Education (93)

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By Darla Welchel
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People usually hate when others play mind games, but not so for Bridge Creek High School.
On Oct. 26 at 5 p.m., the Bridge Creek Academic Team will be on the KSBI show, Mind Games, competing with other local academic teams for cash prizes. Team members for the Bridge Creek team are seniors Darby Bryce, Robert BlueBack and Jenny Corbin with Juniors Morgan Danker and Justin Meyers.
The teams earn cash prizes for their school; $10 a question sponsored by the Choctaw Nation. There is also a single Oklahoma history question worth $250 for each team, sponsored by Ward Petroleum, said team advisor and high school technology teacher Adam Carr.
"Mind Games recruits academic teams at the Oklahoma Academic Coaches Association meetings every September, so I had been hearing about it for a couple of years," Carr said. "Last spring, one of my team members, Morgan Danker, asked if we could do it. Once I knew I had a little buy-in on the part of the team, I knew it was time to push the opportunity forward."
Carr loves to show off his team's prowess at academic bowls, and was looking for a different venue for them to compete.
"I like to find different opportunities for students to show what they are made of. I figure, if I believe in them enough to make the opportunity available to them, they will feel confident to put themselves out there and make a good showing," he said. "I feel like that's my biggest challenge as an educator – to get kids to believe that hard work makes a difference. That confidence is a choice we make, not a feeling that is fleeting, and that the status quo is a construct we have control over."
In order for the team to be chosen for the show, they had to take a "quiz" as one unit, he said. They had to take an online test and answer 24 questions as fast as possible, and the team that got the most questions correct in the shortest amount of time received the highest seed in the tournament.
Filming actually started in September, and the team had to sign a confidentiality agreement not to leak the results before the airdate, Carr said. The filming for the tournament has been completed, but one unfortunate turn of event may keep further shows from airing - KSBI was purchased by Griffin Communications and future shows are in question.
"We were told that no matter what happens with Griffin and KSBI anything that is taped, they intend to air even if they can only air it online," he said. "The big thing [the show] means, is a new and novel experience for students. The second thing it means is students get to see their community supporting them as they assert themselves and take on new challenges. The third thing it means is that any question they get right they now have $10 to spend as a team."
Carr, who has taught at Bridge Creek for 12 years, has coached the academic team for 11 of those years. In addition, he has also coached the robotic team for the past two years.
"I am hoping the Mind Games game show continues; I have some sophomores and freshmen that I would like to take in years to come. I have a very diverse team with lots of really smart kids. As we learn confidence and develop a hunger for competition, my Academic Team shows a lot of potential. When people watch the show, no matter how you want it to go, you will be yelling at the screen, I know I was, it is really a good game," Carr said.


Wednesday, 08 October 2014 18:18

Pucker up and help fund education

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By Darla Welchel
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Limeades are a sweet and sour way to cool off when you are hot, it is also a way to help raise money for education.
Voting is now going on for Sonic Drive-In's Limeades for Learning give-away.
Two Newcastle teachers have submitted three projects in which they hope to receive educational funding, according to Sonic ad agency representative Madison LaRoche. Sixth grade reading teacher Blaire Harrison and middle school technology teacher Vickie Crossley have entered in this year’s contest.
Harrison's project Tech It Out is requesting 10 Chromebooks to promote the use of technology in her reading classroom. The cost of this project is $2,989.40.
"We need technology in every classroom and in every student and teacher's hand, because it is the pen and paper of our time, and it is the lens through which we experience much of our world. Please help bring our classroom into the future by donating to our project," she said in her project submittal.
Her second project Look, Look, Look it Up! Asked for actual dictionaries, thesauruses and almanacs to teach her students to look information up in reference books; this project has already been funded for $856.45.
Crossley's project I Didn’t Know That! - Tech Resources for Middle Schoolers is requesting books and reference materials about technology, which she says can be used in numerous ways and have a multitude of uses. Her project cost is $437.06.
"Technology is often confused with the term 'computers'. But technology is about problem solving and improving things. How people use tools to create new things and develop new ideas are better descriptions of technology. I try to reinforce that throughout the school year," Crossley said in her project report.
Limeade for Learning allows people to vote on their favorite project to help local teachers receive funding for educational needs in their classrooms. Go to to find and vote on a project.
You will have to sign in either through your Facebook, twitter or pintrest accounts or you can sign up using your email, LaRoche said. You can vote once a day, but there are other ways to earn more votes like visiting your local Sonic. When you order an item, you will receive a sticker with a special code on it for more votes.
You can also get additional votes for sharing the link on Facebook, twitter, pintrest and through email, she said. And, when you have voted 10 days in a row, you will get extra votes for your favorite teacher's project.
Christi Woodworth, Senior Director of Communications & Community Relations at Sonic Drive-In  said, "As a national brand, SONIC Drive-In is dedicated to supporting our local communities and we are passionate about education. Limeades for Learning is our way to give back to the communities we serve, empowering our guests to vote for their favorite projects and connecting each local drive-in to the public schools in the area."
Sonic has pledged $500,000 for education and have been giving away $100,000 a week since the contest started Sept. 22; the voting and funding will continue through Oct. 26, so there is still plenty of time to get online or visit Sonic to cast your vote.


Thursday, 02 October 2014 15:13

A message from the superintendent

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Good Morning Racers,

As I sit here reflecting on a very busy weekend for me, and the school district, I am reminded - between the yawns - of how old I sometimes feel. Keeping up with my own children and many of the children in the district keeps me old and young at the same time. We as school personnel know that this time of the year can be very demanding on our students and their families also. 

With homecoming week approaching, this is a perfect example of what I am trying to write about this week. How often do we feel overwhelmed by ALL that we have to do as adults, and it seems like none of it gets done as well or maybe as quickly as we would like for it to be done. The same goes with our students. While this may be the “best years of their lives,” they still are facing tremendous pressures to perform in the classroom, the athletic fields, and at the everyday jobs they have in addition to trying to be a “KID” who is in school. 

Just like the pit crews of racing teams are always behind the scenes making the cars of their drivers safer and faster and more dependable, let us as the pit crews for our “RACERS” continue to do the same for them. In the days, weeks, and months to come prior to the end of the semester continue to push them hard while at the same time encouraging them and giving them every support possible. 

We as a district are beginning the major reporting for the year that is due at the beginning of next month. These reports will show that we have another record enrollment and that our demographics are slowing changing. These data points are also indicative of the need of our students to continue to be supported outside of school in all that they do. Many of them will need “support” in their academic efforts; others will need it in athletics, music, or robotics. In other words, let’s all make a concerted effort to be supportive of all of our students when and wherever possible.

Since this is homecoming week, please come out and support the students and faculty in all of the activities that are planned for the week culminating in the hosting of district fast pitch softball on Thursday; first ever regional volleyball tournament appearance for Racer volleyball on Thursday night in Cache; the parade, carnival, and football game on Friday.

Have a great week!


Wednesday, 01 October 2014 20:03

Newcastle 4-H collects tabs for charity

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By Darla Welchel
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Imagine being surrounded by 462,455 pop tabs. That's a lot of aluminum – bags and buckets of the stuff.
The Newcastle 4-H Club, in sponsorship with the Newcastle elementary schools, collected over 360 pounds of pop tabs since last year.  At approximately 1,267 tabs per pound, that equals nearly a half million tabs of all sorts and sizes.
No, the club is not obsessive compulsive; they are just doing their part to help the families of seriously ill or injured children by collecting all types of pull tabs from cans, said 4-H parent and elementary school speech pathologist DeAnn Smith.
The "Pull for Kids" campaign is part of the OK 4-H Foundation project to benefit Ronald McDonald Houses, she said. Individual clubs, like Newcastle's, collect from October to October each year and present their total poundage of aluminum tabs at the District Youth Action Conference.
"Last year, the total for all of McClain County was 75 pounds," Smith said. "This year, Newcastle 4-H collected over 362 pounds."
What made the difference? Smith said she got the idea to make it a project in all of the elementary schools when her students started bringing her pop tabs in their pockets and lunch bags. The reason they collect only the tabs is because the aluminum is a better quality, and it's much easier to save the tab instead of the whole can.
"I started just at the ECC last October, then added the elementary school in November," she said. "Kids would come up to me saying 'we brought you a pop tab, Mrs.. Smith.'"
Each month, that school is in session, all the classroom teachers have collection receptacles in their classrooms. Smith collects them with the help of her son, Brenden, who is the Newcastle 4-H vice president, and other 4-H students and takes them home to weigh and store.
Monthly, the class bringing in the most tabs earns the right to keep the recycled traveling trophy in their classroom. At the end of May, the class with the greatest poundage of tabs in each building wins a cookie party, Smith said.
"It's gone over really well. It kind of started from a challenge between the Blanchard 4-H and us as to who could collect the most," she said. "So we said, 'how can we get more,' and we came up with this idea."
The focus for the club is for community service and is a great project for the younger 4-H members, because they can put a pop tab in their pockets, Smith said.
Brenden even did a presentation on this project for one of his 4-H projects, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Newcastle 4-H, as well as explaining what "Pull for Kids" is all about.
The Newcastle 4-H is excited to attend this year’s conference and bring all the tabs collected, she said. The group will continue the project and look forward to bringing in even more tabs.
Individuals and business can also donate pull-tabs at any elementary site. The Pacer currently has a container in the staff kitchen to save pop and soup tabs.


