Community News: Holiday Special Edition 12-23-20

Community News: Holiday Special Edition 12-23-20
Posted on 12/23/2020
Holiday Special Edition

Community News Holiday Special Edition 12-23-20

Holiday Card Winners

Thank you to all students who submitted their hand-drawn holiday card entries. Aaliyah Lattimore, a third-grader at Quincy Elementary, Clara Womack, fifth-grader at Meadows Elementary, and Sofiya Gomez-Solis, fifth-grader at State Street Elementary, illustrated the selected holiday cards. To view the finalists, click here.

Message from the Superintendent

Anderson Family Christmas Card

Dear Topeka Public Schools Family,

Happy Holidays from the Anderson family to yours. This has been a year filled with opportunities, challenges and tremendous creative thinking. We are hopeful we will be out of the red rating soon and we are planning for an in-person return on January 4, 2020. As we hope the health score continues to improve out of the red, there's now a vaccine that will soon be available to identified staff in 2021 and our nurses are also equipped with on-site COVID testing thanks to our partnership with the local and state health departments. Thank you for helping us keep students safe this year.

We are planning for in-person school on January 4th as the COVID spread appears to be declining. We are advocating to gain access quickly to the vaccine and a separate survey will be sent to you today to help us proactively plan and show we are prepared with information we collected if it's released to us in January. We will keep you posted as we advocate for initial access to our own first responders.

We have served over 1,000 families with meals, pantry deliveries, holiday surprises and with generous donations. Thank you to all of our staff who embraced our challenge for every school and central office building to adopt families or donate in support of an adopted family this year. All schools, our central office building, our TPS Police Department and many others adopted families this year to add extra support and love to what many agencies across Topeka are doing. Our hearts are full of love and joy for our families.

Your support to us has been incredibly appreciated and we look forward to seeing our families in 2021. I wish you a safe, holiday season filled with love and joy.

Dr. Tiffany Anderson



Sending Holiday Cheer to Deserving TPS Families

All of our schools across the district have adopted families this holiday season, including the central office. Schools like Jardine Middle School adopted nine families and provided them with kits that included tools and ingredients to make either pancakes or cookies as well as a $50 Dillon's gift card. Click here to read more about how Jardine spread the holiday spirit to their families. Shaner Early Learning Academy hosted a holiday drive-thru with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who provided hot chocolate and gift bags for the students and their families. Click here to read more about this story.

The tradition of adopting a family for the holidays began four years ago and has since helped transform the lives of those families. This year, the central office adopted a family of six that includes mom, Monice Webster, and five children ranging from five to 15 years old, who all attend TPS. Gifts included toys, clothing, shoes, comforter sets, silverware and other basic household items. You can watch the video of the delivery or view the photo album of the experience.

Santa Claus on Zoom

Holiday Happenings Take Place Across the District

From winter concerts to visits from Mr. and Mrs. Claus and so much more, Topeka Public Schools has done a tremendous job in celebrating the holiday spirit! Santa Claus was able to take time out of his busy schedule to drop into virtual classrooms and talk to TPS students. Mrs. Claus was able to surprise first responder families with gifts to show TPS appreciation for their hard work during this pandemic. Many schools held drive-thru Christmas celebrations and virtual holiday sing-alongs for students. Happy Holidays from everyone at TPS!

First Responder Surprise

TPS Delivers Holiday Cheer to First Responder Families

Every #WonderfulWednesday in December, TPS surprised families of first responders with thank you gifts for their service during this pandemic. On Wednesday, December 16, Dr. Anderson dressed as Mrs. Claus and Meadows Elementary Principal, Nicole Johnson surprised the Martinez-Jones family. Mom, Marilyn Martinez, works as a nurse at St. Francis; Dad, Dan Jones, is a driver for Old Dominion Freight Line, and their two children, Ruby and Milo, attend Meadows Elementary. Thank you to the Martinez-Jones family for the sacrifices they have made to keep our community safe during this unprecedented time! Click here to read more about the delivery.

Meal Pickup

Holiday Meal Pick-up Scheduled for December 30th

Topeka Public Schools is having a meal pickup on Wednesday, December 30th. The sites listed below will be open from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

  • Highland Park High School
  • Topeka High School
  • Jardine Middle School
  • Chase Middle School
  • Eisenhower Middle School
  • Robinson Middle School
  • Pine Ridge Prep
  • Westminster Church

The meals will be served on a first-come, first-serve basis. Van routes will not be running on this day.

