Olathe & Southwest Joco

What's happening in Olathe and surrounding areas

Musical instruments and climbing structures are part of new play area in Frisco Lake Park.
Musical instruments and climbing structures are part of new play area in Frisco Lake Park.

This teen knows how to manage money

Among more than 111,523 competitors, Gardner Edgerton High School student Ali Schweer won third place in the H&R Block Budget Challenge, a personal finance simulation played over 10 weeks.

That achievement landed Schweer a $20,000 scholarship and an invitation to throw out the first pitch at the June 13 Royals game. Only five scholarships are awarded nationally per semester.

In the competition, students receive "paychecks" and "bills" in real time and are challenged to build a budget that allows them to pay their bills on time, manage their credit card balance and save money in a 401(k) for retirement.

Although it doesn't use real money, the simulation includes realistic features such as online bill pay, direct deposit, email bill alerts, 401(k) paycheck deductions, late fees, utilization penalties and more.

Sunnyside singers take a bow

With the retirement of music teacher Loretta Knox, the Special Chorus at Sunnyside Elementary School will no longer be going on tour.

But the tradition lasted more than a decade, as a way for the young singers to contribute to the community. The latest tour, on May 1, included six stops at workplaces, a nursing home and the Olathe district's Harmony Early Childhood Center — where the vocalists brought new picture books to read with the younger children.

“We do mostly all Olathe tour stops and I wanted our Special Chorus to sing for preschoolers and the elderly in our community,” Knox said.

This year's goal was to bring 175 books to the Harmony Center, 14030 S. Black Bob Road, but the fourth- and fifth-grade singers donated 253 books. Boxes in Knox’s music room filled up quickly as chorus members bought books at discount stores and brought them to school. Each donated book carried a sticker that said: “Happy Reading from Sunnyside Special Chorus.”

“My students love to do this,” Knox said.

Weekly activities at Mahaffie

During the rest of June and July, the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm offers recurring activities for families with themes that vary week to week.

Daytime: Mahaffie’s Day Out with Frank and Ella runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, except for the Fourth of July when a different program is planned.

Frank and Ella were the youngest Mahaffie children, and the activities enable visitors of all ages to experience what it was like to grow up on the farm after the Civil War. That war will be the theme on June 20 and 21. Future themes include music and art, cowboys, harvest and science, which can be found — along with other details — through the calendar at oahaffie.org.

The program is available for individuals, preschools, day cares, and other youth groups. Registration is encouraged but not required. The cost is $5 per child, which comes with one free adult admission. To register, visit Mahaffie.org or call 913-971-5111.

Evening: Mahaffie stays open late each Thursday for Family Fun Nights, with similar themes, from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is free, but there may be a fee for some activities.

The Mahaffie historic site is at 1200 E. Kansas City Road.

CLEP exams offer college credit

High school students in the Olathe Public Schools will be able to earn college credit this summer by taking business-oriented tests on June 28.

The Olathe School District will offer College-Level Examination Program exams in financial accounting, information systems, introductory business law, principles of management and principles of marketing at 9 a.m. June 28 at the district’s Technology Support Center, 14250 S. Black Bob Road.

The exams costs $95 (make check payable to Olathe Public Schools). Sign up by contacting Assessment Director Rich Wilson at 913-780-8162 or rwilsonirc@olatheschools.org.

A score of 50 (out of 80) on the exams will ensure college credit for students at Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University, Pittsburg State University, Wichita State University and Washburn University.

CLEP is also accepted at many other regional schools. Students should check university websites to know for sure.

Go to clep.collegeboard.org/business for an overview of the business test offerings or to buy preparation materials. Modern States (modernstates.org/course) offers free approved courses in preparation for the CLEP test.

New playground at Frisco Park

A hillside slide, musical instruments and natural climbing features are part of a new playground at Frisco Lake Park in Olathe.

The park, at 1100 E. Dennis Ave., also has an accessible swing meant for several children at once.

Digging for history

Tim Talbott, site manager at the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm, will speak on June 19 about some of the history that lies underneath the historic site.

"We Dig It" is a workshop that shares some of the findings from Mahaffie excavations and what might remain to be discovered.

The cost is $5 for the workshop, which runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the site, 1200 E. Kansas City Road. It's suitable for anyone 8 and over. Visit Mahaffie.org to register.