LSWHS student works behind the scenes to spread kindness and contribute to community

For approximately two years, a group of Lee’s Summit West High School students have worked together to spread kindness throughout their school, contribute to the community and raise awareness about important issues. Known as the Kindness Council, the organization began when student Christine Betts approached teacher Beth Cramer-Cumins with an idea for a new club.

Kindness Club members determine a monthly focus, such as charity, love or friendship, and the group’s approximately 30 members hand out random notes to students or staff members showing care and kindness at school. At LSW, the club also sponsors appreciation weeks for staff members in various areas such as custodians, paraprofessionals, secretaries, bus drivers and health room staff. To welcome new teachers, the organization presented small gifts to new employees as well new student teachers.

On cold days, club members can be found serving hot chocolate to students as they arrived at school. During finals, the group provides healthy snacks for students. Just recently, the Kindness Club distributed reusable water bottles at LSW in honor of April’s Earth Day.

Examples of outreach activities sponsored by the club include supporting Hope House, helping stock the Lee’s Summit Coldwater pantry with items needed by young children, providing books for underprivileged children, raising money for the American Cancer Society, packing and donating survival packs (featuring items such as water, healthy treats and soap) for homeless persons through Reconciliation Services and contributing school supplies and clothing for flood victims.

As part of efforts to raise awareness, the club highlights important issues such as homelessness, domestic violence, bullying, diversity and equality by providing information at LSWHS.

“All of this takes an extraordinary amount of dedication and planning, but we have a wonderful core group of students,” said Ms. Cramer-Cumins.

The Kindness Council works quietly in the background at the school and has not sought recognition, believing that the gift is in the giving.

Annually, the Kindness Club does step into the spotlight in order to raise funds for their charitable efforts. During spring 2014 and spring 2015, the club sponsored a faculty/student talent show designed to showcase talents of a wide variety of students and employees at LSWHS. The show is scheduled for April 24 at the school’s performing arts center, and all proceeds go directly to fund Kindness Council outreach programs.


Kindness Council members distribute reusable bottles at LSWHS on Earth Day.

Debbie Griffey of LS R-7 named Missouri Employee of the Year in School Nutrition

Debbie Griffey, production cook at Greenwood Elementary, was named Employee of the Year in apNutritionServicesAwardPhoto-GriffeySchool Nutrition by the School Nutrition Association. She will be honored at the association’s state conference in November 2015.

Ms. Griffey will also represent Missouri in regional and national competitions for Employee of the Year in School Nutrition Awards. The award recognizes non-managerial school nutrition employees for contributions they have made throughout their career. Candidates for the award are based on customer service skills, creativity, commitment to professional development and dedication to the school nutrition profession.

Ms. Griffey has worked for R-7 Nutrition Services for 14 years and has assisted with training new production staff within the department. At Greenwood Elementary, she works with the manager to do special themed events for the students and taste tests. She is also certified through the School Nutrition Association.

“Ms. Griffey comes to work every day with a positive attitude and has the students best interest in her heart,” said a colleague.

Dr. Sherri Lewis receives Missouri Association of School Librarians Service Award for School Administrators

Dr. Sherri Lewis, principal of Bernard Campbell Middle School, received the Missouri Association ofapBCMS-SherriLewis School Librarians Service Award for School Administrators April 20 at the organization’s state conference, held at Osage Beach. The award is presented to school administrators based on support of school library media services.

In the nomination, Dr. Lewis was praised for her support of the BCMS library, including its new MakerSpace as well as family events held at the school to highlight literacy.

“Dr. Lewis has been a strong supporter of embedding the library program as well as general literacy and research skills into the curriculum and classroom instruction,” said Nathan Miller, BCMS librarian. “She truly communicates explicitly and implicitly that the library is the center of learning and discovery in our building.”

Dr. Lewis has worked within the R-7 School District for 27 years. In addition to serving as principal at BCMS, she served as the school’s assistant principal, school improvement coordinator and language arts teacher. She has taught college-level courses at Avila University, North Central University and the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The BCMS principal earned her doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University, her master’s degree in secondary administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and her bachelor’s degree in secondary English education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Dr. Lewis has written several publications and grants and also served as a presenter at district, state and national conferences.

“Her passion is working with programs that increase student and teacher leadership, involvement and achievement,” Mr. Miller added. “She has traveled extensively with student educational groups and with the Lee’s Summit – Chinese exchange program.”

LS CARES to present Parenting the Love and Logic Way in June

Proven strategies for raising kids who are respectful, responsible and fun to be around

Lee’s Summit CARES will offer a Love and Logic™ Parenting Course from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Mondays, LSCares LogoJune 1 through June 29 at Lee’s Summit Community Church, 1440 SW Jefferson.

