Drumming for the Drum Major

Come cheer your favorite school at Drumming for the Drum Major at the Topeka Performing Arts Center on January 12th at 7:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream Inc. Drum lines from local high schools including Topeka High, Topeka West and Highland Park will be performing in Drumming for the Drum Major.

Admission is $2 or one infant care item donation for the Links to Bright Beginnings Program. Items needed include sets of baby bottles, wash cloths, bottle brushes, socks, booties, baby powder, baby lotion, baby toys etc.

For more information on the "50 Bright Beginning Program: or more of a selection of baby items, go to www.itdtopeka.com.

Santa Visits Scott Magnet School

Students at Scott Magnet School got an early Christmas present today from Santa Claus. He and his helpers brought 550 gifts to the school, one for each student. The students were excited to see Santa and even more excited when they opened their gifts to find games of all kinds and sizes. The kids will take their gifts home today as they begin their winter recess. Students will return to the classroom for the second half of the school year on January 4th.

Migrant Families Receive Holiday Cheer

About 150 people showed up to enjoy a winter party sponsored by the Migrant Program of Topeka Public Schools. Migrant families from throughout the school district were invited to the December 20th event held at East Topeka United Methodist Church. Students and their families enjoyed an evening of food, fun and entertainment. Each family attending received a free family portrait. The Migrant Program holds two family gathering a year for migrant families.

TPS Celebrates School Board Leaders in January

January is School Board Recognition Month, and Topeka Public Schools is joining school districts across the state to thank these community volunteers for their untiring dedication to public education.

"Being a school board member is sometimes described as one of the toughest volunteer jobs in America. Yet, Kansas public school board members dedicate countless hours to attending meetings, school functions, and hours of preparation for the decisions they make," said Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford. "They participate in professional development to stay on top of the the ever changing education landscape and issues relating to education. Our schools and community are better because of these individuals."

It is an exciting yet challenging time in public education. TPS school board members develop policies and make tough decisions to help shape the future of the education system. They bear responsibility and oversight for an annual budget, for the students and employees and for the buildings.

Thank a board member today. More information about TPS board members can be found here http://www.topekapublicschools.net/board-members/.

Community Conversations - Avondale East

A community conversations meeting will be held at Avondale East Elementary School (455 SE Golf Park) on January 17th beginning at 6:00 p.m. There will be information and discussion about the possible closing of the school at the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

Jones Organizes Gift to Rescue Mission

Cheryl Jones (far left) and her granddaughter, Alexis Warren,  presented 413 scarves to Barry Feaker (far right) and staff at the Rescue Mission.

Title I office paraprofessional Cheryl Jones has been busy for the past year. She set a goal of providing 200 hand-made scarves to the Rescue Mission during the holiday season. Since that's a lot for one person to make, she began looking for others to help. Through contacts with co-workers, friends and her church she got to work. As word spread, two other churches joined in the cause. The three churches who contributed were  Sacred Heart, St. Joseph and First Congregational Church.

Cheryl has taken donations to the Rescue Mission before and she wanted to do more. "I started out by asking a few people to help me reach my goal. I was overwhelmed by the all the support I received; we more than doubled my goal of 200!" 

When the final tally was made, Cheryl had inspired 413 handmade items, including the 25 she made herself. Most of the items were scarves, but there were also some hats. The delivery to the Rescue Mission was made on November 11.

She plans to continue the tradition for next year and welcomes the help of anyone who would like to contribute.

Sharing the Music

First grade students at McEachron Elementary Schools listened as students from French Middle School strings group played their musical instruments recently. The French students, who were visiting McEachron, then let the younger ones try their hand at playing their musical instruments. McEachron Principal Vic Williams said hearing the music was great, but giving his students a chance to play an instrument and having the instrument in their hands was priceless.

Students Collect Record Amount of Food

Robinson Middle School students have set a new school record for collecting food items. The students collected 517 cans and packages of food this holiday season. Four students brought more than 100 food items to school. For their effort, Sarah Large, Cyrus Kincade, Billy Wagemaker and Darious Kincade were able to help deliver the food to Doorstep. Assistant Principal Todd Berry and teacher Donald Larscheid were also involved in getting the food items to Doorstep.

Tetuan Named Head Football Coach at Topeka West

Topeka West High School has named John Tetuan as its new head football coach. Tetuan is a well know local athlete who lead Hayden High School to a state football championship in 1988. He played baseball for the Colorado Rockies for four years.

Teutan was assistant football coach at Topeka West last year. He is currently the head coach of the Topeka West Charger baseball team.

Students Debate at Kansas Statehouse

Students in Dustin Rimmey’s AP government class at Topeka High School got a unique opportunity this week. Students have been researching influential Supreme Court cases. In class, the students have been debating each other to determine what they believe is the most influential court case of all time.

Yesterday, students traveled to the Kansas Statehouse to continue their debates in a room that has seen many such debates over the years. The students did their dueling presentations in the old Kansas Supreme Court Chambers. “I feel this is an awesome way for the students to end their semester of studying government by discussing the actions of our court system at the capitol building,” said Rimmey.

Topeka State Senator Anthony Hensley, who has served in the Kansas legislature for 35years, joined Rimmey and the students in the discussion of the cases.

Topeka South Rotary Provides Shoes For Students

It may not seem like much, but having a good pair of shoes is important when you go to school. Some students in Topeka Public Schools can thank the Topeka South Rotary Club for putting new shoes on their feet. Each month, club members provide a small number of students from Scott Magnet and Quincy Elementary School with shoes.

The students are chosen by the principal or counselor depending upon their need for a new pair of shoes. The school gets the parents approval. The kids are then taken to a local Payless ShoeSource where a club member assist a student in selecting new shoes that fit. They also help them pick out socks. “We are real honored to have had the rotary club come to us and provide this necessary piece for our kids,” said Quincy Principal Val Patterson.

The shoe program is funded by members of the Topeka South Rotary Club and is one of the club’s many service projects in the community.

TPS & Stormont-Vail Form Partnership

The Board of Education of Topeka Public Schools today approved the sale of 10.3 acres of the Kanza Education and Science Park to Stormont-Vail HealthCare. The agreement calls for Stormont-Vail to partner with Topeka Public Schools to establish a health care career pathway for students in the school district.

Under the career pathway programs, elementary students would focus on an awareness of health careers. Middle school students would explore careers in the health care field as well as having the opportunity to volunteer in a hospital. At the high school level, students would focus on academic and health related skills that would prepare them for a job in the health care industry.

Stormont-Vail will also provide up to $7,500 per semester or $75,000 over the course of the program for students who graduate from Topeka Public Schools and who meet entry criteria and are accepted to the junior and senior year at the Baker University School of Nursing. The funds will be made available for the sole purpose of paying tuition at Baker School of Nursing. The scholarship program will begin in the fall 2012 semester.


This represents yet another community partnership that Topeka Public Schools is forging on behalf of our students. It is far more than the sale of property. The collaboration in strengthening our health science curriculum, the guaranteed internships, the guaranteed scholarships for TPS students pursuing careers in the health field are the positive dividends of our partnership with Stormont-Vail HealthCare. This is just the latest example of this district’s philosophy of forming partnerships in our community to benefit our students.

Patrick Woods, President Board of Education of Topeka Public Schools

We are thrilled with our partnership with Stormont Vail to create a career pathway for health in Topeka Public Schools. This will prepare our students for jobs in the medical field including doctors, nurses, medical records, radiology and other careers that will be needed in the future. There will be opportunities for students to earn certificates in high school that will enhance their opportunity to earn in the future! We also are thrilled with the scholarship opportunities that will be provided to students of Topeka Public Schools to continue their education at the Baker School of Nursing!

