Around Town 8

New From the Studio of Suze Ford

Kansas City artist Suze Ford recently took some of her beautiful prints and turned them into a lovely set of note cards. This inspirational pack  of greeting cards comes with six different card (approx 4″ x 5 1/2″) designs, on luxury textured felt paper, each with a gorgeous shimmer gold envelope. Every card design is taken from one of Suze’s original paintings, and all of the writings are hand lettered by her. They embody the same uplifting messages, and brilliant colors, that her original oil paintings do.

These cards, and newly released prints, can be purchased from Suze at

Prairie Elementary Students 
Win Photo Contest

Sixth-graders in Laura Moore’s Prairie Elementary classroom are first-place winners in a KC Healthy Kids youth photo contest.  As winners, they receive $1,000 to help promote student wellness. Students also will give a “Shark Tank” style presentation at an awards ceremony in March, explaining how community members can support their classroom’s ideas for making a lasting change to support wellness in their community.

iFly Makes The Dream 
Of Skydiving A Reality

iFLY, the new experiential entertainment venue in Overland Park, is now open and offers the thrill of indoor skydiving to folks of all ages. They make the dream of flight a reality by giving customers “wings” in a safe and reliable environment.

Located at I-435 and Metcalf, the unique building uses a wind tunnel to simulate the skydiving experience. After watching a brief video and receiving safety details from a trained instructor, patrons put on their flight suits and helmets and wait their turn for a few rides in the tunnel.

A party room and group rates are available. The company has 15 iFly locations across the country at this time and hopes to double that number in the next 18 months. Learn more at or by calling 913.305.4359.

SMSD Educators Named Best 
First Year Teachers in State

Two educators from the Shawnee Mission School District have been named among the best first-year teachers in the state: Brett Mach, a language arts teacher at SM Northwest High School, and Katie Sutton, a third-grade teacher at Oak Park-Carpenter Elementary School, are winners of the Kansas Horizon Award.

The mission of the Horizon Award program is to recognize exemplary first-year teachers who perform in a way that distinguishes them as outstanding. Each school district has the ability to nominate one elementary and one secondary teacher for the honor. These teachers are now invited to join the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network, an organization of educators from across the state who have been formally recognized for exemplary performance.

Musical Heritage Theater 
Celebrates 14th Season

Musical Theater Heritage at Crown Center has turned up the heat lately. Now in their 14th season, they are becoming a musical theater and entertainment enterprise.  Audiences have 140 performances to choose from; ranging from book musicals, revues, cabaret nights, and special engagements.  They also have a full bar – and yes, even food.

This year, MTH’s season includes Annie Get Your Gun, Big River, Next to Normal and Cabaret, as well as two original musical revues; An Evening with Cole Porter, and Songs of the Great War.  Their high-octane, musical theater-flavored cabaret nights Musical Mondays & Tuesdays, Too, have been thrilling sold-out audiences for the last seven years. And their newest series, A Night on the Town, turns their theater into an intimate speak-easy, where patrons can enjoy cocktails at an up-close performance from their favorite local performer or Broadway star.

Their slogan?  “For those who love musicals.” Visit, or call 816.221.6987.

Local Women 
Publish Second Book 
in Delightful 
”Read This. . .” Series

Kansas City authors Christy Howard and Annie Presley recently released Read This… On Our Anniversary, the second book in their READ THIS…™ series. The workbook-style guide is written in the same playful-yet-practical spirit as their first release, Read This… When I’m Dead, which offers one place to put all the information your family needs to know after you’re gone.

This second book celebrates marriage and creates a keepsake for generations to come, offering thought-provoking, fun pages to reflect and record important memories that can get lost over time. What this book will do for you NOW: Help capture the fun from your 1st to your 70th anniversary. What this book will do for you LATER: Offer an annual look back to further strengthen your marriage. A great wedding/engagement gift or anniversary present.

Irene French Community Center Celebrates Renovated Fitness Center

It’s not too late to start the new year off right, and keep your fitness related resolutions! Visit the newly renovated 1,200-square-foot fitness center located on the first floor of the Irene B. French Community Center (5701 Merriam Dr). The Merriam fitness center is an ideal place for your workout, with a relaxed, friendly environment and no contracts required. The renovation will be completed later in 2016 with the installation of new cardio equipment. We encourage everyone to stop in and check it out!

Call 913.322.5550 for more information about membership pricing.

Searcy Financial Services Celebrates 
40 Years in Business

Searcy Financial has been serving our community for the past 40 years, but they have no plans to slow down. Along with their anniversary, they are celebrating some very special milestones this year. They have introduced two new associates to their team, Isaac Norris, Financial Advisor, and David Bush, VP of Business Development.  They have also announced the addition of John Fales as a partner and member of the executive team.

