Since 2012, Cedar Bluffs Public Schools has offered its high school students a chance to go on a trip of a lifetime.
The program, known as Pounding the Pavement, has taken students on five-day trips to major cities on the East Coast including Washington D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston since its inception in 2012.
After low interest caused last year’s planned trip to San Francisco to be cancelled, the program is back in 2018 as 26 students and chaperones will head off to enjoy the sights, sounds, and history of Boston this summer.
“Our goal is expose our students, at least one time during their high school years, to a major city on the East Coast,” Greg Brousek, who heads up the trip and teaches social sciences and history at Cedar Bluffs, said. “For many of my students this will be the first time they fly, this will be the first time they are on a subway, a public bus, and then on a train back.”
Unlike some trips offered to students through travel companies and other charters, Pounding the Pavement is essentially a do-it-yourself effort embarked on by Brousek and others involved with the school district.
“We arrange the air travel out, we always fly out and then take Amtrak back,” Brousek said. “We take care of all of the arrangement, the lodging, tours, etc.”
According to Brousek, with the trips planned and executed entirely by him and other supporters of the program it provides a unique experience for students who participate.
“It just gives them that experience that they wouldn’t get if they were just on a charter bus all day,” he said. “I call it the sights and sounds of a community.”
This year’s trip will immerse Cedar students in all of the history and spectacle associated with Boston, and more broadly Massachusetts, with stops in both Salem and Plymouth during the five-day trip in June.
The students will spend a day in each of the three Massachusetts cities, where they will get to explore a variety of historical places.
“We don’t use any private charters so we are walking, taking subways, and ferries and on the day we are in Boston we will explore and board the U.S.S. Constitution, which is the oldest commissioned naval ship, we will tour Paul Revere’s home, North Church, and Harvard University,” Brousek said. “We will also hit the New England Aquarium and the State Capitol Building, we will just follow that Freedom Trail.”
According to Brousek, even the hotel that the group is staying at will provide an opportunity to see American history up close and personal.
“Our hotel is located on the shipyards in Boston, so when our students look out their east windows they are looking out into Boston Harbor,” he said. “If their room sits to the west side they look out their window and they can see the Monument on Bunker Hill, so we are in a very historic part of the city.”
Following the student’s day on the Freedom Trail in Boston, the group will travel to Plymouth to explore the Forefathers Monument, the Grist Mill, Main Street, and Plimoth Plantation.
The next day the group will then board Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited and California Zephyr to Chicago before landing back in Lincoln on the following day.
While Pounding the Pavement provides a unique experience to Cedar Bluffs High School students, it is not free to attend as each participant must pay for their own trip.
According to Brousek, the actual cost of this year’s trip to Boston is over $950, but between donations from community and area businesses and surplus money from previous years, they were able to offer the trip at $780.
“When you consider that $470 of that goes into transportation, it’s really pretty inexpensive overall,” he said. “What we have done the last several years is a letter writing campaign to area businesses and this year we had seven area businesses and then our Sons of the American Legion, between them we had $4,000 donated to the fund. The generosity of our area businesses and support of our community has been tremendous ever since we began the program.”
While donations and annual fundraisers have allowed the program to offer students the trip for prices varying between $700-800 rising costs of travel and other expenses have made the program less affordable for students and families.
With rising costs, Brousek has begun a GoFundMe campaign to continue to be able to offer the annual trip, and hopefully reduce the price even more for prospective students.
“What we want to do is start building up our fund so that way we can offer every student that goes kind of a scholarship, and that way we can keep it in the $700 range,” he said. “Ideally we would love to get it down, my dream before I retire is to build up a big enough endowment that we could get this trip for $500 a kid for years and years to come.”
Another reason for initiating the GoFundMe campaign to help provide funds for the trip, was a lack of success in raising the necessary funds during the program’s previous annual fundraiser known as Turkey Bingo.
“We have held what we call Turkey Bingo right before Thanksgiving. You get a bingo, you get a turkey,” Brousek said. “But we weren’t making much profit and some years we were lucky just to break even after having to buy the prizes.”
The goal of Pounding the Pavement’s GoFundMe campaign is to start by raising $2,000 towards next year’s trip.
