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orizon H


A Publication of the Gardner Edgerton School District




P.O. Box 97 Gardner, Kansas 66030

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A Message From


EMPOWERING ALL STUDENTS TO MEET THE CHALLENGES OF THE FUTURE Gardner Edgerton School District’s Horizon is a newsmagazine published quarterly during the school year. Editorial and photography is created by the USD 231 staff and published by NPG Printing. To receive a copy of the magazine call 913-856-2009. Gardner Edgerton School District 231 E. Madison P.O. Box 97 Gardner, KS 66030 (913) 856-2000 Superintendent of Schools: Pam Stranathan Contributing Writer: Ryan Colston

2019 was a year of many successes in the Gardner Edgerton School District. As this year comes to an end, and we look forward to 2020, it is an excellent time to reflect and express gratitude. As a district, we are grateful to serve wonderfully diverse and creative students. We are grateful to have families and community leaders who support our students and staff. We are grateful for an award-winning staff who are passionate about serving our students. We are grateful for our custodial staff, nutrition services staff, health services team members, paraeducators, and administrators, for giving your all on a daily basis to help ensure students are prepared for their future. In closing, please know that we are extremely thankful for everyone who makes the Gardner Edgerton School District a great place to attend. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy the extended time to spend with families and friends. Let us kick-off the year 2020 with recharged and refreshed minds, ready for another semester of academic excellence.

Pam Stranathan Superintendent of Schools GARDNER EDGERTON HORIZON WINTER 2020

USD 231 Board of Education: Tresa Boden, Shawn Carlisle, Greg Chapman, Kristen Schultz, Rob Shippy, Robin Strentz, Lana Sutton




STEM-TASTIC NEWS FOR BLAZER STUDENTS Armed with everything from banners and medals to popcorn and Silly String, crews from Burns & McDonnell loaded a fleet of “battle buses” and drove to schools across the Greater Kansas City with a single mission — surprise the top 20 finalists teams in the Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains competition. A record 7,250 students entered Kansas City’s largest STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) competition, in which schools can win grant money and a chance to inspire the next $1 million exhibit at Science City. The Gardner Edgerton High School STEM team earned a spot in the Top 20 with their proposal, Light Up Your World. Light Up Your World focuses on the color and light that surrounds us. From dark purples to vivid reds, color helps people see the beauty and majesty of everything on this planet and in the stars. Items in their exhibit would include color wheels,


a blacklight tunnel, a color blindness room, color illusion, color mixing and a firework mixer. Light Up Your World consists of all aspects of STEM. Two of the main attractions of this exhibit are the Blacklight Tunnel and the Color Blindness Room. In the Blacklight Tunnel, visitors will be able

to use flashlights to travel down the tunnel to view interesting facts and relevant information that is hidden in blacklight ink. It will also teach guests how blacklights reveal hidden colors. The Color Blindness Room has a unique feature. While in this exhibit,


guests will be able to look through the eyes of people with different levels of color blindness. A variety of colorful pictures will be displayed in the room and visitors will get a glimpse of what life is like for people who are color blind. Burns & McDonnell experienced a record amount of entries with 840 from 270 different schools across the metro area. Each top 20 finalist team is guaranteed to win a piece of $155,000 in grant money to use toward STEM education. The grand prize-winning team will receive a $50,000 grant, along with the opportunity to work alongside Burns & McDonnell and Science City STEM professionals to transform the winning idea into a $1 million permanent exhibit at Science City. Students in the competition have inspired five exhibits now on display at Science City.



The Kansas Honors Program recognizes and awards the top 10 percent of high school seniors in the state of Kansas for their academic achievements. To meet the criteria for this honor, students must complete the required classes and maintain a high GPA throughout their high school career. The Kansas Honors Program has been a KU tradition since 1971, and is designed to promote academic excellence in secondary education, to reward high school seniors for their hard work and dedication, and to support our Kansas communities. Congratulations to the following seniors:

In a continued effort to increase communication and offer opportunities to students, USD 231 hosts a weekly podcast entitled “The 231 Way�. This podcast is being offered as part of an ongoing effort by Central Office administration to work more directly with students and increase awareness of district activities, initiatives, and accomplishments. Episodes are released weekly and focus on timely and relevant information related to the school district and community-at-large. Download to your mobile device or listen on Soundcloud.

