Sunflowers In Bloom

It’s sunflower season and thanks to Diana Burress and her husband Walter, who plants these beautiful flowers each year and opens their field to the public for free, many family photos and senior portraits will be taken during the 10 day window that the flowers are in bloom.  

Diana Burress, B Realty of Augusta, provided this sunflower field to the public free of charge each year.

“I love sunflowers,” said Burress.  “Many years ago my husband planted a few sunflowers around the house for me to enjoy and I would invite my clients and their families to come and take pictures. “ 

Burress is a Realtor located in Augusta, Kansas. 

“After a few years, he started planting out in this field and more people started coming, just by word-of-mouth,” she said. 

Burress keeps her clients and the public informed when the field is in bloom through her Facebook page “Diana Burress – B Realty Realtor/Broker” 

Sierra Marie Bonn, Miss Southwest, with Diana Burress. Bonn first learned of the sunflower field when she represented the community as Miss Augusta 2019.

Their sunflower field is located Southwest of Augusta off Thunder Road and 115th Terrace and is free and open to the public.  

“We don’t charge people to come and take photos,” said Burress “otherwise, it would be like every other sunflower field and we aren’t like everybody else.”

KSDE Hears Computer Science Task Force Recommendations

In a partnership with Flagship Kansas.Tech and, Miss Southwest Sierra Marie Bonn, along with technology industry leaders Joy Eakins, President of Cornerstone Data and Luis Rodriguez, KeyCentrix LLC, and and Project Lead the Way facilitator, Jessica Asbury a teacher at Piper East Elementary School, advocated for the adoption of the Kansas Computer Science Education Implementation Task Force Recommendations.

Board of Education Representatives listened to public testimony and received the Computer Science Task Force Recommendations at the January 2020 board meeting.

They urged the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) Board of Education to adopt the recommendations.

The Kansas Computer Science Education Implementation Task Force was formed in June 2019 with the mission of creating recommendations for the Kansas State Board of Education to further computer science education throughout Kansas. 

Those recommendations are: 

Recommendation 1: KSDE creates a dedicated Computer Science education position 

Recommendation 2: KSDE should encourage all schools to offer computer science 

Recommendation 3: Computer Science should satisfy a core graduation requirement 

Recommendation 4: Create Licensure Endorsement

Recommendation 5: Arrange Funding

Katie Hendrickson, Director of State Government Affairs for, said “ and our Advocacy Coalition ( are thrilled with the recommendations from the Kansas Computer Science Task Force. These five recommendations align with the policies recommended by our coalition, and, if adopted, would make significant progress in ensuring that every student in Kansas has access to a high-quality computer science education. We applaud the efforts by the state board and department of education and look forward to supporting their work expanding computer science across the state.”

“For Kansas to lead the world in the success of each student,” said Flagship Kansas.Tech Executive Director Lisa Roberts Proffitt, “it is imperative that we offer each one the opportunity to learn computer science so that they are prepared for every career. We need to support these opportunities for our students to thrive in their home state by providing each student with the opportunity to take computer science.”

Sierra Marie Bonn advocates for STEAM education and engagement to empower the next generation of innovators, through her initiative “Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!” 

Sierra Marie Bonn speaking to the Kansas Department of Education’s Board of Education, where she was advocating for the adoption of the Computer Science Task Force Recommendations.

Bonn shared her experiences with computer science classes at Wichita State University, where she attends college and the lack of coursework that was available to her at the highschool level.  

“I didn’t take a computer science class in highschool, I didn’t take a computer science class until my sophomore year of college. In high school, we were fortunate enough to be issued individual computers to use for writing reports and for doing research, but the only official training we received was a half-day orientation at the beginning of 9th grade.” Bonn said.  

“We need policy change in education now,” Bonn said.  

“Nearly everything I know how to do on a computer is self-taught. When I entered my first Computer Science class in college, I realized I was far behind my peers.  The Biomedical Computer Applications class taught me very basic programming and 3-D drafting skills, but more importantly, it taught me how to think in algorithms and to view the world as a series of systems. Once I had that realization, my learning, my leading, and my life shifted,” she told the Board. 

Bonn began her college career as a biomedical engineering student, but after learning about computer science and how technology pervades nearly every field, she realized that by changing her major she could focus on the innovation that Computer Science brings. 

“Unfortunately, with the major change,” she said, “I fell even further behind my peers. While I don’t mind playing catch-up, it made me think of all the other students out there who don’t currently receive a well-rounded STEAM education to set them up for success in the innovative workforce. That’s how I began advocating for STEAM education and engagement through my social initiative, Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!” 

sunflower science
Bonn facilitating “Sunflower Science” with students at Sullivan Elementary in Ulysses, Kansas.  

Bonn enters school classrooms, Girl Scout camps, and college campuses across the country to provide students a variety of workshops to help them realize their potential for innovation. 

