Darci Willis featured in LS R-7 ‘Equity Minute’ video

Videos highlight staff members for outstanding work in area of equity

Darci Willis, early childhood teacher at Westview Elementary, is highlighted in the lastest “R-7 Equity Minute,” a video series available on the district’s YouTube channel.

Mrs. Brown’s 60-second video is available at this link.  The videos highlight Lee’s Summit R-7 staff members for outstanding work in the area of equity and ensuring that every student is successful.

Pleasant Lea Elementary students participate in school-wide Serve Day

Community-service activities tie to Leader in Me program

Pleasant Lea Elementary students from kindergarten through sixth grade participated in a school-wide Serve Day April 6. The special day was tied to the school’s Leader in Me program and is designed to teach children about the importance of helping others.

During the event, various grade levels spent the morning serving at locations throughout the community including child care facilities and retirement homes. During the afternoon, the school’s approximately 525 students participated in in-school service activities. Examples include making sandwiches for a homeless shelter, picking up trash on the school campus and assembling treat bags and making thank-you signs for local police and fire stations.

With the help of local businesses and the school’s families, many of the materials used for the sandwiches and treats were donated.

This is the second year for the school’s Serve Day, which is closely linked to Pleasant Lea Elementary’s Leader in Me program. Through the program, which is based on Stephen Covey’s seven habits of effective people, Pleasant Lea has achieved Lighthouse national certification.

In addition to the April 6 Serve Day, Pleasant Lea students and staff members have a year-round focus on giving back to others. Activities this school year have included collecting items to donate to emergency responders, deployed soldiers, NICU babies, LS Animal Shelter, Hope House and LS Social Services. Students are also writing notes of encouragement, birthday cards and thank you cards to be delivered the following week to the places they visited.

Kindergarten students assemble treat bags to donate to local police and fire departments.

Lee’s Summit R-7 students participate in the 2018 Night to Shine Prom

More than 500 VIPs enjoyed an evening of walking down the red carpet, face painting, karaoke, limousine rides, dancing and being crowned prom king and queen at the third annual Night to Shine Prom, held Feb 9. Night to Shine, part of the Tim Tebow Foundation, is held annually around the world on the Friday evening before Valentine’s Day.  

A number of high school students in the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District participated as VIPs and/or volunteers/buddies.

Deidra Atchley, parent of Joe Atchley from Lee’s Summit West High School, said, “This was our second year to attend. We have participated in many events and this by far has the best volunteers. No person is left out. All of the kids are encouraged to participate in some way, and there is not a person in the place without a smile on their face.”   

She added that Joe is completely free to hang with his friends with very little help from her, a goal they have been working towards.  

CJ Hernandez, another local student and VIP, has attended with his mother for the past few years and has a wonderful time ripping up the dance floor.

His grateful mother added, “We look forward to the Night to Shine Prom every year! My son isn’t able to attend his high school prom and Night to Shine is the night when God’s love shines down on him and all the amazing attendees. He loves to see the decorations, eat the amazing food, dance and laugh with his friends. His favorite part is to feel like a rock star when he walks down the red carpet.”

Rachl Aguirre, a teacher at Hilltop School, has volunteered with her family for the past three years. Her children, Eladia, Jonathan and Ella Rada, are present and previous students of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District.  This year, one of her students, Anna Williams, volunteered for the first time.

“It was a great opportunity for everyone involved,” Anna said.

CJ Hernandez and his mother, Sonia







Joe Atchley with Chick-fil-A cow at Night to Shine.

Janice Phelan of LS R-7 named MoSPRA Professional of the Year

Janice Phelan, executive director of communications for the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, was named the Missouri School Public Relations Association’s (MoSPRA) 2018 Professional of the Year at the organization’s annual spring conference, held April 4-6 in Lake Ozark.

According to nominations, Mrs. Phelan is known throughout the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District as a trusted communications professional who provides needed information to school personnel, parents and community. The primary criteria for the Professional of the Year is that they have made a valuable contribution to either an education institution or MoSPRA in promoting school public relations or have made a difference in the life of students.

MoSPRA President Paul Tandy, stated, “Janice has been a mentor and confidante to many of her peers in the western part of the state. She is one of the ‘go-to’ people for anything from help with bonds and levies to dealing with school crises.”

Dr. Dennis L. Carpenter, Lee’s Summit R-7 superintendent, said, “Janice’s ability to anticipate and foster a calming influence, even in the midst of crisis, has served our district and me extremely well.”

Mrs. Phelan has served as a MoSPRA officer, including western region director, and on the Executive Board as secretary and treasurer.

A graduate of Northwest Missouri State University, Mrs. Phelan has worked in school communications for the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District for 30 years. She has announced her retirement effective June 2018. Before joining the R-7 School District, she was a reporter and editor for newspapers in Lee’s Summit as well as Carroll and Washington, Iowa.

The Missouri School Public Relations Association (MoSPRA) is the Missouri state chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). While the membership in MOSPRA is primarily composed of school communication practitioners from public school districts, members also include superintendents, principals, secretaries, education association staff and others who work to gain public confidence in education. Like its parent organization, MoSPRA is dedicated to providing citizens with a better understanding of the objectives, accomplishments and needs of the schools within our communities.


