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If you want to be in the know about what’s going on at our organization, you’ve come to the right place.

Be sure to check back regularly to get our latest news updates.

 

Welcome to Rise, the voice of Grand Island Senior High alumni and friends. We show up every other month in over 7,000 in-boxes bringing you news, views, and memories of GISH. Rise is published by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation.

Here’s what you’ll find inside: Executive Director Kari Hooker-Leep introduces us to the Teacher of the Year winners and reminds us of the daily champions GIPS has in its classrooms. Annual Giving Coordinator Alicia Lechner has the latest details on Harvest, the grand new Foundation fundraising gala scheduled for September 22, 2022. Jackie Ruiz-Rodriguez introduces us to the new student representative on the Grand Island Board of Education.

As usual we’ll remember Islanders who have passed recently and see who has reached an Islander Milestone. All that and the musings of Mike Monk, Class of 1967, as he chronicles a summer of reunions; Bianca Ayala, Class of 2005, reports on her summer in Barcelona; and yours truly, Class of 1968, who has a few paragraphs of praise teacher now and then. The Class of 2014’s Abbey Kutlas-Pricket will return with her column in November.

Enjoy. Keep in touch. And remember: Keep pushing on.

Grand Island Public Schools Foundation invites all alumni to participate in the creation of an oral history publication that unites GISH alumni across generations. The project is an opportunity to gather stories and collect memories that bring the Grand Island Senior High experience to life. We are interested in your reflections and tributes, and we hope that this endeavor will preserve Grand Island Senior High’s history for generations to come.

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is pleased to offer the first round of the 2022-2023 annual mini-grant cycle. “The last few years have been challenging! And yet for the GIPS Foundation, the words that come to mind as we think of the GIPS staff are: resilient, amazing, caring, and imaginative! Since our beginning in 1983, your Foundation has been committed to enhancing opportunities for students and staff. It’s that time of year when we encourage you to take your amazing, caring, imaginative resiliency and DREAM BIG! We encourage you to apply for a Classroom Mini-Grant to fund those special projects and activities that are beyond the realm of the school budget. We look forward to seeing how we can help your dreams become your students realities!” said Vikki Deuel, GIPS Foundation Board President.

On Thursday, September 22, 2022, the GIPS Foundation will host its first ever fundraising event called the Harvest at the historic Liederkranz. Over the years, the GIPS Foundation has participated in many fundraisers, but this will be the first event style fundraiser they’ve put together. “At the GIPS Foundation we’re so excited to share our brand new event information with you and invite you to join us as we - Celebrate Your Legacy. Invest in Their Opportunity.” said new Executive Director, Kari Hooker-Leep.

Welcome to Rise, the voice of Grand Island Senior High alumni and friends. We show up every other month in over 7,000 in-boxes bringing you news, views, and memories of GISH. Rise is published by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation.

Here’s what you’ll find inside: Meet Kari Hooker-Leep who has been named the GIPS Foundation’s new Executive Director. She is just in time for the Harvest; that’s the spectacular new Foundation event scheduled for September 22, 2022. Annual Giving Coordinator Alicia Lechner has all the details. Jackie Ruiz-Rodriguez gets up to date on Senior High’s Gear Up program. Finally, our friend Traci Skalberg says good-bye to the Foundation in her last Shaking the World piece.

As usual we’ll remember Islanders who have passed recently, celebrate successes in Class Notes, and see who has reached an Islander Milestone. All that and the musings of Mike Monk, Class of 1967, as he recounts sneaking into the 1967 World Series at Boston’s Fenway Park; Abbey Kutlas-Prickett, Class of 2014, who writes beautifully about the gifts of quiet and reverence; Bianca Ayala, Class of 2005, who details part of her journey towards a Masters Degrees in Educational Leadership; and yours truly, who reminds us all of what the GIPS Foundation really does.

Enjoy. Keep in touch. And remember: Keep pushing on. 

The Office Coordinator/Executive Assistant will coordinate various office tasks to ensure office operations run smoothly. They will also provide support to the Executive Director. The qualified candidate will have a minimum of an Associates degree or five years experience. The position is a 12 month position at 32 hours per week. Salary is $14-$16 per hour, benefits available after probationary period. Applications requested by 4:30 pm on July 8, 2022.