Dr. Julie Ford, Topeka Public Schools Superintendent

We are very excited to have the opportunity to have access to property that will allow for future expansion to meet the growing needs of our community. This property is an especially good fit because of its close proximity to our main health center campus where our roots began more than 127 years ago. Everything we do at Stormont-Vail and Cotton-O'Neil centers around providing the highest quality care and the best patient experience.

This purchase also aligns Stormont-Vail with the efforts of Topeka 501 and Go Topeka's to promote this Health, Research and Technology Park.

Maynard Oliverius, Stormont-Vail HealthCare President & CEO

As we continue to recruit new doctors and health care professionals to meet the needs of our community, space is always a concern. This is a great location - close to the hospital - with easy access and good parking for our patients. This property will provide new options as we plan for our future growth so that we are prepared to care for the patients of northeast Kansas and their children and grandchildren.

Dr. Kent Palmberg, Stormont-Vail HealthCare Senior Vice President & Chief Medical Officer

It is certainly more than a real estate transaction. What I look at is how it benefits our students. This is an agreement that provides a partnership between Topeka Public Schools and one of the leading health care providers in Kansas. It helps us start down the road to making sure our students are both post secondary and career ready.

Larry Robbins, Deputy Superintendent of Operations


Stormont Vail will purchase the land for $675,000. The sale comes two weeks after Topeka Public Schools sold three acres of land to Valeo Behavorial Health Care and formed a partnership that will have Valeo employees volunteering and helping students in Topeka Public Schools.

HPHS Honored For Beautification Work

Highland Park High School was honored at the 58th annual Keep America Beautiful National Conference in New Orleans. The school took second place in the youth category for beautification. HPHS was recognized for the beautification of three properties across the street from the school using the crime prevention through environmental design method. The school was also honored for its jeans recycling effort in partnership with Aeropostale, planting a community garden and school recycling.

Philicia McKee, Executive Director of Keep American Beautiful for Topeka/Shawnee County said, “I want to congratulate Highland Park High School for their hard work and dedication to the mission of improving our community.”

Leadership Academy Begins

The first Topeka Public Schools’ Leadership Academy held its first activity December 6th. That’s when ten current teachers signed a two year commitment to the academy that will end with them receiving a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from Kansas State University. The following teachers have been selected to participate in the first annual TPS Leadership Academy:  Heather Calvert (Meadows), Rebecca Hackett (McClure), Shandy Hayes (Whitson), Brenda Joyal (Shaner), Tara Martin (Bishop), Pilar Mejia (Quinton Heights), Gary Richmond (Jardine), Carrie Rohr (Stout),  Angela Soper (French/Eisenhower), and Courtney Yeoman (Jardine). 

Topeka Public Schools pays for books and a mentor and provides a place to meet in Topeka. The leadership academy will be lead by KSU Professor Dr. Mary Devin.

Executive Director of Administration Tammy Austin said, “The TPS leadership Academy is designed though a partnership with Kansas State University to cultivate teacher leaders. Empowering teachers with the knowledge and skills to be effective leaders is critical for our district’s success in retaining and recruiting new professionals, moving our strategic plan forward and grooming teachers for new leadership roles. We must build leadership capacity to ensure that our educational mission is carried out and ultimately, our students are provided with a world class education.”

Teachers Nominated for Statewide Recognition

Topeka West social studies teacher Lorie Booher and McClure Elementary teacher Karen Manhart have been named TPS nominees for the 2013 Teacher of the Year Award sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education. Robinson teacher Kimberly Sonnich has been selected as the TPS nominee for the 2012 Master Teacher Award sponsored by Emporia State University.

Lorie  Booher began her career with TPS in 1986 at Jardine Middle School. In 2001, she began teaching and coaching at Topeka West High School where she currently serves as the social studies department chair. She also serves on the district social studies curriculum and assessment team. Topeka West Principal Jeanne Carton says, "Ms. Booher has numerous educational accomplishments and contributions. She is a model teacher--always positive, collegial and accountable to everything she does."

Karen Manhart began teaching at Shaner Elementary in 1991. Since 1993, she has taught at McClure Elementary. McClure Principal Nancy Hedstrom says, " Karen is a fantastic teacher. She meets the needs of each and every child who walks through her classroom door and takes them beyond what they think they can achieve."

Kimberly Sonnich has taught language arts at Robinson Middle School since 2003. Robinson Principal Tammy Hazelton says, "Ms. Sonnich is loved by her students. Her classroom is filled with high expectations, high engagement and lessons that provide life relevance."

The three nominees will prepare portfolios to submit for state-level judging. Master Teacher winners are announced in late spring. Teacher of the Year finalists will be announced next fall.

Educators Honored for Possibilities in Action Partner Award

The School Psychologists from Topeka Public Schools announced that Greta Johnston, Pam Kobbeman, Linda O’Keeffe, Lori Roenbaugh, Susan Ross, and Deborah Sidwell were honored with the Possibilities in Action Partner Award at the Topeka Public Schools December 1st school board meeting at Burnett Center. Greta Johnston is a Speech Language Pathologist, Pam Kobbeman is a McEachron Special Education Teacher, Linda O’Keeffe is the Records Coordinator, Lori Roenbaugh is the Topeka High School Special Education Chairperson, Susan Ross is a Landon/Eisenhower Middle School Counselor, and Deborah Sidwell is the Scott Elementary Principal.

The Possibilities in Action Partner 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. School psychology partners are people who, either through their own efforts or by encouraging the efforts of others, make an exceptional difference in the lives of students and families.

In general, the Possibilities in Actions 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

Distinguished Staff Award Winners - Certified

The Distinguished Staff Award winners in the certified category have been named. They will join other DSA winners at a reception in April.

High School – Lesley Brancaccio – Topeka High School
Middle School – Alaire Long – Robinson Middle School
Elementary – Amy Ketterman - Lowman Hill Elementary
Administration – Teresa Songs – Chase Middle School
Certified Support Staff – Kelley Norman – Robinson Middle School

Students Collect Food for the Rescue Mission

Eisenhower Middle School students are doing their part to make sure people don’t go hungry in our community. Recently, some of the students delivered hundreds and hundreds of canned goods and food items to the Topeka Rescue Mission. The food was the result of a two week food drive which challenged 6th, 7th and 8th grade students to see which grade could collect the most food. The 7th grade was the winner collecting nearly half of the food.

TPS & Valeo Partnership

The Board of Education of Topeka Public Schools tonight approved the sale of three acres of land to Valeo Behavioral Health Care. The property is located on the west side of Hummer Sports Park and is adjacent to the current Valeo facility at 330 Oakley.

“The board of directors of Valeo is very excited about this opportunity to work with Topeka Public Schools,” said Valeo Chairman of the Board Allan Towle. “We have been looking for some time at the need to expand our services. Clearly there is a need in the community. We are busting at the seams in our facilities. Frankly, this property fits perfect for what we are looking for. It is right next door to what we are doing, so it is very easy access to our clientele as well as allows us to build a facility that will meet our needs and the needs to come for the Topeka community.”

Board of Education President Patrick Woods said of the agreement, “This represents yet another partnership here in Topeka. Through benefits such as the expanded opportunities for Valeo professionals to establish mentor and volunteer relationship with our schools, this deal will yield positive returns for our students and the community.”

“We are looking forward to partnering with Topeka Public Schools and the benefits it provides for the behavioral health side of the community. This will allow us to increase services to the adult population in Shawnee County, many of whom have children in Topeka Public Schools. This will enhance the quality of life for children,” said Valeo Chief Executive Officer Glea Ashley.

