Springdale Schools Blog

Clark Knows the Route to Success

posted Nov 7, 2017, 1:15 PM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM   [ updated Nov 7, 2017, 1:15 PM ]

Yolanda Clark is ready to start her day and is on her bus by 6:30 am. In her eighth year with Springdale Public Schools, Clark takes time to reflect on her time and reveal the characteristics of a standout Springdale bus driver.

After Clark’s husband suggested that she apply for the bus driver position, Clark obtained her CDL and started training.

“The Transportation department provided all the training I needed,” Clark said. “Now, I believe that driving a bus is easier than driving a car.”

Clark drives her regular routes, shuttles students from one school to the next, does field trips and drives for the After School Program.

“I was prepared but when I first started driving, I had another driver with me,” Clark said. “Having another person with me put me at ease.”

Before becoming a bus driver for Springdale Schools, Clark moved to the United States 13 years ago not knowing English. Clark recalls the difficulties of being 40 and having to learn a whole new language. Clark uses her experience to relate to some of the students she drives everyday.

“Even if I don’t speak their language, I always at least try to communicate with the students,” Clark said. “I understand that dealing with the language barrier is difficult.”

Clark’s favorite part about the job is being put in a position to serve. She enjoys helping people and as a bus driver, she can do her part in getting each student the education he or she deserves.

“I feel really good when I can help someone,” Clark said. “I had the chance to drive the language academy route for three years. Some of those kids get to America and are on a school bus the next day. They know little to no English. They are scared.”

Clark has driven students of all ages, from kindergarteners to high schoolers. After eight years of bus driving, Clark has been impacted by several students.

“I try to help by talking to them and interacting with students,” Clark said. “There was one student I remember in particular. She was crying because she couldn’t communicate with anyone so I did my best to help her through the day. I ended up meeting her mom and getting to know their family after a while.”

Clark doesn’t only transport students during her day. One of Clark’s routes include transporting moms to Sonora Elementary.

“Another opportunity that Springdale Public Schools offers is the Family Literacy Program,” Clark said. “There are opportunities to learn beyond the students. The Literacy moms that I transport get the opportunity to learn with their students.”

The Family Literacy Program gives parents the opportunity to develop their English language skills and allows parents to sit in on special classes with their student. Programs are also provided by Springdale Schools to aid parents in obtaining their GED.

“My favorite thing about Springdale Public Schools is that every child has the opportunity to learn and a way to be transported in order to learn,” Clark said.

Yolanda Clark’s passion for her job and the students makes her another example of why Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.

George Elementary Celebrates 25th Birthday

posted Nov 2, 2017, 10:14 AM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM

        In 25 years George Elementary has had only two principals. Both spearheaded the celebration of the school’s birthday and the George Family added to the festivities with a special gift that totally surprised current principal Dr. Annette Freeman.

“It was a great day and we deeply appreciate the George Family,” Freeman said. “I can’t believe they gave us such a tremendous gift. We need new playground equipment and this gift is very timely.”

The gift? Gary George announced his family’s foundation would donate $25,000 to the school for whatever was most needed. George said, “I kept asking Annette what they needed and she never answered so she can use this money for the school’s greatest need.”

Gary George and his father, Gene, donated the land where George Elementary was constructed as well as the land next door to the south where George Junior High stands.

“Gene and Gary called me to their office one day and said they wanted to help,” recalled Superintendent Dr. Jim Rollins. “They wanted to give something back to the school system. They did. This great family has been an amazing influence on our community. Even their kids had to give up something when the family donated the land since the property is where their baseball fields were.”

Jim Lewis, principal at George for its first 10 years before passing the baton to Freeman, said, “When we opened George Elementary, we wanted a student centered school where students would love to come and where their parents wanted them to come. That’s what happened and nothing has changed since then. There is still a beautiful, wonderful spirit here.”