Parenting the Love and Logic Way, including an updated curriculum, is $42 per participant, and previous participants will pay just $10 for the new program manual. Those interested are asked to register by June 1.

Love and Logic is designed to help parents put an end to arguing, whining and backtalk while encouraging their children to listen and be more responsible and respectful. This course is facilitated by Kerri Gray, M.S., LMFT.

Love and Logic courses are offered in cooperation with the R-7 School District. For more information, contact Bev at ReDiscover at (816) 347-3259 or visit www.LSCares.Org. Scholarships are also available to qualifying residents who live within the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District.

State lawmakers discuss General Assembly session at LS R-7 Legislative Forum

Hosted by Citizens’ Advisory Committee and Business Roundtable

Public education funding and student transfer legislation were among the topics discussed at an April 16 Legislative Forum, sponsored by the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee and Business Roundtable. Legislators attending included Rep. Mike Cierpiot, Rep. Gary Cross, Sen. Paul LeVota and Rep. Rebecca Roeber.

The forum included brief introductions from each legislator. Citizens’ Advisory Committee and Business Roundtable members also had the opportunity to ask questions of the lawmakers.

Questions included education funding, transfers of students from unaccredited districts to accredited districts and the challenge Lee’s Summit R-7 will face if legislation is not addressed to correct a “double hold-harmless” flaw in the current foundation formula for public schools. Currently, school districts that are designated as “hold harmless” are protected from losses in state funding through a 2005 update to the state foundation formula as well as being protected from downturns in the economy that impact the formula. Lee’s Summit R-7, which is not categorized as a hold-harmless district by the state, will lose approximately $700,000 due to the hold-harmless aspect.

All state representatives and senators who serve portions of the 117-square-mile Lee’s Summit R-7 School District were invited. For more information about the school district’s legislative platform or to sign up for the district’s “R-7 Advocacy” e-newsletter, visit


Legislators (from left) Sen. Paul LeVota, Rep. Gary Cross, Rep. Mike Cierpiot and Rep. Rebecca Roeber discuss the 2015 Missouri General Assembly session.




apCAC-BRtForum-GroupMembers of the R-7 Citizens’ Advisory Committee and Business Roundtable ask questions of lawmakers.

SLMS student wins $1,000 Smart Kid Essay Contest

Faith McDonough, a seventh-grader at Summit Lakes Middle School, recently won the apSLMScreditUnionFaithMcDonoughCommunityAmerica Credit Union Money Smart Kid Essay Contest. The award included a $1,000 prize.

Faith was one of three winners from the Kansas City metropolitan area. Approximately 150 essays were submitted and reviewed by judges.

“All of this year’s applicants demonstrated a strong knowledge of college preparation, highlighting the important role of savings in avoiding the cycle of debt in adulthood,” said Amanda Clark of CommunityAmerica Credit Union.

R-7 students with special needs participate in LS Farmer’s Market every Wednesday through July 1

Students at The G.R.E.A.T. Program (Gaining Real-life Experience and Training) are learning mrGREATphotoFromMissyKuehnvaluable customer service and money skills through working at the Farmer’s Market.  At the market, students sell several items as a fundraiser to pay for various activities throughout the year.  These items are all made by the students with close supervision by the staff of The G.R.E.A.T. Program.

The following items are sold:  applebutter, personalized notepads, tortilla soup jars, cornbags (to be used as heating pads or ice packs), beaded keychains, breads (cinnamon, lemon poppy seed and banana) and cookies (peanut butter, monster cookies, oatmeal chocolate chip and snickerdoodles).

This year, the students are selling these fundraiser items at the Lee’s Summit Farmer’s Market each Wednesday from April 8 to July 1 from 7:30am to noon. If you cannot make it to the market but would like to order something, please contact Christina Taylor or Missy Kuehn at 986-1538 or through email at or

The G.R.E.A.T. Program appreciates all of the support we receive from district employees and the Lee’s Summit community, said a spokesperson. The G.R.E.A.T. Program is designed to assist students with disabilities aged 18-21 make a successful transition from R-7 student to productive adult and community member.

LSHS students win awards at Congressional Art Competition

Lee’s Summit High School art students won awards at the 2015 Congressional Art Competition, apLSHSartAwardsPhotohosted by Congressman Emanual Cleaver II and Diane Cleaver.  The awards ceremony was on April 11 at the Kansas City Public Library, Central Branch. Danah Bakdash, Dorthy Bertoncin, Ashley Byers, Chance Casey, Sammie Esquivel, Sara McDaniel, Jerrica Patterson, Haydan Roberts, Sierra Sargert, Kylea Smith, Emily Sparks, Jude Spaulding and Lauren Zellers received participation awards. Kylea Smith also received sixth place with the opportunity to have her artwork hang in Washington, D.C. Sammie Esquivel won first place and two free classes at the Kansas City Art Institute plus an all-expense-paid trip for two to Washington, D.C., sponsored by Southwest Airlines. In the nation’s capital, she will have a personal Congressional tour by Congressman Cleaver and her artwork will hang for a year in Washington, D.C. Pictured are (from left) two Southwest representatives, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Sammie Esquivel, Dianne Cleaver, and a representative from the Kansas City Art Institute.

