Valandra / Herman smash state qualifying standards

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By Rich Winter

Generally the first track meet of the year is an opportunity to stretch the legs, get out on the track and see where your at.

For Todd County athletes, Caelyn Valandra and Kelsie Herman, it was a chance to blow past state qualifying standards and punch their tickets to the state track meet. 

Valandra destroyed the field in the 400 meters, clocking a 60.4. The 7th grader came back later in the day to scorch the field in the 200 meters with a time of 26.5. That 26.5 put a scare into Suzanne Mealer’s school record of 26.34, set in 1993.

After a cold and windy early afternoon, the winds subsided and Kelsie Herman took her turn, blowing out an 11:59 3200 meters to easily break the state qualifying standard. 

Quote from Kornely:

It was a terrific effort from the girls who won the 4x800 (missed state qualifying by 2 seconds 10:15) and the medley relay, the 1600 meters (Karli Prue) and finished 2nd in the team standings, trailing team winner, Kimball/While Lake, by just six team points (110-104). 

The Todd County boys were similarly impressive, finishing in second (Gregory) in the team standings while having a number of outstanding performances. 

Ty Herman won the 100 )11.7), Austin Hammer won the long jump (19’1”) and the boys won the 4x800 relay, the medley relay and the 4x400 relay to finish off a spectacular first day on the track. 

Girls team standings: Kimball/White Lake 110, Todd County 104, Colome 64,  Chamberlain 61, Gregory 54, Winner 47, Platte-Geddes 46, Lyman County 45, Bennett County 11, Jones County 5, St. Francis Indian 4

Girls results: 

100 meters:

4th - Raven Patton 14.1

200 meters:

1st - Caelyn Valandra 26.5

400 meters:

1st - Caelyn Valandra 60.4

800 meters:

3rd - Karli Prue 2:43

1600 meters:

1st - Karli Prue 5:56

2nd - Amory Prue 5:57

3200 meters:

1st - Kelsie Herman - 11:59

2nd - Amory Prue - 13:11

300 hurdles:

4th - Kylie Randall - 56.3

4x100 relay: 

3rd - Todd County - 57.9

4x200 relay:

3rd - Todd County 1:59.1

4x800 relay:

1st - Todd County - 10:15 (Raven Cournoyer, Karlie Prue, Kelsie Herman and Caelyn Valandra)

Medley relay: 

1st - Todd County 4:43.2 (Gabby Iron Heart, Alanis Murray, Caelyn Valandra and Raven Cournoyer)

Long jump:

5th - Raven Cournoyer - 13’10”

Boys team results: 

Gregory 156, Todd County 99, Platte-Geddes 64, Winner 52, Chamberlain 51, Colome 44, Bennett County 39, Kimball/White Lake 13, St. Francis Indian 6, Lyman 4, Jones County 3

Boys results: 

100 meters:

1st - Ty Herman (11.7)

400 meters:

2nd - Bryce Hammer 56

800 meters:

2nd - Jesse Allen 2:13

1600 meters:

2nd - Jesse Allen 4:59

3200 meters:

2nd - Lee Sharpfish - 11:10

5th - Morris Kills In Sight 12:28

110 hurdles:

3rd - Chris Fast Horse - 19.4

300 hurdles:

6th - Bryant Burnette 49.3

4x100 relay:

4th - Todd County 50.4

4x400 relay:

1st - Todd County 3:50.5 (Ty Herman, Austin Hammer, Jordan Poignee and Bryce Hammer)

4x800 relay:

1st - Todd County (Bryce Hammer 2:11, Jesse Allen, Morris Kills In Sight, Austin Hammer 2:15)

Sprint Medley:

1st - Todd  County -= Bryce Hammer, Ty Herman, Jordan Poignee and Austin Hammer 3:53.5

Long jump:

1st - Austin Hammer - 19’1”

Triple Jump:

4th - Lee Sharpfish - 35’1”




St. Francis bullying club gaining strength

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1. The idea came up after the suicide of a young girl who used to go to school here last year. She still had many friends here.  Amanda Arcoren approached the Principal and HS Counselor and said she was tired of the bullying and it’s effects and wanted to do something about it.  So, a group of students and two of the counselors (Dee Curtis and Robin Wakanojanjan) started a Bullying Prevention Club.  The club later evolved as the OLWEUS Bullying Prevention Student Committee.  OLWEUS is a comprehensive School Bullying Prevention Program with some documented success in diverse settings.  We meet weekly after school for 2 hours.

