News & Information
10-12-22 — Association Honors Outstanding Alums, Longtime District Employee
Oct. 12, 2022 ~ The Olathe Public Schools Alumni Association held its annual Wall of Honor dinner Oct. 6 and recognized three alums and one Distinguished Person of Honor.
Candidates for the alumni recognition must be Olathe Public Schools graduates from at least 20 years ago and have attained a high level of achievement in their personal/professional life, in community or humanitarian service, or have shown a lifelong commitment to education. Distinguished Persons of Honor must be former or current employees of the Olathe Public Schools and have made a positive impact in the same areas as the alumni criteria.
Laurie (Kostel) Minard, Olathe North High School Class of 1985. Minard’s enthusiastic spirit as a high school cheerleader has served her well in her career as vice president of human resources for Garmin International, a global company headquartered in Olathe. After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Minard began a career to help develop Garmin locally and internationally while serving her hometown in various capacities. Her involvement with the Olathe Chamber of Commerce ranges from participation in the Leadership Olathe program to recognition as Volunteer of the Year and Citizen of the Year, in separate years. She is a past member of the Chamber’s board of directors and executive committee, and currently participates on the Chamber Foundation benefit committee. Minard currently serves on advisory boards for the University of Kansas Edwards Campus, Olathe Health Systems Board of Trustees, Johnson County Community College Foundation, Olathe Salvation Army Advisory Council, Olathe Boys & Girls Clubs Planning and Development Committee, Olathe Public Schools Foundation Women’s Giving Circle, and others. Ingram's Magazine named her one of the most influential and accomplished women executives in the greater Kansas City area and Techweek Kansas City recognized her as an established leader.
Stanley Roth Jr., John P. St. John Memorial High School Class of 1953. Roth’s education in Olathe was the foundation for a lifelong career as a high school and university science instructor. After earning a bachelor’s in education with majors in biology and industrial arts, and a master’s in biology from Emporia State Teachers College, Roth embarked on a 40-year career as biology teacher in the Lawrence School District. He created live menagerie classrooms and led many field trips, near and far, to enhance the learning experience for his students. Students have remarked on Roth’s demanding teaching approach, but noted he was always there for them before and after school. Roth sees potential in all students, saying “I teach students, not biology.” In addition to teaching, he served as a field biologist for State of Kansas Biological Survey, contract field biologist for Kansas Fish and Game Commission, and president of the Kansas Academy of Science at various points in his career. His research projects have ranged from nesting colonies of the Great Blue Heron to the winter activity of cave bats. A 1953 Eagle Scout, Roth has continued to stay involved with scouting.
Darren Sproles, Olathe North High School Class of 2001. Despite being a retired NFL Pro-Bowl running back whose career took him all over the United States, Sproles remains committed to his hometown, especially Olathe children. Locally, he has conducted youth football camps and created a writing contest to help youth focus on perseverance. Sproles and his wife, Michel, started Sproles Empowered Youth, a foundation to support football, academics and financial literacy for boys and girls. He joined other celebrities in supporting The Stuttering Foundation, which helps youths who stutter become more confident. While at Kansas State University, Sproles was named All Big 12, All American and broke the school’s rushing records for game, season and career. He was named to the K-State Hall of Fame, College Hall of Fame and Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Throughout his 15-year NFL career (with the San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles), Sproles broke numerous records and was named to the Pro Bowl and selected as an All-Pro. Retired K-State football coach Bill Snyder remarked that Sproles “represented each of his programs and each community with an intrinsic value system admired and respected by all.”
Distinguished Person of Honor Ruth Nelson. Community involvement is a way of life for Nelson, personally and professionally in her pre-retirement career with the Olathe Public Schools. Working side-by-side with Jim Smith in the district’s Community Development Office, they created the Community Organization Group to unite service organizations in supporting Olathe. Nelson’s award-winning involvement with the Olathe Noon Optimist Club spans decades and includes multiple officer positions locally, statewide and internationally. Some of her biggest projects with Optimists are summer concerts and oratorical contests to benefit student scholarships and the annual golf tournament to send children with cancer to fun camps. She helped start junior golf academies in DeSoto and Gardner that brought children together to learn about golf and the Optimists. The Olathe’s Got Talent showcase, another of her many Optimist projects, has raised tens of thousands of dollars for student scholarships over the years. She was instrumental in developing the Olathe Mayor’s Children’s Fund Board and chaired it for the first two years. Nelson also helped develop Olathe’s sister cities agreement with Ocotlan, Mexico. The Optimists’ Let’s Grow Together effort raised $18,000 in 18 months to benefit Center of Grace and Boys & Girls Clubs.