School got underway this week in Great Bend and on Monday all of the employees returned ahead of the students for their Back to School Bash at Great Bend High School.
When Khris Thexton stepped on stage in the GBHS Auditorium he was given a standing ovation — something that hasn’t happened in recent memory. This is his first semester as the superintendent.
“Thank you! That means a lot,” Thexton said. Someone from the audience responded, “No pressure.”
The Back to School Bash always features a breakfast, followed by a performance by the GBHS marching band, which started its rehearsals earlier this month. From academics to activities and athletics, Thexton said, “our kids do an awesome job.”
The Bash is always a combination of celebration and training. Assistant Superintendent John Popp, who is a parent as well as an administrator, told the staff, “I have been overwhelmed at your commitment to helping kids. You have felt the call to be a part of something bigger than you are.”
Next up was keynote speaker Joe Coles with a talk on teamwork. A former teacher, administrator and coach from Cimarron, Coles provided practical information that can be used in the classroom, Thexton said. But it wasn’t just for teachers; Coles said everyone on the district payroll is involved in the education of the students, including bus drivers, janitors and office personnel.
Coles spent the afternoon conducting more training at Eisenhower Elementary School. The district may invite him back to do a leadership program for students.
Nearly 3,000 students started the school year by learning the district expectations that apply for grades K-12: Be safe, be respectful and be responsible.
With Wednesday being the first day of school, teachers didn’t have to worry about safely showing kids the solar eclipse on Monday. Thexton noted that some districts that were in session did schedule time to view the eclipse. There were school districts in Kansas that bought eclipse-viewing glasses on the internet, only to discover that the glasses weren’t certified as safe and couldn’t be used.
Most adults I’ve talked to remember making a pinhole camera or wearing a cardboard eclipse box on their head at some point in their childhood.
Great Bend USD 428 staff could get eclipse glasses from the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, which handed them out Monday at the Business Showcase. The Showcase is a popular event where businesses welcome teachers back with gifts and specials. The first year 55 businesses set up tables in the Panther Activity Center. Last year’s Showcase featured more than 60 businesses, and this year there were 77.
The Great Bend Tribune gave away 600 pairs of eclipse glasses earlier this month, but by Monday our supplies were exhausted. Hundreds more were rationed out at the Great Bend Public Library, Barton Community College and the Kansas Wetlands Education Center on Monday.
I took my glasses to the KWEC and spent several minutes looking as the moon covered a small piece of the sun and eventually more than 90 percent of the sun. As the day dimmed my vision seemed to blur and my first thought was “Oh no! I’ve stared at the sun and damaged by eyes!” It was kind of like the kid in the movie “A Christmas Story” who thinks the warning “You’ll shoot your eye out” with a Red Ryder BB gun has somehow come true.
Fortunately, it was just a big smudge on the left lens of my regular glasses.
Susan Thacker is news editor of the Great Bend Tribune. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.