Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Students Place First in Stock Market Game

Congratulations to the Topeka High School Accounting and Introduction to Business students who placed first in the Kansas Council of Economic Education stock market game. The Topeka High students earned $27,000 in 10 weeks. Their top stock was Chipotle.

Congratulations to Amanda Wilson, Savana Jenkins, Abbigail Zavala, Zachary Florez, Jacob Bugg, Matthew Fields, Malik Jackson-Corbin, Natasha Bradford, Daniel Cedeno, Maria Turrubiartes, Raul Gonzales, Manuel Roman, Mikael Dabney-Tucker, Rahyne Robinson, Alexander Martin, Sam Nobo, Marcos Hobson, Gabriela Stacy, Dayna Woodward, Amanda Castro, Jordyn Sirridge, Jake Howard, Scott Campbell, Brandon Sage, Quentin Bond, Brandon Hecker and Christian Gonzales.

Students Help Families During Holidays

Students in Topeka Public Schools are remembering others at this special time of the year. For example, students at Meadows Elementary collected enough food to fill 65 boxes to give to Meadows' families. Since Thanksgiving, kids have brought canned goods and non-perishable foods to school. Donations of cash helped purchase a ham for each family and several residents living near Meadows provided pies. Fifth grade students helped sort and fill the boxes with food. Families were invited to stop by and pick up their box of food while some boxes will be delivered. The annual food drive has been a part of the school’s holiday season ever since counselor Debora Hess began working at Meadows. The food drive has grown over the years. The first year 15 families received food.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Former Topeka High Student Awarded Purple Heart

It’s not often that the public has the opportunity to witness a Purple Heart Award Ceremony. A number of people did just that December 18th at Topeka High School when Lance Corporal Brandon Weese was given the Purple Heart. Weese was wounded during a firefight in Afghanistan in November. With his parents and fellow Topeka High ROTC cadets watching, Weese was presented the Purple Heart by retired Army General Donald Jacka. The Purple Heart is given in the name of the President to a member of the Armed Forces who has been wounded, killed or died after being wounded.

Brandon Weese joined the U.S. Marines shortly after graduating from Topeka High School in 2009. While at Topeka High, Weese served as the Cadet Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps Junior ROTC program. Weese had only been in Afghanistan four weeks when he was wounded.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Westar Buys Piece of Kanza Property

Topeka Public Schools and Westar Energy have reached an agreement which will result in a new sub-station for Westar and a wind turbine for Topeka Public Schools. Both will be located on the school district’s Kanza property.

At a news conference today, Board of Education President Patrick Woods announced that Westar would purchase 2.3 acres of the former state hospital grounds to build a sub-station. Westar will pay the school district $300,000 for the piece of land. The sub-station will be located between the current power plant and the barn, located on the north end of the Kanza property. The school district will demolish the power plant to make way for construction of the sub-station. Westar will pay $150,000 to the school district for the demolition.

Westar will also donate $200,000 up to $250,000 to Topeka Public Schools so the school district can purchase and install a 100 kW electric generation wind turbine. Future plans include turning the barn into an educational facility where students can learn about renewable energy. BOE President Woods said about the Westar donation, "This is a huge thing for our students as far as giving us additional tools to educate them and getting them ready to go into the workforce." "We are especially happy to be a part of this because we know this will bring educational opportunities to many of the students in Topeka," said Westar Vice President and COO Doug Sternbenz.

Making the announcement today along with Patrick Woods and Doug Sterbenz was Board of Education Vice President Hal Gardner.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Burnett Center Holiday Hours

The Burnett Administrative Center will be open regular hours (7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) during the winter break except for December 23, 24 and 31 when it will be closed.

ROTC Cadets Shop For Families

Cadets from the Topeka High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC are making the holiday season brighter for 35 families in the community. Recently the cadets went shopping with gift cards provided by the Christmas Bureau. The cadets had to budget, plan then decide how the gift cards could best be spent. The gifts will be wrapped and delivered by the cadets before Christmas. The cadets participate in Christmas charities like the Adopt-a-Family campaign to learn the importance of community service.

Sam Teeter Named Young Arts Finalist

Sam Teeter has been named one of the top student artists in the nation. The Topeka High School senior is a Young Arts finalist in writing. He was chosen from more than 5,000 applicants in the visual, literary and performing arts. Teeter will spend a week in Miami, Florida, next month attending master classes by world-renowned artists, performances and exhibitions. Teeter also has a chance to be named a Gold or Silver winner and travel to New York to possibly become a Presidential Scholar in the Arts.

Young Arts is part of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. The program recognizes and supports America’s most talented 17-18 year olds in nine discipline categories of cinematic arts, dance, jazz, music, photography, theater, visual arts, voice and writing.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Youth Travel to King Museum and Ocean

Students from Topeka Public Schools were among Neighborhood Academic & Athletic Association youth who took a trip to Georgia and Florida over the Thanksgiving break. The students visited Dr. Martin Luther King’s home, museum and burial site in Atlanta, Georgia. They were also guests of the University of Miami and attended a Hurricanes football game. For many, the trip also meant experiencing the ocean for the first time. The Neighborhood Academic & Athletic Association support the education of students, many of whom come from low income homes

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Early Childhood Director Becomes Author

Dr. Martina (Tina) Thompson has dedicated her life to serving children of all ages. She is Director of Early Childhood Development for Topeka Public Schools and now is an author of a children’s picture book. She says she has always loved reading books with rhyme, especially Dr. Seuss. About two years ago, she began playing with rhyming verses. She says it was not a conscious attempt to write a specific story, it just sort of flowed into a story. “The time went very fast when I was working. It was like I was in this very creative, fun place." She needed a main character to tell the story and since animals are appealing to many children, she decided to make her dog, Carly, the main character of her book. Since the book was all about the color blue, she titled the book, Carly Likes Blue.

