Category Archives: Schools

Fort Scott High School Performs “Alice vs. Wonderland” Feb. 22 and 24

Alice and  the Caterpillars are: Madi Toth with Noah Martin and Alex Gorman.

The Fort Scott High School Thespians present “Alice vs. Wonderland” adapted by Brendan Shea on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 24 at 2 and 7 p.m. at the FSHS Auditorium.

“Lewis Carroll meets Lady Gaga in this psychedelic update of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Angst-ridden adolescent Alice unwittingly trades places with Mary Ann, the Wonderland version of herself. Now Alice must travel through a fantastical teenage dreamscape, challenged by Carroll’s canonical characters every step of the way. Transforming every time she eats or drinks, Alice is played by six different actresses, each evoking a different aspect of adolescence. Together, they paint an entrancingly surreal portrait of a teenage identity crisis,” according to publishing company Playscripts.

The show involves an ensemble cast of 16 with most students playing multiple characters. Actresses playing the Alice characters analyzed the playwright’s work to pinpoint the aspects of Alice’s personality that each represents.

“My director pushed me to really analyze the script and delve into the right way to inflect the words to reflect my character,” said junior Daniela Belcuore who plays Alice #3, the Alice who embodies the “childlike” portion of her personality.

Alice and White Knight played by Daniela Belcuore and Jakob Slinkard.

Audiences will enjoy a “mix-up” of pop-culture references and songs with the traditional Wonderland characters we all know. The show includes music and dance numbers including a duet between junior Mary Gladbach (Alice #2) and sophomore Carlee Studyvin (Mary Ann), a solo by sophomore Addy Labbe (Queen of Hearts), and a jazz routine choreographed by Labbe and sophomore Mesa Jones.

Stand out performances include ihigh school senior Alex Gorman as the Mad Hatter, Gladbach also as the March Hare, and high school  junior Hunter Adamson as the White Rabbit. Also noteworthy is the creative lighting design my junior Alyx Brooks.

The production is directed by FSHS Drama and Thespian Director Angie Bin with choreography assistance from FSHS alum Kevin Miller, Jr.

Tickets are $5 and are on sale now at the FSHS office, 1005 S. Main and at Common Ground, 116 S. Main in Fort Scott.

Proceeds will assist students attending the International Thespian Festival at the University of Nebraska in June. Seating is limited, so audience members are encouraged to buy tickets in advance.

Doors open thirty minutes before showtime.

For more information contact:  Angie Bin, 620-719-9622,


FSCC Deere Tech Program Unveiled

The sign atop the new John Deere Tech Program building at the intersection of Horton and 23rd Streets. The building is located on the easternmost segment of the main campus of Fort Scott Community College..

The public opening of the new John Deere Tech Program at Fort Scott Community College was held at the site Feb. 9.

A hamburger lunch was provided by the college.

Attending were prospective students, local residents, business corporations, FSCC staff and Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce members.

Attendees of the Fort Scott Community College John Deere Tech Program grand opening eat in the largest building of the tech complex. This building is the old National Guard Armory at Horton and 23rd streets.
The college provided a hamburger lunch for attendees of the John Deere Tech Program official opening.

Following the lunch were speeches and a ribbon cutting sponsored by the Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce.

FSCC President Alysia Johnston speaks to the crowd at the public opening of the new John Deere Tech Program building, completed in December 2017.

Tours were given prior to the event for those interested.

FSCC President Alysia Johnston left, gives a tour of the renovated welding shop located north of the new tech program building. At right is FSCC Board of Trustees Member Dana McKenney.

A building north of the new John Deere Tech Program building was renovated for welding classes instruction. The program began in August, with Brandon McAdam, as the instructor.

The John Deere corporation supplies new and used tractors for training the students,  said Dale Griffiths, tech program instructor.

Additional old tractors are supplied by dealers and individuals, he said.

Currently, there are 23 students in the program, mostly from Kansas and Missouri, Griffiths said.

“Ninety-five percent of the students will have a job waiting for them,” Griffiths said. “Technicians are the most demanded field in the ag. equipment business.”

Classes are in session from Monday through Thursday, Griffiths said.

“Most kids will travel back to work at their dealers,” he said.

In this program, students are required to work through a qualified dealership that provides paid internships throughout the program’s two years, according to information provided by FSCC.

