The very first Kansas Honors Program was held on December 2, 1971, in Hutchinson.
In its inaugural year, the Kansas Honors Program honored about 1,000 students in 16 countywide programs. Today we honor approximately 3,500 students from 362 high schools in all 105 counties.
The first year of the program, each student received a $25 gift certificate to the Kansas Union Bookstore or the Oread Book Shop. Dictionaries were awarded to scholars until 2017.
An additional 11 counties were added to the program in its second year.
In the first five years of KHP, 9,400 students were recognized.
In February 1977, the 10,000th Kansas Honor Scholar was recognized. Sherwin Frey, then a senior at Goessel High School, was presented with a large commemorative plaque by KU Chancellor Archie Dykes. During high school he was a basketball player, a cross-country runner, an actor in school plays, a member of the choir, a participant in forensics and an artist.
Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S.), served as the executive vice chancellor for University Relations at KU, was the deputy assistant to President Clinton and was a 1978 Kansas Honor Scholar from Harmon High School in Kansas City.
As of 1984, all 105 counties were included in the Kansas Honors Program.
1992 Kansas Honor Scholar Shannon Polly, Topeka West High School, was named to the 2nd team “All USA High School Academic Team” and attended Yale University.
The Woodward Scholarship was first awarded in 1997. The first recipients were Tami Larson of Ozawkie and Christopher Milligan of Overland Park.
In February 2007, the Alumni Association recognized the 100,000th Kansas Honor Scholar, Audrey Allison, then a senior at Larned High School. She also visited the Statehouse in Topeka during the annual KU in the Capitol event. During high school she was a volleyball player and cheerleader, and a member of drama club, 4-H, student council and the National Honor Society.
Perry Ellis, former KU basketball player, is a 2011 Kansas Honor Scholar.
During the 2012-13 school year, every athletic team at KU with the exception of women’s basketball and women’s tennis included at least one Kansas Honor Scholar.