Summit Technology Academy students honored at KU Edwards Campus Biotechnology Day

Two students from Summit Technology Academy were recognized at the University of Kansas Edwards Campus Biotechnology Day, held Nov. 17. Duncan Crosby of Lee’s Summit North High School and Emma Shipley of Lee’s Summit West High School, both students in Peggy Hinzman’s Project Lead the Way medical intervention/biomedical innovation course, participated in a project-based activity as part of the event.

The approximately 70 students attending the special day were provided with data related to cancer research and asked to present their findings via a poster format. Posters by Duncan and Emma were ranked among the top two at Biotechnology Day.

As a result of the Flash Science Fair, Emma and Duncan both have internships working with Professor Jack Treml’s students on their independent research projects. The internships will start next semester.

During the day at KU Edwards, juniors and seniors from four area school districts collaborated with peers, listened to research presentations by Edwards Campus students, attended a biotechnology panel session with faculty and presented their research in a “flash science fair.”

The two students from Summit Technology Academy were accompanied by Frank Vovk, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District science curriculum specialist and department chairperson.

Mr Vovk was quoted about the event in HigherRed, a publication of KU Edwards. “I want to show these students the opportunities available to them after high school,” Mr. Vovk said. “At Summit Technology Academy, we support a pathway for kids from our school district to programs at places like KU Edwards Campus. Too often, kids interested in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) are kind of dropped off after high school to figure it out on their own. Teachers are focused on lesson plans, administration is focused on providing a good experience, and this is their connection to the outside world.”

Duncan Crosby and Emma Shipley at the KU Edwards Campus Biotechnology Day.

Therapy dogs visit Highland Park Elementary as part of Wellbeing Wednesdays

Four therapy dogs visited Highland Park Elementary on Dec. 6 as part of the school’s Wellbeing Wednesdays, a new initiative designed to encourage staff to incorporate different aspects of mind-body wellness into their lives and to improve overall health.

The dogs and their handlers were from Mo-Kan Pet Partners. Throughout the day, the dogs and handlers visited classrooms. One handler, Alice Sharp, and her dog, Lily, a Great Pyrenees, were featured presenters at the school’s monthly assembly.

During the day, students learned about the roles of the Mo-Kan Pet Partners therapy dogs. The handlers and dogs volunteer to serve local healthcare facilities, schools, nursing homes, Veterans Administration centers, mental health centers and hospice facilities — to name just a few. The proven benefits of therapy dogs include decrease in feelings of sadness and anxiety in patients, less pain after joint replacement, improved moods as well as improvement in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

LSHS Sounds of Summit performs for Retired School Personnel

Lee’s Summit High School’s Sounds of Summit, directed by Chris Munce, performed for the Jacomo Chapter of Retired School Personnel Dec. 6. Around 40 retirees attended the lunch meeting.

Students presented Medieval Christmas songs, adding humor with their popular rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education considers launch of Innovation Track to increase value of high-school diploma and decrease cost of college

Proposed 2017-18 program would allow students to earn up to 30 hours of college credit at limited cost to families

The Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education is considering implementation of a new program known as the Innovation Track during 2018-19. Through the unique program, students would have the opportunity to begin earning up to 30 hours of off-campus college credit during high school. A partnership between Lee’s Summit R-7, Metropolitan Community College-Longview and the University of Central Missouri, the Innovation Track would provide high-school juniors and seniors with college credits at limited or no cost to the students’ families.

If the program is approved by the Board of Education this winter, sophomores and juniors at all three R-7 high schools will receive comprehensive information about the program in time for 2018-19 enrollment, which takes place during January/February at all high schools. Families of current sophomores and juniors would also have the opportunity to learn more about the program at school events, pending Board of Education approval.

The Innovation Track is designed to offer:

  • Full or partial district sponsorship of up to a full year of college credit with MCC

  • Affordable programs leading to two-year and four-year degrees with certificate completions

  • A plan designed to focus on specific four-year college academic pathways

  • Reduced cost and time to degree completion

  • Greater flexibility for students

  • A competitive advantage for R-7 students among their peers.

Under the proposal, the credits earned by local students would be guaranteed to transfer from not only Metropolitan Community College (MCC) to the University of Central Missouri (UCM) but to virtually any public post-secondary institution in Missouri. The program is also designed to attract students who are currently not enrolled in other Lee’s Summit R-7 dual credit such as the district’s existing high-school/college dual credit options.

The proposal calls for Lee’s Summit R-7 School District to pay all or a portion of the cost of college tuition and textbooks at Metropolitan Community College with MCC working to extend the dual credit rate for this special on-campus program. In addition, the proposal includes plans for the district to begin paying a portion of the cost of non-MCC dual enrollment credit and a portion of the cost of annual exams for International Baccalaureate students.

Under the plan, students participating in the Innovation Track would take classes on the MCC-Longview campus with the district providing bus transportation from the high schools to the Longview campus. Students would also have the opportunity to drive to Longview. The proposal calls for classes to be held in two sessions with students attending the morning session or afternoon session on either Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays or Tuesdays-Thursdays. Students also have the option of attending all week in the morning and afternoon if their schedule allows.

