Olathe School District awards

Ernst Honored by KAESP as Distinguished Principal

John Ernst, principal at Rolling Ridge Elementary School, has been honored as the District 1 National Distinguished Principal for 2015-16 by the Kansas Association of Elementary School Principals (KAESP). Six district honorees will be recognized at the KAESP Fall Conference on Nov. 9 in Wichita.

“John will do anything to support kids and staff at Rolling Ridge,” Executive Director of School Administration/Elementary Programs Brent Yeager said. “He tackles challenges head on and he addresses concerns with high expectations and high levels of support. No matter where John is, he is always committed to doing what is best for kids and what is best for his school. He can even be found shoveling snow and planting grass around the building during his free time, to make sure the building is nice for students, staff and families. He has made a tremendous impact on the school community, on the students, the staff and his colleagues.”

Ernst is in his third year as principal at Rolling Ridge. He earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction along with his administrative license from Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan.

Lillian Selected to All-National Honor Choir

Jenna Lillian, an Olathe East High School senior, was selected to sing in the National Association for Music Education’s All-National Honor Choir and will perform at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn. in October.

As a member of the 2015 choir, Lillian has been named one of the best of the best from approximately 2.5 million high school musicians from across the nation and will have the opportunity to sing under the direction of distinguished director, Dr. Ann Howard Jones, a professor of music and director of choral activities at Boston University.

Lillian is a member of Olathe East’s Madrigal Singers, and has been a member of the Kansas All-State Honor Choir for the past two years. She has also earned a perfect sight-singing score at the all-state audition both years.

As a member of the All-National Honor Choir, Lillian is one of only 19 Kansas musicians who help make up the approximately 650 student musicians of the all-national band, choir, orchestra or jazz band.

WEST Program Gets Westar Grant

Deann Lovell of Cedar Creek Elementary School and Linda Weerts of Washington Elementary School have been chosen as recipients of the Westar Energy STEM award of $3,000 for their after-school STEM program for girls — Women in Engineering, Science and Technology (WEST).

The grant from Westar Energy is aimed at increasing student interest and academic achievement in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines as applied to electrical energy. A focus on expanding the diversity of students involved in STEM education is of particular interest in the grant program.

“These projects represent the hope of this grant program,” Jerl Banning, Westar Energy senior vice president, operations support and administration said. “Our goal is to encourage the bright, inquisitive young people in today’s classrooms to be the next generation of engineers and scientists working in the field of electrical energy.”

WEST is an after-school program for fourth- and fifth-grade girls. The program will focus on exploring engineering and the field of electrical engineering using a number of resources, including the “Engineering is Elementary” curriculum developed by The Museum of Science. The focus is on women in engineering careers. Students will gain not only an understanding of the concepts required for STEM careers, but also learn about women who are leaders in the various disciplines. A particular goal is to increase the students’ confidence and interest in engineering, leading to future study.

As part of the grant program, recipients will present their project during a session of the annual Kansas Association of School Boards conference in Wichita in December.

Banikowski Honored by the University of St. Mary

Deputy Superintendent Alison Banikowski was honored by the University of St. Mary with the St. Vincent DePaul Alumni Award. This award is given annually to an alumnus who “embodies the mission statement of the University of St. Mary. St. Vincent DePaul is known for his compassion, humility, generosity and spirit of giving back.” Banikowski was recognized for her efforts of giving back to the community through her fundraising for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She has been a top fundraiser for the organization, raising more than $60,000 over the past four years.

Yust Named Volunteer of the Year

Jean Yust, library volunteer at Rolling Ridge Elementary School, has been selected as one of Northeast Kansas Library System’s volunteers of the year. Yust received a plaque, and the Rolling Ridge library received a check in recognition of the award. Both were presented at the Northeast Kansas Library system annual meeting Aug. 13 in Topeka.

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