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4-1-24 — March 2024 Awards

April 1, 2024

Olathe Students Represent at KC BizFest

The 21st annual KC BizFest, hosted by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, was held from Feb. 28-March 2 at Johnson County Community College. Olathe Public Schools had the most representation of any Kansas City metro district with 48 students participating among Olathe East, Olathe North, Olathe Northwest and Olathe South high schools.

“KC BizFest offers high school students in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area an opportunity to learn a variety of life skills and business techniques,” Olathe Public Schools Student and Support Specialist Jean Cantero said. “By attending KC BizFest, students gain entrepreneurial experience, economic literacy, improved skills in math, reading, writing, and verbal communication while gaining workforce readiness when creating feasible business plans.”

Most KC BizFest participants come from the emerging Latino community in KC metro school districts, but students from other backgrounds attend as well. Students learn the art of networking in business environments, identifying investment opportunities, implementing money management skills, and making public presentations. During the four-day intensive training seminar, KC BizFest focuses on helping students turn hobbies and skills into profit-making ventures, establish entrepreneurial and leadership goals, create plans for business and life, and become effective leaders and team players. In addition, students have a chance to earn scholarships from sponsoring area colleges and universities.

On the last day of KC BizFest, each student presents a unique business plan in front of a judge for a chance to be selected as finalist. Finalists then compete and are judged by a larger pool of judges. For all participants, the event's final day allowed family and friends to come and celebrate the successes of each student throughout the week.

Olathe students had 100% attendance throughout the four days, making them eligible for KC BizFest scholarships at sponsoring area colleges. On the final day, the judge determined six finalists. All six finalists receive an automatic scholarship that can be taken to any college or university of the student’s choosing. Olathe had five representatives in the final six, which is a new record:

  • First Place — Isabelle Scheidel, Olathe Northwest
  • Second Place — Leah Abai, Olathe Northwest
  • Fourth Place — Graciano Paramo, Olathe Northwest
  • Fifth Place — Carmen Guerra, Olathe Northwest
  • Sixth Place — Mia Estrada, Olathe North

Olathe North Freshman Wins Regional Research Competition

Olathe North High School freshman Mahi Kohli and 13 high school students across Kansas and Oklahoma school districts were invited to the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) Regional Competition on Feb. 24, where they presented original research projects on real-world issues in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Kohli won first place and received a $2,000 scholarship for her work. She will advance to compete in the National JSHS Competition from May 1-4 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

At the regional competition, students presented their scientific research work to a panel of doctors. Out of the 14 students who presented, five were chosen to advance to the national competition. Kohli’s research project focused on improving the accuracy in diagnosing breast cancer. Her study aimed to improve a method of diagnosing breast cancer called a Fine-Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNAB), which is a minimally invasive and more affordable method, but only has a 77.5% diagnosis accuracy. Through her research, Kohli found ways to improve this number's efficiency by comparing optimal machine learning models for breast diagnosis.

Kohli was the only student in this regional competition from Olathe Public Schools and was the youngest of the pool of invited regional competitors. The other 13 students were juniors and seniors.

JSHS is a Department of Defense sponsored STEM program (U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force) that encourages high school students to conduct original research in the fields of STEM and publicly recognizes students for outstanding achievement. By connecting talented students, teachers, and research professionals and rewarding research excellence, JSHS aims to widen the pool of trained talent prepared to conduct research and development vital to our nation.

OATC Culinary Wins 2024 Kansas ProStart Invitational

On March 20, the Olathe Advanced Technical Center (OATC) culinary program won the 2024 Kansas ProStart Invitational, a premier high school competition in Wichita focused on restaurant management and culinary arts.

The OATC culinary team placed third in the Best Knife Skills competition on the way to a first-place finish in the Overall Culinary competition. They bounced back nicely after a third-place finish in the Culinary competition in 2023. The OATC management team also received a fourth-place finish in the Management competition, which is also an improvement from last year.

The culinary competition highlights the team’s creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course meal in 60 minutes, using only two butane burners and without access to running water or electricity. There is no room for error as they are evaluated on taste, skill, teamwork, safety and sanitation. For the Management competition, management teams develop a proposal for the next promising restaurant concept and present it to a panel of industry judges. Their problem-solving skills are tested as they quickly solve challenges faced by managers daily.

The top four teams from the Culinary and Management competitions receive individual medals. The top three teams receive a team trophy. Some post-secondary schools will also be offering educational scholarships to help further students’ careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry. First place teams in the Culinary and Management competitions earn the right to represent Kansas at the National ProStart Invitational April 26-28, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Olathe Public Schools Graphics Team Wins In-Print Award

The Graphic Communications team at Olathe Public Schools received a 2024 In-Print Award, a prestigious international award that recognizes print quality among in-plant printers. The award entry submitted by Graphic Communications Manager Erica Derrington won a Silver.

The In-Print contest is sponsored by the In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) in conjunction with In-Plant Impressions, the graphic arts magazine written specifically for the in-plant printing industry. IPMA is a nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to the needs of all in-house publishing, printing, and distribution professionals.