Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Our students on a Grand stage

“On Friday we'll be jacked up on the football game
And I'll be ready to fight
We're gonna smash 'em now
My girl will be working on her pom-poms now
And she'll be yelling tonight!”
  • The Beach Boys, “Be True to Your School”

It is no secret how much I love football Friday nights. It is a Grand stage. The weather turns a little cooler. The atmosphere is electric. The energy and emotion are both running high.

And our students are on display doing so many things they love.

The players on the field. The student trainers ready to assist. The marching band blaring out the school fight song. The Islandaires showing off their dance moves. The cheerleaders pushing the spirit level. The Hulagans of the student section sharing their pride.

The rest of the crowd is also a wonderful sight. Parents faithfully watching every play. The community coming out to rally around our kids. Younger students and families getting a look at what their future Friday nights may look like as Islanders.

And staff on hand. Oh, yes. It is such a proud moment for me to share with all of you. We talk often of the staff who invest in their students beyond the classroom. Friday nights are that Grand stage where we show it to the parents, the community, the future students and, most of all, those students on the field, in the band, dancing and cheering.

Remember, admission to athletic events is free of charge when you have your staff ID. That gives you a few bucks more to spend on the GISH Band Concession Stand.

Of course, Friday nights are for football but there are many chances to see our students shine. We have a new section of our newsletter where you can see specifically where our varsity athletic and fine arts students are sharing their talents for home events.

Go ahead and mark your calendars for October 25-28. That’s when GISH Fine Arts presents the fall musical “Mamma Mia.” You know it will be fantastic.

This week we have the season-opening game for volleyball Thursday night in the West Gym at 6:30 p.m. The Islanders take on Lincoln East.

Also Thursday evening, you can watch the Islander softball team in a doubleheader against Lincoln Pius X at the Veterans Fields starting at 5 p.m.

Thursday is a busy day! The boys tennis team plays at home against Columbus at 4 p.m. at the GISH courts.

Saturday the volleyball team will host a triangular against Gretna and Pius X starting at 9 a.m. in the West Gym. These matches were previously scheduled at the State Fair, but due to the rain pushing the outdoor concerts into the Heartland Events Center, the volleyball games have been moved to GISH. So come out early Saturday after the Friday night festivities.

Ok, I should have you convinced by now, but truly the point is watching the Islanders is more than opportunity to root on the home team. It’s a chance to see our students doing things they love and showing them the support we know helps them Be Grand.

It also shows the community how powerful we are when we come together for our kids. I challenge each of you to make at least one of the five home football games this fall. Once you are there you’ll be hooked on the environment like I am. Along the way I hope you make as many other Islander events as you can. Varsity, JV, reserve, freshman, elite, novice … support our students!

Our students truly are something incredible to watch in action. Our being there is one way we can Be Grand for them.

“We’ll always stand by you,
For you to go Grand Island,
We will ever cheer and cheer for you to win,
Grand Island, our hearts will ever yearn,
For the Purple banner waving high
For Grand Island!”
  • Push On, Grand Island (school fight song)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The time is now!

“It's grand, and ye canna expect to be baith grand and comfortable.” - James Matthew Barrie

Tomorrow is the day! The first day to a GRAND 2018-2019 school year for our students!

The preseason is over. We’ve worked since May on getting ready to Be Grand for our students starting August 16.

That’s tomorrow.

It is time to Be Grand.

All those hours of summer learning. All that time spent rejuvenating. All those meetings. That wonderful celebration with all staff last week. Yes, all the time, energy, sweat invested toward Students Who Thrive!

That’s what we do.

So bring your GRAND self, first Day and every day for Every Student, Every Day, A Success! 

You are ready. You are empowered. You will Be Grand. I have no doubt about it!

Remember, our individual commitments will add up to our collective commitments allowing us to achieve more than we can think or imagine. 

So, grab hold to your OneWord and use it as your POWER to #BeGrand!

I look forward to connecting with you here in this space each week and can't wait to see all the school year will bring for you, our families, our community, and our students! 

P.S. Want to share what’s happening in your school or class ... tag me on twitter @DrTGrover! 

“There is no longer time for statements like 'if only' or 'we can't.' We must and we will succeed. The only question now is how and when. I believe the time is now.” - Bob Riley

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The end is here … let’s keep it going!

“Any job very well done that has been carried out by a person who is fully dedicated is always a source of inspiration.” - Carlos Ghosn

Go ahead. Let it out. That long “end-of-the-school-year-sigh” we all know well. It doesn’t matter if it is your first or your forty-first, the sigh is well deserved.

It’s been a heck of a good year. 

I want to thank you all for your hard work this year. We have a lot to be proud of. We’ve accomplished a lot for our students.

So take a second or two and enjoy the silence of your classroom. Reflect fondly over the kids you shaped this year. Pat yourself on the back for the growth you’ve made in the last nine months. 

And be ready to bring it! 

We have a busy summer ahead. While you are re-charging this summer, don’t be a stranger. We hope to see everyone - EVERYONE - at the Summer Institute. There are some wonderful learning opportunities geared just for you. 

Also, with our summer school, POWER camp and other student opportunities, there are great chances to catch kids in action for the next 84 days if you’re missing them.

That’s right: 84 days until students return to class.

In that time, our administrators will be working hard, our curriculum writing teams will be working hard and many of you will be working hard on personal learning accomplishments - taking classes, finishing degrees, attending conferences. 

Most students get a break from learning, but for the district, we never stop. I’m so proud of all of you taking on personal development and dedication to our students even when they aren’t around to see it. 

We all certainly see the results of it. I know I have seen the results of your efforts this year.

I am proud of the momentum you have all created for this great school district as we prepare to leave for the summer. I asked you to Rise, Grand Island this year.

You came through. I look forward to seeing you all, ready to rock and roll on August 9 in the GISH Auditorium for the all-staff welcome back. I’m sure it will be grand!

“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” - Jonas Salk

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Graduation an accomplishment for all staff

Push on Grand Island and go in to win, Push on Grand Island and fight! May work and deed keep you in the lead, Push on to victory with all your might. Loyal and true we are always with you, Push on when the game goes hard. From East to West we know you’re the best, Push on to victory! Rah, Rah, Rah!

Sunday is a big day. We have approximately 519 students walking across the stage to receive a diploma and Mr. Gilbertson and I will shake their hands.

Trust me, I take great pride in that handshake, as I’m sure Mr. Gilbertson does. I don’t take it for granted nor do I consider this simply the end of a four-year high school journey.

We all know the challenges facing our students as they try to make it through the school year.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to judge presentations for Mr. Jamie Kuebler’s CPI English class. The students were required to complete a community service project with at least 15 hours of volunteer time and report back on the entire process.

During the four presentations I judged, I was struck by how many of the students talked about the challenge of juggling school, this assignment and working - some full time, others at multiple jobs. Finding time for community service was difficult.

We spend a lot of time honoring the top scholars - those in the front row, the top 15 percent, the number one in the class, the honor roll. It is important we also recognize this day is as much about those high performing students as it is about those struggling and juggling school and work and all the other barriers to success they’ve overcome to graduate.

Among these 519 graduates, there are 519 stories of how they got here.

And there are about 1,500 people dedicated to making sure they did so.

That’s all of you. We should all take credit for the success of these 519 students graduating this week. Sure, the high school took them across the finish line - pulling and yanking on a few - but all of us played a part.

Those days when you’re teaching second grade and wondering if the lesson plan was worth it, think about this Sunday. Those days when you’re answering the fifteenth call about what a mom read on Instagram, think about this Sunday. Those days when you’re stuck in traffic with a truckload of school lunches, think about this Sunday. When you’re writing curriculum on a June afternoon, think about this Sunday. When you’re up late at practice, think about this Sunday. When you are struggling through February, think about this Sunday.

And think about what this Sunday means for our students. For some, this is simply the next checkbox marked off on the way to college. Some of them found out only yesterday they did enough to walk across the stage and receive the diploma.

We do a lot in education. We are asked to do a lot. And while this day is a celebration and a culmination of our time with these students, it should not be the pinnacle for these students nor the sole measure how well we have done.

Our vision is students prepared to make positive contributions to society and thrive in an ever-changing world.

For us, we can only hope we came through on the word “prepared.” From here on out, it is up to them to do us proud.

There is no test for graduates to measure contributions. There is no checkbox for thriving. When most of our students achieve these expectations, there will be no celebrations.

But how they contribute and thrive is ultimately how we are measured by the community and the world. Sunday is the day we give them to the adult world, with a stamp of approval that says we believe they are ready to thrive.

It is not the end, but it is certainly a milestone worth getting excited about and celebrating. We can take a moment and reflect on this class and the work we poured into getting them here. We should be proud.

All of us. Thank you all for all you’ve done for the Class of 2018.

We pushed on. Work and deed have kept us in the lead. We pushed on when the game got hard. The Purple banner is waving high for Grand Island.

We’ll always stand by you,
For you to go Grand Island,
We will ever cheer and cheer for you to win,
Grand Island, our hearts will ever yearn,
For the Purple banner waving high
For Grand Island!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018






Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Let’s go Live again

“Let’s get together and feel alright.” - Bob Marley

Mark your calendars for 3:15 p.m. next Wednesday, May 2: We’re doing another edition of “Live With Grover.”

Last year we tried this format out at the same time of year and we were pleased with the results. It offers a great opportunity to reflect on the year and answer any lingering questions you have.

I know this is a busy time, but we should always make time to talk. You will once again be able to submit questions ahead of time as well as during the live event. If you remember, we don’t shy away from any topic or any question about the district you have.

We will be going live from the Starr Elementary media center. There will be some special surprises in addition to your questions.

It has been a great year - so expect some celebrating. However, I assume you have some questions - either about things that have happened or about what is happening next.

If you’d like to submit questions ahead of time, here is the form for submitting questions. We will answer as many as we can in the hour we have together.

We’ll also talk about Demonstration Schools of Rigor, Academies of Grand Island Senior High, summer school and summer fun.

I look forward to going Live with everyone next week.

“If we are not honest, we are not going to be able to forge unity.” - Cyril Ramaphosa

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Your work was recognized and honored

“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist ... It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” - John Steinbeck

Monday night was special.

Not only did we honor the current graduating academic superstars of Grand Island Public Schools, we shined a light on the best of this century.

Thank you to Traci Skalberg and the GIPS Foundation for the work that went into the Academics Honors Night and for allowing us to highlight these excellent students. Also, thanks to the Board of Education for providing the avenue to honor the Academic Hall of Fame inductees.

As I addressed the students recognized at the Academic Honors Night, I was incredibly proud of the work you all have done. That’s right: The work you, the GIPS staff, have done.

Our best of the best - the top 15 percent of the Class of 2018 - would not have reached beyond their potential without you. Without the teachers. Without the principals. The secretaries. The paras. Certainly not without the lunch ladies and the custodians - not even close. Not without the coaches and the activity sponsors and the counselors and the social workers. Not without the GIPS Foundation.

None of these accomplishments would have been possible without everyone at GIPS at every step along the way.

Sure, you can look at the names of some of these kids and say “of course that kid was going to be on the list” … but hard work is required from even the most gifted students with the best supports.

And I challenge you to look at the list and see the names and think about the stories you probably don’t know.

Each student walked to the podium, introduced themself and their family, and told the audience what they accomplished and were involved in while at Senior High and where they are heading next.

Parents stood proudly as students - their children - introduced them. Some introduced mom, dad, siblings, aunts and uncles. One introduced a grandmother. One introduced a brother and his girlfriend and their child.

One only introduced GISH social worker Ann Grieving Brown, the adult who always believed in her.

Students spoke about athletic honors received - four-year letterwinner, all-state, state medalist. They spoke about arts achievements - starred in musicals, earned gold-key awards, all-state band and choir. They spoke about activities - robotics, HOSA, NHS, mock trial.

One student mentioned how she had been employed since she was 16.

The students announced their intentions for after high school. UNL. Northwestern. Creighton. Doane. UNK. Hastings College. To study architecture. Pre-med. “Undecided, but I have a fondness for social studies.” Business. Education.

More than one student talked about going to CCC-Grand Island to go into nursing.

A few already had their CNA license.

Without a doubt, if we line up the other 85 percent of the Class of 2018, there would be many, many more stories to be proud of.

