A tale of two schools: Our Lady of the Presentation pays it forward

pay it forward

Jennifer Scanlon-Smith, Christ the King School principal, and Jodi Briggs, principal of Our Lady of the Presentation School, hold the cardboard check representing the actual funds Presentation has gifted to Christ the King. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter

KANSAS CITY — A little over a year ago, Our Lady of the Presentation School in Lee’s Summit entered the Kohl’s Cares Internet contest, and spent several weeks lobbying for votes. A school had to be in the top 20 nationwide to win $500,000. When the final tally was in, Presentation came in third in the nation.

On May 25, Presentation School became the presenters, giving Christ the King School a check in the amount of $21,355. The gift represented proceeds from the “Fund-A-Need” component in Presentation’s annual spring auction.

When the Kohl’s Cares winners were announced, Presentation’s very excited principal, Jodi Briggs, who was “immensely grateful,” wanted to give something back. Terms of the Kohl’s grant bar Presentation from donating any of the money; the entire grant has to be spent on renovations or equipment at the winning school. With the grant money meeting the needs of Presentation, she looked for another way to help a school that could really use it, and thought of the Fund-A-Need part of the annual auction that was coming up in a few weeks. Father Mike Clary, pastor of Our Lady of the Presentation Parish, urged Briggs to help out a diocesan school. Briggs contacted Associate Superintendent Pat Burbach in the Catholic School Office, who suggested Christ the King School. Briggs said, “Sure, why not?”

After consultation with school officials and parents, Briggs called Jennifer Scanlon-Smith, principal of Christ the King, and told her what Presentation School wanted to do. Briggs said later that her phone call to Scanlon-Smith made her feel like Santa Claus. “I got as excited asking her if we could help Christ the King as when I found out about winning the grant.”

Briggs said she told Scanlon-Smith to let her know everything needed to outfit Christ the King’s classrooms with Smart Board technology – the Smart Boards, projectors and everything.

Christ the King School kicked off the celebration of the coming check from Presentation with an all-school Mass on May 25.

Briggs and Scanlon-Smith recounted the connections between the Lee’s Summit school and the school in south Kansas City. Briggs is an alumnus of Christ the King, and holds the school “dear to my heart,” she said. Scanlon-Smith used to be a nanny for Briggs’ brother. Presentation School fields a bunch of basketball teams, and when the gym is in use, Christ the King allows Presentation to send teams to practice in their gym. Several teachers on Presentation’s faculty attended Christ the King School. And both principals said that their students would very likely attend high school together so why not bring them together now?

At the presentation in the gym after Mass, several classes gave short performances in gratitude. One was performed by students each holding up a letter. Each letter stood for a word or phrase (e.g. U stood for “You are our special heroes”) and all together spelled out “Thank You Presentation!”

Scanlon-Smith told the assembly that “We are blessed to be receiving a gift like this from our friends at Our Lady of the Presentation School.”

Christ the King fifth graders presented Briggs with a framed school portrait taken earlier in the year, with “heartfelt thanks.”

Scanlon Smith said the money will provide four or five Smart boards, which will make more grade levels able to access the technology. Now, the eighth grade classroom has a Smart board, and the sixth and seventh grades can use it.

“We hope to keep our relationship, our connections to Presentation going in the future. This is wonderful. We thank the Lord,” she said.


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September 27, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph