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EXPRESS 25 years

A Year of Trump

After a year in office, President Donald Trump has incited reactions and sparked controversy across the nation.

Page 16 Volume 25 • issue 4 • Blue Valley Northwest High school


THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018

CONTENTS 04 07 10 13 16 Above: The interior of the smoothie spot, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, located on 12850 W. 87th St., Lenexa. (Photo by Madi Allen). Right: Assistant boys basketball coach David Birch practices with the varsity basketball team Jan. 17. (Photo by TJ Vore). Cover: The numerous events that occurred throughout President Donald Trump’s first year have often been highlighted through his tweets. (Illustration by Kaitlyn Noon).

Pulling a few strings Court General stand by me Perspectives a year of trump

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THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018

Below: Senior Daniel Dong performs an original yo-yo trick called “Cross-Arm Trapeze Variation.” (Photo by Kanishka Mehra). Bottom right: Junior Mark Doyle and seniors Carson Kientz, Kyle Feather and Ryan Sanford started their own barbershop quartet, called “Stand-By.” (Photo by Ellen Bruce).

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Rowing with the flow Breaking the bank smoothie spots Life Styled Opinion


THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018

Pulling a few strings Senior Daniel Dong takes his yo-yo skills to new heights by practicing every day and making his own tricks.

BY Ellie Druten


alking the Dog or All Around the World are just two of the many tricks senior Daniel Dong uses to take his talents to the next level. He started yo-yoing in eighth grade after watching a YouTube video, and continued learning by completing simple tricks. “I just saw how abnormal it was to actually yo-yo and it is interesting to me to see such a simple toy look like

such a talent,” Dong said. “I wanted to learn something that people would normally not consider learning.” Butterfly yo-yos, the model Dong uses, have wider openings than standard yo-yos. He said on occasion, he uses the classic plastic yo-yo. Dong said he makes time to yo-yo at least one hour a day in addition to his school work. Yo-yoing is an important stress reliever for him, but he also loves to show people his unique talent.

“My favorite thing about yo-yoing is probably seeing the faces of so many and the surprise after telling them that I am able to do something that is so simple,” Dong said. Dong’s father, Joseph Dong, said Dong has greatly improved. When Dong started practicing, the yo-yo would fly into light bulbs and hit the wall, Joseph said. “Now I enjoy his performance, his concentration and calmness,” Joseph said.

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THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018 Yo-yoing is a good hobby for Dong because it gets his eyes away from his phone screen, according to Joseph. Furthermore, it enhances the capability of coordinating body movements. Dong’s mother Stella Xie, said she thinks it is a good hobby because it is important to keep practicing and to never give up easily. While learning to yo-yo can be a long process, Dong said he suggests new learners keep practicing.

“he is pretty much a yo-yo god.” - william zhuang “First starting, I probably had the most trouble with just trying to throw down the yo-yo and letting it have a good spin,” Dong said. “Along the way it just got easier and easier as I practiced more.” Zhuang said Dong has taken time to try and teach him how to yo-yo. He taught him fundamentals like how to Walk the Dog, where the yo-yo rolls on the ground, attached to the string. Zhuang said Dong used to be an

amateur and he was not very good, but now he knows all of the pro tricks and he impresses all of his friends. “As I progressed, I just started learning new tricks and from then on, I started inventing my own,” Dong said. “That’s kinda what makes a yo-yo player talented or good at what they do.” While many students enjoy watching Dong yo-yo, Zhuang said he enjoys watching because he can yo-yo so skillfully. “He is pretty much a yo-yo God,” Zhuang said. “He entertains people.” Joseph said he is happy to be the first audience member when Dong grasps or develops new techniques. Zhuang said he believes watching Dong yo-yo inspires others to want to try it. It improves people’s day, according to Zhuang. Xie said her favorite thing about Dong yo-yoing is that she has seen him become a positive and happy person. “It is important to have a hobby to help release stress, to make friends [and] to offer a new challenge,” Xie said.

Left: On a visit to Bryce Canyon, Utah in December 2015, Dong brought along his yo-yo for scenic action shots. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Dong). Right: Senior Daniel Dong does a horizontal finger spin trick with one of his favorite yo-yos. (Photo by Kanishka Mehra).