“One of my favorites is an algorithm activity that I do with the third graders, where we learn about how to structure algorithms through potting vegetable plants,” Bonn said. “This shows the students that computer science is important, not just for tech jobs, but for anything they want to do.” 

“We are in the era of innovation,” Bonn told the Board.  “In order for us to continue progressing as a society and growing our innovative workforce, we must set our students and future innovators up for success. Everyone deserves a basic understanding of Computer Science. 

“This is why the policy recommendations are so important,” Bonn said.  “They will begin to ensure that students have access to computer science in K-12.” 

The Mission of the State Board of Education is to prepare Kansas students for lifelong success through rigorous, quality academic instruction, career training and character development according to each student’s gifts and talents. The Kansans CAN Vision is to “Lead the World in the Success of Each Student.”

The KSDE Board of Education will make their decision on the recommendations at the next meeting which will be held in Topeka, at the Landon State Office Building, Board Room, Suite 102, 900 SW Jackson, on February 11th and 12th. 

Bonn is asking all Kansans to contact their Board of Education representative and ask them to adopt the Kansas Computer Science Education Implementation Task Force Recommendations. 

According to the KSDE website, “The Kansas State Board of Education consists of 10 elected members, each representing a district comprised of four contiguous senatorial districts. Board members serve four-year terms with an overlapping schedule.”

Kansas State Board of Education

Janet Waugh – District 1

715 N. 74th

Kansas City, KS 66112

(913) 620-5062 (cell)

Steve Roberts – District 2

9126 Riggs Lane, Apt. B Overland Park, KS 66212

(913) 302-8185 (cell)

Michelle Dombrosky – District 3

14248 W. 157th St. Olathe, KS 66062

(913) 782-1835 (home)

Ann E. Mah – District 4

3351 SE Meadowview Dr. Topeka, KS 66605

(785) 266-9434 (home)

(785) 231-0823 (cell)

Jean Clifford – District 5

102 Drury Lane

Garden City, KS 67846

(620) 275-4317 (home)    

Deena Horst – District 6

920 S. 9th

Salina, KS 67401

(785) 827-8540 (home)

(785) 822-5521 (cell)

Ben Jones – District 7

PO Box 266

Sterling, KS 67579

(620) 278-6063 (cell)

Kathy Busch – District 8

238 N. Ridgewood Wichita, KS 67208 (316) 682-5718 (home)

Jim Porter – District 9

501 S. 7th

Fredonia, KS 66736

(316) 617-6779 (cell)

Jim McNiece – District 10

1213 Manchester Court Wichita, KS 67212

(316) 729-9742 (home)

(316) 708 5752 (cell)



Butler County Spelling Bee

The Welcome Center at Butler Community College was abuzz with nervous excitement as the large meeting room filled with students, parents, teachers, and administrators representing 28 schools from across Butler County.

Each student was selected as a representative to the Butler County Spelling Bee after winning their school-wide Spelling Bee.

First up was a practice round which gave the spellers an opportunity to calm their nerves and let parents take photos before the competition officially began.  Students were allowed a piece of paper and writing instrument in order to spell check the old-fashioned way. Upon successfully spelling a word, a student would hear “Right!”  When a word was spelled incorrectly, a bell would ring alerting the student to leave the competition floor and take a seat in the audience with their parent or teacher.

Calculus. Cooperage. Guava. Suffocate. Hibiscus

Words were pronounced, parts of speech and etymology were given, as well as a definition, and the word was used in a sentence if the student requested.  

After an hour, three rounds of spelling words and a brief intermission, less than a dozen students remained in the contest.    Cliques, accompany, apprehend, barbarous, rivulets, haberdashery, and portentously were some of the words spelled incorrectly.

As the rounds continued, the words increased in difficulty.  

Pegasi. Catacombs. Munificent. Eviscerated. Ambuscade. Balaclavas. Millefeuille. Phaeton. Marengo. Homonym. Seersucker.

By the eighth round, three spellers remained, #3, Jeremiah Rather, #9, Grace Schmidt and #13, Kareena Bhaktn.   All three spelled their words correctly until the eleventh round when Grace Schmidt of Circle Middle School misspelled “stipple” and was awarded Second Runner-Up.

Nine more rounds of correctly spelled words. Then, in the twenty-first round, Kareena Bhaktn, El Dorado Middle School student misspelled “wainscot” and opening the door for Jeremiah Rather to win the Spelling Bee with the correct spelling of “poinsettia.”  Kareena was awarded First Runner-Up

Jeremiah said he practiced spelling every night for 20 minutes.  He will represent Butler County at the Sunflower Spelling Bee on March 9 at Newman University. The Sunflower Spelling Bee is hosted by The Kansas Press Association. The winner of the Sunflower Spelling Bee qualifies for participation in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

This was the eleventh year for Butler Community College to sponsor the county-wide spelling bee that is conducted by library services at Butler Community College.