The Board of Education met November 17th for its regularly scheduled meeting, reviewing changes to MSIP standards, ballot language for a proposed $32 million bond issue, and reviewing district pay compared to 15 local districts.
The Board began the meeting by recognizing members of the high school girls tennis, girls golf, and boys swim and dive teams for their performances at State competitions.
The Board also heard an update on the changes to the MO Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP). The MSIP 6 is the state’s accountability system for reviewing and accrediting districts, with standards and indicators divided into three sets: Continuous Improvement, Performance Standards, and Best Practice. The first MSIP 6 annual performance reports will be published December 5, 2022.
Superintendent Dr. Brad Welle reported Dr. Jeremy Plowman, GVHS Principal, has announced his retirement at the end of the current school year, and the search has begun for a replacement. The district has requested stakeholder input via an online tool to assist in the process. Welle stated the soonest a candidate could be identified would be December.
In terms of progress on the new Central Office building, delays related to interior HVAC systems and wall systems are delayed, and a March 2023 opening is anticipated.
The Board also previewed ballot language for a $32 bond on the April 2, 2023 ballot. Welle outlined the projects to be covered through the bond, including site development and construction of a new gymnasium/fieldhouse addition to the high school, upgrades and improvements to athletic facilities including stadium turf for 8th/9th grade football and overflow band practice, roof repairs at the high school, reroofing at Matthews Elementary, district-wide climate control system upgrades, an operations storage building, and demolition of the old central office.
The Board also reviewed pay comparisons for certified and non-certified staff as compared to 15 other area districts. The comparisons consistently show Grain Valley toward the bottom of the pack, with pay for Tier 1 paraprofessionals the most severe at $11.62/hour, ranking 16 out of 16 local districts. Tier 2 paraprofessional pay was an improvement, ranking 7th out of 16 districts at $14.82/hour. The data was provided as part of a plan to address pay scales in the coming year.
The Board also approved 2 full-time non-certified positions, currently referred to as behavior interventionists, to be trained by the district Behavioral Specialist to work in the district’s elementary schools. Also approved was the addition of one special education teacher position.
In other business, filing for school board candidates will begin Tuesday, December 6th at 8:00am. Candidates to be placed on ballot in order of arrival in designted parking spots at Central Office.
by Michael Smith
Injuries derailed what could have been a special season for the Grain Valley girls basketball team in 2021-22.
The team lost starting guard Finley LaForge to injury early in the season and during the 19th game of the regular season against Blue Springs, University of Missouri commit Grace Slaughter tore her ACL in her left knee.
That made things tough for the Eagles after losing two of their starters to injury as they fell to Columbia Battle in the first round of the playoffs.
Now, Slaughter and LaForge are healthy and practicing in full as Grain Valley lost just one senior from last season’s team and returns seven rotational players for the 2022-23 campaign.
“I think we are lucky that we are returning seven of our nine players from last year,” Slaughter said. “We have played together for a solid two years. It just builds chemistry.”
Added junior McKenah Sears: “Everything is clicking in practice. We are all on the same page.”
While the Eagles will have the majority of its players that were a part of a 16-2 team prior to Slaughter’s injury, they will have to face a tough schedule, which is by design, veteran head coach Randy Draper said.
Among the tough teams his team will have to play include Nixa, Blue Springs, Blue Springs South, Columbia Rock Bridge and Lee’s Summit North.
“Our schedule is very difficult for a reason,” Draper said. “We have high aspirations, so we have to play some really tough games if we want to become what we want to become.”
Playing those teams should help prepare the Eagles for the playoffs, Draper said. They should be well equipped to handle it, especially with Slaughter, a four-star recruit and the 53rd best girls basketball player in the 2023 class according to ESPN.com, returning from injury.
Slaughter expects to see a lot of double teams as she’s seen plenty of them in the last three seasons. The senior is a versatile forward who can score in the post, is a good passer, can beat defenders off the dribble, has the ability to sink 3-pointers, and is a good defender who is adept at deflecting passes at 6-foot-1.
She currently holds the school record with 1,795 career points, averaged 31.3 points last season and is a three-time all state selection.
“I feel pretty good,” Slaughter said. “I am still restricting a little bit on how much I play. I don’t want to be sore. Everything has been going well so far.”