Wednesday, 01 October 2014 19:12

Hogs and Kisses at Newcastle Elementary

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By Darla Welchel
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Pucker up, its time for the annual Hogs & Kisses fundraising event. From Monday, Oct. 6- Friday, Oct. 10, students can bring change each day to fill the piggy bank for the teacher of their choice.
"Teachers usually decorate a pig, which gets judged at the end of the week, and the winner gets a gift certificate," said PTO President Joanah Salas.  
The teacher who raises the most money by the end of the week, will kiss the pig. The winner for PreK-1st will kiss the pig at the ECC, and the winner from 2nd-5th will pucker up at the 4/5 gym.
Last yearss winning teacher at the ECC was Mrs. Huff and since Mrs. Chlouber was less than $5 away she received 2nd place and was a good sport and went ahead and kissed the pig too, Salas said. Mrs. Sykes won the honors at the upper elementary schools.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 21:54

FCCLA hold a blessed event

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By Darla Welchel

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Amongst balloons, punch and cake, more than 30 members of the Newcastle chapter of FCCLA met for the first time this year last Thursday.

To kick the year off, students in Family Career and Community Leaders of America, the student organization affiliated with the Family and Consumer Science class, held a baby shower to promote its District Project, said FCCLA sponsor Debbie Chappell.

The students chose Operation Homefront: Star Spangled Babies for this year's project. This important program provides baby showers to enlisted service members and their families while they are away from home serving their country, she said. 

To properly get in the mood, the students made and decorated baby shower cakes, had punch and played shower games, she said. The goal of the project is for students to collect and then deliver baby items by Sept. 30 during the District Meeting.

Often, military parents-to-be live far from their extended families and support systems due to deployments and relocations. Star Spangled Babies helps provide them with some of the necessities they might not otherwise get.

Although FCCLA members are collecting the items, community members can become involved by delivering needed items to the high school before Sept. 30, Chappell said. Some of the needed items are:

Diapers (size 1-2)

Baby wipes

Baby wash clothes

Bath towels

Diaper Cream, lotion, wash, etc.

Baby blankets

Soft toys

Teething rings and rattles



Baby detergent

The purpose of FCCLA is to promote personal growth and leadership development through family and consumer sciences education. This organization is available to anyone currently enrolled in FACS courses, or anyone who have previously taken the courses, Chappell said. 


Thursday, 11 September 2014 21:42

Teaching the 3 R’s at Newcastle Elementary

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By Darla Welchel

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Reduce, Reuse and Recycle might not be the 3 R’s that most of us grew up with, but in today’s ecology it is very important for the health of the planet.

The Newcastle Elementary School is turning lessons into practice and earning cash doing it. On Thursday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. the grade school will be holding a Recycling Event in front of the cafeteria.

The recycling extravaganza is being held as a fundraiser for the elementary school to raise money to beautify the front of both the first and second grade and fourth and fifth grade buildings.

Students have already been sent home with pink bags to fill with gently used clothing, shoes and small household items, but there is still a big need for more items, said event sponsor Duane Alexander of Recycle for Charity. Community members are urged to bring their boxes and bags of donations in to help fill the truck.

The school will receive $60 per 3x5 foot cart and there is no limit to the amount that Recycle for Charity will accept. The local donation center, located at 1612 NW 32nd St. to the west of T.G. Farms, donates 80 percent of what they take in back to the Newcastle community, he said.

“Parents get tired of all the school fundraisers,” Alexander said. “This is easy, they just have to clean out their closets and the school gets money.”

The event will accept all gently used items including small household items and battery operated toys and electronics, working or not, he said. Just no TV sets or monitors. Tax receipts will be issued and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the school. Special arrangements can be made for large furniture donations by calling (405) 681-9926.

The class with the most donations brought in will win a Pizza Party.

“Help us keep it out of the landfills and keep our community looking beautiful,” he said. “Feel Great and Donate.”


Thursday, 11 September 2014 21:32

Pasta for dancing

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By Cody Johnson

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   Have you been craving some good Italian pasta? Do you also want the chance to help out the junior class put on a great prom?

   Then come out and support the Newcastle junior class's fundraiser for Prom. They will be holding a spaghetti dinner on Thursday night. Come on out from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the high school cafeteria for a plate full of delicious pasta.

