See You at the Pole event in Pawhuska to be held Sept. 23

See You at the Pole event, 2014.

Youth Band, The Pit Crew, performing at See You at the Pole event, 2014.

By: Roseanne McKee

This year’s See You at the Pole event in Pawhuska will take place on Sept. 23 at 7:30 a.m. at the high school flag pole, and will continue that evening at 6:30 at Pawhuska First Baptist Church, located at 302 E. 6th, Pawhuska, OK.

After its inception in Texas in 1990, the See You at the Pole event grew and just a year later, “on Sept. 11, 1991, at 7 a.m., it was estimated that over one million youth praying around their flag poles all over the country,” said Pawhuska First Baptist Church Pastor Jeff Laughlin.

Pastor Laughlin, spoke about the interdenominational event at a recent Pawhuska Kiwanis Club meeting.

When he was being interviewed for his current position as Senior Pastor, he said he noticed a poster at the church for the See You at the Pole event.

After a few years in his position, Pastor Laughlin was asked to lead the annual event in Pawhuska and he accepted.

One of the first things that he and the other organizers did was to take a fresh look at the event and its effectiveness.

Pastor Laughlin: “We’d been putting on this huge event for this region and we asked ourselves is that really making a difference in the lives of our youth here in Pawhuska? And the answer really had to come down to was, ‘no, it’s really not making a difference to our youth here.’”

At the time, the event had an annual budget of about $4,000, and youth from Ponca City, Cleveland, Bartlesville and Kansas were invited.

After entering into prayer and discussion, the organizers decided to shift the reach of the event from regional to local.

“We began to rethink the way we were doing this,” Pastor Laughlin said.

At that time, “there was probably a thousand dollars spent just in mailers sent out,” Pastor Laughlin said. “We’re operating on a total budget of that amount now and having a greater impact on our [Pawhuska] kids,” Pastor Laughlin said.

This year’s event has a budget of approximately one thousand dollars, funded with donations from the Ministerial Alliance, the Baptist Convention and Kiwanis,” said Pastor Ken Woodhams.

The evening event speakers do not normally ask for a certain amount of money, but they will be given an honorarium, Laughlin said, and the speaker’s lodging at the Wah-zha-zhi House in Pawhuska will also be provided.
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This year’s event with the theme of unity will begin at the school flag pole at 7 a.m. and will be entirely led by youth.

Then that evening, events will continue at the Pawhuska First Baptist Church. A youth praise band from Eastern Heights Baptist Church in Bartlesville, The Pit Crew, will perform and the speaker will be Michael Bartley, the director of the Wesleyan Foundation at Oklahoma State University.

Pawhuska First United Methodist Church will provide the doughnuts and beverages for the morning prayer meeting at the flag pole, he said. Calvary Baptist Church will provide the food for the evening meal.

This year’s event will be funded with about a thousand dollars, including funds from the Ministerial Alliance, the Baptist Convention and Kiwanis,” said Pastor Ken Woodhams.

As a direct result of last year’s event, a bible study for teens in Pawhuska was started, which is still meeting a year later.

“At the flagpole, the students will be praying specifically for students, teachers and our community,” Laughlin said.

Laughlin said that he believes this scaled-back approach to the event, has yielded better results for less money.

Students from seventh through twelfth grade will pray at the flagpole on the morning of Sept. 23.

“Then they’ll issue invitations to their friends to come back that night at our fellowship hall [at Pawhuska First Baptist Church] they’ll have the hotdog meal and then go across the street to our worship center for the music and the speaker.

Pastor Woodhams said, “I’ve been enthused to see Mr. Sindelar, [Pawhuska High School Principal and Football Coach] talk about the re-establishment of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), which was also a big part of See You at the Pole.”

Pastor Laughlin said, “It is a neat thing that it started with such a small group and spread so quickly and has been sustained over the years. It gives our youth an opportunity to express and share their faith in a way that they don’t normally get to do at school and the freedom to get to do that is an amazing thing too.”

“We had some churches from Burbank and Bartlesville last year and they’ll continue to be a part of that, so we are still having a regional impact.”

