TOPEKA, Kan. — Kelli Burrus from Osborne High School is being honored with the 2016 “KSHSAA Heart of the Arts”Award, which recognizes the values of participants in high school arts programs that go above and beyond the norm. KSHSAA Executive Director Gary Musselman invited all member high schools of the Association to submit the name of a student(s), teacher(s), or group(s) demonstrating such qualities. Kelli Burrus was selected from three outstanding nominations submitted by KSHSAA member senior high schools.
In the Osborne school district, at most events, you will see Mrs. Kelli Burrus. For the past five years Mrs. Burrus, or Mrs. B as her kids call her, has been the Band Director for Osborne Schools grades 5-12. The band is very important at most of the major sports events from the Varsity home football games to the basketball games starting when the varsity girls run on to the court until the boys run off. Not only does Mrs. B work amazing wonders with her bands, she always supports her school, by helping with theatre and vocal groups by videotaping performances and serving as a Moderator at Scholars Bowl events.
Burrus was in a very tragic car accident with a deer on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 coming home from a Christian music concert, rolling her car twice and being ejected from the car where the short side of the rear bumper landed on the edge of her left hip pinning her to the ground. Being unable to rise possibly saved her life. Along with the five broken bones of the left side of her pelvis, her right leg was nearly ripped away from her body without tearing any muscles; she had internal bleeding in her right hip that if gone un-checked could have killed her. She underwent surgery to reattach her right hip with two, three inch screws for stability. Her left leg was only something to drag around for 10 days until her body decided it had to learn to walk again.
The one thing that seemed to keep Kelli going and pushing herself was hearing all about her students. She had such an intense drive to be back at school before the end of the year. She worked hard to take steps, and eventually walk. She kept fighting to return in August! Three months to the day of Mrs. Burrus accident she was moved back into her home, walking with a cane and walking alone at other times. Come the first day of school, there she was, ready and waiting for her band students. Burrus made an appearance that night at a fundraiser that the cheerleaders were having in her honor. Most people that have been through things like this take it easy, yet there she was on sports kick off night directing her band! She has been to every football game no matter the pain, or how cold, to direct her band students and will be at every basketball game with her band, cheering all the competitors on. Because of her dedication, compassion and heart the band has grown not only in numbers, but in closeness, maturity, and act not as individuals but as one, a cohesive group.
The nominees included: Kristal Cuttler, a teacher at Wichita Southeast; Aaron Anthony Begnoche, a teacher at Moundridge High School and Kelli Burrus, a teacher at Osborne High School.
The KSHSAA Student Advisory Team participates in the selection of the state of Kansas honoree. “The unique way Kansas selects their State winners is without parallel. No other state association utilizes students as their selection committee,” said Executive Director, Gary Musselman. John Gills, NFHS Associate Director wrote to the KSHSAA Student Advisory Team, saying, “Thank you for the outstanding work you do to generate Kansas nominations for these NFHS Awards. You play a very important role in recognizing these very deserving individuals at the state and national levels.”
As the state honoree, Burrus will receive a plaque to be displayed at her school. The presentation of the plaque will take place at a KSHSAA tournament or local event that is yet to be determined. Osborne High School’s winning nomination of Burrus has been submitted for consideration by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). This is the second year the National Federation has presented the “NFHS Heart of the Arts” award. The NFHS will announce a national honoree at its annual summer meeting in early July.
“Kansas was the first state high school association in the nation to develop a state Heart of the Arts Award for the express purpose of recognizing outstanding acts of character, leadership and demonstrating the true heart of arts in educational performing arts programs,” said Executive Director, Gary Musselman. “We believe it is important to focus attention on the many positive acts which occur in our programs every year. Without question, every Kansas high school has students and faculty who demonstrate the true heart of the performing arts on a daily basis. Bringing recognition to Kelli Burrus from Osborne High School is in keeping with the mission of the KSHSAA.”