LSHS students capture awards at Journalism Day

Lee’s Summit High School students recently captured awards at the 49th annual Missouri Interscholastic Press Association competition, held March 29 at the University of Missouri-Columbia. A total of 93 schools competed.

Staff advisors are Marc Russell, magazine and online magazine, and Karla Thompson, yearbook.

Staff members from the  Hi-Life Magazine and website winning awards at the competition included Carter Moore, All-Missouri Award- Newsmagazine Feature Story; Maddy Antey, All-Missouri Award- Online Feature Package; Garrett Stroginis, All-Missouri Award- Online Feature Package; Mikayla Holmberg, All-Missouri Award- Portrait Photography; Mathewos Keller, All-Missouri Award- Social Media Reporting; Mathewos Keller- All-Missouri Award- Social Media Write-off; Maddy Antey, Superior- On-Line Op-Ed Package; Parker Tozier- Superior, Student Life Photography; Carter Moore, Superior- Newsmagazine Page Design; Carter Moore, Superior- Photo Illustration; Chris Teeter, Superior- Online Feature Package; Christina Felix, Superior- Online Feature Package; Renee Haskell, Superior- Opinion Writing Write-Off; Aspen DePeralta, Superior- Online Sports Package; David Perkins, Excellent- Sports Action Photography; Parker Tozier, Honorable Mention- News Photography; Carter Moore, Honorable Mention- Sports Reaction Photography; Jordan Turner, Honorable Mention- Newsmagazine Feature Story.

The Hi-Life Magazine was awarded Superior Overall Newsmagazine. was awarded Superior Overall Online Magazine.

Staff members from the Reflector yearbook receiving awards were Sophia Wald, All-Missouri Award- Academic Photography; Megan Capehart, Superior- Sports Action Photography; Emily William,- Superior- Photography Shoot-Off; Molly Lebermann, Superior- Portrait Photography; Britten Duet, Excellent- Yearbook Package; Katlyn Mrachek, Excellent- Yearbook Package; Britten Duet, Excellent- Yearbook Package; Bailie Murphy, Excellent- Yearbook Package; Britten Duet, Excellent- Yearbook Package; Piper Zentner, Excellent- Yearbook Package; Melanie Oliva, Honorable Mention- Photo Illustration; Britten Duet, Honorable Mention- Yearbook Package; Madison Hetzel, Honorable Mention- Sports Reaction Photography; Melanie Oliva, Honorable Mention- Yearbook Package; Ally Franklin, Honorable Mention- Yearbook Package; Molly Lebermann, Honorable Mention- Yearbook Package.

SLMS students recognized in For the Love of Music Essay Contest

Danielle Omer, Natalie Greenwood and Julianna Richardson were recently recognized through the Summit Lakes Middle School For the Love of Music Essay Contest.

The school-wide contest was developed by the SLMS Business Partners Team, working with orchestra teacher Gail Rowland. It was designed to promote literacy across all school subjects.

Contest theme was “How does music affect memories and life’s moments?” Arvest Bank, SLMS business partner, helped sponsor the contest and provided tickets to Rocktopia for the three winners.

Dr. David Carlson, SLMS principal; Gail Rowland (far right), SLMS orchestra teacher; and Brenda Madaris of Arvest Bank,  are pictured with the winning students (from left) Danielle Omer, Natalie Greenwood and Julianna Richardson.

SLMS Student Council leads food drive for Harvesters

Summit Lakes Middle School recently hosted its annual food drive for Harvesters Community Food Network, collecting more than 10,900 items in just four days. This breaks the school’s previous food drive record by almost 6,000 non-perishable food items.

Student Council organized the food drive, and SLMS teams compete for the honor of collecting the most items in their grade level. Team 7-Green brought in 1,080 items and Team 8-Silver brought in 5,087 items. Both teams received awards from Student Council.

The items collected filled 30 barrels and were delivered to Harvesters after spring break. Harvesters officials estimated the items at almost 6,000 pounds, which translates into 4,921 meals.