LAST NAME Brown Bryan Combs Cox Dace Douglass Eccles Galvin Garden Godsil Gruis Harlow Henry Hiner Kaberline Kleinsorge Knoblock Leadbetter Louderback Lounce Lundy McIntire Musau Nellor Orozco Ploetz Postel Reddin Ringel Robinson Schuster Sineath Singer Stubler Thomas Vallery Weyand

FIRST NAME Lainey Trenton Aidan Cooper Shanlii Liadan Chase Zachary Justin Isabel Cassia Hyrum Marly Riley David Logan Edie Cora Kylee Jordan Lauren Morgan Olivia Nicole Evan Maea Matthew Emily Tyler Alyssa Jackson Audrey Sean Sloan Gracie Mia Abigail GARDNER EDGERTON HORIZON WINTER 2020


GEYCP YOUTH EXPERIENCE SUCCESS One of Gardner Edgerton Youth & Community Programs’ most successful activities is the “Youth Experience Program” for kids ages 4-6. Over the past two years, young athletes have been introduced to the game by adults and student helpers in a fun and energetic way. Coaches work with participants on ways to have fun, develop specific motor skills, and individual sport skills while stressing the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, paying attention, and playing hard. The Youth Experience Program covers volleyball, basketball, soccer, and t-ball skills. One of the 2019-2020 goals of the program was to get high school coaches and players involved. Gardner Edgerton High School Girls Basketball Coach, Joe Leiker, was the first high school program to run the activity with the help of his coaching staff and players. Sessions were conducted every Wednesday night for five weeks, and participants were run through a variety of skills to teach them the basics of basketball while having fun. Coach Leiker said, ”Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces as we worked 6

and played served as a great reminder to me of the powerful opportunity we have to make a positive impact on kids and the community in our work as coaches and educators.” Students left happy every night and wanting to go back for more. GEYCP has the remainder of the year planned with soccer and t-ball skills wrapping up the year. Soccer will be instructed by GEHS


Head Boys and Girls Soccer Coach, Derek Wilson, and t-ball by GEHS Baseball Coach, Corey Schrack. Soccer begins in January and t-ball at the end of February. You can find registrations for these programs and more at

USD 231 BLAZING TRAILS WITH NEW MENTAL HEALTH CO-RESPONDER The Gardner Edgerton School District is doing something that no other area district has done. It’s the first school district in Johnson County to hire a mental health co-responder to react to crises both in and outside of school. USD 231 is partnering with the Johnson County Mental Health Center to implement this new position. “It’s the right intervention at the right time,” said Johnson County Co-responder Team Leader Jessica Murphy, “so that the students don’t have to go to the next place to get assessed, we can do that here while they’re at school.” “Whether it’s just basic stresses that students are going through in school or the stresses that they’re encountering with family needs, family crises,” the co-responder will be able to help, said Superintendent Pam Stranathan. The Co-Responder for the Gardner

Edgerton School District is Tanise Smith. “I think kids need us most before they reach the point to where they’re so unhappy they may make a bad decision,” Smith said. Tanise has worked in the mental health field for 13 years, with the last eight years spent

working with children in crises. The co-responder will help bridge the gap between school and home life. “We can always say that we’re just working with students during the day, but we really are working with them 24/7,” said Stranathan. The decision to create the new position comes as teen suicide rates


increase in Johnson County, Kansas. “I would say there definitely seems to be a growth in mental health needs, but I would also say in a good way we are just more open about it,” said Melissa McIntire, who oversees the district’s student support services. The co-responder will be available both during and after school hours. Tanise has helped many families during her short time with the district and many times, after hours. “Now, we have an actual person that can bridge that gap and hopefully help guide a family to the service that they need,” said McIntire. She said a student’s mental health is critical to their academic success. “If they have a great deal of anxiety, depression, or other things going on, the ability to focus in the classroom and to learn is greatly impacted.”


MUSTANG STUDENTS MAKING A CHANGE According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in the United States, more than 2,300 kids under the age of 18 try smoking for the first time, and more than 350 of those become daily smokers. As a result, tobacco kills 480,000 Americans every year. Vaping is what these kids are trying, and yes, it has the effects of smoking an actual cigarette. The vaping epidemic is sweeping the nation and starting to become an issue inside of schools. Each Gardner Edgerton Middle School has its student leadership team and they attend the Youth Leadership Summit of Johnson County each year. This conference helps teens grow as leaders and gain insightful information to bring back to their schools. The Youth Leadership Summit focuses on promoting teen mental health, reducing underage alcohol and drug use, preventing suicide, and encouraging healthy behaviors. One of the keynote 8

