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Staff photo by Matt Lunsford  

Former K-State head football coach Bill Snyder chats with Katy Ames during Pig Out for Parkinson’s at Cox BBQ on Thursday. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Parkinson’s program at Meadowlark, which provides activities to residents such as Rock Steady Boxing, yoga, exercise and voice classes, and support groups.

SCHOOL NOTEBOOK | K-State announces 2019-20 common book

The K-State Book Network on Thursday announced the common read book for next school year.

Incoming freshmen as well as all students, faculty and staff will be encouraged to read “Darius the Great is Not Okay” by Adib Khorram over the summer in time for the first day of classes in August.

The common read book is given to all incoming freshmen and transfer students. A goal of the program is to give everyone on campus a common thing to talk about with their peers. Some courses also integrate the book into the lesson plans.

Next year’s book revolves around Darius Kellner, a half-Persian boy who takes his first trip to Iran to visit his dying relative. He suffers from clinical depression, but makes a friend, Sohrab, during his time in Iran and starts to develop a sense of belonging.

The book was one of six finalists for the 2019-20 book. The other options were “Beartown” by Fredrik Backman; “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown; “Brain on Fire” by Susannah Cahalan; “Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian” by Yusra Mardini; and “Hamilton: An American Musical” by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Nominations for the 2020-21 common book are open now. The Book Network is looking for books relating to “untold stories and underrepresented people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” according to the website. Nominations will close June 28.

The Book Network started at K-State in 2010 with “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. Past books in the program include “The Hate U Give,” “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and “Ready Player One.”


USD 384 Blue Valley will celebrate both its 60th anniversary and its newly renovated Agricultural Education Center in Randolph on Sunday.

In 2017, the community passed a $3.1 million bond to fund technology updates across the district; classroom remodels; build a new preschool, Agricultural Education Center and Community Fitness Center; and a district-wide security and infrastructure improvements. Upgrades to the high school science classroom and the new Agricultural Education Center created dedicated lab facilities for veterinary science, college-level biology courses, physics, chemistry and more.

Community members are invited to attend the open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony in Blue Valley High School’s old gym. Following the cutting, student-led tours of buildings showcasing the improvements in Olsburg and Randolph will be available.

“With the completion of this construction, we have assured our current and future students state-of-the-art education facilities for the next 20 years,” Brady Burton, Blue Valley superintendent, said in a press release. “We are also very pleased that the cost of the project came in under both the budget and the anticipated mill levy tax increase.”

The Blue Valley school district was established in 1958 after the consolidation of schools from Randolph, Olsburg, Cleburne, Garrison and Fostoria. The first graduating class was the class of 1959.


Manhattan High School students have elected their representatives for the 2019-20 school year.

Hannah Higgins will serve as student body president, with Will Bannister as her vice president. Elizabeth Kim will serve as secretary, and Lexi Feather will serve as treasurer.

The school also elected senior, junior and sophomore class presidents.

Class of 2020 president will be Macy Hendricks. Tanya Singh will serve as vice president, Tyson Plummer as secretary and Meredith Comas as treasurer. Class representatives will be Ashton Davis, Ellie Stout, Megan Keenan and Elizabeth Chapman.

Mia Thompson will serve as the class of 2021 president. Chris Bedros will serve as vice president. Faith Beyer was elected secretary and Regan Geisbrecht was elected treasurer. Dil Ranaweera, Michael Clark, Taylor Claussen and Carrie Cave will serve as representatives.

The class of 2022 will be led by President Ibrahim Ciftei. Ashi Wickamasundra will serve as vice president, Gillian Carter as secretary and Ava Bahr as treasurer. Representatives for the class include Bella Lane; Claire Shamburg; Samuel Weinhold; Rachel Corn; Monroe Say; Faith Cummings; Grace Hutchinson; Maverick Aggson; Kendal Palmgren; and Ella Ruliffson.

Donations, grants

The Manhattan-Ogden School Board accepted $10,210 in donations at its meeting April 17.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas donated $1,000 to Amanda Arnold Elementary for PE activities.

The Greater Manhattan Community Foundation donated $6,000 to Ogden Elementary for summer field trips and transportation. The Whole Kids Foundation donated $2,000 to Ogden Elementary for after-school garden club supplies.

Family Implant Dentistry donated $1,210 to Child Nutrition to help with meal account balances for families unable to pay.

MHS students, community members perform in talent show

The audience cheered, laughed and gave money to hit Manhattan High School paraprofessional Chris Blanton in the face with a pie at America’s Got Special Talent Thursday in Rezac Auditorium.

MHS Interpersonal Skills Class hosted the talent show, which featured MHS students and members of the Manhattan community. The class teaches social skills to special education students, with non-special education peer mentors.