Pastor Laughlin said, “We’re going to the youth groups in our churches and asking for a couple of volunteers from each church to see if they’d like to read or pray…We’ll be there just to watch them and to offer them support.”

To learn more about the event, visit the Pawhuska First Baptist Church website: http://www.PawhuskaFBC.org.

Donations can be made to the Ministerial Alliance, with ‘See You at the Pole’ on the memo line. The address of Ministerial Alliance is P. O. Box 91, Pawhuska, OK 74056. Donations are tax deductible.

New Art Gallery Opens in Pawhuska

By: Roseanne McKee
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Bruce Carter, owner of the Tallgrass Art Gallery at 521 Kihekah Ave. spoke to the Kiwanis Club recently about his new gallery, the path he travelled to become an artist and what led him to choose Pawhuska.

“When I was in high school I took art. I was really fortunate that my high school had a residential artist supplied by the state arts council come to our school for six months and totally changed the future that I would take in life. I was going to be a welder.”

Despite his plans to become a welder, Carter decided to take a six-month detour to take silversmithing classes at Northern Oklahoma College.

“At that point welding looked real big and silversmithing looked real small,” he said.

Nonetheless, Carter decided to pursue silversmithing as an art form.
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“I’m a self-taught artist. In the art world that’s called someone from outside the academic background. I am a traditional silversmith, which means I use no mechanical tools. I do everything by hand. I’m also a traditional engraver, which means I carve all of the old cowboy patterns and things you see on work before early 1900.

“The gallery, I’d like to say it was planned, but it wasn’t. I had moved to Pawhuska and I decided I’m going to go back to silversmithing, which I had quit for 13 years.”

“I wanted to get back into the arts. I have always loved Pawhuska. I’ve driven through here. I’ve stopped here, I have visited Pawhuska. I was at a point in my life when I decided, I want to do what I really want to do and do it someplace that I really want to do it at. Hence, my move to Pawhuska,” Carter said.

Initially, he was just looking for a ten by ten space in which to do his silver work.

“The gallery kind of took shape after talking to lots of people in town…There’s a big push in Pawhuska to make it a center for the arts, to encourage the arts, to encourage artists, to encourage galleries.

We don’t sit on a major highway. We’re not a great place for industry … but we’re a great tourism destination. The number one reason people come to a destination is shopping, number two is history. Pawhuska has history.

Once he decided to move forward, he obtained building space at 521 Kihekah Ave. in Pawhuska, next door to Osage Outfitters and across the street from Ree Drummond’s building at the corner of Main St. and Kihekah.

“Three weeks later, [in July] we opened with 11 nationally known artists. That’s unheard of.
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“Artists in this area were ready for a gallery. They believed in Pawhuska … and they were ready to come in and make that work. They also share my vision.

“Artists believe Pawhuska is a great place for art. If you’re an artist the tallgrass is a great asset. They love the Osage Hills, they love the ranches in this area.”

Of the 14 artists now represented in the gallery, Carter said that two of them have given exclusive rights to their artwork to be sold in the gallery in Oklahoma.

“That’s huge for Pawhuska,” Carter said.
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It means if you want to buy a Burneta Venosdel, you have to buy it here. Burneta is a sculptor from Tahlequah has won several national awards, Carter added.

“If you want to buy a Carolyn Mock, other than from the artist herself, you have to buy it in Pawhuska.

Describing his approach, Carter said, “[a]lthough I am the owner, we run the gallery as a co-op. All the artists get a voice in what we do. For example, if we decide to advertise, we all get a voice in what venue we think is the best for that advertising.”

The artists are also in the process of forming an art guild in Pawhuska.

“One of the things the artists have consistently told me is that they want to teach sculpture and painting. They want to teach other professionals, so we are putting together an art school for professionals…. Professional artists spend a lot of money going places learning to paint and sculpt. They stay in a town up to a week at a time, so the artists have decided that we need a school,” Carter explained.

To that end, “the Oklahoma Sculpture Society will be coming to Pawhuska Oct. 19. Burneta Venosdel will be teaching a class to professional sculptors that day on the streets of downtown Pawhuska and at Liberty Ranch, a huge draw for Pawhuska, a huge draw for tourists.
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“People sometimes have a misconception that galleries bring artists. That’s not how that works. Artists bring galleries.”

