Lee's Summit Journal

Lee’s Summit North freshman describes reaching his ‘Everest’

Lee’s Summit North High School freshman Isaac McBurney hiked a Colorado mountain with his hero, Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Lee’s Summit North High School freshman Isaac McBurney hiked a Colorado mountain with his hero, Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

A dream come true at 12,000 feet

Lee’s Summit North High School freshman Isaac McBurney has long been an admirer of Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

A year ago, McBurney won an award named after the climber while at an Alphapointe summer camp for young people with visual impairments. The Trailblazer award, he said, was for showing leadership and going above and beyond to help people.

McBurney never thought he’d meet Weihenmayer, who scaled Everest in 2001, let alone climb with him. Then, this summer, his parents told him he could hike a Colorado mountain with his hero — an opportunity made possible through Weihenmayer’s nonprofit, No Barriers.

McBurney was moved to tears.

After flying to Colorado with his mother, Kara, McBurney completed the 6.4-mile trek on Aug. 24. Wearing a blue “What’s Your Everest?” shirt, he climbed to a height of 12,456 feet, stopping three times to catch his breath.

“We kept going up, and the air kept getting thinner,” he said in a video produced by Shawn Harrel of Summit Technology Academy. McBurney is not totally blind, but said he sees little beyond a distance of 5 feet and even that is not very clear. He’s also sensitive to light and partly color-blind.

In the video, he explained the meaning behind “What’s Your Everest?”

“Even if there is not a physical mountain in your life that you need to climb, you can overcome the obstacles in your life,” he said.

Parents encouraged to join suicide prevention effort

Teen suicide prevention has become a growing concern for educators around the Kansas City area.

This year, the Lee’s Summit School District has adopted the Signs of Suicide Prevention Program, which educates students about the relationship between suicide and depression, explores signs of suicide risk, includes personal screenings and offers other private avenues for students to ask adults for help.

This month, district counseling teams visited middle school and high school classrooms to share the program with students. And at lunchtime, counselors and student groups also distributed resources about Suicide Prevention Week.

The initiative also aims to inform parents about the information and educational materials that are available to students. To learn more about the Signs of Suicide program, visit sossignsofsuicide.org/parent. The site encourages parents to talk to their children what they are learning about suicide prevention.

More resources can be found under the Student Wellbeing link in the district’s parent portal.

Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit rank high among schools

The Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit school districts were ranked second and third, respectively, among the best school districts in the Kansas City area, according to a 2020 listing by Niche.

The Kansas-side Blue Valley district was named the best. Niche said its rankings were based on an analysis of academic and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education, along with test scores, college data and ratings collected from Niche users. Among Missouri districts, however, the local standouts ranked behind several in the eastern part of the state.

The top district was Clayton, followed by Kirkwood, Ladue, Rockwood and Parkway. All finished ahead of sixth-ranked Blue Springs. Then came Pattonville and No. 8 Lee’s Summit.

Rounding out the top 10 in Missouri were Lindbergh and Park Hill, which serves part of the Northland. The top nine districts received A+ ratings, while Park Hill earned an A.

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