The talent show serves as a fundraiser each year, with free-will donations for tickets. Blanton got pied in the face, as audience members could donate to different jars indicating which “para” they’d like to see covered in whipped cream.

The show featured some covers of popular songs, like “Footloose,” performed by Derek Wilson and Donovan Barber. Barber even ended the song with a cartwheel. Rachel Efken and Reshon Moore danced to Bruno Mars’ “Marry You,” and Amy Kells danced and did the splits twice during “Surfin’ Safari.”

There were also competitions, like Disney Princesses: Where Are They Now. Douglas McCaskill also judged four MHS students in a fashion competition. The students modeled different looks, but McCaskill ultimately crowned himself the winner.

The crowd laughed through David Klabunde’s jokes, although difficulties with the microphone muffled some of the set-up.

“What did the left eye say to the right eye?” he asked the crowd. “Something smells between us.”

The audience spent much of the nearly two-and-a-half hour show laughing, as emcees Camy McAtee, Katie Spooner and James Willms joked through the transitions between acts. Willms had his own go-to joke.

“What did the horse say to the other horse?” he asked the stumped MHS students. “Nothing, horses can’t talk.”

Audience members laughed the most as some got pulled on stage to play “Minute to Win It” style games. Girls had to stuff their clothes with balloons, others had to tie panty hose around their heads with tennis balls inside, knocking over water bottles. The students hosting the games, Anna Huey and Kia Wilson, even got Kim Schnee, who is involved with the program and the Manhattan Special Olympics, onstage to compete. Schnee tied a tissue box around her waist and tried to shake out the tennis balls without using her hands. Schnee cheated and began using her hands and lost.

At the end of the show, several students and community members came together to bid farewell to the audience, singing “So Long, Farewell,” from “The Sound of Music.” When it ended, students brought out a banner bidding Terri Akin farewell. Akin teaches adaptive physical education classes in the district, and has served in USD 383 for 30 years. She spoke through tears, waiting for the chants of “We love you!” to quiet.

“I was there for the first America’s Got Special Talent, and it’s really special to me,” Akin told the crowd. “I love you all so much.”

Participants from the MHS Interpersonal Skills Class: Mary Alderink, Caleb Barnes, Zoey Blissett, Jill Broxterman, Josie Broxterman, Allie Bruce, McCade Bruce, Cyere Chatmon, Angel Cid, Chloe Colston, Caleb DeLoach, Ashley Eckels, Rachel Efken, Kimmie Genandt, Allie Grant, Terra Harvey, Blaise Hayden, Anna Huey, Marlena Hummel, Analiese Jones, Max Kiracofe, Colten Kirk, Josh Kohls, Max Landsdowne, Camy McAtee, Douglas McCaskill, Erika McCaskill, Chace McIlvaine, Dakota Meyer, Reshon Moore, Evan Moris, Duncan O’Brate, Allie Parker, Dave Sherwin, Tejaswi Shrestha, Zane Smith, Katie Spooner, Parker Stephens, Addie Terrill, Symone Thompson, Michael Turnley, Greg VanDyke, Cami Wells, Makael Whipple, Garrin Williams, Kia Wilson, and Kayla Wong.

Participants from the Manhattan adult community: Regena Anderson, Donovan Barber, Jodie Barta, Jamie Chambers, Nathan Clark, Justin Colson, Chris Ebert, Monica Fredericks, Joann Hammerland, Lynn Kalivoda, Amy Kells, David Klabunde, Natasha Leininger, Jesse Light, Emily Lutz, Charles Manz, Josh Medicinebird, Paul Rice, Samantha Rice, Adelle Sloan, Nita Smith, Tina Sorell, Brent Tully, Kathy Weckerly, Danny Wells, James Willms, Derek Wilson.

Second Manhattan City Commission candidate files


Kaleb James is the second candidate to file for the Manhattan City Commission race.

James, a senior business analyst for Maximus, a government contractor, previously ran for the city commission in 2015 and 2017.

In his previous campaigns, James said he wanted to reduce the city debt and property taxes.

“Property taxes are still too high,” he said Friday. “They’ve only increased since the first time I ran.”

James said the city also needs to find a better solution for rental inspections, which has been a continuing hot topic.

“I think there’s ground to be given on both sides of that argument,” he said.

James said he would be interested in some follow-up inspections when code inspections do find violations in a rental unit.

James, who graduated from Junction City High in 2007, served in the U.S. Army Reserve for eight years in Fort Lewis, Fort Benning and Fort Riley.

Aaron Estabrook, a former Manhattan-Ogden school board member, previously filed for the commission race earlier in April.

Three seats are open in the November election.

Mayor Mike Dodson and commissioner Jerred McKee previously said they wouldn’t run for re-election. Commissioner Linda Morse said she planned to make a decision in May.

June 3 is the deadline to file for the race.