School Board

Lake Preston girls may play with Lady Bulldogs

Limited numbers lead to participation agreement between the schools


The De Smet Board of Education met Monday evening. While most of the agenda items were straight forward, one item brought in the public. Item 10 was discussion and motion for Lake Preston girls basketball athletes to participate with the De Smet girls basketball team. While this topic has already held many informal meetings in De Smet’s and Lake Preston’s coffee shops, bars, social media and over the phone, Monday evening was the first time the De Smet School Board addressed the issue.

While De Smet’s School Board was busy discussing the participation agreement, school boards in Lake Preston and Arlington were likely discussing matters related to the event. De Smet had been asked to allow the Lake Preston’s girls basketball players to participate with the De Smet girls basketball team. The deadline for teams and rosters is November 3. Preseason injuries have made it hard for the Lake Preston girls basketball team to get the numbers needed to make a varsity team.

Questions about open enrollment were asked; open enrollment may only take place prior to the last Friday in September during the first semester of any school year and prior to the last Friday in January during the second semester of any school year. Forming a coop between the two schools would not be feasible due to the November 3 deadline.

It was reported that Lake Preston had already asked Arlington to participate together in girls’ basketball, but that offer was turned down. So, Lake Preston asked De Smet for the participation agreement. Two varsity players and several 7th and 8th graders would become Lady Bulldogs. They would attend practice here, wear the same jerseys and participate on the De Smet girls basketball team.

One side of the coin

One could certainly make the argument that teams practice for years together, learning the plays and growing accustomed to the personalities of their team players, their habits and behaviors on and off the court. The team faces tough adversaries together and overcomes obstacles. These actions build teamwork. To bring someone in from the outside could create a hardship.

Members of the De Smet girls basketball team were present, and two of the members voiced concern of the inclusion, citing the reasons mentioned above.

On the other side of coin

In Lake Preston, the girls are ready for a basketball season to begin, but the school will not be able to field a varsity team due to injuries and low numbers. If you are a player who loves basketball and wants to participate, what can you do?

Most high school students do not want to participate on a rival school’s team. This would be a difficult decision to make, and is probably the reason only two high schoolers are willing to travel to De Smet and become Lady Bulldogs.

The Lake Preston players could create an unknown on the new team. The team dynamics and charisma may change. Playing time for the players may be decreased by the inclusion of the added players.

Most girls who are serious about basketball join and participate in summer leagues. Most of these teams are not strictly a De Smet team.

If De Smet were to allow the participation agreement, it would not affect their Class B classification. The Lake Preston girls will be making compromises to be included. The father of one of the Lake Preston girls spoke to the board and expressed his daughter’s desire to play basketball. She has played summer leagues and is familiar with team dynamics and quickly adapting to new teammates. Playing for De Smet is her only option this year.

The argument was made that it is the neighborly thing to do. Considering the time before the November 3 deadline, options are limited for Lake Preston. If roles were reversed and you had a daughter in De Smet that was facing an absent season, wouldn’t you want a nearby school to accept them?

Another comment worth noting is that the cream always rises to the top. If they are good team players, they will be an asset to the Lady Bulldogs.

The Decision

Brendon Pitts, the girls’ basketball team head coach, told the school board he felt they had a solid basketball team in De Smet, and he would continue to build the program to be the best it can be. He also told the board that he would move forward no matter happened.

The number of players for Lake Preston’s 7th and 8th grade team are still high enough to have a team of their own.

School Board President Shane Roth, after listening to the public comments and discussing the matter with the board, recommended to not make a motion. However, Evan Buckmiller made a motion to just accept the 9th through 12th grade players in the participation agreement. This would only bring the two players over to De Smet.

Barb Asleson voiced her support for the motion, commenting that if it were her daughter, she would want them to allow her daughter to play. Jared Tolzin said that it would be the neighborly and right thing to do, and Donita Garry agreed with the three previous opinions. With that, Roth called for a vote, and the participation agreement was approved for just the freshman through senior Lake Preston players.

board awarded gold level

The De Smet School Board has been recognized by the Associated School Boards of South Dakota (ASBSD) for their participation in the ALL Program: ACT, LEARN, LEAD. Each of the three categories include activities, participation, attending meetings, training and various other activities. School boards obtain points for each of the activities they complete.

The ASBSD has three top levels for school boards and ranks them according to levels. Gold is the top, followed by silver and then bronze. The De Smet School Board was presented an award for reaching the gold level. Out of 167 school boards in South Dakota, only thirty-three boards received the gold level recognition.

Principals’ reports

School superintendent Abi Van Regenmorter reported that elementary parents received a presentation from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The presentation was to view mental illness as an illness and reduce some of the negative stigma associated with mental illnesses.

The elementary students and staff will receive flu shots Thursday, and teachers are preparing for the parent/teacher conferences.

High school and junior high school principal, Andy Armstead, gave an update of current activities in his building. He told the school board about the homecoming activities that took place last week. On homecoming day, the seniors hosted a bar-b-que, games and activities took place in the gym, and students prepared floats for the school’s homecoming parade.

Wellness Coalition students are working on a couple of projects around town. They would like to see an ice rink open in the city, so kids can remain active in the winter, and the back room of Klinkel’s is open on Fridays for the students. The room has board games and other activities to keep the students busy and give them some activities to do locally.

The juniors and seniors attended a Post-Planning Day in Watertown. Students got a chance to talk with representatives from colleges and universities from across South Dakota, Wyoming and Minnesota, along with several tech schools and the different branches of the military.

He also updated the board about the new journalism class that is working on the yearbook and a new section in the Kingsbury Journal called Bulldog Bark.

Kindergarten through twelfth grade staff attended the NAMI presentation of “Ending the Silence” that was geared toward educating the staff on mental illnesses.

Tuesday of this week, Van Regenmorter will travel to the University of Sioux Falls with seven students interested in becoming educators. The program is called Educators Rising.

Also on Tuesday, nineteen middle school students will travel to Castlewood for the East Dakota Junior High Music Festival. Students will perform in either chorus or band. They will rehearse throughout the day and perform at 6 p.m.

And finally, the sophomore English class will be visiting the Harvey Dunn Exhibit in Brookings. The war-time subject matter of his art coincides with the subject matter the class is currently covering.

other business

• Athletic Director, Becky Geyer, reported to the school board that the school’s new web site is up and running.

• The football team will be playing at Dell Rapids against St. Mary on Friday.

• The school district only received one bid for the surplus 1999 Chevy Suburban. The bid was $300 dollars and was submitted by David Ough.

• The De Smet School Board will be hosting the ASBSD Legislative Meeting at the De Smet Event Center Oct. 27.

• The Buildings and Facility Committee is still working on plans for a new elementary building.

• The board approved the hiring of Kristen Luethmers as an elementary special education paraprofessional and Mike Luethmers as the junior high boys’ basketball coach.

• The board will allow junior high athletes to participate in varsity girls’ basketball.

Barb Asleson, De Smet school board


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