Like most first time authors, she had to find an illustrator. She found just the right person, Mike Motz, through research on the internet. She has received many compliments about the illustrations in her book. She also decided to self-publish after a rejection from a traditional book publisher. She was determined to get her story in print so she spent the money to make it happen. “I don’t expect to get rich on this book. I wanted it in the hands of kids and families because it is a fun story with a cute character,” said Tina.

Tina will have a book signing at Barnes and Noble on January 22nd. The paperback book is available on Amazon.com and the hardcover will soon be available on her website. Tina has already written two other books about Carly. She hopes to get them published in the near future.

Friday, December 3, 2010

TWHS Yearbook Staff Wins Honors

Congratulations to the 2009-2010 Topeka West High School Chevalier Yearbook Staff for earning an All-American Rating with four marks of distinction from the National Scholastic Press Association.

Kanza Bowl

The 2nd annual Kanza Bowl will be played Saturday. December 2nd at Hummer Sports Park. The game features Midwestern State University from the Lone Star Conference against Washburn University of the MIAA Conference. Kick off is set for 1:05 p.m.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

School Psychologists Recognized by BOE

Local Educators Honored as Part of National
Possibilities in Action Partner Program

The School Psychologists from Topeka Public Schools announced that Kevin Falk, Vicki Peoples, Patti Rodeheffer, Julie Ward, and Fred Willer were honored with the Possibilities in Action Partner Award at the Topeka Public Schools November 4th board meeting at Burnett Center. Kevin Falk is a Jardine Middle School counselor, Patti Rodeheffer is a State Street Elementary special education teacher and Vicki Peoples, Julie Ward, and Fred Willer are school social workers at Highland Park High School.

The Possibilities in Action Partners Program is part of National Association of School Psychologists ongoing effort to help school psychologists promote children’s success in school and life, to improve collaboration within the school community, and to help highlight the education community’s exceptional efforts to educate and support the development of all children. It is grounded in the belief that seeing and supporting the possibilities within each student, even in the face of adversity, is critical to helping them achieve their best in school, at home, and in life. School psychology partners are people who, either through their own efforts or by encouraging the efforts of others makes an exceptional difference in the lives of students and families.

In general, the Possibilities in Action Partner award winners possess the following attributes:

• Extraordinary personal or professional dedication to improving outcomes for students
• Outstanding professional functioning and effectiveness
• Effective advocacy for public policy that supports needed services for children and families
• Commitment to effective collaboration with school psychologists and other student services staff
• Long-term dedication to advocacy on behalf of individual students

Nomination letters for Kevin Falk, Vicki Peoples, Patti Rodeheffer, Julie Ward, and Fred Willer were read noting their unique contributions to the students and staff in Topeka Public Schools.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Happenings

This is the time of the year that many schools hold holiday events and entertainment for parents and the community. Listed below are just some of the events scheduled for this holiday season. More information will be added as it becomes available.
December 1 – 7:00 p.m.
Landon Middle School – Winter musical concert will feature 6th grade band, 7th and 8th grade band and string orchestra.
December 1 – 7:00 p.m.
Williams Magnet School – Band and strings concert.
December 2 – 7:00 p.m.
Quincy Elementary School – Music program featuring 4th and 5th grade students.
December 3 – 11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Avondale West Elementary – The school choristers will perform at the West Ridge Mall.
December 7 - 7 p.m.
Highland Park Central third graders will present a music program at 7 p.m.
December 7 - 7 p.m.
Landon 6th, 7th and 8th graders will present a choral concert.
December 8 - 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Lowman Hill Elementary School – School choir club will sing at the Federal Building at 1:00 p.m. and at the West Ridge Mall at 2:00 p.m.
December 9 – 6:30 p.m.
French Middle School – Chorus and orchestra concert will be held at the Topeka West High School Auditorium.
Avondale West Elementary School – The school drama club will present “The Incredible Reindeer.”
December 10 – 7:00 p.m.
Avondale West Elementary – The school choristers will perform at Barnes & Noble.
December 11 – Noon to 3:00 p.m.
Scott Magnet School – A holiday shopping spree will be held at the school.
December 13 – 6:30 p.m.
French Middle School – Band concert will be held in the French gymnasium.
Highland Park Central - Family Reading Night from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
December 14 – 7:00 p.m.
Shaner Elementary School – Holiday sing-a-long in the school gymnasium
December 14 – 11:30 a.m. – to noon
Avondale West Elementary School – The choristers will perform at the winter festival at the Topeka and Shawnee County Library.
December 14 – 6:30 p.m.
Avondale West Elementary – Holiday program featuring kindergarten through 2nd grade students.
December 15 - 9:30 a.m.
Burnett Center - Elementary string players will perform for Burnett Center staff.
December 16 – 6:30 p.m.
Avondale West Elementary – Holiday program featuring 3rd through 5th grade students.
December 16 – 7:30 p.m.
Topeka West High School - The December concert will be performed at White Concert Hall on the Washburn University campus. All music performance classes will share in a wonderful showcase of bands, choirs and orchestras, ending in all participants joining in the "Hallelujah Chorus" by Handel.
December 17 – Noon
Lowman Hill Elementary – School choir club will perform at the Top of the Tower.
December 20 - 1:45 p.m.
Burnett Center – State Street Elementary School Singers will perform for Burnett Center Staff.
December 22 - 1:30 p.m.
Everyone is invited for a sing-along and band performance at Highland Park Central.

