Archive for Thursday, February 24, 2011

First Bell: Students to compete at KU’s Engineering Expo; Wakarusa Valley entered district after 1965 petition; Java n’ Jazz set for Tuesday

February 24, 2011


A few education-oriented items from around the area:

Teams of prospective engineers from throughout the area will be building pasta bridges, erecting skyscrapers with popsicle sticks and protecting dropped eggs from cracking.

That’s all during Engineering Expo, set for Friday and Saturday inside Eaton and Learned halls at Kansas University.

The annual event and open house is billed as challenging students to design and construct projects for use in one of 11 engineering competitions. Among them: Uphill Battle, Volcano, Leaky Bottle and Rube Goldberg.

Rube Goldberg?

“Students are challenged to create a complicated system of simple machines in order to perform one simple task,” according to the competition’s official description. “This year’s task is to shoot a tennis ball at a picture of Rube Goldberg himself.”

Competing in this year’s expo are teams from Free State High School, Lawrence High School, Southwest Junior High School, West Junior High School, Sunset Hill School and Veritas Christian School. Teams also will come from Baldwin City and De Soto.

Along with competitions for K-12 students, the public is welcome to view student organization displays and demonstrations. Several professors also will have their labs open for tours, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.

Also scheduled: a presentation from Engineering Student Council officers, at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Lied Center, which is on KU’s West Campus.

The expo will continue Saturday, with tours and engineering displays once again open to the public from 9 a.m. to noon at Eaton Hall.


Plaque marking the dedication of Wakarusa Valley School, 1104 E. 1000 Road.

Plaque marking the dedication of Wakarusa Valley School, 1104 E. 1000 Road.

Members of the Lawrence school board formally will receive a recommendation Monday that they should close Wakarusa Valley School, which is located just southeast of Clinton Lake.

Some history:

The school itself was built in 1960 by its own school board. I wasn’t around then, but I snuck a peek at the plaque inside the front door and saw some familiar and rather prominent names from the area:

• Dean Stoneback, director

• Charles Oldfather, clerk

• Benjamin Flory, treasurer.

In 1965, the Wakarusa Valley school board petitioned the Lawrence school board to become part of the Lawrence district, said Frank Harwood, who is chief operations officer for the Lawrence district.

On Monday, the Lawrence Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force agreed to recommend that the school be closed next year. The recommendation is scheduled to be received — but not acted upon — by the Lawrence school board during a meeting that is set for 7 p.m. Monday at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

Should the board agree with the task force and actually close the school — a decision that could come in March or April — the district would be left to decide what to do with the building and grounds. Rick Doll, superintendent of the Lawrence district, has said that it would be appropriate to hold onto the site in case it would become needed for a school sometime in the future.

Rich Minder, board president, previously had indicated that the building potentially could be used as some sort of community center for the Wakarusa Valley community.


Poster for Java n’ Jazz, 7 p.m. Tuesday,. March 1, 2011, in the band room at Lawrence High School, 1901 La.

Poster for Java n’ Jazz, 7 p.m. Tuesday,. March 1, 2011, in the band room at Lawrence High School, 1901 La.

Ready for some cool tunes in a coffee-house atmosphere?

Check out the second annual Java 'n Jazz, a benefit concert for the All-City Junior High Jazz Band. The event is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the band room at Lawrence High School, 1901 La.

The concert is free, but “there will be plenty of opportunities to make a donation to keep this ensemble playing next year,” said Mike Jones, band director at Lawrence High.

To be featured:

• All-City Junior High Jazz Band.

• Lawrence High/Free State Jazz Combo.

• Free State Jazz Ensemble I.

• Faculty Combo.

• Lawrence High Jazz Ensemble I.

• poetry readings.

— The First Bell e-mailbox is always open:


Synjyn Smythe 6 years, 11 months ago

The way this taskforce arrived at a recommendation to close Wakarusa seems like something right out of "The Onion." See, for example,,19193/

Let's think back: this taskforce is formed based upon a public outcry to "Save Our Neighborhood Schools," which becomes commonly know as SONS. We fail to remember that before there was SONS, there was the Wakarusa Valley School Budget Committee challenging the propriety of closing any grade schools in Lawrence! Not only did SONS come later last year, but SONS actually used information obtained and developed by Wakarusa! Fastforward one year and the taskforce has a committee on "community schools," which recognizes Wakarusa favorably as a "community school":

Now, that same taskforce, based upon a recommendation by the head of SONS, recommends closing Wakarusa! Orwellian? Onionesqus??

Clevercowgirl 6 years, 11 months ago

The sad thing is, even if Wakarusa was closed, that is not even going to cover one quarter of the 3 million shortfall. The schools that are black holes in terms of maintenance costs, were not chosen to close by the Task Force. I wonder if "let's make a deal" will hold in the face of another school having major mold problems. As a rule, schools that are riddled with mold are cheaper to raze and re-build in the long run. I hope that the School Board realizes that we, as a community, can't afford to close a perfectly good school, when there are others which are financial time bombs, ticking away. Politics aside, we can't afford to close Waky. I predict that we will need that space, sooner than later.

GMom05 6 years, 11 months ago

You said it, sister! Closing Waky will save about $350,000 by some estimates. Where is the rest of the 3 million going to come from? So, now what? Oh, yeah, they'll have to raise the teacher-student ratio. Let the super overcrowding on the south and west side commence! Too bad, there isn't another school in the area you could overflow into. Why aren't Sunflower and Langston Hughes making more noise? This is not in your best interest. You should come tour in the next few weeks, to see what you're missing! Quick, before they start filling the halls with mothballs!

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