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Lee’s Summit R-7 Community Connections

SLMS teacher Jewelee Lukowski donates time to help guide children through grief journey 

(Lee’s Summit R-7 Community Connections highlights the many contributions to the community made by school district employees. If you would like to recommend an R-7 employee for this feature, please send the employee’s name and a few sentences about how he or she contributes to the community to Janice Phelan at Contributions featured should be made by the employee in an area outside of the staff member’s job.)

Jewelee Lukowski, Summit Lakes Middle School art teacher, shares her artistic talents and her compassion for others to help children cope with loss as a volunteer for Solace House. For the past seven years, Mrs. Lukowski has facilitated a support group for 10- to 12-year-old boys at Solace House, a grieving center for children, individuals and families who have experienced the death of a loved one.

“The program is designed to guide the kids through the grief journey and provide coping skills,” Mrs. Lukowski said. “The kids share, listen, learn and heal.”

The Lee’s Summit R-7 teacher uses a curriculum that incorporates art therapy to help children honor their loved ones and manage their emotional issues while creating a work of art.

Mrs. Lukowski first became involved in Solace House following a difficult year at her school when both a staff member and a student passed away. At the same time, she was serving as School Assistance Program (SAP) chairperson for SLMS. At a meeting for SAP representatives, she heard a presentation from Solace House officials about how the organization could serve as a resource for students.

“After hearing about Solace House, I knew that it was a place I wanted to be a part of,” Mrs. Lukowski added.

At Solace House, she said she is grateful to be able to help the children get a little bit closer to finding happiness during the weekly sessions.

“You cannot imagine the variety of experiences these children bring to the group,” she said. “Some are so horrific that I go home and cry. The amazing part is these young boys help each other because they have something so difficult in common.”

Children involved in the program do not typically have friends to talk to about their loss, Mrs. Lukowski said. “It is awesome the relationships that are built and the things that these kids share with each other. Usually, the entire family are involved in groups on the same evening so they can be healing together.”

Mrs. Lukowski added that Solace House is the only organization of its kind in the Midwest. Owned by KC Hospice, Solace House provides its services at no cost.

“We are so lucky to have this non-profit organization in our community,” she said. “It is located in Kansas City, but I have had numerous children from Lee’s Summit and even several who attend my school in my group.”

For more information about Solace House, visit

Jewelee Lukowski’s photograph is included as well as her van Gogh style self-portrait.





Dan Barnes named Lee’s Summit R-7 Learning for Life Award winner for September

Dan Barnes was named the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Learning for spLFLdanBarnesLife Award winner for September. He is a sixth-grade teacher at Trailridge Elementary School.

The award is presented to one employee each month who is nominated by co-workers and selected by a staff committee.

“Dan is a great community leader,” said a colleague. “He organized a scout group to prepare an outdoor classroom. This facility has been a big hit with the school and community.”

Cedar Creek Elementary celebrates new track

Cedar Creek Elementary celebrated the opening of the school’s new one-eighth-mile track during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 4. Joining in the celebration were Cedar Creek teachers, students and families along with special guests Dr. David McGehee, R-7 superintendent; the Chiefs KC Wolf; Sluggerrr of the Kansas City Royals; Jen Opie, principal; Michele Bilton, past PTA president; and Angela Fite, new PTA president.

During 2012 and 2013, Cedar Creek students, families, staff members and business partners raised money to build the track, designed for both school and community use. PTA selected the track as the organization’s fundraising goal after it obtained the highest level of support on a 2012 PTA survey regarding major fundraising projects.

Money was raised during two walk-a-thons with a third walk planned for Sept. 26 to celebrate the track opening. Together, the families of Cedar Creek raised more than $38,000 for the track. Cedar Creek also won $10,000 from the NFL and Kansas City Chiefs as part of Fuel Up to Play 60.

The goal of the Cedar Creek Elementary fundraisers are to promote a healthy lifestyle for children while encouraging them to be involved in supporting the school. Fundraiser themes included “I stormed the Cedar Creek Walk-a-thon” during the first year, “Rock the Walk” the second year and “Walk on the Wild Side” for this year.

The work on the track was completed during spring 2014. Although the vast majority of the funding was raised by the families of Cedar Creek, completing the project a year early enabled the school to receive over $7,000 of additional assistance from other partners—both cash and in-kind donations.

Fundraising also included several prizes based on meeting fundraising goals such as turning physical-education teacher Ryan Miller into a human ice cream sundae, throwing whipped cream pies at Mr. Miller and Mrs. Opie, ice-cream sundae parties and iPad and iPod drawings.

