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9-7-22 — 21st Century Academies Celebrate Milestone

Sept. 7, 2022 ~ Two decades ago, the Olathe Public Schools launched a bold and unique approach to high school education — 21st Century Programs. Those programs were the result of extensive surveys and focus groups asking businesses, parents, students and staff what 21st century high schools should look like.

In 1999, Dr. Ron Wimmer, then-superintendent, had a vision of high schools providing world-class programs to teach skills and attributes that would prepare students for their future. Planning of the innovative 21st Century Programs was overseen by Dr. Pat All, deputy superintendent at the time. The programs were implemented in fall 2003, when Olathe Northwest High School opened.

21st Century Academies anniversary logoThe original four programs grew to 15 and it was renamed 21st Century Academies under the leadership of Dr. Alison Banikowski, former deputy superintendent, in 2017.

The 21st Century Academies allow each student to build upon their interests and learn specific knowledge and skills they can apply to post-secondary experiences and career fields. Students who endorse in an academy earn a Market Value Asset by way of Work-Based Learning as an intern or doing a research/client project. Students typically earn an MVA as part of their capstone project, but they can also be earned in other ways.

Each academy meets all the components of the district’s Portrait of a Graduate: critical thinking and problem solving; creativity and innovation; initiative and self-direction; resilience and social and emotional wellbeing; communication; and social and cross-cultural skills.

Stories of student success in the 21st Century Academies will be featured on the district website this school year.

Visit the 21st Century Academies website for more information