A buffet of good things at St. Andrew the Apostle School

Twins Adanna and Uchenna Anakwe, and Ashley Hall pose with their exhibit ‘Can We Change Your Mind,’ the Top Project in the Behavior Sciences Category, Junior Division of the 2018 Greater Kansas City Science & Engineering Fair. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

GLADSTONE — St. Andrew the Apostle School may be hidden away in a quiet corner of Gladstone, but its students are doing things that get them, and their school, noticed.

St. Andrew the Apostle parish was founded in 1964, and in 1999 opened the first new school in the diocese in over a decade. It will be celebrating 20 years in 2019.

The 2017-18 school year began with nine new and several former, now returning teachers, including Sara Shields, middle school English Language Arts, Rob Stark, middle school Social Studies, middle school Math and Algebra teacher Fred Hack and fifth grade through middle school Science teacher Wendy McKellar. The new teachers teach preschool, first and third through eighth grades. Among the new teachers is Maya Buckner, entire school Technology.

The new and former teachers have brought many rays of light into the school. Principal Tony Calcara said when he was hired, the pastor Father Vince Rogers told him his “’number one job was to make sure the students got to heaven.’” Father Eric Schneider, associate pastor of St. Andrew Parish, now teaches 8th grade religion. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program has been expanded to reach kindergartners, first, second and third grades. And every Thursday, an all-school Mass is celebrated.

Sara Shields, middle school ELA, said the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians sponsored an essay contest in the diocesan middle schools for many years. St. Andrew’s seventh graders have a history of participation and winning at both the local and state levels, she said. This year was no different.

The subject of this academic year’s contest was Irish History through Music. Scoring was based on content, creativity and other criteria. Five students were winners: one First Place and four Honorable Mentions. All five went to State, where one student won Third Place and its accompanying cash prize and three students winning Honorable Mentions.

Shields said seventh graders also participated in the Vitae Foundation annual contest, this year about “Encouraging Life.” Three of the essays were sent on to Jefferson City for judging, and the authors and their teacher are eagerly awaiting good news. She said middle schoolers participate in many writing contests.

The yearbook is no longer an adult project. Maya Buckner said the 75 middle schoolers did the whole thing. Starting from scratch at the beginning of the school year, they took photographs, learned how to interview teachers and fellow students, learned about AP Style and wrote the articles and did the layouts. Buckner described their learning process as “boot camp style,” and the kids embraced it. The 40-page finished product was sent to the publishers and recently arrived at the school. They had not been distributed at the time of this writing, and Buckner said she was excited to pass them out. She said that for next year Calcara agreed the students could have and 80-page yearbook—it’s not the money the school would make on year books, it’s the excitement the kids have shared producing and assembling it.

Grade and high school students have participated in the Greater Kansas City Science and Engineering Fair for 67 years. Of the 89 private and public participating schools across the metro area, four Catholic middle school science programs in this Diocese were also winners this year. St. Peter’s, St. Andrew’s, Our Lady of the Presentation and St. Patrick’s all worked hard on science or engineering projects.

Wendy McKellar said 95 St. Andrew’s students worked on about 45 projects and 20 of those projects were submitted to the Greater Kansas City Science & Engineering Fair, held April 4 -7 at Union Station. McKellar said all the submitted projects brought home gold and silver ribbons, “No bronze!”

Several students won big in the Behavioral Sciences category. Sixth grader Bennet Thomas worked on a project titled, “Which Memory Trick Improve the Ability to Recall a List of Words?” He was awarded a blue rosette ribbon for the top project in the Intermediate Division. The blue rosette ribbon was accompanied by a plaque, and his project also received a gold ribbon for exemplary achievement.

Bennet was also nominated to compete in the 2018 Broadcam Masters for one of the top Science Fair projects in the nation and received a certificate.

Eighth graders Ashley Hall, Adanna Anakwe and Uchenna Anikwe worked together on a project titled, “Can We Change Your Mind?” The team received blue rosette ribbons and a plaque for the top project in the Behavioral Sciences Category for the Junior Division. They also received gold ribbons for exemplary achievement.

McKellar said Calcara hires teachers based on their particular passions in education. The teachers’ passions for English Language Arts, Science and Technology are instilling a love of learning in their students and excitement in the process.
What will happen at St. Andrew’s in the coming years is fun to contemplate!


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October 26, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph