The Mill Valley High School journalism department earned numerous honors at Saturday’s Kansas Scholastic Press Association State Journalism Contest, including the school’s second 5A state journalism title in the last four years.
Lead by seniors Kristina Milewski, Austin Gillespie and Jillian Mullin, the team of 14 students outpaced Wichita’s Bishop Carroll to win the state title, 39-35. Mill Valley also won state journalism titles in 2004, 2009 and 2010. Click here to read more about the contest.
The following students placed in the state contest:
Senior Kristina Milewski: first places in feature writing and in photo illustration and honorable mention in caption writing
Senior Austin Gillespie: third place in newspaper design and in headline writing and honorable mention in photo illustration
Senior Jillian Mullin: honorable mentions in sports photography, in yearbook design and in yearbook copy writing
Senior Ellen Bodine: first place in yearbook sports writing
Senior Kelsey Floyd: second place in academic photography
Seniors Miranda Snyder, Jenna Middaugh and Haley Woods: second place in video news story
Senior Miranda Snyder: honorable mention in academic photography
Senior Hanna Torline: honorable mention in sports writing
Senior Kelsey Winscott: honorable mention in editorial cartoon
Junior Sydney Wilson: honorable mention in editing
Junior Ryan Fullerton: honorable mention in news writing
Also competing in the contest were seniors Lisa Galvan and Mackenzie Eckman and juniors Alana Flinn and Riley McDonald.
The journalism department also brought home four All-Kansas awards Saturday, the top rating given in the KSPA critique service, for the first time in school history. Mill Valley was the only school in Kansas to earn All-Kansas ratings in the four categories. The 2012 JAG yearbook (editors Rachel Mills and Katherine Beck), the 2013 JagWire newspaper (editors Gillespie, Milewski and Torline), Mill Valley News Online (editors seniors Miranda Snyder and Alec Santaularia and junior Shelby Rayburn) and MVTV (executive producer senior Brenna Iskra and assistant producer Jacob Patterson) earned the ratings. Cindy Swartz is the adviser of MVTV and Kathy Habiger is the adviser of the JAG, JagWire and Mill Valley News Online. Click here to read more about the awards.
Eight athletes signed to play college sports in a group signing ceremony on Wednesday, April 17.
Senior Weston Noyes signed to Hannibal-LaGrange University for golf and is glad to have finally made his decision.
“It’s reassuring knowing you have your decision already made and you don’t have to stress about it the way other people do,” Noyes said. “[I hope] to get better throughout my college career and get the chance to go Division I or Division II.”
Senior Chris Stack signed to swim for William Jewell College and is the first Jaguar swimmer to sign to swim in college.
“It just feels good knowing how much work I’ve put in over the years,” Stack said. “Also, just being the first swimmer to sign for Mill Valley just feels amazing, to be a part of school history. I just couldn’t be happier.”
The following athletes signed:
Senior Hadley Tharp, Fort Hays State University, golf
Noyes, Hannibal-LaGrange University, golf
Senior Joylyn Kennedy, Baker University, track and field
Senior Carlie Howe, Columbia College, soccer
Senior Ryan Bath, Benedictine College, football
Senior Mackenzie Conklin, Doane College, basketball
Senior Nathan Stacy, Truman University, basketball
Stack, William Jewell College, swim
Rehearsals and set construction have begun for the spring play, “You Can’t Take it With You,” described by director Jon Copeland as being about a “free-spirited family full of artists and bohemians.”
There are several differences between this play and those from previous school years.
Most prominently, several females will have to perform male roles as a result of having a small cast and a larger amount of actresses than actors. Copeland attempted to change the genders of characters in the play to match the actresses but was denied by the publishing company.
“When I first heard from the publishing company that I couldn’t change the genders, I was suspicious of the idea [of having females play male roles],” Copeland said. “The actresses have an extra challenge doing it, but they’re doing a great job rising to the occasion, so it’ll be fun. When you perform, you’re already asking the audience to suspend their belief, so it’s just one more thing we’re asking of them.”
Junior Kara Lewis, who will play the part of Mr. De Pinna, is one of those actresses.
