Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner-Edgerton High School has been invited by the State of Kansas to join the Sunflower League.
“It’s a move that’s very flattering and worth considering,” Mark Meyer, Gardner-Edgerton High School Principal, said at the USD 231 school board meeting on Monday, November 9. Meyer gave a presentation to members of the board on the benefits of the high school moving into a bigger league affiliation.
The Sunflower League is a Kansas State High School Activities affililiation that is currently made up of 12 schools in Johnson, Douglas and Leavenworth Counties. The additions of GEHS and Mill Valley High School would bring the league to 14 schools.
Meyer said the league decided to invite GEHS [after rejecting their application in 2009] because the new Olathe West High School will make five high schools for Olathe. “They don’t do well with odd numbers in their leagues,” he said. They received the formal letter on September 11.
In 2000 Gardner-Edgerton High School’s growth to a 5A High School in the state pushed them out of the Frontier League into their current Eastern Kansas League Affiliation. “We grossly outgrew the other schools, and opportunities for our kids were awfully limited,” Meyer said. GEHS has been a member of the EKL for six years.
Meyer gave the members of the board a list of reasons GEHS was chosen by the Sunflower League ranging from the school’s size and continued growth, the quality and abundance of the school, the student demographics and the student and fan experiences at sports events. “But,” he said, “they were very attracted to the fact that we only have one high school.”
On September 25 a special committee was organized and assembled followed by an optional staff meeting on October 7 attended by 15 staff members. On October 21 they met to discuss financial impacts of changing to the Sunflower League or staying with the EKL. Meyer said the following day they met with the 12 current league principals for 30 minutes. The following day a staff survey was sent out with 61 out of 99 answers being in favor of moving the high school into the Sunflower League. The deadline for USD 231 to decide is December 15.
“This is a great opportunity for us as a school,” Brad Chandler, district three board member, said. “To not grab a hold of it would be a mistake.”
Tresa Boden, district three board member, said she thought it was great to be able to keep the middle schools in the EKL, while letting the high school grow to the bigger Sunflower League.
“I think the private school thing has really soured opportunities with EKL,” she said. “It’d just be nice to be in a public school sphere to be on an even-playing field.”