Category Archives: Schools

Darby Toth: National Speech and Debate Student of the Year Nominee

Darby Toth with some of her winnings as a speech and debate student at Fort Scott High School.

2018 Fort Scott High School graduate Darby Toth is a National Speech and Debate Student of the Year nominee, she was notified last week.

Toth has qualified all four years of high school to attend the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Florida, this year June 15-23.

But this year she is one of five finalists for National Speech and Debate Student of the Year.

While at the national tournament this year, Toth will interview with selected debate coaches to find out her placement.

The honor is a dream come true, she said.

“I want to thank all my coaches,” Toth said. “Amber Toth, Travis Toth and Sarah Bahr for giving me the tools…and an avenue for this to happen, because this truly is a dream becoming reality.”

Two of the speech and debate coaches are her parents, both teachers at the high school.

Amber Toth taught debate,  forensic and speech,  Travis Toth teaches history.

“It’s a family rule,” Darby said. “You have to try (speech and debate) for one year.”

It has become one of her passions, she said.

Speech and debate have had “amazing” effects on her and has allowed her to follow her other passion: social justice, Darby said.

Through her high school years, Darby has honed her communication and goal-setting skills learned in speech and debate.

She helped organize a formal dress drive at her school as a sophomore.

“We got winter formal (dress) donations for anyone who couldn’t afford it,” she said.

Following Hurricane Harvey’s devastation of south-east Texas, Darby used the skills to help raise almost $5,000 for schools in Texas, she said.

She took it upon herself to start a sexual harassment awareness campaign when she learned that issue was a problem for some students at FSHS.

“It was definitely a challenge to get students, administration, and teachers on board,” she said. “It took a pretty detailed mapping of a plan…..they plan next year to have a sexual harassment awareness speaker come speak to the entire student body. We have several posters up around the school. Our counselors are more aware that it is an issue in our school and are working with the students.

“There were some kids who were not being appropriate in the classroom, physically,…they faced repercussions for what they did.

“I felt I needed to be a voice for people who felt as if they didn’t have one because I knew what happened in the classroom wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg. I heard personal stories of girls, whether in or out of the high school. They are suffering in their personal life.”

An AXA Achievement Scholarship was awarded to Darby’

“It’s a $1,000 grant to the high school… it’s used for teacher professional development,” she said. “I gave Mr. (Shawn)Thomas (FSHS Principal) all my research on the subject, Restorative Justice. Instead of a zero-tolerance program, it’s more restorative, therapeutic based…I asked that (the grant) be used for Restorative Justice.”

This topic includes focusing on the reasoning behind student actions, then mediating and working through it, she said.

The AXA Achievement Scholarship is awarded to students because they have demonstrated ambition and self-drive.

For more information on this scholarship click here:

Darby received other recognitions as well.

She had a 4.0 Grade Point Average at FSHS in mostly honors classes and received an Ellis Foundation Grant, Peterson Scholarship, Garvey Scholarship, a Kansas Honor Scholar among others.

Darby is a four-time Speech and Debate National Qualifier, District Top Point Earner for two years, state champion in oration, state runner-up in impromptu speaking, number one debater/forensicator in Kansas, District Student of the Year, ranked in the top ten nationally, and recipient of the Debate and Forensics Scholarship-chosen by a panel of teachers.

Toth will attend Washburn University with a psychology major and leadership minor in the fall.

“I would like to work with children, especially the impoverished,” she said. “Starting my own practice would be cool… Working in a school would be cool. Which would provide an avenue to coach debate/forensics.”



FSCC Graduation Commencement 2018

Family and friends of Associate of General Studies and Associate of Science degree graduates wait patiently for the noon ceremony to begin Friday. An overflow crowd watched from the lobby area.

Fort Scott Community College held two graduations  May 18, with approximately 200 students receiving associates degrees.

Associate of Arts, Associate of Applied Science, and Certificate students had a commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. and Associate of General Studies and Associate of Science students at noon in the Ellis Fine Arts building.

Three outstanding individuals were recognized for their work over the years.