This transaction is more than just a real estate deal, according to Deputy Superintendent Larry Robbins. “It’s another means for us to look for ways to improve educational opportunities for our students. We plan to use the property at Kanza to help fulfill our educational mission and to create business partnerships linking them to Topeka Public Schools. We are always going to be very alert to pursue ventures such as this that will benefit our students.”

Allan Towle says there is another way Valeo will partner with Topeka Public Schools. “I think there are some really good opportunities for us to work directly with Topeka Public Schools when there are sports activities going on at Hummer Sports Park. We are going to make sure there is availability for the parking of buses for the visiting teams. We are also looking at other places where we can partner with Topeka Public Schools to find ways we can share our knowledge with students in a manner that is appropriate, which allows them to learn how to run a business in Topeka.”

The purchase price of the land is $431,000. The cost includes the demolition of West Hall which now stands on the property. Valeo plans to expand its crisis unit and build a 27-bed facility at the location within two years. That would be in addition to the 17 bed facility now located at 2401 SW 6th Street. The partnership between the two organizations also encourages Valeo staff to volunteer in Topeka Public Schools.

Valeo Behavorial Health Care is a private non-profit organization which has provided mental health and substance abuse treatment services in Topeka since 1967. It is the designated mental health authority for public mental health, serving adults in Shawnee County. Valeo offers community-based care in the areas of crisis, outpatient psychotherapy and medical, community support services, substance and gambling addiction treatment and residential programs at eight locations throughout Topeka. Valeo employs approximately 330 people.

Buffalos Defeat Mules in Kanza Bowl

West Texas A&M defeated the University of Central Missouri in the third annual Lower Kanza Bowl played yesterday at Hummer Sports Park. The score was 26-7. It was the second Kanza Bowl victory for the team from Canyon, Texas. West Texas won the first Kanza Bowl in 2009 over the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The Lower Kanza Bowl brings together a team from the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and the Lone Star Conference.

Parents as Teachers Benefits from Community Donations

TPS families will see more benefits from Parents as Teachers thanks to several recent donations from local organizations. In the past few months, Topeka Public Schools Parents as Teachers has received more than $21,029 in funds that will expand the Quinton Heights PAT Lending Library, update the playground at Pine Ridge and help PAT further its goal to ensure families get the assistance they need.  The organization contributions received are
·         Aviva Corporation:   $3,200 to purchase fitted coats and boot from Burlington Coat Factory for 33 children at the Pine Ridge site
·         Junior League:   donated 333 books with a value of $1,332 to expand the PAT Lending Library at Quinton Heights
·         Kansas Gas Service Reach Program:  donated $1,387 to help serve families in need
·         Topeka Active 20.30 Club:  awarded a grant of $5,110 to purchase an OAE Hearing Screening Device to use for annual hearing screenings
·         United Way:  $10,000 donated to update playground equipment, expand the Take Ten reading library, and install a Learning Trail at the Pine Ridge site
We want to sincerely thank all of these organizations and the dozens of others for their generosity, without which the Topeka Public Schools Parents as Teachers program couldn’t help over 600 families each year.
Submitted by TPS parent educator Leslie Petty

Celebrate School Psychology Week November 14 - 18

This year’s School Psychology Week theme is "Every link matters. Make the connection." School Psychologists are there to help our students, families, and teachers make positive connections so that our students can be successful academically, behaviorally, and socially. Connect with your building school psychologist this week and take advantage of their services. They do more than test!

TPS School Psychology Staff

  • Increase achievement by assessing barriers to learning and determining the best instructional strategies to improve learning
  • Promote wellness and resilience by reinforcing communication and social skills, problem-solving, anger management, self-regulation, self-determination, and optimism
  • Enhance understanding and acceptance of diverse cultures and backgrounds
  • Provide counseling, instruction, and mentoring for those struggling with social, emotional, and behavioral problems
  • Identify and address learning and behavior problems that interfere with school success
  • Evaluate eligibility for special education services (within a multidisciplinary team)
  • Support students' social, emotional, and behavioral health
  • Teach parenting skills and enhance home–school collaboration
  • Make referrals and help coordinate community support services
  • Identify and resolve academic barriers to learning
  • Design and implement student progress monitoring systems
  • Design and implement academic and behavioral interventions
  • Support effective individualized instruction
  • Create positive classroom environments
  • Motivate all students to engage in learning
  • Collect and analyze data related to school improvement, student outcomes, and accountability requirements
  • Implement school-wide prevention programs that help maintain positive school climates conducive to learning
  • Promote school policies and practices that ensure the safety of all students by reducing school violence, bullying, and harassment
  • Respond to crises by providing leadership, direct services, and coordination with needed community services
  • Design, implement, and garner support for comprehensive school mental health programming
  • Coordinate the delivery of services to students and their families in and outside of school
  • Help students transition to and from school and community learning environments, such as residential treatment or juvenile justice programs
Submitted by Meg Braun, TPS Coordinator of School Psychology

Starr is Above & Beyond Winner

The latest Above & Beyond Award winner is Debi Starr. Debi is the health aide at Bishop Elementary School. She has been at Bishop for seven years. She says the kids are the best part of her job. “I absolutely love them. They make my day and keep me going.”

Debi was nominated because she is not only the health aide at Bishop, but she is the jack of all trades. Liz Fisher, who nominated her for the award, says everything that could possible happen in a clinic has happened and she handles it with grace and fortitude.

If you would like to nominate someone for the Above & Beyond Award, go to the district website and click on staff/forms for staff/district program forms to find a nomination form.

Curtis Pitts Honored With Community Service Award

Curtis Pitts has been awarded the NAACP Troy G. Scroggins Community Service Award. Pitts, who is community liaison at Highland Park High School, was honored for making a difference in Topeka and for his many accomplishments in the community. Pitts was given the award by Ben Scott, President of the Topeka Branch of the NAACP at the organization’s Freedom Fund Banquet.

Distinguished Staff Award Winners - Classified

The 2012 Distinguished Staff Award winners have been chosen among classified staff.

Category Winner/School
Office Personnel: Vickie Chaffee –Burnett Center
Paraprofessional: Stepfon Cunningham – Meadows Elementary
Other Classified Support: Perry Hartman – Service Center
Food Service: Jim Pierce – Sheldon
Custodial: Colleen Riggs – Robinson Middle School
Operations/Maintenance: Luz Nixon – Service Center

Certified staff and first year teacher winners will be selected at a later date. All DSA winners will be recognized at the DSA reception in April at the Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library.

Graduation 2012

Due to a scheduling error at the Kansas Expocentre, graduation for Highland Park, Topeka High and Topeka West High Schools will be Saturday, May 19, 2012, instead of May 12.

10:30 a.m. Topeka West High School
1:30 p.m. Highland Park High School
4:30 p.m. Topeka High School

Goodyear Comes to Highland Park High School

Introducing students to careers and preparing them for life after school is critical these days. Topeka Public Schools is working with local companies to make sure students get exposure to different jobs. Yesterday, three employees of the Topeka Goodyear plant spoke to students in the bio-tech class at Highland Park High School.

Danny Bower is the chief compounder at Goodyear. He talked to the students about how tires are made and how chemists and tech staff are important in the tire making process. Bowers say he is on a major recruiting trip to get young people into the tech science field. This was his first visit to Highland Park High School.

Gronquist Renews National Board Certification

Topeka High teacher Paul Gronquist recently met the requirements to renew his 10-year National Board Certification. He is one of two nationally board certified teachers in TPS. The other is State Street teacher Kari Ritter.