Avondale East Serves Thankful Dinner

Students and staff at Avondale East Elementary School thanked those who have helped the school by inviting them to their annual thankful dinner. Volunteers, community members, board of education members and school administrators were served a Thanksgiving meal. Students helped serve the food and make decorations for the dinner. Close to 100 people attended the event which was sponsored by Heather Calvert’s 5th grade class and the school PTO.

SRO is Above & Beyond Winner

Ken Evans, a School Resource Officer (SRO) at Eisenhower Middle School, is the latest winner of the Above & Beyond Award. Evans was chosen for his actions to improve security for students. Evans contacted the owner of a wooded lot just north of the school to get approval to cut brush and bushes on the property. The overgrowth had prevented school officials from observing students as they walked to and from school. Evans organized a group of fellow officers and city workers who helped him clear the wooded area. His actions have contributed to a decrease in after-school issues with students in the area. Officer Evans is in his first year as SRO at Eisenhower Middle School. Before that, he was SRO at French Middle School for four years.

The above and beyond award goes to a teacher, staff member, parent or community volunteer who go above and beyond to help deliver educations services to students. A nomination form can be found on the district website (www.topekapublicschools.net). Click on staff, then forms for staff and finally district programs. Fill out the form and send to Ron Harbaugh (rharbaug@topeka.k12.ks.us) or to Ron at 624 SW 24th Street, Topeka 66611.

Publication Award Winners

November 19, 2010

Congratulations to the following winners in the Kansas Association of School Boards & Kansas School Public Relations Association’s Publications Competition.

Winner/School /Category
Dave Uhler – Burnett - Center PR Video, Video News Release or Video PSA
Shara Meyer – Parkdale- School Calendar
Angie Davis – HPHS - Building Level Newsletter
Janet Cline – French - Building Level Newsletter
Jennifer Stallbaumer – Landon -Building Level Newsletter
Linda Wiley – Topeka High - Building Level Newsletter
Bret Greenwood – Burnett Center - Special Events Publication
Nicole Jahnke – Burnett Center - Strategic PR Program
Brandi Hubener – Parents as Teachers - Annual Report
Angela Locke – Burnett Center -Staff Newsletter
Steve Burkholder – Burnett Center - Brochures and Pamphlets
Marti Elford & Jeanne Disney- Topeka High - Booklets
Linda Wiley – Topeka High -Handbook
Jennifer Stallbaumer & Bret Greenwood Website
Ron Harbaugh – Burnett Center -School District Newsletter
Ron Harbaugh – Burnett Center - Photo/Photo Series

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Foundation Follies Raises Dollars for TPS Children

The 18th annual Topeka Public Schools Foundation Art For Kids/Foundation Follies gala was full of outstanding student and adult art as well as talented student and staff performers. TPS art teachers, staff and students participated in a big way this year. More than 150 pieces of student and staff art was donated from the elementary to the high school level. Community members donated another 100 pieces of art.

The November 18th fund-raiser, held for TPS, was hosted by the Foundation. Pamela Johnson-Betts, Foundation executive director said, "The gala has turned into a fun friend-raiser as previous attendees return and new attendees come each year."

The Topeka High Jazz Band led by Steve Holloman, provided the musical back drop for the evening. Highland Park High School teacher Teri Walton performed and emceed the evening follies and Mike Beam served as the auctioneer. Other performers included Highland Park High School teacher Tiffany Bonewell, Scott Magnet students led by teacher Mark Camacho, Highland Park Central media specialist Janis Stover, Topeka West High School student Krista Pojman and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kevin Singer.

The 2010 AFK-Friends of the Foundation award was presented to longtime AFK supporters Esther and Linden May. Connie English was the featured artist and her painting "A Kansas Autumn" was sold in the live auction for $260. Original paintings by Mr. and Mrs. May and Highland Park High School art teacher Tiffany Pryor also brought in money for TPS in the live auction.

Painted novelty Croc shoes were auctioned again this year. The decorated Croc from Topeka West High School sold for the highest bid, with both the Highland Park High School and Topeka Public Schools Crocs following with a close second and third.

TPS school board members selected art pieces during the silent auction. The art selected by the board will be displayed in different departments throughout the Burnett Administration Center.

Students from Scott Magnet sang two selections at the Foundation Follies event on Nov. 18.

Students Win at National Journalism Convention

Three journalism students at Topeka High School won awards at the National Journalism Convention in Kansas City. Kaitlin Kobs received a Superior rating in the PhotoShop Art category. Nick Henriquez received a Superior rating in Editorial Writing and David Wang received an Honorable Mention in Sports Writing.

Students Make Plastic Versions of Themselves

Topeka High student T. J. May is in the school library reading 24 hours a day. It’s not that he enjoys reading non-stop and never wants to leave the library. He isn’t physically in the library all the time, but a full body cast of him made of clear plastic tape is there for everyone to see.

Art teacher Carol Conner says she saw the plastic tape body casts in an art magazine and thought it would be a good project for her advanced sculpture students. “The students were excited about doing it and they have been doing a great job,” said Conner. The body cast is formed by wrapping each body part with a layer of tape with the adhesive side up so it doesn’t stick to the skin. Then another layer is put on with the adhesive down to form the shape of an arm or leg. A slit is then made in the tape and it is removed from the body. The slit is then covered with another layer of tape.

May, a senior, was the first of the four advance sculpture students to complete his project. He says it took about a week or two to make his full body cast. Response to May’s work as been positive. “The teachers, they like it. I’ve had questions like was it blown up? I tell them it’s a full body cast,” said May.