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation has chosen Kari Hooker-Leep to succeed Traci Skalberg as its Executive Director. Hooker-Leep will join the GIPS Foundation on June 27.

For the past 17 years Hooker-Leep has been the Regional Director for CHAD — Combined Health Agencies Drive. In addition to her experience leading CHAD, she will bring a strong background in fundraising and community involvement to the GIPS Foundation.

Welcome to Rise, the voice of Grand Island Senior High alumni and friends. We show up every other month in over 7,000 in-boxes bringing you news, views, and memories of GISH. Rise is published by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation.

Here’s what you’ll find inside: Our big news is that Grand Island Public School Foundation Executive Director, Traci Skalberg will be leaving in August to join Central Community College. More on that in “At the Top.” Traci writes in her “Shaking the World” piece about our dear friend Marv Maurer, the driving force behind the Foundation’s existence. Marv died late last month. Annual Giving Coordinator, Alicia Lechner, has the numbers from Go Big Give, and Jackie Ruiz Rodriguez gets us up to date on the Entrepreneur Pathway at Senior High where students can “cash in” on what they have learned.

As usual we’ll remember Islanders who have passed recently, celebrate successes in Class Notes, see who has reached a milestone, and read the musings of Mike Monk, Class of 1967, Abbey Kutlas-Prickett, Class of 2014, Bianca Ayala, Class of 2005, and yours truly.

Enjoy. Keep in touch. And remember: Keep pushing on.

The Executive Director responsibilities include leadership, management, and implementation of the GIPS Foundation’s strategic plan and fundraising efforts. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree and 5 years of development experience including demonstrated success in annual giving, corporate sponsorship, capital campaigns, planned giving, and management, is preferred. The candidate will maintain an in-depth knowledge of the GIPS Foundation’s strategic funding priorities, establish long-term partnerships and cultivate existing relationships with donors. The position is 12-month position at 32 hours per week. Salary range $65,000 – $80,000 + benefits

Welcome to Rise, the voice of Grand Island Senior High alumni and friends. We show up every other month in over 7,000 in-boxes bringing you news, views, and memories of GISH. Rise is published by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation.

Here’s a hint as to what’s inside: 2022 already has some new things happening at Senior High. Our student reporter Jackie Ruiz-Rodriguez details two big ones in her “On the Island” dispatch.

As an important funding raising effort, Go Big Give, nears, Annual Giving Coordinator, Alicia Lechner, writes on what you need to know to be part of making your alma mater and community strong.

As usual we’ll remember Islanders who have passed recently, hear from a couple letter writers, catch up on all the news from the Foundation, see who has reached milestones, and read the musings of Mike Monk, Class of 1967, Abbey Kutlas-Prickett, Class of 2014, Bianca Ayala, Class of 2005, and yours truly.

Enjoy. Keep in touch. And remember: Keep pushing on.

At their January 19 meeting, the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation Board of Directors elected Vikki Deuel, President; Zach Butz, Vice-President; and Tom Gdowski, Secretary/Treasurer. Dr. Connie Allen, Kim Jensen, and Pam Price retired from the board. The board elected Tom Bednar and Yvette Engelhaupt as new board members.

Traci Skalberg, Executive Director of the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is currently serving as President of the National Association of Education Foundations, headquartered in Baltimore, MD. Skalberg has served on the board of directors for the National School Foundation Association (NSFA) since 2017. In 2021, Skalberg and four Education Foundation Directors from across the country reorganized the structure of the NSFA to better serve its 1,000+ members. The five directors incorporated a 501c6 membership organization structure in the new National Association of Education Foundations, Inc., while transitioning the NSFA to a Foundation for the new organization. The two organizations will operate in tandem much like a Chamber of Commerce and a Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Welcome to Rise, the voice of Grand Island Senior High alumni and friends. We show up every other month in over 7,000 in-boxes bringing you news, views, and memories of GISH. Rise is published by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation.

Some changes are afoot as we begin, including two new Islander voices: Bianca Ayala, Class of 2005 and Abbey Kutlas-Prickett, Class of 2014.

We’ve also added a video introduction to Rise, divided the newsletter into four distinct sections, and added Class Notes, a chance to catch up with Islanders from all over the world via births, anniversaries, promotions, or other accomplishments. More on that inside this Rise.

