Who doesn’t love a nice, relaxing snow day, right? Wrong. Well, at least for members of the newspaper staff. We just started issue six, and as it is already a super short deadline, the snow days are really putting a damper on our abilities to get a lot done. Short worknight, which is when we usually turn rough drafts in, is on Monday. However, with the snow days and a super short deadline, we had to push our rough draft due date back to Wednesday. Hopefully we won’t have any more snow days this week; we have a paper to finish. Besides, I’m actually getting a bit bored of sleeping all day.
I’m a little torn here. As much as I’ve enjoyed being cozy by the fireplace and snuggling up with a good book the past few days, we’ve got issue six to finish. Eh, I’ll make a snow day pro/con list later. As Austin already said, this deadline is much shorter than our previous deadlines, so the snow days threw us for a loop. But we’re still determined to put out a solid sixth issue. Staff members, if you’re currently reading this, STOP. Work on your stories and designs NOW. We’re watching you … Luckily we haven’t initiated freak-out mode yet, but stay tuned for next week’s blog. Things may change.
I love having snow days. But if the weather could just cooperate with my schedule, that’d be great. As Austin said, our short worknight is on Monday, meaning we only had two school days to get everything done before worknight. Needless to say, that’s a little stressful because it’s hard to design pages, conduct interviews and take pictures when school is canceled and the snow is piled up in your driveway. Plus, who can turn down sitting by the fire, drinking hot chocolate and watching Netflix? Regardless, I hope that the snow days won’t set us back too far.
Senior Hanna Torline found out that she was named a National Merit Scholarship finalist on Thursday, Feb. 7.
There were 16,000 semifinalists and Torline was one of 15,000 finalists. She was very relieved but not very surprised when she found out.
“I walked into my independent study class and Mrs. Habiger said that the counseling office needed to see me,” Torline said. “She walked with me [to the counseling office] because she said she needed to do something. We walked past Mr. Burwell’s office and into the back conference room where everybody was waiting with signs and bubbles and they were taking pictures. I was surprised that everybody was there, but I was mostly relieved I had been named a finalist. When you find out that you’re a semifinalist, there is a very good chance that you will become a finalist which is why I wasn’t very surprised.”
A lot of work was put into Torline’s application and according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, finalists are selected on a basis of skills, accomplishment, potential for success and rigorous college studies.
“I was really glad when I found out that I had been selected because I knew that if I wasn’t named a finalist, it would be my fault because my application was sent in a day past the due date,” Torline said.
Counselor Randy Burwell is very proud of Torline and her success.
“I was very hopeful that things would go well and I’m really pleased,” Burwell said. “For her to reach that level of academic excellence as a junior last October [when she took the test] is marvelous. She’s one of the best and brightest.”
When someone is an editor for a newspaper, it’s obviously their duty to edit. Whether it be copy, secondary copy, designs, photos or captions, editing is crucial. Our last issue, for some reason, we had an unusual problem with typos. This was out of character for our staff, who usually does a great job avoiding errors. But this issue was definitely our most stressful for some reason, so I guess I can see how everyone let silly typos slip by. Luckily, however, Kristina, Hanna and I checked for typos extra thoroughly before sending to the press. Be sure to check out issue five online; but if you happen to spot a typo, don’t tell us or we’ll feel especially disappointed this time around.
Issue five had an unusually long deadline – something we thought would be very beneficial to our staff. However, it turns out that the longer the deadline, the longer our staff waits to complete their stories. I understand that, it’s human nature to procrastinate. But I don’t understand why this issue our staff overlooked the simple typos that spellcheck would catch. I love you guys, I really do, but if see one more misplaced apostrophe or a ‘their’ instead of ‘there,’ you will get the boot no questions asked. Just kidding. Sort of. But really, spell check is a beautiful thing. Use it.
Austin, Kristina and I always make sure we edit the paper before sending it to the printer. We go through the pages, read the copy and captions, make sure the page numbers are correct and look for any other mistakes. Usually, we scoff at some of the little mistakes that were overlooked, fix them and move on. But this time it was another story. This issue can be described in one word, and I won’t sugarcoat it: procrastination. As a staff, almost everyone put their work off until the last minute. So at the end of Monday night, when the paper was supposed to be finished, we were really disappointed. When the pages are full of typos and errors, it’s hard to look past those mistakes and see the actual content. But after spending an unbelievable amount of time fixing little mistakes, we were finally able to take a step back and realize that issue five turned out really well, thanks to spellcheck and some sleep-deprived editors.