A second student has finished her full body cast which can now be seen in the Topeka High library. Conner says plans are in the works to eventually take the full body cast figures to every library in the school district so everyone can see the work of her students.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

DSA Winners Announced

The Distinguished Staff Award is the highest honor that a staff member of Topeka Public Schools can receive. Individuals are nominated by their peers and voted on by the DSA Recognition Committee. The following have been named 2011 Distinguished Staff Award winners in their nominated category. The DSA winners will be recognized at a reception on April 13, 2011.

Category Winner & School

High School
Barry Evans - Topeka West High School

Middle School
Kimberly Sonnich - Robinson Middle School

Melinda Wingfield – Lowman Hill Elementary

Duke Palmer – Avondale East Elementary

Certified Support Staff
Tim Wilson – French Middle School

Office Personnel
Barbara Garst – Eisenhower Middle School

Antwaun Jones – Stout Elementary

Other Classified Support Staff
Brennan Wilcox – Information Technology

Jahnke is Volunteer of the Year

Nicole “Niki” Jahnke has been named the Junior League of Topeka’s Community Volunteer of the Year. The award recognizes community members for their dedication and support to Topeka and Shawnee County. She received the award November 12th at the Junior League’s annual Merry Market luncheon. Jahnke said, “I was so overwhelmed. I feel very honored and blessed.” Jahnke is General Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Topeka Public Schools.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kanza Bowl Teams Named

Washburn University and Midwestern State will face off in the 2nd annual Kanza Bowl to be played December 4th at Hummer Sports Park. The representatives of the Mid America Athletic Association (MIAA) and the Lone Star Conference were announced this morning at a news conference. Washburn’s record is 7-7 while Midwestern from Wichita Falls, Texas, is 8-3. Kickoff at Weaver-Erwin Stadium is at 1:00 p.m. Tickets are available at the Hummer Sports Park Office at 2751 East Circle Drive, Lower Heating & Air Conditioning at 501 SE 27th and at Hy-Vee Food Store at 29th & Wanamaker. More information is available on the Kanza Bowl website at www.kanzabowl.com.

Friday, November 12, 2010

BOE Honors Students

The Board of Education held a reception November 10th for four students who are National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists. The four are Sam Teeter and David Wang from Topeka High School and Lewis Kemper and Alex Rankin from Topeka West High School. Finalists will be named in February. Since its inception in 1955, the National Merit Scholarship Program has awarded 350,000 scholarships worth more than $1.4 billion.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hope Street Students Face Reality

Students at Hope Street Academy just got a dose of reality. The students participated in Reality U, a financial literacy program of Communities in Schools of Kansas. A few weeks ago, students filled out a survey of what they thought life would be like at age 26. They chose an occupation based on their interests. They had to determine if at age 26, they would be married or single, how many children they might have etc. Students were given a monthly income based on their chosen profession and grade point average. At Reality U, students visited tables where they had to pay for housing, utilities, daycare, food and other necessities of life. It was a reality check for students like Daphne Matheney-Lewis and Matthew Gage. “I see what my dad goes through. It’s a good experience. I’ve learned a lot,” said Daphne. Matthew said it made a big impact on him. “When you think your parents spend money you just think lights, cable, food and rent. When you are actually doing it yourself, it kind of gives you a bigger outlook on life.” Hope Street Academy is the first Topeka Public School to offer Reality U.

American Education Week - School Activities

American Education Week is November 14-20.
Here are school activities to celebrate the week.

Chase Middle School
November 17 - Pepsi night.
November 18 - Zainy brainy math and reading night.
November 19 - Above and beyond for student recognition.

French Middle School
November 15 – Students will be filling in a green or gold circle with their favorite school memories and posting them throughout the school.
November 16 – Parents are invited to eat lunch with their students.
November 17 – Students will write thank you notes to school support staff (bus driver, lunch helpers, paras). The notes will be handed out at the end of the day.
November 18 – Students will dress for their future professions.
November 19 – Treats will be available for substitutes who help at French.

Highland Park Central Elementary
November 15 – Family Math Night from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
November 16 – Fourth and fifth grade students will give a concert at Highland Park High School at 7:00 p.m. The concert is called “Sounds All Around Us.”

Meadows Elementary
November 15 – “Kick off” for American Education Week.
November 16 – Students from several classes will say the Pledge of Allegiance together.
November 17 – Students will wear their favorite college shirts or sweatshirts.
November 18 – A lunch will be held for retired Meadows Elementary teachers.
November 19 – Students will be wearing their Meadows shirts.

Scott Magnet School
November 15 - Favorite team day.
November 16 - Hat day
November 17- Wild about education day. Students are encouraged to wear a shirt with an animal on it or an animal print shirt.
November 18 - Crazy hair day.
November 19 - School spirit day. Students should wear their Scott t-shirts or sweatshirts.

State Street Elementary
November 16 – Title 1 Night
November 19 – Grandparents Day from 10:00 a.m. – Noon

Stout Elementary
November 15 – Students will dress up as their favorite book character
November 16 – Tuesday is red, white and blue day. Show your American Pride.
November 17 – Students will wear their favorite college shirts and sweatshirts.
November 18 – Thursday is dress up/dress down day. Students will dress like teachers and teachers will dress like students.
November 19 – Friday is Spirit Day. Students will wear their Stout t-shirts.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Capitol Federal Natatorium Expansion

The Capitol Federal Natatorium will be able to accommodate higher level swim meets after the addition of a new warm up/cool down pool and a competition crash area. Members of the Capitol Federal Foundation, companies involved in the expansion and Topeka Public Schools’ Board of Education and administration, toured the new addition recently.