Added Draper: “If you didn’t know about her injury, you wouldn’t be able to tell that she had ACL surgery. She is moving great, but that is just a testament to how hard she works in recovery and the physical therapist she works with.”
Slaughter will be joined by LaForge, who served as the team’s point guard last season. She is a solid pass, who has a solid jump shot and she can also take players off the dribble and get to the basket.
Sears, a good 3-point shooter and defender, also returns to the rotation along with Annabelle Totta, a good all-around athlete who is quick and can use her speed to get by defenders on the dribble drive.
Also returning are Camryn Bown, a tenacious defender and capable outside shooter; senior Ella Clyman, a good rebounder and post scorer; Meghan Knust, a good rebounder and solid defender; and Emma Jane Ogle, a good defender, rebounder and mid-range shooter.
“I always say Cameryn is someone who dots the Is and crosses the Ts for the defense,” Draper said. “She is always in the right place and always blocks out.
“Grace isn’t a secret. Everyone is going to guard her. Her teammates have to be able to take that pressure back off her. If they do that, we are in. The outside shooting is there. We just have to shoot good shots in rhythm.”
With so many players returning, team chemistry should be on point for this year’s Eagles. This is the season Grain Valley wants to do something special – make it to the Class 6 state final four.
“Especially with Draper being a Hall of Fame coach and never going to state for basketball, that is a goal for all of us,” Slaughter said. “Not only to have team camaraderie and play for our community, but get him to state. He’s an amazing coach.”
Grain Valley senior Grace Slaughter prepares to shoot a layup between two defenders at practice on Tuesday. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley senior Ella Clyman looks to pass to a teammate. Photo credit: Michael Smith
by Michael Smith
At the beginning of the 2021-22 season, the Grain Valley boys basketball team had trouble finding its identity.
With no one in the starting lineup that was taller than 6-foot-2, the Eagles had to run an offense that was heavily dependent on off-ball movement and screens to get shooters open as the team also lacked the ability to score on the dribble drive consistently.
About halfway through the season, head coach Andy Herbert found a formula of success on the offensive end when he inserted 6-foot-4 Rhylan Alcanter into the starting lineup and ran the offense through him.
Alcanter became a good post scorer for the Eagles and often drew double teams, which allowed shooters to get open on the perimeter, which led to a more successful offense.
Grain Valley hopes that will carry over into the 2022-23 season as it returns Alcanter and three other players who were a part of the rotation last season.
“I really like this group,” said Herbert, whose team finished last season 11-14. “They’re good kids and they gel together. They are all so unselfish. It’s not just about scoring points and winning games, they want to get better every day.”
Grain Valley lost two senior players to graduation and guard Keagan Hart, who is not playing basketball this season.
However, the Eagles still have a strong core coming back including sharp shooting guard Owen Herbert, a versatile swingman in Reece Troyer and Jake Richards, who has grown three inches and is expected to be a key part of the rotation.
“Most of us are returning and we know how to play with each other,” Alcanter said. “That’s going to help a lot. We have the leadership this year to finish games, which I think we struggled at last year.”
Some key newcomers joining the rotation include junior Stylz Blackmon, a 6-foot-4 forward that will bring some additional post scoring and rebounding for the Eagles alongside Alcanter. Herbert said Blackmon and Alcanter can play on the floor together as a big man duo because of their versatility and he can also stagger their minutes to make sure a big man is on the floor at all times.
“It’s going to help a lot because we have a lot of guys who can shoot it,” Owen Herbert said of having Blackmon and Alcanter in the rotation. “When you got guys down under the basket who can space the floor, it’s really tough to guard.”
Freshman guard Eli Herbert also should be a big part of Grain Valley’s team. Like his brother Owen, he is a strong 3-point shooter who has a quick and silky smooth release on his shot and is also a good ball handler who can operate as the team’s point guard.
“He definitely works on his shot,” Owen said of his brother. “He is definitely going to earn every minute he gets this year. Hopefully we can knock down some threes.”
Juniors Logan Marcum and Jack Schoen and seniors Brock Baker and Francisco Polola , a transfer from Argentina, figure to be a part of the rotation as well.