Often the most anticipated and well-attended basketball game of the year is against Bonner Springs High School, the Jaguars’ district rival. This season, the teams met at Bonner on Friday, Jan. 11, the Jaguar boys winning 64 – 42 and girls winning 47 – 21. The teams will meet again when the Jaguars play at home on Friday, Feb. 12.
Senior forward Stephanie Lichtenauer looks forward to the competitiveness of each game against the Braves.
“I think it is [a rivalry],” Lichtenauer said. “It is always a close game against Bonner and it’s always a great feeling when we come out with the [win].”
The Jaguars are leading the all-time contest against the Braves 20 – 8. Because of this seemingly one-sided margin, some students and players have questioned whether Bonner should still be considered the school’s rival.
“I think the rivalry is definitely not as even as some others,” senior forward Nathan Stacy said. “But the Bonner games are still always really intense.”
Senior Blake Miles agrees that even if the scores are often skewed to favor the Jaguars, the students continue to have strong feelings about the outcomes of the games.
“I think the rivalry is fueled with very strong emotions from both sides,” Miles said. “I personally have dangerously passionate negative feelings towards Bonner, [but I] think the rivalry is good for competition.”
Stacy thinks that regardless of the level of competition, the two schools will continue to be rivals because the fans will continue to have an interest.
“People get really into the games and take it seriously,” Stacy said. “Even if it’s not close, it’s always a big deal to beat Bonner.”
Since head coach Justin Bogart was coaching at the school when it opened, he remembers when the Jaguars and Braves first began their rivalry.
“It really began when [the Braves] joined the Kaw Valley League and we played them two times a year in basketball,” Bogart said. “Also, just the natural location and proximity of the schools to each other made it a natural rivalry … and there are some differences between the schools as well in terms of which areas the schools serve. There are some cultural issues at work there.”
Some of those issues were most prevalent when some Jaguar fans came to a game dressed in white trash bags in 2008, when former student Miranda Fields was a sophomore, in response to the Braves students dressing in preppy clothing the previous game.
“The rivalry was intense and playing Bonner was always a fun game to watch,” Fields said. “I don’t think the students that wore trash bags were trying to be malicious but [it seemed that way] to many adults and other students, [and] the joke was not taken lightly. At the time it didn’t bother me very much but I thought we should show more class.”
Bogart agrees with Fields’ perception of the rivalry.
“It enflamed the rivalry,” Bogart said. “That’s probably when it took on its legend. Yes, [the trash bags were] probably in poor taste … [But at the same time] I think that it’s almost a myth that it has not been a good-natured rivalry. I’ve not seen animosity at an actual school-sponsored event. The schools have taken some jabs at each other but I’ve never seen it to be hostile.”
Over the past two years, our school has been bombarded with pleas to vote for one of the district elementary schools in a technology grant of some kind. Last year, Mize Elementary won a $50,000 grant for technology through the Pepsi Refresh Project, and Prairie Ridge recently won $25,000 in a Clorox voting contest, also to be used for technology. Most students at our school would attest to the fact that these schools campaigned heavily for the voting, trying everything from making YouTube videos, to handing out treats to students, to coming up with creative slogans (iMize technology), to airing ads on MVTV.
But after voting multiple times for both Mize and Prairie Ridge, I began to wonder what the money would be used for. Yes, I want to fully support the schools in our district. But our district doesn’t seem to be struggling. In fact, it just spent $1.3 million to purchase 1,274 new computers, some of which benefitted the district elementary schools. Yet the elementary schools made it seem as if both grants were necessary to their improvement.
Mize initially ran for both a Clorox grant and a Pepsi grant, hoping to purchase new computers for the school and buy Smart Boards, interactive white boards that teachers can control while still moving around the room. Prairie Ridge ran for another Clorox grant with the goal to “provide students access to Smart Boards, Tablets, iPads, Doc Cams, Skype and updated laptops,” according to the information on the Power a Bright Future website.
North Elementary, a school in Brighton, Colo., was also in the running for the Clorox grant against Prairie Ridge. The school only has laptops for teachers, many of its students do not have access to computers at home, the library has no computers available to students and its TVs play only VHS tapes. Only 53 percent of the school’s students are proficient in reading, compared to 96.1 percent in our district. Yet, despite the seemingly obvious differences in the needs of the two schools, Prairie Ridge won the voting contest for the Clorox grant. North Elementary only received money after being named the “Judge’s Pick.”
While it is important to make sure the schools in our district have the resources they need to be successful, we should also consider the wider picture. When one school wins a technology grant, another one loses. If another school in the country has a greater need for the money, they should receive it. The elementary schools shouldn’t be selfish and run for the grants unless they have a real need for the technology. Let’s face it, there are schools and districts in our country that need technology significantly more than we do. And while Smart Boards and iPads would be great, students in our district don’t need them to be successful.