Which is why I’m proud of you and the work we do together. There is always more to do be done, higher levels to achieve, deeper rigor to reach. We know we have areas to improve. Students we need to do even more for.

But it is ok to take a night and look at the results of 13 years of effort from 1,500 employees. It’s nice to say “look what we’ve accomplished.”

A few of these names will join the other group honored Monday night and be inducted into the GISH Academic Hall of Fame. These students had a list of criteria to meet as students at GISH. There is an interactive display across from the Hall of Honor by the Auditorium. I encourage you to check it out the next time you are at Senior High.

I’m sure you will recognize your work on that list, as well.

As for the Class of 2018, the days are winding down. For these students honored by the GIPS Foundation and for all the others, we still have a month to go before giving them to the world. Let’s make it count.

And for the rest of the students in our district, let’s make sure we continue to prepare them all to make positive contributions to society and thrive in an ever-changing world.

“If kids come to us from strong, healthy functioning families, it makes our job easier. If they do not come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job more important.” - Barbara Colorose

GISH Class of 2018 top 15 percent
(with GIPS schools attended):
  • Jose Acevedo (Lincoln, Jefferson, Walnut, GISH)
  • Uriel Anchondo (Jefferson, Walnut, GISH)
  • Samantha Armstrong (Stolley Park, Barr, GISH)
  • Diana Barrios (Newell, Walnut, GISH)
  • Alexa Blase (Newell, Walnut, GISH)
  • Michelle Boroff (Westridge, GISH)
  • Braden Bowen (Gates, Stolley Park, Barr, GISH)
  • Casey Burnham (Engleman, Westridge, GISH)
  • Grace Cadwalader (Jefferson, Walnut, GISH)
  • Ryley Canfield (Wasmer, Barr, GISH)
  • Crystal Chavez Saquiche (Gates, Barr, Walnut, GISH)
  • Talon Clay (Westridge, GISH)
  • Bethany Collins (West Lawn, Knickrehm, Stolley Park, Barr, GISH)
  • Karina De Leon Hamilton (Gates, Wasmer, Barr, GISH)
  • Brooks Douglass (Engleman, Westridge, GISH)
  • Gerard Dunning (West Lawn, Walnut, GISH)
  • Kaitlyn Ellis (Gates, Barr, GISH)
  • Faviola Erives (Knickrehm, Howard, Walnut, GISH)
  • Gabby Escalante Manzano (Dodge, Lincoln, Barr, GISH)
  • David Estrada (Knickrehm, Walnut, GISH, CPI)
  • Aleece Fiala (Gates, Barr, GISH)
  • Lesley Fierro Chavez (Lincoln, Walnut, GISH)
  • Jack Foglesong (Gates, Barr, GISH)
  • Lauren Frankforter (Stolley Park, Barr, GISH)
  • Madison Galusha (Seedling Mile, Barr, GISH)
  • Antonio Garcia Campos (GISH - came from Ecuador in 2016)
  • Kale Gardner (Wasmer, Barr, GISH)
  • Natalie Gibbs (Howard, Newell, Walnut, GISH)
  • Ivonne Guzman (Lincoln, Walnut, GISH)
  • Kenzie Hansen (Stolley Park, Barr, GISH)
  • Riley Hansen (Stolley Park, Barr, GISH)
  • Faith Harris (Stolley Park, Barr, GISH)
  • Sydney Haubold (Engleman, Westridge, GISH)
  • Katelyn Hill (Newell, Walnut, GISH)
  • Haleigh Hoos (Engleman, Westridge, GISH)
  • Abigail Javier Paxtle (Jefferson, Howard, Walnut, GISH)
  • Abigail Juett (Howard, Dodge, Shoemaker, West Lawn, Walnut, GISH, CPI)
  • Madison Juett (Howard, Dodge, Shoemaker, West Lawn, Walnut, GISH)
  • Myah Keenportz (Shoemaker, Westridge, GISH)
  • Grace Kennedy (Stolley Park, GISH)
  • Haley Ketteler (Stolley Park, Barr, GISH)
  • Taylor Keyes (Newell, Walnut, GISH)
  • Reghan Kort (Stolley Park, Barr, GISH)
  • Chuol Lual (Wasmer, Barr, GISH)
  • Cade McCallum (Stolley Park, Barr, GISH)
  • Ruth Mencia (Wasmer, GISH)
  • Nathan Meyer (Gates, Barr, GISH, CPI)
  • Rhett Milner (Gates, Barr, GISH)
  • Jennifer Montelongo (Lincoln, Walnut, GISH)
  • Ivana Morales Lopez (Barr, GISH)
  • Cindy Moran Barrientos (Knickrehm, Dodge, Barr, GISH)
  • Adrian Moreira (Howard, Walnut, GISH)
  • Lucy Myers (Stolley Park, Barr, GISH)
  • William Nordhues (Jefferson, Walnut, GISH)
  • Brady Otto (Dodge, Gates, Barr, GISH)
  • Christina Palma-Perez (Jefferson, Walnut, GISH)
  • Zitlalic Parra-Valencia (Jefferson, Walnut, GISH)
  • Carlos Perez-Madrid (Starr, Dodge, Westridge, GISH, CPI) 
  • Paxton Peterson (Wasmer, Westridge, GISH)
  • Alejandro Rendon (Newell, Walnut, GISH)
  • Maggie Roudebush (Newell, Walnut, GISH)
  • Jennifer Sanchez (Westridge, GISH)
  • Christian Sanchez-Jimenez (Knickrehm, Walnut, GISH)
  • Shay Schanaman (GISH)
  • Yuvinny Serrano (Howard, Walnut, Barr, GISH)
  • Cynthia Serrano-Ortega (Dodge, Barr, GISH)
  • Kiara Session (Barr, GISH)
  • Tyler Sextro (Barr, GISH)
  • Viangri Sontay Lopez (Starr, Barr, GISH)
  • Samantha Thornton (Newell, Walnut, GISH)
  • Sydney Wald (Westridge, GISH)
  • Karla Zambrano (Jefferson, Walnut, GISH)
  • Jacqueline Zarraga Guerrero (Howard, Walnut, GISH)