6830 W. 119TH ST. OVERLAND PARK, KS 66209

THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018

PHONE: (913)-514-4383

Contact OR (913) 239-3544

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THE EXPRESS • issue 4• february 2018

court general Second year assistant basketball coach David Birch utilizes his previous basketball experience playing for Ottawa University and the Washington Generals to coach the Huskies.

by walker johnson


he basketball leaves his hand, arches through the air and crashes down through the hoop, inciting fans to both cheer and jeer in a foreign language. Before assistant varsity coach David Birch started at BVNW in 2016, he spent nearly six years traveling the world playing on the Washington Generals, an American exhibition basketball team that plays hundreds of games each year against the Harlem Globetrotters. Birch played at Olathe East High School from 2001-2005. Although he said he did not receive much playing time on the varsity squad for the Hawks his sophomore and junior year; his senior season earned him multiple offers from college teams. “Since I only started getting recruited as a senior, my options coming out were junior college and NAIA basketball,” Birch said. “I really liked the coach at Ottawa University and he let me know that I was going to play when I got there, and that’s what I was really looking for. I didn’t want to sit behind anybody anymore.”

BVNW assistant boys basketball coach David Birch spins a ball on his index finger. Along with being a assistant coach, Birch also works for the scout team. (Photo by Kanishka Mehra). Starting all but three games of his college career, Birch broke seven records during his time at Ottawa, including the career scoring record, with 2,258 points scored. Current head basketball coach at Ottawa University Aaron Siebenthall arrived to the college as an assistant coach after Birch’s freshman year. Siebenthall said he quickly recognized Birch’s hard work and passion for the game and cited these as reasons for Birch’s success. “He had, and still has, a tremendous motor,” Siebenthall said. “He just goes hard all the time. He never missed an open gym a day in his life, and I can’t think of another player that’s come through our

program since then that has done that. He’s a basketball junkie.” Birch’s picture now hangs in the locker room with the other previous All-American award winners. “They definitely know who he is and they know why he was a really good player,” Siebenthall said. “It wasn’t just because he was skilled or scored a lot of points. It was because he played really, really hard and was very competitive.” After four years at the collegiate level, Birch wanted to play professionally. He signed a contract with an Australian team, but after a month of being paid less than his salary, he returned to the U.S. to play semi-professionally in hopes of


THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018

While running the scout team during practice before last year’s state championship basketball game March 11, assistant coach David Birch defends senior Sam Ward at Derby High School. (Photo by Jack Oxley).

grabbing the attention of another foreign team. Instead, he attracted the attention of the Washington Generals. “They offered me an opportunity to come out and tryout to see if I’d like to do some show basketball,” Birch said. “I went out there and I played well and they liked me and I really liked what we were doing, and so I ended up sticking with it for almost six years.” During this time, Birch went on multiple U.S. and foreign tours, playing up to eight games a week and traveling to six continents. “Coming from a small school, getting a chance to play after college and then getting to travel like that, it was really a dream come true,” Birch said. Although the Generals have not defeated the Globetrotters since 1971 and have lost over 17,000 times, Birch said he was just there to

continue playing. “I knew what I was getting into,” Birch said. “It was a show and so we were actors on top of being basketball players. I was there for the opportunity to keep playing basketball in some form, and I just love the game so much that for any opportunity to continue playing, I was on board.” After Birch stopped playing with the Generals due to injuries and a change in the team’s management, he became a paraprofessional and basketball coach at BVNW. “I always knew I wanted to coach after I was done playing. I just wasn’t sure when I wanted to end my playing career; I don’t think I ever wanted it to end,” Birch said. Even though his days of playing in front of fans from all over the world may be over, Birch still plays a part of the BVNW scout team in order to prepare varsity for their upcoming

games. Head coach Ed Fritz said Birch’s combination of youthfulness and experience make him a great opponent. “They have to play hard because they know he’s going to play hard,” Fritz said. “He’s done a really good job emulating opposing players and what they do.” Junior guard Christian Braun said going up against Birch in practice is often harder than opposing high school players. “He’s really, really good,” Braun said. “It’s probably tougher to guard him, and it really helps us prepare and get ready. He kills us every time.” In addition to his role on the scout team, Braun said Birch has been very helpful when it comes to practicing, ball-handling and shooting. “He’s really helpful because he’s had those experiences so he can tell you what to do and it’s almost always