The Capitol Federal Foundation’s $3.1 million donation paid for the pool and crash area. The warm up/cool down pool will allow swimmers to warm up before participating in swim competition in the main pool. The crash area will be a place for swimmers to rest and spend time between competitions. Also new to the natatorium is a competition operations room. The room will be used by judges, coaches and other involved in the swim meet.

Construction of the new addition began in the fall of 2009. A new video scoreboard will be added to the main pool area in December as well as a video screen located in the commons area. Superintendent Dr. Kevin Singer thanked the Dicus family and Capitol Federal for all they have done for the community and for Topeka Public Schools.

Veterans Day Activities

Topeka West High School was just one of many schools that held programs and activities celebrating Veterans Day on November 11th. Each veteran at Topeka West was given a plaque thanking them for their sevice to our country.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Principal For a Day

What’s it like to be a school principal? More than twenty-five members of the Topeka community got to find out as they participated in the annual Principal For a Day event. Each year, community members are invited to shadow an elementary, middle or high school principal for the morning. They find out the many tasks of a principal from helping kids off the bus to helping students in the classroom to having lunch with the kids. The Principals For a Day then meet in the afternoon to share their experiences. This year’s participants represented businesses, the medical field, government, the arts, education and churches. If you are interested in becoming a Principal For a Day next year, contact Angela Locke at 295-3047.

Fourth Graders Get Dictionaries

Ask a 4th grade student at Quinton Heights Elementary School how to spell a word and they can look it up in their new dictionary. Fourth grade students at Quinton Heights, Quincy, Highland Park Central, Avondale East, Lowman Hill and Linn Elementary schools each received a dictionary recently thanks to a partnership between the Downtown Rotary Club of Topeka and the Dictionary Project of Kansas City. Each year, the two organizations team up to deliver dictionaries to students who need them most. The Dictionary Project of Kansas City helps children throughout Kansas discover the meaning of success, respect and teamwork. The Downtown Rotary Club of Topeka is the second oldest Rotary Club in Kansas.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Schools Win Challenge Awards

Congratulations to the following schools for receiving a Certificate of Merit as part of the 8th Annual Challenge Awards. The award recognizes schools for outstanding achievement and uncommon accomplishment based on the 2010 Kansas Assessment results and other qualifying factors including the sample size, ethnicity and socio-economic status of those taking the test.
The awards are presented by the Confidence in Kansas Public Education Task Force. The schools were honored at a recognition dinner November 10 in Junction City.

McCarter Elementary – 4th Grade Math
McCarter Elementary – 4th Grade Reading
Stout Elementary – 5th Grade Reading
State Street Elementary – 5th Grade Math

Website Picture (left to right) Kansas State Department of Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker, McCarter Elementary teacher Kimberly Bayless, Kansas State Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis, McCarter Elementary Principal Kathy Cooney, McCarter Elementary teacher Vanessa Rosalan and Kansas State Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Brad Neuenswander.

Friday, October 29, 2010

HPHS v. Topeka West Game Time Change Oct. 29

The football game between Highland Park High School and Topeka West has been changed to 3:30 this afternoon. The change was necessary due to copper theft that affected the stadium lights.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Above & Beyond Award Winner

Congratulations to Maria Arafat, our latest Above and Beyond Award winner. For the past two years, Ayala has taken the city bus to McCarter Elementary School where she volunteers during the lunch hour. Ayala helps students open their milk cartons, she cleans up spills and wipes the tables. McCarter Principal Katherine Cooney says, “Maria is a very hard worker who does this as a way of spending time with her children. She makes the entire lunch process run smooth just by her being here.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Foundation Awards Grants

The TPS Foundation "Grant Patrol" visited ten teachers on October 20 to personally deliver the news that they were the recipients of Foundation dollars. Surprise visits to grant recipients and their classes were complete with distribution of a "big check" and balloons.
While all grant recipients did not receive a personal "Grant Patrol" visit, all were notified of the status of their application.
Twenty-six grants were funded at 16 schools, spanning all grade levels. The total amount awarded was nearly $24,000.

ShareFest Benefits District Schools

Six Topeka Public Schools are shining brighter this week, thanks to hundreds of volunteers participating in the annual ShareFest event. For the fifth year in a row, members of 14 area churches spent a Saturday morning painting railings, planting shrubs , trimming bushes and spreading wood chips under playground equipment. The schools benefiting from ShareFest were Bishop Elementary, McCarter Elementary, Meadows Elementary, Randolph Elementary, French Middle School, Robinson Middle School and Topeka High School. Joining the hundreds of church volunteers in ShareFest were many staff members from Topeka Public Schools.

Thank You to NFUSSD Sponsors

Topeka Public Schools would like to thank Brier Payne Meade Insurance, Durham School Services and Stormont-Vail HealthCare for helping sponsor the 2010 National Federation of Urban & Suburban School Districts conference hosted by Topeka Public Schools October 10-13.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Facility Master Plan Recommendations

Changes could be in the future for Topeka Public Schools. Board members last night heard recommendations from a district-wide facility master plan from representatives of Wilson and Company. Wilson was hired to conduct a physical and educational adequacy assessment of the district’s schools. A community-based facilities committee has been meeting for months. The committee studied a number of areas including district demographics, physical condition of buildings, grade configuration and facility consolidations. Committee members developed the recommendations in keeping with the goals outlined in the district’s strategic plan as they related to efficiency and infrastructure. The committee’s recommendations call for the district to move to a new education model of schools of pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. The report also calls for the closing of some schools, others would be consolidated and several new schools would be built. The Board of Education received the report and will discuss it at their next meeting on November 4.

