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The 2017 Inspire Awards by the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools rocked the house April 20 at Lincoln North Star High School. It was the third year of the district-wide tradition of recognizing excellence in Lincoln Public Schools.

Each year, one student and one staff member are recognized for contributing to their school communities and being a positive force for good. To become an Inspire Award winner, a student or staff member is nominated by their school’s principal.

Winners attended the event in bright orange “I Inspire” t-shirts. Upon arriving, they were greeted by LPS school board and Foundation board members and given a certificate and a medal before heading into the theater.

East High School’s jazz band welcomed attendees into the theater and served as an energetic and well-rehearsed backdrop for the festive atmosphere, where beach balls were tossed around by attendees until the event started.

Dr. Steve Joel, LPS superintendent, congratulated the winners on being part of a “legacy of excellence,” adding that he appreciated their diversity that “allows us to learn in ways we could never have imagined.”

Wendy Van, president of the Foundation for LPS, acknowledged the winners for “the difference you make every single day, just by caring and being present” and told them “your school notices and so does your community.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Hank Bounds, University of Nebraska president, gave a heartfelt address about inspiration and purpose. He noted that teachers have a “huge impact on student success.” He quoted writer Leo Buscaglia, who said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring – all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Bounds encouraged everyone to dream big and aim “for the moon and not the light pole.” He left the audience with this advice: “Don’t be afraid to fail. Chase your dreams. Set your dreams and goals, and resolve to reach them.”

A fun part of the evening included audience members getting on their feet and dancing to music in the dark with glow wands before the winners were introduced, led by Liz Ring Carlson, Inspire sponsor from Ameritas.

Roper Elementary Principal Tim Muggy accepted the 2017 Inspire School award and discussed how his school continues to make strides from “Good to Great” by focusing on student learning and the social, emotional aspects of children. Muggy said that Roper’s “growth mindset” helps everyone understand they can always improve. He thanked Inspire school sponsor Allstate for the $6,500 award that will help Roper continue this good work. The award was also supported by the Foundation trustees and board.

Recognition also goes out to Inspire sponsor Xerox, Point of Light sponsors Ameritas and Assurity, In-Kind sponsors Swanson Russell, Lincoln Journal Star, Dell EMC and HyVee, Engaging sponsors D.A. Davidson, Pinnacle Bank and Davis Design, Supporting sponsor Leadership Resources and other sponsors Dino’s Eastside Grille and Floors Inc.

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