The Shawnee Mission School District (Kansas Unified School District 512) is one of the major school districts in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. Located in northeast Johnson County, Kansas, the school district enrolled 29,389 students in the 2003-2004 school year. As of 2008, the district comprises 5 high schools, 7 middle schools, 39 elementary schools, and 6 instructional centers. (Please note that the Feeder Patterns listed below are subject to change by the district as they redraw the boundaries maps on an almost year-by-year basis.)
The different districts that unified into the Shawnee Mission School District in 1969 are the Greenwood Dist #35, Shawnee Dist #27, Lenexa Dist #46, Districts #10 & #90, Valley View Dist #49, Overland Park Dist #10, Linwood Dist #1, Roesland Dist #92, Merriam Dist #99, Antioch Dist #61, Westwood View Dist #93, Prairie Dist #44, and Corinth Dist. #82. South Park Elementary school, in Merriam, Kansas played a role in school desegregation prior to the unification of the Shawnee Mission School District. South Park opened in 1948 for white students, leaving African-American students in the inadequate Walker Elementary using an outdated curriculum. Corinthian Nutter, an African-American teacher, resigned in protest and taught the students from her home. 1949's Webb v. School District 90 case paved the way for Brown v. Topeka Board of Education five years later. Skyline Elementary School was presumed to be named as such due to the fact that you could see the Kansas City, Missouri's skyline from the area around the school at the time. McAuliffe Elementary School in Lenexa, Kansas was one of the first schools in the nation to open named in honor of Christa McAuliffe. While at the same time, other schools were named after other famous people in the/were from the metropolitan area such as Sequoyah, Katherine Carpenter, Dorothy Moody, John Diemer, Marsha Bagby, Frank Belinder, Raymond B. Marsh, Rhein Benninghoven, and Don Bonjour..
Shawnee Mission Rural High School opened September 12, 1922, having cost $950,000 to build. It had 12 faculty members and a senior class of 1,200. There had been a vote on September 21, 1921, on a "proposal to organize a rural high school district."
In 1922 the east building was completed and in 1936 the west building, housing a gym and auditorium, was connected to the east building. In 1941 the shop wing was constructed to house agriculture and auto mechanics; it was connected to the west building by a concrete walk. In 1950 a large addition was made, including the south academic wing, the cross hall/offices, library, Field House and music rooms. After 30 years all the buildings were connected by hallways.
The swimming pool and science wing were built in 1969, the Developmental Center in 1978, the Little Theater in 1984 and the "lunch dock" remodeled in 1993. In the summer of 1997, the new library was added as well as air-conditioning. In 1998 the cafeteria and kitchen were remodeled. A key project at SM North was the demolition of the original stadium and reconstruction beginning in 2005, followed, in 2007, by the addition of a new auxiliary gym, fresh tennis courts, pool and auditorium remodeling, the additions of two Biology rooms, and a significant enlargement of the band and Choir Department.
The school was named Shawnee Mission Rural until 1948, when senior Robert F. Bennett was sent to Topeka to petition the legislature for a name change to more accurately reflect the school's suburban status. Later elected Governor of Kansas, Bennett was named North's first 'Distinguished Alumnus' by the class of 1975. It was thus named Shawnee Mission High School until 1958, when East opened and Shawnee Mission High School became SM North. The student body of Shawnee Mission High had petitioned the school board to name the new school anything other than "Shawnee Mission East" in an attempt to avoid a renaming of their school. SM West opened in 1962, South in 1966, and Northwest in 1969.
There are always two mascots, one is an Indian princess, and the other is an Indian warrior. The students acting as an Indian princess and warrior are always a male and female senior. The outfits they wear while playing these parts were modeled off of the Shawnee Indians of Oklahoma. The Indian warrior originated in 1975 with a student's Halloween costume, which proved so popular he joined the traditional Indian princess as mascot. The 2006 population of SM North was 1,966. The mascot is an Indian, and the school colors are cardinal and black.
During the alma mater, students stand and hold up their right index fingers while singing. The Indian head time capsule (in front of the main office), which was gifted to the school by the class of 1965, is roped off and not to be stepped on. The day before homecoming, Shawnee Mission North stages a large parade. Different clubs, groups, and alumni create floats to parade down Johnson Drive.
SM North is located in northern Overland Park and serves much of northeastern Johnson County. The SM North area has a population of approximately 52,000 and includes the communities of Merriam, Mission, northern Overland Park, Roeland Park, Countryside and Eastern Shawnee.
SM North puts out three publications, a magazine known as "The Mission", a literary magazine called "Indian Lore", and a student-created yearbook known as "Indian". Indian has won numerous publishing awards, including national competitions.
Every year around February a senior male is selected by his fellow classmates as "Northman". This title is much like "Homecoming King" at other schools. Originally called "Big Man on Campus", the winner was crowned at the annual "Women Pay All (WPA)" dance. In 1979 the title was considered outdated and changed to Northman. North has won 5 state championships in football (1969, 1970, 1971, 1974) under the coaching of Larry Taylor. Recently, North's NJROTC program has ranked first nationally in the Drill (in 2007 and 2009) and in the Armed Regulation (2008) divisions.
Opened in the school year beginning in 1958, SM East is located at Mission Road and 75th Street. SME, along with SMNW, features the International Baccalaureate program, one of the few in the region. As of 2008, the enrollment at East is 2,012, making it the second-most populated school in the SMSD. The mascot is a Lancer and the colors are Columbia blue, black, and white. It's located in the suburb of Prairie Village, and serves it along with Westwood, Westwood Hills Mission Hills, Mission Woods, Fairway.
The Eastonian is an underground newspaper known for its longevity and long lists of editors who all use the pseudonym John Galt, the character in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. The paper traditionally features political and social commentary and also includes a page of quotations that are taken out of context from the conversations of unsuspecting students and teachers. The "Eastonian" is readily confiscated by faculty and staff, but the tradition continues and many teachers have been known to be avid readers. Punishment for participation in the publication of "The Eastonian" is usually a five day out-of-school suspension. In the late 70's an underground comic was published called "The Tuesday Afternoon Reader" which featured cartoons and commentary on school policies and student life.
The Shawnee Mission East school newspaper, The Harbinger, has won numerous city-wide, state-wide and national awards. The online version of the publication, which began in January 2006, is called The Harbinger Online. The newspaper is currently advised by Dow Tate. During the 2004-2005 school year, Libby Nelson, editor of The Harbinger, was named National High School Journalist of the Year by the Journalism Education Association. During the 2006-2007 school year, The Harbinger editor Amanda Allison was bestowed the same honor. The Harbinger has won two Pacemakers, four Pacemaker nominations and three Gold Crowns since Dow Tate's arrival in 2003. These awards are given to the top 20-30 high school newspapers each year by two separate groups. During the 2006 NSPA fall conference in Nashville, The Harbinger was named Best in Show of all newspapers with 17+ pages.
In 2007, during the NSPA spring conference in Denver, the school yearbook won the prestigious Pacemaker award. Also, in 2008, during the NSPA spring conference in Anaheim, the yearbook won the same award. The Harbinger has won Best in Show at the conference for the past two years. For the last four out of five years, the Kansas High School Journalist of the Year has been an East student (2005: Libby Nelson, 2006: Allison Quick, 2007: Amanda Allison, 2009: Stephen Nichols).
The debate and forensics teams are the sixth largest in the nation in regard to National Forensics League degrees. Debate teams have been Kansas state champions more than once. The Shawnee Mission East debate squad has qualified more teams in Kansas history than any other Kansas school to the Tournament of Champions in Lexington, KY. Brian Rubaie (2006) is the all-time points leader in the National Forensics League.
Notable coaches who have made an impact in the community and for the students, are:
Shawnee Mission East serves as the inspiration for the title school in Rick Gould's satirical book The Leaping Tuna of Kirshenbaum East.
The performing arts department, led by Brian Cappello and Tom Defeo, has won numerous Blue Star awards for their musicals, including the 2002-2003 award for Best Overall Production for their production of Little Shop of Horrors. The Orchestra, under direction of Jonathan Lane, was invited to play at the 2006 American String Teachers Association at the Kansas City Downtown Marriott Hotel. They were the only local school orchestra invited to play at the event.
The Blue Knights Jazz Ensemble, directed by Kim Harrison, was selected to play at the Essentially Ellington Competition in 2001 and 2006. Every year only 15 jazz bands are selected nationwide to play at Lincoln Center in New York City. The competition and festival is run by Wynton Marsalis. They maintain a very high level of musicianship, playing standards by such greats as Duke Ellington and Count Basie as well as some student compositions. They have received division one ratings and 1st places at almost every festival attended in the last decade.
The choral department at Shawnee Mission East consists of five ensembles, including the Shawnee Mission East Choraliers. Between the SME Choraliers and the SME Chamber Singers, the choirs have won many honors and awards including: a world premiere performance in NYC's Carnegie Hall in the Winter of 2007, performing a solo concert at the Southwest ACDA convention in St. Louis, Missouri in the Spring of 2006, an extensive tour of Ireland in the Spring of 2006, named Grand Champion Choir of the 2003 Winter Park Ski Music Festival, A European tour of England, Belgium and Germany in the spring of 2004, and an extensive tour of Italy in the spring of 2001.
The last school day before the Homecoming Dance, all students are released early from school to celebrate in the Lancer Day Parade. Different clubs and classes organize floats for this special event. The parade starts at the intersection of 75th Street and Mission Road and proceeds down Mission to Prairie Village Shopping Center. Traditionally, the mayor of Prairie Village gives a speech praising SME and changing the name of his/her city for one day from Prairie Village to "Lancer" Village.
The SME Drumline is also famous around the school as being a "crowd-booster" during home football games. The Drumline, who performs at halftime, puts on a great show every week for the students. And many times during a day, they would assemble and play throughout the school. The Drumline is headed by two senior captains each year, and is directed by Mr. Ray DeMarchi. On the day of the Kansas City Royals' home opener, all the seniors skip class and attend the game.
Shawnee Mission South's school colors are green and gold and its mascot is the Raiders. The school's mascot was chosen by the first graduating class of 1967. The Raider was chosen as a mascot because of the popular band Paul Revere and the Raiders. Most of the students from South come from the middle school Indian Woods (which was then two separate Junior High Schools - Nallwood and Indian Creek). The school's population in 2006 was 1,805 students, down from a peak around 2400 in 1975. South has a newspaper called "The Patriot" and a yearbook called "Heritage."
Notable alumni include former USC and NFL quarterback Rodney Peete; comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member and The Daily Show correspondent Rob Riggle; and Stephen Dolginoff, the New York-based playwright-composer of the award-winning musical Thrill Me. Additionally, The Who played a concert with the The Buckinghams at Shawnee Mission South on November 17, 1967. The concert was performed in the gymnasium that still stands. The Byrds appeared in concert in the school's gymnasium in March 1969.
Beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, the Shawnee Mission School District adopted a new program, Project Lead the Way (PLTW), as the district engineering signature program, offered at Shawnee Mission South High School. The classes for the new program include, Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Digital Electronics, Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Design and Development. In 2005, South's Science Olympiad team made district news by winning the state of Kansas competition and advancing to the national level.
In 2008, the Rompin' Stompin' Raider Band won first place at the UCM Festival of Champions, in Warrensburg, Missouri
(tune: Mr. Touchdown, USA)
Shawnee Mission West's mascot is the Viking and the official school colors are black and gold. West opened its doors in 1962; since then, it has been remodeled several times. Additions have also been made to the school, the most famous of which is "the bridge," an actual bridge between halves of the school that later had classrooms added beneath it. As of 2006, its population is 2,042.It's located in Overland Park at 85th Street and Antioch Road. The former principal, Dr. Karl Krawitz was the NEA III District Educator of the Year for 2004-2005. SM West is home to both an award-winning school newspaper, the EPIC, and yearbook, SAGA. SM West has twice (1986 and 2007) placed second at the National Forensic League tournament for policy debate. SM West has a student body population that is 9% African American, which is the highest African American population of any Shawnee Mission high school. Statistically, SM West is the most ethnically diverse high school in the district. SM West draws its student population from both Overland Park, Lenexa, and from small parts of Shawnee.
SM West won state championships in 1972 and 1985 in football, in addition to runner-up finishes in 1977 and 2006. Of late, the SM West football team, and its "Viking Power" slogan have become a dominant force in class 6A football under head coach Tim Callaghan. In November 2006 the Vikings defeated Lawrence Free State High School in the Sub-State playoffs, then lost to Hutchinson High School 21-14 in the state title game in Emporia on November 25. They were the first Shawnee Mission school to reach the state championship game since West won in 1985. Shawnee Mission West has dominated the sunflower league in recent years. In the last four years Shawnee Mission West has won the league three times. They have had many players go on the play in college, and have many players currently being recruited.
In recent years, the girls tennis team has taken the region by storm. In 2006, the girls won the Sunflower League, which had been largely dominated by Shawnee Mission East for the past eight years. In both 2006 and 2007, the team turned out a state doubles runner-up title.
West has competed in four state title games for basketball, the most recent being in 2005, led by coach Mike Brinsko, but has never been able to come away with the title. The SM West baseball team also has enjoyed their fair share of success, winning state championships in 1977, 1987, and 1988. In 1991, West's soccer team won the 6A state title, defeating two USA Today nationally ranked teams in the process: (Wichita South High School and Shawnee Mission South). Also, the SM West girl's soccer team was 2005 and 2006 Sunflower League Champions; 2005 and 2006 Northeast Kansas 6A Regional Champions; 2005 and 2006 Kansas 6A state quarter-finalist; 2005 and 2006 Kansas 6A State runners-up. In recent May 2008, Coaches Jeff Onnen and Rick Rogers lead the Varsity Boys 4x800 Meter team to a Kansas 6A League, Regional, and State Championship.
The Shawnee Mission West marching band is presently directed by Bill Thomas. The Shawnee Mission West marching band has been invited to play in London for the New Years Parade every three years for the past fifteen years. This year, the West Wind Ensemble was also invited to perform at the Kansas Music Educators' Association In-Service Workshop as one of only three high school bands chosen from across the state. Participation in the band program has declined in recent years from a 180 person high in 2005 to less than 90 in 2009. Criticism has been leveled towards Director Thomas for recruitment and logistical issues. However, the West area grade school band program was the only grade school band program in the district which actually had a rise in participation, while the others all saw a decline. The Overland Express Jazz band is directed by Berklee School of Music graduate Kevin Hupe. Percussion is directed by Kansas City musician Brandon Draper. At the end of the regular football season, the Shawnee Mission West marching band has a light show where the band straps glow-sticks and flashlights to themselves. This show is performed each year at the end of the last home football game of the regular season.
The Choir Department is headed by Laura VanLeeuwen. The Madrigal Singers, the school's top choir group, was selected to represent West at Carnegie Hall in the 2006-07 year. The Orchestra Department is led by Curtis Mulvenon, and the orchestra support website can be found here
Shawnee Mission Northwest High School's mascot is the Cougar, and the school colors are black and orange. Its principal is Dr. Bill Harrington. As of the 2005-2006 school year, its population was 1,859. Summer school is held here for all of the Shawnee Mission Schools. It is located in Shawnee at 12701 west 67th Street, between Pflumm Road and Quivira Road. Shawnee Mission Northwest launched the International Baccalaureate program at the start of the 2008-2009 school year.
The Shawnee Mission Northwest Drumline is consistently a top placer in drumline competitions throughout the marching season. It is under the direction of Britt Haney and Matt Roman. Shawnee Mission Northwest is known in the Kansas City Area for their exceptional music programs, especially their jazz band and orchestra, which hold many talented musicians. The band is under the direction of Penny Snead and Doug Talley. The orchestra is under the direction of Jeffrey Bishop.
The performing arts department, led by Keli Rodgers, has won numerous Blue Star awards for their productions. They hold the International Thespian Society Troupe number 888 (via the Educational Theatre Association). They are most notable for their recent production of Sweeney Todd in Spring 2008. During the 2008-2009 school year, their theatre space was under extensive renovation. The space, known as the Parker Auditorium (posthumously dedicated to Greg Parker, the former performing arts educator) was released to them early in the 2009-2010 school year. Updates include a new counter-weight system, extended scene shop, brand new lighting and sound equipment and boards, dressing rooms, a green room, updated house seat upholstery, as well as new orchestra pit cover. Their next performance, Paint Your Wagon, will be on November 12-14, 2009.
The school newspaper is "The Northwest Passage" and the yearbook is "The Lair". The program is run by Susan Massy. Its sister website, smnw.com, hold content from "The Northwest Passage" as well as live video webcasts of Shawnee Mission Northwest athletic events, such as Football, Basketball and Baseball, as well as the annual Poetry Slam.
As of the census of 2000, the district has a total population of 219,949 with 93,221 households (or occupied housing units) and 59,084 families. 69.0% of the occupied housing units are occupied by the owner. The racial makeup of the district is 91.0% White, 2.6% Black or African American, 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.8% Asian, less than 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 1.6% of some other race, and 1.6% of two or more races. 4.3% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 93,221 households out of which 29.9% are individuals living alone, 63.4% are families, and 6.7% are non-families with two or more people. 52.2% of households (or 82.4% of families) are married couples living together and 28.6% (or 45.1%) have their own children (that is persons under the age of 18) living with them. Out of the 11.2% of households that have a householder with no spouse present, 44.4% are women living with their own children. The average household size is 2.33, and the average family size is 2.93.
The 50,632 children residing in the district are 23.0% of the total population, and 13,283 (6.0%) are under the age of 5; 13,605 (6.2%) are from 5 to 9; 14,874 (6.8%) are from 10 to 14; and 8,870 (4.0%) are from 15 to 17. 48.8% of the children are female. For 95.1% of the children in the district the householder is the child's parent and 77.3% live in married-couple families, but 1.1% are not related to the householder. Also 21 householders or spouses are under the age of 18.