After completing the program, students receive an associate of applied science degree and can transfer to Pittsburg State University to complete a four-year management option.

Many students choose to stay with their sponsoring dealerships to begin their career as a technician.

Federal loan and grant programs are available to students who qualify. For more information contact the financial aid office at 620-223-2700 or visit




USD 234 Superintendent Bob Beckham Retires

USD 234 Superintendent Bob Beckham is retiring effective June 29.
Beckham gave the Board of Education notice at a meeting last Tuesday.
Beckham worked his way up from teacher to the athletic director, then the principal, then four years ago assumed the superintendency of the district.
The following is from an interview with
Why are you retiring?
“I always told myself that I would know when it was time for me to retire, I just know it’s time now.”
How far into your contract are you?
“In June I will have fulfilled my current contract.”
Will you give a short synopsis of your career?
“After graduating from Pittsburg State University I taught and coached five years at Altoona-Midway High School.  I came home in 1989 and taught biology and social studies and coached at  Fort Scott High School for nine years. I served as the athletic director for seven years, then as the high school principal for eight years. I will have completed my fourth year as the superintendent in June.”
Why did you become an educator?
“Like all educators, I chose this profession to invest in young people – to help them reach their full potential.”
What are you looking forward to in retirement?
“I will be going back to work, just not sure in what capacity yet.”

Jeff DeLaTorre Hired As FSHS Activities/Athletic Director

Jeff DeLaTorre was hired as Fort Scott High School Activities/Athletic Director at a USD 234 Board Meeting Tuesday.
Currently, he is the assistant principal at the school.
He will assume his new duties July 1.
The following is an interview DeLaTorre had with
What do you see as the strengths and challenges of the school you will be helping lead?
” Fort Scott High School has a great tradition of having successful athletic and activity programs.  We have great kids and strong community support.  My goal is to help those programs remain strong and maintain success and to continue to give our community a sense of pride in our high school.”
What is your career experience?
“I taught Physical Education at Yates Center High School from 1995-2000.  Also coached basketball, baseball, and football.    Moved to Fort Scott in fall of 2000.  Taught World History and PE until 2005.  Taught full-time PE from 2005 – 2011.  Became the Assistant Principal in 2011 and have been in that role since then.  Have been the head boys basketball coach at FSHS since 2000.  In my time at FSHS I have also coached football, tennis, and baseball.”

What is your education?

” I graduated from Chanute High School in 1990.   Graduated from Pittsburg State University in 1995 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education.  Earned Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Pitt State in 2009.”

Your family?

” I have been married to my wife Angie for 21 years.  We have two sons – Kaleb (20 and a sophomore at Neosho County Community College in Chanute), and Jacob (16 and a sophomore at FSHS).”

Hometown:   Chanute

Why did you choose education as a career?

” I always enjoyed working with kids and looked at education as an opportunity to make a difference in young people’s lives.  I also had several teachers and coaches growing up that had a strong impact on me, and I liked the possibility of having that same impact on my students and athletes that I would work with.”


Amber Toth Hired As FSHS Assistant Principal

Submitted photo. Amber Toth was selected to be Fort Scott High School’s Assistant Principal starting in July.

Amber Toth was hired Tuesday at the USD 234 Board of Education meeting to be Fort Scott High School Assistant Principal  starting in July.

The following is an interview had with Toth.

What do you see as the strengths and challenges of the school you will be helping lead?

“The high school has many strengths. We have an amazing staff who is always striving to get better. We are focused on rigor and excellence. We are also working really hard to get curriculum aligned across the district, not just in the building. We have leaders in place who have the best interest of kids in mind, even when those decisions are hard. We have amazing programs within the school that provide every student the opportunity to find their niche. But just like any school, there is always room for improvement. I think one of the challenges we face is ensuring our instruction is relevant in making students college and career ready. It is my goal to provide as many opportunities to ensure our graduates have bright futures and are employable. I want to see those students bring innovation and vision to Fort Scott. We are also in transition with a new accreditation process. Pieces of this will require us to alter what we do in some areas.   I am looking forward to helping a wonderful team become the best school that we can be.”

Why did you choose education?