"This process of board certification is very much like how a doctor becomes certified in a special area," said Dr. Roger Caswell of Emporia State University. "This is voluntary--no state, school district, or program is demanding that a teacher go through this process."

While the national board process is often misunderstood to mean a teacher passed a test or was nominated for the award, Caswell explains the certification is a different kind of honor. Teachers must submit extensive documentation of their instruction, including videos of their studetns at work in the classroom.

Kansas currently has a total of 318 national board certified teachers.

Allison Pens Historical Fiction

Avondale East/Ross media paraprofessional Jan Allison has written a historical fiction children's book called Abigail. The story is about a young Missouri girl in the 1860's who travels with her family on the Santa Fe Trail to Kansas in search of a new home. Abigail's father has just returned from  fighting in the Civil War and during this time her mother has become very ill. Many responsibilities fall on Abigail's shoulders.

Allison has has presented the story across Kansas to students in grades 2 through 6. Says Allison, "The story fits in well during January and Kansas Day. The book includes activities to go along with the story." She is scheduled to present at Ross Elementary in January. The book will be available for check out in the Ross library. It can also be checked out at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. For more information, contact Allison at jalliso@topeka.k12.ks.us.

Free Defensive Drivers Course For Students

Topeka Public Schools will be conducting a National Safety Council Defensive Drivers Course on December 27 at Topeka High School and December 28 at Topeka West High School. This course is open to all licensed USD 501 juniors and seniors. With the completion of the class, a certificate will be issued to you. When presented to your insurance company, you could get a discount on your car insurance of up to 10%.

Classes are limited to 30 students per class, so sign up as early as possible. Class hours will be 8 am to approx. 3:30 pm. with one hour for lunch.

To sign up for classes, e-mail tpsddc@topeka.k12.ks.us with your name, a working telephone number, an email address and which day you would like to attend. The first 60 names will be considered for the classes. All others will receive an e-mail on upcoming classes.

Those that are considered for the classes will be notified.

Topeka High Madrigal Reunion


Contact: Joan Barker
Tel: (785) 295-3200
Topeka High Historical Society
Email: thshs2001@yahoo.com

Celebrating 75 Years of Music

A Reunion Concert celebrating 75 years of the Topeka High School Madrigals (the Trojan’s select singing ensemble) will be held at Topeka High’s Hoehner Auditorium on Saturday, November 26, 2011 at 7:30pm. The concert is free and open to the public.

Since its inception in 1937, the Topeka High Madrigals have enjoyed just four choir directors, two of whom will be guest conducting at this concert:

Steve Eubank – With over twenty years’ experience as Topeka High Madrigal conductor, Eubank is a 2011 inductee to the Kansas Music Educators Association Hall of Fame.

Kevin Fenton – The Topeka High Madrigal conductor from 1984 to 1991, Fenton is a 1979Topeka West graduate and is currently a Professor of Choral Conducting at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

The concert will feature traditional Madrigal selections as well as a few contemporary pieces that the audience will certainly enjoy!

If you are a former Topeka High Madrigal, you may still register to participate. Go to www.TopekaHighMadrigalReunion2011.com or call Joan Barker at the Topeka High Historical Society, 295-3200, for details.
# # #

If you’d like more information, please contact Joan Barker at (785) 295-3200.

# # #

Amy C. Kelly
(c) 785 / 550-2935

Kanza Bowl Teams Announced

West Texas A&M, which played in the first Kanza Bowl in 2009 will return to play in the 2011 Kanza Bowl. At a news conference this morning, it was announced that West Texas A&M, which represents the Lone Star Conference, will play the University of Central Missouri of the Mid America Intercollegiate Athletic Association, MIAA on Sunday, November 27th at 1:00 p.m. at Hummer Sports Park. West Texas has a record of 7-3 while the University of Central Missouri is 8-3.

Kanza Bowl tickets are $15 for reserved seating, $10 for general admission and $5 for children 12 years and under. You can purchase tickets at Hummer Sports Park (2751 SW East Circle Drive), Lower Heating and Air (501 East 17th) and Hy-Vee Grocery (29th and Wanamaker).

Tickets are also available for the welcome banquet on November 25 at 6:00 p.m. at the Ramada Hotel and Convention Center. Tickets are $32. Call 785 633-8448 no later than November 20.

Kanza Bowl sponsors are Lower Heating and Air Conditioning, Parrish Hotel Corporation of Topeka, Topeka Capital Journal, Visit Topeka and Capitol Federal Savings.

Market Day at Topeka West High School

What’s it like to operate a business? You can ask the students who took part in the Youth Entrepreneur Market Day at Topeka West High School yesterday. The 26 students in Mary Middleton’s class set up tables over the noon hour in the school courtyard to sell various foods to hungry students. Middleton says the yearly event gives students the experience of running a business for a day. “They have to do the marketing, they have to do the financial planning, they have to do the shopping and preparing. They do everything.”

Matthew Taylor was one of the students selling food. The senior says Market Day is a great experience. “I’m majoring in entrepreneurship at Kansas State University next year. This is just showing me what it takes to start a business.”

The entrepreneurship class and advanced entrepreneurship classes are available to juniors and seniors only. The classes fulfill part of the requirement for students to graduate from Topeka West High School.

Schools Salute Veterans

Schools thoughout the district will be honoring veterans during Veterans Day activities November 11th. Some schools have invited veterans to breakfast or lunch while others will hold assemblies to honor veterans. Call your school to find out times and locations.

An Eagle Has Landed at Eisenhower Middle School

An eagle has landed at Eisenhower Middle School. It did not fly to the school, but instead was carried there in the back of a pickup. This eagle is made of yellow pine, stands several feet tall and was carved with a chainsaw by Pat Langton of Perry, Kansas. He says it took him four hours to cut, sand and stain the eagle.

It all began when Eisenhower Principal Rebecca Morrisey went to pick up an item at Langton’s business and notice a carved wooded eagle. She mentioned how she would like one of them for her school. Langston told her he would make one and donate it to the school.

On November 8, Langston and his wife delivered the eagle to Eisenhower. “It’s cool when somebody steps up and does that for a school, especially right now with money the way it is,” said Morrisey. She plans to put the eagle in a spot where it is very visible to the students.

(picture of Eisenhower Principal Rebecca Morrisey and wooden eagle)

Schools Celebrate Veterans Day

A number of schools will hold Veterans Day programs this week. The date, time and schools are listed below.

Nov 8 2:00 p.m. Avondale West Elementary – 3229 SW Westview

Nov 9 9:00 a.m. Bishop Elementary – 3601 SW 31st

Nov 10 8:00 a.m. Landon Middle School – 731 SW Fairlawn
Nov 10 9:35 a.m. Topeka High School - 800 SW 10th

Nov 11 7:20 a.m. Chase Middle School – 2250 NE State
Nov 11 9:30 a.m. Topeka West High School – 2001 SW Fairlawn
Nov 11 1:00 p.m. Lowman Hill Elementary – 1101 SW Garfield
Nov 11 1:00 p.m. Capital City Schools - 500 SW Tuffy Kellogg Drive
Nov 11 2:30 p.m. McEachron Elementary – 4433 SW 29th Ter.
Nov 11 2:45 p.m. Highland Park Central Elementary – 2717 SE Illinois

Lundgren Open House - November 21

Lundgren Open House
November 21
4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Come tour the building (1020 NE Forest), meet the staff and enjoy some treats.

The open house is for school staff, neighborhood residents and everyone in the community.

