Staff, Students Enjoy Award-Winning 2019-20

  • The Olathe School District is proud of its award-winning students and staff. Students are regularly recognized for their achievements in academics and athletics. Our highly qualified instructors have been honored by their peers locally and nationwide for a variety of accomplishments.

    Schools and Programs of Distinction

    • The Olathe School District ranked fourth in Kansas as part of a national evaluation of public data, report cards and profiles for K-12 districts across the United States. The 2020 Best Schools listing by Niche ranked Olathe second in the largest districts in Kansas and fourth in best school districts in the state.
    • Santa Fe Trail Middle School was recognized as a School of Excellence by the Civic Advocacy Network by the Kansas Department of Education.
    • Olathe Food Services received two recognitions from the Kansas State Department of Education: the Kansans Can Increase Participation award and Kansans Can Serve It Safe award.
    • The Olathe Public Schools Communications Division received four statewide recognitions from the Kansas Association of School Boards and KanSPRA.
    • The Kansas City Area Parents as Teachers Consortium, which includes Olathe Parents as Teachers, has earned the highest designation from the Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc., as a Blue Ribbon Affiliate, making it one of the top performing home visiting affiliates within the PATNC’s international network.
    • Zippia published its 2019 list of Best Companies to Work For in Olathe and Olathe Public Schools received the No. 5 ranking.
    • Olathe West High School and the Green Tech Academy were recognized by the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and named Kansas Green School of the Year.
    • The Kansas State Department of Education in partnership with character.org and Smoky Hill Education Service Center, honored Julie Fishburn of Olathe West High School and Tisha Halfert of Green Springs Elementary with Enhanced Spotlight Recognitions as part of the Kansas Schools of Character program.
    • The Confidence in Kansas Public Education Task Force has named 92 schools, including Ridgeview and Washington elementary schools, as recipients of the 2019 Challenge Awards.
    • The 2019 Santa Fe Trail Middle School yearbook was selected to be featured in Balfour’s Yearbook Yearbook, a showcase of exceptional work in theme development, design and photography from publications across the United States and overseas.

    Outstanding Students

    • photo of Olathe East Battle of the Brains team Four students earned a perfect score on the ACT Exam. While the actual number of students earning a composite score of 36 varies from year to year, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students taking the ACT earn a top score.
    • Anna Hastings, senior at Olathe South High School, was elected to serve as an International Thespian Officer.
    • Olathe South High School senior Bryan Johnson was selected to perform in the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-National Honor Ensembles Concert Band.
    • Olathe East High School placed second in the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains competition. The second-place finish earned Olathe East $25,000 in STEM-related initiatives for their school. (pictured at right)
    • The Olathe North High School Northwinds earned $5,000 for their music department after being named the winner of 99.7 The Point’s Christmas Choir Competition.
    • The student-led #ZeroReasonsWhy suicide prevention campaign received the 2019 Excellence in Community Service Award from the United Community Services of Johnson County.
    • Olathe North High School senior Eddie Dai was one of 300 students named as a scholar in the Regeneron Science Talent Search.
    • Eddie Dai, Olathe North High School, was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar. The prestigious U.S. Presidential Scholar recognition is one of the highest achievements for a graduating senior.
    • Eric Martin, junior at Olathe Northwest High School, won first place in the 2020 Kansas Music Educators Association Composition Competition.
    • Olathe Northwest High School senior Kaela Amundson was selected as the winner for the Western Missouri and Kansas Affiliate Award for Aspirations in Computing from the National Center for Women in Information Technology.
    • Three Olathe North High School students won 2020 Gold Key Awards from the Missouri Region of Scholastic Art and Writing.
    • Ashleigh Strom and Maya Wood, juniors at Olathe West High School, are two of 30 students in the greater Kansas City area selected to participate in the KC Storytellers Project.
    • Manu Sripathi, a fifth-grade student from Regency Place Elementary, won the Olathe Spelling Bee.
    • The Olathe South High School threatre program earned the Outstanding School Award from Education Theatre Association.
    • Students at Mill Creek Campus were awarded the Help My MoKan Schools Grant provided by 99.7 The Point, Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 2 and SMACNA.
    • The Kansas State Department of Education named 12 Olathe high school students as 2020 Kansas Career and Technical Education Scholars.
    • At the Greater Kansas City Science and Engineering Fair, Eddie Dai, senior at Olathe North High School, and Khushi Kohli, Olathe North junior, each received one of four Grand Awards which were presented to the top four high school projects that meet the stringent requirements for qualifying and entering the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair.
    • Olathe North High School juniors Wade Boohar and Samuel Liu qualified to take the 2020 U.S National Chemistry Olympiad Exam.
    • Oregon Trail Middle School sixth-grade student Victoria Martinez was selected as one of two winners in the Cool Science Extreme Weather Art Competition.

    Outstanding Staff

    • Megan Wendleton, art teacher at California Trail Middle School, was selected as the 2019-20 Outstanding Overall Art Educator of the Year by the Kansas Art Education Association.
    • Olathe West High School assistant baseball coach Derek Leppert was recognized as one of the Baseball America Assistant Coaches of the Year by the 2019 American Baseball Coaches Association.
    • Olathe Public Schools Director of Staffing and Talent Acquisition Cathy Donovan was elected president for the American Association of School Personnel Administrators.
    • Chisholm Trail Middle School social studies teacher Ashley Umphrey was selected as the 2019 Kansas Council for History Education Elementary Teacher of the Year.
    • Two Olathe educators received Olathe Human Relations Commission Awards for their work in the classroom and community. Olathe North High School history teacher Phillip Simons received the 2019 Educator Award. Olathe Northwest High School English teacher Angie Powers received the 2019 Humanitarian Award.
    • Josh Stock, Santa Fe Trail Middle School language arts teacher, was named as one of three Outstanding Recent Graduates from Emporia State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Science, The Teachers College and the School of Business.
    • Olathe Public Schools Executive Director of Communications and Community Relations Maggie Kolb was honored with the 2019 Distinguished Service award presented by the Kansas School Public Relations Association.
    • Dustin Pence, Olathe North High School theater director, was honored at the Kansas Thespian Festival by being named as the Kansas Thespian Region 2 Teacher of the Year.
    • Olathe Public Schools K-12 Social Studies Coordinator Tina Ellsworth was elected as a representative at-large for the National Council for the Social Studies.
    • Olathe Public Schools Assistant Director of General Administration for Food Services Cindy Jones was elected as the Southwest Regional Director of the School Nutrition Association.
    • Pioneer Trail Middle School Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Scott Appell was named the High School Middle School Athletic Director of the Year by the Kansas Interscholastic Administrators Association.
    • The Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals recognized Jay Novacek, Olathe West High School principal, as the 2020 Principal of the Year.
    • Heather Schoonover, community development liaison for the Olathe Public Schools, was named a recipient of the 2020 Arts Inspired Network Courageous Creativity Challenge award.
    • LuAnn Fox, Olathe Northwest High School English teacher, was selected by the Kansas Association of Teachers of English as a national recipient of the 2019 High School Teacher of Excellence Award, sponsored by the Secondary Section of the National Council of Teachers of English.
    • Olathe East High School boys and girls soccer coach Terry Hair was selected to coach the boys team in the 2019 High School All-American Game.
    • Olathe West High School girls cross country coach Kelsey Carbajo was named the Kansas 6A Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year by the Kansas Track and Field and Cross Country Association.
    • Two district teachers were honored for their work as new educators with the Kansas Horizon Award. Bennett Johnson, a music teacher from Heritage Elementary, and Samantha Collins, an English/Language Arts teacher at Chisholm Trail Middle School, each received the prestigious award.
    • David Hastings, Olathe South High School theater director, was inducted into the Kansas Thespians Hall of Fame.
    • Jessica Sadler, sixth-grade science teacher at Oregon Trail Middle School, was selected to receive the Spirit of Education Award from National Safe Schools Convening.
    • Gretchen Harrison, choir teacher at Frontier Trail Middle School, was elected to national chair for Choral Repertoire and Resources on the American Choral Directors Association.
    • Tyler Kitson, school psychologist for Fairview and Washington elementary schools, was awarded the 2020 Presidential Award in Recognition of Exceptional Service to Children and School Psychology during the National Association of School Psychologists Annual Convention.
    • Olathe Northwest High School biology teacher Andrew Taylor was recognized with the Kansas Outstanding Biology Teacher Award by the National Association of Biology Teachers.

    Outstanding Athletes

    • photo of Olathe East gymnastics team The Olathe East High School gymnastics team earned the 6A Kansas state title in gymnastics. (pictured at right)
    • Kelsey Meyer, Olathe East senior, earned first place and won an individual state title in the balance beam.
    • Brooke Illum, Olathe Northwest High School senior, earned first place and won individual state titles in floor, vault and all-around.
    • The Olathe West High School boys soccer team earned the Kansas 6A state title.
    • Jony Munoz, Olathe West High School senior, was named MVP of the High School Boys All-American Soccer Game.
    • Olathe North High School junior Arland Bruce IV was named the 2019 recipient of the Thomas A. Simone Memorial Award, given to the outstanding high school football player in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
    • Olathe North wrestler Keegan Slyter earned the Kansas 6A state title in the 126-pound weight class.
    • Olathe South High School wrestler Gavin Brown earned the Kansas 6A state title in the 160-pound weight class.
    • The Boys 200-Yard Medley Relay swim team from Olathe East earned first place with team members Philip Costello, Jack Gabrielson, Micah Leslie and Aidan Walters.
    • Harry Tjaden, Olathe East, earned the Kansas 6A state title in the boys 200-Yard and 500-Yard Freestyle events.
    • Olathe East boys swim team members Jack Gabrielson, Luke Hagan, Micah Leslie and Harry Tjaden earned first place in the boys 200-Freestyle Relay.
    • Philip Costello, Olathe East, earned first place in the boys 100-Yard Breaststroke.
    • The Olathe East boys 400-Yard Freestyle Relay team earned first place with team members Philip Costello, Keaton Kristoff, Harry Tjaden and Aidan Walters.
    • The Olathe East High School bowling team earned the Kansas 6A state title.
    • The Olathe Northwest Raven Dance Team attended the National Dance Alliance (NDA) National Competition in Orlando, Florida, where they earned a national championship in Large Varsity Team Performance and Large Varsity Jazz.