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8-24-21 — Late August 2021 Awards

Aug. 24, 2021

East Students Honored at National Thespys

Several Olathe East High School students were honored at the Thespys, a national competition featuring state qualifiers from all 50 states. To qualify, students must first receive a Superior at their home state thespian festival. Olathe honorees included one Showcase Performer, two Thespy winners and eight Total Superior awards – the highest number of superiors by any school in the United States this year. In addition, Olathe East’s Layla Abu Saada was one of only eight selected to perform in the Thespy Showcase. Congratulations to:

  • Layla Abu Saada and Madeline King – Solo Musical Theatre Thespy winners
  • Layla Abu Saada, Madeline King, Willa Walberg (2021 graduate), Ellie Eisele, Phoebe Mock, Addison Landes (2021 graduate) – Superior winners in Solo Musical Theatre
  • Bre Kristian and Liv Hollan – Superior winners in Duet Musical Theatre

Wisner Earns Third Place at National Braille Challenge

Emrie Wisner, incoming third grade student at Mahaffie Elementary School, earned third place at the 2021 Braille Challenge Finals in the Apprentice bracket. Braille Challenge is the only academic competition of its kind held in North America for students who are blind or visually impaired. Braille Institute developed Braille Challenge to motivate students to hone their braille literacy skills, which are essential to academic and employment success. Contestants are divided into five categories and tested on fundamental braille skills such as reading comprehension, spelling, speed and accuracy, proofreading, and charts and graphs.

Keely Receives Statewide Award

Becky Keely, physical education teacher at Meadow Lane Elementary School, was named the 2021 Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the Kansas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (KAHPERD). Keely was selected as an award recipient for using a comprehensive and diverse physical education program, planning and implementing innovative and diverse experiences to meet the needs of all students, utilizing student assessment as an essential component of the physical education program, and advocating for the profession among other criteria. Keely will be honored at the 2021 KAHPERD Convention Awards Celebration later this fall.

Swaminathan Earns Samsung American Legion Scholarship

Miles Raj Swaminathan, Olathe Northwest High School, received the 2021 Samsung American Legion Scholarship for proven excellence in academic pursuits and dedication to the community, attributes which are in keeping with the efforts of the U.S. Service men and women who helped maintain freedom for the citizens of South Korea. Winners are selected according to academic record, involvement in school and community service.

Staff Honored at Olathe Police Award Ceremony

Three Olathe Public Schools employees were honored at the 22nd annual Olathe Police Award Ceremony. Erik Erazo, executive director of diversity and engagement, Gerardo Jimenez, migrant specialist, and Ian Higgs, Olathe Advanced Technical Center auto collision instructor, were presented the Plaque of Appreciation for their work to build a lowrider police car with students in the OATC auto collision program and Olathe Leadership Lowrider Bike Club. Historically, this award may be presented to a citizen who performs an outstanding service to the community or the police department in the interest of better law enforcement.

Students Recommended for Kansas Seal of Biliteracy

The Olathe School District has recommended 60 graduates from the 2020-21 school year to receive the Kansas Seal of Biliteracy based on their academic achievement in English and an additional world language for the 2020-2021 school year. The recommendation was submitted to the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). Student recipients receive a seal designation on their transcript, a congratulatory letter from Dr. Randy Watson, Kansas Commissioner of Education, and a certificate from the state of Kansas. Congratulations to:

  • Olathe East High School: Andrea Shehi, Anna Shoup, Blake Venneman, Cara Castaldi, Ellison Lewis, Emma Gotfredson, Harry Wang, James McFarlane, Jaxon Avena, Jordan Kreps, Kathryn Himmelberg, Kenlie Parks-Walburn, Kochai Ahmadullah, Lucy Gordon, Mayerli Herrera, Nicholas Engle, Riya Ranat, Robert Munch, Ryan Kempker, Samuel Kullberg and Teagan Townsend
  • Olathe North High School: Arjun Garapaty, Austin Shoemaker, Emma Sandbothe, Irina Honc Lamadrid, Kaitlyn Savoy, Karli Bayliss, Khushi Kohli, Kutina Cabrera, Mary Janzen, Neha Sridhar and Savindu Buluwana
  • Olathe Northwest High School: Alex Kocour, Avery Hurley, Caden McNeal, Christopher Prew, Courtney Beers, Elizabeth Clark, Emma Thelen, Gugleen Niijar, Jordyn Gobble, Landon Osipik, Luke Ragland, Margo Salaczplantz and Sarah Ammel
  • Olathe South High School: Alexis Redin, Brooke Peters, Hayley Nielson and Miranda Nitz
  • Olathe West High School: Allysa Moore, Blake Peterson, Cache Goracke, Edwin Bustillo, Gabriel Romero, Galilea Rodriguez, Isreal Barraza, Jonathan Villanueva de La Cruz, Kirsten Alvarado, Maeve MacNaughton and Ryan Sauter

California Trail Trio Receives Honorable Mention

Ayanna Jain, Devamayi Nair and Vaishnavi Lakshman, seventh graders at California Trail Middle School, received an Honorable Mention award in the 2021 ProjectCSGIRLS National Competition for Middle School Girls for their software project, “K.Y.V.S (Keep Your Vehicle Safe)” submitted in the “Safer World” competition category. One of 38 finalists nationwide, the California Trail team was selected for designing software that informs a car owner before a thief breaks into a car by using a camera and smartphone technology. The small device is installed in the vehicle and sends a notification to the owner’s phone through a wireless internet network whenever motion is detected around the vehicle, including a photo of the motion and date/time timestamp.

Founded during the summer of 2013, ProjectCSGIRLS is an organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in computing and technology.