As usual we’ll remember Islanders who have passed recently, hear from a letter writer, catch up on all the news from the Foundation, and read the musings of Mike Monk, Class of 1967 and yours truly.

Enjoy. Keep in touch. And remember: Keep pushing on.

As a longtime GIPS educator, it’s easy for me to reflect on the good times, the challenging times, and the absolutely sad times in my career. As varied as these hundreds of memories are, they all have one thing in common and that one thing is some degree of GRIT - GRand Island Tenacity!

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is offering Major Saver cards for sale through participating elementary schools. Students will receive the sales information packets on Wednesday, January 5th and sell the $15 discount cards until January 18. Proceeds beyond expenses from the sale of Major Saver cards directly support the participating schools. Grand Island’s Schools have realized over $118,000 in proceeds from these sales since 2016.

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is pleased to offer the second round of the 2021-2022 annual mini-grant cycle. "The GIPS Foundation is committed to investing in students. The last couple of years have been challenging for our students and staff and we are so proud of their GRIT (Grand Island Tenacity). These classroom grants are offered as a mechanism to fund creative strategies to engage students and give them robust opportunities that might look different in this new environment," said Vikki Deuel, GIPS Foundation Board President.

The GIPS Foundation has received notice that we were again awarded the Four Star rating from Charity Navigator. This rating is based on strong fiscal responsibility and commitment to accountability and transparency.

Our Foundation was the first Grand Island non-profit organization to be rated by Charity Navigator. The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is one of 70 Nebraska charities rated, and one of only 25 Nebraska charities with the 4-star rating. Additionally, the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is one of just four Nebraska charities outside of Lincoln and Omaha to receive the 4-star rating.

Welcome to the November 2021, edition of Rise Grand Island, the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Rise is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 6, Number 6, as we are nearing the homestretch for year six as the official publication for alums of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

We really enjoy hearing from those of you who find Rise in your inbox every other month. Give us a shout, especially if you or a GISH alum you know has done something new, newsy, or newsworthy. You can reach us at alumni@gips.org.

The GISH Cheerleaders are hosting a Goodwill Drive to benefit the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation! You can drop off donations to the 56 ft trailer that will be parked on College St at GISH from November 9-15. Donate almost anything that you have in your home! Items not accepted include furniture, large appliances, TVs and mattresses.

How exactly does this benefit the GIPS Foundation? Goodwill pays the host group per pound. GISH Cheerleading will match the profit dollar for dollar and donate the whole amount to the GIPS Foundation.

Welcome to the September, 2021, edition of Rise Grand Island, the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Rise is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 6, Number 5, as we are nearing the homestretch for year six as the official publication for alums of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

On Sunday, August 22, 2021 the public was invited to a rededication ceremony to celebrate the restoration, renovation and new construction of Grand Island’s Memorial Stadium. The stadium was open from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. for self-guided tours. There was a Rededication Ceremony on Jack Martin Field at 7:00 p.m. The ceremony included the 1st Infantry Division Band of the US Army, Fort Riley, the GISH Islander Marching Band, a presentation of colors, a Key to the City presentation, a Dedication from Chaplain Maj. Gen. William Dendinger and a 21 Gun Salute by the United Veterans Club Honor Guard.

A collection of videos, photos and additional information listed on the gimemorialstadium.org website.

The Annual Giving Coordinator will be responsible for the leadership, management, and execution of the GIPS Foundation’s annual giving program, special events, and grants. The successful candidate will be self-motivated, entrepreneurial, and willing to take complete ownership of critical duties. A minimum 5 years of development experience including demonstrated success in individual giving, corporate sponsorship, alumni giving, and special events fundraising and management, is preferred. The candidate will maintain an in-depth knowledge of the GIPS Foundation’s strategic funding priorities to establish long-term partnerships and strengthen existing relationships with donors. The position is 12-month position at 32 hours per week. Salary range $36,000 – $45,000 + benefits after probationary period.