FSCC recognized John M. Laflen, class of 1956, Dawn M. Reed, class of 2002, and Shelbie Hutchinson, class of 2018.

Laflen and  Reed were recognized as this year’s Outstanding Alumni and Hutchinson was recognized as this year’s Outstanding Sophomore.

Dawn Reed, the 2018 FSCC Outstanding Young Alumna. Courtesy photo.
John Laflen, Ph.D., the 2018 Outstanding Alumnus. Courtesy photo.

The banquet for Outstanding Alumni was held between graduations at 10:30 a.m. at the center.

Outstanding FSCC Sophomore Shelby Hutchison visits with a former Christian Learning Center teacher, Deanne Bloesser, prior to commencement in the lobby of the Ellis Fine Arts Center.
Students chat as they are lined up prior to entering the Ellis Fine Arts Center auditorium for commencement.
Faculty of FSCC prepare to line up to enter the auditorium at the Ellis Fine Arts Center Friday.
FSCC students enter the auditorium of the Ellis Fine Arts Center for commencement ceremonies.
Shelby Hutchison, FSCC 2018 Outstanding Sophomore gives her commencement speech.
Jerry Laflen, filling in for his brother John Laflen, Ph.D., gives a commencement speech during the noon graduation ceremony. John Laflen was unable to attend because of health issues. Laflen is the 2018 Outstanding Alumnus.
Some students decorated their graduation hats for the commencement ceremony.

Uniontown School District Receives $100,000 Grant For Fitness Center

USD 235 staff and students who worked on the grant application for the fitness equipment for the district: front, from left: Betty Dennis, school nurse; Rhonda Hoener, school counselor; and Tara Gorman, teacher. Back row, from left: Vance Eden, teacher; Kolby Martinez, Zach Franklin and Cade Goodridge, students; Bret Howard, superintendent; Mark Calvin, high school principal and Tyler Jackman, elementary school principal. They are in the proposed room for the community fitness center, the junior high/high school library.

West Bourbon Elementary School Principal Tyler Jackman received an email from the Kansas Department of Education in late winter about an opportunity to provide a fitness center in the school district.

He got the green light from Superintendent Bret Howard to apply for the grant and enlisted the help of other district employees.

“The application process was simple,” Jackman said. “They wanted to know what equipment we had, what condition it was in.”

Teacher Vance Eden created a video of the need in the district and interviewed several employees.  Click below to view the video:

The grant application was due April 6, and on May 16 they received notice that the district received a $100,000 grant.

Governor Jeff Colyer and Jake Steinfeld, Chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils, announced three Kansas schools that were selected to each receive a DON’T QUIT! Fitness Center.

The multi-million-dollar physical fitness campaign named Lincoln Elementary School in Fredonia, Jardine Middle School in Topeka and Uniontown USD 235 in Uniontown as the state’s most outstanding schools for demonstrating leadership in getting and keeping their students fit.

“We are excited, this will be a great asset to our community,” Jackman said. “The community will have access.”

Tyler Jackman stands in the access door to the proposed community fitness room. The room is the former library of the junior high/high school, that is currently housing the USD 235 Board of Education. The outside access door is near the southeast corner of the room, which leads to the south parking lot of the school.

 The proposed site for the fitness center is the former school library at the junior high school, which is being underutilized, Jackman said.

Installation begins this summer and a public ribbon cutting will take place in early September, Howard said.

School starts in the district on August 30 this year, he said.

National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils State of Kansas DON’T QUIT! Campaign initial requirements:

  • The school must be a public or public charter school.
  • The majority of students must be between the ages of 8-13 years old.
  • The school must have a preexisting room on the school’s property that is available for equipment installation during the summer of 2018.
  • The room must be approximately 900-1500 square feet.
  • The proposed fitness center will be in the junior high wing of USD 235 campus.

FSCC Graduations May 18

FSCC President Alysia Johnston with Shelbie Hutchinson, Outstanding Sophomore for 2018.

FSCC Graduation Time

Fort Scott Community College will hold two graduations this Friday, May 18th.

