The Shawnee Mission School District showcased programs and students spanning all ages and interests Thursday at the annual Fall Breakfast held by the SM Education Foundation.
The fund raising event drew an estimated 1,100 people to the Overland Park Convention Center with the theme “One Community, One Purpose, One Vision.”
Elementary kids showed off robots, high schoolers described their environmental initiatives and district officials talked about several collaborative programs with Kansas State University.
And while the event wasn’t overtly political, the message of providing schools with adequate funding at a time of state cuts was clear. Many in attendance were elected officials at the local and state level.
The non-profit SM Education Foundation has contributed $3.8 million to the school district for programs, grants and scholarships since its start in 1989.
“The vision we share is each and every Shawnee Mission student will have a fabulous education,” said Dan Schipfer, board president of the SM Education Foundation.
“We know that without extraordinary schools, we cannot truly have an excellent community. Our foundation provides education opportunities we can’t provide through state funding alone. This is our local option.”
Kim Hinkle, the executive director of the foundation added, “We will not let a lack of funding stand in the way of our kids fulfilling their ambitions and audacious goals.”
After the opening remarks, Superintendent Jim Hinson led the audience through a tour of innovative programs at the school district that included short videos, live interviews with students and demonstrations of their accomplishments.
“It’s important you’re up to date with where we are going and what we’re doing with our students,” he said.
Students from Blue Jacket Flint elementary school greeted attendees outside the ballroom at a “MakerSpace” in the lobby where they were busy testing robots and writing computer code.
Guests entering the building were serenaded by a string quartet from SM South High School. At the beginning of Hinson’s presentation, a boisterous drum corps from SM East marched into the ballroom, assuring anyone still sleepy for the early morning event was awake.
And not to be left out, Hinson said the district plans to announce a new initiative for early childhood education soon.
“Early childhood is a critical time for brain development,” he said. ” A high quality program can change lives by guiding students to success.”
Following the event, yard signs were distributed outside the convention center encouraging people to “vote for education” in the upcoming fall election.