Lonnie Luepker


Observer Columnist

The 2018-2019 school year can be summed up in one word from a scheduling point of view: “WEATHER.”  

We started school on Thursday, Aug. 23, with 424 students; a decrease of 13 students from the previous year. 

We welcomed new staff members: Christina Polk, agriculture instructor and FFA advisor; Lori Forret, science instructor; Brandy Simmons, at-risk instructor; Kassidy Willimack, elementary counselor; Cassie Reed, elementary aide; and Shelly Ganzer, elementary kitchen.

During the first week of school, a storm tore part of the roof off the west wing in Wheatland, causing teachers and students to be relocated multiple times until the roof was completely repaired in November. The high school only missed one day of classes during this time. 

Winter weather started with our first “snow day” for the Monday after Thanksgiving, and the nasty weather didn’t let up until it had generated 10 additional snow days and five late starts/early dismissals.  

Students’ last day of school was May 31. Teachers completed their contract on June 5. The Board and CWEA agreed to make up days on Presidents Day, the Monday after Easter, and eliminated two scheduled early dismissals in order to complete the school year earlier. Teachers also worked on a Saturday in April to help to complete their contract days.

Our existing facilities and updates continue to provide an excellent environment for both academic and extracurricular activities. New projects completed were: Phase 1 of painting at the elementary; Phase 2 of painting was completed at the high school; a new greenhouse was constructed; new LED lighting was added in the high school gym; tiling was done by the art room; a new ADA-compliant playground was built at the elementary; and a new roof was installed on the new additions at the elementary.  

Negotiations were held for the first time in two years under the new bargaining rules. A copy of that agreement can be found in the superintendent’s office.

In May, we graduated 48 seniors.  Many plan to continue their education in some way or another after high school, or enter the military or work force.

The following staff members retired: Rick Bentrott, custodian in Wheatland; Christine Meyer, 7-12 principal; Greg Mohl, 7-12 counselor; and Jeff Moen, third-grade teacher. Jessica Allen and Christina Polk left the district for other employment.  

We welcome the following people in their new positions to start the 2019-2020 school year: Ally Zeigenfuss, elementary music/band; Ethan LeBeau, 7-12 counselor; Sue O’Donnell, 7-12 principal; Ashley Kelting, elementary principal; and Jami Stutting, junior high English.

I would like to thank the Board of Education in supporting the vision, commitments for education, and taking the action to provide the quality education that exists at Calamus-Wheatland. I am honored to be one of the leaders of the district and feel fortunate to work here.

Lonnie Luepker is the Calamus-Wheatland Community School District’s superintendent. He also operates as the superintendent for the Bennett School District.