SMSD News: Student and staff shoutouts

Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) students and staff continue to make our community proud through their many achievements.

Here are a few recent highlights from our school communities:

Seal of Biliteracy 

Our district is the state leader in earning the Kansas Seal of Biliteracy.  The Kansas State Department of Education recognized 116 SMSD students as earning this seal, based on their work in 2020-2021. This recognizes any student who has attained proficiency in English and one or more other world languages. The skills students learn in obtaining this certification support the SMSD objective that every student have a personalized learning plan that will prepare them for college and career with the interpersonal skills they need for life success. 

PTA Schools of Excellence 

 Broken Arrow Elementary and Shawnee Mission North High School have been recognized as National PTA Schools of Excellence. This award recognizes a school’s commitment to building an inclusive and welcoming school community where all families contribute to enriching the educational experience and overall well-being for all students. They are the only two schools in our state to be given the honor this year. These schools were also recognized this week in a ceremony held by the Kansas State Board of Education.

Battle of the Brains Finalists

A group of elementary students in the Northwest area are Battle of the Brains finalists. Their proposal to build an exhibit at Science City was selected out of 750 entries submitted by 6,400 students in Kansas City. This group, made up of Mill Creek Elementary and Good Shepherd Enhanced Learning students, created a proposal called “A Green Idea – A Pollution Solution.” The Battle of the Brains winner receives a $50,000 grant and a chance to see their proposal become reality. Our community can support them by voting once a day through Friday, Dec. 17. Click here to vote for the Northwest Area team. 

Outstanding String Teacher

Hope Ragan is the Outstanding Elementary String Teacher of the Year, as named by the East Central Kansas Music Education Association (ECKMEA). Ragan, who has served as the Shawnee Mission South Area elementary and middle school string teacher for seven years, is recognized for her encouragement to students and contributions to the string program. 

SMSD Teachers of the Year 

Amy Sachse, a fourth grade teacher at Corinth Elementary School, and Wraye Royle, a seventh grade math teacher at Indian Hills Middle School, have been named the Shawnee Mission School District nominees for Kansas Teacher of the Year. They are now nominees in the Kansas State Department of Education’s 2023 Kansas Teacher of the Year program and are in the running to be named state teacher of the year. Every district is able to nominate one exemplary elementary and one exemplary secondary teacher each year for this honor.  

 One Health Day Poster Honoree

Olivia Fritz, a Shawnee Mission West senior and Biotechnology Signature Program student, won first place in the Kansas City One Health Day poster contest. She presented research on polystyrene degradation via black soldier flies to higher education faculty and scientists. She won top honors in the high school division with a $200 prize, and she is updating this research as the school year continues. 

Apple Distinguished Schools 

Briarwood, Broken Arrow, and Trailwood Elementary have all been recognized as Apple Distinguished Schools. This recognition is given to schools who are centers of innovation, leadership, and educational excellence, especially in their use of technology to support education. This is the third time all three of these schools have received this honor. Click here to learn more about the designation.

State Championship Competitors 

Two SMSD teams qualified for the first-ever Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) Unified Bowling State Championship. Shawnee Mission East Unified Bowlers were named regional champions, and Shawnee Mission South’s team earned fifth place and a spot in the state competition. This is the first year for Unified Bowling to be a part of KSHSAA. This sport combines students who have disabilities with those who do not have disabilities, and they compete together on the same team. All five SMSD high schools competed this year.

Shawnee Mission South also was named to ESPN’s Special Olympics Honor Roll for 2021. They are among only 25 named across the country. This honor recognizes schools that promote meaningful social inclusion by bringing students with and without disabilities to compete, and for how they create accepting school environments. In addition to bowling, SM South also has Unified Bocce and basketball competitors and Unified athletes are involved in numerous activities and events in the school community. 

Sporting Samaritan

Michelle Langton, who teaches in a Structured Learning classroom at Broken Arrow Elementary, was honored for how she makes the community a better place as a Blue KC Sporting Samaritan. She was nominated by a parent who said she always goes above and beyond for students. Langton was honored on the field at Children’s Mercy Park and was treated to a VIP experience at a Sporting Kansas City game.  

Top Math Competitors 

A group of Shawnee Mission high school students earned top honors at a math day held at Emporia State University this fall. Teams from Shawnee Mission North, Shawnee Mission Northwest, and Shawnee Mission West earn top scores in geometry, algebra, and a “math scramble” category. Maya Routh from Shawnee Mission North took first place in Geometry, and Christopher Ramsey from Shawnee Mission Northwest earned second place. This was in a competition that drew more than 400 students from across Kansas. Click here to see a complete list of SMSD results

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