Lakeside Elementary School Awarded National Blue-Ribbon Schools Award

Lakeside Elementary in Downs, Kansas was selected as a National Blue Ribbon School awardee for 2023. Lakeside Elementary was also chosen as an “Exemplary High Performance School”.

Lakeside Elementary is a rural school in north-central Kansas which emphasizes educating the whole child. They are a community that works together to meet the individual needs of each and every child. Educating the whole child means setting aside time every single day to listen to their students. They focus on ensuring that students have multiple peers and adults in which they feel connected. They implement programs that are centered on caring for the social emotional well-being of their students. These programs include Whole School Wednesday, morning meetings, explicit social emotional instruction, three (3) by Thursday, the Mental Health Intervention Team, positive office referrals, positive behavioral supports within the classroom, etc. Educating the whole child is visible through their commitment to accessing essential mental health services for their students and their families through the Mental Health Intervention Team. When staff notice that families are unable to access these services on their own, they work diligently to find a way to overcome the obstacles.

At Lakeside Elementary they understand that they are here to educate the whole child. They not only strive to support their individual academic needs through research based practices but take pride in meeting their social emotional needs.

The mission of Waconda USD #272 is to provide responsible, competent graduates who are well-adjusted, productive citizens, respecting themselves and others. They will be lifelong learners in a rapidly changing society. Waconda Schools will provide a progressive and caring staff that uses a well-balanced curriculum in a safe and positive environment. Graduates from Waconda USD #272 will be well-educated and socially-productive citizens.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


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