Top 10 Westside Stories of 2017
2017 Year in Review
What an incredible year it has been for Westside Community Schools! We have reasons to celebrate in academics, athletics, the arts, citizenship and service, community, and more. It’s tough to narrow down our Top Stories of 2017, but we did it with the help of social media/website stats and input from our District leaders, teacher and students. What was YOUR favorite Westside story of 2017?!?
#10 Westside Swimming Honored With Dominant Dynasty Award
- Story reached 13.6K on Facebook
- This fall, the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame Foundation selected the Westside High School Swimming programs of 1973-1988 to receive the Dominant Dynasties Award for 2017. Westside earned national respect under the direction of Hall of Fame Coach Cal Bentz, a legacy further fueled under longtime coach Doug Krecklow, now in his 38th year coaching Westside Swimming. Click here to read more.
#9 Westside Middle School Teacher Named National German Educator of the Year
- Story reached 14.5K on Facebook, 4.1K on Twitter
- Colleagues, parents and students past and present all shared success stories and well wishes with WMS Teacher Ginger Starks Yoble, after she was named the 2017 K-8 Outstanding German Educator by the American Association of Teachers of German. This national award is given annually in recognition of innovative teaching, extraordinary talent and exceptional leadership in the German teaching profession. Click here to read more.
#8 Westside High School Hosts 2016 World Series Trophy
- 14.1K on Facebook, 7.2K on Twitter
- Westside High School was host to the 2016 World Series Trophy in February, thanks to Chicago Cubs Owner, Nebraska Governor, and Westside Alum Pete Ricketts! Hundreds of fans waited in line to snap photos with the iconic trophy, and our Warriors baseball players, staff members and community leaders were given VIP access during the event.
#7 Westside Boys Basketball Coach Brian Nemecek Steps Down
- Story reached 15.2K on Facebook, 8.9K on Twitter
- After 21 years guiding thousands of Westside student athletes, Varsity Boys Basketball Coach Brian Nemecek announced in March he would step down from his coaching duties. Current players, alumni, colleagues and journalists from across the Metro and beyond shared their memories of ‘Nemo’s’ time on the court. Mr. Nemecek continues to teach Social Studies at Westside High School; former assistant Jim Simons is the new Warriors Boys Basketball Coach. Click here to read more.
- “It was impressive to see the the student athletes Coach Nemecek affected during his tenure. Quality Coaches make a difference in our students’ lives and community. Thank you, Nemo.” – Dr. Enid Schonewise, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources
#6 Westside High School Named an ACT Exemplary School
- Stories reached 26.5K on Facebook
- Our students and staff have worked hard to make ACT preparation and success a top priority and it shows! In March, Westside High School was named an ACT Exemplary School and this fall, WHS scores remained above the state average! Click here to read more.
#5 Paddock Road Elementary named National Blue Ribbon School
- Stories reached 45K on Facebook
- In September, Principal Scott Becker announced to his students and staff that the U.S. Department of Education had chosen Paddock Road as one of only four Nebraska schools to receive the prestigious Blue Ribbon distinction for 2017. Governor Pete Ricketts and Miss Nebraska later visited the school to congratulate staff and students in person; they were greeted by Neji, a special needs student, in a heartwarming video that has reached more than 23,000 people and counting online. Click here to watch!
- “The Blue Ribbon Award is one of the more prestigious awards that a school can obtain. This is a huge honor. The day after the school got the award, I happened to be at Paddock. I wanted to congratulate the principal and teacher leader but they were nowhere to be found. They were in a side room with a team of teachers examining data and looking for ways to get better. I guess this explains why they won the Blue Ribbon Award!” – Dr. Mark Weichel, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning
#4 Westside DECA Sets Records, Helps Community, Builds Partnerships
- Stories reached 43K on Facebook, 9K on Twitter
- Westside DECA was simply on fire in 2017! The business program at Westside High School announced a new groundbreaking partnership with Nebraska Furniture Mart, joined forces with several community businesses to help hurricane victims, and sent a record-breaking 51 students to the International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, California. Click here to see KETV’s special feature on Westside’s new School of Entreprenuerial Thinking, set to open in January!
#3 Westside ATSC Wows Music Fans Across Country
- Stories reached 53.9K on Facebook, 14.3K on Twitter
- Westside’s ATSC (the Amazing Technicolor Show Choir) has been nothing short of unstoppable in 2017. Members performed with Kenny Rogers at the Ralston Arena, a National First Runner Up finish at the 2017 Heart of America in Atlanta, and a record breaking 5 Grand Champion finishes in the 2017 season. Video previewing ATSC’s 2017 program produced by WHS alum Mitch Francis has reached more than 15,000 people and counting (click here to watch). ATSC will host Premiere Night to kick off the 2018 season on January 3 at Westside High School!
#2 Westside Middle School Staff ‘Goes Extra Mile’ For Special Needs Students
- Stories reached 62.2K on Facebook, 10.7K on Twitter
- Last April, Westside Middle School parents and students stood and cheered as Hayden Sommer, a student with Autism, finished a race thanks to the help of Special Education Teacher Keery Wolf, who ran alongside Hayden, and Special Education Para Tamara Welch, who had worked with Hayden all year. Video of the race reached nearly 50,000 on Facebook alone (click here to watch!), and in August, Welch was named a 2017 Nebraska Paraeducator of the Year.
- “This particularly stands out to me as does Sunset’s field trip to see two of its students participate in the Special Olympics. Another school district in the state likes to remind us that “all means all” when it comes to public education, meaning that as public school systems, we’re working to get the best out of all our kids no matter with what challenges they walk into our buildings and no matter what is going on outside of them. I’ve seen so many examples of our educators shooting for this standard this year that it literally brings me to tears. The compassion, passion and sense of mission throughout the District is special – and our folks should be saluted for living that every day. I’ve seen it in action at Sunset, Westbrook, Swanson, Hillside and WMS all in the last six weeks, and I’m pretty sure I would have seen it in all the others had I been fortunate enough to step through their doors. What an honor!” – Adam Yale, Westside Board of Education Treasurer
#1 Westside Sparkles Program Shines Spotlight On Special Needs Students
- Stories reached 64.1K on Facebook, 17.4K on Twitter
- In January, Westside’s Mitch Francis (Class of 2017) produced a video featuring the Sparkles, a program empowering special needs students to learn cheers and participate at Westside athletic events alongside our Varsity Cheer members. The video, and this program, united and inspired thousands, including many at neighboring schools who have similar programs. To date, the Sparkles feature is the most watched video EVER on Westside social media, reaching an estimated 60,000 people. Watch for (and cheer for!) our Sparkles at Basketball games throughout the Spring! Click here to watch!