TCALC Blessing Boxes

TCALC FFA Installs Blessing Boxes in the Community

The Topeka community now has access to two more community food boxes, or blessing boxes, thanks to the TCALC FFA Chapter. They gathered Thursday, December 17 to place two newly constructed blue and yellow blessing boxes at 3357 S.W. Westview Ave. and 6715 S.W. Westview Road. The blessing boxes are filled with bottled water, granola bars, cereal, crackers, feminine hygiene products, face masks and baby and pet food. The project was funded by a $1,200 grant given to the Topeka TCALC FFA chapter by the national FFA organization. FFA members will be responsible for restocking the blessing boxes when they run low and they will be monitored regularly. Click here to read more on this story.

Winter Break

Winter Calendar Holiday Break Schedule

In observance of winter holidays, there will be no school beginning on Thursday, December 24, through Friday, January 1, for winter break. Students will return to school on Monday, January 4. For more district dates and events, view the district calendar by clicking here. Have a safe and happy holiday season.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Living the Dream Annual Competition and Scholarship is Now Open

Living the Dream, Inc., is sponsoring the 19th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Poetry, Essay and Art Contest. The art and essay contests are open to students from first through 12th grade. The poetry contest is open to students in fifth grade through 12th. More details can be found by clicking here.

Living the Dream, Inc. will continue to award scholarships to graduating high school seniors for the Spring 2021 semester. In addition, they plan to award community awards for the 2021 year and provide several virtual events and activities during the 2021 MLK Week. The 2021 theme is: "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" The 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Application Form is located on the Living the Dream, Inc. website. The deadline is December 31, 2020

LTD Food Drive 2019

District's Biggest Food Drive of the Year Begins January 4th

The annual MLK Jr. Living the Dream Food drive will commence on January 4th and last through the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, ending on January 19th. Food collection bins will be placed outside each school building by school staff. Students and staff are encouraged to donate non-breakable, non-perishable items, and whichever school collects the most items will receive the LTD traveling trophy. Quincy Elementary won the honor for 2020. Last year the food drive collected more food items than ever before and we are hoping to top that number this year due to COVID needs.

Chrishayla Adams

Topeka High Senior Wins National JAG Competition

Topeka High School senior Chrishayla Adams claimed first place in a national Public Speaking competition sponsored by Jobs For America's Graduates. Chrishayla has competed in this national competition before, but it looked very different this year. JAG National hosted the National Student Leadership Academy (NSLA) in virtual format due to the ongoing pandemic. Traditionally the qualifying students would travel to Washington D.C. to compete. This is the fourth year in a row, that Topeka High has had a student win the JAG-K state competition in the categories of either math or public speaking, and qualify to compete at nationals. Ms. Adams was also recently selected by Governor Laura Kelly to be on the state's Kansas Advisory Group for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention! Click here to read more about Chrishayla and her accomplishments. Congratulations, Chrishayla!

College Connection Newsletter

Read the Newest Edition of the College Connections Newsletter

The December College Connections newsletter highlights FAFSA preparation, ACT/SAT registration and testing dates, as well as available scholarship and job opportunities. The next ACT test date is February 6, the registration deadline is January 8, and the next SAT test date is March 13, the registration deadline is February 12. Click here to read more.

Jackson Bo Jenson

Nine-Year-Old Makes Waves in the Weightlifting World

Topeka's Jackson Bo Jensen, a student at McCarter Elementary, is only nine but he's on his way to becoming a world record holder. He can already lift at an elite level despite only starting training this August. At only nine-years-old, Jackson is already setting records in weightlifting as he nearly doubles the US record with ease. Jackson is also a baseball prodigy and he spent the summer playing in a USSSA All-American team. It is truly amazing what Jackson Bo Jenson has been able to accomplish at such a young age. Click here to read more about Jenson's journey to the top. TPS is so proud of Jenson and knows that he will continue on to do many more great things!

Winter Break Activities

Ways to Academically Engage Students Over Winter Break

Topeka Public Schools has put together a list of activities to help students stay academically engaged during break. Activities range from art and games to academic enrichment. You can learn more about this opportunity by clicking here for the English version or clicking here for the Spanish version.

Inclement Weather Information

TPS Inclement Weather Updates

As the weather begins to cool, we want to update families and staff about our winter weather notification procedures. Due to a late start at the beginning of the school year, the district will now consider snow days as remote learning days. Families will receive notification about remote learning days due to winter weather through Blackboard messaging, we will also update the district social media, district website and contact our local media partners. For more information about remote learning day procedures, please contact your building principal.

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