Chase Students Read a Million Minutes in October

Mrs. Diane Taylor, Chase Middle School Media Specialist, announced that Chase Middle School students and staff read over 1,112,485 minutes during the month of October. Students and staff keep track of minutes read at school and at home on a bookmark.

With the new Reading Series, Expert 21, students at Chase are reading at least 60 minutes a day in class. They also read during other classes. Minutes reading library books and books at home also counted toward the total. With over 560 people participating, they did a great job reading. Friday, November 4th, students received a special treat for their efforts.

THS Participating in First Friday Art Walk Nov. 4

Topeka High School artists will be participating in the First Friday Art Walk tonight, Nov. 4 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Topeka High in the third floor art gallery. Advanced art students and Studio Arts students are participating with “Story Telling Art.” Studio art students are:
Karina Isela Barriga  
Daniel Jonathan Baum  
Courtney J. Belisle
Kristin Debenham 
Elise Alison DeHaven
Kelseigh Figgs
Janelle Lorene Goodman 
Jessica Laura Griffin  
Jacob Guzman  
Emily Ruth Hernandez
Alea Marie Howard 
Jessica Diane LaCount 
Raymond Gustav Martinez Kendall  
Alessandra Catherine Politi 
Valerie Read
Christian William Sauerman
Carlos Eduardo Silva  
Krista Lynn Vanderblomen  
Jordan Rene Vigola 
Phillip Eduardo Wade
Scott Lee Weinkauf

Schools Receive Challenge Awards

The Confidence in Kansas Public Education Task Force has announced that Williams Magnet and Chase Middle School are Challenge Award winners for 2011. The awards recognize schools for outstanding achievement and uncommon accomplishment based on Kansas Assessment results from 2011 and other qualifying factors--specifically the sample size, ethnicity and socie-economic status of those taking the test.

On November 9, Williams Magnet will receive a Certificate of Merit as a result of performance on the fifth grade reading assessment and a Certificate of Merit as a result of performance on the fifth grade math assessment. Chase Middle School will receive a Certificate of Merit as a result of performance on the 6th, 7th and 8th grade math assessment and 7th grade reading assessment.

HPHS Receives National Recognition for Beautification Projects

Highland Park High School has received a Second Place designation in the nation from the national Keep America Beautiful organization in the Youth/School category. The award is in recognition of the many beautification efforts made during the 2010-2011 school year including the art project on abandoned houses across the street from the school (CPTED), recycling efforts in classrooms, the community garden and the jeans recycling project.

About 700 affiliates nationwide are eligible to submit projects to Keep America Beautiful for this award competition. "Receiving a Second Place designation is a huge accomplishment," says Philicia McKee, executive director, Keep America Beautiful Shawnee County.

New Contract For Superintendent

The Board of Education of Topeka Public Schools voted tonight to approve a new contract with Interim Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford. The vote was unanimous.

Board of Education President Patrick Woods said, “Dr. Ford has performed masterfully in her role as Interim Superintendent. She has fully embraced the board's strategic plan to boost academic achievement and increase opportunities for all of our students, and has placed us on solid footing as we move into year two of implementation. I speak on behalf of the entire board, as evidenced by the unanimous vote, when I say we hope to have Dr. Ford in our district for the foreseeable future."

“I am very honored to be selected to serve Topeka Public Schools. I feel the district is focused and has many dedicated staff and community members willing to help Topeka Public Schools continue to improve. Students in this district are great and we need to continue to focus on opportunities that will prepare them for post-secondary education and careers. The directions of the strategic plan and many initiatives that have been started and are in progress make Topeka Public Schools a great place to work,” said Superintendent Ford.

Dr. Ford has been interim superintendent since July of this year. Ford’s new contract begins November 4, 2011 and runs through June 30, 2014. She will be paid an annual salary of $155,000.

Topeka High ROTC 2nd in Competition

The Topeka High School Marine Corp Junior ROTC cadets captured a number of trophies during competition in St. Louis recently. The cadets took first place in the unarmed platoon drill competition. Topeka High placed second overall. The cadets ranked third in color guard competition, third in armed squad and fourth in armed platoon drill. The Topeka High cadets plan to travel to Florida in May to compete in the national championships.

Students Serve at Rescue Mission

While many young people were preparing to go trick or treating Monday night, some Landon Middle School students were preparing to help serve meals at the Topeka Rescue Mission. Some of the students poured drinks, others made sure there were plenty of condiments available while others were on the serving line.

The idea to help at the rescue mission came about at a student council meeting where students were asked about how to give back to the community. Serving at the rescue mission came up, but only Halloween night was available to them. That did not prevent students from wanting to help at the mission. Seventh grade student Julia Allen said it was a fun thing to do. “It’s really nice that all of us girls are giving away our Halloween to help out these people who need our help.”

Jennifer Stallbaumer, the student council sponsor, agreed. “They are very enthusiastic about being here. They made signs to hang around the school and together they encouraged their peers to donate macaroni and cheese and jars of peanut butter.” Students collected 242 boxes of macaroni and cheese and 115 pounds of peanut butter to give to the rescue mission.

Board to Recognize 25-Year Employees

The Topeka Public Schools Board of Education will host a reception on Thursday, Nov. 17 to honor employees who have given 25 years of service to Topeka Public Schools. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Avondale West Elementary, 3229 SW Westview. A recognition ceremony will be held at the beginning of the Board meeting which begins at 6 p.m.

Those to be honored include:

John Barber, School Police
Janet Belknap, Highland Park Central Elementary
Lorie Booher, Topeka West High School
Gerald Boster, Quincy Elementary
Patrick Brewster, Topeka High School
Katherine Davis, Williams Magnet
Christopher Gomez, Service Center
Sandy Hanson, Lundgren Center
Rhonda Hendricks, Lowman Hill Elementary
Rhonda Larscheid, Robinson Middle School
Richard Mariani, Topeka West High School
Martin Moreno, Topeka High School
Michael Patzer, Jardine Middle School
Lori Roenbaugh, Topeka High School
Claudia Shover-Daily, Topeka High School
Julee Smail, Topeka West High School
Lori Spencer, McCarter Elementary
Stephanie Perez, Parents as Teachers
Terry Stanley, Williams Magnet
Mary VanDorn, Quincy Elementary
Lois Waldo, Lundgren Center/Randolph Elementary

Teachers Go Shopping

Don’t be surprised if you see a number of Avondale East Elementary School teachers shopping at Walmart on 37th Street. That’s because the store surprised the teachers by giving eleven of them a $100 gift card last week.

“I was so excited to be able to surprise them with this activity,” said Principal Dr. Jennifer Gordon. “They spend a lot of their own money to get things like snacks and stickers for their students, so this really gives them a boost where they don’t have to take out of their own pocket.”

Third grade teacher Stefanie Carter is one of the teachers who received a Walmart gift card. “I can now have something to last me maybe through the school year, to be able to go and buy different things for my students. I’m really excited.”

The 37th Street Walmart store has given out gift cards to teachers in other Topeka Public Schools, including Linn Elementary School.

Hogan is Employee of the Month

Janice Hogan, who works at the service center, has been chosen Employee of the Month by Key Staffing. The award was presented by Key Staffing owner Patti Bossert and staffing specialist Bethany Swinney. Deputy Superintendent of Operations Larry Robbins represented Topeka Public Schools.

Janice has worked at the service center since February. She does everything from processing and routing periodicals to handling inter-library loan materials to assisting school media specialists. Janice says she was surprised by the honor. “Evidently the district media staff knew about this for several days before it happened. It is always wonderful to be recognized by employers and co-workers and I greatly appreciate everyone’s support.”

Janice is one of several Key Staffing people working for Topeka Public Schools.