To view the Topeka USD 501 District-Wide Facility Master Plan Recommendations, click:

TPS Master Plan Recommendations

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Prairie Band Potawatomi Supports Students

The Indian Education Program at Topeka Public Schools has received a $5,000.00 donation from the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. Karen Shanks and Jennifer Bagshaw accepted the donation on behalf of Topeka Public Schools during the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Charitable Contribution Awards Ceremony on October 7. The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is a federally recognized soverign nation with nearly 5,000 members. Topeka Public Schools has over 400 Native American students enrolled this school year.

Please Complete Our Website Survey!

We are conducting a brief opinion survey about our district website ( http://www.topekapublicschools.net ).  Your opinions will help us improve the web services that we provide to you.  The survey is anonymous, and should only take a few minutes to complete.

Please click here to participate in our survey!  Our survey is now complete.

Thank you for your participation.

Young Leaders Promote Reading

The United Way’s Young Leaders Society is helping promote reading and a love of books. The group gave a book to each kindergarten student at Scott Magnet School yesterday, part of the junior leader readers program. The United Way’s Young Leaders Society is a philanthropic group of young professionals under the age of 40. Dr. Ryan Yamka, a United Way volunteer, launched the reading program and chose the book, Edward the Emu, to give to the students. The book was read to the students by Brendan Wiley, the new director of the Topeka Zoo.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Students Involved in Downtown Development

High school students from Topeka Public Schools are showing they are interested in the future of their hometown. Stephanie Carroll and Daphne Matheny-Lewis from Hope Street presented ideas at a recent Kansas Avenue Design Workshop. Stephanie and Daphne summarized and presented ideas that came from a student group that included fellow students Chaz Graber, Matthew Gage and Jennifer Norton. Before attending the workshop, the students took a tour of downtown Topeka. Students from other high schools in the district were also involved in the workshops.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Message for Parents about PowerSchool

Dear Parent or Guardian of Middle & High School Students,

The Topeka Public School district is continuing our efforts to enhance communication with parent(s)/guardian(s). As of October 20th, you will have access to view your student’s grades, attendance and other information securely via the Internet using the PowerSchool Parent Portal.

At this time, only students enrolled at the middle and high school levels will have data accessible in the Parent Portal.

On October 20th, you will be able to access the Parent Portal by clicking on the PowerSchool link on the District's website (http://www.topekapublicschools.net). Located on this site are easy-to-follow instructions, actual screen shots of PowerSchool and other support documentation.

You will need to obtain a username and password for each student. Each parent/guardian will be required to provide your student’s school with photo identification and sign an agreement which will result in the distribution of a username and password. You may have already signed an agreement during enrollment.

You may obtain your username and password during your school’s parent conference night, which is scheduled to begin October 20th. Additionally, you can obtain PowerSchool access by contacting the school and arranging for a time after October 21st to present identification required for your individual PowerSchool access.

Each of your middle and high school students will have a unique username and password assigned to their records. Keep your password(s) confidential so only you will have access to the information. At any time you believe your password has been compromised, or if you do not want access to your student’s records through the Parent Portal, please contact the help desk at 438-4750.

Grades will be posted in the teacher grade book and viewed on the Parent Portal. Teachers are expected to regularly post assignments and grades in the PowerTeacher Gradebook. Parent(s)/guardian(s) are encouraged to use the information on the Parent Portal to talk with their students about their progress in school.

Should you have any problems gaining access to the Parent Portal, contact your school’s office or the Help Desk located in the Information Technology Department at 438-4750.


Bill Bagshaw
General Director Curriculum & Instruction

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NEA-T Approves Contract with Topeka Public Schools

NEA-Topeka ratified the 2010-2011 Professional Agreement with USD 501, Topeka Public Schools, yesterday, (Monday). There are 1301 teachers and certified staff covered by this agreement. The ratification vote was 60% yes; 40% no. The USD 501 School Board is expected to vote to approve the tentative agreement at their next meeting on October 7, 2010.

NEA-Topeka President Mary Masters said, “The vote for the ratification was much closer than in past years. Topics that had generated a lot of discussion throughout the District during the ratification process were related to health insurance, high school plan time, and professional employee evaluations.”

Larry Robbins, Executive Director of Operations and the school district’s chief negotiator said, “The leadership team is very pleased with the results. It was our goal to reach an agreement that provided a fair and equitable package for our certified employees and had provisions that would also enhance student achievement.”

Key changes to the Professional Agreement relate to Memorandums of Understanding for health insurance, high school plan time, and professional employee evaluations.

· Certified staff will receive step movement on the existing salary schedule which is equal to $500.00 per year. Individuals off the salary schedule will also receive $500.00

· Significant increases have occurred in the cost of the employee’s health insurance plan. With the ratification of the agreement, employees may choose to participate in a wellness program. In return for participation the District will bear the increased cost of the insurance for those individuals.

· With the ratification, a change in high school plan time will occur. The change involves a reallocation of the amount of time established for plan time to be divided into “personal plan time,” and “collaboration time.” “Collaboration time is non-instructional, non-plan time to be used . . . to generate creative solutions to mutually defined problems . . . by instructional partners.”

· During the 2010-2011 school year representatives from the Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) team and the District’s Administrative Team will be working to “develop a teacher evaluation system that will include student achievement as a part of the evaluation process.” The system will be piloted at Highland Park High School as a requirement of the “transformation model” selected as part of the School Improvement Grant.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

HPHS Students Read Banned Book

Did you know that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a banned book in many communities? Today, Highland Park High School students in Teresa Walton’s AP language and composition class read the book publically on the steps of the school as part of National Banned Book Week. Walton says the students heard about a Chicago school where each year, a different banned book is read aloud. “The kids thought it was a really cool way to bring attention to the fact that there are banned books, said Walton.