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is pleased to offer the first round of the 2021-2022 annual mini-grant cycle. “Since our beginning in 1983, the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation has been committed to enhancing and supporting student opportunities. The Foundation’s annual mini-grant cycle provides a unique way for us to invest in students while encouraging teachers to “Dream Big” and obtain funding for special projects and activities that are outside the realm of the school district’s budget. We know that GIPS teachers and staff are not only amazingly resourceful and resilient, but also extremely imaginative. We look forward to seeing how we can help them realize their big dreams for this school year,” said Vikki Deuel, GIPS Foundation Board President.

The public is invited to attend this free event on August 22. Self-guided tours start at 6:00 pm, ceremony at 7:00 pm, and tours resume until 9:00 pm.

On Thursday, August 5, 2021 the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation and First National Bank presented the entire staff of Grand Island Public Schools with the Extraordinary Heroes Award at the Heartland Events Center as part of the Grand Island Public Schools Welcome Back Ceremony for staff.
This award was a deviation in practice from the annual Teacher of the Year Awards in recognition of the Extraordinary Year that required tenacious grit and grace from all staff. Nominations were solicited last spring and then mailed to all nominees with a small gift. No individual winners were chosen, rather all were celebrated. In all there were 327 people nominated and 864 nominations.

Welcome to the July, 2021, edition of Rise Grand Island, the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Rise is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 6, Number 4, as we hit our stride in year six as the official publication for alums of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

Welcome to the May, 2021, edition of Rise Grand Island the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Rise is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 6, Number 3, as we hit our stride in year six as the official publication for alums of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

This year’s campaign was themed “Extraordinary Times. Extraordinary Resilience. Extraordinary Opportunities.” The campaign included a $5,027 challenge gift from the Sam Foltz Foundation. The Foltz Dream Big Challenge Gift was used to encourage staff to give new or increased gifts to the campaign. Jill Foltz was a part of the Facebook Live event to celebrate the extraordinary giving of GIPS Staff. The campaign included several competitions to make it fun. The winners of these contests were also announced.

Why Go Big and GIVE? Our students! With help from donors like you, the GIPS Foundation provides classroom grants, college scholarships, and student success grants. During the past year, we have also supported our students and staff through personal hardships. Utility bills, internet bills, transportation, medical bills, and mental health have all been a focus. We have 10,070 reasons to Go Big GIVE!

Grand Island Senior High in partnership with the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation and Home Federal Bank honored the top-ranked graduating seniors from Grand Island Senior High during an academic recognition ceremony on Wednesday, April 14 at 7:00 p.m. in the Grand Island Senior High Auditorium.

All students at Grand Island Senior High who graduate Summa Cum Laude or Magna Cum Laude, and have submitted a GIPS Foundation scholarship application, will be awarded at least one scholarship through the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation’s Academic Aristocrat Scholarship Program. Honor students will receive a total of $53,725 at this presentation.

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is accepting nominations for the 2021 Extraordinary Heroes in Education Award. The program is sponsored by First National Bank. The deadline for 2021 school year nominations is May 21, 2021.

"How grateful we are for the tenacious and heroic efforts of our teachers, administrators, and staff to keep our schools open, meeting the needs of the more than 10,000 students of Grand Island," said Traci Skalberg, GIPS Foundation director. "This program gives us the mechanism to reach out to the community and help them recognize their heroes in education. Anyone can nominate a GIPS Staff member. All nominations are shared with those who were nominated," she said.

Welcome to the March, 2021, edition of Rise Grand Island the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Rise is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 6, Number 2, as we begin our sixth year as the official publication for alums of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

At their January 20 meeting, the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation Board of Directors elected Vikki Deuel, President; Zach Butz, Vice-President; and Tom Gdowski, Secretary/Treasurer. Kirk Ramsey and Jim Jeffries retired from the board. The board elected K.C. Hehnke and Audrey Lutz as new board members.

Welcome to the January, 2021, edition of Rise Grand Island the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Rise is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 6, Number 1, as we begin our sixth year as the official publication for alums of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

Major Saver Cards return to schools, selling cards in a “contactless” way.

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is pleased to offer the second round of the 2020-2021 annual mini-grant cycle. “The GIPS Foundation Board is committed to investing in students. The pandemic has created different realities for learning. We know GIPS Teachers and Staff are creative and resilient. We look forward to helping them invest in students in these extraordinary times,” said Kirk Ramsey, GIPS Foundation Board President.