“Our new guys are fitting right in,” Alcanter said. “They are all shooters and playmakers. During (the University of Central Missouri) Tournament we really saw that. They got some minutes with the varsity players and it’s really paying off.”
With the personnel he has on the team, Andy Herbert said he expects to have a solid, all-around team that can shoot, score down low, get baskets on the dribble drive and play solid defense.
“This is the first day of practice for Rhylan and Stylz because they just got done playing football,” Herbert said. “The guys who were here before them played every position, including the post. It doesn’t matter what position these guys play. It’s, I am a basketball player not a point guard.”
“The versatility we have is something that will hopefully be an advantage for us.”
The team goal for this season is to win the Suburban White Conference title and district championship. That will be challenging, however, as Grain Valley’s district is loaded with good teams including Blue Springs and Columbia Rock Bridge.
“We play a lot of really good teams in our (regular season) schedule,” Owen Herbert said. “That will prepare us pretty well (for the playoffs).”
Grain Valley junior Stylz Blackmon goes up for a layup in practice Monday. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley junior Jack Schoen is expected to get some minutes in the rotation for the boys basketball team. Photo credit: Michael Smith
One of the most beloved traditions in Grain Valley returns this holiday weekend, as the Santa Bus begins its weekly rounds throughout the City. An annual tradition, the Santa Bus travels throughout Grain Valley neighborhoods, assisted by the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), to visit with children and take photos. There is no cost to participate, and children of all ages are welcome to visit Santa.
The 2022 schedule is provided below. Santa's helpers ask that you not message asking about timing of their arrival in your neighborhood, as timing greatly depends on the number of young people visiting with Santa.
Parents of young babies who cannot come out in the cold or other children with special needs may come to the bus and ask Santa to come inside.
(Yellow) Nov. 26th | 9:00 AM until approx. 7 PM (First Saturday after Thanksgiving )
Grayleigh Park, Rosewood Hills, Whispering Park, and Whitney Hills
(Green) Nov 27th 10 AM until approx. 7 PM (First Sunday after Thanksgiving)
(Orange) Dec. 3th | 9 AM until approx. 7 PM (Second Saturday after Thanksgiving)
Everything between 40 Hwy and I-70
(Purple) Dec. 4th | 10:00 AM until approx. 7 PM (Second Sunday after Thanksgiving)
Everything between 40Hwy and Eagles Pkwy including Cypress St & Broadway East of Buckner-Tarsney, and Winding Creek Subdivision
(Blue) Dec 10th | 9 AM until approx. 7 PM (Third Saturday after Thanksgiving)
Everything boarded by Buckner Tarsney on the east, Sni A Bar on the north, and Cross Creek Dr on the west.
(No Color) Dec. 11th | 10:00 AM until approx. 7 PM (Third Sunday after Thanksgiving )
Everything boarded by Buckner Tarsney on the east, by Sni A Bar on the south and west, and Eagles Pkwy (AA) on the north.
Dec. 16th 5:30 PM until 8:00 PM Brass Armadillo
(Red) Dec. 17th | 9:00 AM until approx. 7 PM (Second Saturday before Christmas)
Everything boarded by Cross Creek Dr on the east, Sni A Bar on the northeast, and Eagles Pkwy (AA) on the north
Dec. 18th | 10 AM until approx. 7 PM (Last Sunday before Christmas) *if needed*
Graystone Estates, Hoot Owl, Creekside and Eagles Ridge Sub-Divisions. As well as any areas that were missed due to time constraints or weather.
The Grain Valley Partnership is hosting a Taste of Christmas shopping event on Saturday, November 26th from 10:00am - 2:00pm at OOIDA, 1 OOIDA Drive in Grain Valley. Admission is $5.
Shoppers can mark items off their holiday shopping lists while supporting local businesses and food vendors. Local caterers and restaurants will be on hand with samples and holiday party info.
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
First published as a poem entitled “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day,” Lydia Maria Child wrote the lyrics to this popular song in 1844. It represented her own childhood memories of going to visit her grandfather’s house on Thanksgiving Day.
Today we sing “to grandmother’s house we go.” I have my own theory about that. We go to grandmother because she makes all of the excellent food that has become our Thanksgiving tradition over the years!
