Home News Editorial theBeat – February 2017

theBeat – February 2017


Written by Shannon Siebert

Quote of the Day—“You have to hold yourself responsible before you can hold anyone else responsible. Going to class, going to study hall, going to the weight room and working hard each and every day.”  Tommy Armstrong Jr., former Husker quarterback speaking to Boys Town high school students.

2017 Commencement Surprise 

THE STORY:  It started eight years ago with Suzanne Ratzlaff’s 4th grade class at Heartland. After reading a book by Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabernet, they began a journey that will culminate this year at their 2017 graduation. 

In 2008, the Lincoln Journal Star reported on how their class had found a unique picture in Selznick’s book. It was of a silent film star hanging from a clock.  The illustration in the book was of a scene from the 1923 silent movie, “Safety Last.” The class began researching this movie star and discovered he was Harold Lloyd, a Nebraska native. Harold Lloyd’s story turned out to be a perfect fit with their other Nebraska history studies.

That school year, the students began communicating with Selznick and Suzanne Lloyd, Harold’s granddaughter. With support from Harold Lloyd Entertainment, the class created a silent film festival showing two of the films at Aurora’s 12th Street Cinema and one as a drive-in movie at York College. It was an unbelievable experience.

Jump Ahead to 2011—

These same 4th graders are now 7th graders and the story continues! Since they’d been corresponding with Selznick and Suzanne Lloyd yearly, Brian had written to them, telling about how his book was being adapted into a movie by Martin Scorsese and would be called “Hugo”. When the movie was released, the class was able to arrange for the York Sun Theater to reserve two theaters for their friends and family to view the movie!


But what most don’t know is that this same 4th grade class, now seniors, have continued sending their annual letters to Selznick and Lloyd, keeping in touch. In 2008, one of the students in their letter asked Selznick if he would consider coming to their graduation. He wrote back and said if things worked out, he would do it. Suzanne Lloyd was also asked to attend their future graduation.

If You Ask, They Will Come—

According to Ratzlaff, Selznick and Suzanne Lloyd will be flying into Omaha on Saturday evening and arriving in Henderson on Sunday, May 7, a few hours before the 2017 commencement ceremony. There will be time for a meet and greet with all their local Harold/Hugo fans.


Never underestimate the value of the written word. Heartland’s 2017 Senior Class knows first-hand how powerful their writing can be. Most students starting in elementary through senior high school are taught to read and write but not always with any real connection or personal purpose. Ratzlaff’s 2008 4th grade class is an outstanding example of how learning can sky rocket when meaning is attached!

What to say to your friend who’s fridge is empty…

No worries! The annual Henderson Home Show will fill you up with an early morning all you can eat pancake feed, HHCS Jr. Auxiliary Homemade Ice Cream, lunch by Perks, and Henderson Foodmart Hunt Brothers Pizza.


What to Read

The Meaning of Names
by Karen Gettert Shoemaker

This book was chosen as the 2016 One Book One Nebraska, and it was a worthy selection. Written by native Nebraskan Karen Shoemaker from Lincoln, it is set in pre World War I in rural Nebraska near Stuart, Nebraska. The Vogel family face the anti-German sentiment and the 1918 influenza epidemic while trying to raise a family and keep the farm afloat. Shoemaker’s prose is reminiscent of Willa Cather when describing both the beauty and hardship of Nebraska’s landscape. The story is based on some of Shoemaker’s own family stories who lived in Holt County. This is a great read and meaningful if you’re interested in Nebraska history.   

Word for the day:

\PED-uh-goh-jee, -goj-ee\
1.  the function or work of a teacher; teaching
2.  The art or science of teaching

“Suzanne Ratzlaff’s unique pedagogy made a long-lasting impression on her fourth graders.”



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