Cass County Democrat Missourian

The Raymore-Peculiar School District introduces orchestra program

Community volunteers are welcome to pack food bags each week. Fifth-graders (from left) Madison Mitchell, Megan Lalman and Keller Johnson helped out last month.
Community volunteers are welcome to pack food bags each week. Fifth-graders (from left) Madison Mitchell, Megan Lalman and Keller Johnson helped out last month. Courtesy photo

Ray-Pec will add strings/orchestra program

The Raymore-Peculiar School District will hire another music teacher next fall as it introduces an orchestra/strings program. Community members had suggested such a program while providing feedback during the district’s long-range planning process.

The new teacher would start the strings program at the middle school level with the potential of expanding it to Ray-Pec High School. The school board took the action last month, in time for students to choose the class when enrolling for next year.

Modified block schedule starts next fall at HHS

Starting next fall, a schedule change will allow Harrisonville High School students to participate in more labs, extended learning times and more project-based learning. Under the modified block schedule recently approved by the Harrisonville Board of Education, the hourly class schedule would remain unchanged on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. However, class periods would be longer on Wednesdays and Thursdays. On Wednesdays, students will attend hours 1, 3, 5 and 8. On Thursdays, they will attend hours 2, 6 and 7.

“By making the move to a modified block, students will be guaranteed to be in class four times each week, with one of those times being for an extended 85 minutes,” said Harrisonville High School Principal Mark Wiegers. “During the blocked days, students will be able to participate in longer labs, project-based learning, research and extended practice.”

School hours will stay the same: from 7:40 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. with an early release at 2:25 p.m. on Thursdays. The change will not affect graduation requirements or the number of credits a student can earn. “We believe it will have a positive impact on the learning that our students engage in,” Wiegers said.

Belton singer selected for national honor

Belton High School junior Keshana Jones has been chosen for ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) National Honor Choir. She was selected by audition from among thousands of young singers across the country.

Jones will rehearse and perform with the National Honor Choir during the ACDA National Conference, to be held in Kansas City from Feb. 27 to March 2.

Filing begins soon for school board, city posts

Many of us still haven’t recovered from the midterm elections on Nov. 6, but it’s time to start thinking about the school board elections coming up on April 2.

Filing for most school board seats — as well as municipal offices — begins on Dec. 11 and closes on Jan. 15, according to the election calendar published by the Missouri secretary of state. Candidates generally file at the their school district office, city hall or other jurisdiction headquarters.

One exception is the Lee’s Summit School District, which dips into Cass County. Because part of the district is in Kansas City, filing will begin Dec. 18 for that district and close on Jan. 15.

Boy wins Belton spelling bee for second time

The winner of the 2018 Belton School District Spelling Bee is Leo Zheng, a sixth-grade student at Mill Creek Upper Elementary School. Leo also won as a fourth-grader while attending Kentucky Trail Elementary. The title was determined at a recent Board of Education meeting. After several rounds, seventh-grader Tavita Rynard was awarded second place.

Donations sought for weekend food packs

Bright Futures Harrisonville aims to raise $7,500 by Dec. 31 for the Food 4 Thought Backpack program, which provides two days of child-friendly food for students over the weekends during the school year. It’s funded entirely through donations. It costs $2.62 each week to fill a weekend food bag, or nearly $100 to support one student through the year. By the end of 2018, Bright Futures hopes to raise half of the $15,000 it needs annually to fund the program.

Donations can be mailed or dropped off at 503 S. Lexington St. with checks made payable to the Harrisonville Public School Foundation. All donations to the backpack program are tax deductible. Food donations also can be dropped there: granola bars, fruit cups, pudding cups, fruit snacks, individual bags or bowls of macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, ramen noodles and Chef Boyardee single serving microwave bowls.

To give online, go to and click on Harrisonville Public School Foundation.