Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation provides nearly $60,000 in PEAK Grants for classrooms

Foundation also awards $71,550 in high-school scholarships this spring

Members of the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation visited a number of Lee’s Summit R-7 schools during May to present a total of 50 PEAK (Promoting Excellence And Knowledge) Grants. Known as the PEAK Patrol, a group of Foundation Board members travel from school to school over a two-day period, making surprise announcements in classrooms.

The 50 grants awarded for 2017-18 total $59,111 and will assist students in more than 83 classrooms across the school district. Of the recently-awarded grants, two were for district-wide programs — elementary gifted education and libraries.

The 2017-18 grants included 20 for math/science/engineering, 10 for language arts, nine for technology, six for interventions and five for art, music or physical education.

Since the Foundation initiated PEAK Grants in 1995,  771 grants totaling $784,218 have been awarded to Lee’s Summit R-7 staff members. The grants, which range from $100 to approximately $3,500, are designed to positively impact student learning.

In addition, the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation presented 65 continuing education scholarships to seniors this spring. At Lee’s Summit High School, 36 scholarships totaling $37,050 were presented. Lee’s Summit North High School students received 17 scholarships totaling $20,000. At Lee’s Summit West High School, the Foundation presented 12 scholarships totaling $17,500.


Regan Russell of Sunset Valley Elementary and her students are surprised by the PEAK Patrol.

LSNHS students win Heart of America Shakespeare Sonnet Contest

​Three Lee’s Summit North High School sophomores won the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival Sonnet Contest, held during May. Jack Gatti won first place, Jillian Jamaleddin won second place and Robin Conrad won third place for their poems.

The students were recognized at a May 13 reception at the Johnson County Library by Matt Rapport, Heart of America Shakespeare director of education. All three students are in Kim England’s Advanced Studies 10 English class. Their sonnets will be published on the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival website later this spring.

In the photo, Mr. Rapport (far left) is pictured with students (from left) Jack, Jillian, Robin and Mrs. England.

LSNHS and LSWHS alliance win first place at Missouri robotics championship

An alliance consisting of Lee’s Summit North High School and Lee’s Summit West High School robotics teams captured first place at the Missouri FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship, held May 13 in St. Louis.

During the state championship’s three-year history, LSWHS Team Titanium has won three state championships. This is the first state championship for the LSNHS Broncobots.

At the state contest, which included 24 of the top robotics teams in Missouri, teams were pre-seeded based on their performances at qualifying events held earlier in the season. The LSNHS team earned the No. 1 seed by winning the Kansas City Regional and by being semi-finalists at the Iowa Regional. At the state championship, the LSNHS Broncobots selected LSWHS’s Team Titanium as their alliance partner.

The LSNHS/LSWHS alliance won the state event by winning the final two matches, 328 to 238 and 387 to 333.

At the state championship, Team Titanium was also voted Missouri Robot of the Year by their peers.  This was a fitting tribute to a robot and team that came just three points short of winning the World Championship a few weeks prior.

Lee’s Summit High School’s Team Driven qualified for the state event and was ranked No. 6 based on the team’s performance during the competition season. Team Driven was ranked third at the Greater Kansas City Regional and were quarter-finalists at the event and were ranked second at the Bayou Regional and were semi-finalists.  

At the state championship, Team Driven was selected by the No. 5 alliance. The LSHS team was able to efficiently deliver gears to the airship but  mechanical issues from alliance partners kept Team Driven out of the semi finals. Team Driven did receive the Innovation Award based on votes collected from the other competing teams at the event.   

Lee’s Summit R-7 students nominated for Starlight Theatre’s Blue Star Awards

All three Lee’s Summit R-7 high schools have captured nominations for Starlight Theatre’s Blue Star Awards program. Nominations were announced during mid-May. Winners in each category will be announced May 25 at a public ceremony at Starlight Theatre.

A total of 42 area high schools received nominations in this 15th annual Blue Star Awards program.

Local nominations include:

  • Elizabeth Bennet as Ursula in “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” from Lee’s Summit High School, outstanding actress in a supporting role
  • Jenell Johnson as Oda Mae Brown in “Ghost the Musical” from Lee’s Summit North High School, outstanding actress in a supporting role
  • Jessica Haney in “Disney’s Mary Poppins” from Lee’s Summit West High School, outstanding female ensemble member
  • Garrett Richardson as Officer Wallace in “Ghost the Musical” from Lee’s Summit North, outstanding male ensemble member
  • “Disney’s Mary Poppins” from Lee’s Summit West, outstanding costume design and construction, tier 2;
  • Elizabeth Bennett from Lee’s Summit High School, Rising Star Scholarship-female.

Starlight’s Blue Star Awards, modeled after Broadway’s Tony® Awards, marks its 15th anniversary with the 2016-17 school year. Sponsored in part by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, the educational program annually recognizes achievement and excellence in high school musical theatre. This year, a total of 52 high schools producing 59 musicals (a new record) participated.

The culmination of the program each year is the annual Blue Star Awards Ceremony at Starlight Theatre. This year’s awards ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m. May 25. The ceremony is free and open to the public. Parking is $5 per vehicle.

