The Official Student Media of Blue Valley North High School

THE NORTH STAR

The Official Student Media of Blue Valley North High School

THE NORTH STAR

The Official Student Media of Blue Valley North High School

THE NORTH STAR

Candidates at a Glance

The Blue Valley School Board Candidates
Candidates+at+a+Glance

Jodie Dietz by Lexi Newsom

Jodie Dietz currently serves as the president of the Blue Valley Board of Education. She is running for reelection, and her platform largely focuses on community networking and mental health—values she has highlighted before. During the board meeting on Sept. 11, Dietz said mental health support is “incredibly important” for students to learn.

Dietz told the Blue Valley Post through a questionnaire that her “experience in working with people who have mental health or substance issues [as a Johnson County probation officer] gives me a unique perspective on how important it is to provide support.”

Employment is also one of Dietz’s concerns. She supports the CAPS education branch in trying to recruit high school students as future Blue Valley teachers. Dietz also wants to retain current employees.

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“The board must look for opportunities to advocate for funding from the state, vote to increase pay, when possible, work with teachers and representatives on other support opportunities, [and] create an environment of a ‘destination district’ where our staff feel valued and want to work here,” Dietz wrote in response to a questionnaire by the Shawnee Mission Post.

Outside of Blue Valley, Dietz works for the Johnson County Community College Collaboration Center and is part of the Friends of the Library board and Overland Park advisory committees.

 

Trisha Hamilton by Madi Garrelts

The general election for the Blue Valley School Board is right around the corner, and with it comes a ballot with a variety of candidates. One of them is Trisha Hamilton. Hamilton is a Director of Business Administration and also heavily involved with community service in the area. Her son graduated from Blue Valley Northwest, and she has two daughters currently enrolled in Blue Valley Northwest and Oxford Middle School.

One of Hamilton’s priorities is to help reduce the use of electronics in elementary schools, in order to promote interpersonal communication and more traditional learning methods. Another one of her goals is to create a disciplined and supportive environment for students, yet she encourages higher standards of behavior as well.

Hamilton also wants to help teachers in the school district by providing opportunities for Blue Valley’s teachers to be more creative and give meaningful learning experiences to their students. Additionally she hopes to provide competitive compensation for the district’s educators as well to display how an investment in teachers is also an investment in children’s education. 

Hamilton wants to advocate for parents’ voices as well by creating communication channels and forums parents can fill out whenever they want their ideas or concerns heard. She hopes this will keep parents more involved with their children’s education.

Hamilton also prioritizes keeping political agendas out of the classroom. With this she hopes that classrooms will remain a safe space for students, as well as a place where they can receive unbiased education so they can form their own opinions about their world. 

 

Mike Huebner by Hannah Markiewicz

Local candidates like Mike Huebner continue to campaign for the Blue Valley Board of Education election on Tuesday, Nov. 7. 

According to his campaign website, Huebner’s two children currently attending Blue Valley schools and his mother was a public school teacher during Huebner’s childhood, which helped make him interested in the public school system. Huebner didn’t always work in education himself, as he has worked as an accounting and finance professional for 20 years. He believes this gives him the familiarity with finance that he needs in order to help make financial decisions for the Blue Valley school board.

Huebner said on his campaign website that he is concerned with student achievement levels dropping and that this is something that he wants to help fix within the Blue Valley district. He prioritizes academic rigor, avoiding politics and social engineering, sound financial stewardship and a focus on safety. He added that he wants to help students feel inspired to improve their communities as well to give students a better environment to learn. Additionally, he wants to involve families in their schools more.

 

Patrick Hurley by Lexi Newsom

Patrick Hurley, a member of the school board since 2015, is running for reelection with the mostly incumbent A+ group of candidates. Among his priorities are academic success, safety, mental health, community building and financial responsibility, according to the A+ Team campaign website.

Before joining the school board, Hurley worked at the state-level in various positions, including for the Kansas Department of Administration (State Budget and Operations), according to the A+ Team campaign website.

In a questionnaire by the Shawnee Mission Post, Hurley responded that current efforts by the Blue Valley district have caused it to be the fifth best employer in the state in 2023, according to Forbes.

“Blue Valley consistently demonstrates its dedication to creating an exceptional workplace where educators can thrive,” Hurley wrote in a questionnaire, according to the Shawnee Mission Post. “With a focus on innovation, collaboration and professional growth, the district continues attracting and retaining top-tier talent passionate about helping our students achieve academic success.”

 

Jan Kessinger by Lexi Newsom

Jan Kessinger was appointed to a vacant board position in 2022 and is running for election as part of the A+ Team.

According to the Shawnee Mission Post, Kessinger wrote about challenges to teacher retention, including state funding and payment, and Blue Valley’s current plans to help with employment.

“The attraction of Blue Valley shows that pay is not everything, but we are in the process of closing that pay gap, also,” Kessinger wrote in response to a questionnaire by the Shawnee Mission Post.

In a questionnaire by the Blue Valley Post about mental health, Kessinger responded that the district’s current approach has been effective and added that “the best thing we can do is to reinforce the value of community and commitment to learning.”

