Lee's Summit Journal

Teacher’s loss motivates gift to Children’s Mercy

Delivering art supplies to Children’s Mercy Hospital were, from left, Kinley Monk, Kate Higgins and Libby Kump from Pleasant Lea Middle School.
Delivering art supplies to Children’s Mercy Hospital were, from left, Kinley Monk, Kate Higgins and Libby Kump from Pleasant Lea Middle School. Courtesy photo

Teacher’s loss motivates gift to Children’s Mercy

More than 2,000 packages of crayons, markers and coloring books have been sent to Children’s Mercy Hospital in honor of Pleasant Lea Middle School math teacher Connie Stephan’s granddaughter, Mandy Crum, who died last year after contracting the flu.

Stephan shared Mandy’s story with Pleasant Lea Student Council members, and several students talked about how Children’s Mercy’s staff had cared for them, friends or family members.

Soon, students and school staffers channeled their gratitude into a schoolwide service project to collect the art supplies, which were delivered last month by Student Council President Libby Kump, vice-presidents Kate Higgins and Kinley Monk, science teacher Kristy Muckey and Spanish teacher Marcy Hess.

Mandy’s siblings visited the middle school to thank students and staffers for their efforts to honor their sister. Mandy died in February 2018, less than a month before her fifth birthday.

Local student lands federal internship

Joy-Noel Ontman, a Blue Springs High School senior and international studies student at Summit Technology Academy, has been accepted into the national Pathways Internship Program at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The internship offers paid employment this summer in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, with the option to renew for the summer of 2020.

The highly competitive Pathways program consists of multiple elimination stages at the national level, before a local interview process at the applicant’s chosen agency, which can be anywhere in the country. Ontman will stay close to home, because her internship is part of a pilot program implemented at the Lee’s Summit Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Summit Technology Academy is operated by the Lee’s Summit School District but is open to students in nearby districts.

“Many of my students hope to work for the Department of State or Foreign Services,” said Curtis Cook, international studies program facilitator at STA. “This internship gives Joy-Noel a significant advantage in pursuing that career path,”

According to the Pathways Program: “Employment in a Pathways Program may lead to conversion to a permanent, competitive service position.”

Princeton race relations prize awarded to R-7 senior

Maryam Khalil, a senior at Lee’s Summit West High School, has received the Princeton University Prize in Race Relations, which recognizes high school students who have had a significant positive effect on race relations through their volunteer efforts.

Khalil founded Lee’s Summit West’s Harmony Council, which aims to create multicultural awareness in the school and community. She is a translator with KC 4 Refugees, is active in the Muslim Civic Initiative and serves on the R-7 Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, known as LINC (Leading, Innovating and Navigating our Community).

She was honored April 23 by the Princeton Prize in Race Relations Greater Kansas City Committee. Recipients receive $1,000 and an all-expenses-paid weekend to a symposium on race at Princeton University.

P.E.O. Scholarship goes to Summit Christian senior

Natalie Maruschak, a senior at Summit Christian Academy in Lee’s Summit, has been awarded a $2,500. P.E.O. STAR Scholarship through local P.E.O. Chapter LJ.

The STAR Scholarship Board of Trustees selected Maruschak and other winners from more than 2,000 applications nationwide.

The scholarship recognizes high school senior women who demonstrate outstanding leadership, academic achievement, extracurricular activities and community service and who plan to continue their schooling in the fall after graduation.

Students visit from South America

Lee’s Summit North High School families recently hosted 13 students and two adult mentors from Argentina and Chile.

The exchange was coordinated by Lee’s Summit North Spanish teachers Kim Baer and Robin Villa, who also chairs the R-7 district’s modern language department. They worked with Global Ties of Kansas City in arranging the visit, which was sponsored by the U.S. State Department.