2. What is Bullying?  It is repeated, unwanted negative attention targeted at someone who is perceived as being less powerful in some way.  Basically, it’s “Peer Abuse”. 

We are careful not to label anyone a “Bully” or a “Victim” as labels result in a self-fulfilling prophecy.  When people are labeled they feel they might as well live up to the label.  Labels are similar to a naming and so we just try to say that person engaged in “Bullying behavior” or was “Victimized” by a person.

3. As one of the two committee advisors, I’ve seen a lot more self-reflection in the participants.  They’ve grown for sure.  They now stop and question themselves a bit more when engaging with peers and relationship issues.  One girl in particular, Donette Leader Charge, has emerged as an advocate and leader for the club.

4. Weekly, 4-6PM.  OLWEUS Bullying Prevention Student Committee

5.Arlie Eastman has pics.  I’ll send some pics as well on another email. 

PS. Committee Activities:  Creating PSA’s with a independent Film maker based on St. Francis student survey results.  We are also hoping to make a film telling our personal stories to share with other students.

TCSD Board meets at Okreek

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Suicide Awareness Training, Curriculum Review, Facility Condition discussed


OKREEK – In keeping with the Todd County School Board’s decision to hold some of its meetings in outlying schools, the March 29 meeting was held at Okreek Elementary.

In the public presentation portion of the meeting, former Board Member Lavern Lanz complained about some of the procedures the Board now uses.  He said some of its actions are not “as was always done before.”

 He also mentioned a typo in one of the Board Minute documents.

A presentation was given regarding professional development training for Youth Suicide Awareness & Prevention.  Many teens consider suicide and give clear warning signs.  Teachers, coaches and other school personnel are on the front lines of this silent epidemic, and a South Dakota law, which will be enacted on July 1, 2016 requires the training.  Matt Walz, with the Jason Foundation, a Keystone Treatment center, said a two year study shows a 28% reduction in suicides after such training. 

Superintendent Karen Whitney presented a Curriculum Review Cycle, and K-8 Curriculum Guide, to be implemented next year.  It is available for review by the public in the Curriculum Center at the Business Office in Mission.  She also said School Board Policies are now posted on the District Website. 

Elementary School Reports:

Littleburg School (Erin Grant, Principal) – Average daily attendance is 94.85%, Staff attendance is 97%.  With student input, an incentive program has been developed to reward regular attendance. 

Okreek School (Dana Haukaas, Principal) – Student Enrollment is 38, average daily attendance 91.82%, certified staff attendance 89%.  Attendance has been steady and we are making family contacts to address chronic absenteeism.  Okreek families have been extremely supportive and involved.  The upper grades attended the Frank Waln Concert at Middle School. 

Lakeview School (Bobbie Cox, Principal) – Year to date average daily attendance is 94.82%, staff attendance 92%.  Schedules are being changed from previous years to allow more time in reading and math in areas of need at middle school level.  The new curriculum will be a big help for those upper grades.

Todd County Elementary (Bobbie Cox, Principal) - Year to date average daily attendance is 89.24%.  Staff attendance has been a challenge.  Our staff has faced some big issues, with deaths, surgeries, etc.  We currently have basketball, cheerleading, AAU wrestling  and taekwondo available and are adding art and Sicangu Club for the students.  We have partnered with White Buffalo Calf Woman Society for students struggling with domestic violence.  We have more students reading at grade level than before.  Most grade levels are on target to complete more of the math curriculum than before. 

He Dog School (Roberta Bizardie, Principal) – Average daily attendance 88%.  Staff attendance 90%.  The secretary announces classes with perfect attendance daily.  Students are working on “Buddy Reading” to work on fluency with other classrooms.  

Spring Creek School (Roberta Bizardie, Principal) – Average daily attendance 83%, Staff 90%. We are continuing to track student behaviors and planning some incentives for students who make good choices.

Klein Elementary (Dr. Whitney) – Average daily attendance 93%, staff attendance 95%.  Student enrollment is 18.  We visited a Legislative Session in Pierre.  We have a Responsive Classroom Morning Meeting – a permanent part of our schedule.  It is very effective and students never let us forget it.  

