Community News 6/5/20

Community News 6/5/20
Posted on 06/05/2020
Virtual Summer Enrichment

Community News

Teachers out together art bags for the students in virtual summer enrichment

Chastity Latham, Visual Arts Teacher at Jardine Middle and Barbie Atkins, Art Teacher at Robinson Middle

Our Virtual Summer Enrichment program kicked off on June 1. Over the weekend, teachers assembled art kits and made 140 porch drops before the first week of classes. We can't wait to see what the summer brings! Click here to read more about the Virtual Summer Enrichment.

Message from the Superintendent

Board of Education

Dear Topeka Public Schools Family,

This week has been challenging for all across the nation and as an educator in Topeka, this is a time to be reminded of the work Topekans have done throughout history that has provided a better community and educational system for us all. The work is ongoing and we encourage the involvement of everyone in ways that lead to true transformation in mindsets, practices, and systems.

In 2017, our school board added equity as a pillar in the new strategic plan to further outline the ongoing actions we are taking to promote and uplift an equitable education for all students we have the privilege to serve. As part of our commitment:

  • All new school leaders participate in the equity council and the membership, which includes parents, students, and staff. It has increased resulting in the 2018 the district receiving the national Magna Award for the Equity Institute outlined in the strategic plan for the many innovative initiatives.
  • We have increased the graduation and ACT participation rate of our scholars with over a 20% increase in participation from students of color.
  • Annually the council has hosted speakers which have included Soledad O'Brien in our 2017 Equity Summit, and various authors in 2018-2020 such as Zaretta Hammond, author of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and the authors of Disrupting Poverty in 2020.
  • In 2020, the council reviewed and supported the increase of diverse literature in our libraries resulting in new multicultural curriculum materials and library materials.

We encourage individuals to determine ways to get involved in supporting inclusive communities and we hope our Equity Council page is a helpful resource for you to use. We are all saddened by the horrific events that have led to protests around the country. We strongly believe in our community and any behaviors that contribute to systemic racism will not be tolerated in Topeka Public Schools. We believe individuals have the right to protest, but we do not condone violence in any setting and encourage all to act in a peaceful manner. Topeka Public Schools, a district rich in diversity, remains committed to our mission to prepare, engage, and inspire our students and staff.

Dr. Tiffany Anderson


Student painting in rainbow colors

Free Virtual Summer Enrichment Engages Hundreds

For the first time, Topeka Public Schools is offering free virtual enrichment for students this summer. Virtual Summer Enrichment began on June 1, but there is still time to enroll. There are a variety of summer enrichment opportunities offered for free to students PK-12, throughout the Shawnee County community. Programs will be virtual and will include arts, athletics, academics, and more. Programs began on June 1 and will conclude on July 10. Click here to read more about virtual summer enrichment in the news. To learn more about the enrichment programs available and to enroll your child for free, click here.

John Buckendorff

Welcome John Buckendorff as Highland Park's New Principal

As a result of Mr. Ackerman, who has served as the assistant principal for seven years and interim principal for one year at Highland Park, accepting the associate principal position at Topeka High, we are proud to announce Mr. John Buckendorff as Highland Park High School's new Principal. We thank Mr. Ackerman for his support and dedication to the district and the impact he has made on Highland Park students and families.

Mr. Buckendorff is a school leader and life-long educator. His roles over the past 24 years include Principal, Assistant Principal, Spanish Teacher, Business and Technology Teacher, and Coach for football, basketball, wrestling, and baseball. He comes with a wealth of experience and is known for his success in Kansas as principal of Wellington High School, which is an innovative school that focuses on design. Mr. Buckendorff's bilingual skills have already helped him connect with students and families as he begins to connect with the Highland Park community.

He and his wife Amy have six adult children who live in Kansas and Oklahoma. He and his wife will both be working for Topeka Public Schools and are excited about becoming involved in the local community and building new friendships. Please join us in welcoming the Buckendorff family!

If you would like to learn more or get into contact with Mr. Buckendorff, you can visit the Highland Park website.

Dr. Beryl New holding an award
Dr. Beryl New, Director of Certified Personel and Equity and co-chair of the Equity Counsel.

Get Involved and Join TPS Equity Council Now

Do you want to join a team that is dedicated to equity in our community? The Topeka Public Schools Equity Council is committed to educational fairness and opportunity for all racial and ethnic groups and academic excellence and personal success for all students. The equity council has grown to over 60 members that include teachers, school leaders, community members, and board members. To learn more about the equity council or to join, click here.

We are so proud to have such a diverse community within our TPS family. As we reflect on equity initiatives in TPS, we encourage you to listen to a previous episode of the Voices of 501. It features various community voices speaking on ways we can come together to foster equity and honor history. Click here to read a recent article published in 2019 from our superintendent on the Promises of Brown v. Board.

Seniors at Mobile Diploma Distribution

Graduates Celebrate By Receiving Diplomas through Mobile Distribution

Throughout the last week, graduating seniors have had the opportunity to pick up their diplomas. The seniors wore their caps and gowns to receive their high school diplomas and return any school items. During this time they were encouraged to take pictures outside their school. To read more about this story, click here and here.

