Next Up Blog

We are so excited to announce the overall winners and finalists of our very first National Poetry Month youth poetry contest. We are including the winning poem from each group in this post, and we will have all of the finalists’ poems up on our website to read in the days to come.

A huge thank you to the wonderful judges from our poetry contest, Clark County Poet Laureate, Heather Lang-Cassera and Las Vegas native poet Alexsis Nueman. We appreciate the time and attention that they gave to being a judge, and are grateful for the feedback they provided. 

Our winners from each group are (the poems appear below):

Overall winner in Group 1, Malea Nishiyama “Deep Sea Adventure” (Faith Lutheran Academy)

Overall winner in Group 2, Kate Shoraga “When I get my world back” (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School)

Overall winner in Group 3, Landon Edwards “When the World Turns Again” (Homeschooled)


The finalists are:

Aspiring Poet (Group 1), NN (Nasri Academy for Gifted Children)

Aspiring Poet (Group 2), Isabelle Yucha (Pinecrest Academy Sloan Canyon)

Most Inspiring and Best Use of a Metaphor, Katelyn Rosales (Somerset Skye Canyon)

Best Voice with Purpose, Kelly McCloskey (Bob Miller Middle School)

Best Haiku, AG (Nasri Academy for Gifted Children)

Best use of rhyme, Violet Adams (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School)

Best use of rhythm, JF (Nasri Academy for Gifted Children)

Best use of sounds/consonants, OVD (Nasri Academy for Gifted Children)

Best use of imagery, Landon Mageau  (Pinecrest Horizon)

Best use of internal rhyme, AH (Nasri Academy for Gifted Children)

Best use of repetition, Lyric Mahoney (Pinecrest Horizon)

Best use of concrete language, Logan Calhoun (Pinecrest Horizon)


Scroll down to read the winning poems! We will have an update out soon with the time of the Facebook Poetry Reading. Look forward to “seeing” you there, and in the meantime, enjoy these poems!


Deep Sea Adventure 

Malea Nishiyama

Deep in the sea

I’m on a submarine 

I look for treasure

I’m so happy I could sing! 


When I get my world back 

Kate Shoraga

When I get my world back 

I won’t be as blue. 

When I get my world back 

I’ll go somewhere new. 

I’ll go to places, 

New and old. 

I’ll go somewhere different

 Or places untold. 

I’ll go to the mountains 

And look at the view. 

It’s so attractive, 

I’ll snap a picture or two. 

I’ll go to school, 

And get to class. 

I’ll greet my teacher, 

And have fun at last. 

People have died from corona, 

A spreading disease. 

So from now on, 

Cover your cough Please. 



When the World Turns Again

Landon Edwards

A tragedy struck our world,

No longer does it rotate.

All the people hold their breath,

Anxious and fearful they wait.

We’ve had some time to ourselves

To reflect on who we’ve been.

I decided who I’d seek to be

When the world turns again.

I want to be as Paul and Silas,

And all the saints so long ago.

Who, though opposition tried to stop them,

Kept telling others what they know.

These turned the world upside down,

Oh! What an honor it would be!

If someone said these exact words,

Said these words right to me.

But alas! I have not been faithful

In following my Best Friend.

So I won’t hesitate to share

When the world turns again.

When the panic calms itself,

The person I want to see,

Is the very one who needs my Lord,

So that Christ my Lord can use me.

My message is not popular;

This I knew from the start.

Oftentimes I worry much,

And sinking dread fills my heart.

Soon the world will turn again,

But this time in a different way.

For I’ll be bolder to share my faith,

That Jesus died to take sins away.

We love them. We miss them. We appreciate them. Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week, May 4th – 8th, and we are looking forward to celebrating teachers. This week, of course, will look a little different this year.  Our teachers are doing a remarkable job under difficult conditions and uncertain times. Hearing supportive expressions of appreciation from families like ours really matters to them right now.  

Here is our quick list of ideas to appreciate your teacher:

  1. Have your child draw a picture and/or write a note of appreciation to their teacher. You can snap a quick picture of the drawing and/or note, and email it to brighten your favorite teacher’s day.
  2. Send your teacher a virtual gift card. While it might not feel as personal as picking out a unique gift, it is still a great way for your teacher to feel appreciated!
  3. Create a video message for your classroom teacher by recording a video of your child thanking their teacher. If you have photos from classroom events throughout the year, creating a slideshow is another creative way to show your appreciation!
  4. Does your teacher have a project on DonorsChoose? DonorsChoose allows teachers to create projects for materials they need in the classroom. A donation to their project is a quick and easy way to get a teacher exactly what they want.
  5. Order your teacher’s favorite coffee or meal to go. Purchasing their favorite coffee or a meal, at a time that the teacher can pick up, takes a little coordination with your child’s teacher and is a sure way to help your teacher feel appreciated.

