Darol Rodrock firmly believes that education is one of the cornerstones to success. He has experienced it as a teacher, a coach, and as a family man and residential real-estate developer. It’s for this reason that every one of Darol’s 80-plus communities is situated in only the finest of school districts. It’s also why every year he awards the Rodrock Vision Scholarship to a group of talented graduating seniors from his communities.
For instance, the family-favorite Stonebridge neighborhood is in the Spring Hill School District, which is the fastest-growing district in Kansas. With expected growth of 1,500 students over the next five years, the community recently passed a bond to fund a new elementary and middle school, an addition to the high school, and more.
The Greens of Chapel Creek is in the De Soto School District, which welcomes 7,000 students through the doors of its 12 campuses. The district states it “has built a record of achievement in instructional program quality, policy development, efficiency of operation and student co-curricular activities…”
And that success includes the superior ranking of De Soto High School as Number Four among the top-rated high schools in Kansas by U.S. News and World Reports.
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Meanwhile, some four communities—including Riverstone, Southwick on the Lake, Cottages at Woodridge, and Sundance Ridge—are in the highly coveted Blue Valley School District. Blue Valley is one of the largest school districts in the Kansas City Metro, with more than 22,000 students, spread across 34 campuses.
All five Blue Valley high schools were named to the Washington Post’s 2015 most challenging high schools list, Newsweek’s 2014 top public high schools list and The Daily Beast’s 2014 list of America’s top high schools.
Rounding out these impressive educational offerings is the Olathe School District, which is the second-largest district in Kansas with more than 29,500 students in some 48 schools. With a vision that states, “Students prepared for THEIR future,” Olathe has some 17 Blue Ribbon School Awards, more than any other district in the state.
But Darol also focuses on the individual student through his yearly scholarship offered to graduating seniors who, as Darol says, “believe the world can be a better place and want to be a part of bringing a beneficial change to our planet.” It highlights young men and women who’ve demonstrated a commitment to their communities, the ability to set goals and achieve them, and the capacity to assume responsibility.
The scholarship requires applicants be a member of the 2017 high-school graduating class, live within a Rodrock community, and have plans to continue their education beyond high school. Each finalist was carefully chosen after completing a thorough application process that included written statements, character references, and interviews.
This year’s fantastic finalists include: Cole Smith of Wellington Park, Olivia Shurtleff of Grey Oaks, Shillan Thaithi of Stonebridge, Jeremy Kline of Wellington Park, Grace Nielson of Fairway Hills, and Jonathan Edmonds0n of Birchwood Hills.
From varsity sports to religious groups, and student council to charity missions, these students went above and beyond during their high-school career. Each has overcome personal challenges and has clear aspirations that range from the military, biomedical engineering, nursing, education, and more.
For instance, Cole Smith has his sights set on nothing short of West Point, following in his older brother’s footsteps.
“After graduating from West Point, I plan on going career military,” he says. “I'm not sure what branch yet, but I am looking forward to getting the opportunity to interact with people of all different walks of life and backgrounds all while serving my country. Once I leave the military, I would love to start an organization that supports and houses orphans in Latin America.”
Olivia Shurtleff is headed to Pitt State, with plans to become a travel nurse. “I hope to travel to Spanish-speaking countries. I want to explore the country and world to determine where I would like to settle down one day. I plan to work hard in an ICU for two years so I can apply for nurse anesthetist school. The Rodrock Scholarship is more than just a big financial help. It’s also validation that someone else believes in this crazy dream I plan to pursue. I am so thankful for the opportunities Rodrock has given me!”
The Rodrock Vision Scholarship Program prides itself on being “a worthwhile investment in a brighter future for us all.” And with talented students like these, coming from some of the state’s strongest schools, the future looks very bright indeed.