Twelve Lee’s Summit R-7 School District teachers receive Chamber of Commerce Excellence In Teaching Awards

To be recognized at April 12 community reception

Twelve Lee’s Summit R-7 School District educators were recently named Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Excellence In Teaching award winners. Recognized teachers are Anne Braun, Woodland Elementary School;  Tracy Colón, Summit Technology Academy; Susan Dunham, Hazel Grove Elementary School; Matt Good, Lee’s Summit West High School; Teresa Graves, Summit Pointe Elementary School; Mindy Haesemeyer, Lee’s Summit North High School; Kim Hartman, Woodland Elementary School; Pamela Hayes, Longview Farm Elementary School; Jonathan Krinke, Lee’s Summit North High School; Brad Rackers, Lee’s Summit West High School; Kimberly Rues, Summit Pointe and Greenwood Elementary Schools; and Krista Tucker, Highland Park Elementary School.  

All 12 recipients will be honored at a reception and program scheduled from 4:30 to 6 p.m. April 12 at the Longview Mansion, 1200 SW Longview Park Drive. The reception is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the R-7 School District, and all students, parents and community members are invited to attend. At approximately 5 p.m., a brief program highlighting each of the 12 Excellence In Teaching Award winners, as well as three Teachers of Distinction, will begin.

The Excellence In Teaching recipients were selected by a committee composed representatives from the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, the business community and R-7 staff.

Mrs. Anne Braun teaches fourth grade at Woodland Elementary School. She has been teaching for 21 years, with 18 years in the Lee’s Summit School District. Mrs. Braun, a math and reading leader at Woodland Elementary (WLE), provides math and reading strategies and resources to staff and students. She is the WLE math cadre representative at the district level. Outside of the classroom, she volunteers her time as a genius hour teacher, providing a time for students to think critically, collaborate, communicate and be creative. Mrs. Braun was a PEAK grant recipient in 2011, awarded by the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation.

Mrs. Tracy Colón is a pre-professional nursing teacher at Summit Technology Academy. She has 12 years of teaching experience and has been in the district for 21 years. She developed the pre-professional nursing program at Summit Technology Academy in 2006. In collaboration with the University of Central Missouri professors, she works to develop a model of nursing practice where high school students and university nursing students work together for mutually beneficial results. Mrs. Colón is a former recipient of the Learning for Life Award and former teacher leader at New Teacher Institute, mentoring many new career and technology teachers throughout the state.

Mrs. Susan Dunham is a kindergarten teacher at Hazel Grove Elementary and has taught in the district for 10 years.  She helped co-develop and facilitate summer parent education classes at Crossroads of Lee’s Summit for incoming kindergarten families, providing them with supplies and skills to prepare Hazel Grove’s newest students.  She is the current classroom host for the 2016-17 Reader’s Workshop Professional Development Network Lab and member of the district’s math curriculum writing team.  She has received five PEAK grants awarded by the Lee’s Summit Education Foundation and three grants awarded by the Missouri State Teachers Association.  She also co-developed the “Christmas at the Grove” program, which provides an evening of Christmas activities, gifts, and food for underprivileged families.

Mr. Matt Good is a speech and debate teacher at Lee’s Summit West High School.  He has been teaching for 17 years, 5 of those in the Lee’s Summit School District.  He has received several outstanding awards including the 2015 Wayne Brown Outstanding Teacher award from the Speech/Theatre Association of Missouri, 2012 National Federation of High Schools Missouri Outstanding Speech/Theatre Educator and Diamond Coach in the National Speech and Debate Association. Mr. Good currently serves as chair of the Show-Me District of the National Speech and Debate Association. The size of the Debate/Forensics program at LSWHS has doubled during Mr. Good’s tenure, growing from approximately 80 students in 2012 to 160 in the 2016-17 school year.

Mrs. Teresa Graves teaches sixth grade at Summit Pointe Elementary. She has been a teacher for 23 years, all in the Lee’s Summit School District.  Mrs. Graves is a former Literacy Leader member who assisted school staff with implementation of Readers’ Workshop. She serves on a number of teams, including Summit Pointe’s Leadership Team and Crisis Team and has mentored several student teachers over the years. As Student Council sponsor, Mrs. Graves initiated community service projects, including collections for Lee’s Summit Social Services and Harvesters, and in 2015 she developed a students vs. staff dodgeball tournament.