“The Blue Star Awards is Starlight Theatre’s largest and most recognized musical theatre education program,” said Rich Baker, Starlight president and CEO. “As we prepare to celebrate the 15th class of Blue Star Awards nominees and winners, we also applaud every one of the 5,000+ high school students and teachers who worked so hard and shared their special talents to entertain audiences across our city and beyond!”

A panel of three adjudicators attended the musical productions of each participating school during the fall 2016 and/or spring 2017 semesters. These judges provided critiques of both performance and technical categories to Starlight’s Education Department. Additionally, their comments were compiled and shared with each school’s theatre teacher and students; in all, more than 1,000 pages of commentary were sent to the 52 participating schools. The Blue Star Awards Nomination Committee, made up of select adjudicators, met for a total of 42 hours to deliberate and select final nominees and award winners.  

Several nominated schools and students will perform on Starlight’s stage at the May 25 awards ceremony. Performances will include a number from each of the six schools and musicals nominated for outstanding overall production, as well as musical medleys performed by the 12 nominees for outstanding actor and actress in a lead role.

A final highlight of the annual Blue Star Awards Ceremony is the awarding of Rising Star Scholarships to two high school seniors. The $2,500 college scholarships are presented to one male and one female senior who contributed the most to his or her high school theatre department and demonstrated exceptional theatrical achievement.

Greenwood Elementary has new Buddy Bench thanks to students

Two students from Greenwood Elementary worked together to create a Buddy Bench for the school’s playground. The students — first-grader Maddox Hillmer and fifth-grader Skylar Diehl — worked on the project during the school’s Genius Hour.

During Greenwood Elementary’s weekly Genius Hour, first-graders meet with their fifth-grade buddies and are encouraged to discover and follow their passions and to help others.

Maddox and Skylar shared the idea with Greenwood’s mayor and were partnered with the City of Greenwood’s Utility Department. City staff members coordinated the building of the bench. The students and city staff members first created a supply list and sketched the plan for the bench with the help of Kirt Grahl and others from the Utility Department.

Equity Bank of Lee’s Summit donated a $150 gift card to Home Depot for materials, and the two students helped city staff members build the bench during early May. Later this year, the bench will be painted.

Maddox and Skylar shared, “We want to build a bench where kids can go sit if they are having troubles finding someone to play with at recess. Sometimes it’s hard to find someone. If you sit there, other people will see and ask you to play.”


Maddox Hillmer (left) and Skylar Diehl try out the new bench.









Maddox Hillmer (front) works on constructing the bench.









Skylar Diehl helps put together the new bench.

Greenwood Elementary raises more than $10,200 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand

Students and staff host 13 lemonade stands over five-day period to fight childhood cancer

Students and staff members from Greenwood Elementary recently raised more than $10,200 to help in the fight against childhood cancer. The school hosted 13 lemonade stands from April 21-25 with all proceeds going to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF).

Students kicked off the charitable drive at an April 21 assembly. The school’s numerous fundraisers included lemonade stands at community locations as well as a competition between classrooms. The classroom contest raised more than $2,000.

Community supporters of the fund drive included Fellowship Greenwood Church, Martin Marietta Rock Quarry, Greenwood PTA and Tom Marshall of Realty Executives. Businesses and organizations hosting lemonade stands for the drive included Casey’s General Store, Fellowship Greenwood Church, Greenwood Mercantile, Greenwood Antique Mall, Big Creek Antique Mall and As Time Goes By. The school also hosted lemonade stands.

Staff members were impressed by students’ commitment to the cause including one student hosting her own lemonade stand at home to raise more than $200. Other examples include a student conducting her own fundraising to raise more than $150 and a student bringing his entire piggy bank to contribute.

Funds raised through ALSF pay for medical research to find cures for childhood cancer. Through donations to the Foundation, $50 will pay for one hour of research, $400 pays for one day, $2,000 pays for one week and $8,000 pays for one month.

Lee’s Summit Teacher Academy students take field trip to learn about education career

Students from all three Lee’s Summit R-7 middle schools recently participated in a field trip designed to help them learn about career opportunities in education. Through the new Lee’s Summit Teacher Academy, seventh- and eighth-grade students hear presentations and participate in hands-on activities designed to help them learn more about teaching.

The students’ first stop was Great Beginnings Early Education Center.  The Teacher Academy members helped greet the preschool students and then observed teachers in classrooms during morning instruction time. The middle-school students also learned about the other professionals who work at Great Beginnings including paraprofessionals, occupational and physical therapists, speech and language pathologists, certified parent educators and interventionists.

Jeanie Cook, assistant principal of Great Beginnings, led a question and answer session. The students learned about the different certifications necessary for these jobs and what career path might be best for them.

The students also visited the cadet teacher program at Summit Technology Academy. Offered by the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, this program provides high-school seniors with an opportunity to earn dual college by serving in a classroom setting during the school year.    

The cadet teachers shared with the middle-school students what they’ve learned throughout this year and how the program has helped them make important decisions about which college to attend and which degree to pursue.  

