The 2021 class of Maur Hill-Mount Academy ended a long and arduous journey that has been the past year with being able to throw their caps in celebration.
The class has finally graduated after a whole school year of dealing with and overcoming a global pandemic.
“When I think of you I will think of resiliency,” MHMA President Phil Baniewicz said. “This class has shown fortitude and strength making it through this and we’re very proud of them.”
The two valedictorians for the class were Annabelle Diebolt and Sophia Hill with Rory Mata being awarded salutatorian.
“We are all united by Maur Hill-Mount Academy and no matter where our stories lead from here we’ll always be tied by this common thread,” Diebolt said.
The class has also been awarded more than $3 million in scholarships along with winning league titles in scholars bowl, football, basketball and baseball.
Forty-one year veteran of MHMA Richard Hunninghake was the commencement speaker for the event. Hunninghake has had a number of roles with the school including coach, teacher, athletic director and is now entering retirement.
Hunninghake said this class has really adhered to one of the three mottos the school has.
“We talk about striving for excellence, well they achieved it,” Hunninghake said.
Hunninghake closed with three pieces of advice for the Ravens as they set out into the world.
“Love god and all things, love one another and treat others like you want to be treated,” Hunninghake said. “You do that and you can deal with anything that comes your way.”
Despite a rain out to hold the 141st Atchison High School commencement outdoors in the stadium as planned, the Class of 2021 will shine on in school history as the last class of AHS Redmen.
About 90 students received their diplomas Thursday, May 27 in the AHS gymnasium.
Jameson Parks, a Kansas Governor’s Award scholar representedthe top 1 percent of the graduating class based on GPA and ACT.
Parks addressed the class, and reminded them all of what they had accomplished together to make it to this point in their lives. Among them was surviving the pandemic, passing the longtime AHS teacher Luann Kavler’s English tests, ran off two principals – successfully former principals and were working on their third.
Parks also told his classmates to stand as he announced their intended post-high school plans. Of the 21 percent who will attend technical training, he said they are the ones who will become skilled and work to do the things that others can’t. A few have plans to join the military or law enforcement. They are protectors of the community, he said. About 35 percent of the graduates have plans to further their education at a 4-year college some will go on to become doctors and engineers.
Parks told his classmates they are all the future, and encouraged them to go on work hard and stand up for what is right even though they might have some struggles in life.
Lane Affield, Mattew Lund, Elyssia Hedges and Lillian Morrison were recognized as Kansas State Scholars.
Some of the other honors and awards include:
Prudential Spirit of Community Award — Mia Lanter
Kansas State Scholars Recommended Curriculum — Lane Affield, Delores Brant, Elyssia Hedges, Marah Larabee, Matthew Lund, Lillian Morrison and Dillon Schmelzle
Topeka Capital Journal All Star Academic Team — Belana Wurzbacher
KSHSAA Citizenship Award — Xavier Hernandez and Macie Molt
Dale Dennis Excellence in Education — Lane Affield
Rotary Youth Leader of the Year — Lillian Morrison
Principal’s Award for Academic Achievement — Delores Brant
American Legion Citizenship Award — Ayden Saunders, Emily Crossland, Ryan Noll and Tyler Navinskey. This award is based on courage, honor, leadership, patriotism, scholarship and service
Lane Affield, Kailyn Gilmore, Zamauria Herring, Mia Lanter and Matthew Lund were recognized for 120 hours or more of community service
Kansas ACT Scholar 32 or higher — Grace Brader, Hannah Hampton and Jameson Parks
Gallon Graduate — Jameson Parks.
Atchison High School Difference Maker Award — Lillian Morrison
Amelia Earhart Soaring to Succeed — Chase Bowen and Christian Maddox
Atchison High School Kindness & Compassion Award — Colton Dishong
Local organizations have partnered with the Equal Justice Initiative to recognize a history of racial violence in Atchison, focusing on an 1870 lynching.
On January 4, 1870, an African American man by the name of George Johnson was lynched by a mob of at least 50 white men in Atchison, Kan.
Johnson had injured a white man by the name of Patrick Cox in a hunting accident five days earlier. Although initial reports were that Mr. Cox was killed, he was in fact only moderately wounded and made a full recovery. Johnson surrendered himself to local authorities and was held in the jail at 6th & Santa Fe in Atchison.
The county attorney indicated that criminal charges against Johnson were unlikely. On Jan. 4, it was rumored throughout town that a lynch mob was coming for Johnson that night, but no preventative measures were taken to protect him. At 11:30 p.m., the mob broke into the jail, frightened off the lone deputy on duty, and fired three shots at Johnson. The fleeing deputy rang the town fire bell and hundreds of people quickly gathered at the jail. Nobody intervened as the lynch mob carried Johnson out of the jail, strung a rope around his neck, beat him, and dragged him to the intersection of 4th and Commercial. Johnson was propped up and shot at several more times, but somehow still lived. The mob carried Johnson’s broken body to the 5th Street Viaduct and hanged him. Despite a massive crowd of witnesses, only one man was arrested for the murder of George Johnson, and no one was ever indicted.
