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8-31-23 — August 2023 Awards

Aug. 31, 2023

District Recommends 119 Seniors to Receive the Kansas Seal of Biliteracy

Olathe Public Schools recommended 119 high school seniors to receive the Kansas Seal of Biliteracy based on their academic achievement in English and an additional world language for the 2022-2023 school year. The recommendation was submitted to the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). Last school year, 87 seniors were recommended and awarded. Each year has seen an increase in the number of students awarded.

The Kansas Seal of Biliteracy is awarded to a student upon graduation by the Kansas State Department of Education and a local school district to recognize any student who has attained proficiency in English and one or more other world languages. The recognition becomes part of a student’s high school transcript. The Seal of Biliteracy is a statement of accomplishment that recognizes a student’s readiness for career, college and engagement as a global citizen. The majority of states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia now offer a Seal of Biliteracy.

Student recipients receive a seal designation on their transcript, a congratulatory letter from Olathe Public Schools, a certificate from the state of Kansas and a medal.

Manchester Park Elementary Teacher Named History Teacher of the Year

Rachel Swearengin, Manchester Park Elementary School fifth grade teacher, has been named the 2023 Kansas History Teacher of the Year. The award is presented annually by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education.

“This award is very special to me because history is a subject that often does not receive very many instructional minutes in the elementary classroom, yet it is vital to helping students build a foundation of what it means to be a productive citizen in a democratic society,” Swearengin said. “I want to continue to spread that message.”

The award was inaugurated in 2004 and is now celebrating its 20th anniversary. It was implemented to highlight the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary school through high school. The award honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and U.S. territories.

In addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Swearengin receives a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials. She is now one of 53 finalists for the 2023 National History Teacher of the Year Award.

Olathe Students Earn Top Honors at ProX Summer Showcase

Several Olathe Public Schools students received top honors at the 2023 ProX Summer Showcase at the Kansas City Music Hall on July 13. ProX is a regional collaborative that gives access to real-world professional experiences in the summer by offering paid internships to students aged 14-18. More than 600 high school students participated in summer internships with more than 125 employers in the Kansas City region.

All intern groups had the chance to pitch solutions to employer-posed problems, with the top eight presenting live to more than 1,000 community members. Prizes of up to $5,000 were awarded. The Olathe students who received top honors are:

From Olathe North High School:

  • Anusha Chaturvedi – Diversity Telehealth – Live Pitch – 1st Place (earned $5,000)
  • Taiwo Awe (2023 graduate) – Children's Mercy – Live Pitch – 2nd Place (earned $2,500)
  • Kireeti Sai Putti – Blue Cross Blue Shield Local KC – Elite 8
  • Jason Muchiri (2023 graduate) – Trozollo – Elite 8

From Olathe Northwest High School:

  •  Austin Boye-Doe – Made in KC – Elite 8

From Olathe East High School:

  • Makyah Pompey – Unified Government – Elite 8

Those who placed in the top three were awarded cash prizes, and the remaining groups from the “Elite 8” received a signed Kansas City Chiefs football.

“We are so proud of these young people and the employers who worked with them for all that they have accomplished over the summer,” ProX Program Director Michael Robins said. “We look forward to seeing what they continue to do for Kansas City.”

Olathe Theater Students Recognized at International Thespian Festival

The International Thespian Festival is the best week of high school theater in the country. The festival was held at Indiana University from June 19-23. Olathe Public Schools had over 60 students and staff attend.

“Thespys” are the competitive acting/technical theater arm of the International Thespian Society. Students who received superiors at the state thespian festival in January can bring a “Thespy” to the nationwide festival. “Thespys” can be presented in many categories including Solo and Group Acting/Musical Theatre, Lighting and Sound Design, Stage Management, Costume Design and more. All the skills the students learn while doing “Thespys” are covered in the Olathe Public Schools theater curriculum and apply to many of the career pathways that the theater students will find themselves pursuing. “Thespys” are scored from a rubric and a student can earn a Superior, Excellent, Good or Fair.