   The junior class will also have their parents out to help serve the community along side them. A $5 donation will get you in the door for spaghetti with some traditional sides.

   Anyone wishing to donate money to help the junior put on Prom this year can contact Stephanie Burchett at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Andrea Thomas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


Tuesday, 09 September 2014 21:48

Things to learn at the Library

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By Darla Welchel

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The Newcastle Public Library isn’t just a place to get reading or viewing material; it is also a place to learn. 

With a full calendar of events for all ages, the library offers instruction on a variety of subjects. From computer classes to discussions on health, the library has it all in addition to the fun and creative programs offered.

Intro to Computer class – Sept. 11, 18 & 25, 10 a.m.: Learn the basics of using the computer from getting started to searching the Internet and setting up email accounts. These classes are for those with little to no experience. In this class we will set up an email account. Learn to read, send, and delete emails.

Science of Concussions – Sept. 15, 6 p.m.: With the high school sports season under way, a topic of conversation is concussions, especially those that are sports-related. Steve Nedbalek with the Oklahoma State Department of Health will present the program The Truth about Sports Concussions. He’ll go over some of the basics of concussions and causes of traumatic brain injuries, as well as giving the signs and symptoms of concussions for those playing sports but also in children as young as infants or toddlers. Teen and/or adults may attend the program, but registration is required in advance.

Painting Apples in Acrylic – Sept 13, 10:30 a.m.: Learn how to paint a beautiful still life painting of fall apples in acrylic. All supplies provided. Registration would be helpful to library staff.

Cyber Space Series for Teens – Sept. 18, 3 p.m.: Those who attend have a chance to participate in favorites like video games, board games, craft projects and enjoy free food. There also will be a space for those needing to keep up on schoolwork to do so on a library computer and have access to homework and research help.

Registration is not required to take part in the group.

"No Ordinary Bird" at story time – Sept. 17, 3:45 p.m.: The library is telling a story of “No Ordinary Bird” at an upcoming after school story time and craft. Children will hear the story about a special parrot named Alex, and afterward can do a craft program related to the story. The activities are for kindergarten through third-grade children and their caregivers. Registration is not required to attend.

Pre-School Story Time - Sept. 17, 11 a.m.: This time of stories, songs, rhymes and activities is sure to spark the learning juices of the smallest library patrons. The program is for ages birth to 5 years and their caregivers. 

In addition to these programs, young readers can improve their reading skills by reading to therapy dogs Maggie and Riley each Tuesday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the ante-room off the library. 

For more information about these or other upcoming programs, contact the library at 387-5076 or visit

Thursday, 04 September 2014 16:01

District earns top marks on state tests

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By Darla Welchel

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Newcastle Schools has received its report card for the 2013-2014 school year, and Superintendent Tony O'Brien is proud of his kids' success.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education's A-F Report Card is in, and the Racers received a B+ on the testing - a score that has O'Brien baffled. Although each site brought up their individual grades, the districts' overall grade dropped from an A- to a B+, he said. 

Newcastle's overall scores show reading, English and mathematics to be the strong areas of testing, while the areas of science and biology were trouble areas. Detailed information each individual campus and subject can be analyzed on the SDE website at

But still, in comparison with the other 10 schools in McClain and Grady Counties, Newcastle came in ahead all but one - Tuttle. And, the high school raked in an A+ and was named a "Reward School" by the SDE for scoring 100 percent. 

Reward Schools are those in the top 10 percent of performance in all assessments, or those in the top 10 percent of schools that have made high progress in reading and math.

"We are proud of the work the students and the educators at these schools have done to merit the distinction of being Reward Schools," State Superintendent of Instruction Janet Barresi said. "The students have proven they are on track to being college, career and citizen ready by the time they graduate."

In addition to the news about the state report card, O'Brien is also excited about the recent ACT trends for NHS. According to information provided by the district, Newcastle high school students scored on average two percent higher in every category from 2013 to 2014. And, they scored higher than the state average in all subjects. 

"When you move up two percent on the ACT - that is a major accomplishment," he said. "This is probably one of the two greatest academic achievements for the school along with dual credit."

Newcastle Schools is offering 59 hours of dual credit classes on its campus, O'Brien said. The classes are advanced placement courses taught by the Newcastle faculty and offers students the opportunity complete roughly two years of college.

"These classes are very intensely rigorous and therefore students not only get their high school credits but also college credits, because they are doing that level of work," he said. "For young students who may not be ready for the 'college' atmosphere yet, they are getting the academics while still being in a very structured environment. We control the class, attendance and books that they use for these classes."

Currently students can attain dual hours in English, mathematics, social sciences, sciences and some elective classes. For a complete list, contact the high school department.


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