The priority of the Cedar Creek PTA is the education and well-being of every student at Cedar Creek. “We believe the track will enrich the wellness of students at Cedar Creek and provide greater resources for our physical education department,” said a PTA spokesperson. “But, we never want this to be to the exclusion of other academic programs that we support. This year we are fundraising for technology improvements including replacing Smart Board screens and projectors. A big thank you to all our teachers, staff, families, students, business sponsors and the KC Chiefs for their support of the Cedar Creek PTA and Cedar Creek Elementary. We are so thankful for all that they do!”

spCCEtrackKCWolfWithKidsKC Wolf was a special guest at the track celebration.








spCCEtrackMcGeheeSlugggerOpieDr. David McGehee and Jen Opie with Sluggger.










KC Wolf and Sluggerrr were among special guests at the track celebration.

LSNHS celebrates homecoming

Students, staff and families celebrated homecoming with the annual Lee’s Summit North High School parade Sept. 4 in downtown Lee’s Summit. The LSNHS Homecoming football game is Sept. 5 with the dance on Sept. 6. This is Lee’s Summit North’s 20th anniversary, and the theme for homecoming was “20 Year Rewind – Throwback to the 90s.”



























LSWHS to host annual Holiday Mart Dec. 13

Lee’s Summit West High School is hosting the fourth annual Holiday Mart from 9 a.m. ChristmasBoxesto 4 p.m. Dec. 13 at the school, 2600 Ward Road.

The Holiday Mart Committee is currently accepting vendor applications. To obtain a vendor application please email Karen Johnson at The fee to rent a booth is $50. The vendor booths have increased from 50 vendors the first year to over 80 vendors the second and third year.

Sponsoring organization for the popular event is the Lee’s Summit West Journalism Parents Group. Proceeds from the event benefit the journalism program including senior scholarships, equipment for the program and program needs.

High school journalism students will be on hand to assist vendors in loading and unloading during set up/take down times. Each vendor is asked to donate an item for a donation/give away during the event. Size of booths are eight feet by 10 feet, and vendors are asked to provide their own table and display or table rentals are available for rent. For additional information please email Karen Johnson at

LSNHS students participate in state-wide constitutional law sessions

Thanks to a successful partnership with The Missouri Bar Citizenship Education Program, 30 Lee’s Summit North High School student leaders participated in comprehensive sessions focused on current constitutional law issues during a Sept. 11 event.

Through the LSN partnership with The Missouri Bar program, the Bar provides extensive support for classroom learning about the law, the legal system and the courts. The school receives lesson plans, supplementary reading materials and teacher workshops.

Student leaders from LSNHS were invited to attend the Sept. 11 annual meeting of The Missouri Bar at the Sheraton Crown Center in downtown Kansas City. The students were nominated by teachers throughout the school on the basis of their academics, leadership qualities and interest in the law and government.

Students attending were seniors Collin Bates, Emily Bridges, Brennen Dooley, Paige Edson, Kristofer Frostestad, Bryce Gibson, Ben Gruenbaum, Zachary Hitchcock, Jasmine Jefferies, Victoria Kelley, Nolan Lamb, Austin Le, Caitlin McCord, Taylor Morrison, Kody Negri, Archit Pramanik, Erica Serrone, Greg Sheets, Gabrielle Von Collins, Conor Wehrwein, Simone Wells, Hannah White and Alexandra Worth; juniors Lindsay Conchola, Ian De Boer, Vance Kelley and Jonghae Lee; and sophomores Maleah Ahuja, Austin Alvidrez and Miriam Merritt.

These student leaders represent various groups and organizations throughout the school, including Air Force Junior ROTC, Debate Team, International Baccalaureate, varsity football, Student Senate, Youth-in-Government, the International Thespian Society, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, LSN Band and Orchestra, Bronco Smart and other high school clubs and activities. Staff members attending were Tavish Whiting, American government teacher; Brian Glenski, American government teacher, Paula Keltner, Lee’s Summit R-7 social studies coordinator; and Dr. Jeff Meisenheimer, LSNHS principal.

Students were given an opportunity to attend two plenary sessions hosted by The Missouri Bar as a part of their required continuing education program for attorneys throughout the state. Each 90-minute session covered major constitutional issues facing citizens and states today. Attorneys generally pay a fee to attend each of these sessions, but The Missouri Bar waived all fees for students and teachers. Furthermore, The Missouri Bar fully funded the transportation, substitute teachers and other fees related to the event.

