The Foundation

A publication of the Harrisonville Public School Foundation

Derner earns grant as Educator of the Year

Congratulations to Harrisonville Middle School Spanish teacher Maria Derner who was named as the 2019 Educator of the Year! During the district's End-of-the-Year Celebration, the Foundation presented her with a $500 grant.

Derner has 29 years of teaching experience. She spent the first 15 years in Cali, Colombia and later taught in the Belton and Blue Valley school districts. She has been at HMS for the past two years.

Derner was selected for the honor by a panel of judges from outside the community who interviewed five finalists. The finalists were chosen by a selection committee composed of Harrisonville Public School Foundation trustees and district administrators. Parents, students, and Harrisonville Schools’ staff members could submit nominations for consideration.

Nominations for Derner said, “Mrs. Derner is the type of teacher that is always looking for new and innovative ways to engage and inspire her students, it is never about what is easiest for her it is always about what is best for her students. Mrs. Derner builds great relationships with her students first knowing that the mastery of her content will come after those basic needs are met. As a truly great teacher Mrs. Derner understands the power of creativity, wonder and laughter. She makes learning experiences full of engaging questions, wonder and discovery. She makes learning real.”

Derner is now eligible for the Regional Teacher of the Year and Missouri Teacher of the Year competitions..

Pictured below are superintendent Paul Mensching, Foundation vice president Susan Holden, Derner and Foundation trustee Kara Costner.

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Davidson's Wall of Fame induction rescheduled for Sept. 6

Due to inclement weather, the 2019 Wall of Fame induction was canceled in February. The Foundation is pleased to announce that the induction has been rescheduled for Friday, Sept. 6.

A Harrisonville High School graduate will become the 52nd individual inducted into the HHS Distinguished Alumni Wall of Fame. A public reception will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Harrisonville Middle School cafeteria, and the induction will take place at halftime of the Wildcat football game.

Denise Davidson, HHS class of 1981, recently retired after more than 30 years in law enforcement. From her beginnings as a dispatcher for the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Davidson rose through the ranks and served as corporal, detective, detective sergeant, lieutenant, and captain. She was the first full-time female patrol deputy.

She received training and was a member of the Metropolitan Area Major Case Squad; she’s a graduate of the FBI Command Leadership Program - “Law Enforcement Executive Development Association”; and she’s also a graduate of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Program – “Women’s Leadership Institute.”

Davidson has served as a member of the Cass County Child Fatality Review Board and conducts victim advocacy programs. Davidson has conducted many of the advocacy programs with Kim Case, an abduction and rape victim, whom Davidson interviewed following her ordeal many years ago. Case said, “The compassion and professionalism showed to me during the long interviews that took place after I escaped from my captors changed my life. The most important words that have ever been spoken to me were uttered by then Deputy Davidson that day; ‘I believe you, this is not your fault.’ Those words freed me to trust again.”

Davidson received the 2017 Enoch B. Morelock Award to recognize her outstanding moral character, and service to law enforcement and her community. The prestigious law enforcement award is presented annually by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee.

Her community work includes serving as member and chair of the American Cancer Society - Cass County Relay for Life and board member for Hope Haven of Cass County, Blue Notes Booster Club, Harrisonville Athletic Booster Club, the Nazarene Church Daycare and Bright Futures Harrisonville.

Davidson is married to Gary, and they have four grown children and four grandchildren.

Inductees are selected based on their significant contribution to their communities or fields of work. Nominations are accepted continuously; the deadline for consideration each year is Oct. 31.

For more information, visit the Foundation website or contact the Harrisonville Public School Foundation at 380-2727, ext. 1224.

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Foundation invites alumni to second annual tailgate

The Harrisonville Public School Foundation invites Harrisonville High School alumni to attend the second annual Alumni Tailgate as part of Homecoming 2019.

The event will take place on Friday, Sept. 13 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the parking lot northeast of the stadium. It is free to alumni and their families and will include hot dogs, chips, cookies and a drink.

Although RSVPs are not required, alumni are asked to complete an online form for the Foundation’s planning purposes. The form is located at

The Wildcats will take on Blue Valley Northwest in the Homecoming football game which kicks off at 7 p.m. The coronation of the Homecoming king and queen will take place prior to the game at approximately 6:30 p.m.

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5K walk/run will once again feature color

The 11th annual Catch the Spirit 5K walk/run was so much fun that the Foundation has decided to once again make it a "colorful" event.

The 12th annual event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 8 a.m. at Harrisonville High School.

The 5K's $25 pre-registration fee includes a T-shirt. Late registration (after Aug. 30) does not include a T-shirt and is $30. The Foundation also has a family plan available - any elementary student can register for $15 with an adult registration. The family plan includes a T-shirt if completed by Aug. 30.

At various stations on the 5K route, participants will be showered with colored powder which is made of non-toxic colored cornstarch. 5K-goers can also participate in a color toss at the end of the race (see photo for a look at last year's color toss). You can also choose to not participate in the color fun by running or walking on the opposite side of the street when you reach a color station.