Carter cited several cities known for art as examples: Eureka Springs, Fredericksburgh Tx., Santa Fe and Red River.

In addition to his own move to Pawhuska, at Carter’s suggestion, two of the artists whose work is represented in the Tallgrass Art Gallery hope to move to Pawhuska, so Pawhuska is on its way to becoming an artistic hub.
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Carter is sowing into Pawhuska by his presence and by his sponsorship of events. The Tallgrass Gallery plans to change the artwork exhibited monthly, have monthly receptions and establish “Women, Wine and Art” on the third Thursday of each month.

In addition, Tallgrass Art Gallery is sponsoring a street dance on Kihekah Ave., ‘A Night in Ole Pawhuska’ on the evening of Oct. 3 after the Indian Taco Festival in Pawhuska. All donations and proceeds will benefit The Pawhuska Arts and Preservation group. There will be music by Jimmie Johnson, community art projects, artist’s demonstrations, gallery opening and the grand opening of the Tallgrass Art School.

Carter is also planning a children’s art show in December in which there will be no prizes, but children’s artwork (8.5” by 11”) will be displayed and offered for sale at $25 each with the proceeds going toward arts and preservation.

The Tallgrass Art Gallery is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and by appointment.

To learn more about the upcoming activities of Tallgrass Art Gallery visit their Facebook page, visit their website http://www.tallgrassgallery.net or call them at 580-304-8731.

For information on classes and Tallgrass Art School, visit http://www.tallgrassartschool.com, Tallgrass Art School on Facebook or call Kenyon at 918-728-0804.

OSU Extension Office announces Enrollment in Farm/Ranch Management Course for Women

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Press Release By: Abbi Goldenberg, OSU Extension Office Ag Educator, Osage County

Women of Osage County have the opportunity to enroll in “Annie’s Project”. This course is designed to provide women with the management and leadership skills necessary to efficiently manage their farm, ranch or agricultural endeavors.

Participants will learn:
• Personality evaluation and how to work with other personalities in your family/business with a hands-on presentation called “StrengthQuest”.
• Working with and managing Millennials.
• Farm Family Financial Management.
• Business Management (Goal Setting, Objective Setting, Evaluation).
• Legal Issues With Property Ownership & Estate Planning.
• Insurance For Family and Business.
• Current Livestock Issues.
• Marketing and Branding your Business.

Participants will receive a leather portfolio, a “jump drive” pre-loaded with Annie’s Project courses and a binder with all the course material. The courses will be held from 10 AM – 2 PM on Fridays beginning August 7, 2015 and continuing through September 18 at the Osage Country Fairgrounds.

Lunch will be served during each course. This is a great opportunity to connect with likeminded women throughout our community.

For more information on this event, contact:

Abbi Goldenberg, OSU Extension Ag Educator in Osage County at 918-287-4170 or abbi.goldenberg@okstate.edu.

Oklahoma State University and the Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs and services to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability and is an EOE.

Pawhuska School Board Votes Down 4-day School Week

By:  Roseanne McKee

At a special meeting held March 23, the Pawhuska School Board voted against the idea of switching to a four-day school week by a vote of 3-2. Board members voting in favor of the four-day week were Patricia Wilson and Jeff Bute, reasoning that teacher recruitment and morale would be improved. Those against the switch cited the need to raise academic scores and lack of student supervision on the extra day off.

During the discussion, board members Lori Loftis and Christi McNeil indicated support for the five-day week already in place. Board president Justin Sellers did not reveal his position prior to the vote.

Jeff Bute began by saying that he had reviewed several studies by Indiana University from 2002 – 2011.

“Essentially, there are not a lot of numbers out there. If you’re a numbers guy, you’re not going to like it,” Bute explained.

Nonetheless, Bute said, he had found the studies helpful in providing criteria for comparison of those districts with the Pawhuska Public Schools.

According to Bute, schools that had been successful with a four-day week showed positive results in: improved employee morale, academics and money saved. However, he acknowledged that he had not studied the four-day week from a financial standpoint.