“I had amazing teachers. There are some special ones that come to mind. Mr. Warnock was my 3rd grade teacher and taught me to love exploring. Mrs. Beardmore was my 5th grade teacher and taught me to love people, even when it was hard. Ms. Zimmerman was my high school English teacher and she taught me a love of literature. Kathy Faulkenberry was my debate and forensics coach and she taught me my passion. I knew from a young age that I wanted to make a difference in the world. I love making a difference in the lives of kids. I couldn’t imagine myself in another field. The teachers I had, inspired me to change lives the way they changed mine.”

Where did you receive your education?

“I have a Bachelors in English Education from Pittsburg State University that I earned in 2000. I also have a Masters in Educational Leadership that I earned in 2011 from Grand Canyon University.”

What is your past experience?

“Before coming to Fort Scott, I was an Advanced Placement English teacher and the Advanced Placement Coordinator. I also taught debate and forensics, as well as speech. In those roles in Caney, I wrote $25,000 worth of grants to expand our AP program. I also began my journey on the National Speech and Debate Association District Committee for the South Kansas District and directed the school play.”

“Since coming to Fort Scott, I have taught Dual Credit Speech, Debate and Forensics. I also started the school pantry. I am also certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid. I have had the privilege of presenting several in-service sessions to the staff on subjects ranging from instruction, project based learning, and suicide prevention.”

Toth hales from Caney, Ks. graduating from high school there in 1995, then taught there for eight years.

Tell about your family.

” I have been married to my husband, Travis Toth for 17 years. He teaches Social Studies and is the assistant coach for debate and forensics at Fort Scott High School. Before teaching, he was a law enforcement officer.

We have four children. Darby will be graduating this year and attending Washburn University in the fall. She plans to study Psychology. Madison is a Sophomore this year. She is active in debate, forensics, drama, choir and was chosen to attend the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) conference this summer. Trent is in 6th grade. He is a hard working young man who enjoys competing in robotics, middle school forensics, plays, sports and was recently chosen to be a page next month at the state capital. Kennedy is in 2nd grade. She is competitive, tenacious, and loves to participate in Tiger Cheer.

My parents are Michael and Penny Coy and they still reside in Caney

My sister, Sarah Bahr and her children also moved to Fort Scott. Sarah is a drug and alcohol counselor for Crawford County Mental Health and an assistant coach for debate and forensics. She has two children that attend school within our district., Ashton Nave,freshman, and Graci Nave, 8th grader ”



Last Day To Support After Prom Fundraiser

Today is the last day to order Valentine Truffles in support of 2018 Fort Scott High School After Prom Fundraiser.

$5 for one-half dozen, $10 for a dozen truffles.

Order and pay through Buck Run Community Center, 725 Scott Ave.

Phone: 620- 223-0386

Area Youth In Career and Technical Education

Photo Credit: FSCC.   Student Dylan Giager and Carpentry Instructor Kim Coates at the 53rd annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in 2017.

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month.

Carpentry, heating and air conditioning, masonry and welding classes at the Career and Technical Education Center in Pittsburg, which offers Fort Scott Community College classes have seen a rise in enrollment,  according to Kris Mengarelli, CTEC Executive Director.

“I do not have a current number of high school students for this spring, but (I do) for Fall 2017 – I know enrollment is up for the Spring semester,” he said.

Mengarelli is glad to see the increase.

“There are significant opportunities in the trades workforce,” Mengarelli said.  “Trade businesses are in need of skilled workers to fill the demand of a workforce that is moving toward retirement.  In addition, according to Association for Career and Technical Education, students involved in CTE courses are more engaged, graduate at higher rates and go on to post-secondary education.”

The statistics for the fall semester at CTEC that Mengarelli produced:

In heating and air conditioning, there are 10 male students whose average age is 23. None are high school students. The students are from Bourbon, Crawford, Allen, and Anderson counties.

For masonry, there are 17 students, 15 males, and two females with an average age of 18, from Crawford, Cherokee, Montgomery counties and two out of state students. Eight are high school students from Pittsburg, Girard, and Southeast.

For construction trades, there are 23 students, 20 males, and three females with an average age of 18. They are from Crawford, Labette, Allen, Anderson, and Cowley counties and two out of state students. Nine are high school students from Pittsburg and Girard.

For welding, there are 61 students, 57 males, and four females with an average age of 21. They are from Crawford, Cherokee, Bourbon, Johnson, Anderson, Linn, Miami counties and out of state.

There are 32 high school students in this group, from Pittsburg, Frontenac, Northeast, St. Mary’s Colgan, Southeast, and Girard.