PLMS seventh-grader’s naming the moon recommendation gains attention

Maya Bowen’s idea for a national contest goes to NASA and ScienceWorld

Why doesn’t the Earth’s moon have a name? Maya Bowen, a seventh-grade student at Pleasant Lea Middle School, has been asking this question at her school for several months with the topic also being discussed in her science class.

With the help of science teacher Chris Lake, Maya’s idea is gaining attention. Mrs. Lake sent the suggestion to NASA and Scholastic’s ScienceWorld magazine, encouraging NASA to conduct a name the moon contest.

NASA representatives responded to Maya’s science teacher, saying it was an “interesting concept” and that the idea was forwarded to the Planetary Science Division. ScienceWorld officials responded that the idea has been sent to the magazine’s corporate office.

Maya has already developed her recommendations for contest parameters, adding that she does not want the moon named after a person. She also recommends that the moon’s name not come from Roman mythology. The Earth is the only planet in our solar system that is not named after a Roman god.

Artwork by LSHS seniors showcased at local library

Artwork from Lee’s Summit High School senior art students is on display April 2-9 at the Mid-Continent Public Library (Colbern Road branch). Students featured in the art show included Tierney Brailsford, Brandon Harlow, Katie Laddish, Courtney Lillard, Connor Mears, Lauren Zellers, Jennifer Fraley, Elizabeth Marszalek, Jerrica Patterson, Lauren Sheeder, NaNari Barrero, Renee Merlin, Anthony Mixon, Maddie Fann,  Cayla Billings, Bibiana Blahutova, Andrew Collins, Caitlin DeDonder, Jeff Scott, Wren Cooper and Sarah Sherman.

BCMS students express gratitude to school’s support staff

Two students at Bernard Campbell Middle School found a special way to thank members of the school’s support staff as part of a project for their English class.

Lilian Hunt and Katie Spacil, students in Michelle Mickelberry’s class, participated in a problem/research/solution unit. The two students, working as a team, wanted certified teaching staff as well as classified support staff to feel equally valued.

Lilian and Katie, joined by others in their seventh-grade advanced English course, delivered thank-you cards to all the bus drivers serving Bernard Campbell Middle School. Cards were also provided to the cafeteria and custodial staff members.

LS R-7 elementary gifted students participate in service field trip

Sixth-graders in the Lee’s Summit R-7 ASPIRE elementary gifted program recently participated in a community service field trip. Approximately 18 students from six elementary schools participated in a non-perishable food drive, delivering the items to Lee’s Summit Social Services on April 2.

In addition, the sixth-graders spent several hours at the Social Services facility where they helped sort and organize the donated food. The field trip ended with lunch at Dairy Queen before they returned to their schools.

All students participating in the service activity attend elementary schools that feed into Pleasant Lea Middle School. This field trip is the first of three scheduled for this spring with gifted students from elementaries feeding into Bernard Campbell Middle School and Summit Lakes Middle School participating in the service events in early May. The activities are designed to help the students become better acquainted with sixth-graders from other schools before they transition to middle school next fall.

ASPIRE stands for Achieving Student Potential In Reaching and Expanding. The elementary gifted program is offered in kindergarten through sixth grade at all Lee’s Summit R-7 School District elementary schools.


Students help sort donated food at Lee’s Summit Social Services.


Two elected to LS R-7 Board of Education

Julie Doane and Ryan Murdock  were elected to the Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education on April 3. Based on unofficial election results, the two winners received the following number of votes: 5,756 for Mrs. Doane and 4,700 for Mr. Murdock.

Four candidates were on the April 3 ballot, also including John Schuler, receiving 3,165 votes, and Michael McMenus receiving 1,928 votes.

The Board members will be sworn in during the April 12 Board of Education meeting. Mrs. Doane has served on the Board of Education for three years and is currently the vice president. Incumbent Board member Adam Rutherford did not file for re-election and will be stepping down from the Board on April 12.

For more information about the R-7 Board of Education, visit http://www.lsr7.org/school-board/board-members/. Board of Education members are elected to three-year terms during at-large elections.

LS Educational Foundation earns national recognition for special event

Local organization receives National School Foundation Association’s SWAG Award

The Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation was recently honored by the National School Foundation Association. Foundation staff members were recognized with the SWAG Award in the category of communication materials for special events.

SWAG stands for special events, website, annual report and general brochure. This was the first year for this prestigious award. The national awards program was open to all educational foundations from throughout the United States.

The Foundation’s materials earning national recognition were from the organization’s popular Taste of Lee’s Summit, held annually to raise money in support of excellence in education in the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District community. The most recent Taste of Lee’s Summit, held March 3, raised more than $117,230 and was attended by nearly 600 guests and 80 volunteers.

Winning entries were displayed at the National School Foundation Association conference, held March 21-23 in Nashville, Tenn. During the event, conference attendees were able to vote on their favorite entry in each of the four categories.

Sheryl Franke, Foundation director, and Jordan Newman, Foundation assistant, received the SWAG Award at the conference’s awards luncheon and closing ceremony. Dave Eames, owner of Fossil Forge and contract graphic artist for the Foundation, was unable to attend the conference and help accept the award.

Mrs. Franke, who also serves on the National School Foundation Association’s board of directors, was a featured presenter at the conference. Her presentation, titled “Scholarships 101,” focused on the Foundation’s management and promotion of the organization’s approximately 70 scholarships for students.

Robin Callahan (left), NSFA executive director, is pictured with Sheryl Franke, Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation director, at the awards ceremony.

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