Associate of Arts, Associate of Applied Science, and Certificate students will have their ceremony at 9:00 a.m. and Associate of General Studies and Associate of Science students will have their ceremony at  noon in the Ellis Fine Arts building.

There are approximately 200 students graduating between the two sessions.

During graduation, a few outstanding individuals will be recognized for their prestigious work over the years.

FSCC will recognize three Fort Scott natives, John M. Laflen, class of 1956, Dawn M. Reed, class of 2002, and Shelbie Hutchinson, class of 2018.

John Laflen and Dawn Reed are being recognized as this year’s Outstanding Alumni and Shelbie Hutchinson is being recognized as this year’s Outstanding Sophomore.

The banquet for Outstanding Alumni will be held between graduations at 10:30 a.m. in the Ellis Fine Arts meeting rooms.

For more information regarding graduation, please contact Courtney Metcalf at 620.223.2700 ext. 3580 or Taylor Wade at ext. 3560.

Elementary Students Visit Lowell Milken Center

Nurse Mary Bickerdyke, interpreted by Tiffiny Durham and Dr. Ben Thayer, interpreted by Mason Lumpkins, portray a scene during the Civil War.
Students raise hands to answer questions during the presentation.

Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area awarded the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes an Interpretive Grant in the amount of $2145 for the project honoring Unsung Hero Mary Bickerdyke.

On  May 7, visitors learned more about Unsung Hero Mother Mary Bickerdyke because of that grant.

Bickerdyke was a Civil War nurse who built 300 field hospitals with the help of the U.S. Sanitary Commission and created new standards in soldier care. Her zeal in her profession earned her the name “Cyclone In Calico.”

Tiffiny Durham interprets Mary Bickerdyke to students at Lowell Milken Center May 7.
Mason Lumpkins interprets Civil War Doctor Ben Thayer to the group of students.

The Lowell Milken Center collaborated with the Fort Scott National Historic site in presenting the story to over 140 students from Fort Scott.

Tiffiny Durham, FSNHS Museum Technician interpreted Bickerdyke to the visitors at the center, while Mason Lumpkin, Excelsior Springs, Mo. interpreted Dr. Ben Thayer for the group.

The group consisted of the fifth-grade students at Eugene Ware Elementary School and first and second-grade students at Christian Learning Center.

This photo is of the students watching a short video on the Unsung Hero project about Bickerdyke which was produced by a then-student, Theresa Schafer.

The presentation not only taught each attendee about the past but information about the Red Cross, local blood drives and ways to volunteer was included.

Megan Felt, right, the program director at the center, introduces Ruth Waring, the American Red Cross drive local coordinator to the group.
Following the presentation, students were given a tour of the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes. Here, Eugene Ware fifth-grade students of Abby Dixson look at the project about the “Little Rock Nine” project at the center.
Christian Learning Center first and second-grade students of Kelly Love get a hands-on demonstration from Dr. Ben Thayer on how a broken arm was treated during the Civil War.

About Freedom’s Frontier
The Freedom’s Frontier Interpretive Grant program was started in 2012, according to information provided.

Since then, more than 97 projects have been awarded grant funding, according to information provided. Grant projects have been completed on both sides of the Missouri-Kansas border, in the 41-county region that comprises the heritage area.

Projects awarded grant funding must interpret local history, and connect to one or more of the three major themes of the heritage area: the shaping of the frontier, the Missouri-Kansas Border War, and the enduring struggle for freedom.

Grants range in amount from under $1,500 to $5,000. All awards over $1,500 require that the grant recipient show a local match of half the amount of the award. This match can be in the form of cash, or in-kind donations and staff and volunteer time.

Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area is one of 49 heritage areas in the U.S. Heritage areas are nonprofit affiliates of the National Park Service (NPS). They act as coordinating entities between the local organizations telling nationally significant stories and the NPS.

Freedom’s Frontier was established as a heritage area on October 12, 2006, when signed into law by President George Bush. The heritage area’s management plan was approved by the Department of the

Local Student Raises Funds/Awareness For American Heart Association

Courtesy photo.

An  American Heart Association Assembly/ fundraiser took place May 2  at Fort Scott High School.

