LINCOLN — Bernie Ludvik is a big fan of current events.
The substitute teacher at Crete (Neb.) Middle and High Schools used to start every class he’d be teaching for the day by asking, “So, do you want to hear some news?”
“He just had a fun way of expressing the news and teaching us about politics,” Crete sophomore Anna Flores said. “That’s not really a fun thing, but he made it like the best thing in the world.”
Ludvik, 65, wanted to be present for the making of some news in January: He planned to attend the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. He had even purchased tickets to the event back in September.
Ludvik, who taught civics at Crete Junior-Senior High for 25 years before becoming a substitute, was so excited about the trip that he couldn’t stop talking about it to students and staff when he’d sub, said Katie Wright, a Crete High English teacher.
But in a car crash on Nov. 26, Ludvik suffered a traumatic brain injury and multiple broken bones, including a broken leg.
He was flown by helicopter to Bryan Medical Center’s west campus in Lincoln.
The injuries made it impossible for Ludvik to travel to Washington.
Around the time of the inauguration, Wright said, “I thought, ‘Well, it just stinks that he had his dream just ripped out of his hands.’ On my way to work one day, I decided we should just pose this problem to the kids.”
In preparation for the upcoming state writing assessment, Wright and fellow English teacher Lara Kibler decided to have students combine their researching, networking and persuasive-writing skills to help Ludvik.
When they pitched the idea to their classes, students responded with an ultimate goal of getting Ludvik a face-to-face meeting with President Barack Obama. Wright and Kibler gave the students all of last week to work on the project.
On Feb. 4, a Facebook page titled “Get Well Soon Bernie Ludvik” went up. By Monday, more than 2,100 users had “liked” the page.
Students also tried to get #LudvikCampaign trending on Twitter. The hashtag was posted on the Twitter feeds of Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, former Husker I-back Rex Burkhead and Creighton basketball star Doug McDermott.
Throughout the school day, students worked on various aspects of the campaign to promote a potential meeting between Ludvik and the president.
Students also drafted letters to former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton; Nebraska’s U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer and Mike Johanns; and media outlets across the country. A petition also has been posted on the White House website.
Now the class portion of the campaign is over. But Flores said she and other students will continue to try to get Ludvik to the White House.
Students will keep posting on the Facebook page and sending out tweets on Ludvik’s behalf. The petition for him on the White House’s website will be up until March 9.
“We want to just keep talking about it so it doesn’t hit a dead end or anything,” Flores said.
Crete High School Principal Tim Conway worked with Ludvik for 17 years. Conway said he supports the efforts because of Ludvik’s dedication to students.
“The kids love him and he loves the kids,” Conway said. “He was one of the teachers who was here at 7 o’clock in the morning to meet with kids and he would stay here until 4:30 or 5 o’clock, just sitting out in the tables at the commons, just visiting with kids.”
Ludvik was out of the hospital for a while but had to go back early last week for treatment of acute kidney failure. Wright said he’s expected to recover.
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