“Our long term goal is make these annual trips an experience every student can afford, and hopefully we can build up our fund for the students who are currently I the middle and elementary school to be able to participate when they get to high school,” Brousek said.
Those interested in donating to Pounding the Pavement’s GoFundMe, or would like more information about the trips are encouraged to visit https://www.gofundme.com/poundingthepavement.
A Fremont student was selected to participate in a prestigious acting scholarship competition, as part of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Des Moines, Iowa.
Madison Schueth, 19, is a 2016 graduate of Archbishop Bergan High School who now attends Morningside College in Iowa, and she participated in the competition as an acting partner to two other Morningside students.
Morningside students were selected to participate in the scholarship competition, known as the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition, based on their previous performances at Morningside College. Two students, Allison Linafelter of Sioux City, Iowa and Brock Bourek of Columbus, Nebraska, were selected, and chose Schueth as their acting partner for each of their respective duet portions of the competition. They selected Schueth based on her previous performances.
Schueth has performed in “The Princess and The Pea” and “The Elves and The Shoemaker” at Morningside.
“The experience was wonderful; we get to see so many talented students there from all across our region,” Schueth said. “You get to meet so many people, picking up different skills while you’re there, seeing how they do things, or how you would do things differently with them in there.”
Schueth said that the participants got to speak with judges who gave notes and feedback.
“It’s a really good learning experience overall,” she said.
Schueth is pursuing a career in acting—either in television or movies—and her experience goes all the way back to her pre-school days in Fremont.
“I was supposed to be a flower in a play, and then I got moved to a fairy, and I loved it from then on,” she said.
She got her start at a young age by acting in church plays at St. Patrick’s Church. She continued acting in middle school and high school plays as she got older.
Now, Schueth is getting headshots done and hoping to send resumes to agencies.
At the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, participants were also given the opportunity to try other professional development opportunities in all areas of theater, including lighting design, make up and more, Schueth said.
An author and nationwide speaker on Alzheimer’s education is coming to Fremont.
Jolene Brackey, author of the book “Creating Moments of Joy — Along the Alzheimer’s Journey,” will speak at a free educational event on March 14 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 3400 E. 16th St., in Fremont. To register, please call 402-753-2078.
A session for professionals and approved for 3.0 nursing contract hours is set from 9 a.m. to noon.
Family caregivers are invited to a session from 1-3 p.m.
“The goal of people attending is to provide them with new or different approaches in working with people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia and creating moments of joy while doing it,” said Mary Atkinson, client care coordinator of Home Instead Senior Care.
Brackey, who speaks on Alzheimer’s education, has been a keynote speaker at many conferences. She has a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and extensive experience with people who have Alzheimer’s.
She believes the greatest education is being with and having loved someone with Alzheimer’s.
In her presentation called “Creating Moments of Joy,” Brackey strives to help attendees understand the losses that people with dementia experience as the brain dies and how they can assist in compensating for these losses.
Brackey shares many practical verbal and nonverbal communication skills which can help the person feel heard and supported.
She will talk about making a list of what causes positive reactions and questions people should ask themselves before they opt to correct a person with dementia. She’ll discuss how a person’s mood can affect an individual with dementia and how to make a quality connection.
Brackey also can help attendees learn how to creatively and effectively turn challenging situations into moments of joy.
“When the person has short-term memory loss, their life is made up of moments,” Brackey said. “We cannot create a perfectly wonderful day, but it is absolutely attainable to create a perfectly wonderful moment. When we go where the person is living in their mind, we will create smiles by triggering memories that are engrained in them.
“Focusing on the abilities they have left instead of their losses may have the possibility of reviving their spirit and ours,” she said. “Five minutes later, they won’t remember what you did or said, but the feeling you left them with will linger.”
Through her presentation, Brackey hopes to help audience members be inspired to create moments of joy.
This event is sponsored by the Fremont Area Alzheimer’s Collaboration. Continuing Education Contact hours are awarded by Iowa Western Community College, Iowa Board of Nursing Provider 6.
More information may be found on Brackey’s website at: https://www.enhancedmoments.com