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THE EXPRESS • issue 4• february 2018

copenhagen, denmark dublin, ireland beaverton, oregon

lille, france

kansas city, missouri

Oh the places he’s played

*The five stars indicate the locations of the professional teams Birch has played on.

gold coast, australia

During his time with the Washington Generals, David Birch traveled to six different continents. (Photo courtesy of David Birch). spot on,” Braun said. “He has a lot of experiences with different kinds of basketball, so there are a lot of different types of skills he knows.” While it is early in Birch’s coaching career, Fritz said he sees a successful future ahead of Birch due to his passion for the game and ability to handle a lot of coaching responsibility. With his second year of coaching more than halfway over, Birch said he aims to keep learning in order to continue his coaching career. “I’m learning from a really successful, really good head coach right now,” Birch said. “I hope to take everything that I’ve learned here and be a head coach in my own right someday. I would just really like to continue helping young players learn the game and play the game the right way.”


THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018

Stand by me Four BVNW students have taken their passion for barbershop singing to the next level and hope to compete in an international competition coming up this summer.

By Eden Kurr


high note pierces the auditorium’s silence. Senior Kyle Feather spreads his arms, and as if by magic, the rest of the Stand-By quartet jumps in to the song. A menagerie of high and low intonations, it could be easy to forget there are no instruments involved. In between songs, the quartet grabs their water bottles and the bass, senior Carson Kientz, gives his thanks to the Heart of America chorus for hosting the performance. He introduces each member of the quartet - senior Ryan Sanford, junior Mark Doyle, Feather and himself. “The three of us sing in choir at Northwest,” Kientz said onstage, referring to himself, Feather and Sanford. Doyle does not sing in the school choir, but is still an active member of Stand-By. “We thought it would be cool to form our own barbershop quartet,” Kientz said. “We needed a fourth guy, so we found this trumpet player

who’s a year younger than us.” The crowd laughed. “He’s never actually sung before, but we figured he could be baritone since we needed his part. Mark Doyle on baritone!” After almost a year and a half together, the Stand-By barbershop quartet has performed more than 15 gigs. The quartet won the Harmony

Explosion contest last year, leading to their performance with the Heart of America chorus. The Heart of America chorus is a Kansas City based barbershopstyle chorus. It is part of a larger organization, called Barbershop Harmony Society. Songs of almost any genre can

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THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018

Above: Junior Mark Doyle, and seniors Carson Kientz, Kyle Feather and Ryan Sanford rehearse their song before the Central Standard barbershop chorus. Bottom left: Kyle Feather and Ryan Sanford have been in choir during all their four years of high school. (Photos by Ellen Bruce). be arranged for barbershop. Bass, the lowest part, is sung by Kientz, baritone by Doyle, lead by Feather, and tenor by Sanford. The lead carries the melody of the song and the bass fills in the lower notes. The other two parts, tenor and baritone, generally harmonize above and below the lead, respectively. Kientz’s father, Tom, who has been singing barbershop for nearly 30 years, acts as a coach for the budding quartet. Even though Tom is self-taught when it comes to music, he knows more than enough to lead Stand-By to success. “One of the most important things a quartet can have is what’s called a ‘fifth ear,’” Tom said. “It’s really hard for a quartet to coach itself…I’m trained in music, so I understand how barbershop is supposed to sound, and I can read music, and know when they’re singing the wrong notes.” The group’s goals for the next few months are to qualify for and

compete in an international youth competition, held in Orlando over the summer. The profit from each gig they have performed has gone toward the trip, which is now completely paid for. Stand-By just sent in their audition tape, and are waiting to hear regarding their invitation to Orlando. Feather, Kientz and Doyle all mentioned the value of spending so much time together. Feather emphasized how cohesive the group was, despite occasional schedule conflicts, and Doyle described the “equal levels of friendship” between all group members. “They’re my three best friends,” Kientz said. “I get to spend tons of time with them, and we get to perform together, which we all love to do. There’s a special kind of bond you have with people you perform with.”


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BARBERSHOP PARTS: tenor, lead, baritone and bass QUARTETS WILL BE CHOSEN TO COMPETE IN INTERNATIONALS quartets competed in harmony explosion in 2016 MEMBERS OF BARBERSHOP HARMONY SOCIETY


THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018


THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • february 2018

Perspectives 1.