“This is the second annual assembly to raise awareness for the American Heart Association, ” Hanna Reel, coordinator of the event, and a senior at FSHS said.  “Jared Martin and I both ran and organized this assembly/fundraiser.” Martin is a teacher at FSHS.

“Many schools around our area and town participated with this organization to help make kids aware of heart disease and ways to prevent it,” Reel said.” I took it upon myself this year to be in charge of running this assembly/fundraiser.”

The event consisted of a speaker from the American Heart Association, Joe Falter, and  Reel, speaking on behalf of her own personal experience with a rare heart condition.

Courtesy photo. Hanna Reel speaks during an assembly for the American Heart Association at FSHS. In the background are teachers Jared Martin, Josh Regan and Johanthan Stark.

Additionally, there was a dodgeball tournament.

“Seventeen competitors played against each other to win prizes during the dodgeball tournament,” Reel said. “The whole school participated in this assembly either by being spectators or being competitors. There were over 500 spectators.”

“I was able to raise $170 for the American Heart Association,” Reel said.

FSCC Spring Concert May 12

The Fort Scott Community College Music Department will present the annual Spring Concert on Saturday, May 12, at 7:00 pm in the Danny and Willa Ellis Family Fine Arts Center, 2108 South Horton St.

The FSCC Chamber Winds will begin the concert with a Hollywood-themed prelude consisting of several beloved themes from silver screen classics.

The FSCC Choir will take the second half of the show with a wide variety of uplifting and inspiring works that are sure help you feel the fullness and life of the spring season.

Admission is free and open to the public!

For more information, please contact Seth Ernst at 620-223-2700 ext. 3058, or email”

FSHS Forensic Wins 2nd In State

Courtesy photos. The Fort Scott High School Forensic Team 2018.

Fort Scott High School Forensics  scored this weekend.

“We had 36 events qualify for state this year,” Amber Toth,FSHS Forensic Teacher, said. “However, we are only allowed to take 16 total entries and two Lincoln Douglas Debaters. Overall, as a team, we took second.”

She is proud of her forensic students.

“If you see Forensics kids, please tell them congrats,” Toth said.” It is an amazing accomplishment to walk out of the largest state tournament in any classification with a trophy for the 2nd year in a row.”

Courtesy photos. Fort Scott High School Forensics Team 2018.

Individual Results:

Darby Toth is the Oration State Champion and the Impromptu State Runner-Up

Elizabeth Ngatia is the State Runner-Up in Oration and takes 4th in Poetry.

Zoe Self is the State Runner-Up in Extemp.

Mark Adams is the State Runner-Up in Lincoln Douglas debate.

Rebekah Sweyko takes 5th in Extemp and 6th in Informative.

Tayton Majors was 6th in Extemp.

Isabella Provence makes it to semi-finals in Humorous Interpretation.

Kaden Kiwan was a semi-finalist in Informative.

Mark Adams and Jonie Antonio were semi-finalists is Duet Acting.

“Also representing us were Ashtyn Elizabeth Dowell in Extemp, Hunter  Adamson and Zoe Self in duet, Madi Toth in prose, and Alex Gorman in Humorous Interp and Dalton Womeldorff in LD,” Toth said.

“We also have 15 students attending the National Tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Florida this summer,” she said.

Tayton Majors and Sara Al-Shawish will be competing in Policy Debate.

Darby Toth will be recognized on the state level as a four time-qualifier (Fort Scott’s second ever), was chosen as South Kansas District Student of the Year, and will compete in Student Congress.

Zoe Self and Hunter Adamson will be competing in Duo Interpretation.

Rebekah Sweyko will be competing in Informative Speaking.

Madison Toth will be competing in Program of Oral Interpretation.

Ashtyn Dowell and Jorden Willard will compete in Public Forum Debate.

Elizabeth Ngatia will be competing in Original Oration.

Isabella Provence will be competing in Humorous Interpretation.

Brooklyn Lyons will be competing in Program of Oral Interpretation.

Mark Adams will compete in Domestic Extemp.

Dalton Womeldorff will compete in World Schools Debate.

Jonie Antonio will compete in World Schools Debate.