March 27, 2023 / News & Notes

Kansas State House Honors Shawnee Mission School District Yearbook Advisers

Written by Jenica Hallman, CJE

Kansas State House Yearbook

On an overcast and foggy day in Topeka, Kansas, a group of students and educators from Shawnee Mission East, Shawnee Mission North and Shawnee Mission Northwest high schools gathered in front of state legislators. Kansas State House Representative Jo Ella Hoye recognized their yearbooks as each being in the elite group of top 10 most awarded publications by the National Scholastic Press Association. Hoye called them “exemplary Kansas journalists who strive to report objectively and fairly while sharing their talents on behalf of their schools.”

Understanding the Pacemaker

This ranking came from NSPA’s Pacemaker 100 list, a ranking of the 100 most awarded publications in the organization’s 100 year history. The NSPA Pacemaker award is the most prestigious award a school can receive. Shawnee Mission, which contains three schools in the top 10, is the only district in the country with more than one school represented in the Pacemaker 100. Walsworth Yearbooks prints all the yearbooks in the Shawnee Mission School District.

Shawnee Mission East and Shawnee Mission Northwest student newspapers also placed in the Pacemaker 100 list, along with several other Kansas school publications.

Who Attended

Individuals from each of the schools stood on the floor of the Kansas House of Representatives chamber to be honored with a special proclamation. Adviser Dow Tate and student editors Katherine Heitmann, Catherine Gould, and Lyda Cosgrove represented Shawnee Mission East’s yearbook, The Hauberk, which ranked ninth on the list. Fellow adviser Becky Tate and former student and current Shawnee Mission South journalism adviser Tucker Love represented Shawnee Mission North’s yearbook, The Brickhouse, which ranked fourth. Susan Massy and student editors Katie Burke and Grace Logan represented The Lair yearbook from Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, the number one most awarded publication in the country.

Hoye noted that Massy retires this year after 44 years of teaching, 42 of which happened at Shawnee Mission Northwest.

“Thank you, Susan, for your dedication to our students. You had a hand in this strong reputation that our district has in journalism, and we are grateful for this legacy. We wish you the best in your retirement,” Hoye said.

Dr. Ryan Flurry, Principal of Career Education Campuses; Shawnee Mission Northwest Principal Lisa Gruman; Shawnee Mission North Principal David Ewers; Shawnee Mission East Principal Jason Peres; and Shawnee Mission School District Board President Dr. Mary Sinclair also received recognition. The group received a standing ovation from lawmakers.



What are People Saying

Kansas State House YearbookWhile the district obviously boasts a thriving journalism program, it’s the individuals impacted that make the biggest difference. Love knows that power firsthand as one of Becky Tate’s former students. Now a journalism adviser himself at Shawnee Mission South High School, he joined the ranks of Pacemaker winning advisers with his own Pacemaker this year.

“Becky [Tate] has always done a really good job of finding spaces for kids when they enter her room. I’m no different – when I was a student, there was a space that I fit into and I was just fortunate find that space as a high school student. I mean, one of the biggest things that affected me was I decided this is what I want to do – I want to be a journalism teacher. One of the things I think about is every kid who walks through my room I hope can find something that they can do, whether that’s design or writing or maybe it’s the organization or maybe it’s just having a space that is safe,” Love said, reflecting on what Becky Tate as a teacher meant to him and his future.

“So proud and grateful,” were the words Shawnee Mission Northwest High School principal Lisa Gruman used to describe her feelings about her school having the most awarded yearbook in the country.

“Susan Massy, she’s just truly remarkable,” Gruman said, describing the mentorship Massy provides her students as they grow into leadership positions. “I am just so very proud of them and all the hard work and hours of dedication that they give to capture our school history in such a rich opportunity in the yearbook.”

Hoye referenced NSPA Executive Director Laura Widmer’s quote in the Shawnee Mission post that she believes that the “Shawnee Mission district is the powerhouse of scholastic journalism.” It’s a label Gruman proudly embraces because she knows the skills learned through scholastic journalism carry beyond the classroom and contribute to the high success of their students.

“It teaches them so many skills beyond just good journalism,” Gruman said. “They learn about commitment to working as a team, they learn about seeing a project through. I mean, so many life skills are going to translate to whatever field they go into, and they’re going to thrive and excel. They’re going to make a difference in our larger world.”

“These accomplishments deserve our sincere commendations,” Hoye said in her speech, praising the students and educators for their “hard work and tremendous achievements.”

As the remarks were read and plaques were presented, dozens of students from the schools sat in balcony watching with pride. Afterward, they gathered outside the chamber to take photos and explore the capitol building before returning back to school.

And while Massy looks forward to retirement after a career dedicated to scholastic journalism, we know that for the students in her classroom and the classrooms of Dow and Becky Tate, their journey is just beginning.

To find out more about each of the yearbooks at these schools, visit our President’s Collection Gallery or watch the President’s Collection Highlight Series for these schools and other award winning yearbooks.


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Jenica Hallman, CJE

Jenica Hallman, CJE, is a Copywriter for Walsworth Yearbooks. Yearbooks got into her blood in high school, and she has been pursuing them ever since. She has worked in various capacities as a high school and college yearbook editor, an adviser, sales representative, plant customer service representative and now in marketing, her favorite role to date. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mass media communications from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.