With the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary still generating a lot of debate, school districts across the country have been forced to shift their attention to the issue of school safety, and De Soto is no exception. While the district and school are taking steps to address security concerns, many students and teachers feel like more work needs to be done.
According to director of administrative services and community relations Alvie Cater, the district is taking many steps to increase the safety of the schools, including a focus on improving intruder drills.
“We are increasing the frequency of intruder drills because training is important,” Cater said. “But each incident is different and you have to be prepared for a variety of things. What we’re trying to do is come up with the best practice. Then we have to know that our staff knows what to do and our students know what to do. It’s an ongoing process.”
Chairman of the Building Leadership Team Brian Rodkey also believes that practicing intruder drills more routinely would make students and teachers more confident with the procedure. The first intruder drill of this year occurred on Thursday, Feb. 7. While the school does practice an intruder drill once every year, last year’s drill practiced only the lockdown portion of the procedure. Students and teachers were only told to lock their doors as the drug dogs entered the building and were not required to practice hiding or other procedures for dealing with an intruder in the building.
Rodkey said intruder drills need to be increased and improved.
“We practice fire drills time and time again,” Rodkey said. “As soon as the fire alarm goes off you assume it’s a drill, not a fire. Then students don’t panic. It’s the same with an intruder drill. If there’s an intruder and you know what you are supposed to do, your level of anxiety goes down.”
Freshman Shelby Badger is one of the 339 students in her grade who have never gone through an intruder drill at the school, something she sees as a large potential problem.
“I have no idea what the school wants me to do if there’s an intruder,” Badger said. “[A large group] of students don’t know what to do. It’s a little bit unsettling.”
Junior Jordan Fisher agrees with Badger.
“We used to practice [intruder drills] all the time in elementary school, but now we don’t really practice them at all,” Fisher said. “I think [the administration] should tell us more of what to do.”
Rodkey also believes that intruder drills should be updated and encompass more situations to better prepare students, such as explaining what to do if a student were in the hallway, bathroom, lunchroom or library.
“I think the current plan is great in the first steps,” Rodkey said. “[But] the last thing I want to be doing is lying on the floor when someone comes in to kill me. I think that last part of the plan is outdated … We should [also] be able to come up with a reasonable plan of what to do in an ‘everyday life’ scenario … You would like to go your whole career never having an intruder in the building. But it’s hard to later think that it could have been stopped if we had prepared and communicated better.”
Whether there’s a plan in place or not, it hasn’t been communicated to a level where every person in the building knows how to respond.”
After hearing these concerns, Principal Tobie Waldeck ensured that certain changes will be made to the intruder drill procedure.
“What is going to be done to take certain [concerns] into account is we will increase the frequency of intruder drills and the first one next year is going to be done in August,” Waldeck said. “Also, I think having an intruder drill during lunch is a good idea … We realize the importance of this. The district is committed to school safety, as are we.”
Also part of the process for analyzing security, members of the Building Crisis Team have met to examine the safety procedures. The school’s team has met twice since Sandy Hook, and consists of teachers and administrators, including school psychologist Debbie Gudenkauf.
“There’s no way you can ever be prepared for every single scenario,” Gudenkauf said. “You have to make sure the bones of the plan are solid but fluid enough to adjust to different situations.”
Waldeck has been involved in both meetings and believes the school is working toward its goals.
“Our goals are to provide as much normalcy in the building as possible and to keep kids safe,” Waldeck said. “Returning to normalcy promotes calmness and consistency, and it prevents panic. We don’t want a knee-jerk reaction. We want to think through methodically how we are going to handle various situations.”
If an intruder were to enter the school, they would first have to go through the office. In order to prepare if this situation ever occurred, Homeland Security made sure the receptionists knew their duties.
“[Having an intruder] come through the office is a lot better than them just going into the school,” receptionist Lynn Bath said. “We each have specific jobs that we are supposed to do in case of an emergency. Homeland Security came in and they were very intense. They just drilled us. It was almost as if they wanted us to be anxious, as we would be in an emergency.”
School nurse Heather Van Dyke, a member of the team, believes that the team has been accomplishing its objectives.
“I think it’s been great,” Van Dyke said. “Mr. Waldeck has been right on it. They had all of the information there and meetings have been largely to review … It just comes to the forefront unfortunately [after an incident like Sandy Hook].”
While many teachers and students are pleased that the team members are meeting to discuss further safety options, some have concerns they believe should be addressed, including classroom doors that can only be locked from the hallway as opposed to from the inside of the classroom. Math teacher Kristen Chavez is one of many teachers who have these locks.
