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Rushton Community Meeting
Shawnee Mission School District

Rushton Elementary School is in the early stages of the rebuilding process. Rushton Elementary families, staff, and community members are invited to be a part of the next step in looking toward the future.

A community meeting will be held:
4 to 6 p.m.
July 6, 2022
Rushton Gymnasium, 6001 W. 52nd St.

This meeting provides a time for the community to learn more about the building process, with a chance to see some initial images and gather information. Construction partners, architects, and district leaders will be present to share and gather information.

This new Rushton Elementary School building is moving forward because local voters approved a $264 million bond issue in January 2021. More information about projects districtwide can be found here.  We are thankful for the community support that makes this progress possible.

SMSD Shares Final 2021-2022 Digital Art Show
Shawnee Mission School District

The Shawnee Mission School District is proud to share the final districtwide quarterly art show from the 2021-2022 school year.

Click here to see the art show

This show features work created by students in Pre-K through 12th grade in the fourth quarter of the school year.

In the 2021-2022 school year, more than 600 students shared their art in SMSD digital art shows.

SMSD digital art shows feature student work that is also on display at the Center for Academic Achievement. Each show provides a way to recognize the creativity and talent of Shawnee Mission students and teachers. This also provides students the opportunity to have their work shared with an audience outside the classroom.

The Shawnee Mission School District thanks all students, art educators, and visual arts coordinator Megan Ellis for sharing this artwork with our community.

Crestview Pen Pals Connect with Center School Students
Shawnee Mission School District

Even though they came from different states, different districts, and different schools, one project helped a group of second-grade pen pals see they have a lot in common.  

Two groups of pen pals, one from Indian Creek Elementary School in the Center School District and one from Crestview Elementary in Shawnee Mission, met for the first time this spring.

Their first meeting followed a year of getting to know each other through writing letters.

The project was supported by a grant Indian Creek teachers Cayetana Maristela and Amy Mierowsky received through the Center Education Foundation. In addition to supporting writing skills, the project also was designed to help English Language Learners enhance their skills and help second-graders learn about the topic of citizenship. 

“I hope they learn about communication and also that even though they have differences, they also have similarities with all people,” Mierowsky expressed. 

As pen pals, the students were encouraged to write about topics like what they want to be when they grow up, favorite holidays, and what they like to do at recess.

Each letter provided an opportunity to enhance writing skills such as how to include a heading, a closing, and how to write the body of the letter. Students also practiced asking questions and ways to make a letter not all about themselves, Lindsay Ash, English Language Learner teacher at Crestview added.

Finally the writers got to meet in person this spring at Crestview Elementary. Soon after meeting and practicing introductions, the second-graders gathered for an activity. Their teachers encouraged them to stand up if the statement they said was true for them. Statements included:  “I like pizza,” “I like recess,” “I have been to the zoo,” and “I like to play a sport.”

The prompt that got everyone to stand up was about liking writing letters and meeting new friends.

It was fun getting to write letters throughout the year, and the project helped Maya Kay Rogers’s handwriting improve, the Indian Creek second-grader said.

“I’m hoping we can be the best of friends so we can be in touch more,” she said

Key’Asia Sowell, an Indian Creek second-grader, said this project helped her realize that just because someone is different than you doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with them.

“I’m happy to meet my pen pal because it is someone you can be friends with,” she added.

Alteleed Thamer, Crestview second-grader, said he was excited to meet his pen pal who he said was like him. Both of the students moved to the Kansas City area from neighboring countries and now attend neighboring school districts.

“It is nice to meet a person who has a similar culture as me,” Thamer shared.

As the day continued, the students attended recess together and worked on a plant-related project. It was just fun to have the opportunity, Zion Rose, second-grader shared.

“I like making new friends,” Rose expressed.

Shawnee Mission Schools Honored as Apply Kansas All Star High Schools
Shawnee Mission School District

Shawnee Mission South and Shawnee Mission West high schools were named 2022 All Stars as part of the APPLY Kansas campaign. These awards, presented for the first time this year, were announced at the June Kansas Board of Regents meeting. The APPLY Kansas Campaign is a statewide program sponsored by the Kansas Board of Regents set to increase students’ post-secondary planning.

The Board recognized 54 high schools across Kansas.  Each school participated in the APPLY Kansas campaign. To participate, schools sponsor a college application event in October and hold two additional events in the same school year. Those events include a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Completion event to encourage and support families in completing the FAFSA financial aid application and a College Signing Day event to celebrate all of the different paths seniors chose to pursue after graduation. 

