Blue Valley Southwest art student wins top prize

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This painting, done by Blue Valley Southwest student Isabella Passantino, won top honors at this year’s Youth Art Month competition in Kansas.

A senior from Blue Valley Southwest High School took home best performance honors in this year’s Youth Art Month contest sponsored by the Kansas Art Education Association.

Isabella Passantino’s oil painting depicts a closed eye with sparkling decorations. He took first place in the secondary division.

Ainsly Leithead, a fifth grader at Horizon Elementary School in Shawnee, won first place in the elementary school category. She submitted a colored pencil drawing created as part of a lesson on value: shading with light and dark tones. Horizon is part of the De Soto school district.

Student SM North is a Coca-Cola Scholar

Hananeel Morinville of Shawnee Mission North High School is one of 150 high school students across the country to be named the 2021 Coca-Cola Fellow, which gives him a scholarship of $ 20,000.

The program says it recognizes students who “embody superior leadership, service and academics – they are agents of change, positively affecting others in their communities.”

Morinville, who plans to attend Vanderbilt University, is president of the upper class, as well as the Coalition of Racial Equality, National French Honor Society, Speech and Debate at North, DECA, and the National Honor Society. She is also the house’s spokesperson for youth and government.

Two years ago, she was the regional winner of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations.

In a press release from the school district, Morinville said her story highlights the importance of going above and beyond the expectations of others.

“Even if the work was on its own, I could not have done it without the support of many members of the northern community,” she said. “Entering high school I set high expectations for myself and despite all the odds I faced, I was determined to see the reality of everything I hoped to accomplish.”

Good news for Lenexa cyclists

By midsummer, cyclists should have easier – and safer – journeys through Lenexa, which works on cycle lanes, signs and pavement markings to identify routes safe for cyclists.

The improvements, recommended in the city’s complete streets plan, include:

Cycle paths on two segments of 79th Street, between Boulevard and Pflumm Road and from Quivira Road to Nieman Road.

Signage to divide the road between Quivira and Pflumm on 79the Street, on Prairie Star Parkway from Renner Boulevard to Kansas 7, and on Lackman Road from the northern city limits to 95th Street.

Pavement markings and signage along a loop connecting the old town to the center of Lenexa and other places.

Similar improvements are planned elsewhere in the coming years.

Mental health efforts reduce recidivism

Johnson County Mental Health Center has worked with the Sheriff’s Office to screen for inmates’ mental health issues and provide support, if needed, while inmates are behind bars.

In addition, mental health professionals follow up within 72 hours of release with those most in need of ongoing treatment. More than a quarter of those eligible were connected to mental health services after their release.

Now, a new study from the University of Notre Dame has shown that the protocol helps prevent inmates from returning to prison.

The new study, from the university’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities, said for inmates with severe mental illness, recidivism was less than 60, 180 and 360 days after release in Johnson County, compared to similar inmates in neighboring counties who have not received awareness.

“People are getting the care they need and we are reducing costs to the criminal justice and health systems,” Johnson County Mental Health Center director Tim DeWeese said in a press release.

Awards for Thompson Park

The renovated Thompson Park, opened last year in downtown Overland Park, has been recognized by professional construction and architectural organizations.

In March, the city said, the Prairie Gateway section of the American Society of Landscape Architects honored the project, as well as contractor RDG Planning & Design, with its “Superior Professional Achievement” award.

At the end of last year, the Associated Builders and Contractors Heart of America chapter awarded the project and contractor Mega KC its “Excellence in Construction” award.

The park, formerly known as the Santa Fe Commons, has been redesigned with a new playground, two outdoor shelters, new toilets, a performance stage covered by a structure resembling an airplane wing, and a outdoor workspace with WiFi.

Hazardous waste deposit

Anyone living in Johnson County can drop off paint, used motor oil, cleaning supplies and other unwanted household hazardous waste at a monthly event hosted by Olathe without an appointment.

The drive-through event takes place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month at 1420 S. Robinson Drive. The next one is May 8th.

To find out which items are accepted, visit olatheks.org/government/utilities, click on Recycling and hazardous household waste.

Mission Citywide Garage Sale

Mission’s citywide garage sale will be held May 6-8.

Find the list of locations on missionks.org, and in hard copy during sales week at Town Hall, 6090 Woodson St., and the Powell Community Center, 6200 Martway St.


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Kayleen C. Rice

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