Rollins added, “Students were always at the center of Jim Lewis’ work. He built a great team. Before being a principal, Annette Freeman was one of the finest teachers I’ve ever known. She was and still is focused on the wellbeing of children. She is a phenomenal leader in her school. That is why she is the current Arkansas Elementary Principal of the Year.”

Lewis was Arkansas Principal of the Year during his tenure, making George Elementary the only school in the state that has had more than one Arkansas Principal of the Year.

Lewis and Freeman both expressed gratitude to the George Family with Freeman holding back tears after George announced the family gift. Before the announcement, George shared insights similar to those of his father when the school was dedicated in 1992.

“Annette shared with me the words my father spoke and they are still true today,” George said. “This is for all the students. First, always be honest. Be honest with your parents, your teachers and your classmates. Next, work hard. My dad worked very hard. I’m not sure I have worked as hard as he did but I do work hard. Work ethic starts now.  Start working hard now and keep working hard. It will pay off later.

“Finally, get along with people. You can start that now, too. Getting along with people will make you as successful in life as anything you will ever do. There will be those who think differently than you but you can still get along.”

Following George’s brief speech, Lewis led the nearly 600 students and their teachers in a song he used to sing over the loudspeaker during morning announcements that inspired listeners to have a wonderful day.

It concluded a wonderful ceremony at George Elementary. Rollins called George “one of the greatest schools in our district”, another reason Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.

SHS Senior Saluted By Mayor

posted Oct 31, 2017, 1:29 PM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM

            Michael Justis, a senior at Springdale High School, was delightfully surprised when he learned he had earned the Springdale Student Spirit Award presented by Mayor Doug Sprouse. Winning was a surprise and the criteria utilized made the award delightful.

“Community spirit was among the criteria and that means a lot to me,” said Justis. “School spirit is a big deal. I am passionate about being from Springdale and being at Springdale High School. I love the spirit at Springdale High. We have great tradition and everyone is nice.”

Justis is taking full advantage of his education at SHS. He is president of the Key Club and his involvement with golf and baseball forced him to give up his spot in the school band. He is also a member of the National Honor Society and has been involved in Robotics.

“I really liked band,” said Justis, who played percussion. “During the summer before my sophomore year I was a member of the Arkansas Ambassadors of Music. We toured Europe. My favorite stop was Switzerland where we stayed in a small place in the Alps. We played six or seven concerts during our tour.

“I hated giving up band at Springdale High but playing golf in the fall and baseball in the spring didn’t leave me time for it.”

Justis’ golf season has concluded and he is working full time to be prepared for the 2018 baseball campaign. A big Los Angeles Dodger fan, especially for former Razorback Logan Forsythe, Justis is an outfielder for the Bulldogs. He would love to have a career in professional sports.

“I plan to major in business in college at the University of Arkansas,” Justis said. “I am a big sports fan and my dream would be to work in the front office of a Major League Baseball or National Basketball Association team.”

He has plenty of work to do before entering a career field, including completing his Advanced Placement classes in statistics, calculus two and language.

“I credit Mrs. (Debbie) Alsip for helping me stick through AP English,” Justis said. “I wanted to drop the class after a week but she encouraged me to stay with it. I did well and passed the AP exam. I won’t have to take English in college. Because she encouraged me I continued to take AP courses and as a result I shouldn’t have to take any math courses in college either.”

Math classes have been among his favorites although he admitted, “Taking calculus made me change my mind about majoring in Engineering. Those are difficult classes.”

What’s not difficult for Justis is community involvement. That’s why he’s in Key Club. He has enlisted at least 10 volunteers to work with the Kiwanis Kids program to set up a morning reading program with elementary students.

“We are starting with one school, Turnbow, because my mom (Kim) teaches there,” Justis said. “We will read to pre-K, kindergarten and first grade students. At that age students can’t afford to get behind in reading.”

Not only does Justis’ mother teach at Turnbow, he went to school there himself before elevating to J.O. Kelly, then Sonora Middle School, Lakeside Junior High and Springdale High.

