Top students honored at Blu-Jay Honor Scholars banquet

Updated: Jan 26

Judah Skipper and Rylee McGinnis are honored as the top 10 percent of seniors at Pleasanton High School at the Blu-Jay Honor Scholars banquet. (Photo by Aubin Skipper)

PLEASANTON – The Kansas Honor Scholar program was a tradition that spanned five decades and honored the top 10 percent of high school seniors in all 105 counties across the state.

Sponsored by the KU Alumni Association, the event – which in this region combined schools from Linn and Miami counties – featured a dinner for students and their families, musical entertainment featuring University of Kansas students, a speaker from the university and included a certificate and hardbound dictionary for each student.

But that tradition ended as the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost of the event, and perhaps even the growth of online dictionaries reshaped the academic landscape.

Except at Pleasanton High School.

The tradition was kept alive for the top 10 percent of the class of 2022 last week on Dec. 1 when seniors Rylee McGinnis and Judah Skipper were honored at the Blu-Jay Honor Scholars banquet.

Rylee is the daughter of Brandon and Becky McGinnis. Judah is the son of B.J. and Aubin Skipper.

“We were happy to continue the tradition,” said JHS Principal Mitch Shaw. He added that the school was very proud of the students and their families and what they have accomplished.

And the pair of scholars did not leave empty handed. In lieu of a dictionary, each received a Kindle Fire tablet.

Chase Carpenter, a Pleasanton chiropractor, was the speaker at the dinner. PHS Band Director James Beltz was slated to provide musical entertainment, but an injury to his hand earlier in the week prevented him from playing. (Beltz is on the mend and will be ready to perform at the PHS Christmas concert on Dec. 14, the principal said.)

Shaw said that it had become apparent to him over the past five years that the KU Alumni Association was beginning to pull back from the program that was started 50 years ago. Finally this summer the school received a letter saying the association would no longer sponsor it.

The decision was then made for PHS to continue the tradition on its own, he said.

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