Songs Receives Latina Award

Teresa Songs, principal of Chase Middle School, received a 2011 Latina Awards honor from Mana de Topeka in the Education category. At the October 18 awards event, Songs was recognized for improving the educational environment at Chase and endorsing initiatives to build partnerships with parents and in the community. She promised to continue to work to meet the needs of the Latino and Hispanic communities.

Pictured left: Chase Principal Teresa Songs.

French MS Eighth Graders Collecting for Rescue Mission

Each year, the Advisor Base (AB) classes at French Middle School participate in community service projects. This year, all eighth grade AB classes are conducting a food and supplies drive for the Topeka Rescue Mission. The drive will run from November 1 through 21.

The summer of 2011 was a record-setting summer at the Mission. Most nights more than 300 homeless men, women and children sought shelter. This was over 100 more individuals per night than during the summer of 2010. The Mission continues to provide meals and food boxes to the hungry at the highest numbers ever.

AB students will collect the following to donate:

Food Item Suggestions:
Peanut Butter
Macaroni and Cheese
Granulated Sugar
Hamburger/Tuna Helper
Canned Foods
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Pasta Sauce
Coffee Creamer
Pancake Syrup
Any non-perishable food item

Supply Suggestions
Small Tubes Toothpaste
Tooth Brushes
Dental Floss
Small and Large Bottles Shampoo
Household Cleaning Items
Air Freshener/Lysol Spray
Diapers Sizes 4 to 6
Foot Powder
Toilet Paper

Donations may be dropped off at the school and may be designated for a specific AB.

Clothing Bank Serves TPS

Topeka Public Schools has a clothing bank. If you have new or gently used clothing that would be appropriate for school-aged children to wear to school, please consider donating to the bank. Call HPHS Social Worker Fred Willer at 274.6026 or e-mail fwiller@topeka.k12.ks.us to set up a pick up or delivery time. As we approach the colder months, your donations will be greatly appreciated.

The bank has an collection of clothing for all school-aged children. Our mission is to connect families with this free resource and to make it as easy as possible to access the clothing bank. If you are interested in free clothing for your children, the only criteria is that they be TPS students. Contact your school counselor or social worker or call Fred Willer, clothing bank director, at 274.6026.

Wittman Publishes First Book

Mary Ann Wittman
Our very own Mary Ann Wittman, TPS Adult Education Coordinator, has written and published her first book, The Little Christmas Tree. In her book, she tells the story of a lonely little tree that has given up hope of being selected for Christmas. That's when surprising events begin to happen. Readers of all ages will enjoy this touching story about acceptance, generosity and the joy of belonging.

Wittman was inspired to write the book after shopping for a Christmas tree one cold, snowy night at Westlake Hardware. "I looked over and saw some small, rather skinny trees and felt somehow sad at the thought that they would probably not get chosen," says Wittman. "It made me think about how it feels to be left out, to be somehow unacceptable, to be lonely. I decided there was a story to be told."

She completed the book in about two months. Once a rough copy was complete, Wittman needed an illustrator. "Originally, I had planned to have my older daughter illustrate the book. However, her time commitment to grad school in distant California prevented this from happening," Wittman says. "I found Andy (the illustrator) kind of by accident. He serves on our Adult Education Center Advisory Council. We were visiting one evening after a meeting and I discovered he is an artist." One thing led to another, and soon local artist Andy Valdivia was on board to illustrate the story. "His illustrations are beautiful and really capture the mood of the story." Valdivia also put her in touch with Jack Cobos, owner of Jack Cobos Design, also in Topeka. Wittman says, "The three of us got together and decided to keep this entirely a local endeavor." The book was printed by Jostens, Inc. in Topeka, and the first copies are now available. The book sells for $10 (tax included) and can be purchased by contacting Mary Ann Wittman at maryann.wittman@gmail.com, or her publisher at jackcobos@aol.com or business phone 785.266.8787.

Wittman will have a book signing at Above All Books and Gifts, 2607 SW 21st on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m., and at Eclective at 900 N. Kansas on December 2 during the First Friday Art Walk. Books will also be available for sale at the Washburn Tech Holiday Fair on Saturday, Nov. 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. See the flyer for her book here.

She is presently working on two more children's book for publication in 2012. Wittman has been the Adult Education Coordinator for TPS for the past 14 years.

Vaughn Goes Above & Beyond For HPHS Students

Otto Vaughn wants to make sure that students go to class and do the right thing. For more than 20 years, he has been spreading that message to the students of Highland Park High School where he volunteers several days a week. It is also why Otto is the latest Above & Beyond Award winner.

Vaughn knows that if students see you and get to know you, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say. “I try to encourage them to go to class and do the things that are going to help them in life,” said Vaughn. Besides being a familiar site in the lunch room, Vaughn can be found at school assemblies and at sporting events.

Highland Park High School Principal Dr. Beryl New appreciates the time that Vaughn spends with the students at her school. “He shares a wealth of wisdom and life experiences with students who may lack the support of a wise father or grandfather,” said New. Vaughn serves on the SITE team and participates on the Elders Council at HPHS.

If you know of a person who goes above and beyond in serving our students, nominate them for the monthly Above & Beyond Award. You’ll find a nomination form on the district website under staff/forms for staff/district program forms.

Author Visits HPHS

Award winning author Chris Crutcher was at Highland Park High School this morning talking to students about writing and being an author. He has written 13 books, 10 novels, two short story collections and an autobiography. All sophomores in the school district will be reading Crutcher’s novel, Iron Man, this year. Students from Chase Middle School and Shawnee Heights High School were also at Highland Park to hear and meet Crutcher.

TPS Foundation Awards $33,940 in Grants

The Topeka Public Schools Foundation Grant Patrol visited several District classrooms this morning to inform educators they have been awarded funds for projects in their school or classroom.
The TPSF grant allocations committee recently reviewed grants submitted by educators from Topeka Public Schools. Twenty-seven grants were approved for funding, totaling $33,940.
Grants are for classroom/school/district-wide innovative projects and provide opportunities for students that may not otherwise be possible. Pamela Johnson-Betts, Foundation executive director said, “The Foundation looks forward to this annual event and is delighted to award the funds that assist Topeka Public Schools by helping educators to meet their goals of giving TPS students exceptional learning opportunities.”

Sheldon Receives Award

Sheldon Child Development Center received the Award for Collaborative Excellence Award 2011, along with Child Care Aware (formerly ERC) and Family Service and Guidance Center,from Community Action. The award was for Sheldon's participation in the HHS Mentor Coach National Demonstration Project.

Sheldon staff and Community Action Head Start staff have been working collaboratively since last school year with coaches on staff development and coaching to enhance instruction to best serve Head Start children in the two programs.

The Award was presented at the Community Action annual Awards dinner on Thursday, October 13. Accepting on behalf of Sheldon and USD 501 were Scott Henson, Sheldon Director, Heather Appenfeller, Sheldon Education Coordinator, and Karen Rogenmoser, TPS Early Childhood Literacy Coach.

ShareFest Gives Schools New Look

More than 1,200 volunteers painted playground equipment, trimmed bushes and spread mulch during the annual ShareFest event on October 15. Many of the volunteers came from local churches. They were joined by students and staff of Topeka Public Schools.

The volunteers spent the morning working at Avondale West, McCarter, Meadows, Stout and Whitson Elementary Schools as well as at Landon and Robinson Middle Schools and Capital City and Topeka High Schools.

Topeka Public Schools wants to thank the ShareFest volunteers for making a difference in our school district.

