SWE Engineering Expo

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Wichita Section is hosting their annual Engineering Expo on Saturday, April 9, 2022 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. in the Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center Expo Hall.

The expo is a free, fun-filled day of STEM activities sponsored by SWE and Spirit Aerosystems.  Each year, the Society of Women Engineers Wichita Section – SWE Chapter partners with local companies, educators, and more to provide kids K-8 with FREE activities geared to engage and encourage STEM education.

“Last year’s event was held virtually and those videos are online for all to view and enjoy,” said Sierra Marie Bonn, Miss Butler County 2022 and founder of Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead! 

Rachel Schwante, left, and Sierra Marie Bonn, right, have fun coding with LEGOs during the virtual SWE Expo 2021.

She is one of the event volunteers who will be there teaching about Leonardo’s Bridge.

“Last year I taught Coding with LEGOs,” she said. “There are so many wonderful and virtual activities to utilize when engaging students with STEM/STEAM.  All of those videos are on the YouTube channel ‘Engie does STEM.’”

“Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead! is an organization that promotes STEAM education and engagement to empower the next generation of innovators,” she said. “STEAM is used as a popular acronym in advocacy for an increase in STEAM education in schools.”

Bonn promotes STEAM education and engagement which lies at the intersection of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, through hands-on activities like those offered at the SWE Expo as well as her book Innovators: women in history who have made positive contributions to STEAM.

Butler County Legislative Coffee

El Dorado Chamber of Commerce hosts Butler County Farm Bureau Forum

On Saturday, March 5, 2022 the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce hosted a Legislative Coffee sponsored by the Butler County Farm Bureau Association. 

Listen to the conversation on the podcast channel here.

In attendance were District 12 Representative Doug Blex, District 75 Representative Will Carpenter and District 14 Senator Mike Fagg.  They spoke to Butler County residents about the work they are currently doing on their behalf and answered questions. 

Representative Blex represents House District 12 which spans parts of 5 counties; Mongomery(part), Chautauqua, Cowley, Butler and Elk.  Blex serves on the Health and Human Services Committee, is Vice-Chair of the Local Government Committee and is on the House Taxation Committee.

“I always enjoy the Farm Bureau forums,” said Representative Blex. “I feel like I get some really straight-shooting of what the issues are.”  

Before and after the panel discussion, voters had the opportunity to speak with their legislators.  Pictured is Miss Butler County Sierra Marie Bonn discussing issues with Representative Carpenter. 

Representative Will Carpenter represents House District 75 which serves the cities of Cassoday, El Dorado, Elbing, Potwin and Towanda and the townships of Chelsea, Clifford, El Dorado, Fairmount, Fairview, Lincoln, Milton, Murdock, Plum Grove, Prospect, Rosalia and SycamoreTowanda.

Representative Carpenter serves on the Appropriations Committee, the Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee and the Social Services Budget Committee, for which he is the Chair. 

“I enjoy hearing from the folks back home,” said Carpenter.  “They are my eyes and ears out there.”

The Legislators each shared about the work they are doing in Topeka and took questions from the audience. Pictured is Representative Doug Blex speaking.

Senator Mike Fagg represents Senate District 14 which covers 10 counties; Butler, Chautauqua, Coffey, Cowley, Elk, Greenwood, Labette, Montgomery, Wilson and Woodson Counties.

Senator Fagg serves on the Agriculture/Natural Resources Committee, Ways and Means, Utilities, Financial Institutions/Insurance and serves as the Vice-Chair, Joint Committee for Education, Joint Committee for Mental Health, Sparks Sub-Committee for Modern and Efficiency.

“We had a lot of great questions,” said Fagg.  “The only thing I wish is that we would have more people here because we need to get everyone involved, everyone’s thoughts and ideas need to be heard.”

A small but passionate number of voters attended the Legislative Coffee.

Jeff Varner, Policy Chair for the Butler County Farm Bureau Association, said the event provided an opportunity for the public to visit with legislators.  