“If we were to have an intruder, I’d have to open the door to lock it,” Chavez said. “I [feel] that doing so would put the students at risk.”
Waldeck believes that the team will look into the locks.
“I think they are working with police, the fire department, etc. to see exactly what can be done,” Waldeck said. “That is not an inconvenience that is strictly in this building, and it is a concern that has been communicated.”
Until the problem can be fixed, Chavez has decided to keep her door locked at all times.
“[Because I lock my door, it is] kind of a pain to get up every time, but it really isn’t that big of a deal,” Chavez said. “I feel like I can do my part to keep my students and myself safe by becoming more aware of strangers.”
There are also issues some teachers and students have regarding the crisis manuals that are supposed to be available to teachers in every room. The manuals were removed during first semester to be updated, but they have not yet been returned. The manuals were being updated with easy-to-understand language, but they are currently not finished.
“For me as a seasoned teacher, I pretty much know protocol for crisis situations,” English teacher Dorothy Swafford said. “But as a new teacher I can see how that can be stressful to not understand protocol or know what steps to take.”
While Cater sees the need for manuals to be distributed back to teachers, he believes they should be used before a crisis, not in the event of one.
“The [crisis manual] is designed to help prepare staff in advance,” Cater said. “In the event of a crisis, clear communication is going to be the best thing … [The changes are] definitely in response to what happened in Newtown. The tragedy in Newtown is a shift in the paradigm. It’s going to be part of the national conversation and this is just an extension of that.”
Senior Alyx Stephenson is also concerned about the lack of communication between teachers and administration.
“In general I feel pretty safe at our school,” Stephenson said. “But I think we could do better at educating everyone on the plan of action in case of an emergency. Teachers are supposed to be the ones protecting the kids and if the teachers don’t know what to do, they’re putting students’ lives at risk.”
Librarian Andy Shelly has had to deal with a school crisis before first-hand. The middle school Shelly taught at as a math teacher in the early 1990s in Kansas City, Kan. experienced a school shooting. A student walked into the lunchroom and fired shots, injuring two students.
“If you think about the number of schools in the country and how many incidents have happened at those schools in the last 50 years, I don’t think anybody imagines that could happen at their school,” Shelly said. “But you have to try to prepare yourself for the worst possible scenario. I didn’t think it could happen where I was at and I don’t think it could happen here. But you have to prepare for the worst.”
Waldeck realizes that the current problems with communication need to be solved and is willing to work toward finding solutions.
“As a principal, the last thing I want is for the staff and students to be confused or not feel safe,” Waldeck said. “Absolutely there are things we could improve. [Sandy Hook] has opened a lot of eyes. We do take it seriously and we are willing to make corrections … We will conduct drills, get SRO input, gather information from the Building Leadership Team, make adjustments and repeat. I love my staff and I love my students and I want to take care of them.”
Last year, many of JagWire‘s covers were illustrations done by our beast of an artist, 2012 graduate Adam Henderson. While he always did an awesome job and is beyond talented, us three editors decided we preferred having photo illustrations on our covers. A photo illustration is essentially a posed or manipulated photo and its goal is to tell a story in that one frame. People often tell you not to judge a book by its cover, but whoever said not to judge a newspaper by its cover? Obviously a captivating cover is what gets people to read our paper, so it’s crucial that we come up with something awesome. The cover photo illustrations always correlate with our double page spread and have all been taken by Kristina this year, who has done a great job. One exception was our issue three cover, which was a dream catcher painting done by our artist, Riley McDonald. The photo illustrations we’ve done this year are a bit hard to describe in a short amount of words, but if you check out our Issuu profile you can look at digital versions of each of our papers.
Similar to what Austin said, we’ve started doing photo illustrations for our covers instead of the usual cartoons we did last year. In my opinion, photo illustrations have a more modern feel and convey a stronger, more realistic message. The illustrations are also really fun to pose. We usually take about a full class period to model and pose our illustrations, often trying out a few different techniques such as adjusting the light. We debate the different photos and pick the best photo illustration that accurately represents our double page topic.
Well, Hanna should be speaking, but she’s been home sick. Hanna, if you’re reading this, you best be rested and feeling better by Monday’s long worknight.
Note from Hanna: Disregard the order of these blogs. They were written out of order. For clarification, see “Hanna speaking.”