“Springdale has prepared me for the next step,” said Justis. “Grades have been important to both of my parents (his father, Jeff, is in real estate). I really like accounting and statistics and will major in business analytics and stats.”

First things first, though. Justis is looking forward to the final months of his senior year, including baseball season with the Bulldogs. Saluted by the mayor, Justis is another example of why Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.

District Bus Driver Couldn’t Leave

posted Oct 27, 2017, 9:57 AM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM

When Steven Smith moved to Northwest Arkansas he thought he would be managing an apartment complex for just 60 days before moving back to south Arkansas. Four years later, he is here to stay!

“I love it here,” says Smith, who is a full time bus driver for the Springdale Public School District. “The people are great. I was managing apartments and working in real estate in El Dorado when they moved me to Springdale to manage Park Lake Apartments. I was only supposed to be here 60 days but when that time was over I asked to stay longer.

“Early in my time here I was driving on Emma Avenue when I spotted the district transportation office. My mom was with me. She was helping me with the move. I told her there were sure a lot of school buses in the lot. I decided to see if they needed drivers.

“I went into the office, told them I had my commercial driver’s license and they asked me to fill out an application online. I did and came back the next morning. They asked me if I had completed the application. When I said yes, they told me to come back the next morning and they would give me an assigned route.”

Smith has been driving routes for Springdale Schools since. His first day was in August, 2013. He no longer manages apartments. Driving from early morning until early evening has made busing students a full time job for Smith.

“I start with students from Harp Elementary and also transport J.O. Kelly Middle School and Lakeside Junior High students,” says Smith. “I drive balance transfer students as well. I also drive for the after school programs at Hellstern Middle School, J.O. Kelly and the Archer Learning Center. My first route starts at 6:30 in the morning. On Monday through Thursday I finish at 7 in the evening. Friday I am done at 4:45 (pm).”

What does he like most about the job?

“The kids,” he quickly responds. “I love the kids. You get to know them and their parents. They each have different personalities. I especially love the kindergarten kids because every day they see something new.”

Besides Harp, J.O. Kelly, Lakeside, Archer and Hellstern, Smith also transports students from Parson Hills and Linda Childers Knapp Elementary schools. He drives anywhere from 130-200 miles per day. He transports about 300 students in the morning and early afternoon and nearly 150 students in the after school programs.

“I love it,” he says. “I don’t plan on going anywhere. I greet every child when he or she gets on the bus. I let them listen to the radio. The kids are very polite. They pick up any trash on the bus.”

Does he ever have to deal with discipline issues?

“It’s pretty rare,” he answers. “In four years I’ve had only three discipline references.” The low number reflects how much the students like Smith. His love for them is reciprocated.

Of course, he has other loves as well, including his three children, fishing and the Razorbacks.

“My kids are seven, three and two,” says Smith. “The seven-year-old is in the second grade at Harp and the three-year old is in pre-k at Harp so that works out well for me.”

How about his hobbies?

“I love to fish,” he says. “I usually fish Beaver Lake. I like catching perch and brim. I cook and clean them myself. In fact, I love to cook. One time I brought a huge pot of chicken and gumbo for the transportation and maintenance staffs. It was gone in 15 minutes.”

Smith didn’t learn to make gumbo in Northwest Arkansas. He grew up in El Dorado and went to college at Louisiana-Monroe, where he was a criminal justice major. That is here he began his career as a school bus driver.

“My college roommate was driving a school bus and I was working at Dollar General,” Smith recalls. “He told me I should consider driving a school bus. I compared his check to mine and decided he was right. That was in 2006. I’ve been driving ever since.”

He wasn’t always driving school buses. After graduating from ULM, he drove prison buses in his first job, then drove a bus and van for prison work crews in his job as deputy sheriff in Columbia County (Magnolia). He moved back to El Dorado to enter the real estate profession before what he thought was a temporary assignment led to a permanent move to Northwest Arkansas.

“It’s been a great move for me,” Smith says. “I even get to go to some Razorback games. I grew up in a split family because my mom was from Arkansas and was a Razorback fan and my dad was from Louisiana and liked LSU. Living here, I pull for the Razorbacks.”

A great move for Smith was also a great move for Springdale Public Schools, another reason Springdale Schools are #THEChoice.

Katrina Doesn’t Stop Kendra Clay

posted Oct 26, 2017, 1:25 PM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM

In her second year as Pupil, Personnel and Legal Services Director for the Springdale School District, Kendra Clay enjoys being a problem solver. She knows how to deal with adversity. She had been in law school only a week when she was displaced by a hurricane.

“I had just completed my first week of law school at Tulane University when my mother called me on Saturday and told me it looked like a hurricane was headed for New Orleans,” Clay recalls. “She wanted me to drive toward home (Conway). If it looked like the hurricane wouldn’t hit New Orleans, I could turn around and head back. Needless to say, I got all the way to Conway since Katrina hit New Orleans on Monday.”

Katrina hit the city with devastating power. Even though she had packed only a few days of clothing, Clay was not able to return to the city until October.

“I went back to my apartment to get the rest of my things even though Tulane was shut down,” Clay says. “My apartment was on the third floor and the area where I lived had not been flooded so my things were fine. The law school wanted the first year students to stay but encouraged some of the third year students to transfer so they could finish on time. They asked us to come back in January and they would make up the time.

“By January the campus was fine, even though there was still a lot of damage in New Orleans. The only thing that was difficult was just one grocery store was open and it was only open from 10 in the morning until 1 that afternoon. That made it a little hard to get groceries.

“When we resumed classes, we went to school six days a week with only a brief break until the middle of summer. That allowed us to finish the entire first year of law school. I had been told law school would be difficult and that year was hard. After that, though, a normal schedule seemed like nothing.

“By the time I graduated, New Orleans was pretty much back to normal. We watched the city come back.”

Since not even Katrina could slow her path toward becoming an attorney, what made her so interested in the profession in the first place?

“I had always wanted to be an attorney,” Clay responds. “I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it was because I am good at arguing. Maybe I was influenced by watching Matlock on television while I was growing up.”

Clay grew up in Conway and enjoyed her time in New Orleans but returned to the state for her first job in the legal profession.

“I took a job with a small law firm in Little Rock,” Clay says. “I did general practice, mostly insurance defense cases. I didn’t really like it. After two years there a position as staff attorney at the Arkansas Department of Education was available and I was able to land there and eventually served as General Counsel.”

Clay served at ADE for six years before discovering the new position being created in the Springdale Public School District.

“At the ADE I worked with Dr. Jared Cleveland (currently Springdale District Deputy Superintendent for Personnel/Facilities) and Dr. Megan Slocum (Springdale Associate Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, Accountability and Education Innovation),” says Clay. “They called to talk to me about the job. It was a new position and had a 40-page job description.

“We’ve gone from the 40 page description to doing whatever needs to be done. When school is in session I work closely with our administrators and talk through issues with parents. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to them. I listen and try to be a mediator between parents and their school officials.

“Parents, students and their school staff members need to work together and I try to make that happen. Most of the time it works. I like that aspect of my job. It’s nice working with the administrators and the families. If I can help get everyone on the same page the schools can do the important work, which is educating kids.”

Clay also works at updating district policies and monitoring legislative action. She notes, “Keeping up with the legislature is an hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute task. I’ve gone to Little Rock to meet with legislators at times.”

Is there an aspect of her job she doesn’t like?

“I don’t like expulsion appeals and the hearings,” Clay responds. “It’s tough. Usually kids and their parents are doing the best they can. A kid may have just made a poor decision. That may mean that the student can’t be in school. Thankfully we have lots of options before expulsion. We have ALE and virtual classes. Expulsion is not the only choice to work with a student. Also, we’ve had far few hearings this year than we did a year ago.”