The proposal includes a Lee’s Summit R-7 teacher liaison who would be available throughout both morning and afternoon sessions to assist with academic support, while students would have the opportunity to take classes from Metropolitan Community College instructors. Lee’s Summit R-7 and MCC-Longview have also agreed to collaborate throughout the school year to ensure academic support and engagement with students and families. If approved, the proposal would be funded through existing school district budget resources.

The Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education will be discussing the Innovations Track at a 3:30 p.m. work session on Dec. 13, and it will be an agenda item for decision at the 7 p.m. Dec. 14 meeting. Both meetings will be at the Stansberry Leadership Center, 301 NE Tudor Road. If the Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education approves the item, it will also require UCM and MCC approval as well as a Memorandum of Understanding. The new program is expected go to the MCC Board of Trustees for approval in January.

Preliminary information about the Innovation Track was presented at a Nov. 29 Board of Education special meeting. The slides from this meeting are available here. The executive summary presented at this meeting is available here.

LSHS industrial technology students share their talents with LS Police Department

Students’ flag-focused displays emphasize respect and appreciation for officers

Lee’s Summit High School students Andrew Bradshaw and Cameron Fisher are sharing their talents with local police through projects designed to emphasize respect and appreciation for law-enforcement officers.

The two LSHS sophomores are both students in Doug Smith’s industrial technology metals course, which requires a final project. Both students made the decision to create a metal project that reassures law-enforcement officers that they are supported. The projects are currently displayed at the Lee’s Summit Police Department with the students adding that the displays are on loan to the police headquarters indefinitely.

“We are blessed to enjoy such amazing support from the community we serve,” said Sgt. Chris Depue of the Lee’s Summit Police Department. “When the boys reached out to us to share their projects we were excited to see that same support from the youth in our community. We appreciate their support, and we are proud to display their amazing work that honors the profession of law enforcement.”

Cameron’s project is a metal flag encased in a wooden frame, designed to hang on a wall. He used the school’s PlasmaCAM, which cuts through metal based on a computer program that incorporates original designs. Cameron used plywood to lay out the wood-and-metal project, also creating a wood frame. He completed the project with a heavy coating of glaze.

“A lot of members of my family are involved in police work,” Cameron said, “and I wanted to provide reassurance that people — and young people — care about them.”

Andrew’s project is a metal flag within a table. He used the school’s PlasmaCAM to cut the steel for the flag design, laying it out using plywood and creating a wood border. His project also received a heavy coating of glaze for a shiny finish.

“I thought the police officers deserve our appreciation, and I built the table to show respect and inspire the officers,” Andrew said.

Each project incorporates a blue stripe within the flag as well as a 2017 penny to illustrate the year the displays were created.

The students’ projects and their impact on the Police Department are also being featured on Fox 4 and KMBC 9 local news programs with each station visiting the police station on Dec. 7.

Cameron Fisher with his industrial technology project.








Andrew Bradshaw with his industrial technology project.

Summit Technology Academy former students published in peer-reviewed journal

Two former Summit Technology Academy students who completed Project Lead the Way Biomedical Innovations program were recently published in a peer-reviewed, online, journal. Isaac Henderson, 2017  graduate of Center Place Restoration School, and Jake Renetzky, 2017 graduate from Lee’s Summit High School, completed the synthetic biology research as part of the second semester curriculum at Summit Technology Academy.  

They modified e.coli to produce an enzyme that will produce salicylic acid, a common pain relieving chemical. The article is published in BioTreks at  The experiment was possible because of the knowledge and assistance from Dr. Kevin McCormick and Peggy Hinzman, both instructors at Summit Technology Academy. The funding for the project was provided by Summit Technology Academy.

BioTreks is the first international synthetic biology journal to be authored and reviewed by high school students. The journal is intended to give participating students the valuable experiences of writing and evaluating scientific papers, while offering them opportunities to share their own synthetic biology ideas, techniques and results in a professionally edited, online publication.

Every April, new journal content is presented and reviewed at an online conference that is hosted on Breezio and attended by students, mentors and professional biologists from around the world.  Breezio’s dynamic conference environment gives participants the opportunity to ask each other questions about their work and suggest improvements prior to publication. More importantly, the event offers students and mentors opportunities to build professional connections that will support their research in coming years.  Following the conference, students work with journal staff to finalize their manuscripts, graphics and videos for publication in the annual online issue of the journal. Participation is free and journal content is available to the general public without subscription.

LSNHS Feed-the-Need food pantry receives boost from local church, National Honor Society

Thanks to the assistance of a local church and National Honor Society, the Lee’s Summit North High School Feed-the-Need food pantry is well-stocked again. In early December, the pantry’s shelves were nearly bare.

Woods Chapel United Methodist Church as well as the school’s National Honor Society members stepped up to provide food items so that the pantry now has a surplus of student food kits available for distribution.

The LSNHS Feed-the-Need pantry provides breakfast and snack items whenever students need something to eat throughout the school day. In addition, the pantry sends backpacks of food home with students from families in financial need on Fridays. During longer breaks from school, the students receive additional food.