“If we go to a four-day week, we’re still required to give 1,080 hours of instruction time to our students. All we’re doing is adjusting the schedule and plus we leave open an opportunity – an open day to actually do some tutoring and other enrichment,” Bute said.

Thereafter Bute made a motion “to adopt the four-day school week for the 2015-2016 school year and provide class offerings on the fifth day, which may include, but not be limited to, enrichment, credit recovery, and tutoring on that fifth day. This motion would be subject to successful negotiations with the negotiation team and for the successful development of a school calendar.”

After some discussion, board member Patricia Wilson seconded the motion.

Board President, Justin Sellers, asked Superintendent Berry about the contention that the fifth day offerings would be part of the negotiations. Dr. Berry said fifth day offerings would not be part of the contract negotiations because they would fall outside regular school hours. Fifth day offerings would require a separate budget and separate teacher recruitment, Dr. Berry said.

After emphasizing that this was a community decision, Superintendent Berry shared that his concerns about the four-day week impact on: academics, student supervision and nutrition on the fifth day, longer school days for young students and the reduction in available professional development days.

Dr. Berry said that in his opinion, the four-day week, “would make an average teacher maybe a little better. I think it would make a great teacher a whole lot better; and I think it would make a below average teacher or poor teacher worse.”

Dr. Berry added that he did not have any proof that the four-day week would improve test scores.

Board member Christi McNeil asked if there were great gains in academic achievement in the schools that switched to a four-day week.  Bute responded by saying there were academic gains and in the larger school districts that were similar in size to Pawhuska’s school district. McNeil also inquired about the socio-economic impact. Bute responded by indicating that he did not study the socio-economic impact, but that he had found that schools were academically successful when they were able to utilize the fifth day for academic enrichment. He said that Montana and Georgia schools had used 4-H on the fifth day for such enrichment, which is free. Locally, he said the 4-H administrator was willing to become involved in such an endeavor.

McNeil indicated the need to study the cost of fifth-day enrichment tutoring before the school adopted a four-day school week.

Dr. Berry interjected, reiterating that the fifth-day enrichment would not be part of the teacher-contract negotiations.

McNeil finished by stating that students could not be required to attend fifth day enrichment tutoring. Dr. Berry confirmed this.

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Educators, Parents and Students attend Rally on Capitol Steps

(L-R) Osage Hills Elementary School teachers Jennifer Gilkey and Mindy Englett at the Rally for Education held at the state capitol on March 31, wearing the tee-shirts Englett designed which read “In it for the outcome…not the income.”
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By: Roseanne McKee