Other HPHS students sat on benches near the schools entrance as students took turns reading parts of the popular book. This year, Huckleberry Finn is required reading for all juniors in Topeka Public Schools. Walton hopes to do this again next year, but with a different banned book. She says the most popular banned books in America today are the Harry Potter books.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Foundation Breakfast a Success

Pictured left to right: Dorothy Fager, Washburn University President Jerry Farley, CoreFirst Chairman of the Board Emery Fager (Photo courtesy of Thad Alton, Topeka Capital-Journal)
The first annual Topeka Public Schools Foundation community breakfast brought in a crowd of about 250 community leaders, business leaders, elected officials and staff. The group gathered to celebrate Topeka Public Schools and to receive the State-of-the-District address from Dr. Kevin Singer.

At the breakfast, the first ever Foundation Patron’s Award was presented to Foundation founder Emery Fager, CoreFirst chairman of the board. After accepting the award Monday, Fager credited the Foundation for continuing to do good things for the District. In addition, he acknowledged others who helped form the TPS Foundation that has provided an estimated $800,000 during the past 24 years for programs and services beyond the District’s budget.

TPSF Executive Director Pamela Johnson-Betts said, “Foundation fundraisers are designed to engage the public and lend a hand to enhancing the public image of the District, the Foundation's community breakfast was a success by all measures.”

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Above & Beyond Award - Karen Cline

Award Winner Karen Cline
TPS User Support Specialist Karen Cline is the first Above and Beyond award winner for the 2010-11 school year. Karen has worked in Information Technology for the past 12 years. Prior to that, she was a secretary for Division I at Topeka High for 15 years. She was a Distinguished Staff Award winner in 2002.

Karen was nominated for the Above and Beyond Award by System Programmer Lee Allen and Attendance/Truancy Clerk Jerome Plunkett. Plunkett says, "With all the new information that is needed for Power School, Karen works very hard to educate staff so we can provide information to parents." Allen says, "Karen’s dedication and long hours have greatly helped as we made our transition from TERMS to Power School."

Anyone can nominate a teacher, staff member, parent or community volunteer for the Above and Beyond Award. Click here to download nomination forms.

Cadets Tour Air Force Museum

Air Force Junior ROTC Cadets from Topeka West High School traveled to the Air Force Museum last week.  The students traveled by van from Topeka to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

TWHS Air Force Junior ROTC cadets with the Memphis Belle

The cadets took several classes while on the base including the mathematics of space flight and fixed wing aerodynamics.  They also attended the Spirit of America, a performance by the Old Guard of the Army which escorts the President.  During a tour of the Air Force Museum, the students  were able to see the Memphis Belle; the fastest plane of earth, the SR-71 and Air Force One which carried President Kennedy home after he was assassinated in Dallas.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Polk Street To Close For Homecoming Parade

Topeka High School will hold its homecoming parade Friday, Sepember 24th. A reminder to residents living near Topeka High School that Polk Street from 8th to 10th will be closed to street parking all day Friday, September 24th. This is where the parade will form, start and end. That area will have limited access from noon to 3:00 p.m. Only people living or working along that part of Polk will have access during that time period.

Support Our "Bike MS" Team

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Singer, Board of Education Vice President Hal Gardner, Robinson Middle School Principal Tammy Hazelton and Topeka High Teacher Jeremy Gibson will be riding in the Bike MS: Eastern Kansas Ride 2010, the weekend of September 25-26.

Click here if you would like to support the riders in this fundraiser.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Flu & Pneumonia Immunizations

Topeka Public Schools 2010
Flu and Pneumonia Immunizations

To: 501 Employees and Family Members Sharing Your Residence

Children must be 12 years old and weigh at least 100 lbs. as no pediatric doses will be given.
  • WHAT
    • Flu Shots - $15.00
    • Pneumonia Shots - $40.00
    • Health Connection Clinic, Service Center, 125 SE 27th Street
  • WHEN
    • Dates:  October 7 and 14 - Walk-In Clinic (no appointments taken)
    • Times: 
      • 8:00 - 9:30 AM
      • 10:30 AM - 1:30 PM
      • 3:00 - 6:00 PM
Beginning October 15, individual appointments for flu shots may be scheduled at the Health Connection Clinic on Mondays and Wednesdays of each week.  To reserve a time, please call Mary Lynn McGee, RN, at 295-3937. Scheduling will begin on 10/15.

Beginning October 15, schools may schedule a time for nurse to come to their location. Tuesdays and Thursdays of each week will be reserved for on-site shot clinics. To set up a time for shots to be given in your building, please contact Mary Lynn McGee, RN, at 295-3937. Scheduling will begin on 10/15.

Notification of schedule changes will be handled through district wide e-mail.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


TPS Board of Education and Foundation Board members along with District staff members recently attended a Board2Board conference at the Kaufman Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The conference brought together community leaders from across Missouri and Kansas who serve either as District or Foundation board members or staff of education foundations and districts. The purpose was to share information and to give a group with common intent an opportunity to learn, network and inspire together. The group discussed the importance and relevancy of education foundations and jointly looked at educational foundation trends and how to reach new heights of educational funding and support. Attending from Topeka were: Hal Gardner, Val Patterson, Janel Johnson, Shawn Maiseberger, Pamela Johnson-Betts and Dr Kevin Singer.