As busy as she stays, does she have free time? If so, what does she do with it?

“I chase two young kids,” Clay says. “Justin (her husband) and I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old. I took the job as General Counsel on July 1 and my son was born July 18. I had just taken the most demanding job I had ever had and had a child on top of that. You learn how to manage.”

She does more than manage in her position in the district. Her skills have been a blessing to the entire administrative team. Clay is another reason Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.

Har-Ber National Merit Semifinalist Builds Up Community and Aims to Treat Cancer

posted Oct 17, 2017, 11:16 AM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM

Maria Pratt, a senior at Springdale Har-Ber High School, is one of five National Merit Semifinalists in the Springdale Public Schools District. Pratt is on the principal’s council for HOSA, she is the treasurer of the math club, and a member of National Honor Society.

“It was a long time to wait from last October to now to find out whether I would be a semifinalist,” Pratt said. “When they called me down to the office to share the news, I was so excited. I had worked so hard.”

Pratt studied for the PSAT, the exam that high school juniors take to qualify for National Merit status, by using programs online and by studying for the SAT.

“My parents set the foundation of pushing me to be the best and to do more and over the years, I have learned how to manage my time and to stay motivated,” Pratt said.

“I come from a more diverse background and I believe that plays a big role in my perspective on things,” Pratt added. “My mom is from Peru and she told me about how hard to was growing up and it makes me realize that I have so many opportunities available to me.”

Pratt wants to study oncology in college. Oncology is the study of treatment of tumors and cancers.

“Cancer is something that has touched people who are near and dear to me,” Pratt said. “My elementary school teacher and my grandfather passed away from pancreatic cancer. It was tough watching each person go through that. They had such a short amount of time, and I want to be able to study it and find ways to treat it.”

On top of all her academic interests and extracurriculars, Pratt has been involved with volleyball since eighth grade.

“Being with the team and having a support system and having a family of girls behind you is the best part of being a part of the volleyball team,” Pratt said.

Pratt believes that community and having a support system is a key to staying motivated and doing well. Outside of school, Pratt volunteers at her church to take care of small children after the service.

“I like to volunteer and tutor kids because this community has given me so much- it has poured so much into me and I want to pour back into it,” Pratt said.

Community has played an impactful role in Pratt’s upbringing. With college as the next step in Pratt’s academic career, she is preparing for changes but plans on having a support system and strong sense of community as a constant in her life.

“I am most looking forward to finding a new community and support system in college.” Pratt said. “I can’t wait for the new experiences and to meet new people.”

Pratt is another reason why Springdale Public Schools is #THEChoice.

SHS Student Builds Trails

posted Oct 10, 2017, 12:33 PM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM   [ updated Oct 12, 2017, 9:04 AM ]



            When he learned he had been named a National Merit Semifinalist, Springdale High School senior Michael Pitts was excited. He wasn’t exactly a trailblazer because his father was a National Merit Finalist years ago. But, in another sense, Michael IS a trailblazer. He already has helped construct trails in New Mexico and West Virginia.

“Our family loves the outdoors,” says Michael, whose mother, Malinda, teaches Spanish at SHS. “Eventually I want to be a park ranger or a forester.”

Michael is also a Boy Scout and is only some paperwork away from becoming an Eagle Scout. In working toward Eagle Scout status, he has helped build trails not only in West Virginia and New Mexico but also near the Buffalo National River in Arkansas.

“I belong to the Order of the Arrow, which is scouting’s national honor group,” Michael says. “I got to go to a High Adventure camp in New Mexico and we built a trail on a mountain.”

Michael’s previous work on a trail in West Virginia could open the door for a summer job after he graduates from high school. He and his older brother Thomas hope to work at the Summit, a camp in West Virginia. Both have applied.

“We think they will have a great chance to be selected because of the work Michael already has done there,” says Malinda.

Malinda and her husband, Tom, had a major influence in Michael’s interest in the outdoors. She notes, “He started camping on the back of a motorcycle when he was four years old. We lived in Illinois then and moved to Arkansas when he was in the fourth grade.”

His brother Thomas also has influenced Michael. A 2016 SHS grad, Thomas took a gap year before enrolling this fall at Henderson State. He used three and a half months of his time away from school to hike half of the Appalachian Trail. He hiked between Georgia and Pennsylvania. Michael hopes to join Thomas to hike the other half but the trip will have to wait if the brothers are able to work in West Virginia this summer.

What won’t wait is Michael’s enrollment in college. He would like to attend Paul Smiths College in the Adirondacks in New York. If that doesn’t happen, he would be happy to join his brother at Henderson State. An IB student at SHS, Michael thinks his National Merit Semifinalist status could help him earn a spot at Paul Smiths College.

“I want to major in Natural Resources Management and Forestry,” Michael says. “Being at a school in the Adirondacks would be great. I think my IB classes will have prepared me for college.”

It was actually the IB program that brought Michael and his Thomas to Springdale High. They live in Bella Vista but observed their mother teaching in the SHS IB program and decided the program was for them. Thomas spent his junior and senior years at SHS while Michael was at SHS in time for his sophomore year.

“Ms. (Carol) Turley (director of the SHS IB program) helps you with everything you need,” Michael says. “The classes are smaller. There are 15 of us in my English class. And, you get to know everyone really well. There are 27 seniors in our class. We have some interesting discussions.

“In fact, there are six of us who like to go into Ms. Turley’s office during fourth period and talk to her about everything. One of the reasons I like Springdale High School so much is the culture. We are all open to experiencing others’ points of view. The school is a melting pot. We mix and mingle and all get along.”

Michael gets along in several areas of the school and his community. He is very active in his church, is part of CAS (Creative Activity Service) and is a member of the SHS Quiz Bowl team. In fact, last year as a junior, he was the highest scorer at the Quiz Bowl conference. He earned All-Region and All-State honors. He was All-Region as a sophomore.

“We start in November and are hosting a Quiz Bowl event at our school in February,” Michael says. “It’s fun to prepare for Quiz Bowl. The best way is by playing games.”

Playing games, building trails and the IB program have paid huge dividends for Michael Pitts. He is another reason why Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.

Touchdown Angel

posted Oct 9, 2017, 11:49 AM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM

     This journey began in August when as all coaches know football is in the air.  The smell of freshly mowed grass, the wet shoes from the dew on the ground, the temperature changing from early morning to mid-afternoon, the yawning players going through county fair drills while trying to get in shape, the first chance for a coach to challenge the players and set expectations for them as a team as well as challenge them to become young gentlemen.  I was approached about a young man who loves football and wanted to be a part of the team in whatever way possible. The support he has from his teachers and parents is amazing.  We were made aware of his situation and told all about him.  However, we had so much more to learn about Touchdown Angel.


     Let me begin by attempting to describe Touchdown Angel. He wears his pads and his Rams jersey every day to school in the halls.  Although Angel is non-verbal there is not a day that goes by where he is not at the locker room door high fiving every player as they come in to get ready for practice.  He may not say much with his words but he displays passion, drive, love for his teammates, and love for the game we only wish every player had in their DNA.  There is no doubt who the heartbeat of our team is.  