Kessinger was involved in politics before he joined the Blue Valley Board of Education in 2022. On the state-level, he represented Leawood and Overland Park in the legislature for four years and worked for the Kansas Department of Commerce. Locally, Kessinger was part of the Johnson County Education Research Triangle.

His three daughters and one of his grandchildren graduated from Blue Valley schools. Now, his daughter teaches at Blue Valley High School and another of his grandchildren is enrolled in the district.

 

Clay Norkey by Lauren Kopitas

Blue Valley Board of Education candidate Clay Norkey believes that children’s education is important to local communities, according to his campaign website.

“I am committed to keeping the district on track to deliver even greater excellence in education for years to come,” Norkey wrote on the A+ Team website. “It is the very foundation of our community, and we must fight to preserve it and keep it constantly improving.” 

All of Norkey’s nine children have been educated within the Blue Valley school district, exposing him to many of the system’s departments and adjacent organizations. He is the current chairman of the Blue Valley Recreation Commission, and throughout his term, he has organized the operation of the Blue Valley Recreation Center at Hilltop and other local complexes. Norkey recently retired from coaching. He established the Blue Valley West Chapter of the Father’s Club and chaired both the Board of Trustees and the Church Council at Church of the Resurrection

Norkey said that, if elected, he would strive for the prioritization of Blue Valley’s academic excellence to bolster community and individual success, according to his campaign website. 

“We all have a role to play in the education of our young people,” he said on the A+ Team website. “When it comes to our public schools, we need the right people in place to ensure that our kids get the best education available and that they are safe, secure and well-rounded … Our kids and our future deserve nothing less.”

 

Christine Vasquez by Lauren Kopitas

Blue Valley Board of Education candidate Christine Vasquez wants to be involved in education because of the joy she feels while helping younger generations realize their dreams, she wrote on her campaign website.

“[My] career began with an innate passion for helping our youth realize their potential,” Vasquez wrote on her website. “[I have] an intention to empower the next generation with an emphasis on education.” 

If elected, Vasquez would focus on Blue Valley’s academic excellence to improve community and individual success, according to her website.

“Focusing on core disciplines [will] create the solid groundwork for our students’ future innovation,” Vasquez said on her website. “[This includes] having teachers who earn competitive pay and can enjoy teaching our children in a competitive environment with high expectations of student achievement and behavior, which will attract the same caliber of teacher that Blue Valley has long enjoyed.” 

She also advocates for parent involvement in the school community and believes Blue Valley can benefit from their aid and input, according to her website.

“The district must [value] proactive communication with parents with the understanding that informing parents will enable them to make decisions and partner with teachers and administration so that our kids and community can flourish,” Vasquez wrote on her campaign website.

 

Rachel Faagutu by Jack Hancock

Blue Valley Board of Education candidate Rachel Faagutu is running as a member of “Blue Valley Excellence”, one of two slates of candidates running against each other for the four open seats on the Blue Valley school board.

The team feels that the current school board members are unfit, and changes need to be made. According to the BV Excellence website, their primary goal is to “[chart] a path back to Blue Valley Excellence” 

 “It really is just that, a team,” Faagutu said. 

Faagutu said she feels that the primary focus of the school board should be returning Blue Valley schools to what they once were, and that her outsider political views will benefit Blue Valley and help to bring change. 

“We’re all parents,” Faagatu said. “I don’t have previous political experience.” 

Faagutu has kids in the district and she is heavily involved in the Blue Valley High football booster club. She said she hopes to bring her budgeting knowledge from her time on the booster club to the school board. 

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About the Contributors
Lexi Newsom, Editor in Chief
Lexi Newsom is a senior and co-editor-in-chief of “The North Star.” This is her third year on staff. She has covered student life and is interested in investigative and environmental journalism. Outside of the newsroom, she loves figure skating, creative writing and watching far too many movies. She is excited to improve as an editor and continue sharing stories with the BVN community.
Madi Garrelts, Copy Editor
Madi is a junior and a copy editor of “The North Star.” This is her second year on staff. She has covered student life and development in KC and is interested in events happening in KC and literature. Outside of the newsroom, she is a part of the tennis team and has played the viola for seven years. She is excited to become closer with everyone in the newsroom and can’t wait to write more on the current events happening within BVN.
Hannah Markiewicz, Staff Writer
Hannah Markiewicz is a sophomore and staff writer of “The North Star.” This is her first year on staff. Outside of the newsroom she enjoys hanging out with friends and is a part of BBYO. She is excited to take photos and meet new people.  
Lauren Kopitas, Staff Writer
Lauren Kopitas is a junior and staff writer of “The North Star.” This is her first year on staff. She has covered art and the minutiae of contemporary thought, behavior and communication. Outside of the newsroom, she enjoys reading and writing literary fiction, poetry and academia. She is excited to continue writing stimulating stories and helping to broaden the minds of her readers.
Jack Hancock, Staff Writer
Jack Hancock is a senior and staff writer for “The North Star.” This is their first year on staff. They have covered Mustang athletics, Student life and news around the district. Outside of the newsroom, they enjoy announcing for Mustang athletics, singing in choir and announcing for Rockhurst University. They are excited to grow as a journalist and get to know the rest of the news staff.   

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