“I have to do a man voice,” Lewis said. “I have to walk like a guy, which is the hardest part. I’m going to have my hair up and disguised and I have to have a mustache. It’s really fun because I’ve never done anything like it before and it’s a challenge and I like that.”
Sophomore Tessa Wahlmeier also has to play a male role.
“We have to make our voices lower and watch how we stand,” Wahlmeier said. “I think it’s challenging, but it’s really fun to do that.”
According to Copeland, the small cast is not affecting how he has to direct the play.
“In the play, whether you have a big cast or not, it’s not like you have a musical with a big ensemble and everybody on stage,” Copeland said. “In ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ it felt smaller even though the cast was not smaller.”
Copeland said one of the major differences between “You Can’t Take It With You” and previous plays is the era in which it takes place.
“The last couple of years, we’ve been ancient,” Copeland said. “We’ve done Shakespeare, and ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was in the 1800s. [‘You Can’t Take It With You’] is more of our period. It’s in the 1930s, so it’s more contemporary.”
Another difference between this year’s play and previous plays is the use of a single set. This is because the setting of every scene never changes.
“Every scene takes place in the living room,” Copeland said. “With a set like this where you permanently build one set, you can add a lot more detail.”
Lewis thinks that the audience will respond well to each of the performances with both casts.
“I think it’s going to be really good and really funny and the two casts are going to do super differently with how they perform it,” Lewis said.
Copeland agrees, hoping that the audience enjoys the story as much as he always has.
“It will warm peoples’ hearts,” Copeland said. “My expectations are that it will be funny, thought-provoking, and heartwarming. I’ve loved the movie for a long time. I’ve directed it before [and] my wife’s been in it, so I just know it and enjoy it. It’s a nice, heartwarming story.”
Performances will run from Wednesday, May 1 to Saturday, May 4.
The unofficial results of the Tuesday, April 2 ballot have been released by the Johnson County Election Office.
For Position #4 on the Board of Education, Scott Hancock was elected over Jeff Hopkins and Calvin Hayden by receiving 46.27 percent of the votes. Incumbent Dick Dearwester was uncontested for Position #5, and Rachele Zade defeated incumbent Tammy Thomas for Position #6 by receiving 57.82 percent of the vote.
The ballot also asked for voters to authorize an adjustment to the district’s Local Option Budget from 30 percent of 31 percent to make up for a $3 million funding loss that will take effect in the next two years. The adjustment was approved by 72.43 percent of the votes. This will make the school eligible for Cost of Living funding, which will help to offset the funding loss.
“In the coming weeks the district will make the necessary preparations for the 2013-14 fiscal year which will utilize the Cost of Living adjustment,” director of administrative services and community relations Alvie Cater said via email.
While the adjustment will help offset the loss, the district will still operate at a loss of $85,000. As a result, the district will be required to cut some of its expenses.
“The school district is already taking steps to address the reduced funding,” Cater said. “All district departments will reduce operating expenses by 10 percent next school year. We will continue to search for efficiencies across the district to maximize existing operational dollars. For example, through competitive pricing we will spend $4,400 less on copy paper next year than we did this year. While that is a small example, it illustrates the steps we are taking to be good stewards.”
The district is asking voters to authorize a change to its Local Option Budget on the Tuesday, April 2 ballot in order to replace $3 million in funding the district will be losing.
Over the last 13 years, the district has received Extraordinary Growth funding. This funding is available for districts that have student enrollment growth of 5 percent for three consecutive years and that are opening new facilities. However, the district’s growth has slowed to less than 2 percent, and no new facilities are currently being opened. Loss of Extraordinary Growth funding will result in a loss of $3 million over the next two years. If the district does not find a way to replace that funding, it would have to make decisions to cut various jobs and programs.
“A loss in funding of $3 million is truly significant for the school district,” director of administrative services and community relations Alvie Cater said. “If we were to sustain such a loss, we simply cannot continue to offer the same level of services, programs and jobs.”