     We run a practice much like any typical football team.  There are offensive days, defensive days, cuts, bruises, blood, sweat, tears, fumbles, blown plays, and extraordinary plays.  One thing that may be a bit different here at Sonora is that no matter what type of practice we have or the differences going on within our world, we end practice with Touchdown Angel doing what he does best, scoring a touchdown.  If just for a moment we forget about all the outside distractions or how tired and sore we are to cheer on our biggest fan, Mr. Touchdown Angel.  Angel has brought out the best in us without saying a word. At first we were a bit apprehensive about how he would be treated.  But I have never been more proud of a group of young men in my life. Immediately they embraced Angel as their teammate. I have witness a group of young teenage boys treat him as family.  I have witnessed them chant his name getting on the bus for a game, call it up as family around Angel after his infamous touchdown to end practice, lead him to the end zone as he leads our team onto the field on game nights.  


   As a coach, we try to teach kids work ethic, dedication, commitment, honesty, integrity, how to be young gentlemen, and grit.  We try to make sure they open doors for others and say uncommon phrases such as yes sir and yes mam.  We do our best to teach them the game of life as well as the game of football.  Sometimes, the teacher can be taught as well.  You see, Touchdown Angel has been the one teaching us.  He has taught our young men lessons that only experience will provide.  In turn, our Spartans have hopefully been teaching our student body and our community that despite any differences we may have or the final score on the board, we can all come together in support of each other and treat everyone as equals.  On a daily basis, we are privileged to see the true beauty in life.  When kids are kids and throw a football on the sidelines and befriend another student who they may not have ever met without football.  We see unity within a diverse culture.  We see how ability does not matter or separate us but it brings us closer together.  These young men and Mr. Touchdown Angel are a blessing.  The best part about being a coach is watching the progress of players and a team from day 1 to the end of the year.  You get to then watch as they grow and see where their life takes them and the positive impacts they will have.  We are fortunate to get Mr. Touchdown Angel back for another year, and something tells me he will be on the sidelines of Springdale football fields for a long time.

Science Scholar from Har-Ber High named as a National Merit Semifinalist

posted Oct 9, 2017, 9:37 AM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM   [ updated Oct 9, 2017, 9:39 AM ]

Caroline Lonneman, a senior at Springdale Har-Ber High School, spends her days involved in a number of Advanced Placement classes, constantly delving into a new non-fiction book and writing out her ideas. Her efforts have led to her status as a National Merit Semifinalist.

Lonneman will have completed 11 AP classes throughout her high school career. She is taking five as a senior. Time management is key and though Lonneman doesn’t use a planner to layout her schedule, she has a system to keep her on top of all her work.

“I set deadlines for myself before the actual deadline,” Lonneman said. “When I have that mindset, I have more time to lay out my assignments and work on one thing a day instead of five different assignments.”

“Science is a driving force in my life,” Lonneman said. “I am always wanting to know more and I’m curious about so many things and science gives us answers.”

Lonneman has always been a lover of science and is wanting to pursue an undergraduate degree in neuroscience and then go to medical school for neurology. Lonneman has applied to the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Arkansas.

“I like neurology because if we can go to the root of how people understand things and how we comprehend ideas and perceive the world then we can do more,” Lonneman said. There is more availability to progress in all areas of humanity, because the brain is the tool we use to understand everything.”

Through Har-Ber High School, Lonneman had the opportunity to go to Arkansas Governor’s School for Natural Sciences this past summer.

“Governor’s School has this environment of discussion,” Lonneman said.  “A big topic in the world right now is the polarization of ideas- you are either this way or that way, there is no compromise.”

Due to the polarization of ideas, Lonneman believes that people have a hard time sharing thoughts without getting angry at each other. She found that Governor’s School promoted a culture of open mindedness.

“You can sit down and have very different ideas on very controversial topics, listen to each other and walk away as friends,” Lonneman said.

Lonneman encourages students to look into Governor’s School and eventually attend. Upcoming seniors can attend Governor’s School for a variety of art and academic fields.

“It’s an opportunity to really see other people’s perspectives and ideas,” Lonneman said. “There are people there of every idea, religion, and race. It’s an opportunity to expose yourself to new thought processes.”

Lonneman’s thirst for knowledge started in elementary school when she would ask her third grade teacher question after question.

