Olathe & Southwest Joco

Artwork salutes diversity at Olathe middle school

At a Mahaffie-hosted painting party, participants can paint a sunflower like this one.
At a Mahaffie-hosted painting party, participants can paint a sunflower like this one. Courtesy photo

Artwork salutes diversity

The Pioneer Trail Middle School library recently acquired a large piece of art that honors the school’s diverse student body. The artwork stands nearly 8 feet square and displays the flags of 25 countries.

“The flag collage represents the countries our students come from,” said library media specialist Sharon Beggs. “The staff and students have really responded well to it. They enjoy learning about the flags.”

Encircling the flags is a quote from Malala Yousafzai, education activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate: “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world.”

The idea for a cultural representation came to Beggs last semester when an English Language Learning classroom temporarily moved into the library.

“My library clerk and I made a connection with the kids, and I came up with the idea to do a collage to represent and honor those kids,” Beggs said.

The school’s data operator determined that 25 nationalities were represented in the student body, and some of the yearbook students began researching the flag for each country. The district’s Graphic Communications Department put together the collage and had the flags printed on foam core board.

The final step was to figure out how to display such a large piece. Industrial Technology teacher Dennis O’Connell and physical education teacher Ryan Hull built a wooden frame with plywood backing to support the collage panels, which dominate one wall of the library.

“Projects like this help get students talking about different cultures and speculating on why a country chose the flag colors and designs shown,” O’Connell said. “It’s nice to be a part of projects promoting diversity.”

He’s heard students comment on the size of the collage and the many bright flag colors. They also wonder if more flags will be added at some point. Beggs said four more nations could be added to represent students who have come to Pioneer Trail since the display was created.

‘Olathe’s Got Talent’ is next weekend

Tickets are on sale for this year’s “Olathe’s Got Talent,” a March 23 event that showcases the creativity of local students.

Twenty finalists will compete in this year’s “Olathe’s Got Talent” for $7,500 in scholarships and cash awards. The show will include vocal, instrumental, dance and theater acts by students from elementary through high school age. Audience members can cast one or more votes for their favorite performers. Judges will evaluate the stage performances, and scholarships will be awarded in various categories.

The show will begin at 7 p.m. at MidAmerica Nazarene University’s Bell Cultural Events Center, 2030 E. College Way. The works of visual artists from Olathe high schools will be displayed, and video submissions will be shown throughout the evening. Scholarship winners in those categories will be announced as well.

Reserved seating is $10 for ages 6 and up. Children 5 and under are admitted free. Buy tickets online at www.mnu.edu/events, by phone at 913-971-3636, or in person from 1 to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Bell Center box office.

Sophomore scores perfect 36 on ACT

Arjun Garapaty, a sophomore at Olathe North High School, has earned a perfect 36 on the ACT college entrance exam, a feat achieved by fewer than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the test.

Jason Herman, the school’s principal, said Garapaty’s academic efforts “have paid off at the highest level.”

Garapaty is involved in soccer, DECA, science bowl, scholars bowl, debate, forensics, student council, French National Honor Society and Distinguished Scholars.

Urgent care clinic opens in Gardner

Gardner business and civic leaders will cut the ribbon March 19 to celebrate the opening of First Point Urgent Care at 907 E. Lincoln Lane.

The event will start at 11:30 a.m., and the ribbon-cutting is scheduled for noon. Light refreshments will be served.

Sunflower paintings will support history

This is more than art for art’s sake.

Sure, those attending the “Painting it Forward” event on March 28 will create their own sunflower paintings with step-by-step instructions from Pinot’s Palette of Olathe. But they also will be contributing to the Mahaffie Foundation, which supports the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm in Olathe.

The event runs from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Mahaffie historic site, 1200 E. Kansas City Road. The $40 ticket price includes two drink tickets, and $10 from each one will go to the foundation. Register at mahaffie.org.

Briarwood teacher honored

Ariel Jankord, who teaches fourth grade at Briarwod Elementary School in Olathe, has received the Making IT Happen award from the International Society for Technology in Education.

The award honors outstanding educators and leaders who make extraordinary efforts to improve digital learning opportunities for students. Jankord received the award at the Mid-America Association for Computers in Education conference.

Olathe North qualifies for National Science Bowl

The Olathe North High School Science Bowl team has won the Kansas regional Science Bowl competition. Now the team will go to the National Science Bowl competition April 25-29 in Washington, D.C.

“We are so proud of what these students have achieved and wish them good luck as they advance to the national competition,” Olathe North Principal Jason Herman said.

Student historians earn accolades

Olathe high school students placed in several categories at the regional National History Day contest, which took place March 2 at Lawrence Free State High School in Lawrence:

▪ Kaelyn Wellman, Olathe Northwest, earned first place in Senior Historical Paper.

▪ Olga Lesnik, Olathe West, placed second in Senior Individual Exhibit.

▪ Sara Roberts, Olathe Northwest, placed third in Senior Individual Documentary.

▪ Matthew Genchev and Tanyaa Gurushankar, Olathe Northwest, placed third in Senior Group Exhibit.

Students who placed will advance to the state contest on April 27.