To make up for the loss, the district wants to adjust its Local Option Budget, or LOB, which supplies money for the district’s day-to-day activities, from 30 percent to 31 percent. This adjustment would generate $376,000 for the district and make the district eligible for a funding source called Cost of Living. This is available for districts located in high-cost living areas, such as Johnson County. The LOB adjustment combined with the Cost of Living funding would help to offset the $3 million loss.
In the past, the district has avoided increasing the LOB to avoid using both funding source to avoid in an increase in taxes. However, an adjustment to the LOB would now cause a decrease in property taxes and will come at no extra expense for families. Rather than ask families in the district for more money, the district wants to use the Cost of Living funding solely as a replacement for the Extraordinary Growth funding.
“I don’t know if I’ve seen that before for a district to ask for an increase in the LOB without an increase in tax rates or the mill levy,” superintendent Dr. Doug Sumner said. “In essence, there’s never been an easier time to support schools.”
The district would still operate at a loss of $85,000 by drawing fewer taxes, but the district hopes to find other ways to make this up.
“We would anticipate student growth could make up this deficit,” director of finance Ken Larsen said. “If not, we would have to look elsewhere in the budget to make it up. We have not determined where that would be at this time.”
Sumner is hopeful that voters will agree with his perspective.
“You get a chance to help your schools, something we know is so important to our community, at no extra cost to yourself,” Sumner said. “In fact, you save a little money. We’re hopeful that the logic behind this measure will be recognized by the community. In my opinion, there’s no reason not to support this because it really is a win-win opportunity.”
After a defeat against Shawnee Mission South High School in the state semifinal game, the boys basketball team rebounded to take third place, beating defending state champions Kapaun Mt. Carmel 75-70 on Saturday, March 9. This is the highest the boys team has ever finished at state.
From the start of the game, the team was successful at making shots, jumping to a lead of 26-12 at the end of the first quarter.
“To start the game, we started off hot,” senior forward Nathan Stacy said. “Our shots were falling tonight, and they weren’t last night.”
Head coach Justin Bogart agrees.
“We got off to a great start, made shots and got stops on defense,” Bogart said.
By halftime, the Jaguars led 40-29, but in the second half Kapaun cut the lead. In the final minute, Mill Valley was up by just 72-70, until freshman guard Logan Koch made three free throws, clinching the 75-70 win.
“[As Kapaun caught up], we just kept trusting each other, trusting our teammates, and we did that and came out victorious,” Stacy said.
Going into the game, the team had to shake off its loss to South the night before, and Bogart said he wanted the team to understand that they could go farther than any previous boys basketball team at Mill Valley.
“Here’s a chance to erase our loss last night and a chance to finish with a win,” Bogart said. “We had a chance to be the best basketball team in Mill Valley history.”
Junior guard Wyatt Voorhes said he also just wanted to end the season with a win.
“It was a tough loss last night, and only two teams get to end the season on a win, so we wanted to be that team,” Voorhes said. “As a team, we just came out with a lot of energy. I feel like we had them beat before the game even started. We just stuck to our game plan and made free throws. That’s how you win games.”
While is goal was the state championship, Stacy is still happy with how the season ended.
“I think we’ll be remembered as the best team at Mill Valley, until someone gets better,” Stacy said. “The best team to have played so far.”
A tough opponent and poor shooting by the Jaguars led to a 70-57 loss to Shawnee Mission South in the state semifinals on Friday, March 8.
South scored the first points of the game with a three-point basket, and the Jaguars struggled against the Raider’s press defense early in the game. South managed to score several more three-point shots and led 21-8 at the end of the first quarter.
The Jaguars continued to struggle in the second quarter, down 35-23 by halftime.
“I can’t remember one time we turned it over against their press defense, which was the main goal,” senior forward Nathan Stacy said.
At the start of the third quarter, only sophomore forward Patrick Muldoon was playing without fouls, who picked up his first early in the quarter. By the end of the quarter, junior guard Wyatt Voorhes, senior guard Kyle Kain and Stacy were all playing with three fouls. Mill Valley had a total of eight team fouls, while South had just three team fouls at the time. South led 51-33 at the end of the quarter.
Mill Valley struggled to make three-point shots throughout the game; Koch made the team’s only three-point shot in the third quarter.