The first plenary session concerned the issue of same-sex marriage and the conflicting landscape currently present in the legal system. Since the landmark Supreme Court decision Windsor v. United States (2013), there have been a wide range of legal changes and questions throughout the country. A panel of law professors and attorneys discussed a variety of legal issues impacted by the Windsor case including retirement, spousal benefits, dependent care, federal and state tax laws, child benefits, funeral arrangements, probate, same-sex divorces and the Affordable Care Act. The repercussions of the Windsor decision by the Supreme Court, along with the various conflicting state and federal laws, has made the same-sex legal situation a major constitutional issue today, sparking litigation throughout Missouri and the nation. The session was moderated by the Honorable Michael A. Wolff, dean of the Saint Louis University School of Law and former chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court.

The second plenary session concerned the constitutional issue of privacy. The panel included a member of the United States Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a distinguished author and law professor from Washington University of St. Louis and two attorneys who specialize in data security and electronic privacy issues in the private sector. Issues discussed concerned areas of intellectual privacy, protection of records, concerns with the Internet, data mining, cloud issues, technological advances and surveillance by state and federal government authorities. The panel was moderated by Ellen Y. Suni, dean of the School of Law of the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Lee’s Summit North students were then invited on a tour of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, by the Honorable Judge Alok Ahuja. Students were given a history of the building, an explanation of the purpose and function of the Court of Appeals and an overview of the Missouri Plan process of electing Missouri judges.

Afterwards, students were given a rare opportunity to have a private question-and-answer with two judges from the Missouri Supreme Court. The Honorable Laura Denvir Stith and the Honorable Paul Wilson answered questions about themselves, their duties and their views on various issues. Students asked questions about each judge’s motivation for going into law, the process of hearing cases, the relationship between the state and federal court systems, and their views on the importance of the high court’s role in society.

Four Lee’s Summit North student leaders were selected by The Missouri Bar as Outstanding Student Leaders. Seniors Kristofer Frostestad, Zachary Hitchcock, Jasmine Jefferies and Victoria Kelley were all invited to a special opening luncheon with the chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, the Honorable Mary R. Russell. The luncheon included the Address of the Chief Justice to The Missouri Bar, presentations of awards to outstanding jurists throughout the state and the “passing of the gavel” from the outgoing president of the organization to the new president, sworn in by the Honorable Richard B. Teitelman of the Supreme Court.

The Lee’s Summit North student leaders had an enriching educational experience at the event hosted by The Missouri Bar. Several students asked questions of the panelists during the plenary sessions alongside attorneys and legal scholars. Ms. Suni, the dean of the School of Law at UMKC, commented that the LSNHS students asked questions “more relevant” than many of the attorneys present in the session. In all, the experience of this meeting and the exposure to constitutional scholars and experts, gave the Lee’s Summit North student leaders an experience of a lifetime, adding enriching component to their education, said LSN staff members.































LSWHS volleyball to present seventh annual Dig for the Cure Sept. 17

The Lee’s Summit West High School volleyball team will host its seventh annual Dig for the Cure fundraiser Sept. 17 at the LSWHS stadium. LSW will compete against Lee’s Summit High School with games as follows: 3:30 p.m. for freshmen, 5:30 p.m. for junior varsity and 6:30 p.m. for varsity.

The event will raise money for Be the Match, the leader in bone-spDigForCureShirtGraphicmarrow transplantation, and Cancer Action, a community-based agency offering support, education, empowerment, hope and comfort to those touched by cancer.

Dig for the Cure will transform the LSW football field into an outdoor volleyball arena, providing a special setting for the two high school teams to work together to support a worthy cause.

At the event, the teams will celebrate cancer survivors and fighters as well as honor the memory of those lost to this disease in a procession onto the field and a balloon release. Players will pay tribute to LSW graduate Rebecca Hertzog as she continues her fight against cancer and sponsor a Bone Marrow Match Donor Registry Drive the night of the event. All cancer survivors and fighters are welcomed to join the procession.

Event T-shirts are $10 prior to the event, and free admission is included for those wearing the shirt to the match. To purchase shirts, contact The silent auction will feature a John Deere 4000 watt gas generator, John Deere push mower, Dig for the Cure quilt, Chiefs and Worlds of Fun tickets and more.

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Special Services to host informational meeting Sept. 18 for parents who homeschool their children

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Special Services Department will hold an informational meeting for parents who home school their children or who enroll their children in private/parochial schools. The purpose of the meeting is to provide information on how they may access special education services if needed.

This meeting will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. Sept. 18 in the Loyalty Conference Room located at the Stansberry Leadership Center, 301 NE Tudor Road, Lee’s Summit.

