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Season of Columbia Public Schools celebrations

Season of Columbia Public Schools celebrations

There are many reasons to celebrate this month. Spring arrived early, the Tigers had an amazing basketball season, and the students and staff of Columbia Public Schools are winning awards.

Columbia Public Schools is the eighth largest school district in the state, with more than 17,700 students and 2,600 staff members. The collective talent of this team has produced many points of pride this school year, and we still have two months of the regular school year remaining. Here are some of the highlights, and you can view a more complete list on our website at

Did you know that we have chess teams? More than 100 students participate in our chess program, and it’s growing rapidly. The Mill Creek Elementary School team recently brought home a third place trophy in the K-3 division in the Missouri State Scholastic Chess Championship. The Rock Bridge High School team took fifth place in the high school division.

Students from West Junior High placed first at the state Math Counts competition. Student Hannah Chen placed second overall and will advance as a member of the state team and compete in the national competition in Orlando this May. West Junior High School teacher Chris Hysong has been named the state math team coach.

Four CPS students have been selected as Missouri Scholars 100. Hickman High School students Carter Datz and Daniel Hwang join Rock Bridge High School students Christian Ackmann and Jeremy Lombardo on this list of the top 100 academic scholars and leaders in the state.

It is always a point of pride to receive awards for journalism. The University of Missouri is the home of the first and best journalism school in the country. Hickman High School’s Hickman Review was awarded the best literary high school magazine in the state of Missouri. Rock Bridge High School’s Flashback yearbook has been recognized by the Scholastic Press Association. And we have a top-notch broadcast journalism program through the Career Center. Students in the program have earned numerous awards and have been recognized with professional opportunities to work for the likes of ESPN as well as regional and local broadcasting networks while enrolled in our program.

The fine arts have won too many awards for this article to include. Everything from jazz to drama to poetry is being recognized at many state-level competitions. I am always amazed at the creativity and insightful work produced in this arena.

Outstanding leaders and teachers

Our past and current employees continue to be recognized as outstanding leaders and teachers in their fields and in the support they provide for students. A great documentary that chronicled the life of Dr. Elliott Battle was just released to standing-room-only crowds. His work as a CPS educator is a testament to all.

Retiring district administrator Wanda Brown recently received the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award and was recognized by the University of Missouri’s Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative for her leadership as well as a lifetime achievement award from the Columbia African American Association. Benton Elementary Teacher Annie Arnone is the only Missouri teacher who has been selected to participate in NASA Endeavor Fellowship Program. And West Junior High School Teacher Leslie Guerin has been honored as the best student council adviser in a seven-state region.

The school district also continues to receive recognition for the collective work of our employees. The district has received the national Green Cleaning Award from the American School and University magazine for the second year in a row. The Business Services Department has earned recognition for its excellence in financial reporting. And CPS has been recognized for the eighth straight year with the highest level of accreditation by the state of Missouri.

Finally, this has been a great year for student athletes, and the spring season looks full of promise. Hickman High School has produced individual state champions in girls cross country and boys wrestling. Rock Bridge High School joins with first place finishers in tennis, golf and wrestling. Douglass High School’s basketball team demonstrated its tenacity in district competition this year. In addition, Rock Bridge has an amazing four team championships this year in girls tennis, girls swimming, girls basketball and boys cross country.

CPS students are engaged and challenged in the classroom, on the stage and on the playing fields. Leaders are forged in many arenas. I am inspired by the dedication and talents our students and staff display.

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