There are multiple paths that may be taken that culminate in a successful career. Having the opportunity to explore potential career fields, while earning college credit, advanced certifications, and new friendships is the norm for 62 Grain Valley students who attend the Fort Osage Career and Technology Center in Independence, Missouri. The CTC blends classroom instruction with hands-on learning experiences.
Construction Trades Technology, Marketing, Welding, Culinary Arts, Automotive Technology, and CSI/Law Enforcement are among just some of the programs offered to the 526 students enrolled at CTC. The foyer to the main entrance of the CTC is adorned with the motto, “Explore. Create. Excite. Pursue.” A further walk around the building reveals a bright blue bulletin board that has been coined the “50 for 50” board, highlighting the career success of 50 alumni from CTC over the past 50 years.
These examples of getting students to think in a professional mindset is by the design of CTC Director Susie Gouldsmith and Recruitment and Placement Specialist Rebecca Brown. Both Gouldsmith and Brown have been with CTC for 23 and 5 years, respectively. The idea of students working along side professionals and learning by doing is at the heart of what Gouldsmith and Brown want for their students.
Creativity for CTC leadership has become an important part of continuing to attract students during the current pandemic. Spring Open House and sophomore tours have been suspended for the 2020-2021 school year. However, YouTube and social media have become forums for displaying the 9th Grade information video- https://bit.ly/CTC9thGradeVideo, and for providing links for the application process- https://bit.ly/CTCApp2021-2022.
Arraya Ross is a Grain Valley High School student involved in the CSI/Law Enforcement program at CTC. Her time is split between calisthenics, classroom work, and field shadowing at the Fort Osage campus. Having time commitments or pull between two campuses is something Ross would not have any other way.
“Honestly, this is a great program to go into. We do everything from simulating traffic stops, doing physical fitness, to book work. I am getting to explore if this is indeed what I want to do when I grow up. I would recommend this for anyone,” Ross said.
“You learn teamwork and the value of having multiple eyes on a task. Those multiple eyes present different options for us to consider before negotiating the best solution. This program has made me want to continue in this field.”
“Simulating a traffic stop has made me understand the balance between maintaining calm and being nervous or scared at the same time. You have no idea what it is like until you have to actually do it and putting the skills into application that I have learned has made a huge impact on me.”
Ross concluded, “My first time hearing about CTC was when Ms. Brown visited my classroom during my freshman and sophomore years. I have always been fascinated by law enforcement. My parents were initially skeptical about what my experience would be like here. That has turned into them being excited like me about I am doing.”
Another popular career pathway training offered at CTC is automotive technology. CNBC cited in 2019 that auto mechanics are and will for the foreseeable future be in high demand. The United States continues to put more and more drivers on the road. Congruently, more Americans are holding onto their vehicles longer due to the continuing escalating cost of new vehicle prices.
ZipRecruiter reveals that the average annual salary for an automotive mechanic in Missouri is $35,959. Local car dealerships such as Blue Springs Ford, Bob Sight Ford, and Lee’s Summit Volkswagen work with area career schools to find partnerships for intern placements at their dealerships. To graduate high school with the skills needed to become a certified mechanic with an internship and possible employment on the horizon without a large pile of student loan debt is appealing for students with mechanical aptitude.
Grain Valley High School students Nick Julien, Jaden Mason, Ethan Haile, and Neil Schmidt currently take automotive technology classes at CTC. Each has their own reason why they were drawn to the program. The group collectively enjoys the hands on experience they gain and the confidence that comes along with it for their future endeavors.
“I learn things here that are not available at my home high school. Everything we do is engaging and hands on. Even If I do not choose this profession, I will have a lot of good experience for later in life,” Julien said.
Schmidt continued, “Being at CTC does not feel like school. I feel like I am at a job. The type of learning we do here is fun for me. This has created a passion for me. It started out with me being into dirt bikes and has grown into a possible career. Getting to be around my friends and have fun has been a plus also.”
Mason added, “I am learning good things in large quantities for what I want to do in my career later on.”
Haile finished, “I estimate that none of us are going to be doing anything with calculus after graduation. Here, I learn applicable skills that fascinate me and set me up for success. I can by sight or feel find a 3 /8 inch wrench in a tool drawer as opposed to solving a three-step equation.”
Being in an environment where a car can be put on a lift and things being removed and put back holds the attention of the quartet. The consequences from doing something right or wrong in a shop setting is real and something the group claims sticks in their memory. Among examples cited were the differences between old and newer ignition systems, with the old being mechanically centered and the new being diagnostic or electronically driven.
The spark of interest and route taken to the Fort Osage Career Technical Center has been different for each automotive student.
“I was visited in 8th grade by CTC instructors. That interaction made the three hours we spend a day here sound fun. That is what pushed me here. I never wanted to go to college. I wanted to get an entry level automotive job. Instead, I am planning on going to college based to pursue something automotive based on my experiences here,” Julien said.
“My parents were happy with me choice to come here and that I am doing something with my hands. They have been pleased to see me doing something that makes me this happy.”
Schmidt explained his motivations were not as complex as some of his classmates.
“I saw the truck on the Dyno when I visited here and loved the sound the engine made. I was hooked,” Schmidt said.
“My parents have been relieved that I am on a path instead of trying to find something for a career. Also, I have made friends here at CTC that I never would of thought that I had. We have a bond due to us working on the same things with the same interests continually.”
On April 6th, voters in eight metro school districts, including Grain Valley, will be asked to approve the attachment of their district to Metropolitan Community Colleges (MCC). Approval of the measure would add a levy of approximately $.21 to property tax bills.
The benefit to residents within MCC districts is a reduction in tuition for students residing in those districts of almost 50%. Currently, Grain Valley residents attending MCC pay $198 per credit hour; in-district tuition is currently $107.
The ballot question reads “For the purpose of providing greater affordable access to quality higher education by providing in-district tuition rates for residents within the Grain Valley R-V School District, shall the Grain Valley R-V School District be attached to The Junior College District of Metropolitan Kansas City, Missouri, effective the 22nd day of April 2021?”
According to MCC, in the 2019-2020 school year, 304 students from the 64029 zip code were enrolled at MCC campuses (2018-2019: 294, 2017-2018: 292).
Mentioned twice in the ballot language, Grain Valley Schools released a statement to district patrons via email last week distancing itself from the ballot language, clarifying that the district did not place the measure on the ballot, and revenue generated from the levy would go to MCC. The district stated it would not be taking a stance on the measure.
An MCC informational flyer on the proposed levy cites December 2020 estimates from Zillow Research that the average market value of a single family home in Grain Valley is $258,000. Using this estimate, the average homeowner would see an increase of $104.31 on their annual tax bill to support MCC.
A simple majority (more than 50%) of voters must vote for approval in order for the attachment to pass.
The success of the Grain Valley High School speech and debate team is nothing new, but the fact that the team continues their winning streak in the face of so many changes this year is what impresses their head coach Brian Winckler.
“It’s been kind of up and down. I think every student started out excited and they wanted to make the best of their year, the seniors in their last year, the freshmen in their first year, and everything in between. And then we went virtual in school, and that hit the morale a little bit. So, our cabinet members led by Hannah Lytle, Mia Powell, and Alex Kroenke, came up with ideas like a virtual holiday party that really helped with morale,” Winckler said.
“Kids are starting to turn around, which is great. Now that they can see what they have been working toward as well, with conference and state and national qualifying events coming up, we are starting to get to the point where they are excited again and working together to accomplish the goals that we set out to accomplish.”
“It’s definitely been more difficult. My favorite part of the activities are having people react and be interactive in the event. It is definitely more difficult to set up a video of the event, rather than have people react to what you are doing in real time,” Lytle said.
“But, I also think it has helped us be more focused on our research and making sure things are clean. We’ve gotten a lot more technically strong, because video allows you to look at your performances much more intensely.”
Senior Alex Kroenke participates in the Congress event, and agrees there are some positives that have come from this unique school year.
“I think oddly enough, having to adjust how the team bonds and comes together has been really difficult but has worked out really well. Primarily, most of the bonding that happened before occurred during tournaments. But, when you are at a live tournament, you cannot see how your teammates are doing in the moment. Using video allows you to see performances you otherwise wouldn’t see, and it’s made prepping better. It’s made people less afraid to make their voices heard,” Kroenke said.
In a normal year, students prepare for their event and then perform in a room with their fellow competitors and the judge(s).
“Now, we just record our performances and submit them for judging. Which is sad, because it is interesting to watch other people’s performances and learn about what they care about,” Lytle said.
“Debate is now a lot of just sitting in a room in front of a camera, rather than all of the interaction and relationship building that happens in a normal year.”
“Something that has been cool is the amount of judges and different types of people when have been able to meet. You no longer have to drive to where you compete, so for instance, Hannah and I got to compete in a Texas tournament without having to make that drive. Overall, the amount of diversity and different opinions we have heard this year has allowed us to have more productive conversations,” Powell said.
Both Kroenke and Lytle are planning to put their skills to practice in the future with degrees in law.
“I think advocating for people and making positive change where I can, these are areas where I can do the most,” Kroenke said.
While current events have influenced both Kroenke and Lytle’s desire to pursue a career in law, Lytle has always known she wanted to pursue law as a career.
“It’s always been a big thing for me. I hate seeing innocent people go to jail and seeing the experience of those people when it’s absolutely unnecessary,” Lytle said.
Grain Valley will host the MSHSAA District 9 competition virtually the week of March 14-20, and volunteer judges are needed. Volunteers may contact Brian Winckler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2nd Semester Team Results:
Congress: Alex- 1st
OO: Mia- 1st (Nietoc Bid)
IX: Mia- 1st (Nietoc Bid)
USX: Hannah- 6th (Nietoc Bid)
Reg PFD: Alex/Williams-
Reg LD: Stolle- , Aidan- , Havard-
Reg Policy: Myers/Holman-
Champ Policy: Lytle/Powell- 1-3
DUO: Wells/Bierbaum- 1st
Prose: Kayden- 1st, Mackenzie- 4th, Wells- 5th
Storytelling- Emma- 2nd
DI: Kayden- 5th
Radio: Wells- 3rd, Aralyn- 4th, Harper- 5th
2nd in Sweeps
Congress: Alex- 1st, Myers- 5th
Storytelling: Ashlee- 2nd
Extemp: Myers- 4th
POI: Limbach- 4th
Policy: Holman/Tan- 1-3
LD: Stolle- 4-2- 3rd, Harvard- 1-3
Platte County Novice:
Storytelling- Emma- 1st
Prose: Mackenzie- 1st, Delacey- 3rd, Kayden- 6th
Radio: Aralyn- 1st, Isabella- 3rd
DI: Kayden- 3rd
OO: Emma- 4th
LD: Aralyn- 2-3- 5th
Park Hill Varsity:
USX: Hannah L- 1st (Nietoc Bid), Harvard- 3rd, Holman- 4th
OO: Mia- 1st (Nietoc Bid)
IX: Mia- 2nd; Carmen- 4th
Info: Hannah L- 3rd (Nietoc Bid)
Congress: Gracie- 2nd; Maddux- 4th; SS- Alex, Carmen, Aidan
Radio: Aidan- 3rd; Hannah L- 4th
Policy: Hannah/Mia- 6-1- 1st; Carmen/Gabby- 5-1- 3rd
PFD: Alex/Williams- 2-2
LD: Aidan- 4-1- 5th; Brayden- 3-2- 5th; Harvard- 2-2
Team Sweeps- 1st
Park University announces its Fall 2020 graduates from the University’s flagship Parkville Campus, as well as the Downtown Kansas City (Mo.), Independence (Mo.) and Lenexa (Kan.) campuses. The list of graduates also includes fall online graduates worldwide and graduates from the University’s other campuses across the country not previously announced this year.
Park hosted a virtual all-University commencement ceremony on December 12, featuring keynote speaker Anthony Melchiorri, host, co-creator and co-executive producer of Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible” series of shows, and a 1990 Park graduate and U.S. military veteran. The graduates were originally scheduled to participate in an in-person ceremony that day at the Community of Christ Auditorium in Independence, Mo., but the event was cancelled earlier in the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The University had 607 students eligible to graduate — 260 students received a master’s degree and/or a graduate certificate, and 347 students received a bachelor’s degree, associate degree and/or undergraduate certificate.
Master of Business Administration
Amanda M. Ransdell, Finance, Grain Valley, MO
Bachelor of Science
Mariah E. Gilbertson, Business Administration/Marketing, Grain Valley, MO
The following students from Grain Valley made the Dean’s List for the fall 2020 semester:
Kendyll L Bailey, Senior, Health Professions
Claudia Genevieve Chambers, Senior, Arts & Science
Warren Godfrey Haralson, Senior, Arts & Science
Joseph Conrad Hays, Senior
Meagan Janeen Hodges, Junior, Journalism
John Daniel Hodson, Sophomore, Engineering
Payton Monroe Holstine, Sophomore, Business
Jackson Adam Hoover, Sophomore, Agr-Food & Nat Resources
Madyson Lynn Marrs, Sophomore, Agr-Food & Nat Resources
Keely Michelle McElligott, Sophomore, Journalism
William H Perry, Freshman, Journalism
Julian Mikel Sanjur, Sophomore, Health Professions
Hannah Raleigh Sears, Junior, Arts & Science
Victoria Gabrielle Seever, Freshman, Business
Kendra Renea Sibert, Sophomore, Arts & Science
Brett M Tieman, Senior, Education
Benjamin M Totta, Junior, Health Professions
Mackensie Danielle Wagner, Sophomore, Agr-Food & Nat Resources
Vanessa Carla Watkins, Junior, Arts & Science
Hannah Lynn Welty, Senior, Health Professions
Kaylee Michelle Williams, Junior, Health Professions
Metropolitan Community College has released the Dean's List for the Fall 2020 semester. The 2,865 students who received Dean's List recognition earned a GPA of at least 3.5 while being enrolled in six or more credit hours.
Gabby Marie Aber
Trevor A Bartlett
Stephanie Sue Branson
Brittney R Bryant
Deaton Joeseph Carroll
Kirby O'Meara Evans
Elizabeth Louise Favor
Alexis D Fletcher
McKenzy Nicole Gauert
Dominic Grisafe Cardona
Kyle R Hammond
Kylie Josephine Hawkins
Kaylee Lynn Hutchens
Ethan Syver Kalthoff
Brittney Rose Konko
Payton Rylee Lawhead
Theo Emmett Luce
Hayden Dallas Mitchell
Haley Michelle Myers
Alex Samuel Perez
Sam M Petralie
Andy Andres Reyes
Alexandra V Salinas
Stacey Renae Schilling
Ashley Danelle Stumpenhaus
Shuyler R Sullivan
Kayla M Townsend
Jill Breanne Wenger
Gavin Lane Wolfe
Lauryn Smith, Grain Valley, was recently initiated into the Missouri- Beta Chapter of Kappa Mu Epsilon, a national mathematics society at the University of Central Missouri (UCM).
Smith, daughter of Kathryn Engel, Grain Valley and Aaron Smith, Odessa, is a junior mathematics major at UCM and a 2018 graduate of Center Place Restoration School.
The primary purpose of KME is to join together in common fellowship those individuals who are serious students of mathematics. A candidate for membership in the KME-Missouri-Beta Chapter must be a regularly enrolled student at UCM, have completed at least three semesters of college coursework, and rank in the upper 35 percent of his or her class. He or she must also have completed at least three college mathematics courses with an overall B average, including one semester of calculus and at least two mathematics courses at UCM.
The chapter meets monthly during the academic school year to hear a discussion about topics in mathematics of mutual interest. Other activities include volunteer work in the campus math clinic and math relays and numerous social events.
Each semester, students at Missouri State University who attain academic excellence are named to the dean’s list.
For undergraduate students, criteria include enrollment in at least six credit hours during the summer semester and at least a 3.50 grade point average (on a 4.00 scale).
Grain Valley Schools, in line with several other districts in the area, has decided to delay the start of school and develop a hybrid model of instruction for students in grades 6-12.
The School Board voted during a special meeting on July 30th to change the start of the school year to Tuesday, September 8th. The Board also approved a recommendation by the administration to change to a hybrid model of instruction for students in grades 6-12. Families will continue to have full time virtual as an option.
Middle school and high school students with a last name beginning with A-J will be in person on Mondays and Wednesdays and those with last names beginning with K-Z will be in person on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students will learn virtually from home the other three days each week.
Elementary students will attend school in person full time. The Early Childhood Center will also begin school with its traditional in-person model.
“Jackson County health officials have asked school districts to consider starting the school year virtually and to delay the start of the school year until after Labor Day - both due to case numbers in Jackson County trending the wrong direction. We have chosen the option we feel responds to county concerns, while ensuring at least some in person instruction for all students. Going with our hybrid model for middle school and high school students hopefully sets up everyone involved with the greatest chance of a consistent and predictable routine,” Brad Welle, Deputy Superintendent, Student and Community Services, said.
“By reducing the number of students who are in our middle schools and high school at one time, we reduce the likelihood that a confirmation of a positive case with one student leads to large numbers of students being excluded for 14 days at a time. Elementary students, by comparison, stay with the same group of classmates much of their day. If the need arises for a classroom of students to stay home along the way due to exposure, we are less likely to need to close an entire elementary school due to widespread inter-mingling of students like what you find in a middle school or high school operating at full capacity.”
In an email to parents announcing the decision, the district stated it is committed to the hybrid model through at least September.
In an effort to further reduce course loads at the high school level during this time, students will follow their “A” day schedule for the first nine weeks of the school year and their “B” day schedule for the second nine weeks.
Middle school students will be equipped with Chromebooks, and high school students will be receiving Dell 3100 Chromebooks this fall.
“The current plan is for students to come to the high school during their assigned date and time window for a ‘Chromebook swap’ where they will receive their new device,” Welle said.
Details regarding the Chromebook swap for high school students will be communicated by the school in the near future.
The district had already planned to replace high school student Chromebook devices this school year. Devices still in good working condition will be used to supplement devices in elementary schools.
While the elementary schools are planning in-person learning full-time, the district is implementing a new learning management system, called Seesaw, at the elementary level to support virtual learning.
Families without access to the internet may contact their schools to request mobile hotspots for student use.
While students have gained a few extra weeks of summer break, teachers and administrators have been hard at work preparing for the new school year.
“By delaying the start of our school year by two weeks and beginning after Labor Day, we are able to front load a year's worth of teacher professional learning days before the first day of school. The focus of our teacher training in August will be to support the adoption of the hybrid model in middle school and high school, and to prepare for any other need for online learning K-12 this year that arises. Our goal is for any virtual experience this year to look very different from last spring. We intend to set our parents up to be supportive parents to their children, rather than feeling like too much of the teaching burden for all these subjects is on them,” Welle said.
Dr. Amanda Allen, Principal at Grain Valley North Middle School, said that teachers and administrators are excited to have students return to school this fall.
“We are so thankful for the opportunity to see our students in person. Being in-person is essential to building relationships and connections with students. Ever since the decision for hybrid learning was made, I have witnessed our teachers immediately shift their planning to accommodate for part in-person and part virtual instruction. They are eager to meet their new students and see the new opportunities this learning model will bring, such as increased one-on-one time with smaller daily in-person numbers and more personalized and individual attention,” Allen said.
Parents had a taste of online learning this past spring, but Allen explains the focus will be different in the fall.
“Hybrid learning will vary greatly from the virtual learning last spring. While I believe our staff did a fantastic job of staying in contact with students last spring, our primary focus was not the learning of new material. In the spring, we focused mostly on maintaining school-home connections and making sure students knew that we cared and were there to support them. This fall, our teachers will receive extensive training in blended learning and virtual learning models. All teachers will have a learning management system and proper tool training for conducting online courses.”
“With the hybrid learning model, secondary teachers will work to flip much of their direct instruction. Flipped instruction asks students to watch videos, complete and annotate readings, actively research, or practice new skills that will then be put to use during the in-person instruction. Many of our teachers have spent their summer filming direct instruction videos for the upcoming school year. The in-person instruction will be a valuable time where students can collaborate (safely distanced), hold discussions and discourse, participate in hands-on activities (with elaborate cleaning protocols), and receive in-person feedback from their teachers.”
While families had to adjust quickly in the spring to home-based learning, Allen has some tips for families to create the best learning environment at home.
“Based on child development research and our own experiences as a district this past spring, we know that students perform better when a consistent routine is in place. Keeping a regular sleep schedule, establishing regular learning hours, and maintaining regular mealtimes on both virtual and in-person days will keep students more attentive and engaged in their learning. The other benefit of keeping a schedule throughout the week is that it will better serve students when teachers are available for ‘live’ online help on Fridays during regular school hours,” Allen said.
“The other key to success at home is frequent communication. Teachers, students, and parents/guardians should be in constant contact. With students attending in person two days a week and virtually three days a week, we want to ensure that the two in person days are not the only days that students interact with their teachers. Students will receive feedback virtually on online assignments that are essential to their education. It is essential that teachers and parents/guardians partner to keep students actively engaged and adjusted to the new instructional strategies.”
Missouri State University awarded 2,872 degrees to students in spring 2020.
Students earned a total of 2,168 bachelor’s degrees, 592 master’s degrees, 98 doctorate degrees and 14 specialist degrees. Past the standard expectations, the university recognized 117 students for their work with a more rigorous curriculum in Missouri State’s Honors College.
Several hundred students also received scholastic honors:
202 students graduated summa cum laude (with grade point averages of 3.9-4.0 on a 4.0 scale).
220 students graduated magna cum laude (with GPAs of 3.75-3.89).
398 students graduated cum laude (with GPAs of 3.5-3.74).
While Missouri State’s May 2020 commencement ceremony was canceled due to COVID-19, spring 2020 graduates have two opportunities to participate in an in-person commencement ceremony later this year at JQH Arena. The dates are Oct. 18 or Dec. 11.
Grain Valley Graduates:
Kaylyn Jean Gasser: Bachelor of Science in Education, Elementary Education , Summa Cum Laude
Sydney L. Holcomb: Bachelor of Science, Marketing
Grant Alexander Jones: Bachelor of Science, Exercise and Movement Science
Christopher Ryan Minx: Bachelor of Science, Mathematics , Summa Cum Laude