Excellent is often considered the at-or-above standard score with Superior more representative of exceeds or above standard.

The culminating event of the week is the International Thespian Awards Showcase or “The Thespys.” This is the event where the whole concept gets its name and is modeled after events like the Tonys or Oscars. At least one “Thespy” is given out in each competition category, normally for perfect scores or if a perfect score is not given, then for the highest score. That means that about 17 “Thespys” are given a year.

Olathe West High School was awarded its first two “Thespys” bringing the district total to nine in just four years. Olathe is the only district in Kansas or Missouri to have nine “Thespys” and one of only a couple districts in the country. This year’s “Thespy” award winners were:

  • Mary Kueter, Playwriting, Olathe West 2023 graduate – Perfect Score
  • Lauren Grimes, Solo Musical, Olathe West – Perfect Score

Olathe Public Schools had 22 students earn Superior ratings, including the two Thespy winners:

  • Kate Meives, Solo Musical, Olathe East 2023 graduate
  • Ellie Eisele, Solo Musical, Olathe East 2023 graduate
  • Sydney Carter, Solo Musical, Olathe East
  • Zach Newkirk, Solo Musical, Olathe East 2023 graduate
  • Lauren King, Monologue, Olathe East 2023 graduate
  • Jackson Huwe, Short Film, Olathe East 2023 graduate
  • Eve Loehrer, Theatre Marketing, Olathe North 2023 graduate
  • Kade Stultz, Sound Design, Olathe North 2023 graduate
  • Lake Sowles, Solo Musical Theatre, Olathe South 2023 graduate
  • Julianna Bowles, Solo Musical Theatre, Olathe South
  • Tristan Jenkins, Solo Musical Theatre, Olathe South
  • Isaac Lowe, Stage Management, Olathe West
  • Katie Sauter, Sound Design, Olathe West
  • Aidan Davis and Evan McCoy, Duet Musical, Olathe West
  • Jordan Cabuay, Solo Acting, Olathe West 2023 graduate
  • Amberleigh Worley, Solo Musical, Olathe West
  • Aaron Shirley, Solo Musical, Olathe West
  • Maddie Blackman, Solo Musical, Olathe West
  • Lexi Heideman, Solo Musical, Olathe West
  • Ashlyn Robertson, Solo Musical, Olathe West

North Debate Students Shine at Grand National Championships

This past Memorial Day weekend, Olathe North High School juniors Isabella Foster and Hannah Cleveland finished third in the nation at the annual Grand National Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, sponsored by the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL). Every year they host six speech events and four debate events.

Foster and Cleveland went to the elimination rounds as the 13th seed. They beat the 20th seed team in the first elimination round and then defeated the 3rd and 4th seeds before losing to the No. 1 overall seed in the semifinals.

“This is an outstanding achievement for any team, but to accomplish this as then-sophomores is truly special,” Olathe North head forensics coach Richard Belske said.

The NCFL is an organization originating from the Catholic secondary school community in the United States for the purpose of providing a service to all secondary school students. The organization was founded in 1951 to create speech and debate opportunities for all students.

Olathe Students Receive KC Scholars Scholarships

To close out the 2022-2023 school year, 25 of our high school students were awarded KC Scholars scholarships for this year’s cycle. Eleven students received the Traditional Scholarship, five received the Avila Traditional Scholarship, three received the Saint Mary Traditional Scholarship, one received the University of Missouri Traditional Scholarship and five received the College Savings Match.

Traditional Scholarship Awardees receive $50,000 to attend one of 19 KC Scholars post-secondary network partner schools. College Saving Match Awardees can earn up to $1,400 for matches and incentives.

“The dedication, hard work and commitment demonstrated by your students have not only brought immense pride to their families but have also reinforced the reputation of your staff for providing excellent education and a supportive learning environment,” KC Scholars Chief Operating Officer Natalie Lewis said. “We commend your efforts in nurturing these talented individuals and guiding them toward reaching their full potential.”