'Maggie Vaults Over the Moon'

‘Maggie’ Author Supports Funding for Student Activities in Kansas Schools

KSHSAA Presentation

Author Grant Overstake, right, presents a copy of the teen sports novel, ‘Maggie Vaults Over the Moon’ to Mark Lentz, Assistant Executive Director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association. The story features the Kansas State Track and Field Championships, the largest track meet in the nation.

WICHITA, Kan. (Feb. 25) – Award-winning journalist and author Grant Overstake used his moment in the spotlight today to defend the value of extra-curricular activities as “an essential ingredient” for student success during a presentation to the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA).

Locked in the ongoing budget battle in Topeka, school board officials and administrators in Kansas are feeling increasing pressure to eliminate even KSHAALOGOmore sports and activities from their schools. But the author said these activities deserve funding because they are fundamental for future success.

“I could go on and on about how KSHSAA programs helped me achieve more personally than I could ever have achieved without them,” said Overstake, a Wichita resident and graduate of Wichita Heights High School.

Overstake spoke before about 250 attendees of the United School Administrators of Kansas 42nd Annual Convention at the Hyatt Eagle Ballroom in downtown Wichita. He presented a copy of his new teen sports novel,  Maggie Vaults Over the Moon, to KSHSAA Assistant Director Mark Lentz.

Maggie Vaults Over the MoonThe novel, which captures the color and excitement of the nation’s largest high school track and field meet, will be put on display at the association’s headquarters in Topeka. Lentz also asked attendees to encourage their own school librarians to order copies of the inspiring story for middle and high school students.

While the Kansas Supreme Court recently ruled that the state legislature had been systematically underfunding education for years, the state legislature and governor have vowed to challenge that ruling. School officials argue that underfunding could threaten KSHSAA-sponsored student activities, such as sports, art, and music, even though recent studies show that these activities help students make better grades, perform better on standardized tests, and even keeps them from dropping out of school.

In Maggie Vaults Over the Moon heroine Maggie Steele confronts a very real budget crisis in the fictitious Grain Valley School District, where the track and field budget has been depleted and emergency purchases have been frozen due to lack of resources. Despite Title IX rules that make it illegal for female athletes to be discriminated against,  there is simply no money to pay for the girls’ vaulting pole Maggie needs to continue with the sport. The incident depicts the type of hard decisions that are being made daily by school administrators and board members in Kansas and across the nation.

In addition to playing three sports, Overstake participated in several other KSHSAA-sponsored activities. Winning multiple regional newspaper writing contests led him to be discovered by the sports editor of the Wichita Eagle, who offered him a job as a cub reporter when he was 18 years-old. Overstake went on to attend the University of Kansas School of Journalism on a scholarship; and to write sports for the Miami Herald. He returned to edit several award-winning community newspapers in Kansas before beginning his fiction writing career.

Today’s ceremony was an opportunity for Overstake to say thank-you to an organization that helped make it all possible.

Prepared remarks by Author Grant Overstake to the United School Administrators Convention:

I want to thank Gary and Nancy Musselman for their support for Maggie Vaults Over the Moon and for his personal invitation to present a copy of the book to the KSHSAA. Nancy is a teacher, and she read an early manuscript of the book and really liked its message. Gary [Executive Director of KSHSAA] has been supportive of the project from Day 1…

It is an honor for me to be here to present this book to KSHSAA. I could go on and on about how KSHSAA activity programs helped me achieve more than I could have achieved without them. In high school, I was involved in a lot of activities. I sang in the all-state choir, went to student council camp, acted on stage, and participated in regional and state newspaper writing contests. I also played three sports, including track and field. Our three children also participated in many worthwhile activities while attending Fort Scott High School. So KSHSAA programs have been extremely important to us…

It has been said that a novelist should write what they know about, so that’s what I did. I attended the State Meet three times in high school. I figured it was high time that somebody wrote a novel about the largest and best high school track meet in the country; and today, I’m very glad that somebody was me. I’ve covered high school sports and I’ve been the editor of several small town newspapers, maybe even in your town. So, I’ve covered track meets and school board meetings as well…

There’s a scene in this story that I think you can relate to: The track coach with a depleted sports budget goes to the board for a special request to help an athlete from a needy family during  a district-wide spending freeze. But his turn to speak to the board comes just after the board has just heard from the insurance agent, who’d just brought in another 25 percent health insurance increase…. But even so, [smile] Maggie is an inspiring story, with the nation’s largest and greatest track meet prominently featured, as it should be…

It’s also the story of Kansas, today, at a crossroads…

With young people who need well-funded schools; and community support; and strong extended families, to help them rise up from difficult circumstances and achieve their dreams. Whether it’s in track and field or whatever the activity, any quest that raises a student higher, to the stars through difficulties, is a worthwhile journey, worth funding…

In this story, a gritty Kansas farm girl draws strength and support from others, like you, to vault over the moon. Thank you for your time today…and for all you do every day, to help the Maggies in your schools achieve their highest and best, as well.

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