For more information contact:

Kris Mengarelli
CTEC Executive Director
(620) 232-5644

Kim Coates
Carpentry Instructor
(620) 232-5644

Nacoma Oehme
Masonry Instructor
(620) 232-5644

Davis Oehme
Welding Instructor
(620) 232-5644

Chris Sterrett
Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration (HVAC) Instructor
(620) 232-5644

The theme for CTE Month is Celebrate Today, Own Tomorrow! This month provides CTE programs an opportunity to demonstrate how CTE makes students college and career ready and prepares them for high-demand career fields, according to a Kansas Department of Education press release.

CTE in Kansas helps meet the needs of business and industry through the development of the foundational knowledge and skills aligned to the Kansas workforce.

Kansas has 16 Career Clusters for students to choose from, and there are 35 Career Cluster Pathways, according to the press release.

A Career Cluster is a group of occupations similar in skill set and training.

Career Cluster Pathways are focused on specific areas of study leading to a particular area of industry or business. These occupations fall within seven career fields in Kansas — agriculture; business; design, production, and repair; family and consumer sciences; health; media and technology; and public services.

Kansas schools have 2,606 pathways across these fields.

Tidwell: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

John Tidwell, left, talks with Bill Pollack following the Kansas Humanities Council Presentation Thursday at the Gordon Parks Museum at Fort Scott Community College. At right, Melody Leavitt waits to speak to Tidwell.

Kansas University Professor John Edgar Tidwell spoke to a room full of people Thursday during the Kansas Humanities Series Lunch and Learn at Fort Scott Community College’s Gordon Park Museum.

The event was in celebration of Black History Month.

Tidwell gave some history on how President Abraham Lincon, with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and Dr. Martin Luther King, in the March On Washington in 1963 helped to change America.

“They led the way to freedom,” Tidwell said.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Americans and fundamentally transformed the character of the war. After January 1, 1863, every advance of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. Moreover, the Proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy, enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom, according to

“There were creed and practice differences,” Tidwell said of American history.

During the March On Washington For Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, Dr. King gave a powerful speech that helped the progress of the Civil Rights Movement.

The most memorable part of the speech was after Mahalia Jackson, the black Gospel singer, shouted out “Tell them about the dream!” Tidwell said.

King then set aside his written speech and spoke spontaneously to the approximately 250,000 people gathered that day.

Jackson was on the platform that day of the march, as a singer.

Here is a clip of that speech:

Black women were at the forefront of the movement, he said, but “they were marginalized and doubly oppressed by racism and sexism”.

Tidwell encouraged the audience to “try to find ways to sustain mutual respect” in the current era of American history.

“Find one thing you see right and work towards that,” he said.

“What can we learn from Lincoln’s struggle with slavery and Dr. King’s efforts to set forth a dream rooted in the American Dream?” Tidwell asked.

“History can be a great teacher.  One lesson we can learn is that we are only as free as the respect we show others.  In my view, the world we now live in is best described as uncertain.

“No, it is not the world of Dr. King’s separate drinking fountains, segregated classrooms, the real estate practice of red-lining, and other acts of racial discrimination.

“As made clear by the recent outcome of the presidential campaign, our world is beset with an enervating discourse rooted in divisiveness, intolerance, and discord.  The moral imperatives of civility, mutual respect, and common sense have been sacrificed to political cant and ethnocentrism.

“The politics of insincerity and expediency have become poor substitutes for compassion and statesmanship.”

“I want people to understand that once they have sympathy and empathy for others, that will translate into an improved engagement with our history, our traditions and all those things that make us, us,” Tidwell said in a later interview. “I want this speech to inspire a little bit for how they can work together on a goal that will enhance everybody’s situation, not just their own”.

The audience eats lunch and converses before John Tidwell speaks for the Kansas Humanities Council Series presentation at Fort Scott Community College.



A New Art Gallery Displays FSHS Student’s Artwork

Fort Scott High School Art Instructor Ellen Kendrick explains the process of the setting up the components necessary to display art in the new gallery at the school. Senior Art Student Berkley Chavis is at right.

Walking the halls of Fort Scott High School, visitors notice the glassed-in area with art displays near the entrance to the school.

In the recent building renovation, the planners designated a gallery space for student artwork, FSHS Art Instructor Ellen Kendrick said.

