Former Hazel Grove Elementary students return to grade school to inspire children

LSNHS graduates receive PTA scholarships

Haley Hall and Alex Oswald, both Lee’s Summit North High School Class of 2017 graduates, recently received college scholarships from the Hazel Grove Elementary School PTA. The two graduates, who were once students at Hazel Grove Elementary, returned to their former school to speak to the younger children during May.

Haley and Alex shared advice with the Hazel Grove Elementary students, including how to be successful throughout elementary, middle and high schools. Haley is attending the University of Arkansas this fall, and Alex will attend Longview Community College.

LS R-7 Board of Education approves reductions in several student fees for 2017-18

Changes include secondary activity fee, Chromebook fee and parking fees

The Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education approved reductions in several student fees at a May 18 meeting. The changes will take effect during the 2017-18 school year and impact the Chromebook fee, the middle- and high-school $10 programming and activity fee and the high-school student parking permit fee.

Based on the Board of Education’s decision, the following changes will begin in August 2017:

  • The $10 per student activity and programming fee previously paid by families at middle and high schools is being eliminated.
  • The student Chromebook replace/repair fee will drop from $30 to $25 per student.
  • The parking fee for high-school students will be reduced from $25 to $10 per year.

The changes are the result of a review by the district’s administrative team of existing student fees. The elimination of the $10 activity fee will result in a loss of approximately $86,320 in revenue for the 2017-18 school year.

The Chromebook and parking fees will not impact the district’s operating budget. Revenue generated from the reduced Chromebook replace/repair fee should be sufficient to continue operating the district’s Connect2Learn one-to-one Chromebook initiative. Since the launch of Connect2Learn in August 2015, the district has regularly evaluated the damage costs and associated fees, and this review resulted in the slight replace/repair fee reduction this year. Lost revenue from the reduced parking fees will be made up through the R-7 Facility Services long-range asphalt and parking plan.

LSNHS Air Force Junior ROTC receives Distinguished Unit Award

The Lee’s Summit North High School Junior Air Force ROTC was named one of 356 units nationwide to receive the 2016-17 Distinguished Unit Award. The award recognizes Air Force Junior ROTC units that have performed well above and beyond normal expectations and that have distinguished themselves through outstanding service to their schools and communities while meeting the ROTC citizenship development mission.

Objectives of the program are to educate and train high-school cadets in citizenship and life skills; promote community service; instill responsibility, character and self-discipline through character education; and to provide instruction in air and space fundamentals.

Air Force Junior ROTC is located in close to 900 high schools across the United States and at selected schools worldwide.


Kendra Hutsell named new LS R-7 director of accounting

Kendra Hutsell was named the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s new director of accounting at a May 18 Board of Education meeting. Mrs. Hutsell currently serves as director of accounting for the North Kansas City School District. She will begin her new job in Lee’s Summit R-7 in July.

The district’s director of accounting is a new position created during a spring 2017 administrative reorganization. Dr. Judy Hedrick, currently the district’s assistant superintendent for business services, will become the district’s associate superintendent for business and operations on July 1. The reorganization, which involved several departments, is not resulting in any net additional administrative staff positions.

A Greenwood resident, Mrs. Hutsell previously worked as chief financial officer for the Raymore Peculiar School District and as a bookkeeper for the Raytown School District. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Rockhurst University with a major in finance and a minor in economics. She has also earned her Certified Administrator of School Finance and Operations Certification.

Rachel Backes of LSHS named to 2017 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Hall of Fame

Rachel Baches, a biology teacher at Lee’s Summit High School, was recently named to the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. She was honored during a May 16 induction ceremony.

Ms. Backes graduated summa cum laude in 2012 from Westminster College and is recognized as one of the school’s most decorated student athletes, receiving All-American Honors in 2011. A four-year starter and three-year captain, she earned the following conference awards: Scholar Athlete of the Year, Senior Athlete of the Year and Player of the Year. Achieving a 67-35 record in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Ms. Backes earned all-Tournament honors three times including the tournament Most Valuable Player award as a senior.

At Westminster, she continues to be at the top of several statistical categories, including fourth in assists, fourth in steals, fourth in field goals made and fifth in points.

After graduating from Westminster, Ms. Backes earned her master’s degree in education from the University of Missouri. She has taught at Lee’s Summit High School since 2014 and also currently serves as the school’s assistant girls basketball coach.

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Hazel Grove Elementary kindergarten students have special guest reader

Dr. Eric Flack, Lee’s Summit R-7 director of curriculum and professional development, was a guest reader at Hazel Grove Elementary on May 19.

During a visit to the kindergarten classroom, Dr. Flack and the students participated in an interactive read aloud activity. Students also learned several new vocabulary words, and Dr. Flack encouraged the students to predict and infer using prior schema. The skills were tied to the kindergarten students’ lessons for the school year.

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.

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