New Names for Repurposed Schools

The Board of Education has approved name changes for the three elementary schools closed last year. Quinton Heights , Linn and Lundgren will now be known as Quinton Heights Education Center, Linn Education Center and Lundgren/Holland Education Center.

The three former schools are now being used as locations for various school services. Quinton Heights now houses Parents as Teachers, English Language Learners (ELL) and Parkdale Preschool. Linn is being used for Title 1 services. Special Education services are now located at the former Lundgren School.

Merrill Ross Memory Book

Many of you know that Merrill Ross died recently. Mr. Ross was a long time Topeka Public Schools educator. Ross Elementary School is named after him. A Memory Book is being put together to give to his family. If you have memories or stories about Merrill Ross, please share them by going to

Burnett Staff Collects 462 Pounds of Food for Project Topeka

The Burnett Center staff has been participating in the first annual "Supper Bowl" during the month of February. Staff were asked to bring food items and place them on a football field to represent their favorite team--Kansas State University or the University of Kansas. When the final food was scored, the count was made and the Jayhawks won with 251.77 lbs. of food. The Wildcat fans brought in 210.19 lbs.

Volunteer Keeps School Property Clean

John Holt is a familiar site around Chase Middle School. For the past 12 years, he has made his daily rounds picking up trash at Chase as well as neighboring State Street Elementary School. “When I retired, I wanted something to do. I started walking and picking up trash thinking I would do myself good and the community good,” said Holt. But he doesn’t restrict his cleanup efforts to just school property. He walks around the schools, then through the Oakland neighborhood all the way to Oakland Park. He says he has picked up everything from clothes and food to toys.

Chase Middle School Assistant Principal Bob Gay says he appreciates what Mr. Holt does for the school. “He comes over every day and walks completely around the school property. He picks up all the trash that is lying around. He makes sure our property stays clean,” said Gay.

For all his help to Topeka Public Schools, John Holt has been chosen as the Topeka Public Schools’ latest Above and Beyond Award winner. If you know of a staff person, parent or community person who goes above and beyond to serve the students of Topeka Public Schools, nominate them for the Above & Beyond Award. You will find a nomination form at Click on staff/forms for staff/district program forms/ TPS Above and Beyond Award.

Ross Elementary's Namesake Has Died

Most of our schools are named after people. One of those people died recently, Merrill Ross. He died February 15 in Texas at the age of 92. The former Highland Park South Elementary School was renamed Ross Elementary School in 1993 for he and his wife's many years of service to Topeka Public Schools.

Mr. Ross came to Topeka in 1944 to teach. A short time later, he was inducted into the military and became a fighter pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen. After the war, he returned to Topeka to teach and later serve as principal at Washington Elementary, Avondale West Elementary, Sheldon Elementary and Quinton Heights Elementary. He retired from Topeka Public Schools in 1985. In 1992, Mr. Ross was inducted into the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame.

A service for Merrill Ross was held February 25th at Shiloh Baptist Church. Mr. Ross is survived by his wife Barbara who is a former teacher in Topeka Public Schools.

Hummer Sports Park Into Hall of Fame

The Kansas American Softball Association Hall of Fame Selection Committee has selected Hummer Sports Park for induction into the Kansas ASA Hall of Fame in the Meritorious Service Category. The committee recognizes the Topeka Public Schools’ Hummer Sports Park for conducting KASA State Championships, ASA, National Championships, hosting of the Women's Olympic Team and many years of providing services to Kansas ASA.

The induction of TPS Hummer Sports Park will take place Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Kansas ASA Awards/Hall of Fame Banquet. The banquet will be held at the Ramada Convention Center, 420 East 6th St. at 6:30.

Hummer Sports Park is a six-sport facility located on SW 6th street between SW Oakley
and SW MacVicar streets. It features state-of-the-art facilities for football, track, soccer, baseball, softball and swimming.

Topeka High Yearbook is Honored

Sunflower, the yearbook of Topeka High School, has been chosen to be included in Ideas That Fly, Volume 17. This is a collection that reflects the best work in yearbooks from coast to coast. The Sunflower was selected by Herff Jones Yearbook Company's North Carolina marketing staff from thousands of yearbooks. Ideas That Fly will be delivered to the yearbook class sometime in February. Congratulations to all current and former Sunflower staff members who worked on last year's book.

