Olathe & Southwest Joco

Sunshine plays a role in powering up Olathe West High School

Each charging table at Olathe West has its own solar panel.
Each charging table at Olathe West has its own solar panel.

Sun is the secret

Sunshine plays a huge role in powering up Olathe West High School.

Visitors can see solar arrays installed by MC Power in front of the three-story school at 2200 W. Santa Fe St. And just outside the Green Tech Academy, classroom are picnic tables outfitted with solar panels where students can charge their cell phones, laptops and other devices.

“They installed enough solar panels to make the footprint of our academy net-zero in energy consumption, and then did the picnic tables to engage students more directly with solar energy,” Cody Janousek, the Green Tech facilitator, said in a news release.

“Having a solar panel sitting around is like having a flat screen TV that you can’t turn on or can’t use to watch anything. These tables give students something more ‘fun’ to do with the panels.”

Janousek said the picnic tables, installed over the summer, were part of the original scope of Olathe West. Each one has eight USB chargers powered by a large solar panel. Photons from the sun are converted to electricity.

“The kids think it’s pretty cool to charge their devices with the sun,” he said. “There are no wires coming out of the school to the charging stations, so it’s a bit of scientific magic to make it happen. Our phones don’t really use all that much energy, so I emphasize how cool it is to have the phones powered directly by the sun.”

Janousek and assistant facilitator Amber Hutchison supervise their students’ use of the solar charging stations.

“If Green Tech students want to eat outside during lunch, they let me know they’re going out so I can keep an eye on them,” Janousek said.

Depending on the weather, Green Tech students may opt to plug in their phone and return to the climate-controlled classroom while the sun does its job.

“The solar charging stations will provide our students with an additional piece of equipment with which to study and advance their knowledge of renewable energy,” said Travis Palangi, the Olathe district’s executive director of facilities and operations. “We are very thankful to MC Power and their contribution to the Green Tech program.”

Green Tech is one of the career-oriented 21st Century Academies operated by the Olathe school system. The West website it as “one of the only places in the nation where students can study energy and sustainability in-depth at the high school level.” It’s also the only 21st Century Academy to be fully powered by renewable energy.

New bank in Gardner

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was scheduled for Oct. 23 for the Mid America Bank in Gardner at 18365 S. Gardner Road. The bank’s home office is in Baldwin City, Kan., and other branches are located in Wellsville and Lawrence, according to its website.

Awards recognize diversity/inclusion efforts

A number of Olathe Community Awards were given out this month to recognize individuals, businesses and civic organizations that have enhanced human rights, equality, cultural diversity and inclusion of people with disabilities.

The ceremony on Oct. 10 was organized by the Olathe Human Relations Commission and the Persons with Disabilities Advisory Board. The winners:

Olathe Olive Garden, the Accessible Community Award. Olive Garden employee Rachael Mast, who has Down syndrome, introduced the Olive Garden group.

Olathe Police Officer Nathan Breeden, Veterans Award. He serves in the Army National Guard and is known for his work with veteran employment.

Ashford Collins, Humanitarian Award. He’s a vice-principal in the Blue Valley School District who organizes the annual Hope Walk to celebrate diversity, as well as other community activities.

Angie Powers, Humanitarian Award. The Olathe Northwest High School English teacher has been a strong advocate for equality and inclusion.

United Methodist Church of the Resurrection West, Organization Award. The congregation works with low-income and disabled people to help repair their homes.

Olathe Police Sgt. Logan Bonney, Chairman’s Award. He works with the Low Rider Bike Club in Olathe, building trusting friendships with Latino students and helping them succeed.

Phil Simons, Educator Award. Simons, who teaches history at Olathe North High School, established the first Black Student Union and has been a leader in teaching about African-American culture in Olathe and across the state.

Keaton Coad, Youth Award. In her grad school, Coad has brings kids together to do community service.

KidsTLC Trellis Center, Accessible Community Award. The organization helps children on the autism spectrum reach their full potential.

Gardner prepares for Boo Bash Oct. 29

A haunted trail ride, a fire-eating performance and spooky games will be part of the entertainment on Oct. 29, when Gardner hosts its 23rd annual Boo Bash in Celebration Park, 32501 W. 159th St.

The party runs from 6 to 8 p.m., with a pumpkin-decorating contest during the first hour. After the winners are announced at 7:30, Yosh the Fire Guy will do his flame-eating thing.

Games and rides are planned for ages 2 to 12, but wristbands are required. They cost $4 at the gate and $2 in advance, through 5 p.m. Oct. 29, at the Parks and Recreation window at City Hall. Raffle tickets for prizes will be available only to those who buy their wristbands in advance.

The rain date is Oct. 30.

Edgerton to celebrate Halloween on Oct. 27

Edgerton’s annual Halloween celebration, scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 27, includes a free hot-dog dinner and a surprise entertainer at 4:30 p.m. “who is sure to have everyone amazed,” the city said.

The event takes place at City Hall, 404 E. Nelson St., and guests are invited to the downtown haunted house. The evening will wrap up with a costume contest for all ages.

How to pay for college

Families can explore college financing options at a series of presentations Oct. 26 and 29 at the new Olathe Indian Creek Library, 16100 W. 135th St. The lineup:

Navigating the Path to Scholarships,10:30 a.m. Oct. 26.

Paying for College: FAFSA & Loans, 1 p.m. Oct. 26.

Step by Step through the FAFSA, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 29.

Veterans urged to sign up for Gardner recognition

The city of Gardner will honor veterans at its annual appreciation program beginning at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 4 in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The mayor will recognize each veteran and present a token of appreciation. A reception will follow.

Veterans should RSVP for themselves and guests at jtigerstrom-kelley@gardnerkansas.gov or at 913-856-0939.