The GIPS Foundation (GIPSF) has engaged Match Nonprofit Consulting to conduct an organizational assessment to guide our future planning and we want your input during this important phase for our organization. Please take 5-10 minutes to complete the following questionnaire by Friday, November 20, 2020.

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is pleased to release $6,995 in Fall Classroom Grant Awards. Seven classroom grants were funded this fall that will benefit 3,298 students of the Grand Island Public Schools.

In 2020 style with masks, sans media or cheerleaders, GIPS Foundation Director Traci Skalberg delivered the grants to students and teachers at The Academies of Grand Island Senior High, Engleman Elementary, and Barr Middle School. Recipients were surprised and grateful for the investment in students during these extraordinary times.

Welcome to the November edition of Rise Grand Island the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Rise is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 5, Number 6 the last edition of 2020 as the official publication for alumni of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

Grand Island Public Schools’ Early Childhood Education (ECE) program will be able to support an additional 60 preschool students and impact hundreds more, thanks to a generous gift provided by JBS.

The $400,000 check was presented to GIPS Thursday morning and will go toward the O’Connor Learning Center project at 2208 N. Webb Road.

Welcome to the September edition of Rise Grand Island the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Rise is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 5, Number 5 as we move smartly into this new decade as the official publication for alumni of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

The Office Coordinator/Executive Assistant will coordinate various office tasks to ensure office operations run smoothly. They will also provide support to the Executive Director. The qualified candidate will have a minimum of an Associates degree or five years experience. The position is a 12 month position at 32 hours per week. Salary is $14-$16 per hour, benefits available after probationary period.

At their August 26, 2020 board meeting, the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation Board reiterated their shared vision and commitment to anti-racism, equity, and access for the students of the Grand Island Public Schools.

The GIPS Foundation Board released the following statement:

In support and solidarity, the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation Board affirms and commits to the Grand Island Public Schools’ resolution to eliminate racism and promote equity and access for all students. The Foundation will uphold these values through the programs and scholarships we fund, and act in a manner that is inclusive and responsive to our diverse community. Additionally, we will support the Grand Island Public Schools’ efforts to ensure that Every Student, Every Day, is a Success.

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation is pleased to offer the first round of the 2020-2021 annual mini-grant cycle. “The GIPS Foundation Board is committed to investing in students. The pandemic has created different realities for learning. We know GIPS Teachers and Staff are creative and resilient. We look forward to helping them invest in students in these times,” said Kirk Ramsey, GIPS Foundation Board President.

The Grand Island Public Schools Foundation and their corporate sponsor First National Bank traveled to schools to surprise teachers and staff in flash mob style presentations for the 2020 Teacher of the Year Awards. Six individuals were recognized.

The 13-minute video news release featured GIPS Staff Campaign Co-Chairs sharing the results of the campaign that was moved to a virtual platform this year as schools began teaching online.

This year’s campaign has been themed “I give HOPE. I give GIPS. We are Better, Stronger, TOGETHER.” The campaign included a $5,000 challenge gift from Orv Qualsett in memory of his wife Mary.

Welcome to the July edition of Rise Grand Island the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Rise is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 5, Number 4, as we move smartly in this new decade as the official publication for alumni of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

For the seventh consecutive year, the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation has earned the 4-star rating from America’s largest national independent charity evaluator, Charity Navigator. The four-star rating is the highest award for sound fiscal management practices and commitment to accountability and transparency.

Welcome to the May edition of Rise Grand Island the alumni newsletter for Grand Island Senior High published every other month by the Grand Island Public Schools Foundation. Rise is where we connect with thousands of Islanders across the globe, keeping you and them informed on what’s happening in Purple and Gold land, and reminiscing a little bit as well.

This is Volume 5, Number 3, as we move smartly in this new decade as the official publication for alumni of Islander Nation. Thanks for reading us and for your comments and support.

The GIPS Foundation has launched a special give week coinciding with the last official week of school this year to invite community members to express appreciation for, and solidarity with, the phenomenal teachers and staff of the Grand Island Public Schools.

The enormity of the effort to move school to a virtual environment with little training or warning, all while continuing to support students has been nothing short of amazing. Teachers and staff of the Grand Island Public Schools rose up and with determined spirit, delivered a continued curriculum to keep students connected, learning, and even eating!

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