The Searcy Financial team is passionate about helping their clients achieve success on their terms, where they stand.  To deliver the best service possible, they recently became a fee-only firm and have applied for certification from the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), the leading association of fee-only financial advisors.  You can find more information at

Savers Reaches Impressive Milestone

The folks at Savers want people everywhere to be inspired to do what they can to help the environment, such as donating clothing and household items to benefit their nonprofit partners. Savers thrift stores of Johnson County recently reached a historical benchmark due to your generous donations. More than four million pounds of goods have been recycled and re-purposed. Nationally, Savers has diverted more than 650 million pounds of goods from landfills annually.

Our neighbors have impacted our community in a powerful way. By recycling locally, you’re helping many Johnson County residents purchase clothing, furniture and other household items for a lower cost. By donating your unwanted items you are helping keep many items out of the landfills.

Want to keep making a difference in our community? Continue to donate your unwanted items to your local Savers in Olathe and Overland Park. Donate at either store and receive a coupon for a discount off of your purchases.

Save The Date: Lutheran High School Auction

The Lutheran High School of Kansas City is hosting its 27th annual “Affair of the Heart” dinner auction on Saturday, April 16, on the high school campus at 12411 Wornall Road. This year’s theme is the “Red Carpet Affair.”  Doors open at 5 p.m with a happy hour from 5-6 p.m.  Silent auctions run from 5-8 p.m and an exquisite dinner is served at 7 p.m, provided by Bravo! of Overland Park.  Featherstone Drive, a rock-n-roll band from St. Louis, provides the musical accompaniment and after dinner entertainment. A live auction begins at 8 p.m.  Proceeds from the event assist Lutheran High in providing scholarships to students and for school needs outside of the traditional budget. This year’s “Fund the Need” will focus on needs connected to the opening of a new wing for the 2016-17 school year.  Come and enjoy good, food, fellowship and music.

Help Make Your Community a Better Place by Volunteering

Do you have an hour or two a week, a compassionate and giving spirit and the ability to drive? Maybe it’s time to consider a delivery route with Meals on Wheels!

Volunteers ages 18 and over deliver meals to homebound seniors once a week, once a month or when available. Meals are delivered between 10:45 and11:45 a.m. Monday through Fridays and routes are available in and around your neighborhood.

Meals can be delivered by individuals, civic or faith based organizations or employee teams. Children are welcome to accompany parents on a delivery route, and as one can imagine, these visits are often the highlight of the day or week for these homebound seniors.

This is a terrific community service opportunity for volunteers of all ages. For more information, call 913.715.8895.

Johnson County Meals on Wheels is administered by the Johnson County Area Agency on Aging and is funded by the Older Americans Act.

Local Lending Company 
Helps Build Homes in Jamaica

Veterans United Home Loans (VU) recently sent a group of employees from their Lenexa office on a week-long mission trip to Harmons, Jamaica. They helped locals build two concrete homes, lay foundations for two more, dig a huge irrigation trench for a greenhouse, and visit an infirmary, not to mention connecting with the Jamaicans, and each other. Another VU group from headquarters in Columbia, Mo., followed the next week and constructed homes on the foundations laid by the Lenexa folks.

Harmons is a remote, mountain village with no access to water, and limited economic resources. VU partnered with Won by One to Jamaica, a ministry that’s been investing in Harmons for 25 years, bringing groups down to “change lives by changing lives”  through building relationships and building homes.

A leader in the VA loan industry, Veterans United Home Loans is in the business of helping our nation’s veterans, service members and military families build homes right here at home. It is one of the 50 Best Workplaces for Camaraderie by Great Place to Work and Fortune, based on its employee’s own assessments of the sense of team, fun and collegiality in the workplace. The company’s culture facilitates building relationships and having fun together.

Scouting Returns to Harmony Elementary

The Soaring Eagle district recently announced that Cub Scout Pack 3476 has relocated to Blue Valley’s Harmony Elementary School (143rd & Switzer Rd.). Formerly, the group had been sponsored by and met at Colonial Presbyterian Church.

The group is open to all elementary aged boys who wish to participate in the adventures Cub Scouting has to offer, no matter what their age or past scouting experience.

Families interested in joining the pack should contact Allan Shoup at

SM Northwest Student 
Offered Appointment 
to U.S. Air Force Academy

Jessica Broll, a senior at SM Northwest, has received an Offer of Appointment with the U.S. Air Force Academy, located in Colorado Springs, Colo. More than 12,000 individuals submit applications to the Academy each year, but the Air Force Academy only admits about 1,000 individuals a year
Broll achieves academically and is involved in multiple activities at her school. In addition to taking Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, she has participated in soccer, cross country, chamber and symphonic orchestra, spirit club, and has engaged in a variety of community service activities.
“Jessica is a student who can successfully carve her path across a myriad of activities,” Principal Lisa Gruman said. “She exemplifies the principles and determination of those individuals who serve our great nation.”
Broll received a Congressional nomination from Congressman Kevin Yoder.