Bighorn news: Service, citizenship ... and ACTs

From left are Nery Hernandez, counselor Shelley Kelly and Quinn Chandler, who are involved with recent courses on kindness and gratitude.

From left are Nery Hernandez, counselor Shelley Kelly and Quinn Chandler, who are involved with recent courses on kindness and gratitude.
Provided to the LVN

Senior Spotlight: Tylie Norcutt

Oasis senior Tylie Norcutt started at Oasis Academy as a second-grader. She will graduate this May as a co-valedictorian with her high school diploma and Associate of Arts from Western Nevada College.

“I am grateful that Oasis helped me succeed not only in school, but also when it has come to applying to colleges and for scholarships,” Norcutt said.

“Throughout high school, my favorite classes were probably history and government. I enjoyed my teacher throughout the classes, and I really did well with his style of teaching,” she added.

Norcutt will head to Texas Tech University in Lubbock in the fall.

High school students take ACT

Oasis Academy College Prep juniors took the ACT on March 7. The test is not only used for college acceptance, placement, and scholarship qualifications but is also used as a measurement for how Oasis students compare to the rest of the state for star ratings.

“The state-administered ACT allows the students an opportunity to test free of charge and receive very detailed feedback on areas of strength and weakness. They then can use that information to improve their test scores if they opt to take it again. Our students take this very seriously and we appreciate the effort they put forth,” said Rochelle Tisdale, CAO.

To help students prepare for the exam, Oasis teachers taught ACT Prep sessions over Winter Break covering reading, science, and math.

Lessons in kindness and gratitude

Guidance lessons from school counselors are an important part of the Oasis curriculum that focus on the social and emotional health and education of students.

Counselors Shelley Kelly and Gabi Madraso’s most recent lessons have focused on kindness and gratitude.

In Kelly’s lessons on kindness to fourth through seventh-grade students she has asked them to think about something they’ve wanted to do that is kind around the school. The students then put that thought into immediate action and do the kind deeds. It has included leaving uplifting notes around the school, writing thank you notes to staff, cleaning restrooms, picking up trash in the halls, and much more.

“By encouraging students to perform acts of kindness and reflect on the experience, we're helping them develop their capacity for empathy and compassion,” said Kelly. “And not only does that make them and others happier, but it also strengthens their brains and fosters a more harmonious school. This leads to students that are better equipped to connect with others and happier, more productive classrooms. As we teach our children to be kind, we empower them to positively impact themselves and the world around them.”

The gratitude lessons from Madraso have included students thinking and writing about what they are thankful for, from the tangible to the intangible. The lessons have helped students think about what gratitude means to them.

“Gratitude is vital for students to comprehend and understand because it helps them to focus on what they do have instead of what they do not,” said Madraso. “When we look at the glass as half full we are practicing optimism and the ability to be thankful and appreciative for what we have.”

Furthermore, Madraso said students had the opportunity to create their own thankful lists for the people, memories/experiences, and things they appreciate and how to express gratitude for them.

“The best part of listening to their unique lists has been that they organically filled each other’s buckets by expressing their gratitude to each other thus helping to build our school HERD and foster inclusiveness, which also helps to strengthen students amygdala, which helps control emotions and work to keep us safe,” she said.

Learning, service, and citizenship

Hands-on-learning, civic engagement, service projects, and making the world a better place. These are the goals of the new Oasis Academy Community service class.

The underclassmen in this class have worked hard to become better leaders, create new opportunities, and support their community. Students have written letters for the Pennington Life Center, helped organize at the OA offerings food pantry, decorated doors for teachers in the holiday season, contributed to the heartfelt Oasis atmosphere and so much more.

The community service class is project-based and encourages students to take initiative and work with others to improve their community. Students recognize needs in the community and values they want to instill in others to create projects and plans through the guidance of their adviser, Julie Stockard.

“These kids have big hearts and are willing to work to help others,” Stockard said. “It is exciting to see their ideas and help them find ways to make a difference in their community. Working with these students is a highlight of my day.”

For the first year this program has been at Oasis, there has been immense success for students contributing to their community and creating new opportunities. Through hands-on-learning, the course has prepared underclassmen to become better citizens and better leaders for their community.

Future activities for the class include hosting an Earth Day art contest and students being paired with Oasis third-graders as reading buddies.

To learn more about the class or if you have a project the class can help with, contact Julie Stockard at

— Hunter McNabb


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