Megan Chambers and Amy Taylor of LSWHS honored with Bright Idea Award by Missouri Association of School Librarians

Lee’s Summit West High School librarians Megan Chambers (left) and Amy Taylor are co-chairs for apLSWlibraryAwardChambersTaylorthe 2015 Missouri Association of School Librarians conference held in April at Tan-Tar-A Resort at the Lake of the Ozarks. During the conference over 800 school librarians gather from across the state for professional development in the areas of technology, literacy and 21st century learning. While at the conference, both Lee’s Summit West staff members will also be presented with the Bright Idea Award. This award is given each year to a librarian(s) who has initiated innovative ideas for a school library media program.

R-7 students qualify for state and national debate competitions

Several Lee’s Summit R-7 students qualified for state and national debate competition based on their performance at this season’s contests.

At Lee’s Summit High School, Johnathan Christy qualified for state and nationals in international extemporaneous speaking. Other state qualifiers from LSHS were Sean Atkins and Alexis Williams in public forum debate.

Additional LSHS students placing for the season included Jack Eames, national runner-up and semifinalist in United States extemporaneous speaking, fifth at districts in radio speaking and sixth in districts in United States extemporaneous speaking; Alicia Resch, seventh at districts in humorous interpretation; and Johnathan Christy and Tyler Behymer, fourth in policy debate at districts. The LSHS debate team also won the trophy for cumulative points at district. In addition, Derrick Webb ranked fourth and Johnathan Christy ranked eighth in the senate at the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) District Congress Tournament.

Lee’s Summit North High School students qualifying for national competition were Justin Cross, fourth at districts in United States extemporaneous speaking; Jasmine Jefferies, second in oratory at districts; Taylor Westbrook, second in international extemporaneous speaking at districts; Ben Gruenbaum, first in humorous interpretation and dramatic interpretation at districts (also qualified for state); Vance Kelley, first in United States extemporaneous speaking and Lincoln-Douglas Debate (also qualified for state in US extemporaneous). Since a student can only compete at nationals in one category, Ben will compete in humorous interpretation, and Vance will compete in Lincoln-Douglas. At the NSDA District Congress Tourney, Hannah White placed second in the senate and qualified for the Show Me District and Nationals.

Other finalists for nationals from LSNHS were Ike Okonkwo and Alexa Kemper, debate; Hannah White, debate; Tyler and Malissa Finley, duo interpretation (also qualified for state); Joseph Rogers, US extemporaneous speaking; Ike Okonkwo, oratory. LSNHS won first place in speech sweepstakes and second in overall sweepstakes at districts. Maleah Ahuja qualified for state in Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Other LSNHS finalists but not state qualifiers were Jasmine Jefferies, oratory; Ike Okonkwo, radio speaking; Taylor Westbrook, international extemporaneous; Zander Davidson, prose; and Sydney Wilson and Justin Cross, public forum debate.

LSNHS placed second in regional competition in mock trial, qualifying for state. Team members were Hannah White, Masie Taylor, Justin Cross, Jasmine Jefferies, Malissa Finley, Madeline Duncan, Sydney Wilson and Brenner Moor.

Lee’s Summit West High School students qualifying for national competition were Simone Jacoby and Sabrina Owings, Public Forum Debate; Zach Thornhill and Jacob Williamson, Policy Debate; Jaylen Wilson, Dramatic Interpretation; and Cameron Sims, Student Congress – Senate.

Finalists for nationals from Lee’s Summit West High School were Indy Cousin and Cassidy Dill, public forum debate; Kyle Helm, Lincoln-Douglas debate; Elisha Hundley, student congress; and Indy Cousin in United States extemporaneous speaking. LSWHS took first place in both debate and student congress sweepstakes.

Also from LSWHS, Cameron Sims and Camille Oster qualified for state in Lincoln-Douglas debate, Jaylen Wilson qualified for state in dramatic interpretation and Aleisha Hancock qualified for state in prose reading. Other LSWHS finalists but not state qualifiers were Jacob Russell, oratory; Matt Hall, international extemporaneous; Ashley Rogers and Jaylen Wilson, duet acting; Meg Cunningham, storytelling and Ashley Rogers and Indy Cousin, public forum debate.

State debate competition will be April 24-25 at Missouri State University, and national debate competition is June 15-19 in Dallas.

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