Grand Island Senior High Academic Hall of Fame
(Inaugural class, with year of graduation):
  • Audreana Aguilar, 2010
  • Johnathan Albers, 2014
  • Chelsey Bartels Liess, 2003
  • Sarah Bauer, 2010
  • Reagan Bowen, 2017
  • Kara Brostrom, 2009
  • Courtney Cahoy, 2010
  • Jerome Campbell, 2015
  • Timothy Carmann, 2002
  • Bret Clark, 2002
  • Olivia Exstrum, 2013
  • Preston Fegley, 2013
  • Melissa Fladseth Truelson, 2000
  • Broc Forbes, 2008
  • Kevin Frankforter, 2006
  • Anna Galbraith, 2005
  • Hana Gomes, 2001
  • Margaret Gregory Lambie, 2009
  • John (Jack) Higgins, 2004
  • Ryan Homan, 2003
  • Anna Hornbacher, 2017
  • Reuben Houser, 2007
  • Shane Jacobs, 2016
  • Zachary Kneale, 2016
  • Sarah Koubek, 2016
  • Matthew Kruse, 2002
  • Amber Kunze Liggett, 2009
  • Sienna Kunze, 2017
  • Tiara Kush Brown, 2009
  • Sarah Kuta, 2008
  • Abigail Kutlas, 2014
  • Jonathan Lentz, 2001
  • Danielle Mettenbrink, 2012
  • Kari Mettenbrink Rushlau, 2010
  • Emily Meyer, 2010
  • Sarah Mirza, 2011
  • Hunter Moural, 2017
  • Sara Robbins, 2010
  • Brigette Root Pettepier,2008
  • Jordan Schleif, 2006
  • Kyle Schutte, 2006
  • Tanner Shuck, 2015
  • Nicholas Spintig, 2006
  • Evan Stewart, 2010
  • Caroline Swift, 2007
  • Lane Uhing, 2014
  • Leigh Uhing, 2014
  • Tucker Vahle, 2016
  • Addie Voss, 2011
  • Stephanie Wagner Hulme, 2006
  • Alyssa Wells, 2017
  • Taylor Whipple, 2007
  • Valerie Williams Valdiviez, 2003
  • Susan Zlomke, 2002