Vance Kelley of LSNHS earns top score on ACT college admissions exam

Less than one-tenth of 1 percent earn a ‘perfect 36’

Vance Kelley, a senior at Lee’s Summit North High School, earned a top composite score of 36 on a nvLSNperfectACT-VanceKelleyrecent ACT college admissions exam. Nationally, while the actual number of students earning a composite score of 36 varies from year to year, on average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earns the top score. Among test takers in the high school graduating class of 2014, only 1,407 of nearly 1.85 million students achieved a composite score of 36.

The son of Mitchell and Cynthia Kelley, Vance is active in debate and National Honor Society at LSNHS. After high-school graduation, he plans to attend college and double major in mathematics and philosophy or political science.

Just a handful of Lee’s Summit R-7 students have achieved a 36 on the ACT over the past several decades.

The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1-36, and a student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. Some students also take ACT’s optional Writing Test, but the score for that test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT composite score.

ACT test scores are accepted by all major U.S. colleges. Exceptional scores of 36 provide colleges with evidence of student readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.


LS R-7 superintendent’s blog featured in national magazine

A blog written by Dr. David McGehee, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District superintendent, was selected forBlog Graphic 2015 the “Best of the Blogs” feature in School Administrator. The blog highlighted in the national magazine is titled “Despite headlines, today’s educators conquer great odds to produce top results.”

The section of Dr. McGehee’s article highlighted in the national magazine states, “And for the policymakers, hear our plea for real support in a collaborative culture to improve our schools in lieu of the existing culture of punishment and, what at times seems to model the national agenda to see the death of the ever-successful American Institution known as public education.”

The superintendent’s featured blog included praise for American educators and schools, emphasizing that public schools and their students are achieving more today than ever before, despite misrepresentation from public education’s critics.

Dr. McGehee has published his superintendent’s blog since 2011, and this is the second time his blog excerpts have been featured in School Administrator. His blogs may be found at

School Administrator is published by the American Association of School Administrators. The award-winning monthly magazine is delivered to thousands of public school superintendent in the United States.  

Burns & McDonnell engineers kick off new Explorers program with Campbell Middle School

Two engineers from Burns & McDonnell gave 25 students a close-up look into electrical engineering during an Oct. 28 visit to the school. Through a new Explorers program, students are working with Burns & McDonnell engineers after school once each month to gain a sneak peek into various careers in engineering. This month the middle school students worked in groups to do reverse engineering on a solar calculator. Students also worked with several machines, including the Van De Graaff generator and the Tesla coil.
nvBCMSengineersBoysWorkingStudents working to reverse engineer solar calculators are (from left) Max Bilton, Alec St. John and Zachary Davies.





nvBCMSengineersSmilesStudents identifying parts and functions of electrical components are (from left) Grace Tohill, Katie Mead and Kali Kirkpatrick.

Seeking applicants to help develop LS R-7 Comprehensive School Improvement Plan

Deadline to submit application for strategic planning team is Dec. 11

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District is currently seeking applicants interested in helping develop the next five-year Comprehensive School Improvement Plan. The team will be working on the five-year plan during the months of February, March, April and May. The plan will cover 2016 through 2021.

Applicants should be available to attend team meetings planned for 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 and March 9 and 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 11 and 12 and May 9 and 10. The school district is seeking stakeholders who have the following characteristics:

  • A willingness to see beyond personal perspectives or single agendas while viewing the district with a global pre-kindergarten through high school lens.
  • A mindset and attitude for innovation, improvement and change where needed.
  • A positive mindset and attitude about moving student learning forward in the district.
  • A willingness to listen first to understand complex issues, information and the views of others, combined with the ability to share thoughts in an understandable way.
  • A creative and problem-solving mindset and attitude.

To obtain an application, please contact Amanda Russell at or (816) 986-1027. Deadline to submit an application is Dec. 11.  To view a copy of the district’s existing strategic plan, visit our website at and select “Comprehensive School Improvement Plan” under “Trending Topics.”


LS R-7 Nutrition Council collects six pallets of items to donate to Hope House

The Lee’s Summit R-7 Nutrition Council recently completed a record-breaking community-service project, donating six pallets of items to Hope House. The group conducts two drives for charitable organizations each year, and students made the decision to donate to Hope House for their first project.

During the fall, Nutrition Council student members and their advisers led efforts at their schools to collect women’s clothing, children’s clothing and toys with all 18 schools participating.

In the photos, Sunset Valley Nutrition Council members pose with items collected at their school and a number of items are pictured at the warehouse.


Westview Elementary participates in engineering mentoring program

Westview Elementary students recently participated in a mentoring program offered through a grant with Black & Veatch and KCPT. Select schools in the Kansas City metropolitan area are taking part in a three-session program with local engineers.

The first session focused on construction of a water tower using spaghetti noodles, string, masking tape and a marshmallow. During the second session, students will construct electrical circuits. The sessions are designed to help students learn more about careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.


LSHS students learn about International Space Station thanks to volunteer

Students in Diana McClain’s and Kevin White’s life skills reading classes at Lee’s Summit High School recently participated in a unique learning opportunity involving a guest expert. Bob Riddle, a substitute teacher within the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, shared his expertise as a former planetarium director with the students, helping them work on reading and research strategies.

The lesson topic was the International Space Station, and Mr. Riddle volunteered to help the students participate in a project called EarthKam. The students researched background information on the International Space Station after reading articles. Mr. Riddle shared his knowledge about the station and displayed the available orbits for the upcoming week.

Using their research, the students selected locations along the station’s route that they believed would have interesting terrain. The students then placed requests for the station to take photos as it traveled over the requested latitude and longitude.

A week later, Mr. Riddle returned and shared the station’s results as well as brief videos about life on the International Space Station. Students are continuing to work in groups to research remaining questions. Plans call for the students to request additional photographs during the station’s next viewing window, which will happen in 2016.

In addition to volunteering at LSHS, Mr. Riddle works with seventh-grade students at Summit Lakes Middle School and third- and fourth-grade students at Prairie View Elementary.


Mason Elementary wins grand prize in Kansas City’s Battle of the Brains

Local school receives $50,000 grant and their entry will become a million-dollar exhibit at Science City

Mason Elementary students won the grand prize in Burns & McDonnell’s Battle of the Brains, a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competition open to schools throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area. At a ceremony held Nov. 18 at Union Station, it was revealed that Mason’s proposal, called “Not-So-Simple Simple Machines Playground,” won a $50,000 prize as the grand prize winner.

In addition, Mason’s proposal will be transformed into a million-dollar outdoor exhibit at Kansas City’s Science City. Students in Jenny Reidlinger’s gifted classes at Mason designed the school’s entry, an exciting exploration of simple and compound machines. Students developing the proposal included Zyza Cooley, Ben Guthrie, Paden Cole, Myah Frashier, Eden Wheeler, Selah Wheeler, Bella Washburn, Julia Washburn and Reagan Parker.

The Mason exhibit features a variety of larger-than-life machines, such as a tornado slide that looks like a giant screw, a pulley-powered zip line seat and a giant tire with an axle to perform as a merry-go-round. Visitors would test physics on seesaws and explore effort and resistance force with different levers.

“Now the fun really begins!” said Greg Graves, chairman and CEO of Burns & McDonnell. “One of the coolest parts of winning Battle of the Brains is getting the opportunity to work alongside our STEM professionals over the next year to see their classroom dream come to life. In just a matter of weeks, these elementary students will be sitting in a meeting with our engineers, architects and construction team at Burns & McDonnell to create the next permanent exhibit at Science City.”

Two other Lee’s Summit R-7 schools were among 20 finalists in this year’s Battle of the Brains. Longview Farm Elementary’s entry, “It’s All in Your Head,” and Summit Technology Academy’s entry, “Nature’s Fault,” each earned a $2,500 grant through the competition.

The popular science competition attracted record participation this year:  5,300 students and 520 entries from 210 schools. A panel of experts in science, engineering and academia ranked the entries according to set criteria that ranged from creativity to interactive capability. The public was invited to cast votes for their favorite of the top 20 finalists online, which counted for 30 percent of the final scoring. This year, more than 70,000 people cast their votes online.

“As part of our Western Expansion, Union Station is growing Kansas City’s world-class Science Center outdoors for the first time,” said George Guastello, president and CEO of Union Station. “That exciting new STEM-focused space will feature this latest Battle of the Brains award-winning concept. What a thrill it will be for these students – and for all of us – to see their ideas take shape and become a real centerpiece at this historic destination. And it should not be a surprise that student-inspired exhibits from past Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains competitions have ignited an energy and enthusiasm for Science City resulting in year-after-year double-digit attendance growth and internationally awarded recognition.”

Burns & McDonnell introduced the Battle of the Brains competition in 2011 to spark greater interest in STEM education. The competition has produced three interactive exhibits at Science City, valued at more than $2 millions. Over the last four years, more than 10,000 metro students have participated in the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains.

“Students are telling us that their experience in Battle of the Brains helped them look at STEM differently. Now, those same kids are engineering majors in college,” added Mr. Graves, who points to statistics showing that in less than three years, more than 2 million STEM jobs in the U.S. will remain unfilled because there won’t be enough qualified candidates to fill them. “Our goal — our obligation — is to give kids a new perspective on STEM education and inspire them to go after their dreams. I can’t wait to fulfill my dream of hiring the first Battle of the Brains alum at Burns & McDonnell. That day, I know, is coming soon.”

nvMasonBattleOfBrainsAtCeremonyMason’s team reacts as they learn they have won the grand prize at the awards ceremony.






nvMasonBattleOfBrainsGreetingMason students prepare to greet the award-winning team as they step off the bus.





nvMasonBattleOfBrainsWalkOfFameWinning students from Mason Elementary are greeted by the entire school after the surprise announcement.






nvMasonBattleBrainsGroupBySchoolMason’s winning students pictured with teacher Jenny Reidlinger are (front row, from left) Julia Washburn, Eden Wheeler, Selah Wheeler, (middle row, from left) Paden Cole, Myah Frashier, Zyza Cooley, (back row, from left) Ben Guthrie, Bella Washburn and Reagan Parker.

LS R-7 Elementary Nutrition Council elects officers

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Elementary Nutrition Council recently elected officers for the 2015-16 school year. They include (from left) Kristen Johnson, second-grader at Prairie View Elementary, vice president; Ellie Stafford, fifth-grader at Mason Elementary, secretary; and Daniel James, sixth-grader at Richardson Elementary, president. The district’s Elementary Nutrition Council includes student representatives from all 18 elementary schools. The group meets approximately once each month to make recommendations to Nutrition Services Department staff members, to sample potential new menu items and to encourage healthy meal choices at their schools.


Trailridge Timberbots capture awards at Olathe Northwest Tournament

Students from Trailridge Elementary School’s Timberbots robotics teams recently won awards at the Olathe Northwest High School Tournament, held Nov. 14.

Four Junior FIRST LEGO (FLL) teams from Trailridge competed in a Junior FLL Showcase. Two Trailridge FLL teams, the Challengers and Problem Solverz, competed in the FLL qualification tournament.

Challengers earned the Judges Award, qualifying for the FIRST LEGO League Championship at Union Station on Jan. 16 and posting the third-highest score at the tournament.










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