R-7 high school Music Parents to host annual ice-cream social fundraisers on Sept. 8, 9 and 16

Lee’s Summit North High School, Lee’s Summit High School and Lee’s Summit West High School BXP49625Music Parents are each hosting an annual ice cream social and fundraiser during September.

The 20th annual LSNHS event will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Sept. 8 at the school’s Bronco Activity Complex. Cost of the LSN ice cream social is $8 and includes hot dog, chips, drink and ice cream. Additional items and merchandise are also available for purchase at the event. Performing during the event will be the Symphony Orchestra, the Bronco Marching Band and Crimson Colors and multiple choirs.

The 11th annual LSWHS ice cream social will be from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 9 in the LSW courtyard. Tickets for a meal are $5 and include a hot dog or hamburger, chips and a drink. Tickets for dessert are $5 and include a water, ice cream and assorted desserts. Please contact if you have a specific dietary request. The LSWHS Concert Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Titan Pride Marching Band, Freshman Women’s Choir, Men’s Choir, Women’s Choir, Una Voce and Concert Choir will perform beginning at 6 p.m.

The 34th annual LSHS ice-cream social will be 5 to 8 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Lee’s Summit Dairy Queen, Fourth and Douglas streets in downtown Lee’s Summit. Tickets are $3, and include an ice-cream sundae, cookies and soda. Performance schedule will be 5:30 p.m. for orchestra, 6 p.m. for band, and 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. for choirs.

The annual ice-cream socials are a popular tradition for R-7 School District high school music groups. Tickets are being sold by R-7 music students and are also available the evening of the event.

Music performances by each high school’s band, choir and orchestra groups are included. The ice cream social is a major fund-raiser for the music programs and assists with general music expenses throughout the year.

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District meets proposed criteria for state’s top accreditation through MSIP 5 accountability system

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District is on track to earn the state’s top designation for academic achievement following the Aug. 29 release of Missouri assessment scores. This is the 14th year in a row that the R-7 School District has qualified for the state’s accredited with distinction status, which has been available for 14 years.

Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is implementing a new state report card for public schools, and the state’s board of education has yet to finalize criteria for the top accreditation level, known as accredited with distinction. But based on the Lee’s Summit R-7 score on the 2013-14 Annual Performance Report (APR), the local school district would qualify for the preliminary criteria for this highest recognition. Lee’s Summit R-7 received a total of 129.5 out of a possible 140 points on the APR, earning 92.5 percent.

The Annual Performance Reports (APR) are included in the Missouri School Improvement Program accountability system (MSIP 5). The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education introduced a new state-wide grade card for public school districts during 2013.

The most recent Annual Performance Report, based on the 2013-14 school year, continues a tradition of R-7 School District student success. The local district has met qualifications for the state’s highest recognition for academic achievement for 14 years, which is as long as the top designation has existed.

“Meeting the state’s benchmarks for Missouri’s top recognition year after year is a noteworthy accomplishment, and we are grateful to our district’s educators, our students and their families,” said Dr. David McGehee, R-7 superintendent. “While we are pleased with the results and the strong Annual Performance Report score, we have seen dips in some areas and will be closely examining all results to determine how we can make improvements that will both impact test scores and, more importantly, ensure that our students are successful.”

Although the state assessments are an important component in measuring school districts, Dr. McGehee emphasized that they are one of many methods used to determine success.

“Performance on an annual state test tells you no more about the success of your schools than taking your temperature once a year does about the state of your overall health,” he said.

“The state tests definitely have their value, and our school district and school leaders will continue to analyze the student performance data to evaluate trends, identify areas for growth and opportunities to enhance student learning,” Dr. McGehee said.

“Missouri is known throughout the United States for its high standards for academic performance on state assessments,” the R-7 superintendent added, “and we can be especially proud that our schools are performing well in a state with such rigorous standards.”

MSIP 5 is designed to show how well each public school district is meeting the state’s education standards and is used to review and accredit Missouri school districts. Although Lee’s Summit R-7 scores have placed the district among the state’s top districts for many years, staff members are constantly focused on improvement. R-7 educators use the MSIP 5 information and other accountability measures to enhance learning and academic achievement for each student.

Like all Missouri districts, Lee’s Summit R-7 is in a transition phase as part of the state-wide conversion to the new Missouri Learning Standards. Numerous districts within Missouri, as well as other states, saw declines in test scores during this transition to the new standards.

The MSIP 5 Annual Performance Report includes five major standards – academic achievement, subgroup achievement, college and career ready, attendance and graduation rates – and R-7 students scored well in all five categories.

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