SCHOOL CLOSING: Hutchinson Public Schools will close starting Monday, March 16 in an effort to limit exposure and protect our students, families, and staff members. More Info


Walking School Bus – April 10, 2019

Outdoor Play

The Benefits of Outdoor Play for a Child’s Brain and Body
By Anne Broderius, Principal, West Elementary


Now that the weather looks like it has finally turned the corner and warmer temperatures and sunshine are on the way, it’s exciting to think about children and adults enjoying more of the outdoors once again. Play is important for a child’s healthy brain and body development and it’s through play that children engage and interact with the world around them. Children explore, take risks, experiment, develop fine and gross motor muscle memory, problem solve, discover, and use imagination all through play. Outdoor play takes children away from excessive TV and computer or video games which has become all to common a form of play. Outdoor play provides an opportunity for important physical activity and children moving their bodies in a fun way that supports many areas of development.

It’s important to encourage different kinds of play. Physical play should be encouraged with opportunities at outdoor playgrounds, lawns, and sidewalks for walking, running, climbing, skipping, rolling, jumping, and biking. These types of play help children develop gross motor skills, balance, and coordination. It’s important to encourage rolling, crawling, climbing, and swinging. Do you remember being a kid and rolling down a hill, playing on a swing set, or riding bike all day long?

Another type of play is constructive play. Constructive play allows children to be creative with all kinds of objects. See how creative children are when given some random materials like wood blocks, pvc pipe, balls, string, boxes, and canisters. Do you remember how much fun it was to play with an old cardboard box as a kid? Sometimes children have more fun with the empty box than with the item that came inside of it.

Children needs lots of opportunity for social play. Providing children a chance to play with other children similar in age is important for development. Through social play, children learn how to share, cooperate, take turns, and express emotions. It’s important an adult is close by observing and supporting the play as needed.  This provides the adult a chance to intervene should children need help with a conflict. Remember to only intervene if necessary as children need opportunities to practice problem solving and resolving conflict independently too.

Games with rules are important as they help develop cognitive and social development. In addition, games with rules provide a chance to practice cooperation, negotiation, and competition. Children have fun making up the rules to familiar games or even games they create on their own.  Adults should encourage, support, and have fun with whatever rules the child comes up with. Remember to balance the amount of games with rules with plenty of free or unstructured play. Follow your child’s lead on this. Some children prefer one type of play over another.

Finally, outdoor play helps to reduce the spread of infections, and improve the immune system just by being in the fresh air. Being outdoors is healthy for all of us. Research shows that exercise helps burns calories, strengthens muscles, and builds healthy bones.  Being outside also provides our bodies with a natural way to build up our vitamin levels and lessens the likelihood of developing chronic diseases.

Play is an important and critical part of childhood and offers so many important developmental benefits. Play is how our children learn. Playing with our children is a great way to engage with and enjoy each of them. Children who are encouraged to play outdoors are more likely to become an adult who enjoys being active in the outdoors. Ask any adult who enjoys hiking, gardening, biking, or jogging when they got started. More than likely they will share a story about a parent or positive role model who supported, modeled, and encourage play and physical activity.

If you’d like to learn more about the importance of play, please join us from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30th at the Hutchinson High School Auditorium for an adult forum from the Jeffers Foundation about Nature Play. For more information, contact West Elementary at 320-587-4470.

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.

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





ECFE Garage Sale – April 27, 2019

Attention Parents – Learn About Nature Play

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!

Empathy + Compassion = Kindness

By Jill Bridge, Licensed School Counselor

It is the season of hope, love and joy for many as they celebrate the holidays, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. As people enter the holiday season they are embracing empathy, compassion, and kindness. Regardless of how large or small a gesture of kindness is, each gesture is a way to teach our kids, families and community about empathy and compassion. We shouldn’t need an award or recognition each and every time we show kindness. Knowing that you did something good and kind should be an intrinsic motivator to repeat it again and again. The goal should not be fame and fortune but about knowing that the kind act was meaningful and impacted another person’s life in a positive way.

Empathy is feeling or understanding what someone else is feeling. It is important for kids and adults to realize that two people may have very different feelings about the same situation. Understanding this concept will help us put ourselves in others’ shoes; we take the time and energy to look at life from their perspective. Their viewpoint may not be the same as yours but it is important to realize that is ok. For example, I can like you, I can respect you, but I don’t have to have the same feelings and thoughts as you. We are all different, and as such, we need to respect those differences.

Once the person has the ability to understand another’s perspective, the person can start to develop empathy for others, which can evolve into compassion. When you have empathy for others, you can say or do many things to show care and concern. Saying something kind or doing something helpful for others are examples of showing compassion. Imagine what our community would be like if we took that extra moment to think about another’s feelings and did something to show compassion. As a family, talk about ways you and your children can show compassion for others. During the holidays, there are a variety of opportunities to show compassion-some that cost money while others don’t cost a dime. For example, you can contact the animal shelter and help take care of the animals, you can donate to the Salvation Army red kettles, shovel a neighbor’s driveway, leave a note and/or word of encouragement for a coworker, or any idea your family holds dear.

Kindness is an overall theme that emerges when we model empathy and compassion, with kindness being the end result. Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. How do we decide when we are being compassionate or spreading kindness? Can they be the same thing but labeled differently? They definitely can be.  The list of ways to show compassion above are ways to show kindness. When you are being compassionate you are also being kind. In order to know the best ways to be compassionate and kind we need to walk in the other person’s shoes, and use empathy.

Empathy, kindness and compassion are skills that are taught. They are not innate traits, they are learned through discussions and by seeing/hearing examples. Be a role model that helps others understand empathy, compassion and kindness. We are role models for children, family members and even strangers. Embrace the holidays, spread kindness and cheer through using empathy and compassion. Kindness goes a long way not just during the holidays but each and every day of the year.

Holiday Celebration Outreach Dinner

Whalen Gymnasium Dedication

Hutchinson Public Schools

Hutchinson Public Schools