“We just needed some more shots to fall, and for theirs not to fall,” Stacy said. “It didn’t change how we played the game, it changed the outcome of the game. If we would have hit our shots, it would have been a close game down to the wire.”
In the fourth quarter, Stacy scored 11 straight points in an attempt to change the outcome.
“It looked like we were going to lose and I didn’t want to lose, so I started doing anything I could to win,” Stacy said.
The team will play for third place on Saturday, March 9 at 2 p.m.against either Lansing or Kapaun-Mt. Carmel, and Kain is hopeful for the team’s success.
“I don’t think we’re going to change anything,” Kain said. “I just think we’re going to play our game.”
The annual incoming freshmen parent night occurred on Wednesday, March 6.
The parents and incoming freshmen got a chance to hear about the school from the perspectives of two members of the Student Leadership Team, listen to counselors discuss course selection, tour the school and meet with teachers from different departments.
Associate principal Jennifer Smith said she wanted incoming freshmen and their parents to have a better understanding of what the school is like.
” … My main objective of this evening was to give incoming students and parents a sampling of what Mill Valley is,” Smith said. “We say ‘We ARE Mill Valley’ and we wanted to show them what we are.”
Freshmen social studies teacher Kelli Haeffner spoke to parents about what to expect from freshmen social studies courses, as well as providing information for parents and students trying to decide between regular and Pre-AP courses.
“[I wanted to help them understand] the expectations of a Pre-AP course versus a regular course and that if they’re willing to put in the effort and the time, they can do it,” Haeffner said.
One of the incoming freshmen’s parents, Sonna Voss, thought the night was beneficial.
“I really appreciated the tour,” Voss said. “I have a much better understanding of how the school works and [my daughter and I] also gained a better understanding of how the prerequisite system works.”
A total of 18 athletes took part in a group college signing ceremony in the auxiliary gym on Thursday, Feb. 7.
In previous years, athletes have signed separately or in smaller groups. Athletics director David Ewers said the group recognition ceremony was used at his former school and that he wanted to give athletes the chance to celebrate together.
“I felt that it celebrated the athletic department as a whole and I felt that it gave the athletes a chance to celebrate their … signings as a whole,” Ewers said. “I thought it went very well. I think people overall were very pleased with the event, so if those people were pleased, I was pleased. I thought it looked very nice and professional.”
Track coach Chris Dunback had two athletes sign and also enjoyed the event for the group celebration.
“I thought it was a really neat thing,” Dunback said. “Instead of having every kid [sign] on their own, they turned it into a special event and I thought that was awesome. I think it’s one of the best things we’ve done around here in a long time in terms of that. I just think the grandeur of the event … felt like a big deal. It was just a special thing to be a part of. Not only was it something for our athletes but it was also like a celebration of our school.”
The following athletes signed:
Senior Kayla Hammer, University of Central Missouri, soccer
Senior McKenzie Koch, Emporia State University, soccer
Senior Hayley Seibel, Baker University, soccer
Senior Kelli Spring, Wichita State University, softball
Senior Taylor Brunson, Johnson County Community College, softball
Senior Emily Brigham, University of South Dakota, track
Senior Madison Estell, Hillsdale College, track
Senior Molly Kelly, McPherson College, volleyball
Senior LJ Hatch, Johnson County Community College, baseball
Senior Jason Younger, Baker University, baseball
Senior Zach Stinnett, Washburn University, baseball
Senior Skyler Windmiller, Missouri Western University, football
Senior Kendall Short, Missouri Western University, football
Senior Coleman McCann, University of Northern Colorado, football
Senior Knute Holden, Baker University, football
Senior Staton Rebeck, William Jewell College, football
Senior Lincoln Benson, Hutchinson Community College, football
Senior Andrew Campbell, Chadron State College, football
From legal troubles to broken relationships, students share how binge drinking has negatively affected their lives.
I am recovering
When a student who wishes to remain anonymous began binge drinking in seventh grade, having a good time quickly developed into major abuse.
“By the end of the year, my grades slipped, I had no trust with my parents and my relationship with my brother was lost,” he said. “By winter of sophomore year I had my first [Minor in Possession].”