TPS Receives Award of Excellence

Topeka Public Schools was awarded the Community Resources Council Award of Excellence at a luncheon at the Ramada Inn today. The district won in the government category. Interim Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford, Board of Education President Patrick Woods along with other board members and administrators accepted the award.

More than 60 individuals, businesses, non-profits and government agencies were nominated for the awards which honors those who make a difference in the Topeka community.

Topeka West Graduate Hall of Fame

Topeka West High School is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. As part of the celebration, the school inducted the first class of the newly formed Topeka West Graduate Hall of Fame. Inducted in ceremonies held at the school on October 16 were:

Bob Davis (class of 1962). Bob Davis does the play by play for the University of Kansas football and basketball games. He also broadcasts for the Kansas City Royals. He has won numerous awards during his sports broadcasting career.

Duane Fager (class of 1964). Duane Fager is a respected member of the Topeka business community and the president and CEO of Core First Bank and Trust. Core First employees over 400 people and has over $1.2 billion in assets.

Rev. Barry Feaker (class of 1974). The Reverend Barry Feaker has been the executive director of the Topeka Rescue Mission since 1986. He has presided over several expansions of the mission facilities and has been instrumental in providing the necessities of life for thousands of individuals and families in the Topeka area.

Members of the rock band Kansas: The four listed below are original members of the band. The group recorded its first album in 1974 and subsequently recorded eight gold albums, three sextuple platinum albums and such hits as Dust in the Wind, Point of No Return and Carry on My Wayward Son.
Kerry Livgren (class of 1967)
Phil Ehart (class of 1968)
Dave Hope (class of 1968)
Richard Williams (class of 1968)

Dr Owen Henson, the first principal at Topeka West High School, was inducted as the first recipient of the Distinguished Staff Award named in his honor. The award was presented to him by his son, Scott Henson, who is principal at Sheldon Child Development Center.

Signature Schools Groundbreaking

Topeka Public Schools broke ground for two construction projects today that will create the first PreK-8 Signature Schools in Topeka. The construction will connect Ross Elementary School (1400 SE 34th) with Eisenhower Middle School (3305 SE Minnesota) and State Street Elementary School (500 NE Sumner) with Chase Middle School (2250 NE State). All four schools are located on the east side of the city.

The two construction projects, totaling $11.5 million, will be among the largest in Topeka and Shawnee County this year. Local companies will do the work which will create 180 jobs. The projects are expected to be finished in time for the beginning of school in August 2012.

The signature schools will provide many opportunities for students that they have not had before. The signature for Ross-Eisenhower will be developed around music, including band, orchestra and vocal. Three new music rooms will be added at Ross along with 23 other classrooms.

The signature for State Street-Chase will be developed around the performing arts. State Street already has a beautiful stage/auditorium. A new performing arts, black box theater, will be added to State Street providing ample opportunities for students to get involved in the performing arts. Twelve classrooms will be added to State Street.
The new additions to the schools will allow for expanded pre-school and make available more classroom space for the growing pre-k programs in Topeka Public Schools.

“I think history will judge this historic commitment that will greatly benefit the students of Topeka Public Schools. From expanded opportunities for early childhood to signature schools that highlight music and the performing arts. Students will have opportunities they’ve never had before,” said Board of Education President Patrick Woods.

Prairie Band Supports TPS Indian Education Program

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation continues its support of Topeka Public Schools. Recently, the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation made a donation of $1,500 to the Indian Education Program in the school district. The donation was accepted by Karen Shanks at the Charitable Contribution Awards Ceremony. The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is a federally recognized sovereign nation with almost 5,000 tribal members.

Schools Make Standard of Excellence

The Kansas State Department of Education today released a list of Kansas schools achieving the State Standard of Excellence. Schools making the list include Shaner Elementary, Linn Elementary, Bishop Elementary, McCarter Elementary, Meadows Elementary, Randolph Elementary, Stout Elementary and Williams Magnet School.

To receive a Standard of Excellence in reading for grades 3-6, at least 25% of students must be in the exemplary category on the state assessment. To receive the same standard in math for grades 3-6, at least 25% of students must also be in the exemplary category on state testing. For a grade or building to receive a Standard of Excellence in reading or math, the building must make AYP in the “All Students” group.

Listed below are the schools, the subject they received the Standard of Excellence in and the grade or building level.

Shaner Elementary, Math, 4th grade
Linn Elementary, Reading 5th grade
Bishop Elementary, Math, 5th grade
McCarter Elementary, Reading, 5th grade
McCarter Elementary, Math, 5th grade
McCarter, Math, Building-Wide
Meadows Elementary, Reading, 4th grade
Randolph Elementary, Reading, 3rd grade
Randolph Elementary, Reading, Building-Wide
Randolph Elementary, Math, 4th grade
Randolph Elementary, Math, 5th grade
Randolph Elementary, Math, Building-Wide
Stout Elementary, Reading, 4th grade
Stout Elementary, Reading, Building-Wide
Stout Elementary, Math, 4th grade
Stout Elementary, Math, Building-Wide
Williams Magnet, Math, 5th grade

New Way to Figure Graduation Rates

October 11, 2011

Graduation Rates Changing

When high school graduation rates come out, you may be surprised to see they have dropped across the state. It is not that fewer students are receiving a diploma, but rather the result of a new way of figuring graduation rates in Kansas.
The 2010-2011 school year is the first year in which the U.S. Department of Education’s mandated four year adjusted cohort calculation method takes effect in all states. The mandate is an attempt to standardize graduation rate calculations across the country.

So what has changed? The new calculation tracks the movement of all students entering high school in a given year and determines how many graduate with a regular high school diploma four years later. The calculation adjusts the number of students who transfer in and out of the cohort during those four years. Previously, the graduation rate in Kansas looked only at the total number of graduates as compared to the number of graduates plus students who had dropped out in during their freshmen to senior year of high school.

The new four year adjusted cohort counts many students as “non-graduates” who would have factored into the graduation rate before. Those new non-graduates include students who do not graduate in four years, even if they are still enrolled in school, and students who transfer to a home school or private school that is not accredited by the state.

Since the way graduation from high school is calculated has changed, trying to compare this year’s graduation rate to last year’s would be like comparing apples to oranges. The 2010-2011 school year will be the base upon which future graduation rates can be compared. So don’t be surprised if the graduation rate at your high school is down, when actually it is just a new way of figuring graduation.

Ron Harbaugh
Communications Director
Topeka Public Schools

State Street Teacher Receives Surprise from OfficeMax

State Street Elementary teacher Erin Cay had a fabulous day on October 4. She was surprised with $1,000 worth of office supplies from OfficeMax during an all-school assembly. Through the "A Day Made Better" program, OfficeMax associates visited 1,000 classrooms across the country to surprise a deserving teacher; Ms. Cay was one of the winners! State Street adminstrative assistant Bonnie Strobel nominated Ms. Cay for the recognition and prizes. "She is a young, strong teacher who is respected by her peers and the parents of the students in her classroom," Strobel says.

In addition, the Topeka OfficeMax donated another $3,000 in supplies to State Street Elementary, including classroom supplies, book shelves, paper and more. Thanks OfficeMax!

Topeka West 50th Anniversary Homecoming Activities

Topeka West High School is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Many activities surrounding homecoming involve 50th anniversary events. Listed below are the homecoming activities.