It’s clearly no secret that our whole staff is overjoyed with our new Mac computers. However, there is one teeny weeny problem with them: no fonts. For the paper, we use certain Herff Jones fonts that don’t come with any computers and must be manually installed. Because we haven’t yet had the fonts installed, it has been a setback for our page designers. Obviously fonts play a huge roll in the visual aspect of the paper, but one thing I’ve never realized is how hard it is to design pages without them. Even if we use filler text, when we get the fonts installed and change all of our pages’ fonts to the right ones, it will mess up all of the spacing and whatnot. I’ll have to start working on my pages at home (my computer has InDesign with the correct fonts) to ensure my pages don’t come together last minute; I don’t think my staff would appreciate a double page spread that looks like it was designed by a two year old.
Kristina speaking: Hanna, may I remind you that all of first semester you wrote your blog on Sunday nights? As Hanna stated, Austin was too proud of his blog post this week to change the topic, so now you guys are forced to read about our now non-existant Herff Jones font issues. This week, we were blessed with the computer gods finally installing our newspaper’s fonts. We have an extra week to put out this issue, so not having the fonts didn’t set us back too much. This year is finally back in the swing of things. We’re midway through issue five and we haven’t had any major difficulty with the new Mac computers. The staff is still learning how to design on them, but I can tell everyone feels very fortunate to have them.
This blog should give you insight into how organized we editors-in-chief really are. As usual, Austin got his blog done ahead of time because he is such an overachiever. However, this time it backfired. After Austin’s draft was written, fonts were installed on our computers (which we, as Austin said, desperately needed). So Austin was ahead of the game, as usual, but after refusing to update his blog after we actually received the fonts, he looked like a fool, as usual. Moving on to the topic of fonts, we didn’t realize how much we needed them until we couldn’t design without them. Waiting until a few days before worknight was stressful, but I can trade a Mac computer for a few days without fonts. Also, just so you know, I didn’t forget about Kristina. I just can’t comment on her blog because, as usual, it isn’t written yet.
What a sad week this has been. Our staff was forced to say goodbye to our ads manager, Austin Gude, and one of our reporters, Kate Schau. Gude decided to become a part-time student and Kate left staff because she needed to attain a health credit. As bummed as I am to have lost two great staffers, I do feel they both had understandable reasons. Gude, if you are reading this, Jack (Lopez, our opinion editor) misses you dearly. And Kate, my dear, I do think it’s important for you to know all about the STIs floating around this planet.
We are sad to say that we’ve lost two of our staff members this semester. As Austin and Hanna have said, we lost Austin Gude to the part-time cult and we lost Kate Schau to Health class (have fun watching babies being born!). We’re sad to see our staff get smaller, however this just means we have to up our game and take on a few extra assignments. I hope Kate joins the staff again in the fall; we will miss her talent and enthusiasm. We love you both and please come back to visit us on worknights.
Getting back into the swing of things after break has been little bit difficult, but we have noticed definitely the absence of a few of our staff members. One of our writers left staff at semester (hope you’re enjoying health class, Kate), and Gude, our ads manager left because he changed his schedule to part-time. We obviously mourned our missing staff members when they announced that they were leaving, but we are just now realizing that we are missing a part of our newspaper family. So this blog is in memory of Kate and Gude. As much as we complained about you both (a lot, especially behind your backs) we really miss you. Come back and visit us. And Gude, don’t forget to finish your ad pages.
After scoring 26 points in the first quarter, going 9-9 from the field with six three-point shots, the varsity girls basketball team defeated Bonner Springs High School 47-21 on Friday, Jan. 11. With the win over the Indians, the Jaguars advanced to 6-0 in league and 7-1 overall.
The Jaguar defense held the Indians’ high-scorer, senior guard Anna Deegan, who averaged 16.7 points per game before Friday, to a season-low 6 points.
“One of the reasons we’re 7-1 is because we are a very good defensive team, we guard,” head coach John McFall said. “We have very good feet, we spring back on defense and we create a lot of turnovers. When you start talking about the other team’s best offensive player, like Deegan, [senior guard] Kenzie Koch guards them and guards them well.”
Although McFall points out Koch as one of the Jaguars’ best defensive players, he says that many other players contribute.
“The luxury is, it’s not just Kenzie [Koch],” McFall said. “[Junior guard] Mary Altman can guard anybody. That’s something as a coach that’s very important … We have a lot of depth on our team. The other people just step up.”
Both games last season between the Jaguars and the Indians were won by only one point. The Indians won the first game 38-37, while the Jaguars won the second 34-33. The game on Friday proved to have a different outcome.
“The Bonner game was exactly what we needed as a team,” senior forward Brooklyn Sloop said. “It helped us gain some confidence after the close games with them last year. We did well by just going out there and doing exactly what we wanted to do: win by a big margin.”
The next game for the Jaguars is at Shawnee Mission South High School on Friday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m.