Help Your Children Branch Out

By Dan Olberg, Park Elementary Principal

One of the beliefs we have at Park Elementary is that everyone is a scientist. We are trying to break the stereotypical image that our students have regarding scientists. Scientists are not just those who dress up in a white lab coats and wear safety glasses all day. Scientists are farmers, cooks, hairdressers, construction workers, and much more. So when a student brought up the fact that moms and dads are scientists, I started to think about how true that statement is – especially as we know more about the brain and how it functions early in life.

Scientifically speaking, if there was one part of the brain that is more important to the intelligence of a child it would have to be the cerebral cortex. That’s where higher cognitive processing occurs. As children learn new things they are essentially changing those neurons, or nerve cells, their structure, and the chemistry in their cerebral cortices.

Human beings get an explosive growth of dendrites in the cerebral cortex, like branches, in their first 8 to 10 years of life. These branches link knowledge and experiences together. Think of it as a tree with branches and leaves. The leaves hold pieces of information and the branches link the information together. As long as new experiences and knowledge continues to filter in, the branches grow and sprout new leaves. Naturally, there is a rapid growth of branches in these early years and it peaks at about the age of 10 when it slowly starts to decrease. At this point the branches that haven’t made connections die off. This process is called pruning. That’s why there’s so much interest today in those first 10 years of life.

So we need to ask ourselves as scientists some very important questions. How can we give children the best experiences for maximum growth? What activities are our children doing that foster brain growth? What activities are our children doing to stifle or limit the growth? What are we doing as parents to engage our children in life experiences? Those questions are not hard to answer; however, acting on them can be more than difficult at times.

So the students had it right, parenting is part science. Our guidance through these important years is scientifically important. The most exciting discovery about all this research is that education should continue for a lifetime. The brain’s capacity for learning and change is limitless, depending on our willingness to seek new experiences and opportunities. Our “trees,” as well as our children’s can continue to fill out and expand with a wide variety of real-world and academic activities. “Branch out” and support children’s continued brain growth.

Tigers of the Week: Christian Kurth, Tucker Gifferson & Anton Nunvar

Congratulations to Christian, Tucker, and Anton, our TIGERs of the Week


Christian Kurth – Wrestling

Christian had a tremendous year for us in wrestling and finished it off with a third place finish at state. His effort and tenacity in those close matches at state were the difference in where he finished on the podium. Christian made the most of his opportunities and put it all on the line when it counted the most.

Tucker Gifferson – Wrestling

Tucker has put a lot of extra work in the weight room to prepare him for wrestling. He battled through not feeling well at the state tournament and still placed in the top 6 at his weight class.  Tucker is a very respectful student athlete that truly appreciates the opportunity to compete for the Tigers and always gives his best effort.

Anton Nunvar – Swimming

Anton has been named an All-State Swimmer for the 3rd consecutive year by placing 6th in the 100 yard backstroke. Anton has shown great poise and dedication even though he has battled injuries during the entire season. He has never complained through the frustrations of not being able to swim his best events during the season.





Online Videos – What Parents Need to Know

You may have heard about issues surrounding YouTube and challenges targeting young children. We wanted to take a moment to share some important child safety information with you through the image linked below. While the “Momo Challenge” has been unverifiable, it is important to be aware of what children are watching through video apps, and nothing is ever guaranteed to be safe. If you have any concerns regarding internet safety for your children, contact the District’s Technology Innovation Specialist Jocelynn Buckentin at 320-234-2716 or

What Parents Need to Know about Online Videos





Activities: March 4 – 9, 2019

Click Here for this Week’s Activity Schedule

Click Here for more information about Hutch Tiger Activities

Activities Director – Thayne Johnson, CAA
Phone: 320-234-2698

Administrative Assistant – Amber Larson
Phone: 320-234-2647


Tigers of the Week: February 25 – March 1, 2019

Cole and Jordan are our TIGERs of the Week for February 25 – March 1

Cole Meyer – Band

Cole was one of 16 trumpet students out of hundreds in the state that auditioned and made it into All-State Band this year. Because of this he performed a concert with the Symphonic Band on the stage of Orchestra Hall. All-State band is a blind auditioned based group regardless of class size. Cole put in countless hours in preparation for this event and all of his hard work paid off. Cole is the 6th student from Hutchinson to audition and make it into All-State Band.

Jordan Ludowese – Knowledge Bowl

Jordan has been an extremely valuable member of the Knowledge Bowl team this year. She pushes herself and team to collaborate, being better together for the achievement of the whole group. Jordan is constantly pushing and challenging expectations.

Activities: February 25 – March 2, 2019

Click Here for this Week’s Activity Schedule

Click Here for more information about Hutch Tiger Activities

Activities Director – Thayne Johnson, CAA
Phone: 320-234-2698

Administrative Assistant – Amber Larson
Phone: 320-234-2647


Thank You School Bus Drivers!

