May 14, 2022

Written by Sophia Buck

On May 9, 2022, the Summit Technology International Studies program from the Missouri Innovation Campus hosted their first-ever Appreciation Luncheon. This event was mostly student organized with direction from the program’s teacher, Curtis Cook. Cook created his International Studies program exactly 13 years ago, switching from being a high school history teacher to the creator and instructor of the international studies program.

Today his classroom can be found full of music and bright ideas, with his students coming from 15 different school districts and 32 different school buildings. They learn to connect to their previous learning and skills as well as a list of 84 skills that have proven successful in the business world on team led projects. Diversity within this classroom is deeper than language and culture, with a cultivated class of different mindsets and opinions. Some students come to this program to learn about international business or how to make a difference in the world while others are there to learn in a different style than their typical high school classroom.

In 13 years of the international studies program, this year has boasted the largest class size with a combined 32 students in the morning and afternoon class. 32 students sounds small, and the 8 teams they combine into sounds even smaller, but in the 2021-2022 school year they have completed 100 projects. Each team takes on 8 or more projects throughout the school year, often working on more than one at a time.

Their impressive number of projects this year is thanks to the support of mentors from Lee’s Summit’s Sunrise Rotary, Noon Rotary, and Project Management Institute. Since they had so much support from their community, the international studies class decided to host all of their mentors and business partners on the Missouri Innovation Campus for an Appreciation Luncheon. Partners from 7 countries participated over Zoom while over 40 business partners/mentors joined the 32 students and their teacher for a lunch catered by Bibibop.

The program’s students presented some of their projects from the school year, many have projects that will move on into the next school year as the students move to college or senior year. One team worked on a fundraiser with the Lilongwe-Lingadzi Rotary club to help provide young girls in Malawi with sanitary pads. They ended up raising over $3,600 in just three months, which will provide 300 girls with reusable sanitary pads. Another team had a cultural exchange with a high school in Seoul, South Korea where they exchanged videos, games, and snacks to learn about each particular culture. One of the morning teams created a folklore exchange with a school in Colombia so they could discuss differences in folklore in myths that lead to cultural differences. In their first semester one team even organized everything for three governors from Kenya to visit Kansas City. Including scheduling sightseeing tours for these three foreign dignitaries. Another one of the morning teams spent part of their year finding ways to provide clean water in Bangladesh in collaboration with a high school from Bangladesh.

In the afternoon class, there was a team who created a multicultural seminar with four guest speakers with the ultimate goal of making this an annual event. Another afternoon team had a project where they organized a pen pal exchange between the International Studies class and a school in Kenya that led to a grant proposal to provide broadband internet access to schools in Kenya. One of the other afternoon teams has begun the research process to create an international Sister City connection for Lee’s Summit with the help of the Lee’s Summit EDC, the Missouri EDC, and the World Trade Center of KC.

Since the school year has hit its final month for the Lee’s Summit school district and the International Studies class, they felt that this luncheon would be the best way to close out all remaining projects and thank all those who helped.

Organizations such as Lee’s Summit’s Sunrise and Noon Rotary clubs, the World Trade center in KC, Global Ties, and the Lee’s Summit City Council and School Board were all present at the event and have already begun discussing work with the class for next school year. Since so many of their projects are moving forward to next year, the program is getting the chance to take on larger projects.

The program would like to thank everyone who has helped them accomplish so many valuable learning experiences this school year as well as the past 13 years. 13 may be an unlucky number for most, but this program’s 13th year has been one of Cook’s proudest. Feel free to check out what he and his students have done this year or what they plan on doing in the future on their Instagram (@globalprepsquad), Facebook (@TeamSISA), Twitter (@TeamSISA), or LinkedIn (Summit Technology International Studies). If you or anyone you know has a potential project for the International Studies program, Curtis Cook’s email address is, and his class is located on the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Here’s to hoping for another great year for this program and its students.