BOE Members Receive ICS Certificates

Topeka Public Schools has another first to add to district honors. Members of the TPS Board of Education are the first school board members in Kansas to attend Incident Command System (ICS) 404 training. Kansas Adjutant General Todd Bunting presented training certificates to Board of Education President Patrick Woods, Vice President Hal Gardner and board members Doug Glenn, Janel Johnson, Nancy Kirk, Peg McCarthy and Ned Nusbaum at the September 16 board meeting. Board members also heard an update on safe and prepared schools in Kansas from Dr. Bob Hull of the Kansas Center for Safe and Prepared Schools.

School Resource Officers (SRO’s) were also recognized for being named one of four model SRO programs in the country.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

AYP - Student Scores Improving

Topeka Public Schools - 2009-2010 AYP Report

Topeka Public Schools did not make adequate yearly progress (AYP) as a school district in 2009-2010. Fourteen schools did make AYP, 18 did not. These findings were revealed in a report at the Kansas State Board of Education meeting today. Despite the number of schools not making AYP, test scores of students in Topeka Public Schools are improving.


73.4% of all district students scored proficient in reading in 2010. This was an increase of 1.4% over 2009. This is the highest percentage of students to score proficient in reading in the district’s history.

From 2006-2010, the percentage of students scoring proficient in reading increased by 4.5%.

Seven schools (Avondale West, McCarter, McClure, McEachron, Randolph, Stout and Hope Street HS) have met the AYP reading criteria every year from 2006 to 2010.

Nine schools (Avondale East, Avondale West, Lowman Hill, Ross, Scott, Shaner, Jardine MS, Robinson MS and Highland Park High School) had an increase of 5.0% or more in the percentage of students scoring proficient in reading when the 2010 results are compared to 2009. Avondale East Elementary had the highest increase (13.4%)


72.0% of all district students scored proficient in math in 2010. This was an increase of 2.7% over 2009. This is the highest percentage of students to score proficient in math in the district’s history.

From 2006-2010, the percentage of students scoring proficient in math increased by 9.9%.

Eleven schools (Bishop, Highland Park Central, Lowman Hill, McCarter, McClure, McEachron, Randolph, State Street, Stout, Whitson and Hope Street) have meet the AYP math criteria every year from 2006-2010.

Nine schools (Avondale West, Lowman Hill, Ross, Scott Shaner, Jardine MS, Capital City HS, Hope Street HS and Topeka High) had an increase of 5.% or more in the percentage of students scoring proficient in math when the 2010 results are compared to 2009. Shaner Elementary had the highest increase (17.3%)


Five schools (McCarter, McClure, McEachron, Randolph and Stout) have attained AYP every year from 2006 to 2010.

14 schools (12 elementary, 3 middle and 1 high) attainted AYP in 2010

All schools met the AYP criteria for other measures in 2010. This is an improvement over 2009 when 32 out of 33 schools met the criteria.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Scouts Donate Flags at Statehouse Ceremony

The grounds of the Kansas Statehouse were a sea of red, white and blue on September 11. There was just enough wind to keep the 105 U.S. flags flying in the breeze. Early in the morning, boy scouts along with ROTC members from Topeka Public Schools, set the flag poles in place. The flags lined the four sides of the statehouse grounds. The 105 flags represent the 105 counties of Kansas. The boy scouts presented the flags to demonstrate the patriotism of the boy scouts on the organization’s 100th birthday this year.

A brief ceremony was held on the south steps of the Kansas Capitol to honor the victims of September 11, 2001. It included a moment of silence at that exact time nine years ago that a plane was flown into one of the Trade Center Towers. Dr. Kevin Singer, Superintendent of Topeka Public Schools, thanked Anderson Chandler for his generous donation that purchased the U.S. flags. The flags will be flown around the statehouse on holidays and special events.

Friday, September 10, 2010

9/11 Ceremony at Topeka High School

White balloons honoring the victims of the September 11 attack on the United States were released into the air above Topeka High School today. The balloon release was part of a ceremony conducted by the Topeka High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC Cadets. Cadets read the timeline of the events that occured on that date nine years ago. They also celebrated how citizens of this country came together to show this nation's resolve after the attacks. The ceremony ended with the playing of taps as the U.S. flag flew high above Constitution Plaza on the east side of the school.

Day of Caring at Highland Park High School

Eight employees of Hill's Pet Nutrition went to school this morning, Highland Park High School. The eight were among 800 volunteers participating in the United Way's Nancy Perry Day of Caring. Businesses gave some of their staff the day off to do various projects that help others in the community. At Highland Park, the Hill's employees trimmed bushes, pulled weeds and trimmed trees around the school. "Our particular group likes to get out and help the community," said Hill's employee Stephen Davidson. Volunteers were out helping at 82 locations across Topeka today.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Landon Thanks Church Partner

Landon families and students benefited from the generosity of our neighbors, Fairlawn Church of the Nazarene. On August 14th, students and their families could attend a back-toschool event which included free haircuts. The next morning, members of the church brought over 100 book bags which were complete with required supplies. It was an amazing undertaking and both staff and students are grateful for their support and involvement in our school community. Their care and concern for the Landon students helped us start the year on a very positive note.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Foundation Sub For A Day Winners

For the third year in a row, TPS employees were given the opportunity to support the TPS Foundation, have a central office administrator trade places with them for a day and receive an extra personal leave day. Six employees were selected by KNEA executive director, Mary Masters and superintendent Dr. Kevin Singer to receive a day off for their contributions to the TPS Foundation. Winners and their assignments are:
  • Rebecca Svaty, Extended Learning Center - Topeka West
  • Preston Williams, Social Worker - Linn
  • Meagan Wilder, Health Aide - Quinton Heights
  • Anita Curry, ELL - Erickson 4
  • Dori Castaneda, Executive Secretary - Burnett Center
  • Mary Simpson, Executive Secretary - Burnett Center