Do you have a favorite teacher that is doing something above and beyond that you would like to see recognized? We will be highlighting a few teachers next week at Nevada Action for School Options. Send the teacher’s name, grade level, and what unique thing they are doing right now to, and they might be featured on our social media next week!

April is National Poetry Month, and the Nevada Action for School Options office is excited to celebrate with a poetry contest and Facebook Poetry Reading Event with the finalists (videos will be pre-recorded by the finalists)! We want you to send us your poem for our National Poetry Month contest with the theme “When I Get My World Back.” The winner from each age group will receive a certificate and a prize!   


This contest is open to all students grades K-12.

Contest will be broken down to the following grade level groups, K-3, 4-7, 8-12.

One winner will be selected from each group.

There is no required format for your poem, however we do ask that your poem be inspired by the theme “When I Get My World Back” and include one of the following elements:

     A place you would like to visit

     A thing you would like to do

     A person you would like to emulate


All poems must be emailed to by the end of day April 30, 2020. Please include your name, age, grade, and city you live in when you submit your poem.

Finalists will be selected by our panel of VIP poets. All finalists will be notified by email. The finalists will be asked to send a video recording of themselves (with parent permission) reading their poem for our Poetry Reading Facebook event. The VIP panel will select one winner for each age group from the finalists.

Please contact Ashley at with any questions! We look forward to reading your poems!


The economic conditions facing families as a result of the COVID-19 health emergency threaten the very survival of many private schools, as the tuition checks that go to pay teachers, staff and rent are no longer arriving.

We support school choice — that is not the question before us however. It is a question of preserving a schools sector that has played a crucial historic role in the fabric of our nation.


Families are always crucial partners with their children’s schools. In these days when we are all schooling-from-home, families are more crucial partners than ever before. How do we know if our children are learning everything they will be responsible for mastering at their grade level?  

We’ve streamlined the Nevada Academic Content Standards into easy-to-follow summaries, by grade level, for English Language Arts and math. For parents who want more details, you can access the full content standards documents here. Whether your child attends district-run public schools, charter schools or most private schools, the content standards are the same.

For parents who want to learn more, we highly recommend the “What Your xxth Grader Needs to Know,” series of books by eminent education professor E.D. Hirsch, Jr., which are available from Amazon or directly from the Core Knowledge Foundation:

Here are the Kindergarten and First Grade standards. Over the coming weeks, we will be adding additional grade levels, so please check back. And please send us your questions, as always, to

Author’s note:  Over the past two years I have watched my now eleven-year-old daughter struggle with math. As I see her grades slipping, I wonder if she is truly learning and retaining everything she needs to know in order to be successful at the next grade level. Now that we have entered a time of remote online learning, I worry that she won’t be ready for next year. While she seems to be grasping the things being taught now better than she ever did inside a traditional classroom, there is still that nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me that next year is going to be an even bigger struggle than this one. So the big question is, what should she be mastering at her current grade level?

Kindergarten ELA/Reading

  • Ask and answer questions regarding key details in things they have read
  • Retell familiar stories, and include key details
  • Identify characters, settings and major events in their readings
  • Ask and answer questions about words they do not know
  • Ask questions with the intent of gaining understanding
  • Identify the author and illustrator, book cover and title page and explain what each does
  • Understand how print is organized (for example, following words from left to right and top to bottom)
  • Match book illustrations with the moments in the text they are portraying
  • Work in a group to read and discuss books that have been read
  • Compare and contrast basic similarities and differences of written works
  • Read common sight words (the, my, she, is, etc.)
  • Understand that written words represent spoken words, and that words are made up by combinations of letters
  • Understand basic grammar, such as capitalizing the first word in a sentence and being able to name punctuation
  • Identify all, and write most, letters of the alphabet, both upper- and lowercase
  • Use a blend of drawing, writing, and speaking to create a work that conveys their opinion, a series of events, or information
  • Understand syllables and sounds in words (for example, be able to rhyme)
  • Take turns in conversations, with both peers and adults
  • Able to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly when talking
  • Use plural nouns when speaking
  • Acquire vocabulary by realizing new meanings for familiar words
  • Recognize the opposite of some verbs
  • Use vocabulary acquired through conversations and being read to

Kindergarten Math

  • Count by ones and tens to 100
  • Count forward when starting somewhere other than 1
  • Write numbers from 0-20
  • Count objects
  • Understand that when counting objects, the total stays the same even if the order the objects are in changes
  • Compare objects
  • Be able to compare two written numbers between 1 and 10 
  • Displaying addition and subtraction by using objects, such as fingers, as well as mental images, drawings, clapping or other sounds
  • Understand and solve word problems containing addition or subtraction 
  • Understand that numbers can be made up of a variety of groupings ( 4 = 3 + 1 and  4 = 2 + 2)
  • Add and subtract up to 5 fluently
  • Describe and compare measurable attributes
  • Place objects into categories (food, shapes, etc.) and count the objects in each category
  • Recognize and describe shapes
  • Compare and contrast shapes

1st Grade ELA/Reading

  • Read and understand grade-level informational text 
  • Ask and answer questions about key details in written texts
  • Retell stories and informational texts, with key details to describe setting, events and characters, as well as prove comprehension of the message of the text
  • Use illustrations to describe characters, settings, and events
  • Identify who is telling the story at a variety of points throughout the story
  • Identify words and phrases in texts that suggest feelings
  • Explain major differences between works of fiction and nonfiction texts
  • Compare and contrast stories, including the experiences of the characters, or two texts written on the same topic
  • Recognize details used by an author to support the point
  • Describe the connections between two pieces of informational texts, including individuals, events or ideas
  • Read grade-level poetry
  • Ask and answer questions to determine the meaning of words and and phrases, as well as using context clues
  • Use features of a text to find information in a text, for example, table of contents, glossary, etc.
  • Identify information provided by illustrations and pictures, as well as information from the words in a text
  • Identify the basic features of a sentence
  • Understand long and short vowel sounds in single-syllable words
  • Blend sounds to say single-syllable words
  • Break single-syllable words up into their complete sequence of individual sounds
  • Able to take apart one syllable words by matching letters to sounds
  • Understand vowel team conventions for long vowel sounds
  • Recognize vowels in syllables, and how to count syllables
  • Identify the the corresponding spelling to sounds for common consonant letter blends, such as sh, ch, and th
  • Read words that end in -ing, -ed, -es, -s
  • Identify grade-appropriate words that do not follow a common phonics pattern
  • Read grade-level texts out loud with accuracy at an appropriate rate of speed
  • Use context in the text to self-correct misread words
  • Write structured opinion pieces that include the topic, an opinion, the reason for the opinion, and a closing.
  • Write structured informative texts that include the topic, facts, and a closing.
  • Write a narrative that retells at least two events in the proper order, and includes details, temporal words for event order, and a closing.
  • Respond to questions and suggestions from peers regarding a topic, and use those conversations to add details to their writing 
  • Research, and write about, a topic (for example, have your child read a “how to” book and write sequence of instructions)
  • Recall information from experiences, or use information contained in provided sources, to answer questions
  • Participate in grade-level discussions by listening, taking turns talking, asking and answering questions, in a manner that builds on what others have said
  • Express ideas clearly when speaking by using descriptions of people, places, things and events
  • Clarify verbal ideas with drawings or other visuals when needed
  • Print all letters of the alphabet, both upper- and lowercase
  • Use nouns appropriately (common, proper, possessive, singular and plural)
  • Use personal possessive pronouns
  • Use verbs to show past, present, and future
  • Use frequently occurring adjectives, conjunctions, and prepositions
  • Use determiners (words used to introduce a noun, for example, the cookie, a bunny)
  • Form complete declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences
  • When writing, capitalize dates and names, use end punctuation, use commas in dates and to separate single words in a series, correctly spell frequently used words, spell unknown words phonetically
  • Sort words into categories (colors, clothing, food)
  • Define words by category and one or more attribute (a lizard is a reptile that has legs)
  • Recognize the real-life connections between words and the way they are used
  • Understand different meanings of verbs used in different manner (look, peek, glance, stare)
  • Use vocabulary acquired from conversations, reading, and being read to

1st Grade Math

  • Solve word problems involving addition and subtraction up to 20 by using objects, drawings, and equations to represent the problem
  • Solve word problems that call for adding of three whole numbers
  • Use properties of operations as a strategy to solve problems (if 7 + 3 = 10, then 3 + 7 = 10)
  • Be able to solve subtraction as an unknown-addend (10-4, find the number that can be added to 4 to make 10)
  • Relate counting to addition and subtraction 
  • Fluently add and subtract up to 20
  • Know the meaning of the equal sign, and determine if addition and subtraction equations are true or false (3 = 3, 5 + 2 = 7, 4 – 2 = 2)
  • Find an unknown whole number in an addition or subtraction equation that involves 3 whole numbers (7 + ? = 12, 3 + 4 = ?, 8 = ? – 5)
  • Count, read, and write numbers up to 120 starting with a number other than 1
  • Understand place value of ones and tens
  • Properly use >, =, and < to compare numbers
  • Add within 100, including adding two-digit and one-digit numbers
  • Find 10 more or 10 less than any given number without having to count
  • Subtract multiples of 10 in the range of 10-90 
  • Organize three objects by length, compare length of objects
  • Measure and express lengths as a whole number of length units (the pencil is 3 paper clips long)
  • Use analog and digital clocks to tell and write time in hours and half-hours
  • Organize, show, and interpret data with up to three categories
  • Recognize the difference between defining attributes (squares have four sides) and non-defining attributes (color)
  • Draw two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes, combine these shapes to make new shapes
  • Divide circles and rectangles into 2 and 4 equal parts, use wholes, halves, and quarters to describe the parts

Stay tuned, Nevada Action for School Options will be adding Nevada Content Standards summaries for other grade levels in the days and weeks to come.