Over the river and through the woods,
To grandmother's house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh,
Through (the) white and drifted snow!
Over the river and through the woods,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.
Over the river and through the woods,
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
So this column is supposed to be about Grain Valley History, but isn’t going “over the river” a wonderful memory of all our histories? While growing up in Grain Valley may only have been crossing over Sni-A-Bar Creek, it still meant going to grandmother’s house, or Aunt Opal’s house (substitute your own destination) for a feast.
Food is history. Grain Valley was named for the plentiful grain that could be grown in our valley. Through the history of the world, food was a huge part of our lives; feast and festivals! Food is part of our gathering from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve and beyond. So be prepared to read about food for the next few weeks in this column.
I will begin with the appetizer. Today a veggie plate is carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, well you get the picture. Back in the day, did your relish tray include green and black olives? We also had Bread ‘n Butter pickles, home canned, of course. My mother always made pimento cheese to spread on the celery sticks. And there was the weird stuff that came in little jars like pickled vegetables and pearl onions. Another mainstay among our Thanksgiving appetizers were those cute little jars of Kraft cheese served with Ritz crackers. The jars could be washed up and used later as juice glasses!
Next week I’ll talk about main dishes and I may even throw in a recipe or two!
Image credit: Grain Valley Historical Society
(StatePoint) With seasonal stressors like end-of-year work deadlines, gift shopping and hosting potentially weighing on you, plus all those extra sweets and indulgent foods to nibble on, the holiday season may be the happiest time of year, but it’s not always the healthiest. Here’s how to take better care of yourself to feel your best this holiday season.
Protect Your Skin
You may be aware that the more free radicals you have in your body, the more skin damage can accumulate over time. But did you know that exposure can be particularly high during the holiday season? There are a few reasons for this. One is that cooler temperatures are linked to sugar cravings, making sweet treats especially hard to resist at a time of year when there are so many to choose from. Increased sugar intake can boost the production of advanced glycation end products, and ultimately unwanted free radicals. In general, diets high in fat, sugar, and processed foods can contribute to free radical production, as can stress.
Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your skin from the inside out during the holidays and beyond. Fernblock PLE (Polypodium leucotomos extract), the natural antioxidant in the dietary supplement Heliocare Daily Use Antioxidant Formula, can help neutralize free radicals and the damage they cause.
“Along with the cheer of the season comes skin hazards,” says New York-based dermatologist, Rachel Nazarian, MD. “But the holiday season is the perfect time to gift your skin additional protection from the damaging effects of free radicals. You can do this by incorporating a supplement like Heliocare into your routine in addition to using a topical broad spectrum sunscreen.”
To learn more, visit heliocare.com. (These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Heliocare is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.)
Be sure to take time for yourself each day to receive the combined physical and mental health benefits of movement. Head outdoors for a morning or afternoon walk to get some fresh air, improved blood circulation and some mood-boosting sunlight during the short, dark days of winter. To promote agility, flexibility and relaxation, take a few minutes to unwind with some meditation or gentle yoga.
Practice Healthy Habits
Holiday office parties and family gatherings often involve indulging in the kinds of food and drink that can leave you feeling more dehydrated, bloated and fatigued than you might normally. Counteract these effects by adopting healthy habits now that you can carry into the new year. Drink plenty of water each day, and incorporate decaffeinated green tea, coconut water or smoothies into your routine for added electrolytes. Likewise, get high-quality sleep each night. It’s especially important to do so if you’re burning the candle at both ends. For better shut-eye, avoid caffeine and blue light exposure before bedtime, and keep your bedroom temperature comfortable and consistent.
While it can be hard to set aside time in your schedule when there’s so much to do, a bit of daily self-care is sure to have a restorative effect that helps you refresh, reset and be more focused.
As we enter the holiday season, it’s easy to get swept away in the events and festivities of this time of year. I think it’s a great time to stop, slow down, and reflect on the positive things happening in our community. Truman Heartland Community Foundation donors have made a substantial impact in the past year, making our Eastern Jackson Counties communities better places to live, work, and serve. And for this, we are so thankful.