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1. Wearing ugly sweaters with the entire saxophone section, senior Carter Greene gets help fixing his collar. “The best part of the saxophone section is the spirit and energy,” Greene said. “As a section leader, I get a lot of joy out of seeing the freshmen get as excited about band as I am.” (Photo by Gavin Mullin). 2. In fifth hour Sociology with Brian Murphy, sophomore Josh Sokol works on a Culture Integration Project. “Many people would adapt to a new culture with the norms and a lot of times the food, but they would still keep many parts of their own culture, like holidays and language,” Sokol said. (Photo by Daniel Edmonds).




3. During Chris LaValley’s fifth hour Ceramics II class, junior Sara Maloney practices throwing on the wheel. “My favorite part about this class is that we are able to work on whatever we want but still have certain projects we have to do,” Maloney said. (Photo by Madi Allen). 4. Freshman Hannah Hawkins plays her flute as part of the Dawghouse band on Dec. 10. “My initial reaction was to not sign up, but my friends persisted,” Hawkins said. “Now, I love going to the games and cheering for our basketball teams.” (Photo by Gavin Mullin). 5. Students in Elizabeth Long’s fifth hour Baking & Pastry class eat sugar cookies after baking them for a food lab on Jan. 19. Junior Hailey Colson, pictured in the middle, said she feels the class helps prepare students for an independent life. “The environment is just amazing, and you get to meet new people of all grades,” Colson said. (Photo by Kanishka Mehra).

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6. During a swim meet on Jan. 9, freshman Josh Li performs the breaststroke, which Li said is his favorite stroke. (Photo by Gavin Mullin). 7. Senior Allison Policky smiles at a friend while donating blood during the drive hosted by National Honor Society on Jan. 24. “I give blood because when I was in the hospital, I received nine units of blood,” Policky said. “This is my way of showing my thanks for those nine people who saved my life, and it fills me with joy to know that I’m helping to save other people.” (Photo by Kanishka Mehra).


THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • february 2018

A year of trump Jan. 21, 2017

FEB. 28, 2017

Just a day later, Press Secretary Sean Spicer harshly criticized tweets and reports that suggested the crowd size for Trump’s inauguration was smaller than usual.

Trump gives his first address to a joint session of Congress.

TImeline Jan. 20, 2017

Jan. 27, 2017

President Donald J. Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.

Trump signs the first travel ban executive order, stopping Syrian refugees from coming to the US and banning immigrants from seven countries for 90 days. Protests broke out in airports.

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THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • february 2018 With Jan. 20 marking a year in office for President Donald Trump, students and staff react to the president’s year in office.

By GAbe Swartz & Jaelen Matthews Frustrating. That is how senior Kole Cutler describes President Donald J. Trump’s first year in office. While Cutler said his views typically align with the Republican party, the first year of Trump in the Oval Office challenged him to be an objective observer of the President. “I’m not at a good spot with Trump as of now,” Cutler said. “That being said I try to stay as objective as possible, so I’ll condemn him on the bad things and praise him on the good things.” On June 1, 2017, President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate deal, something sophomore Julia Boepple, who aligns her views with the Democratic party, said was her main concern with Trump. “If he took some more concerns with the environment,” Boepple said, “...I would be a lot happier.”

Senior Paul Walsh, who identifies with the Democratic party, said although he does not agree with most of what Trump has done, he agreed with how Trump has dealt with other world leaders as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “I do like that he has called out members NATO for not meeting their two percent GDP requirements for the military,” Walsh said. “I appreciate that.” From Cutler’s perspective, whether it be signing a new tax bill or the consistent use of Twitter, he says there have been plenty of good and bad in year one of the Trump administration. “I want to see him think before he acts,” Cutler said, “because I think he has a lot of great potential to do a lot of good, but the bad things he does make the good things he does

not seem significant. There was a lot of things he did that I agree with, but the bad things just make me think that he’s just a bad president. I am very conflicted on that.” On multiple occasions, Trump has spent time bashing the mainstream media, which he called “fake news” through his Twitter account. Trump has used his Twitter account, which has more than 47 million followers, to distribute his thoughts to the masses. His tweets have ranged from his fake news awards to how he has a nuclear button which is “bigger and more powerful” than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s button. Cutler, who said he feels the president’s tweets are the opposite of presidential behavior, believes the motivation behind it is good, but the execution is poor. “I think it’s nice that he wants a direct line to the people in the

May 9, 2017 Trump fires FBI Director JAmes Comey for mishandling Hillary Clinton’s email case.