Mrs. Mindy Haesemeyer is a English/Language Arts teacher at Lee’s Summit North High School.  She has been a teacher in Lee’s Summit for 16 years. Mrs. Haesemeyer is involved and helped establish several organizations including the “Pennies for Patients” drive at LSN, which is held yearly to raise money for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She established a yearly “18 & Swabbing” event at LSN, in coordination with the national campaign Delete Blood Cancer. Mrs. Haesemeyer is also involved in coordinating the annual toy donation event for Hope House in Lee’s Summit and the food drive which collects items for the Lee’s Summit Social Services. In 2014, she was awarded and recognized for the Missouri Association of Student Councils Trails West Advisor of the Year.  

Mrs. Kim Hartman is a special education teacher at Woodland Elementary School.  She has been teaching in the Lee’s Summit School District for 10 years.  Mrs. Hartman helped established reading buddies to foster self-esteem and confidence for intermediate special education students and partnered with staff to implement the Strategic Instruction Model for special education. She uses these tools in her teaching as she remembers the importance in making decisions based on what is best for students.

Mrs. Pamela Hayes is a first grade teacher at Longview Farm Elementary School.  She has a total 26 years of teaching experience, including 15 years in the Lee’s Summit School District.  She is involved in several leadership and committee roles at Longview Farm Elementary, including serving on the Principal’s Council and Leadership Team, the Historic Preservation Committee and as a sponsor of the Garden Club for Longview Farm.  Mrs. Hayes was the lead representative for R-7 Kindergarten Teacher and Science Curriculum team. She also served as the steering committee head for the Young Author’s Conference for the Lee’s Summit Reading Council.

Mr. Jonathan Krinke is a vocal music teacher at Lee’s Summit North High School. He has been teaching for 11 years, five of those in the Lee’s Summit School District. He is very active in and out of the classroom as he is the co-founder of the Missouri Choral Directors Association mentorship program for college students soon-to-be entering the education profession.  He organizes numerous performance opportunities for students locally, regionally and nationally including performances at world class venues such as Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and recently the Chicago’s Symphony Hall. In 2014, Mr. Krinke and the LSN combined men’s choir were selected to perform at the State Conference hosted by the Missouri Music Educators

Mr. Brad Rackers is the theatre director at Lee’s Summit West High School. He has been teaching in the Lee’s Summit School District for seven years. In 2016, he and the LSW theatre team won the award for Best Play for the production of Noises Off.  He was selected to serve as the Technical Director for the Missouri State Thespians’ All State Show Jekyll and Hyde. Outside of the classroom, Mr. Rackers organizes and serves as a mentor for the Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri’s “New Teacher Mentoring Program.”  He collaborated with others to work and create a new theatre curriculum focusing on student performance and project based learning.

Mrs. Kimberly Rues is a library media specialist at Greenwood and Summit Pointe Elementary Schools. She has been teaching for 26 years, 21 of those years in the Lee’s Summit School District.  She has served as the district Lead Elementary Library Media Specialist since 2010.  Mrs. Rues is a facilitator of Hour of Code at Summit Pointe and Greenwood Elementary schools.  She works with Summit Pointe’s third grade team and the Missouri Conservation to host a Missouri Endangered Animal Convention as the culmination of a project based learning unit on endangered species. She has established clubs and programs at each elementary school, including the Missouri Readers Club for middle grade readers at Summit Pointe and in 2016 coordinated access to Google Expeditions Pioneer Program at Summit Pointe and Greenwood.

Mrs. Krista Tucker teaches kindergarten at Highland Park Elementary. She has been teaching for nine years in the Lee’s Summit School District. Mrs. Tucker is a recipient of six PEAK grant awards by the Lee’s Summit Education Foundation and also a recipient of two Donors Choose Projects.  She holds the scholarship chair role on the Lee’s Summit Reading Council.  Outside the classroom, Mrs. Tucker is continuing her education by taking classes offered through Lee’s Summit R-7 and the University of Central Missouri. In her spare time, she worked to establish a summer book club for current and past students, two days each summer at a park in Lee’s Summit.   