speakers at the conference was Jordan Roberts, Youth Prevention Program Manager of the Kansas Department of Health. Her presentation was centered around vaping and tobacco awareness and a program called Resist. Roberts’ presentation inspired the group of leaders from Wheatridge Middle School. They wanted to focus on bringing the Resist program to Wheatridge to educate their peers on the dangers of tobacco use. Eighth-grade students Amara Back, Braedyn Berg, Aaliyah Green, Pierson Honey, Sam Laird, and Chloe Shadoin met as a team after the conference and decided that the direction they wanted to go was to start their own Resist chapter in Gardner. Resist advocates for the de-normalization of tobacco use among Kansas’ youth and unites communities to create one voice to stand up against the tobacco industry. Teens not only participate in tobacco GARDNER EDGERTON HORIZON WINTER 2020

control prevention activities, but they also help design and implement them in their buildings to their peers. The Resist program gives back to organizations, and Wheatridge was one of twenty schools to receive a $250 grant to implement this to Mustang students. In November, the Kansas Health Department reached out to group leader and Wheatridge counselor, Tiphanie Bohi, to invite her students to the Resist Leadership Conference in Wichita. All students were excited to attend and were motivated to gain knowledge and bring it back to middle school students. The six students and Bohi packed up and spent a Saturday in Wichita learning about the dangers of vaping and tobacco use. One of the main concepts taken from this conference was their spark. Their spark is why they want to participate in this and educate their peers on the effects

that tobacco use can have on you. Sam Laird’s spark is,”Many teens are dying from this preventable disease.” Chloe Shadoin’s spark is “I like to sing, and anyone else who has the same spark as me and vapes won’t be able to achieve their dream.” Bohi says, “My spark is to educate, inspire, and spread awareness to our youth about the dangers and risks of using tobacco and vape products.” Their spark is the driving force behind making this change with these students that could help save a life. After the conference, they brought their proposal to Wheatridge Principal, Carl Garrett. Mr. Garrett is 100% on board with this as he sees this becoming an issue in schools. The leaders are organizing a movie night for families from Gardner and Edgerton to attend. The movie night will provide an opportunity for family time and learning about the Resist program,

and the effects of vaping and tobacco use can have on youth. The Mustang leaders will have handouts and are looking forward to the opportunity to educate the parents and students on this problem.

[...] I am excited to see these kids so eager to get out there and educate. – TIPHANIE BOHI, WHEATRIDGE COUNSELOR The Resist program wants students teaching students about the dangers of tobacco. The Mustang leaders are in the early stages of the planning but are eager to master all eighteen lessons so they can educate the students at Wheatridge. The leaders will focus


on a few lessons to teach before the school year is over. “We are in the early stages of implementing this program, but I am excited to see these kids so eager to get out there and educate,” Bohi said. The goal is to have students teaching in the classroom by April, beginning with seventh and eighthgrade students. Another goal of the program is to join the T21 program, which is raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products to twenty-one. This is another component of Resist and has been adopted in twenty cities in Kansas. These students hope to make Gardner and Edgerton part of that list soon. Lastly, the leaders would like to be the first tobacco-free generation. These students know it will take some work, but they are willing to give it their all to reach the goal. You can find more about the Resist program at www.


USD 231 EARNS NATIONAL RECOGNITION AS BLUE RIBBON AFFILIATE The USD 231 Gardner Edgerton Parents as Teachers Program earned a prestigious endorsement from the Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc. (PATNC) On October 1, 2019, the USD 231 PAT program completed the Parents as Teachers Quality Endorsement and Improvement Process and earned the highest designation: Blue Ribbon Affiliate status. Being named a Blue Ribbon Affiliate affirms that the Gardner Edgerton PAT program is among the highest quality members of the home visitation and parent education field, implementing the evidencebased Parents as Teachers model with fidelity and quality. The program includes home visits, group connections, child screening, and connections to community resources. It equips parents with knowledge and resources to prepare their children for a stronger start in life and greater success in school. “To achieve this endorsement, our program engaged in a rigorous self-study and review process. This recognition confirms we are meeting Parents as Teachers’ standards of fidelity and quality,” said Program Coordinator Carol Vawter, “Blue Ribbon Affiliates are exemplary programs, delivering the highest quality services to children and families.” Implementation with quality and fidelity is vital in homevisiting programs as it determines a program’s effectiveness in accomplishing its original goals and intended outcomes. It also verifies that a program is being implemented as designed. Parents as Teachers’ rigorous endorsement process demonstrates an affiliate’s accountability and credibility to the community, its funders, elected officials, and the partner organizations with which they work.

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2020 USD 231 Winter Horizon  

2020 USD 231 Winter Horizon  

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