The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

 Awaiting regular maintenance, the auditorium stage piano sits in the alcove of the auditorium. The school owns one grand piano, and a few upright pianos, which like this one are often out of tune. “Sometimes you just have to make do with what youve got a little bit longer than youd like to,” choir director Joshua East said.

FEATURE: Budget Cuts Hit on Performing Arts

Maria Mosconi, Reporter September 21, 2023

Over the past few years, USD497 has made significant budget cuts to extracurriculars. Students from kindergartners to seniors have been affected by the district’s cuts, but previously underfunded programs,...

In AP European History, sophomore Olive Minor listens to a lecture. Although a structured college class, their teacher has given them a lot of independence in the class. “We can go at our own pace with the notes,” Minor said. “It’s a lot of self-monitoring which I enjoy.”

NEWS: Big Classrooms Mean Bigger Challenges

Phoebe Morris September 11, 2023

After the first few weeks back, staff is left to frantically figure out how to handle the increase in classroom sizes. The Board of Education’s budget cuts decreased teachers' positions, creating a domino...

After receiving advice from her students, orchestra director Judy Erpelding marks her music. Although the director normally makes the artistic decisions, Erpelding will often consult her students and hear their opinions on what sounds good and what they should try out. “[The students] are the heart of the program, not me,” Erpelding said. “I know they will carry that on and I will miss them. Making great music with them, being able to challenge them, taking their inspiration.”

NEWS: Judy Erpelding Announces Resignation

Lilly Wall May 11, 2023

After serving as the Director of Orchestras program for 11 years at the school, Judy Erpelding has announced her resignation, effective May 26.  With this position being her first teaching job, she...

NEWS BRIEF: District Votes to Close Two Elementary Schools

NEWS BRIEF: District Votes to Close Two Elementary Schools

Natasha Torkzaban and Lilly Wall March 28, 2023

The USD 497 Board of Education voted to close Pinckney and Broken Arrow Elementary on Monday in an attempt to bridge the $9.6 million budget deficit.  Despite two public hearings at Broken Arrow...

Chief Operations Officer Larry Englebrick shares a presentation slide talking about the impact of school closures.

NEWS BRIEF: School Board Makes Decisions Regarding School Closures

Cici Hunter February 28, 2023

On Monday, Feb. 27, the USD 497 Board of Education hosted a board meeting to hear administration and community input, in addition to the Future Planning Committee’s final proposal.  “We have cut,...

Senior Ashanti Riccardo draws on an iPad using a pen. Next year, students will be given a pen along with their iPad to allow similar functionality.

NEWS: Trading MacBooks for iPads

February 23, 2023

For six years, USD 497 high school students have been provided with MacBooks for school; however, the school board has opted to transition to iPads next year. The board made the decision on Jan. 23,...

USD 497 Board of Education president Shannon Kimball, speaks at last nights board meeting.

NEWS: District Votes to Transition to iPads

Allison Mayhew and Lilly Wall January 24, 2023

Last night, the USD 497 Board of Education voted to transition high school student devices from MacBooks to iPads in the fall. The vote passed six-to-one.  The USD 497 news release from last night's...

Helping senior Talyn Nichols, social studies teacher Blake Swenson juggles the workload of a teacher. With recent budget concerns, Swenson stayed frozen at step 4 on the salary schedule rather than moving to step 6 to increase his base pay this year.

NEWS: Teachers Juggle Pay Freezes, Increased Class Sizes, and Workload

Alicia Narum October 6, 2022

While any job has its own set of challenges, a poll from the nation’s largest teachers union said 55% of teachers are hoping to leave education earlier than planned. Locally, since the start of the...

People gather outside of district office to protest possible library staff cuts.

NEWS BRIEF: Board Meeting on March 28

Allison Mayhew and Natasha Torkzaban March 29, 2022

Yesterday, the USD 497 Board of Education decided to cut two library media specialists and implement $6.4 million worth of other budget cuts. The new proposal will instead cut only two certified library...

NEWS BRIEF: School Board Vows to Keep Buildings Open

Olivia Nagel and Allison Mayhew February 14, 2022

During tonight’s USD 497 Board of Education meeting, members announced that closing schools for the upcoming school year will not be a consideration.  "The proposals in front of us are not the right...

NEWS BRIEF: Possible Gymnastics Program Cut

Jake Hedges and Isis Norris December 7, 2021

The FireLions gymnastics team is in danger of being shut down, according to executive director of communications Julie Boyle. The proposal is in part to make up for the district’s $2 million budget...

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