In a rare move for an African American woman in the 1870’s, Johnson’s widow filed suit against those responsible for Johnson’s lynching and recovered $20,000 and quickly left town. Following her departure, George Johnson‘s lynching was erased from local history. It was not until his lynching was recently discovered through research by Benedictine history professor, Joshua Wolf, that Johnson’s lynching became known again.
The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is a non-profit organization based in Montgomery, Alabama that was founded by renowned death penalty attorney, Bryan Stevenson, who was the subject of the recent movie, “Just Mercy.” Along with its work in successfully overturning death sentences of inmates who were later exonerated, EJI has established the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery to recognize the history of lynching and racial violence in America.
In their landmark report “Lynching in America, Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror,” EJI reported that “during the period between the Civil War and World War II, thousands of African Americans were lynched in the United States. Lynchings were violent and public acts of torture that traumatized black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials. These lynchings were terrorism. ‘Terror lynchings’ peaked between 1880 and 1940 and claimed the lives of African American men, women, and children who were forced to endure the fear, humiliation, and barbarity of this widespread phenomenon unaided. Lynching profoundly impacted race relations in this country and shaped the geographic, political, social, and economic conditions of African Americans in ways that are still evident today. Terror lynchings fueled the mass migration of millions of black people from the South into urban ghettos in the North and West throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Lynching created a fearful environment where racial subordination and segregation was maintained with limited resistance for decades. Most critically, lynching reinforced a legacy of racial inequality that has never been adequately addressed in America.”
In an effort to address this history of racial violence that had been erased from local history, members of Atchison United and the Atchison Art Association were motivated to memorialize George Johnson’s lynching as a means of addressing the racial violence that plagued Atchison and much of America and bring awareness to the fact that Atchison cannot progress as a community unless and until the past is confronted in a historically accurate and meaningful way. Inspired by the Equal Justice Initiative’s Community Remembrance Projects, individuals with Atchison United worked for the past 11 months with the Equal Justice Initiative to formally recognize the lynching of George Johnson.
Following a lengthy application process, a committee of Atchison United members consisting of Dr. Joshua Wolf, Charo Kelley, Sean Crittendon, LaTisha Downing, and Kevin Hill made their formal presentation to the Equal Justice Initiative in March of this year and were recently advised that their application was approved by EJI’s board. This recognition will include a historical marker recognizing the history of lynching in America and specifically recognizing the lynching of George Johnson. With the approval of the application, the cost of the historical marker will be paid 100% by the Equal Justice Initiative. Along with the historical marker, soil from the location of Johnson’s lynching will be taken as part of the remembrance project and will be housed in EJI’s museum in Montgomery, Alabama along with soil taken from the site of lynchings across America.
Atchison United’s President, Sean Crittendon, said that the committee was overjoyed in receiving word that their application was approved by EJI.
“Their team was very impressed with our application and presentation and mentioned how they hope to visit Atchison in the near future,” he said. “They were especially impressed with Atchison United’s collaboration with the Atchison Art Association, the Atchison Juneteenth Committee, and the City of Atchison and the enthusiasm everyone with those groups had with this project.”
Crittendon said a lot of hours were dedicated to the application and presentation by the committee and others.
“It is nice to see that all of our hard work paid off as EJI will be bearing the cost of a very nice historical marker and Atchison will join the ranks of numerous cities across the country who have shown the courage to address its past history of racial violence and a willingness to make our community more accepting and united,” he said.
As part of the project, the Atchison Art Association commissioned a sculpture from Kansas City artist, Dave Breneman, that will be dedicated along with the historical marker from EJI. Current plans call for a George Johnson memorial walk that will take place as part of Atchison’s Juneteenth celebration at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 11. The memorial walk will trace the same steps that George Johnson was forced to take on his fateful trip starting at the 1870 site of the local jail at 6th and Santa Fe to the 5th Street Viaduct where he was ultimately hanged. Stops will be taken along the path of Johnson’s lynching where readings will be made by local leaders along with a prayer for racial justice. Soil samples will also be taken along the way and will be collected and delivered to the EJI museum in Montgomery where they will become a part of the Legacy Museum.
Following the memorial walk, dedication of the historical marker and a sculpture commissioned by the Atchison Art Association is scheduled to take place at the recently dedicated art square between 4th and 5th and Commercial on at 7 p.m. on June 19. Additional information on the memorial walk, the Atchison Juneteenth Celebration, and the dedication of the historical marker and sculpture will be posted on Atchison United’s and Atchison Juneteenth Celebration’s Facebook pages as more information becomes available. The public is welcome and encouraged to participate in these events.
Ron Shelton, a Troy native, will be joining the administrative team for the Atchison County Community Schools for the 2021-22 schoolyear as the new principal at the junior-senior high school in Effingham.
USD 377 Board of Education approved Shelton’s hire during their May 12 meeting. Shelton replaces ACCJHS Principal who is stepping down from the position Wednesday, June 30. The hire is rather a homecoming of sorts for Shelton who launched his career in education while he student taught in the district.
