Principal Chris Botts awarded KSPA Administrator of the Year Award


Preston Hunt, Reporter

Principal Chris Botts was presented with the Kansas Scholastic Press Association’s Administrator of the Year Award on Wednesday afternoon. KSPA executive director Eric Thomas presented the award to Botts via a Zoom call that included Play newsmagazine staff and advisors.

KSPA represents over 140 schools throughout the state of Kansas and supports and defends student journalists’ rights. Each year, the organization presents the award to one high school administrator.

Thomas, also a journalism professor at the University of Kansas, commended Botts on his support of student journalism at the high school level.

“This award recognizes secondary school administrators who have stood up for the First Amendment and his or her students,” Thomas said. “Students and staff at Maize High School spoke highly of Dr. Botts’s support of student journalism and publications.”

Botts frequents Eagle journalism classes, and his statements can often be found in an array of student publications.

“I love student journalism,” Botts said. “To be recognized by this outstanding organization makes me feel really good.”

The nomination consisted of several letters of recommendation written by former and current student journalists. 2017 graduate and former editor-in-chief of Play newsmagazine Kendra Cunningham said Botts greatly supported student journalism in her time as an Eagle.

“Dr. Botts is an exemplary illustration of how an administrator cannot only support, but also enhance a journalism program,” Cunningham said. “His actions demonstrate his clear support of the first amendment as well as the Kansas Student Publications Act.”

Current co-editor-in-chief Abby McCoy also sang praises of Botts’s work as administrator.

“He provides an immense support system for his students, and the students in my publication classes are no exception,” McCoy said. “The entire newsmag staff looks forward to his scheduled visits every Thursday, where he offers his own time for interviews and guidance on upcoming stories.”

Journalism advisor Dan Loving said he had hoped Botts would be nominated for several years.

“You’ve been worthy to get this award for many years,” Loving said. “I just want [Botts] to know that I couldn’t ask for a better mentor, leader and advocate for me and the kids.”

Although he could not formally present the award today, Thomas said he hopes to present it to Botts in the fall during the KSPA conference.

“This is good, but it’s not good enough,” Thomas said. “We’ll make sure we get to give you a real round of applause.”