March 6, 2017

May 10, 2017

Republicans in the house of representatives unveil their replacement proposal for Obamacare.

Trump meets with the Russian Foreign Minister, where he proceeds to bash Comey and the FBI.


THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • february 2018

a direct line to the people in the U.S.,” Cutler said, “but the things he says on there are not presidential at all. They’re not well thought, not premeditated. When he says stuff it only makes what he says less legitimate.” Social studies teacher Brian Murphy, who taught the America Decides election class last year, said he has seen some former Trump supporters from a year ago begin to worry about what they are seeing. “There are a lot of people who used to feel very strongly and adamantly about Trump and now they’re starting to question those opinions they had before,” Murphy said, “mainly because of some of the things that he said, the way that he’s handled things.” In June of 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported unemployment rates had hit a 16-year low, and CNBC reported in January of 2018 that the Dow Jones’ 31 percent increase in Trump’s first year was the highest increase since Franklin Roosevelt was in office. Still, experts argue over how much credit Trump, who has joined a list of past

Presidents who have taken credit for their influences on the economy, should receive for the success of the economy. According to a poll by CBS news, 67 percent of Americans feel the economy is in fair or very good shape, with 71 percent believing that is either partially or completely because of President Trump’s policies. Murphy said he believes that the beginning of Trump’s presidency showed promising signs from an American financial standpoint.

“It’s honestly not as bad as I thought it would be” - julia boepple “I think when he first got into office he did do a lot for the economy,” Murphy said. “I think he created a lot of jobs and he started cutting back on moneys and trying to help our economy.” On Dec. 22, 2017, Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax cut bill. The bill

cut corporate taxes from 35 percent to 21 percent beginning in 2018. In the aftermath of the tax cut, Disney announced on Jan. 24, 2018 the company would be giving $1,000 bonuses to each of their 125,000plus employees, along with major companies such as Walmart, AT&T and American Airlines announcing their own employee bonuses or pay raises, something Trump and the White House have been clear to publicize. Cutler said he personally liked the tax bill. “It helps so many corporations and we saw direct results from it where corporations were actually increasing wages,” Cutler said. “More companies are wanting to do more business in America, so what he did, cutting taxes for corporations I think was a good thing.” For all the support Cutler has for Trump’s tax cut bill, the bill still proves an issue that stands out throughout Trump’s time in the Oval Office. Everything that the president has achieved up until this point has only relied on a simple majority in the Senate. Whether it be pulling apart Obama-

May 11, 2017

Aug. 8, 2017

Trump States that Comey was fired because of “this Russian thing”, which goes against the president’s original claims.

Trump responds to North Korea’s missile testing by saying they will be met with “fire and fury.”

June 1, 2017 Trump withdraws the U.S. from the Paris Climate deal, explaining that he represents the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

Aug. 15, 2017 after protests in Charlottesville, Va., Trump calls protesters on both sides “very fine people.”

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THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • february 2018 era regulations, nominating Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice or the tax bill, Trump has only been able to pass things with the votes of his own party. The inability for the president to work out the bipartisan compromise necessary for other things to get done is something Walsh believes needs to be addressed. “People view Congress as being ineffective and the president being underqualified for his position,” Walsh said, “and it’s really polarized the two political parties, which is why congress, I think, isn’t really doing anything. If you don’t have moderates in the middle trying to mediate the two, which is what we really don’t have, then nothing happens.” Despite Cutler leaning conservative, he believes that if Trump is to run for reelection in 2020 he will not win. Still, after just a year of Trump in office, Boepple admits it has not been as bad as she expected. “It’s honestly not as bad as I thought it would be,” Boepple said. “I think a lot of people when there’s

change they get afraid, and I know I definitely was a little bit scared and my mind immediately went to the worst possible case, the world’s going to end and all these horrible things are going to happen, and he’s going to get impeached and it’s just going to be a mess, but, in reality it hasn’t affected my daily life at all.”

Sep. 5, 2017 Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces the White House would be ending DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

Sep. 30, 2017 Trump goes to twitter to respond to Puerto Rico after mayor of san juan Carmen Yulin Cruz expresses her disappointment in the relief efforts following hurricane Irma.

Photo illustration by Kaitlyn Noon.

dec. 4, 2017 Trump endorses Roy Moore after multiple accusations come up about Moore allegedly trying to have sexual relations with young girls.