“I was curious. It eventually got to the point where I would ask so many questions that my teacher would almost ignore my questions,” Lonneman said. “That’s when I started reading and finding answers on my own. I started reading and writing outside of school work just because I wanted to know more. If you want to know the answer to something, go out and find it yourself.”

Lonneman found enough to be a National Merit Semifinalist, another reason why Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.

Flooding Doesn’t Stop Har-Ber Scholar

posted Oct 4, 2017, 9:43 AM by AMANDA THATTANAKHAM

Christina Trexler was dressed and ready for the prom. Just one problem, though. Rising water prevented her exit from her front door or out of the garage. Her issues didn’t end there but after finally making it to the prom, she returned to a home that had been flooded!

“Our house is on the bottom of a hill but we had never had a problem with water before,” says Trexler, now a senior at Springdale Har-Ber High School and a National Merit Semifinalist. “I had seen floodwater in our backyard but ignored the warnings on television. When I was about to leave, the water was at our front door and our garage so I couldn’t go out of either.

“So, I went out the back door but couldn’t open the fence because water would have rushed in. I took my dress off, climbed the fence, put my dress back on and went to the prom. It had stopped raining by then but it rained again during the prom. I stayed at a friend’s house that night but when I returned home our family had to stay upstairs for a couple of nights because the downstairs was flooded.

“Eventually we moved in with my stepfather’s parents and we were there for two months before out home was ready for us to return. I lost a lot of clothes but saved a lot of my important stuff.”

After going through such an ordeal, what did Trexler think while watching news of hurricane flooding in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico?

“I could relate to what they were going through although what happened to us was on a much smaller scale,” Trexler responds. “I know what it’s like to have water running into your house. I always had the mindset that bad things may happen to other people but not to me. That’s why I ignored the warnings about flooding that were on TV that night.

“Now I realize bad things can happen to anyone. We were fortunate. We got help from FEMA and had our own resources. A lot of people don’t have resources”

How did being displaced affect Trexler’s academic standing at Har-Ber?

“The flooding happened right before Advanced Placement testing,” she answers. “I lost a lot of my homework. Unfortunately, my backpack was on the ground level of our home. But, I still did okay. I love my AP classes. I have taken eight of them and am currently taking six more so I will graduate with 14 AP classes.”

Trexler believes the AP courses helped prepare her for the test that led to her National Merit Semifinalist status.

“When I saw my test score I was excited because it was higher than the cutoff from last year,” says Trexler. “I was hopeful I would make it. Now I hope to become a National Merit Finalist. We don’t find out about that until February.”

She isn’t waiting until February to make plans for college, even though becoming a Finalist can mean additional scholarship dollars. She would love to attend MIT but is also interested in the Universities of Arkansas and North Carolina.

“I had my phone interview with MIT the other day and it was exciting,” Trexler says. “They have a good program in business analytics. I’m interested in going into the business of solar and renewable energy. I really got interested in the field because of my AP Environmental Studies class.

“If I don’t get into MIT, I would be just as happy at North Carolina or Arkansas. I like living here in Arkansas.”

Other than the Environmental Studies class, where did she draw inspiration for her interest in renewable energy?

“I’m not totally sure,” she answers. “My older brother was a mechanical engineering major so I thought I might pursue that field. I like math but decided engineering isn’t for me. I have explored the medical field and like it but right now am more interested in business. I enjoy the competitive nature of it. I like to explore different things.”

In her leisure time she likes to explore bowling. When she discovered Har-Ber has a bowling team, she became a member as a sophomore. This year she is a team captain. She is also the community liaison for the school’s HOSA program for future health professionals. She is attempting to secure volunteer opportunities at the new Children’s Hospital for Har-Ber HOSA members.

Whatever her future holds, Trexler has a major hope on her wish list --- no rain on prom night this year. After making it through last year’s flooding, she knows she can make it through any adversity and she is another reason Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.

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