A week into spring break of his sophomore year, he held a party at his house while his mom was out of town. Two days after being put on diversion for his first MIP, he received another MIP and received a charge for hosting a juvenile alcohol party. His was among 16 other MIPs handed out that night.
Since the incident, he has entered an intensive probation program to recover from his alcohol abuse. After two years of required counseling and 20 hours of community service, he will have his record expunged and all of the charges brought against him dropped.
“After that night I realized that I definitely had a problem,” he said. “I was out of control.”
This teen is among half of all U.S. teens who, if they drink before age 14, will develop an addiction to alcohol, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Through the recovery program, he has discovered how to cope with the triggers of his abuse.
“My main reason for using alcohol was pretty much to manage my emotions,” he said. “Now that I’ve gone through treatment, I have the tools and the skills to cope without using the drugs. As of Feb. 4, I am 68 days sober.”
His mother agreed that his sobriety could not have come at a better time.
“The most positive changes I have seen are the motivation to do things right, the light back in his eyes,” she said. “[I] have enjoyed seeing the person he has always had inside reemerge.”
I lost a friend
Even though she doesn’t drink, Sarah Thomas has felt the effects alcohol can have first-hand.
“I had this friend that I used to hang out with all the time,” Thomas said. “I knew she drank, but she never did it around me because she knew I didn’t like it.”
Thomas and her friend were on their way to an event when Thomas found out that her friend had been drinking when they got to their destination.
“I was driving and she was in the backseat,” Thomas said. “When we got where we were going, she was stumbling and asked if I would go with her to the bathroom. I thought she had been acting funny. I just kept wondering, ‘Did she drink? She couldn’t have; I was with her the whole time.’ I just kept denying it.”
Thomas’ friend passed out on the bathroom floor and Thomas didn’t know what to do.
“It was so scary,” Thomas said. “The fact that I’d never seen her drink and there she was, passed out in front of me … I had no idea what I was supposed to do, so I found someone and told them. They called an ambulance but she ended up going home with her dad.”
Thomas’ friend’s drinking hadn’t ever affected Thomas before.
“She knew how to control it, but this time she went overboard,” Thomas said. “Of course, the time she went overboard, she was with me.”
Their friendship ended that night.
“She said she was sorry over and over but I just ignored her,” Thomas said. “I wish I would have confronted her about it. I wish I would have blown up and yelled at her. Maybe if I had, it would have gotten through to her and saved our friendship.”
Through her experiences, Thomas believes drinking in high school isn’t worth it.
“Seeing what happened to her and losing her as a friend just reinforces what I already knew: I won’t drink in high school,” Thomas said. “I lost my best friend. It just seems stupid. There are better things you could be doing.”
I binge drink
According to the Center for Disease Control, one in every five high school girls binge drinks. For one student who wished to remain anonymous, binge drinking is just another trend she has caught on to, as well as a habit she has learned from watching her parents.
“Seeing my dad drinking the way he does makes me want to stop but I can’t,” she said. “He is another reason I started drinking. I think it strongly influences kids when they see their parents drink.”
While teenage drinking is bad, the extremes of all the consequences are not fully recognized by most teens. Drinking can damage the body but it can also damage relationships with friends and family. For this student the relationship with her mom has slowly disintegrated.
“I had a few friends over one night and we decided to get some alcohol and drink in my basement. I had the person bring it over to my house and we thought we had successfully snuck it inside and drank it before my mom could catch us,” the student said. “The next morning my mom had told me she knew I had been drinking that night. I tried to lie but she told me she had seen me sneak it in the house.”
For that student, now it is harder to connect with her parents and there is a lack of trust between them.
However, she said that she chooses to ignore the negatives of drinking for the fun of it.
“I still drink,” she said. “It’s fun and my friends and I like how it makes us feel. We basically just don’t care about anything when we are drinking. I don’t really think about the consequences of drinking. Sometimes I do afterwards, but by then it’s too late.”
Unfortunately, the student recognizes that the only way she’d stop drinking is if she became in trouble with the law.
“I would probably stop because after getting in trouble once,” she said. “The consequences would escalate and it’s just not worth it.”