A Message from Mr. Vandemark 12.20.19

Greetings Marksmen Families!


As stated last week, I will be sharing a few things you can say and questions you may ask to gauge your child’s stress and anxiety levels. Keep in mind, these conversations are not easy to have. Timing is everything. Try to initiate this conversation when you think your child will be open to hearing it. When necessary, involve others in your child’s “village”.


  • How have you been sleeping? Are you getting enough rest?
  • I can’t always fix things for you, but I’m always here for you. What’s taking up the most space in your brain right now?
  • What friendships do you have that are stressing you out? Which classes at school do you have trouble with? How may I help? Is there anyone who gives you a hard time or makes you feel uncomfortable?
  • I know there are lots of things changing for you as you get older. Let’s chat about those.
  • Sometimes I worry about little things as much as big things. Are there any little things on your mind we should talk about?
  • I know what it’s like to be stressed out for no reason. Has that ever happened to you?
  • We live in a world where some pretty scary things happen. Do any of those ever worry you? How do you let those things go when they are out of your control? How do you determine what is and is not in your control?


  • On a scale of 0-10, how much stress are you experiencing right now?
  • What’s one thought you keep having over and over again?
  • Is there a certain time of the day when you feel the most stress and anxiety? Let’s talk about some ways to handle it.
  • You haven’t been sleeping or eating like usual. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?
  • What is your biggest fear right now? Let’s talk about what would happen if that fear came true.
  • What’s one thing about the future that stresses you out?
  • How may I help the next time you feel nervous? (What can I say, do, etc. Many times a child’s love language can be a helpful “go to” way to calm a child.)
  • What’s your favorite way to relax when you are feeling anxious?

Make it personal. Our kids are always watching us – and listening to us. They “research” and store how we react to different situations, especially in situations where we’re under a large amount of stress and pressure. It’s important for us (as a parent and for our own well-being) to be intentional about caring for ourselves when it comes to our own anxiety. If we desire our children to practice good nutrition, healthy sleep patterns, and exercise, those need to be priorities in our own life, too. As important, make sure you have someone you can open up to about your own fears and concerns.

Widen the circle. You know your kid best but if he/she exhibits the following, then it may be time to reach out to a professional:

  • Increased need for reassurance; increased time to self/isolation
  • Increased difficulty managing emotions
  • Easily tired or frequent difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Deflated affect (decreased emotional expression)
  • Any talk of life not being worth the work, too tired to keep going, no one caring (this includes any instances of self-harm)
  • Significant change in weight or appetite
  • Lacking interest in previously enjoyed activities

Know this – seeking professional help is not a sign of failure as a parent! Being a good parent doesn’t mean you are the sole source of everything your child needs, yet it does mean that you reach out when you realize a concern or challenge is beyond your resources!

Now let me follow with the “Best Thing(s) Mr. V Saw At Morse This Week”: 

  • On a very chilly Tuesday evening this week, I nestled into an auditorium seat at Blue Valley Southwest HS. It was an opportunity for 4th and 5th grade choir members to perform on the “big stage under the bright lights”. And boy, did they perform with excellence! It really provided a warm intro into the second part of the holiday season. Great intentional song selection, 85+sweet voices, and outstanding leadership by Mrs. Morrison, Morse music teacher and choir director. Speaking of which, did you know she was recently chosen and recognized as the NE Kansas Elementary Choir Teacher of the Year?! I want to second the sentiment that she shared of deep appreciation for encouraging your child to participate in choir and making the time in your schedule to get your kiddo(s) to choir early on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Being present Tuesday night also validates and affirms for your child the value you place on their effort and talent. Many of you after the concert shared your thanks and appreciation of Mrs. Morrison’s efforts. Have you let her know you feel that way?! If not, I challenge you to do so! Also, a special shout out to Mrs. Christy West, mom to 3rd grader Kylie West. Mrs. West has been a steadfast piano accompanist to Mrs. Morrison and we so appreciate her time, talent and passion! Keep in mind, there is research that clearly shows a correlation between academic achievement and fine arts involvement…
  • Many of you may have become aware that our nurse, Brooke Combes, will be departing Morse Elementary very soon. She has been serving at Morse for over four years; her dad is a recently retired BV teacher, her mom is a Chief Communication Officer in BV, and Nurse Brooke is a former BV student and alumni. BV is in her DNA! That being said, she is departing to do what she has dreamed of doing since she was five years old: work as a neonatal nurse at a local hospital. She is going to be outstanding…how do I know? I have witnessed many instances of real-life, emergency type instances in my time at Morse. Calm. Cool. Collected. A true nurse, through and through. That being said, please take an opportunity to send her a note of thanks and appreciation for her time at Morse. She will finish up on January 10 and a good deal of that first week back in January will be spent training our new nurse, Kathy Thompson. More on Nurse Thompson in the near future!

We are student centered and community strong – we are Morse!

Advocating for Students,


Steve Vandemark, principal


In addition, if you would like to keep up with upcoming events at Morse, simply click on the following link: https://district.bluevalleyk12.org/schools/elementary/mor/Pages/home.aspx


If you are seeking specifics from your child’s classroom or grade level, refer to the teacher’s weekly newsletter.