Lee's Summit Journal

SCA ‘character’ honoree headed to U.S. Air Force Academy

Broadway plays come to life for Pleasant Lea Middle School students.
Broadway plays come to life for Pleasant Lea Middle School students. Courtesy photo

Christian Academy grad nominated by Congress member

Josh McConnell is leaving Summit Christian Academy on two high notes.

The 2019 graduate has accepted an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado, where he would like to study aerospace engineering and perhaps continue on to Air Force pilot training.

Students must be nominated by a Congress member to be eligible for an appointment, and McConnell received his nomination from Sen. Claire McCaskill before she left office.

McConnell also was named the 2019 SCA Secondary Christian Character Student of the Year. He was involved in varsity football, varsity track and field, Concert Chorale and Junior/Senior Ensemble. He also was a Math Fellow, International Buddy, small group leader and member of the National Honor Society.

He was the football team captain and was the Crossroads Conference Player of the Year as a senior.

“Josh McConnell is a young man that makes every environment he is in better,” said SCA Secondary Principal Joe Hesman. “From his charismatic personality to his drive and hard work, Josh lives out the Colossians 3:23 verse by working hard at everything he does.

“He is academically very strong, athletically a beast, spiritually a mentor, and just a wonderful young man to be around.”

Virtual reality goggles take kids to Broadway

Speech and theater students took a virtual field trip across several Broadway stages recently without leaving Pleasant Lea Middle School. They experienced the animals of “The Lion King,” the stars of “Hamilton” and the colorful lighting and choreography of “Beetlejuice.”

More than 18 videos were available for students to explore at their own pace and according to their interests.

The Lee’s Summit School District has purchased one class set of virtual reality goggles and phones, which teachers can reserve.

R-7 grad lands prestigious science fellowship

Cameron Lerch, a 2014 graduate from Lee’s Summit West High School, has received a prestigious 2019 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which will fully fund three years of graduate research at Yale University in the Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science department.

Past National Science Foundation fellows include Google co-founder Sergey Brin, former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and several Nobel Prize winners.

Lerch graduated summa cum laude with a physics degree this spring from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. His undergraduate accomplishments also include publishing research in peer-reviewed journals, earning a Summer 2018 Yale fellowship and presenting at several national meetings.

Lerch credits Thomas Vojta and other Missouri S&T faculty members for their support, as well as his years in Lee’s Summit schools — where he was part of the Team Titanium robotics program and learned that his academic work was relational as well as intellectual.

“Every time that high school education comes up in conversation, I always mention the incredible opportunities that I had available to me thanks to the school district,” Lerch said in a press release.

He described a FIRST Robotics competition as “a place where you will find some of the most intensely competitive people that you’ll ever meet, who are simultaneously the most helpful, encouraging, and supportive people that you’ll ever meet.”

“This competitive environment and gracious professionalism mindset shaped the person that I am today.”

Lerch also was involved in Project Lead the Way at Summit Technology Academy, where he met his most influential R-7 teacher, Paul Rutherford.

“When a student of Cameron’s caliber and intellect walks through your classroom door, you soon realize that he or she will challenge you,” Rutherford said. “They will force you to constantly be on your instructional toes, always being on the lookout for avenues to challenge them and to truly bring out their full potential.”

Teens sought for advisory board

Lee’s Summit CARES is looking for high school students to serve on the organization’s Youth Advisory Board.

Board members advocate for mental health awareness and work with community organizations to educate classmates and the community about the harmful effects of underage substance use. Advisory board members participate in leadership training, volunteer campaigns and fun activities. They are asked to pledge to live a substance-free lifestyle.

Go to lscares.org/yab.html for an application and further information. Applications also are available from school SMART Club sponsors or by calling 816-347-3298. For more information, contact Rachel Segobia at rsegobia@rediscovermh.org or 816-347-3298.

Summit Tech produces biomedical winners

A large number of students from the Summit Technology Academy Biomedical Innovation program were among the top 15 finishers at Project Lead the Way- KC’s annual Biomedical Research Competition, hosted by the KC STEM Alliance. The competition featured 62 projects from 87 students.

Practicing industry professionals judged the student projects, evaluating how the work illustrates students’ design-thinking and problem-solving capabilities.

Finishing first and winning a $2,500 scholarship was Makenzi Schroeder, whose project was titled “The Effect of Over the Counter and Prescription Insulin on Danio Rerio.” She’s from Lee’s Summit West High School.

Others top winners were Bryan Mathew, fourth place; Emma Cooney, Zaibunnisa Malik, Allen Guardado and Reese Wood, fifth place; Magdalyn Carlson, seventh place; Liberty Riggs, Kaitlyn McGill, Olivia Rickett and Michael Kimaku, ninth place; Ashley Crockett, Taylor Iverson and Zuzeth Gonzalez, 10th place; Jillian Kirkpatrick, 12th place, and Abigal Mainard, 13th place.

A huge industrial tech squad

Sixty-eight students from Lee’s Summit High School’s Industrial Technology classes qualified for the Technology Education Association of Missouri (T.E.A.M.) District Metropolitan Contest, more than any other area high school. Nineteen students received grand awards and competed at the State Industrial Technology Contest in early May.