Joining the twelve Excellence In Teaching Award winners, other finalists for 2017 Teacher of the Year include three Teachers of Distinction, former Excellence In Teaching recipients who were nominated for the award again this year. The Teachers of Distinction interviewing for Teacher of the Year are Erica Arbuckle, Hawthorn Hill Elementary School; Jen Posson, Summit Pointe Elementary School; and Stu Reece, Bernard Campbell Middle School. The announcement of the 2017 Teacher of the Year will be made at the April 12 reception.

Lee’s Summit R-7 citizens’ groups host legislative breakfast

A group of Lee’s Summit R-7 School District community members recently participated in a legislative forum with state representatives serving in the Missouri General Assembly. Approximately 45 members of the Lee’s Summit R-7 Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Business Roundtable and Board of Education attended the March 31 event.

All 12 state legislators representing the school district were invited to attend the forum with the following attending:  Sen. Shalonn “Kiki” Curls, Rep. Mike Cierpiot, Rep. Gary Cross, Rep. Rebecca Roeber, Rep. Rory Rowland, Rep. Joe Runions and Rep. Dan Stacy.

The discussion focused on education topics such as funding for public schools and concerns about legislation expanding charter schools within the state and initiating a voucher tax credit program.

The meeting also included a performance by a string quartet from Lee’s Summit High School; a presentation about R-7 demographics from Rexanne Hill, director of student services; a student panel; and concluding remarks by Rick McDowell, Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council president and CEO. Mr. McDowell emphasized that quality public schools are a key economic development driver in our community.

Student panelists included Maleah Ahuja, Lee’s Summit North High School; Christian Moreno, Lee’s Summit High School; David Treece, Lee’s Summit West High School; and Colby Huser, a 2016 graduate of the district’s Missouri Innovation Campus. A video from Daniel Mathews of LSNHS was also included with Daniel representing students with special needs.

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District legislative platform is available at This webpage also includes contact information for local legislators, a toolkit for advocacy and sign-up opportunities for the R-7 School District’s advocacy electronic newsletter. The 12-point platform includes the following

  • Support providing appropriations for fully funding the Foundation Formula and maintaining the integrity of the current Foundation Formula.
  • Support fully funding early childhood education through an increased appropriation in the Foundation Formula.
  • Support fully funding the transportation formula, including modifying the provision that penalizes school districts when they transport highly mobile students back to their original school of attendance.
  • Support local school district authority to make the decisions about matters such as, open enrollment; employee compensation and working conditions; class sizes; curriculum and instruction materials; professional development; program and employee evaluations; and school calendar. We strongly support local control.
  • Support the creation and development of a system of interventions that leads to improvements in achievement for provisionally accredited and unaccredited school districts.
  • Support legislation that annually reviews the effectiveness of tax credits and appropriates the funding based on the review.
  • Support legislation that seeks an equal opportunity for all taxing jurisdictions to support economic development.
  • Support legislation that requires the unanimous support of all taxing jurisdictions for any tax abatement project or otherwise provide an opt-out provision.
  • Support a change in the Missouri Human Rights Act that would realign the Missouri Act with federal standards.
  • Oppose any legislation that would divert revenue from the public schools to non-public educational entities.
  • Oppose legislation which reduces the benefits provided by the current state public school retirement systems (PSRS and PEERS).
  • Oppose legislation that authorizes open enrollment.
  • Oppose any legislation that would make summer school funding a separate line item.

The Citizens’ Advisory Committee, assisted by the Business Roundtable, has hosted a legislative forum for several years with the emphasis on educational topics.

Strings quartet from LSHS performs at the event.






Student panelists at the legislative breakfast.







Citizens discuss legislative priorities with elected officials.

LSWHS Titan archery team takes second at Missouri NASP State Championships

The Lee’s Summit West High School Titan archery team finished second at the Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) State Championships, held on March 24-25 in Branson. Some of West’s top shooters, included personal best scores by Tucker Thompson with a 291 tie, forcing an exciting five-arrow tie-breaker shoot off; Savannah Fate with a 285; Jenna Schwager with a 284; Devin Ingersoll with a 283; and Noah Taylor with a 280.