We are thankful for our hundreds of donors committed to impacting our community through their charitable giving. On November 10, we held our 27th Annual Grants Luncheon with more than 200 attendees at the Adams Pointe Conference Center in Blue Springs. At the celebration, we distributed more than $491,937 in grants to local nonprofits provided by 34 charitable funds at the Foundation. We are thankful for the generosity of our luncheon sponsor, Insperity, who helped us celebrate this important community achievement. We also appreciate the work of all the local nonprofits who received Truman Heartland grants and who serve our communities every day.
Another moving aspect of our grants program is our “Fill the Gap” campaign. Each year we reach out to our donor advised fund holders and charitable partners with the opportunity to “Fill the Gap” and supplement the grant dollars available through endowed funds at the Foundation. We are so thankful to our donors and local partners, including the Junior Services League of Independence and our own Youth Advisory Council, who offered additional funding to several proposals. This year, our donor advised fundholders and charitable partners generously provided an additional $55,932 in grant funding. What an amazing testament to our community’s determination to create positive change.
End-of-the-year giving is critical to many nonprofits. And although campaigns like Giving Tuesday have bolstered online donations for many nonprofits, it is just the beginning. Giving in the last week of the year brings in more than twelve times the revenue as Giving Tuesday. It is estimated that around 30 percent of annual giving occurs in December, and a whopping ten percent occurs in the last three days of the year.
If you act quickly, your year-end charitable giving could save you thousands in taxes this year. In my last column, I encouraged everyone to think about their year-end tax planning and, for those who are charitably minded, plans for year-end contributions to favorite charities. Utilizing your donor advised fund to bunch your charitable contributions can be a great tax-wise way to give back and still continue to itemize charitable deductions. However, time is running out to take advantage of this charitable giving tool for this tax season!
Making a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) directly from your IRA is another valuable tax-wise way to help your community. Remember, if you are 72 ½ or older and have required minimum distributions (RMD) from your IRA, you can make a QCD directly to your favorite charities. This will fulfill your RMD, and you will not have to report the distribution on your income taxes.
We are thankful to live in a community where people care about one another and freely lend their time and talents to their community. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s essential to pause, give thanks, and reflect on what is really important.
I am thankful for everyone who participates in the Truman Heartland mission each year. Your passion for giving allows us to do what we do—help everyday people positively impact their local communities. I hope your holiday season is filled with enough joy and laughter to take you into the New Year with a smile.
by Kelly McGowan, MU Extension Field Specialist in Horticulturist in the Southwest Region
Nothing is cozier than a wood burning fireplace on a cold winter night. Once that fire is gone, ashes make a great soil amendment and have been used by gardeners for generations. Ashes are a good source of plant nutrients, especially calcium. While the calcium is good for plant health, it can work similarly to lime and effect soil pH, the acidity, neutrality, or alkalinity, of the soil. Excessive use of wood ash can lead to a pH above the ideal level, which in turn can affect nutrient availability.
It can also increase levels of phosphorus and potassium to high levels. Be careful to not over apply and soil test every one to two years to monitor soil fertility and pH. It is easy to get too much of a good thing! The recommended amount is five to ten pounds per 100 square feet.
Ash can be applied pre-planting and incorporated in the soil, or used as a side dressing around growing plants. Store unused ashes in a dry place. If stored outdoors, the weathering process can decrease its nutritive value.
Make sure to only use wood ash and never ashes from burning trash. Trash burning ashes contain toxins that are undesirable in the vegetable garden. Also, keep in mind that wood ash is highly alkaline, so wear a dust mask and other protective equipment when handling to prevent inhaling or getting into your eyes.
The Jacomo Chorale will present a Christmas concert at 7:00pm on December 10th at Mission Woods Community of Christ, 2800 NW Duncan Rd., Blue Springs, MO.
Directed by Bryan Waznik, accompanied by Dave Laurence, with special accompaniment by a brass quintet from UMKC, the Chorale will present a variety of selections including sing-along, traditional and more contemporary holiday pieces.
Admission is free with donations gratefully accepted. There will be a silent auction of a variety of gift baskets, benefitting the Chorale's 40th Anniversary Gala in May. The Jacomo Chorale draws its members from eastern Jackson County and presents concerts several times a year in multiple locations.
For additional information, contact Nancy White at email@example.com or 816.560.9148. https:/jacomochorale.org