GEARY CO., Kan. – The 2020-2021 school year was a year unlike any other, consumed with many unknowns, emotions, and changes. However, Geary County Schools USD 475 has powered through the pandemic with remarkable resilience, keeping its doors open throughout the entirety of the school year. In doing so, the district’s students and staff received multiple awards and recognition for their efforts, dedication, and commitment.
Every fall, Geary County Schools USD 475 presents an outstanding teacher within the district with the Horizon Award for their efforts in educating the students within the community. This past year, Ann Biram, a first-grade teacher at Seitz Elementary School, was honored.
In mid-November, Sheridan Elementary School Principal Dorothy Coleman received a request to attend an urgent Zoom meeting with the Kansas Deputy Commissioner of Education. In that meeting, Coleman was informed her school was doing something incredibly well – educating their students. Sheridan Elementary School was chosen as one of two schools to represent the state of Kansas for the National Association of Elementary and Secondary Education Act State Program Administrators, being awarded the National Blue Ribbon School award.
February 2021: Board of Education recognizes high school students
On February 18, 34 Junction City High School (JCHS) students were recognized for their academic distinction of being in the top 5% of their class during a Geary County Schools USD 475 Board of Education meeting. JCHS then-Interim Principal Merrier Jackson presented each student with a certificate and heartfelt congratulations.
Geary County Schools USD 475’s Central Kitchen received recognition from the Kansas State Department of Education for the staff’s heroic efforts in feeding the students during the COVID-19 pandemic since March of 2020. When the pandemic struck, the staff quickly navigated the challenges faced to have to-go breakfast and lunch meals ready for the students, while also ensuring the meals were healthy and prepared the students for learning.
Two of the educators within the Geary County Schools USD 475 district were nominated for the Kansas State Department of Education’s Kansas Teacher of the Year award for region one. The nominees were Desiree Brown, a music teacher at Sheridan Elementary School, and Laura Miller, an agriculture science teacher at Junction City High School.
Contessa Grant, a kindergartner at Ware Elementary, received a BLICK Youth Art Month award for her drawing in March of 2021 during the Kansas Art Education Association’s Youth Art Month Competition. Grant’s drawing was of a polar bear, for which she received honorable mention.
March 2021: Junction City High School AJROTC cadet receives recognition from Military Order of the World Wars
Kylie Yaussi, a junior at Junction City High School and U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (AJROTC) cadet, received the Military Order of the World Wars’ Bronze Patrick Henry Medallion for being an outstanding student at the 2020 Great Plains Youth Leadership Conference in Topeka.
Elyse Nguyen, a senior at Junction City High School, has been accepted into Yale University for the fall of 2021. Upon her acceptance, Nguyen also received an $83,000 scholarship to help cover housing, tuition, and travel, which totals about $86,000, according to Nguyen.
April 2021: Fort Riley schools recognized as only Continental U.S. Army installation to hold in-person classes all year
During U.S. Army Installation Management Command-Readiness Director Brenda Lee McCullough’s visit to Fort Riley in April, she declared Geary County Schools USD 475’s schools on post to be the only Army installation within the Continental U.S. in her profile to hold in-person classes for their students throughout the entire school year. This is among 20 active- and reserve-component Army installations across the 13 states.
In June, Junction City High School senior Anna Torres began her opportunity to fulfill one of her longest dreams. “Going into the Air Force Academy has been a dream of mine for the last 12 years, so this was pretty exciting,” Torres said. “It’s taken a lot of work academically, physically, athletically, so this was kind of the dream come true.”
May 2021: ‘It’s much more than getting the pretty report card’: JCHS senior reflects on her state recognition
Lifelong Junction City resident Kaelyn Burch has been heavily involved in her past four years at Junction City High School, from dancing to working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) to keeping good grades to volunteering within her community. All this hard work led Burch to be recognized as a Kansas Career and Technical Education Scholar by the Kansas State Department of Education, one of only 50 other high school seniors within the state.
For the third year in a row, Geary County Schools USD 475 Special Education Department (SPED) has received the highest status level for the Kansas State Department of Education’s IDEA State Performance Plan Report for 2021. The district earned this level of determination by substantially complying with all State Performance Plan district-level indicators, including timely submission of data accurately, effectively transitioning students from infant-toddler to early childhood and from high school to post-high school, and ensuring SPED students are not unfairly penalized compared to general students.
June 2021: JCHS alum graduates with high school diploma, associate degree
When Junction City High School Graduate and Gifted Student Alexander Seelye was invited to Fort Hays State University’s Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science (KAMS) in 2019, his interest sparked. As a then-sophomore in high school, Seelye felt he needed a stronger challenge, so he decided to apply. After discovering he was accepted into the program, Seelye packed his bags and headed to Hays that fall. Two years later, in the spring of 2021, Seelye graduated with both a high school diploma and an associate degree.
Geary County Schools USD 475 was recognized by the Junction City Area Chamber of Commerce at their annual dinner in July, receiving the 2021 Community Resiliency Award. The award states, “In Recognition of Your Innovation, Resiliency & Initiative During This Difficult Year.”
July 2021: USD 475 Child Nutrition Program receives clean report from KSDE
The Kansas State Department of Education’s (KSDE) Fiscal Auditing and Child Nutrition & Wellness Teams reviewed Geary County Schools USD 475’s Child Nutrition Program for the period of July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, finding nothing negative to report. KSDE did not have any specific findings, recommendations, or questioned costs related to the administration of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
These accomplishments were no easy task. Thank you to the district’s students and staff for their tireless effort and fight as they persevered through what may be one of the most significant challenges the district has faced. Because of their efforts, the district rose above the challenges COVID-19 brought, making the fellow students, staff, and community better.
For inquiries, please contact Lindley Lund, Marketing and Media Specialist for Geary County Schools USD 475, at firstname.lastname@example.org.