“It’s always amazing what you learn,” said Varner. “We have worked hard over the years to hold events like this and plan several more in the coming months.” 

“The whole purpose is to give the community a chance to talk to their representatives, see what is happening in Topeka,” said Phil Benedict, Executive Director of the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce. 

“We hope to have more throughout the year as this is an election year,” said Benedict.

The next Butler County Farm Bureau Association Legislative Coffee is scheduled to be on Saturday, March 26 from 9-11a at the Augusta Train Depot in Augusta. Representative Kristy Williams and Senator Ty Masterson will be in attendance to share the work they are doing in Topeka and visit with voters.

Power of One

KAY Unit Conference held in El Dorado

El Dorado High School KAY Club hosted their annual Kansas Association of Youth (KAY) Unit Conference at the USD 490 Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, January 19th.  Students from schools across the region attended the conference which had the theme “The Power of One.”

Each of the El Dorado High School KAY Club members involved with hosting the conference wore t-shirts with a quote by President John F. Kennedy.

“The half-day conference gives students the opportunity to share project and program ideas, to develop leadership skills and to ‘put the spotlight’ on youth in the community where the conference is held,” states the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA).

El Dorado High School KAY Club members and sponsor Heather Fangmann posed with a photo with Guest Speakers Mayor Bill Young, Chase Locke and Sierra Marie Bonn. 

According to their stated purpose, the conferences are held during the winter months, and designed to focus on club leadership on the local level. 

“Two years ago (prior to COVID), EHS volunteered to host a unit conference,” said Heather Fangmann, the El Dorado High School KAY Club sponsor.  

“We were supposed to host it last January, but due to the pandemic, all conferences were canceled,” said Fangmann. 

Students were divided into small groups to participate in activities designed to highlight the “Power of One”

The El Dorado High School KAY Club members selected local speakers to present and share their passion for volunteerism and leadership.

Those guest speakers were Mayor Bill Young, Chase Locke and Sierra Marie Bonn.  Mayor Young gave a presentation titled “C.A.M.P.”  Locke’s presentation was titled “Tomorrow is Here!” and Bonn’s presentation was  “My Favorite Number.”

Mayor Bill Young shared his presentation on “C.A.M.P.” encouraging the students to pursue curiosity, autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Chase Locke shared wisdom with students during his presentation “Tomorrow is Here!”
Sierra Marie Bonn shared her favorite impact number with the students during her presentation “My Favorite Number”

Trick or Treat Down Main Street 

Pumpkins and decorations dotted the downtown and businesses lined the streets in El Dorado’s historic district on Main and Central lending a festive Halloween air for the annual Trick or Treat Down Main Street. 

The streets were lined with costumed characters out trick or treating down Main Street.

The event is organized each year by El Dorado Main Street. 

Miss Butler County 2022 Sierra Marie Bonn with El Dorado Main Street Executive Director Emily Connell enjoyed the view at Main and Central.

According to the El Dorado Main Street organization, the purpose of the non-profit is to “enhance our downtown identity and heritage, to foster a center of activity for both business and recreation and to ensure economic stability for the heart of El Dorado through concentrated efforts of design, promotion, organization and business enhancement.”

A family affair with dad dressed as Peter Pan, one child dressed as his shadow, mom as Wendy and the youngest dressed as Captain Hook being eaten by the crocodile.

By all indications, more than a thousand children, with parents in tow, paraded up and down the streets in costume from 4 – 6 p.m. Friday, October 29th all while collecting candy.  

Andrew Tipton of W Investments prepared to hand out over 450 bags of cotton candy.

In addition to candy, some businesses choose to offer other goodies.  W Investments handed out over 450 bags of cotton candy while SunGroup Real Estate grilled over 1,250 hot dogs.

Linda Baines helped SunGroup hand our 1,250 hot dogs.

Farmers Insurance Stephen Mills Agency had bike giveaways for two lucky winners, in partnership with Walmart.  In order to enter, they had to try and guess the correct number of candy corn filling a glass pumpkin. 

A costume contest for ages 0-12 was held at Intrust Bank and hosted along with Kelly’s Etc. and Trunk2Treasure. The children were divided into age categories 0-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12 with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in each category receiving a bag filled with treats from Intrust Bank.

Ages 0-3
Ages 4-6
Ages 7-9
Ages 10-12

Kansas Can Success Tour 2021

Tour highlights progress, gathers feedback

Dr. Randy Watson, Kansas Commissioner of Education, was joined by Deputy Commissioner Dr. Brad Neuenswander, members of the Kansas State Board of Education and community members at El Dorado High School on Wednesday, August 18, at 6:00 p.m. for the Kansas Success Tour, a community conversation on the current direction for Kansas K-12 education. 

Dr. Watson and Dr. Neuenswander are visiting 50 cities across the state to gather feedback on the state’s vision for K-12 education.  The 50 city tour is a follow-up to the Kansas Children. Kansas’ Future. community conversations tour that took place in 2015.

Using the feedback gathered from more than 2,000 parents, educators, legislators, school board members, business community members, and more, the State Board of Education created a new vision for education: Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.

Stakeholders which consisted of educators, community members, business members, parents, and current high school students attended the Kansas Success Tour meeting in El Dorado on Thursday, August 18, 2021.

Watson and Neuenswander shared progress made toward achieving the vision established by the Kansas State Board of Education following the 2015 tour.

Of significant note is the fact that high school graduation rates in Kansas are at an all time high.   In 2015, that rate was 85.7% and with a 2.6% increase overall that number grew to  88.3% in 2020.  

Dr. Randy Watson, Kansas Commissioner of Education, speaking to attendees at El Dorado High School about the increase in graduation rates seen since the last tour in 2015.

“It is the largest percentage of students graduating in Kansas in the history of our state,” said Dr. Watson.  “That is true of the many subgroups.”  

The subgroups identified by Dr. Watson were students at or below poverty level and on free and reduced lunch, which increased 3.7%; English language learners which increased by 6.5%; and students with disabilities which increased by 3.1%. 

“We’ve made terrific progress in all those areas,” said Dr. Watson. “In all those areas, percent wise, we are graduating more students since Kansas was a territory. We are so excited about the work schools and communities are doing [to support] that.”

“Even though that’s really great,” said Watson, “we are not going to stop until we help every kid be successful.”

El Dorado Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Tosh was glad to have El Dorado High School host this area’s community conversation. 

“I’m always excited when the Kansas State Department of Education is here in El Dorado and sharing the great things happening here,” said Tosh.  “We had a great turnout from the community, parents and staff members,” said Tosh,  “so I think we had a great representation of who we are.  We even had state board members here with us and other Superintendents from other districts.  It was a great way for us to talk about what the future of Kansas education looks like.” 

Attending the Kansas Success Tour was Jordan Buxton, a parent to three students enrolled in the Circle School District.  

“This meeting was really great to see some of the things happening at the state level,” said Buxton. “I think our educators are tasked with a lot and need as much parent and community support as possible to provide the resources and skills they need.”

Also in attendance was El Dorado High School graduate Sierra Marie Bonn.  Bonn advocates for the success of Kansas students, through her initiative “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!”  Her goal is to help equip them to meet the definition of a successful Kanas High School Student as identified by the Kansas State Department of Education.

“A successful Kansas high school graduate has the academic preparation, cognitive preparation, technical skills, employability skills and civic engagement to be successful in postsecondary education, in the attainment of an industry recognized certification or in the workforce without the need for remediation.” 

“As a lifelong Kansas public school student, I’m excited for the future of Kansas Schools, ” said Bonn.  “I’m glad the Board is holding this tour and including stakeholders from across the state.” 

With cities in Central and Northeastern Kansas remaining on the tour, Dr. Watson is encouraging everyone to come to a community conversation and provide feedback.  

“We are interested in your feedback so we can make Kansas the best place to educate kids,” said Dr. Watson.