Kendrick said all the components for displaying student artwork came together just before Christmas.

“To have this space is amazing,” Kendrick said.

The January exhibit was photography and ceramic art by students.

Berkley Chavis shows her two photography projects, one of a horse and one a dog.
Kayley Reyes shows her two pieces. The one at left is entitled “Broken”, the other is unnamed, she said.

Seniors who have their photos displayed in the gallery currently: Ethan Burrel, Grace Keating, Kaley Reyes, and Berkley Chavis.

Senior Emily Hill shows her ceramic artwork in the gallery Tuesday morning.

Art students who have pottery in the gallery are Emily Hill, Berkley Chavis, Kharsyn Dwyer, Blaice Hopkins, Denton Fritter, Madison Cook, Kelsie Nelson, Andy Bryant, Kaidon Shelton, and Ashton Nolan.

Kendrick said the gallery display will change each month.

The February exhibit will be more ceramics and drawings, instead of photographs.

She said her family helped with the gallery lighting and display furniture.

“Jack and I set the lights in place,” she said. “Jack and Sam made the pedestals.”

Jack and Sam are her sons.

“John (her husband) helped with the lighting system as well. I couldn’t have done it without them,” she said.



Steinway Piano Restoration Project Has A Mystery

Submitted photos. Fort School High School Choral Director Meredith Reid leads a choir rehearsal Tuesday, accompanied by Pat Harry on the Steinway piano.

Fort Scott High School Choral Director Meredith Reid began a fundraising project to restore the school’s 1925 Model L Heirloom  Steinway piano last summer.

The cost of the restoration is $30,000, and Reid’s fundraising has secured $15,000 so far.

“We could get rid of this and get another piano of lesser value,” Reid said. “But this is such a gem.”

The piano is not stuck away in a corner somewhere.

“We use it every day,” Reid said. “We have over 100 high school kids in the choir and we have choir every day. These students are who it is impacting.”

“Pat Harry is our accompanist, she is the best of the best,” Reid said. “Really she is more than that. She is a collaborator both musically and educationally. It’s appropriate to give her the best.”

The high school orchestra class also uses the piano and students use it for practice after school, especially at this time of the year, music contest season.

“It’s a testament to our community and our program to have a Steinway,” Reid said.

The Steinway piano has been in the school district for over 40 years.

There is a mystery surrounding the origins of the piano because no one knows who donated it to the school.

“I talked to Allan Drake (the school’s former business manager) to see if he had any file on it,” Reid said. “I then asked the school board office, they couldn’t find any documentation since there is no purchase history.”

“We talked to former music teachers Charlotte and Larry Swaim,” she said. “Larry knew it had been donated when he first started teaching in the 1970s.”

Whatever the origins may be, the importance to the school’s music program is invaluable.

“It’s an acoustic piano, which means it hits the strings inside the instrument which creates the sound,” Reid said.

It’s a “far superior sound” than a digital sound on an electric keyboard, she said. “The (piano)soundboard is solid spruce. You can’t recreate that in something that’s digitalized.”

“There is a lot more nuance for the accompanist,” Reid said.

The school Steinway is American made, with each part being handmade, she said.

“Each (piano) has a serial number,” she said. “They can tell you all the details. Steinway still keeps records of it.”

A piano technician visited the school Friday.

“He said the Steinway brand is created in such a way as to be rebuilt,” she said. “Not all pianos were made that way. The lesser pianos don’t last that long.”

“It seems like we are putting a lot of money into it, but if we buy a lesser brand, we’ll have to replace it because I won’t last as long,” she said.

“We have received grants from the Bourbon County Arts Council, Fort Scott Area Community Foundation, and the City of Fort Scott, she noted. “Currently, we are looking for more support from organizations, businesses or individuals to donate in any amount to the project.  The full project will cost $30,000. We now have $15,000 raised and need $15,000 more.”

Reid’s goal is to raise the funds to send the piano to be restored at the end of the school year in May, and “potentially get it back by next Christmas,” she said.

The fine arts are at the heart of our community in Fort Scott,  and restoring the Steinway grand piano will continue this legacy for decades to come in both the community and the school, she noted.

A brand new Steinway of this size would cost $78,400, she said.

“We need $30,000 to completely restore our Steinway. It will be playable for another 50 years at least.”

Reid’s phone number is 620.238.0673 or email her at