Sponsorships for the event are also available at the $100, $500, and $1000 levels. Sponsor names or logos will be printed on the back of the event T-shirt.

Race proceeds benefit the Christina Collins Memorial Scholarship and the Foundation. The scholarship is awarded each year to a student in the Peer Helpers group in memory of 2006 HHS graduate Christina Collins.

Registration and sponsorship commitment forms can be completed online here -

Payment can also be made online here -

Annual golf tournament set for Sept. 13

Team and individual openings are available for the Harrisonville Public School Foundation’s Annual Alumni and Friends Golf Tournament on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019.

The tournament will be part of the Harrisonville High School Homecoming festivities and will take place at Hoots Hollow at Country Creek Golf Course beginning at 8 a.m. on Sept. 13.

Registration is $80 per golfer or $320 per team and it includes green fees, a cart, and a buffet lunch following the tournament.

The tournament will be played as a four-person scramble with two flights. Prizes will be awarded to the top teams in each flight, as well as for closest to the pin and longest drive.

The Foundation is also looking for tournament sponsors. Three sponsorship levels are available: True Wildcat ($1000), Royal Blue ($500), and White or Tee/Green ($100).

Register as a golfer or sponsor -

Payment can be made in person at the tournament; via mail to 503 S. Lexington, Harrisonville, MO 64701; or online here -

Monies raised through this event will fund foundation programming including teacher grants for innovative classroom programs that enhance the curriculum, the Excellence in Academics program, which honors and fosters academic excellence at HHS; and teacher scholarships, which provide opportunities for teachers to enhance their learning.

For more information about the Foundation’s golf tournament, please contact Jill Filer at 380-2727, ext. 1224 or

Foundation honors Excellence in Academics recipients, influential teachers

Harrisonville High School seniors were honored during the Senior Excellence in Academics Ceremony, a joint effort of Harrisonville High School and the Harrisonville Public School Foundation on the final day of class.

The Foundation’s Excellence in Academics program honors students who complete the year in the top 15 percent of their class. Seniors honored as first-year Excellence in Academics recipients were Sarah Burton, Kelsey Campbell, Emma England, Jenna Hart, Katelynn Hurla, Brecken Nickel, Kayson Roe, Chloe Spencer, and Cheyenne Tabe. Second year recipients were Katie Collings, Hannah Kreimeyer, Grace McLaughlin, Brecken Moreland, Trinity Register, Alexis Royal, and Jillyan Talmage. Those earning the honor for the third year were Cassie McDonald and Jordan Shore.

As part of the Foundation's recognition of the Excellence in Academics recipients, seniors who complete each of their four years in the top 15 percent earn a $500 scholarship from the Foundation. They are also provided the opportunity to honor their "most influential teacher." This year's recipients and their teachers were as follows:

Jill Bachman - Mrs. Orme, band

Madison Barnes - Mr. DeVenney, social studies

Zach Chaney - Mr. Bebout, math

Briseida Chavez - Mrs. Eddleman, 4th grade

Briana Chiodini - Mr. Kay, math

Haley Holden - Coach Lockett, PD

Peyton Holden - Mr. Kay, math

Ayllip Khieu - Mrs. Chenoweth, business

Bailey Kliewer - Mrs. Middleton, social studies

Ethan Kohl - Mr. Magoffin, science

Lauren Lasure - Mrs. Ellsworth, communication arts

Michelle Marrs - Mrs. Ellsworth, communication arts

Lily Maxwell - Mr. Kay, math

Arjiana Owens-Gonzales - Mrs. Middleton, social studies

Gage Weber - Mrs. DeVenney, communication arts

Peyton Zaring - Mrs. Ellsworth, communication arts

The senior and teacher are each presented with a keepsake photo that includes an essay from each written about the influence and impact of the other. Below is one example featuring student Gage Weber and teacher Mrs. DeVenney, but all are posted on the Foundation's Facebook page -

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2019 scholarship recipients named during senior awards event

The Harrisonville Public School Foundation presented $26,000 in scholarships at the 2019 Senior Excellence in Academics Ceremony on May 9.

The following list summarizes the recipients and scholarships earned:

Bailey Kliewer, Virginia and Stephen Childress Athletic Scholarship

Haley Holden, Allison W. Smith Memorial Scholarship

Logan Johnson, Steve Catron Memorial Scholarship

Kelsey Campbell and Briseida Chavez, William G. and Nettie Z. Deacon Family Scholarships

Peyton Holden, John and Wanda Foster Construction Trades Scholarship

Ethan Kohl, John and Wanda Foster Agriculture Scholarship

Brecken Nickel, Bob Hodge Achievement Award

Zachary Chaney, Cara Roberts Memorial Scholarship

Lily Maxwell, Scott T. Morse Memorial Scholarship

Sam East, Samuel A. Sloan, Evelyn Sloan, and Beulah Sloan McCoy Scholarship

Briseida Chavez, Hayden Ream, and Gage Weber, Wendell Yeager Rotary Scholarships

Katie Collings, Katie Rios Memorial Scholarship

Ayllip Khieu, Donna Pfautsch HATS Scholarship

Read more about the recipients and scholarships here -

Foundation awards spring teacher grants

Teachers and students in the Harrisonville School District recently received more than $2,300 in grants from the Harrisonville Public School Foundation.

