently, works well with other and is a peer leader,” Arnold wrote. “She is mature and level-headed. She has high moral values and I would trust her in any situation. She is a great role model for other students.”


Rivas-Lemus appreciates the kind words and has enjoyed her time at Har-Ber High School but knows the hard work is just beginning.

“Getting a high school degree leads to a new challenge,” Rivas-Lemus says. “College will push me. It’s not easy. But, I’m looking forward to the new people I’m going to meet and all I am about to learn.”

She's already learned a lot and has progressed at a faster rate than could ever be expected. Estefany Rivas-lemus is a perfect example of why Springdale Public Schools is #THEChoice

Lakeside Student Likes To Build

posted May 9, 2017, 12:45 PM by JACKSON BRASWELL

 Ethan Luper likes to build. As a member of Lakeside Junior High’s Maker Club he has built a small projector, a control board and a Lego balancing statue. An eighth grader, Ethan isn’t through building. His goal is to become an electrical engineer.

 “I got my first Lego set when I was four years old and I’ve been interested in building ever since,” Luper says. “I like to create things. The best thing I’ve ever created was a crossbow that I built starting with a wood plank we bought at Silver Dollar City.”

 Luper constructed the crossbow without any help. He has used it to the extent he is out of skewers, which are his arrow-like projectiles. He hopes to secure some more soon.

Already thinking about enrolling in the Engineering Academy when he arrives at Springdale High School, Luper hopes to someday work for a gaming company called “Razor.” He loves video games and utilizes them to help him overcome being dyslexic.

 “I didn’t know I was dyslexic until I was in the third grade,” Luper says. “I told my mom and my teachers I had a hard time reading and writing and they’ve helped me. This year I have raised my MAP reading skills by 14 points. For Christmas I got an X-Box and on some of the games you can read what is being said while the words are being spoken. That has helped me a lot.”

 Luper, who was at Monitor Elementary and Sonora Middle School before moving up to Lakeside this year, has not only significantly improved his reading but also is exceptional at math. He notes, “I do BARK, which is higher math. It has a lot of math that 12th graders take.”

 Overcoming dyslexia was one of the reasons Luper was recently saluted with a Kiwanis Youth Excellence Award. He also earned the recognition because of his extracurricular activities, including Mi Futuro, a program that provides mentorship by Walmart employees.

 “We just finished Mi Futuro for the year,” says Luper. “I learned how different skills can lead to jobs and that being who you are helps you overcome obstacles.”

 One of the obstacles Luper still faces is any lengthy writing. Lakeside counselor Lauren Willis explains, “When the Walmart mentors asked the students to write about their future, they had no idea Ethan was dyslexic. I am glad I was there. I asked Ethan to share his thoughts and I would write them down. He dictated eloquently, clearly and quickly.

 “Mi Futuro has been good for Ethan. The celebration for those who participated in the program in all our schools is coming up at the Sam’s Club headquarters in Bentonville. It will be a great event and he is looking forward to it.”

 What does a student who already is so focused on becoming an engineer do for fun other than video games and math?

 “I love to shoot and I’m learning to play the guitar,” Luper responds. “My dad is a shooter. He likes to hunt and shoot at targets so I enjoy it too. I’ve had a guitar about a year but have just started lessons. Someday I want to earn some money playing the guitar to help me get through college.”

Of course he has another year at Lakeside and three at Springdale High School before heading for college. He is very appreciative of the staff at Lakeside, noting, “The teachers are very helpful and encouraging. The Kiwanis Award was a great encouragement to me. I didn’t even know I had been nominated until I was told about the event where the honors were announced.”

 Willis and the entire staff at Lakeside are proud of Ethan’s accomplishments so far. She says, “For an eighth grader Ethan stands out. He is mature beyond his years. Great things are going to happen for him sooner than later.”

 Luper is a shining example of why Springdale Public Schools are #THE Choice.

ACT Scores Surprise Hellstern Seventh Graders

posted Apr 25, 2017, 12:14 PM by JACKSON BRASWELL


Rarely do we honor students in the Springdale School District for their accomplishments on the ACT unless they obtain a perfect score. However, when students perform like Hellstern seventh graders, Preston Mcallister, Noah Seiter and Audrey Walker did, some praise is in order.


Mcallister, Seiter and Walker all took the ACT this semester for the first time and none of them thought their scores would jump off the page like they did.


Mcallister who made a 29 on Science, a 31 on reading and a composite score of 27 thought his parents were joking when they told him his scores. “I thought my parents were playing a prank on me,” said Mcallister. “I was at a soccer tournament at the time so I had to wait until I got home Sunday night to look at the papers and I couldn’t believe it.  I was very happy.”


Seiter also thought his father was playing a prank on him and when he learned he made a 32 on the science portion, he couldn’t wait to tell his teacher. However, he didn’t get the reaction he was expecting.


“My science teacher didn’t believe me,” said Seiter.


Walker the only one of the three who hadn’t prepped for the exam, took the ACT while attending a thespian festival in Jonesboro and figured she would just take it to get an idea of what the material looked like for the future. She ended up scoring a 31 on reading and a composite of 23.


“I came home and my mom told we what I got and I thought it was good,” said Walker. “Then she told me what I got in reading and thought, gosh I will never get that again.”


Chances are all three of these students will not only match what they got on their scores but will vastly improve. After all, they are just in the seventh grade. To put their scores in perspective, the average ACT composite score for high school seniors in Arkansas is a 20. With Mcallisters 27, Seiter’s 25 and Walker’s 23, all three are well above average with five more years of school to improve on those numbers.


The students will move to Central Junior High next year and are grateful that they go to school in Springdale. They credit their teachers for helping them do great on their first try at the ACT.


“I think the teachers really focus on the students,” said Walker. “They make sure every student is performing at the best of his or herability. This is just a really positive environment to go to school in.”


“The teachers have been hard on me at times but they always push me to do better,” said Seiter


“The teachers are constantly focused on improvement and always push me to do my best,” said Mcallister.


With five more years in Springdale Public Schools and countless interactions with excellent teachers, the trio is on a path to greatness. They will undoubtedly take the ACT more times in the future and the three agreed that they would all like to score a perfect 36 but would settle for anything 32 or higher.




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