The 2012 Great Bend High School GBHS Hall of Fame inductees have been announced. Honored will be longtime teacher and school administrator Karla (Bender) Leibham and civic leader Bill McKown, who refuses to let paralysis keep him from being active in the community.
The Hall of Fame ceremonies are planned for Friday, Feb. 15. The luncheon will be held at the Highland Hotel and Convention Center at 11:45 a.m. and the induction ceremony will take place at approximately 7:10 p.m., between the girls’ and boys’ basketball games in the GBHS gym. A reception will follow the games in the Jack Kilby Commons and the public is invited.
Ticket sales will be announced later. The cost will be $15.
This marks the fifth year for the HOF. Past inductees include globe-trotting JanSport founder Skip Yowell and microchip inventor Jack Kilby.
After the nominations come in, a committee made up of administrators, teachers, School Board representatives and local residents make the final determination. Nominees must be students, teachers or community members who have made a significant contribution to community or country.
A display case in the GBHS commons contains plaques and memorabilia paying tribute to all the recipients.
Below are the biographies/resumes of the inductees submitted by those who nominated them.
Karla (Bender) Leibham
A school administrator, Karla (Bender) Leibham is a 1968 graduate of GBHS, earning her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Kansas in 1974 and Master’s Degree in 1992. She is now a doctoral student at KU.
She served as an elementary teacher from 1973-1993, principal of Holy Spirit Catholic School, Overland Park, from 1993-1998, principal of Will Rogers Elementary, Edmond, Okla., from 1998-1999, and principal of St. Ann Catholic School, Prairie Village, from 1999-2003. She is currently the associate superintendent of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas City, Kan.
During her career as an educator, Leibham has been both a public and Catholic school teacher and principal. She has always been known as a high-energy, extremely knowledgeable and skilled, warm individual.
She has served on the Assessment Advisory Council and the Curriculum Coordinators Committee for the Kansas Department of Education. She has also served for more than 20 years as a counselor. Most recently, she has been the associate director for the KAY Leadership summer camps, sponsored by the Kansas State High School Activities Association.
She is known for her exuberant personality, but also for her educational creativity and innovation. She works with schools across the archdiocese to help them with accreditation. She has conducted hundreds of workshops for faculties on topics such as instructional plans, data analysis, and school improvement.
Over the years, she has been has received many honors and been and continues to be a part of several state and college educational commissions and advisory teams. She earned the M. Claradine Johnson Award for work with NCA in 2009.
She has also helped direct student stage productions.
Bill McKown is a 1974 Honor Graduate of GBHS. During his senior year, he constructed the fiber-glass Black Panther which still adorns the entrance way of the high school. Upon graduation, he attended the University of Kansas and was named KU’s “Outstanding Freshman Art Student.” His various works of art won eight consecutive first place awards at the Kansas State Fair. He also received a “Scholastic Art Award”; exhibited a water color painting at the World’s Fair in Tokyo, Japan; and won “Best of Show” at the National Boy Scout Jamboree Art Expo in Farragut, Idaho. This last award was presented to him by Bob Hope.
After a summer of working at Philmont Scout Ranch in 1975, he was a passenger in a serious automobile accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down and confined to a wheelchair. After over six months of hospitalization and rehabilitation, he returned to Great Bend.
Unable to pursue his art career at that time, McKown became the first wheelchair bound graduate of Barton County Community College in 1978 … again graduating with honors. After graduation he went to work for DaMac Drilling Oil & Gas Company and became President of DaMac Construction Company. In 1991, McKown earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Friends University.
As an active Boy Scout Leader, McKown serves on the prestigious National Boy Scout Philmont Ranch Board and on the Staff Association Board. Philmont is a high adventure camp and training center located in northern New Mexico. It serves over 30,000 scouts and leaders annually. In addition, McKown has served locally as Council President, Financial Campaign Chairman, and as a National Representative to the annual BSA meetings.
As an Eagle Scout, he was presented the “Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.” He has received numerous awards for working with local youth during his thirty-plus years involvement with scouting, including being designated “Outstanding Scout Master” for his many years of service.
In 1981, he was successful in convincing former President Gerald Ford to come to Great Bend to serve as the guest speaker for the annual Eagle Scout recognition banquet.
McKown has been involved in numerous volunteer organizations at the national, state, and local levels. He served as the Kansas Delegate to the first-ever “Presidents Commission for the Handicapped,” where he attended meetings in Washington D.C. and met personally with President Jimmy Carter. Prior to passage of the “American Disabilities Act,” he was instrumental in making several architectural changes which have made facilities more accessible for physically disabled individuals. McKown was a Craig Hospital “Spinal Cord Foundation Century of Rebuilding Lives” recipient. He is also a “Wilderness on Wheels” and “National Sports Center for the Disabled” member. While paralyzed he is participated in numerous outdoor activities including hot air ballooning, snow skiing, dog sledding, four wheeling, swimming, sea kayaking and snorkeling.
He has served as President of the Great Bend Kiwanis Club where he was named “Outstanding Kiwanis President” and received the international “Hixon Award.” McKown also served as President of the Great Bend Jaycees and was honored with the “U.S. Jaycees Outstanding Young Kansan” and “U.S. Jaycees Ambassador” awards. In 1996, he was selected to be an “Olympic Torch Bearer” representing central Kansas.
He has also served on the Board of Directors for the Barton Arts Council, the Pawnee County Scout Museum, and the Brit Spaugh Zoological Society. McKown is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, United Way fund raiser, Cheyenne Bottoms refuge contributor, Relay for Life Cancer team, GBHS Panther Booster Club, and BCC Cougar Booster Club.
As an active member of his church, he was presented the “God and Service Award.” McKown was a worship leader at Scout Sunday church services for seventeen years.
McKown has recently resumed his art work by utilizing a mouthstick to compose computer graphic art. For the past five years, he has won numerous awards for his artwork … including five “1st place” ribbons at the Kansas State Fair and “Best of Show” at the Barton Community College Shaffer Art Gallery and various other art shows.