Throughout the 16 years of the teacher grant program, nearly $97,000 has been presented to teachers. The goal of the program is to enhance the education of Harrisonville students by encouraging and recognizing new educational approaches and concepts that are not currently funded by the district.

Teacher grants were awarded to the following:

  • Nicole Potter, Harrisonville High School, for a garden to market project. The Life Careers students will create and maintain a garden to grow vegetables which the students will then sell at the local farmer’s market. (See photo of the grant award presentation)

  • Beth Keith, Harrisonville High School for a summer community theatre program. The Wildcat Players, along with community participants, will provide on a theatrical performance in the park. Check out the Limelight Theatre Group of Harrisonville on Facebook for more information. The production is set for Aug. 2 and Aug. 3.

  • Elizabeth Rudell, Harrisonville High School, for a supplemental reading to the classic "To Kill a Mockingbird." The grant will be used to purchase a contemporary book - The Hate U Give - to be read in conjunction with the classic.

  • Shelby Doll, Briana Hasek and Tara Drabant, Harrisonville Elementary School, for document cameras for use in their classrooms. Document cameras provide a tool to project student work, textbook pages, science experiments, math manipulatives and more for full class discussion and viewing.

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Students attend MSA, HOBY thanks to Foundation

Three Harrisonville High School students participated in a leadership conference in June thanks to funding from the Harrisonville Public School Foundation. Colleen O’Reilly, George Frees, and Nathanael DeVenney attended the Hugh O’Brian State Leadership Seminar (HOBY) at Southeast Missouri State University from June 7 to June 9. HHS staff selected the students for this opportunity.

The HOBY seminar is “designed to help high school sophomores recognize their leadership talents and apply them to become effective, ethical leaders in their home, school, workplace and community.”

Harrisonville High School sophomores Walker Holden and Hunter Baker are attending the 2019 Missouri Scholars Academy held at the University of Missouri. The academy is a three-week residential program for 330 of Missouri’s academically talented students.

Holden and Walker are involved in enrichment programs that teach abstract concepts and theories. Each student will pick a major and minor to study. Scholars will be expected to participate in daily classes and social activities.

The Missouri Scholars Academy is designed to give participants an opportunity to pursue studies that differ from traditional approaches to education. Guest lectures, forums, films, and other events during the academy reinforce and extend the curriculum.

Since 1996, the Missouri Scholars Academy has provided a unique program of intensive education, extracurriculars, and social opportunities to Missouri’s talented high school students.

Selection into the Missouri Scholars Academy is based on test scores, grade point average, and essays.

The Foundation provides funding for students to attend both HOBY and the Missouri Scholars Academy.

Class Reunion Info

Class of 1969

50th class reunion - Sat., Sept. 14, 6 p.m.

For more information, check the Facebook group: HHS Class of 1969 50th Reunion Group, Harrisonville, MO. Or email Debbie Eiffert Smith,

Additional get-together opportunities include the Foundation events listed above - the golf tournament, tailgate, and 5K.

In addition, on Fri., Sept. 13, we will meet at 1:30 p.m., for a visit after the Homecoming parade at Brick House Coffee Bar and Eatery on the southeast corner of the square.

Class of 1978

When: Saturday, June 29

Where: Cass County Elks Lodge in Harrisonville

Time: 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Walk-ins can come after 8 p.m. for $10 cover charge with alcoholic beverages for purchase.)

Dinner reservations have been closed, but we hope you will come and join us for drinks and time to get reacquainted.

Cindy (Tinsley) Sanders -

Class of 1999

Harrisonville High School Class of '99 20-year class reunion is set for Homecoming weekend, Sept. 13 to Sept. 14, 2019. Festivities include:

Friday, Sept. 13
* Pre-Game Alumni BBQ. Look for more details about the annual Alumni Tailgate before the game sponsored by the Harrisonville Public School Foundation. A separate RSVP will be required.
* Homecoming football game, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
* Post-game drinks (dutch treat) at Forged by Fire in Harrisonville from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 14
* Family picnic at Harrisonville Park, Shelter #2 (by the pool) from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. All families are asked to bring a covered dish to share and drinks for their family. Sandwiches, plates and utensils will be provided.

*If there is any interest in touring the high school to see updates to the building since we’ve graduated, let me know, and we can possibly arrange a group tour.

Please help us spread the word and share with other classmates.

Hope you can join us!