Topeka Public Schools held a virtual graduation ceremony for each high school on May 16 and has tentatively scheduled an in-person graduation ceremony for July 25 at Hummer Sports Park.

Summer Meal Bags Being Prepared

TPS Serves Thousands of Meals Over the Summer

Topeka Public Schools will be serving over 2,000 students per day during our summer meal program. The sites that are available for the summer will serve anyone 18 and under and will be open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Fresh produce boxes will also be given out to families on Wednesday and Friday each week while supplies last. Produce boxes will be distributed beginning on June 3.

For more information and a list of sites, visit our summer meal service site by clicking here. To read more about our summer meal program in the news click here.

Explore TPS

Enroll Now in Traditional or Virtual School for 2020-2021

Hey parents! It's never too early to start thinking about the next school year. Online enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year is currently open on our district website. Topeka Public Schools offers endless opportunities for students, pre-school through twelfth grade. Topeka Public Schools also offers a virtual education program. This program includes students (grades 4-12) and adults with both virtual and onsite learning opportunities. For more information about virtual learning opportunities feel free to contact us at [email protected]. On the TPS website, there are instructions on how to enroll new students and returning students, as well as resources for families.

THS Volleyball

TPS is Gearing Up to Start Summer Athletic Training

Coaches and athletes in the district have been patiently waiting for an official date from KSHAA to start summer training for fall sports. Topeka Public Schools will begin summer activities on June 8. Once the training begins, coaches and students will have their temperatures checked at the beginning of each day, and sessions will be staggered in order to comply with gathering size limits. To read the KSNT article, click here.

College Connections Newsletter

Summer College Connection Newsletter

The Summer College Connections newsletter highlights summer enrichment, college explorations, ACT/SAT registration, as well as available scholarship opportunities. Enjoy your summer break while also preparing for your next year of high school, or college, in the Fall with this helpful newsletter. Click here to read more.

Antwayn Hopper

Topeka West Alumni Wins Pulitzer Prize on Broadway

Antwayn Hopper, alumnus of Topeka West, 2003, knew from a young age that he wanted to be an actor, and he credits his TPS education as one of the things that got him to where he is today. One of his most recent accomplishments is being part of the cast of “A Strange Loop.” which secured this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Antwayn attended French Middle School, where he became more active in performing arts at school. Then later, going into his freshman year at Topeka West High School he joined Topeka West Singers and, later, Topeka West Players. He was encouraged to pursue acting at Carnegie Melon by a former TPS music teacher, the late Nancy Epoch. After he finished his degree he moved to New York and began performing on Broadway only two years later. We are so proud of Antwayn's accomplishments and know he will continue to succeed in all his endeavors! To read more about Antwayn's career journey, click here.

Jayla Brooks standing with her donated basket

Advisors Excel Gives Over 50 College Baskets for Seniors

Advisors Excel has continued to invest in Highland Park High School graduates as they prepare for college. As 50 of the Highland Park seniors came into the building and turned in their last items, they were surprised with a college starter kit funded by Advisors Excel. This is the third year the college baskets were distributed with all of their basic needs for college living included in them. The students and staff thank Advisors Excel for the many ways they continue to promote and invest in economic prosperity for families in Topeka. If you want to read more, click here.

Anne Hageman gives a heart sign on her last day

2020 TPS Retirees Experienced Their Last Day of School

We thank our educators who have devoted their life to Topeka Public Schools. To view the retiree video slide show, click here. The Capital Journal highlighted one of our amazing educators and you can read more in this article.

Anne Hageman, who worked at Topeka High as the Computer Teacher for 39 years, is retiring this year. This past week she had her last day of school. Mrs. Hageman has made a big impact on her students and many of them have gone on to have very successful careers in computer technology and coding. Congratulations Mrs. Hageman on your long and successful career. To read more about Mrs. Hageman and her career, click here.

2020-21 District Calendar

2020-2021 District Calendar

The 2020-2021 district calendar is available and can be found by clicking here. The calendar includes dates of parent-teacher conferences, no school days and semester sessions.

TPS Logo

Check Out the School Surplus Auction

On Saturday, June 13 at 9 a.m., there will be a public auction held at Lundgren Elementary, located at 1020 NE Forest Ave. There will be numerous school surplus items up for sale. The auctioneer asks that all participants practice social distancing, wear masks if possible and stay home if you feel sick. Cash or check only. For more information call Lucy Nixon at 785-295-3912. Click here to view the full flyer.

Family Service and Guidance Center Logo

Attend FSGC's Upcoming Real-World Parenting Presentation

Each month the Family Service and Guidance Center holds a presentation on real-world parenting. This month’s presentation is titled “Beyond the ABCs: Getting Ready for Kindergarten.” The workshop will be held on Thursday, June 11, and delivered via Zoom teleconference from 6:30-7 p.m.

Kindergarten is an exciting milestone for kids and parents. This 30-minute presentation will discuss kindergarten readiness beyond the ABCs and being able to count. The presenter will share how parents can teach their children valuable skills at home that will translate to greater chances of school success. Click here for more information on this presentation.

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