School Bus Driver Appreciation Day
February 27, 2019

Thank you to Hutchinson Bus Line and all of the school bus drivers who get students to and from school safely and also interact with students – giving them a positive start and end to their school day.

Did you know . . .

  • School bus drivers perform a 42 point pre-trip inspection every day plus post-trip inspections to make sure no children are left on the bus.
  • Once a driver is licensed, they must complete 8 hours of continuing education per year and pass a DOT driver physical every two years.
  • Hutchinson school bus drivers travel 152 routes every day! 
  • Hutchinson Bus Line has 49 drivers with over 500 years of experience!
  • Drivers work to build relationships with their students, giving them a good start and end to their school day.
  • Statewide, 760,000 students are transported 750,000 miles safely every day.
  • There is less than a .3% chance of a fatality in a school bus accident.
Thank you School Bus Drivers!

Tigers of the Week: Jake Caspers & Libby Carlo

Congratulations to Jake and Libby, our TIGERs of the Week:

Jake Caspers – Boys Hockey

Jake has been an outstanding contributor on the blue line for us this season. He has been on the ice a great deal and plays a position that seldom receives enough credit but is vital to the success of the team. He currently has 3 goals and 2 assists for the season.  Jake has proven to be a great leader through his hard-work and effort he always puts the team first. He is a great competitor and wants to make everyone around him better.

Libby Carlo – Speech

Libby has proven to be a fantastic leader this season and her efforts to better her talents have started to pay off as she has started the season by finaling in her first three tournaments as a part of a duo team. Additionally, she is further developing her skills by double entering in poetry as well and has a great start on that. Libby is constantly striving to get better and her work as one of the team leaders has been quite valuable for newer competitors.

Activities: February 18 – 23, 2019

Click Here for this Week’s Activity Schedule

Click Here for more information about Hutch Tiger Activities

Activities Director – Thayne Johnson, CAA
Phone: 320-234-2698

Administrative Assistant – Amber Larson
Phone: 320-234-2647


Above the Line Thinking

By: Robert Danneker, Principal, Hutchinson High School

Often, when we interact with others, encounter new problems, or try new things, we are guided by past experiences and patterns of behavior that have become largely ingrained and are generally unconscious practices.

What would happen if we strived to make these unconscious processes conscious? How might that change how we approach new people, problems, and ideas? Might we find ourselves open to new experiences and opportunities?

These questions are the basis of the Top 20 Training ( professional development group’s model of Above the Line / Below the Line thinking.

In this model, Above the Line thinking is defined as “thinking that is in my best interest,” characterized by energetic moods and emotions, positive attitudes, true beliefs, hopefulness, optimism, and feeling like one has the power to control their own life.

Conversely, Below the Line thinking is typified by “thinking that is not in my best interest” along with negative moods and emotions, including feelings of sadness and anger, gloomy attitudes, false beliefs, hopelessness, pessimism, and seeing one’s self as a “powerless victim of life.”

Given the option of choosing between Above the Line thinking or Below the Line approaches, most people would naturally opt for Above the Line.

So why don’t we see Above the Line thinking more often?

Typically, we don’t see Above the Line thinking as often as we would like because the people we interact with are not consciously choosing to live Above the Line, functioning instead on ingrained habits that may not always be positive or productive.

It can be so easy to overlook that we all have to ability to choose our mindset, to choose our outlook, and to choose how we interpret the world around us.

At Hutchinson High School, we have introduced the Above the Line / Below the Line dichotomy into our common language expressly for the purpose of making our beliefs and habits conscious acts. In doing so, we hope students and staff will choose an Above the Line mindset and, in the words of Top 20 Training, “keep their day.”

To reinforce the idea of consciously choosing to live Above the Line, staff and students at HHS also employ what Top 20 Training would call our “four responsibilities.”

The first responsibility is to “help everyone succeed.” Within this idea is the obligation that we all have towards one another to help and to support those around us whenever possible and however is most appropriate given the context.

Our second responsibility is to communicate “you matter” by consistently showing our genuine appreciation for others through simple thank yous or in more elaborate expressions of gratitude.

Third, we “honor the absent” by always ensuring that when discussing someone not physically present, we always take care to present that individual and their character in ways they would appreciate.

Finally, we “see the problem, own the problem” through each member of the HHS community possessing both the freedom and obligation to identify areas of concern and to assist in their resolution.

In addition, at HHS, we have added a fifth responsibility: to “assume positive intent.” We don’t spend time speculating on innuendo or what another person might be thinking. We are open to input, and we seek to clarify confusion.

Recently, the concept of mindfulness has been having a cultural moment. At HHS, by staying Above the Live and staying true to our five responsibilities, we are creating an environment of mindfulness for all.

Hutchinson Public Schools

Hutchinson Public Schools