Read Across SMSD: March- Bring Communities Together

March Bring Communities Together Read Across SMSD
Shawnee Mission School District


Storytelling is a powerful way to “Bring Communities Together.” That’s the focus throughout the month of March as we Read Across SMSD.

The featured elementary book this month is “Dream Street” by Tricia Elam Walker and Ekua Holmes. In the book, readers learn all about the people who live on Dream Street. From the five Phillips boys whose dad wants them to form a jazz band, to the hat lady who has lived there longer than anyone. The book even features two young storytellers, Ede and Tari, who hope one day to tell the story of everyone who lives on Dream Street.

All of Shawnee Mission’s comprehensive high schools have groups of storytellers who are always at work. Dr. Darren Dennis, chief academic officer, recently visited journalism students at Shawnee Mission Northwest.

Click here to see a video.

Several students talked about their storytelling work with Dr. Dennis. SM Northwest students produce a yearbook, newspaper, and website. For each publication a team of students works together to find and tell stories, shared Katie Burke, senior.

“Every single student has a story to tell and it is our job to make sure it is told,” she added.

Telling the stories of others serves a purpose, noted Veronica Meiss, Shawnee Mission Northwest senior. 

“We can help better unify as a student body,” she added.

Dr. Dennis also asked the students for any advice they may have for younger students interested in storytelling. Evan Johnson, senior, who focuses on photojournalism encouraged younger students to try and find ways to tell an entire story visually.

“It’s important to be curious and be a little adventurous especially with photojournalism,” Johnson added. 

Even in elementary school, it’s good for students to “get out there,” Izak Zeller, junior, expressed.

“The base of every good article is a sense of curiosity – as long as you build on your skills, you’ll be a great writer in high school,” Zeller shared.

Shawnee Mission Northwest is one of the most nationally honored high school journalism programs in the country. Their publications (as well as several Shawnee Mission publications) were listed among the Pacemaker 100, representing the top 100 award winners of the past 100 years. The Pacemaker is considered the top prize of scholastic journalism. Most recently, Susan Massy, journalism advisor, was presented the Journalism Educators Association Lifetime Achievement Award. Grace Logan, senior, was also recently named the 5A/6A student Journalist of the Year.

Dr. Dennis thanked everyone on the award winning team for sharing how they work to bring communities together through storytelling.

March Reading and Learning Resources

Read Across SMSD is modeled after the national Read Across America program and is led in partnership with NEA-Shawnee Mission. Access to books for Shawnee Mission students is made possible through the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation. Here are the Read Across America March titles from the NEA book list: 


“Dream Street”

By Tricia Elam Walker and Ekua Holmes

Click here to learn more.

Middle Grade

“Karthik Delivers”

By Sheela Chari

Click here to learn more.

Young Adult

“We Weren’t Looking to Be Found”

By Stephanie Kuehn

Click here to learn more.

 The links above provide activity ideas, discussion ideas, reflective writing questions, and related resources for more titles to try for each age group.

Click here to find out more and participate in Read Across SMSD. Click here to find out more and participate in Read Across SMSD. Post your participation on social media using #ReadAcrossSMSD.

March Bring Communities Together Read Across SMSD

March Bring Communities Together Read Across SMSD