Dr. Al Koster’s Quarterly Report  - Dr. Kosters, Federal Programs Consultant for the South Dakota Dept. of Education, said his viewpoint as Technical Advisor, is that Dr. Karen Whitney’s leadership continues to focus on District and Schools “Turnaround Plans” by addressing identified issues important for District improvement.  Support is demonstrated by the School Board on these issues, such as School Attendance, Safety, Alternative School, Lakota Curriculum, Family & Communication, Assessments, Staff Collaboration (CWG), etc.  

“At this point, Todd County has the most comprehensive CWG in the state,” Kosters said.

Discussion was held on the condition of Spring Creek School.  The basement has flooded, the sump pump burned up, the phone and computers are out, and there is no heat, Maintenance Director Tim Cournoyer said.  Staff and students have been moved out of that main building.

Board President Melissa Whipple voiced concerns about the bus route that runs between Todd County Elementary, Middle School and High School.  

“I believe we have to re-think that bus route for next year,” she said.

She also said that traffic control at the Elementary is very dangerous for staff members, who sometimes even have to be out on the highway.  

“I am very concerned for your safety,” she said.        

Board Discussion:

Vice-President Travis Wooden Knife thanked those in attendance for coming to the meeting.

Member Gena Heinert echoed his thanks.

President Melissa Whipple noted that with the end of the school year as well as school board election time is approaching, many rumors are circulating in the District and community.  “Some of the decisions we have to make are hard, but we have to think about what is best for our students,” she said.  “We feel badly about some of those decisions. “

She said the certified teaching contracts were issued early in an effort to recruit teachers before they had applied in other schools.  Therefore, there was no time to also issue the supplementals, which usually accompany the teaching contracts. They will be forthcoming soon.

“There is nothing personal about these decisions and we cannot make it personal,” she said.  “We are not in the employment business, we are in the business of educating our students.”

For details of the meeting, see the legal section of the Todd County Tribune.

The next regular meeting of the Board is Thursday, April 14, 5:30 p.m., Curriculum Center, Mission.  As always, the public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

- Phyllis Littau

TCSD Public Relations

Rosebud Agency urges extreme caution with fires

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By Rich Winter

Much of western South Dakota was under extreme fire danger early in the week with high winds expected to buffet much of the state through at least Wednesday. 

Burt Shields, Acting Fire Chief of the Rosebud Agency in Rosebud told the Tribune Monday that despite plentiful winter snow, fire danger is extremely high and officials are urging folks to be extremely careful with lit fires, cigarettes and other flammable items. 

The strong winds were expected to continue through Wednesday before a good chance of rain or snow showers late Wednesday into Thursday should bring some relief to the dry conditions.

Shields noted there are only seven, full-time fire-fighters right now at the Agency in Rosebud. He said when they do have a fire to respond to, others are called in to help depending on the scale of the blaze.

Todd County losing teacher, coach, administrator, friend.....a look back at Miss D’s incredible journey

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By Rich Winter

We shall ALL be the catchers and protectors of our children’s dreams - Peg Diekhoff 2016

When the news came down that long-time Todd County teacher, coach and administrator, Peg Diekhoff would not be coming back next fall, an entire generation of students, parents and friends felt the collective thud of someone that had been a fixture of the Todd County School District for 28 years wouldn’t be there when the first bell rang next fall.

For 28 years, Diekhoff answered that bell, and while impossible to encapsulate a career filled with love, laughter, success and failure, Diekhoff sat down with the Todd County Tribune recently to share a little wisdom and reflect back on one heck of a ride. 

A native of Wessington, and fresh out of St. Cloud State University in 1987, Peg Diekhoff began her search to become gainfully employed in her field of dreams, Education.

Initially she thought Minnesota since that’s where she attended college, but when her first job interview didn’t produce a job, a friend suggested she should apply in Todd County.

After visiting Spring Creek Elementary and inquiring about a second grade position at North Elementary, Mr. Pickner called back with a job offer to begin a teaching career at South Elementary. 

“That first year I was Title I, and Mildred  Moran told me if I’d sign the contract she’d have a teaching opening the next year,” Diekhoff said. 

She signed, and sure enough, one year later, Diekhoff took control of 4th grade at South. 

Diekhoff, an avid softball player who spent two years at Huron College playing the sport, wanted to get into coaching and right out of the gate, she did just that.

“I wanted to do some coaching and I knew if I went to South, I could coach right away,” she said. 

So, for nine years, Diekhoff coached boys and girls basketball and boys and girls track, and of course, molded hundreds of young minds into aspiring students. 

Having worked on her first Masters Degree from Northern State University for several summers, Diekhoff couldn’t decide if she wanted to stay in the classroom or make the jump to administration.

“Nancy Piper told me I should go for it and apply,” Diekhoff said. 

So Diekhoff applied, and so did a lot of other people. In the interview just prior to hers, Diekhoff heard rolling laughter coming from the interviewee and figured she better plan on continuing teaching.

“I figured I had no shot but I got that job and stayed at the middle school until 2010,” she said. 

Diekhoff worked as an assistant principal from 1996 until the 2000-2001 season, before assuming the head principal position, at TCMS, which she held until 2010. 

And then Todd County High School came calling. Diekhoff has served in an assistant principal capacity since 2010 and despite her immense love for junior high age students, says she fell in love with the young adults at Todd County High School. 

“There is something about working with high school age kids that I just love,” Diekhoff said. “They are a step closer to adulthood and you can have some really intimate conversations about what’s important to them.” 

Working in education for nearly three decades, Diekhoff has some pretty strong feelings about education and says she’s seen some really big changes since she started teaching in the late 1980’s. 

“What’s changed the most is the whole accountability piece with No Child Left Behind, which is soon to change it’s name again,” Diekhoff said. “That has been the biggest academic change and I’m really not convinced it’s a change for the better.” 

Diekhoff shared some of her thoughts on education, and perhaps, a few of the missing pieces that have filtered out of the education process. 

“I think in this quest to increase test scores, it’s almost become a place where we’re forgetting some of the really important things about kids and that would be the relationship piece. The  school culture piece, how we work together as adults. We always want numbers, we want something done in a hurry and everything I’ve read on low performing schools that make changes, make changes because they are able to shape their own professional culture in a way where staff work together, and they respect and honor one another and in turn that turns into these trusting relationships with kids and with parents and so it all works together. That important piece of building this professional culture at work so you can come to work every day and do meaningful work with the people you basically live with it’s critical, and that’s what let’s you do powerful work with kids.”

And while the education piece has changed, Diekhoff thinks the challenges facing the youth of today have also grown. 

“Poverty, in and of itself always has a set of challenges, and that’s always going to be here, but it’s almost like the challenges have gotten worse with the gangs, the meth use and the different things,” Diekhoff said. “The complexity of issues kids deal with has changed dramatically.” 

Of course you don’t spend nearly three decades in a school district without developing relationships. 

“I’ll have parents say Miss D was my 5th grade basketball coach or it’s fun to watch kids grow up and families grow up and have their own families,” Diekhoff said. “I think that’s where I get a lot of enjoyment is to sit in an office with somebody or at the ballgame with somebody, and remember the time we went to the zoo in Sioux Falls or remember the time we had that softball game with our dads.” 

While Diekhoff initially came to the reservation as an outsider, she gained a deep appreciation for an area that she says helped shape her core values. 

“I think this place has given me more than I’ve given it,” Diekhoff said. “I’ve chosen to let go of some of my middle class values because with this culture and what these kids have taught me is that some of our middle class values are so wrong and aren’t what life is about.” 

In the late 1990’s, Diekhoff, and others worked  on restructuring the school district.

“One thing that will stick with me and always stick with me is that statement that says, ‘And we shall ALL be the catchers and protectors of our children’s dreams’, and because I think if you are invested in these kids and you are invested in this community then you are the catchers and protectors of all childrens’ dreams.

Deikhoff moved to Spearfish over the weekend and will be the Project Manager for Gear Up and will be working from the campus of Black Hills State University.

Austin Hammer named to Academic All State Team

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Falcon senior, Austin Hammer, has been named to the South Dakota, Academic All-State team. In order to receive that award, participants must be part of the basketball program for four years and maintain a GPA of 3.5 or better.