Lee’s Summit Elementary staff members spread holiday cheer in school community

Lee’s Summit Elementary staff members donned cold-weather gear and holiday attire to spread cheer among the school community during a Dec. 5 evening of caroling.

“We may have been off key, but we hit the target as the smiles glowed from the faces of our students and parents,” said a staff member. “Our toes and fingers may have been cold, but we parted ways with warm hearts aglow!”

During caroling stops throughout the downtown Lee’s Summit neighborhoods, students received goody bags and hugs.

Families participate in Hands-Only CPR training

Several Lee’s Summit R-7 families participated in the Nov. 18 Hands-Only CPR training offered free by the Lee’s Summit Health Education Advisory Board. The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District provided the CPR manikins for the training. Cheryl Orr, a school district registered nurse, was a volunteer at the event. Pictured learning about Hands-Only CPR are Zadon, Zeven, Zavaya and Azure Simpson, a family from Hazel Grove Elementary.

Mike McGurk of LSNHS receives NIAAA Distinguished Service Award

Mike McGurk of Lee’s Summit North High School is among 11 high-school athletic directors receiving the Distinguished Service Award from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA). The award is being presented to administrators from throughout the nation on Dec. 12 at the national conference, held in Phoenix this year.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to individuals from within the NIAAA membership in recognition of their length of service, special accomplishments and contributions to interscholastic athletics at the local, state and national levels. Nominations are submitted by state athletic directors associations, screened by the NIAAA Awards Committee and selected by the NIAAA Board of Directors.

Mr. McGurk has worked as activities director and assistant principal at LSNHS since 2013. He began his career in secondary education in Virginia, spending 16 years at various schools. In Missouri, Mr. McGurk has worked at LSNHS and previously spent five years as the activities director at Jefferson City High School.

At Lee’s Summit North, Mr. McGurk serves more than 1,900 students in ninth through 12th grades. Over the past four years, he has developed a student activity advisory council to assist in the implementation of a student leadership program, designed a Rising Freshman Preview Night and managed multiple district and sectional tournaments.

During his time in Virginia, Mr. McGurk was the director of student activities at James W. Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria. While at James W. Robinson, Mr. McGurk helped coordinate a $200,000 facility improvement plan and directed the Virginia High School League (VHSL) AAA state gymnastics, lacrosse and wrestling tournaments.

Mr. McGurk, who holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from George Mason University (Virginia) and a master’s degree in education leadership, was a teacher and basketball coach at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Va., from 1992 to 2002, to begin his education career.

Mr. McGurk served on the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) Board of Directors and recently concluded a term as president. In that role, he began a mentoring program and led the first state association strategic plan.

Nationally, Mr. McGurk has been on the NIAAA Awards Committee since 2013 and vice-chair since 2015. He co-developed LTC 726 on student leadership development, has been a workshop presenter at the National Athletic Directors Conference and has had two articles published in Interscholastic Athletic Administration magazine.

About the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA)

The NIAAA is the professional organization for interscholastic athletic administrators. The association is accredited by AdvancED and North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, the NIAAA promotes and enhances the profession of athletic administration for high school and middle school athletic administrators. Since 1977, the NIAAA has served those who lead education-based athletic programs in the nation’s schools. With current individual membership of nearly 11,000, the NIAAA consists of members from athletic administrator associations in the 50 states, and the District of Columbia, as well as over 40 international countries. Through its 48-course curriculum, and four levels of certification, the NIAAA is the national leader in providing professional development for athletic administrators, directors, coordinators, and supervisors, as well as those serving in assistant principal/athletic director, or activity/athletic director combined roles that lead school-based sports programs. While providing best-practices and serving as a resource for safe and plentiful participation opportunities for student-athletes, the NIAAA places further focus on member benefits, standards, communication, outreach, and recognition, while emphasizing the exchange of ideas among athletic administrators throughout the nation and the world. NIAAA champions the profession of athletic administration through education opportunities, advocating ethics, developing leaders and fostering community. The NIAAA, located in Indianapolis, Indiana, is a full and equal partner with the NFHS. For more information, visit the NIAAA website at

NOTE: This year’s winners include Steve Bridge, CMAA, former athletic director, Elma (Washington) School District; Andy Chiles, CMAA, athletic director, Lake Nona High School, Orlando, Florida; Brent Cook, CMAA, assistant principal for activities/athletics, Dubuque (Iowa) Senior High School; Lane Green, CMAA, district director of athletics and activities, Blue Valley School District, Overland Park, Kansas; Lawrence Johnson, CAA, retired athletic director, Alamogordo (New Mexico) High School; Everett Kelepolo, CMAA, principal, Springville (Utah) High School; Mike McGurk, CMAA, activities director/assistant principal, Lee’s Summit (Missouri) North High School; D. Scott Morris, CAA, director of student activities, Fluvanna County High School, Palmyra, Virginia; Paul Pendleton, assistant principal, Tennessee High School, Bristol, Tennessee; Trish Witkin, director of athletics, Glastonbury (Connecticut) High School; and Steve Young, director of athletics, New Rochelle (New York) City School District.

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