Broken Bow Splashes into New School Year: District welcomes students, families back with a pool party bash

Broken Bow Splashes into New School Year: District welcomes students, families back with a pool party bash

By Tyler Dahlgren

Almost perfectly in sync, Darren Tobey and Dan Helberg sprinted across the low and high dives and sprung into a sun-soaked sky.

For passers-by on nearby Airport Road, that exact moment had to be quite the site. Two suited school administrators soaring through the air, with only water there to break the fall. The rather graceful plunge was punctuated by a pair of cannonballs and waves of applause.

Broken Bow Public Schools welcomed students back with a splash Tuesday night, holding a party for students and their families at the city pool. 

“We wanted to create some excitement with our community and with our kids,” said MS/HS principal Dan Helberg. “We thought this was a good way for the school to give back and have one last summer bash up at the swimming pool.”

The night started with orientation and open houses at both North Park Elementary and the middle and high schools. Tobey, Broken Bow’s superintendents, and Ellis, the district’s MS/HS assistant principal and activities director, provided the perfect grand finale.

“Our administrative team is, bar none, one of the best ones I’ve worked with,” said North Park principal and director of special education Justin Petersen. “We’re very open and honest about what we want to accomplish here.”

On Tuesday, the district aimed to kick-start the school year with some levity and fun. The pool party hit the mark.

“Nights like this are important for us,” Helberg said. “For a lot of people, this is their first impression of us as a school, so it’s a great way for us to leave a positive impression on our parents and our students. Positive first impressions and relationships are the cornerstone of every school. If we can lay the groundwork with a smile and a handshake with parents and a welcoming attitude towards students, it helps us to do our job and to serve our community and students.”

Prior to the pool party, the schools filled with excitement as students met with their teachers and received first glimpses at their new environments. At North Park, it was impossible to tell who was more excited between the students and teachers?

“It’s nice to get that community bond before school starts and to put names to faces,” said elementary art teacher Paige Krejdl, who, as a first-year educator, is going through an orientation phase of her own. “Everyone has been super welcoming. It was really easy to acclimate and get ready to dive in and get the year started.”

At the high school, community and student-led organizations set up booths and visited with interested students. Juniors Michael Forster and Austin Fox manned the FBLA booth and attempted to both recruit new members and retain old ones.

“We have a lot of great organizations, clubs and sports at Broken Bow,” said Fox. “I feel like it’s a great district for anyone to find their passion in.”

The pool party added both incentive and buzz, said Forster. It elevated a run-of-the-mill student orientation into something extra special. Having families involved was an important bonus.

“It’s such a great thing to be able to meet everybody,” said Petersen. “You see the little ones, but you don’t always see the parents. To have that contact right away, and to know that Mom and Dad are on board with what we’re doing, that can make a school year much easier.”

Above all, Tuesday was a celebration. Between the smiles, laughter, hugs and cannonballs, it sure felt like one. It continued on Thursday, when the district held its annual "Best First Day Ever."

“When we get to this point, after working a few days in empty buildings in the middle of August, it just feels right for students to be here,” Helberg said. “A school is nothing without the kids inside. This is an opportunity for teachers to meet their students, and it really just gets them excited for the upcoming year.”

The night was a blast. A memorable first step in the 180-day journey of a school year.