Thursday, October 13th, 2:00 pm, Homecoming Parade
The entire Topeka West student body and staff will march in a parade for the 2011 Spirit Spectacular Homecoming. Chargers will leave the east parking lot at 2:00 pm, go south of Fairlawn to 21st St, west on 21st to Belle, and north on Belle to end in the west parking lot of the school. This year the Grand Marshal of the parade will be Dr. Owen Henson, the first principal at Topeka West High School.
6:00 PM, Topeka West Athletic Hall of Fame reception, 6:00 pm, cafeteria
7:00 PM, Topeka West Athletic Hall of Fame Induction, auditorium

Friday, October 14th
12:00 Noon, Former Topeka West Staff Reception, cafeteria
5:00 PM, Tailgate event (Hummer, EAST parking lot)
6:30 pm, Homecoming Royalty Crowning, Hummer field
7:00 pm, Football game v Seaman Vikings
Recognition of Westsider Alumni

Saturday, October 15th
7:00 am - Noon, Band Pancake Feed, cafeteria
8:00 am - Classic Car Show
5:00 pm - Alumni Concert (TW Singers, Orchestra)

Sunday, October 16th
2:00 pm - TW Graduate Hall of Fame and Distinguished Staff Award Reception
3:00 pm - TW Graduate Hall of Fame Induction, auditorium

ROTC Cadets Welcome Bob Dole to Topeka

The Topeka High School Marine Corp Junior ROTC color guard helped begin a ceremony to honor former Kansas Senator Bob Dole today. Several hundred people, including Kansas Senator Pat Roberts and Governor Brownback, gathered to welcome Dole and his wife Elizabeth back to Topeka and to witness the unveiling of a bronze plaque on the sidewalk honoring the native of Russell, Kansas. The plaque was in the shape of Kansas. Dole, who is 88 years old, is the first Kansan to be honored on the Kansas Walk of Fame. Kansas Historical Society Executive Director Jeannie Chinn said the plan is to add up to three plaques each year to the walk.

Dole served in the Kansas Statehouse in the 1950’s before heading to Washington. He served 35 years in the United States Senate. He ran for President in 1996. Dole is still very active telling the crowd he was going to visit Elkhart, Kansas, and Russell once he left Topeka.

FMS Students and Staff Enjoy Technology Boost

French Middle School is one of two schools in Northeast Kansas to receive a Technology Rich Classroom Grant from the Kansas State Department of Education last spring. The school received $85,000 and has purchased five promethium boards, nine digital cameras and three laptop carts containing 15 laptops each. In addition, the grant provides seven days of professional development to help staff learn more about infusing technology into classroom instruction.

THS Teacher Elected to Camera Club Position

Scott Udey, Photography Teacher at Topeka High School since 1997, was nominated and elected to the position of Region 1 Director of North Central Camera Club Council (N4C). N4C consists of 40 photography clubs including Topeka Camera Club where Scott has been the President for several years. This appointment is a four-year commitment where each year he will move up in position and responsibility until he is president of the N4C his last year. He was appointed to this position this Sept. 10, at the 2011 N4CConvention here in Topeka hosted by the Topeka Camera Club.

The Topeka Camera Club spent two years planning for the convention of photography seminars under Scott’s leadership. The club meets once or twice a month to talk about photography and critique each other’s work. For more information about these organization go to www.topekacameraclub.org/ or www.n4c.us/ .

Student Newspaper Wins Award

The Topeka High School student newspaper, The World, has received an International First Place Award from Quill & Scroll, an international honor society for high school journalist. This is the 11th First Place Award for The World since 1963, and the 8th since 2002. Topeka High has been a member of Quill & Scroll since it started in 1934.

Lunkins is Above & Beyond Award Winner

Congratulations to Tyronne Lunkins, the first Above & Beyond award winner for the new school year. Lunkins is a special education paraprofessional and has been at Randolph Elementary School for the past 14 years. He also coaches a football team made up of Randolph students. Lisa Roush, who nominated Lunkins said, “He is a role model for our 4th and 5th grade students and uses his life experiences to help our students realize what a gift an education is and how much can be accomplished in life when you have one.”

The Above & Beyond award is given to a teacher, staff worker, parent or volunteer who goes above and beyond to help the students of Topeka Public Schools. If you would like to nominate someone for the Above & Beyond award, you’ll find a nomination form on the district website under staff/forms for staff/district programs.

CERT Training For Teachers

Shawnee County Department of Emergency Management is pleased to announce that 50 teachers in USD 501 will be trained as Community Emergency Response Team or "CERT" members.

During the USD 501 in-service days, CERT instructors will deliver an abbreviated CERT curriculum. CERT Academy is normally 22 hours, but with many of the teachers being certified in CPR and First Aid the curriculum was slightly altered.

The training will begin September 26, 2011 at Eisenhower Middle School 3305 SE Minnesota Ave Topeka, Kansas 66605. The second session and graduation will be November 7, 2011. The training is free.

CERT instructors teach members how to take care of themselves, their families, their neighbors and their community before, during and after a disaster or emergency.

CERT is a national program administered by the Shawnee County Department of Emergency Management and is supported by federal grants. It is one of the programs under the Citizens Corps along with Volunteers in Police Service (ViPS), Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), and Fire Corps. If you are interested in CERT training, contact Shawnee County Emergency Management: phone 785-233-8200 Ext 4152 or email SNCOCERT@att.net

You can read more about CERT at http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/about.shtm or visit the SNCO CERT Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/snco.cert

Students Learn About Water

A number of 4th grade students from Topeka Public Schools got a little wet when they attended the Make a Splash Topeka Water Festival at Garfield Park yesterday. The kids had a great time learning about water. There were classes about water created from thunderstorms, groundwater and how water affects our daily lives. More than a thousand students attended the water festival.

(picture) Students from Ross Elementary School

Book Festival Brings Authors to School

Students in three schools got to see and hear from a real life author today. Author Eric McHenry from Washburn University talked to a 6th grade class at Eisenhower Middle School about poetry. He read some of the poems he has written and talked to the students about how to write poetry. Author Tom Averil visited Avondale West Elementary School. Averil is a Kansas author who has written numerous books about the Sunflower State. Tina Thompson read her book, Carly Likes Blue, to students at McCarter Elementary School. Thompson is director of early childhood development for Topeka Public Schools.

The three were among numerous Kansas authors who are taking part in the Kansas Book Festival on September 24th. The festival was put together by the First Lady of Kansas, Mary Brownback. It will be held at the Kansas History Museum includes meet-the-author sessions, panel discussions and book signings. Brownback hopes the book festival will promote literacy and encourage a life-long love of reading.

(picture) Author Eric McHenry at Eisenhower Middle School

Foundation Serves 25 Years

Topeka Public Schools Foundation (TPSF) and Topeka Public Schools past and present Board members, along with TPS administrative staff, commemorated TPSF's 25 years of service to the District with a reunion celebration last Sunday evening. Jim Edwards, current Foundation board member, and Melodie Woerman, past Foundation board member served as co-hosts for the event.
Dr. Walt Menninger, Dr. Marvin Edwards and Pamela Johnson-Betts

Past TPS Superintendent Dr. Marvin Edwards, who was the catalyst for the development of the Foundation, spoke to the group. Attendees also heard remarks from TPS alum and former TPS Foundation Board member Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker. In addition, the group received remarks of appreciation from TPS Interim Superintendent, Dr. Julie Ford.

The Monday morning Foundation Community Breakfast was also a success. Foundation Executive Director, Pamela Johnson-Betts said, "The community embraced the event as over 175 people attended on a Monday morning, bright and early." She continued, "We appreciate that several businesses sponsored the event and attended along with other state and local officials who showed their support."

Jim Deines, a local business man and 12-year Foundation Board member, was given the Foundation "Patron Award," and Dr. Marvin Edwards was presented the Foundation Founders Award.

Left: WIBW Channel 13 General Manager Jim Ogle announces Patron Award winner, Jim Deines.

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