“I had a great teacher in the late Larry Tilton,” Shelton communicated by email to the Globe, and added he coached from 1990-92 at Atchison County Community High School.
Shelton and his wife of 35 years, Laralee currently reside north of Atchison on their farm.
Laralee attended school in Effingham until her eighth-grade year, Shelton said. Her father is Larry Sandy who taught in the USD 377 district for many years.
The Sheltons are the parents of four grown boys and four “wonderful” grandchildren, he wrote. Prior to his recent hire at 377, Shelton said he’s served as Hodgeman County Jr./Sr. High School in Jetmore for the past five years. Before his years in Jetmore from 1992-2009 Shelton worked at the Alternative School in St. Joseph, Missouri, and has taught and coached at USD 425 Highland Schools.
“We look forward to coming to ACCHS,” Shelton wrote.
Shelton earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Washburn University and his master’s in education administration from Benedictine College.
During the May meeting, board members also recognized the following students and staff members for their recent accomplishments:
Forensics State Championships: Seth Nehl – ninth-place for poetry interpretation and fourth-place for prose interpretation; State Festival; Alexis Harris – I Rating, poetry interpretation and II Rating for prose interpretation;
State Music I ratings: General Band; Kasandra Reynolds for flute solo; Mixed Chorus; Soundmasters Boys Ensemble and Soundmasters Mixed Ensemble; Caleb Miller –piano; Ashtyn Jolly – vocal solo; and Kieran Courter—vocal solo.
District FFA Contests – Ag Business Management – a third-place finish overall A-team comprised of Mason Scholz, Emilee Falk, Jenna Pits and Addison Schletzbaum. Scholz also earned a fifth-place overall as an individual.
Ag Business Management – third-place Overall B-team, the B-team members are: Landon Brown, Allie Bilderback, Haeden Forbes, Colby Smith and Canyon Tull.
Livestock Judging – 10th Overall B-team: Emma Lanter –17th Overall individual; Addison Schletzbaum –19th Overall Individual; Team Members – Maci Behrnes, Malorie Bosch, Dani Chew, Ashtyn Jolly, Jenna Pitts, Hannah Simmers and Canyon Tull.
Vet Science – Second-place Overall in B-Division; Maci Behrnes – second high individual overall; Jodi Banks – sixth-high individual overall; Ashtyn Jolly – eighth-high individual; and Gunnar Koontz – 11th-high individual overall.
2021 Governor’s Scholar Recipient Rebecca Statler.
NEKL Art Show: Aaron Ricketts – first-place clay food art display; Hailey Rush—second-place 2-D Bee Drawing; and Alexis Harris –second-place Clay Joker incense burner.
Faculty and staff members recognized are: Noelle Walters – the 2021 Atchison Rotary Educator of the Year; Misty Poe – for making Reality U a possibility for the students; and Mike Wessel – first-place in the Rookie Conventional category at the recent Regional Bus Driver Competition.
The lists of candidates are growing, but by mid-week the numbers remained shy to make a full slate of candidates for any of the races to fill the positions for the upcoming local government school board elections.
The filing deadline is noon Tuesday, June 1 at the Atchison County Clerk’s Office location in the Atchison County Courthouse, 423 North Fifth Street.
The open positions include three Atchison City Commission seats; one mayor and five city council seats in Effingham, Huron and Muscotah; three open city council seats in Lancaster.
Potential candidates who would like to run for Atchison City Commission are required to pay a $20 filing fee and a $50 report fee, for a total of $70, or they may file by petition with 50 signatures of qualified registered voters who reside within Atchison city limits.
Potential candidates in the third class cities of Effingham, Huron, Lancaster and Muscotah can file by paying a $20 filing fee or by a petition with 25 signatures from registered voters who reside within the boundaries of the respective cities.
Two incumbents, Jesse F. Greenly and Allen Reavis have filed to retain their respective seats at the Atchison City Commission table. Greenly filed May 12 and Vice-mayor Allen Reavis filed May 25.
Incumbent Mayor Harvey Fasse of Effingham and City Councilman David Lowe and City Councilman Kirk Wohlgemuth, both incumbents are seeking to retain their seats for another 4-year term. Fasse filed May 25; Lowe filed May 19 and Wohlgemuth file May 21.
The USD 409 Board of Education has four 4-year term positions open that will be expiring in January 2022.
Political newcomer Chuck Tilton filed his candidacy on April 17 for a board seat. Incumbents Board President Carrie Sowers filed April 21 and Sean P. Crittendon filed May 24.
USD 377 Atchison County Community Schools has three open positions. Two candidates have filed for Position 5 – Board Members Corey Neill, the incumbent, and Trenton Beagle. Neill filed for re-election May 24. Beagle threw his hat into the ring on May 20.
All school board candidates may pay a $20 filing fee or present a petition with the signatures from 50 eligible voters who reside within the respective school district boundaries.
The primary races will be Tuesday, Aug. 3, if necessary to narrow field of candidates. The General Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.