For the first time in over two decades, an estimated 25,000 educators, parents and students gathered on the steps of the state capitol on March 31 at 10:30 a.m. to rally for public school education in Oklahoma and the children it serves.
“We were not there for ourselves. I was there for Osage Hills, for my students, for your child and my children,” explained Osage Hills Elementary School Math Teacher Mindy Englett. “It really bothers me that there are legislators out there who thought it was selfish for us to be there.”
To bring attention to their true purpose, a group of teachers purchased and wore tee shirts designed by Englett, which read “In it for the outcome — not the income.”
In describing the highlights of the rally, Englett said, ‘the most amazing speaker I heard was a high school student who compared herself to a flower and teachers to gardeners.” According to the speaker, teachers have the power to help students blossom or wilt depending on the resources they have, Englett said.
Explaining how the rally came about, Pawhuska Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Landon Berry said, “Several months ago the Education Coalition contacted me saying that there might be a rally.”
Berry, who has been in education for over 22 years said, “the last big rally was over House Bill (H.B.) 1017.”
H.B. 1017 sought to lower class sizes and increase funding, explained Osage Hills Schools Superintendent/Principal Jeannie O’Daniel, an educator for 25 years.
A recent House Bill has gained ground since Monday’s rally. H.B. 2642, provides for “small, guaranteed increase each year through the state funding formula,” O’Daniel explained.
The conundrum is that even if H.B. 2642 becomes law, it will take time to gain the ground lost.
“They’ve been cutting us for years, they can’t replace it all in one year,” O’Daniel said.
Those interviewed echoed concerns with a central theme – the state mandated curriculum has changed and those changes have not been facilitated through funding or curriculum.
Pawhuska High School Principal Joe Sindelar: “There’s a whole new philosophy of education, but we can’t even get the textbooks and resource materials to implement it. Where is the funding for those materials?”
Osage Hills Superintendent/Principal Jeannie O’Daniel: “We’ve had reform after reform coming very rapidly and there’s no funding to back it up; and if there has been it is because they’ve taken funding away from somewhere else. We adopt textbooks on a six-year cycle, one subject per year, but we’re supposed to implement Common Core all at once.”
The resulting budget challenges are only part of the problem because textbooks containing the Common Core curriculum simply don’t exist in many cases.
“We’re scrambling to find resources that really teach the Common Core content and concepts,” O’Daniel said. “The cover of the textbook changes, but that doesn’t mean the content of the textbook has changed.”
“I agree with the general objective of Common Core, analyzing and critical thinking, but how are we going to get there? We’re not being given the tools to get there” Sindelar observed.
To complicate matters, the name of the Common Core curriculum has changed recently. Math and language arts are still referred to as “Common Core Curriculum,” but the other subjects have been renamed “Oklahoma Academic Standards,” O’Daniel explained.
One might wonder without textbooks how schools are informed about the mandated Core Curriculum and Oklahoma Academic Standards.
“The standards are provided by the state education department and tell what concepts should be taught in what grade,” O’Daniel said.
With legislation to revoke it being considered, some wonder if Common Core will remain in place. “There is talk of repealing Common Core standards so districts are now up in the air as to what the required standards will be,” O’Daniel said.
Understanding what her district faces, Math teacher Mindy Englett works to conserve resources for the benefit of her students.
“With budget cuts, resource funds are limited and it’s tougher to justify the purchase of new textbooks for a curriculum that may be repealed,” Englett said.
No matter what challenges her district faces, O’Daniel’s attitude is positive.
“I have good teachers and that makes all the difference in the world,” O’Daniel said beaming.
Describing the situation his school district faces, Dr. Berry said, “This comes down to a lack of money to educate kids. I’ve been a superintendent for 12 years and the money goes down every year. You have to reduce staff and class size increases…It’s getting to be a critical stage,” Berry said that Pawhuska Public lost over half a million in revenue for the 2013-14 school year. “We’re going to cut $200,000 more from next year’s budget,” he added.
Summing up the reason for the rally, O’Daniel said, “we’ve all reached a breaking point and that’s why we went. We’ve had major changes in the educational system in the past four years. None of these is bad, but they’ve all come at the same time without the funds to implement them.”
Dr. Berry shared a statistic: “Since 2009, percentage-wise we’ve gone through more cuts than any other state in the nation. In 2013, we were number three, and this year we’re number one according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute.”
Berry said he spoke to three state legislators on March 28 at the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce Gala about the problem. Berry’s message to the legislators: “It’s a hard choice, but we make hard choices every day. You have to step up and do what’s right for kids.”
Sindelar said that he spoke to State Representative Dennis Casey recently about his concerns. “He’s very pro-education. He gets it,” Sindelar said. “I asked Dennis, ‘does this make an impact?’ He said, ‘actually, it does.’ Teachers and administrators have an impact, but parents also make an impact…If parents call legislators to say, ‘we don’t have textbooks, or resources, it really has an impact.’”
Educators are asking their legislators important questions that deserve answers. What are the ripple effects of state legislators placing education low on the list? Are teachers drawn to work in Oklahoma public schools if the state doesn’t pay competitive wages?
“When I first went into teaching there were hundreds of applicants for each job. Now there are just two or three and schools advertise early for positions,” Englett said.
“My niece went to Missouri to work as a teacher and makes $10,000 more there,” said Osage Hills Support staff member DeDe McMillan.
Another ripple effect could be a reduction in tax revenue in the years to come.
Dr. Berry said, “We’ve got kids out there who need to be educated so they can work, pay taxes and pay in to social security for those retiring.”
It took a lot for educators to get to the point that they felt a rally was necessary,
Englett said, but “If we don’t stand up now, what’s going to happen to future generations?”
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