Davids Named Tennis Coach of the Year

Kurt Davids, the boys and girls tennis coach at Topeka West High School, has been selected as the 5A Kansas Coach of the Year for boys tennis. “Coach Davids is a great example of a coach who sets high expectations for his athletes both in the classroom and on the tennis court. Coaches across Kansas recognize his honesty, integrity and work ethic,” said Topeka West Athletic Director Beau Huscher.
Davids will be recognized during halftime of the Topeka West vs Topeka High basketball game on February 21st.

Board Votes to Close Avondale East Elementary

The Board of Education tonight voted to close Avondale East Elementary School at the end of this school year. The vote was 6-0, with one board member abstaining. Avondale East students would attend Ross Elementary next school year. The vote came after a public hearing in which ten people spoke against closing the school. Concerns were voiced about some student having to cross Adams Street to get to Ross, parents without cars not being able to attend school events and fears that the school building would stand empty. Board members said they would work on solutions to the safety and transportation concerns. School officials are expected to begin talks with various groups and organizations that have indicated an interest in locating in Avondale East.

Chase Coach Selected to be Kagan Trainer

Chase and Landon Middle School literacy coach Angela Dick has been accepted to be a part-time Kagan trainer. Dick applied to participate in the certification program and then completed the rigorous application and training process last summer at the Kagan headquarters and training facility in California. In addition to the training, she was required to submit a DVD demonstrating her abilities in using Kagan structures. She will be attending further training this spring.

Dick is only one of seven selected nationwide for this distinction.

Public Hearing on Avondale East Closing

A public hearing on the closing of Avondale East Elementary School will be held February 16th beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Burnett Administrative Center at 624 SW 24th Street. Those wanting to speak are encouraged to sign up prior to the beginning of the public hearing. The regular board of education meeting will begin immediately follow the public hearing.

Legislative Information

The funding of education in Kansas is a major issue in the 2012 Kansas Legislature. Topeka Public Schools encourages you to be informed when it comes to education-related matters.

Topeka Public Schools has taken legislative positions on school finance, taxes and other issues as it pertains to public schools in Topeka. Click here to download a formatted document explaining those positions.

Also included is contact information for members of the Shawnee County Legislative Delegation.

Shawnee County Legislators

DistrictNameStatehouse AddressPhoneE-Mail Address
18thSen. Laura
19thSen. Anthony
20thSen. Vicki
50thRep. Trent
51stRep. Mike Burgess151-S296-7653mike.burgess@house,
52ndRep. Lana
53rdRep. Ann
54thRep. Joe
55thRep. Annie
56thRep. Annie
57thRep. Sean
58thRep. Harold

DSOB stands for Docking State Office Building

Life Saving Action

Gayla Copeland works at Stormont Vail as a job coach through the Topeka Public Schools’ Special Education Student Internship Program. She was observing a student performing job tasks in the hospital cafeteria February 1st when she heard someone coughing. She turned to see who it was and saw a hospital employee standing with her hands at her throat. When the person couldn’t speak, Gayla knew the woman was in trouble. “I went behind her and put my arms around her, fists below her rib cage, and thrust in and up three times. A piece of food popped out of her mouth”, said Copeland. After making sure the woman was alright, Gayla returned to her duties. A few moments later, staff from the emergency room arrived to find that everything was fine.

Copeland recalls taking CPR classes during the late 1970’s and 80’s. She said it’s amazing that some things do stay with you. “It was very humbling for me and I was amazed that an odd calmness came over me during that time. I truly thank God,” said Copeland.

Terri Deshazer is director of the student internship program at Stormont Vail. She is a special education teacher and social worker as well. “Gayle started last fall. You hope to have someone like her working for you because she is so caring of the students and hospital employees. She has created some great relationships between students and hospital staff. It is an honor to work with her,” said Deshazer.

Students Receive Free Books

The Young Leaders Society of Topeka is on a mission to promote reading by students of Shawnee County. In 2010, they took on a youth literacy project called the Junior Leader Readers Program. Since then, the group has given away more than 5,500 books. The latest giveaway occurred January 30 when the Young Leaders Society handed out a book to all 600 students at Meadows Elementary School. First Lady Mary Brownback kicked off the event by reading a book to the students.

The Young Leaders Society is comprised of people under the age of 40. The group works closely with United Way of Greater Topeka. The event at Meadows also involved the Kansas Volunteer Commission.

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