Both high schools accomplished these All-Star tasks under the leadership of, Lucy Coopman, SM South college advisor, and Kim Urenda, SM West counselor.

“As a goal for all students to be future ready, Shawnee Mission South strongly encourages families to pursue post-secondary educational options and works to promote FAFSA completion options,” Principal Todd Dain shared.

Hosting their 6th Annual ‘Future Focus Fiesta’ last October, SM South engaged families in the FAFSA process and provided opportunities to learn more about financial aid options.  It offered a Q&A time directly with college financial aid and scholarship representatives and the opportunity to connect with career and college representatives.

“These events increase the access that our students and families have to financial resources and increases the options they have for education beyond high school,” Dain noted.

Principal Steve Loe noted how events over the past few years at Shawnee Mission West have helped students prepare for the future.

“Our first-generation college students have gleaned more information, coaching, and guidance regarding college and post-secondary options, thus giving them a new outlook on their futures,” Loe expressed.

Each All-Star School receives a certificate and a vinyl banner in recognition of this accomplishment.

“Truly you have an All-Star High School and talented All-Star faculty,” Tara Lebar, Kansas Board of Regents Associate Director, Academic Affairs, stated as the schools were announced.  

Leadership Shawnee Mission Celebrates Five Years
Shawnee Mission School District

The Shawnee Mission Education Foundation recently kicked off its fifth year of Leadership Shawnee Mission, a leadership development program for incoming juniors and seniors held in partnership with William Jewell College and the Tucker Leadership Lab.

Representing all Shawnee Mission high schools, twenty-seven students participated in the prestigious, invitation-only summer program. Educators across the district nominate students they think would be strong candidates, and then students are invited to apply to the program. 

“Less than 1% of Shawnee Mission sophomores and juniors are invited to participate in the program. It is highly selective,” explained Kim Hinkle, executive director of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation. “Our goal is to find hard-working, bright students who show a spark of leadership, but who may not have had the opportunity to develop their skills.”

During the intensive, two-week program students complete self-assessments and participate in activities and exercises designed to hone their leadership skills. Through a variety of interactive activities, they explore topics like conflict resolution, communication, responsibility, and trust. 

“I think what’s so special about Leadership Shawnee Mission is that you don’t just learn how to become a leader for other people, you learn how to be a leader for yourself,” shared SM West senior Max Napovanice. “You learn who you are, what your strengths are and how to work on those to be a better person. It’s been a great experience.”

During the program, students also gain practical opportunities for networking, mentorship, and resume-building. A highlight of the experience was being paired with a career mentor, Jaida Henderson, SM West senior shared. 

“I want to go into the behavioral sciences, to give back to my community and help people grow,” said Henderson who was paired with John W. Smart, behavioral health clinician at Health Partnership Clinic. “It’s been helpful to be able to get guidance from someone who is in a career I’m interested in.”

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the program, participants from the previous leadership cohorts were welcomed back for a reunion and cook-out at the Center for Academic Achievement.

Jetzel Chavira, Leadership Shawnee Mission class of 2019, is currently a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and holds a Mellon Curatorial Fellowship at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Chavira credits Leadership Shawnee Mission for teaching her the skills that helped her on her path after graduation.

“I’m not exaggerating, Leadership Shawnee Mission truly led me to where I am now,” shared Chavira. “In high school, I didn’t know how important the power of networking would be later. The leadership skills I learned have helped me get so many opportunities.”

Leadership Shawnee Mission class of 2019 graduate, Lee Marshall, is currently a student at Baker University majoring in Communication Studies. Marshall is on the football team and works in the admissions office as an admissions assistant, meeting prospective students and giving campus tours.

Marshall shared that the Leadership program was a great experience. In addition to preparing him for the future, it also was the catalyst for forming lasting friendships.

“I’m so glad to have been a part of this program,” expressed Marshall.

Since its 2018 inception, the Leadership Shawnee Mission program has continued to change and grow. One thing that has not changed is the goal to shape the next generation of leaders.

“I hope that Leadership Shawnee Mission continues to expand, and that our students take the skills they learn to go out and change the world for the better,” expressed Hinkle.

The Shawnee Mission Education Foundation advances scholarship and leadership to enable all Shawnee Mission students to achieve their full potential. Click here to learn more about the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation.