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A group dressed in coats cuts a blue ribbon in front of a memorial for Thacher School.

Kansas City Public Schools honored a commitment to the Northeast community, dedicating a memorial at the site of the former Thacher School, 5008 Independence Ave.

Student artwork from the Lincoln Middle School exhibition

Students in Harold Smith's art class hosted an art exhibit at Lincoln Middle School last week, drawing on works in "Testimony: African American Artists Collective."

The student showcase, called "Our Testimony," explores the emotions, memories and values of the Lincoln Middle School artists, said eighth grader Gabriella Morris.

Watch the Blueprint 2030 video on YouTube.

If you were unable to participate in a Blueprint 2030 community conversation in October, there's still time to take the priority survey. From here, we’ll keep you updated on more dates and details around future opportunities for feedback this winter and into the spring.

A graphic of students attending schools wearing masks.

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5-11. As we have throughout the pandemic, KCPS is working with Children’s Mercy Hospital and the the Kansas City Health Department to get our families the most accurate COVID-19 information

KCPS Board of Education (BOE)

Families who applied for kindergarten, pre-K or a Signature School by the initial deadline of Monday, Feb. 15, received emails Wednesday, March 3 with offers to their first, second or third choice school.

'COVID Wiped Us Down But Not Out': Rebuilding Northeast High School's JROTC Drill Team

Students stand at attention holding JROTC Drill Team props

At Northeast High School, JROTC drill practice is student-led. Senior cadets give commands, check their classmates' form and offer encouragement.

 

The Northeast High School cadets stand in two rows, backs ramrod straight. Senior Lesley Xolot-Rosas walks between them in his brand-new Class of 2022 hoodie. “Don’t fix yourself,” he coaxes. “Let it happen.”

Eventually, this will become second nature, but for most of the students in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, it isn’t yet.

“COVID wiped us down but not out,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Lewis, the JROTC sponsor. “We lost a lot of senior cadets during the pandemic, but we have a few who have stepped up. They’re really dedicated to making sure the program survives.”

He and Lt. Col. Richard Hilliard watch the drills from a distance, letting Lesley and fellow senior Michael Stivers lead.

“They are self-supporting,” Lewis said. “We like to tell them they’re not here for us. They’re here for each other and to support each other. While they’re winning trophies, they’re having fun meeting other cadets throughout the region.”

Even though the drill team’s first competition isn’t until February, junior Bryce Stivers is already looking forward to it. He joined JROTC his freshman year, before the pandemic, and it’s the thing he missed most during online learning.

 

A young man wearing a camo shirt and a young woman in a blue polo. Both are smiling.

Northeast High School students and JROTC cadets Bryce Stivers and Madelyn Villeda said they're happy to be back at school practicing with the drill team again.

 

“Being here now in-person has done a lot of good. JROTC is my escape,” Bryce said.

Bryce called COVID-19 “a wake-up call” that made him realize how soon he’ll be graduating from high school. He says while he’s considered joining the mi

litary, he’d rather pursue a career in journalism.

That’s typical, said Hilliard. Few Northeast JROTC cadets ultimately decide to enlist.

“The purpose of drill isn’t to teach you to go into the Army. It’s to teach you self-control and self-discipline,” Hilliard said. He wants students to graduate with skills that will help them no matter what they do next.

Senior Madelyn Villeda wants to study psychology at the University of Kansas. After joining the drill team last year, she asked Hilliard to help her with her organizational skills. She said she's doing much better now than she was then.

“I’m living in Hillcrest, a special situation for students who don’t have families,” Madelyn said. “In JROTC, I’m working on my leadership skills and my responsibility skills. I’m learning here how to be myself."

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