Along with Topeka West High’s seventh annual Hall of Fame ceremony, the campus will be formally dedicated on Sunday in memory of the school’s first principal and “first Charger.”
Owen Henson, chosen to lead Topeka West in 1960, the year before the school opened, was seen as an “innovator and a visionary” when Topeka West was created.
“In an effort to combine the efficiency and other advantages of a larger school with the feel of a smaller setting his ‘school within a school’ concept was implemented,” according to information provided by the Hall of Fame committee. “A system of smaller school-like divisions shaped the characteristic campus feel and multi-building design.”
Henson, who served 14 years as Topeka West’s principal and died in 2014, was also seen as a mentor to his staff and supportive of his students.
“His empathy toward all kids was legendary and placed him ahead of his time,” according to committee members.
The campus dedication and Hall of Fame ceremony will begin at 1:45 p.m. Sunday.
The following people will be inducted as members of the 2017 Topeka West Hall of Fame:
James Smoot, a graduate of the Class of 1964, will be posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame. He served in the Vietnam War and later attended Yale Law School, where he served as the executive editor of the Yale Law Journal. He later served as the dean of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis from 2004-08 and was serving as dean emeritus of the law school when he died in 2011.
Linda Davis Applegarth, a graduate of the Class of 1965, began serving on the staff of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in 1987. She later was promoted to the position of clinical associate professor of psychology in obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive medicine. She has also been a researcher and writer in the fields of OB-GYN psychology, psychiatry, reproductive medicine and infertility issues. Applegarth received a national award in 2007 from RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association.
Tom Averill, a graduate of the Class of 1967, is writer-in-residence and a professor of English at Washburn University. He teaches creative writing, Kansas literature, folklore and film.
He was a co-founder and first director of the Washburn Center for Kansas Studies and speaks often on Kansas culture. Averill’s novel, “rode,” was named Outstanding Western in 2011 by the Western Heritage Awards, and Averill has served as a Michael L. Printz author-in-residence at Topeka West High School many times.
John Dicus, a graduate of the Class of 1979, is chairman and chief executive officer of Capitol Federal Financial, having joined the company in 1985. He became president in 1996.
Along with serving on many community boards, he has served on the Capitol Federal Foundation, which built the Capitol Federal Natatorium at Hummer Sports Park. The foundation and the Dicus family have continued to support Topeka West initiatives.
The following two people will receive the 2017 Topeka West Distinguished Staff Award:
Susan Affolter taught physical education, health, served as a counselor and director of the WestSider dance team from 1976 to 2014. She was considered an innovator and leader in curriculum and methods in physical education and health instruction. The WestSiders were recognized as of the country’s outstanding high school dance teams under Affolter’s leadership.
Earl Williams was a social studies teacher and coach from 1968 to 2002. He was known as “The Big E,” and was considered a “fixture” in Topeka West’s Building B, where he taught his social studies classes. Many of the students he coached as an assistant coach for cross country and track received local and state recognition.
Contact reporter Angela Deines at (785) 295-1143 or @AngelaDeines on Twitter.