Lee’s Summit West captured three individual high school podium spots with freshman Tucker Thompson taking fifth for high school boys, junior Isabelle Smith taking fifth for high school girls and senior Shelby Winslow taking first for high school girls and overall female champion which included scholarship awards. Shelby will finish her NASP career with four state champion titles.

This outstanding overall team performance gave West their highest ever state score of 3,412 in the team’s short four-year team history. This marks three consecutive years for the West archery team to reach a top three podium finish at state.

The Titans will move on to compete at nationals in Louisville, Ky., on May 12 and 13.

SLMS students presents Truman Readers Award to 2016 state winner

Tommy Cuezze, eighth-grader at Summit Lakes Middle School, recently presented the 2016 Missouri Truman Readers Award to author Alan Gratz. Mr. Gratz’s winning book, “Prisoner B-3087,” was recognized during a special presentation March 27 at the Missouri Association of School Librarians Spring Conference.

The novel is based on the life of Holocaust survivor Jack Gruener.

Tommy was recommended to serve as the award’s presenter by Christie Brown, library media specialist at Summit Lakes Middle School. He was a Truman Reader selector at SLMS the last two years, served as a library assistant and is active in numerous reading programs at his school.

During the presentation at the state conference, Tommy shared that serving as a Truman Reader selector encouraged him to read more. He also shared information about the winning book, saying, “One of the largest difficulties in educating kids about history is often, history is a topic that can seem boring on the surface. Most people don’t read history textbooks for fun. ‘Prisoner B-3087,’ by creating a synopsis of a true story, manages to convey an important meaning, while still being an enjoyable read.”


Tommy Cuezze with author Alan Gratz.








Tommy Cuezze with Alan Gratz and Christie Brown.

Dr. Kevin McCormick published in peer-reviewed journal

Dr. Kevin McCormick, a teacher at Summit Technology Academy, was recently featured in The American Biology Teacher, a peer-reviewed journal. Dr. McCormick’s article is titled “Using Drosophila to Study How Genes Control Cell Migration.”

Written in partnership with Leonard L. Dobens of University of Missouri-Kansas City, the article demonstrates the use of a model organism to teach students about biology, genetics and cancer. Fruit flies share common genes with humans and we show how that is possible to bring that into the classroom to let students see first-hand how to utilize a model organism for learning about disease processes and/or basic cellular functions.

Dr. McCormick teaches Project Lead the Way biomedical science at Summit Technology Academy and has been with the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District for five years. He also sponsors STA’s Biodesign Club and leads teacher workshops on synthetic biology.

The American Biology Teacher is an award-winning, peer-reviewed professional journal for K-16 biology teachers. Topics covered in the journal include modern biology content, teaching strategies for the classroom and laboratory, field activities, applications, professional development, social and ethical implications of biology and ways to incorporate such concerns into instructional programs, as well as reviews of books and classroom technology products.

LSWHS student wins first place in MU Creating Original Music Project

Cooper Carr, a freshman at Lee’s Summit West High School, won first place in the popular song division of the University of Missouri’s Creating Original Music Project. As a division winner, he receives a $1,000 prize as well as a $1,000 grant that will go to the LSWHS Music Department.

Cooper will perform his song, “I See You,” at a University of Missouri-Columbia concert on April 15. The concert will include approximately 15 student winners from elementary through high school. The University of Missouri contest, which began in 2005, is open to students from throughout Missouri.

Highland Park Elementary earns Lighthouse status through Leader In Me

Highland Park Elementary School recently earned Lighthouse School status from Franklin Covey Education for the school’s Leader In Me program. All grade levels at Highland Park have been involved in the Leader In Me program since 2013.

To earn this status, a school must meet or exceed standards defined through the program including teach leadership principles, create a leadership culture, align academic systems toward student-led achievement and maintain measurable results.

The Leader In Me is a school transformation process based on Franklin Covey’s “Seven Habits” principles. Through the program, students learn 21st century leadership and life skills. The Leader In Me is based on the idea that each child can be a leader.

Highland Park Elementary is the second Lee’s Summit R-7 school to earn the Lighthouse School status. Pleasant Lea Elementary received this honor in 2016. Prairie View Elementary is currently in its second year implementing the Leader in Me philosophy.

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