SM East students hoping to convince district to allow for Mission Valley library letters on outside of school

Kathi Knop helped save the Mission Valley library letters from demolition.
Kathi Knop helped save the Mission Valley library letters from demolition.

A group of SM East students are waiting to find out whether their efforts to get the Shawnee Mission School District to allow the installation of the “Library” letters from the outside of Mission Valley Middle School on SM East’s exterior.

The idea to have the letters installed at SM East came late last fall, when former Mission Valley librarian Kathi Knop worked with the Tutera Group to have the signage removed and preserved prior to the demolition of the school. Knop had checked with school officials about the idea before asking to have the letter salvaged, and said they were open to the idea.

But when district administrators received the work order request to have them put up on SM East’s exterior, the district denied the request on the grounds that it would have created an inconsistent look among the exteriors of the high schools.

A group of four current SM East students asked the school board last week to reconsider the district’s decision, pointing out that the exteriors of the high schools have a number of different features. Moreover, they noted, there is already exterior signage at SM East noting the location of the performing arts facility and the gymnasium. The letters have special significance to members of this year’s senior class, which was the last group of students to attend Mission Valley before it was closed in 2011.

One of the students, SM East Student Council President Kyle Baker, said late last week that he and his peers were still waiting to get a response from the district on their request. Meanwhile, school officials have reached out to them with a plan to install the letters inside the library instead. Baker said he thought the interior plan was a “great alternative to putting them on the outside of the building.” Their preference remains to have them installed on the exterior, “but we understand there are many factors to consider.”

Principal John McKinney said the administration wants to find a way showcase the letters.

“We recognize and appreciate the significance of the MV library letters to our community and want to display them in such a way that they will benefit our students now and for many years to come,” he said.

SM East's theatre facility has exterior lettering.
SM East’s theatre facility has exterior lettering.