“Allowing the middle school students to hear about the rewarding experiences the cadet teachers have had this year was priceless,” said Jennifer Yates, sponsor of Lee’s Summit Teacher Academy at Campbell Middle School. “These future educators were passionate about wanting to pursue a degree in education because of the impact they have already had by helping children succeed in their assigned classroom, and I believe we will see several of these seventh- and eighth-graders follow in their footsteps.”

The Teacher Academy members have partnered throughout the school year with nearby elementary schools and assisted elementary teachers by reading with students, practicing math facts and preparing for upcoming projects.


Sena Johnson, LSTA member at BCMS, reads to a first-grader at Underwood Elementary.  






Lee’s Summit Teacher Academy members assist the first-grade teachers with a writing project for students.





Teacher Academy members at Great Beginnings Early Education Center.

R-7 middle schools recognize Students of the Month for May

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District middle schools recently recognized their May Students of the Month. Students of the Month are recognized based on outstanding citizenship, conduct, attitude and school involvement.

Students of the Month from Bernard Campbell Middle School are Athena Thies and Austin Yarbrough. At BCMS, Athena is involved in chamber orchestra. Away from school, Athena enjoys soccer and piano. At BCMS, Austin is involved in track, student council and robotics. Away from school, Austin enjoys baseball, basketball, church youth group and volunteering with Coldwater summer lunch program.            
Students of the Month from Pleasant Lea Middle School are Macy Melton and Isaac Nickens. At PLMS, Macy is involved in cross country, track, young author’s contest, awards assembly, WEB CARES and is the basketball manager. Away from school, Macy enjoys competitive dance and summer swim team. At PLMS, Isaac is involved in cross country, basketball, awards assembly, jazz band and WEB CARES. Away from school, Isaac enjoys soccer and football.  

Students of the Month from Summit Lakes Middle School are Morgan Pietig and Kendall Rivero. At SLMS, Morgan  is involved in cross country, track, Summit Lakes Singers and basketball. Away from school, Morgan enjoys her basketball and softball teams. At SLMS, Kendall is involved in football. Away from school, Kendall enjoys playing baseball and volunteering for Harvesters.

R-7 middle schools recognize Students of the Month for April

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District middle schools recently recognized their April Students of the Month. Students of the Month are recognized based on outstanding citizenship, conduct, attitude and school involvement.

Students of the Month from Bernard Campbell Middle School are Madison Goff and Cameron Lillard. At BCMS, Madison is involved in cross country, basketball, track, orchestra and concert choir. Away from school, Madison enjoys soccer and swim team. At BCMS, Cameron is involved in football, basketball, track, cross country and chamber orchestra.

Students of the Month from Pleasant Lea Middle School are Raegan Clark and Troy Huffman. At PLMS, Raegan is involved in Tiger Travelers, Black and Gold Choir and the school musical. Away from school, Raegan enjoys participation in the Kansas City Film Festival. At PLMS, Troy is involved in cross country, football, school musical, awards assembly and Black and Gold Choir. Away from school, Troy enjoys football and lacrosse.

Students of the Month from Summit Lakes Middle School are Reese Nagel and Jeff Kounkel. At SLMS, Reese is involved in cross country, Summit Lakes Singers and orchestra. Away from school, Reese enjoys soccer and her swim team. At SLMS, Trey is involved in football. Away from school, Trey enjoys playing football.

Got Talent announces show finalists, 15 from Lee’s Summit R-7 School District

Got Talent, a premier talent competition for Kansas City youth, has announced the finalists who will compete for the $5,000 grand prize scholarship. Fifteen of the finalists are students from the Lee’s Summit School District, whose performances range from vocal and dance to instrumentals and theater short acts.

The show will be held at 7 p.m. June 10 at the Lee’s Summit High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available online at LSTalent.com, at both Lee’s Summit Hy-Vees and the Lakewood and Raintree Cosentino’s Price Choppers.

Performers will be joined on stage by three select guest judges who will ultimately determine the Season 7 winner of the $5,000 scholarship. Returning as guest judge for the seventh year in a row, Lee’s Summit graduate Matt Lewis is best known for his uncanny re-creations of Elvis Presley. He is also the executive producer of SimonWill Entertainment in Las Vegas.  Lauren Braton, another Lee’s Summit High School graduate, is an accomplished vocalist and actress seen on nearly every stage in Kansas City.  Debuting this year is Got Talent guest judge Coleen Dieker, a talented instrumentalist and graduate of Lee’s Summit North High School, and current music director at Congregation B’nai Jehudah.

Audience participation is a fun component of this night, with audience members choosing the winner of the $500 Crowd Pleaser Award via live text voting. While the judges tally their votes, audience members will also participate in a Mr. Lee’s Summit competition involving three senior boys from each public high school.

Got Talent is the major fundraiser for Lee’s Summit CARES, a nonprofit community coalition that provides programs for youth substance abuse prevention, parenting and character development.  The 30-year old nonprofit agency works to maintain a healthy and safe community for children, youth and families of the Greater Lee’s Summit area. For additional information or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit LSCares.org or call (816) 347-3298.

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