Dec. 22, 2017 Trump signs a $1.5 trillion tax bill. in response, major companies such as Disney, Walmart and AT&T announce employee bonuses.


Rowing with the flow

THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018

By Ethan Knauth

Seniors Brianne Lindeman, Evan Bail and Shay Pemberton will embark on a unique sport to begin their college athletic careers.


atch, drive, finish, recovery then repeat. These four parts of the rowing stroke will become muscle memory for a trio of Northwest seniors, Brianne Lindeman, Evan Bail and Shay Pemberton, as they prepare to undertake the challenge of rowing for their first time at the collegiate level. All three seniors plan to stay within Kansas to row. Lindeman has committed to row at Kansas State University, and Bail will go to the University of Kansas to start her rowing career. While Pemberton has not decided between KU and K-State, she said she plans on rowing in college. Rowing is a sport offered by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The NCAA rowing season is in the spring, and races are 2,000 meters long. According to Bail, rowers are involved in about four hours of practice a day for five to six days a week. Beause rowing is not a sport offered at BVNW, each senior stumbled upon the possibility of rowing in college in different ways. Bail was referred to the sport through her friend’s dad, Pemberton had heard about the possibility of rowing in college through her sister’s friend and Lindeman was approached by a rowing coach at K-State. During their time in high school, all three girls have been active

in athletics. Bail played varsity basketball and tennis, Pemberton plays varsity soccer, and Lindeman swam during her time as a Husky. As the assistant rowing coach at K-State, Hanna Wiltfong actively recruited Lindeman into the program. Wiltfong said she targets girls that are at least 5-foot-9 because height is a crucial part of rowing. Lindeman said this, along with the positive environment of her visit, helped her make a decision.

“All of my coaches and sports I’ve played have really helped me up to this point. They have made me the athlete that I am today.” -evan Bail “I met some of the other girls, and they were amazing and really sweet,” Lindeman said. “It’s the type of environment I want to start my college career with.” According to Wiltfong, many of the freshman rowers at K-State are redshirted due to the fact that they have no experience in rowing. This played a part in Bail’s decision to commit to row for KU. When she enters as a freshman, Bail said she will be able to row

right away. In addition to this, Bail will have a scholarship. Bail said her time spent playing multiple sports has prepared her for this opportunity. “All of my coaches and sports I’ve played have really helped me up to this point,” Bail said. “They have made me the athlete that I am today.” Pemberton, similar to Bail, also credits her past athletic experiences as being influential in developing her to face the task of collegiate rowing. Since rowing is a team sport, Pemberton said this made her want to try it in college. “The team aspect is super awesome,” Pemberton said. “It’s the automatic connection to friends and people that you share a common interest with.” The fact that she has no prior rowing experience does not concern Pemberton, as she sees the task at hand as a learning experience. “It’s really interesting to me. I think what’s cool about the sport is that it involves people who have never had any experience before, and they teach them how,” Pemberton said. “So I think it’s really cool.” Similarly, rowing offers Lindeman a chance to continue to be in the water as she heads off to college. “I never thought I’d do college swimming. It was more of just something I enjoyed doing and not a long-term commitment. I thought I would have to give up swimming

THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018

entirely,” Lindeman said. “I love being in the water and so rowing allows me to still experience that.” Wiltfong said she commends athletes who attempt rowing, because she once was in a similar situation as a rower, with no prior experience. “I rowed here at K-State, and I was recruited similar to Brianne, because I was tall. No one knew what I could really do or if I would be good,” Wiltfong said. “It takes so much courage to start something new at this level.”

Top: Senior Evan Bail, fourth from the left, met the other members of the University of Kansas rowing team on Nov. 10 in Lawrence, Kan. (Photo courtesy of Evan Bail). Bottom: Riding in a motor boat, senior Brianne Lindeman observes a K-State rowing practice on Sept. 21. (Photo courtesy of Brianne Lindeman).

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THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • february 2018

breaking the bank A recent increase in media buzz surrounding Bitcoin influenced some students to purchase the cryptocurrency.

By jack plank


ince the fall of 2017, the Bitcoin industry has risen in popularity among students and staff. Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, creates a new form of investment for people, created as a decentralized process to obtain bitcoins. Bitcoin “mining” is the act of establishing a network and obtaining hardware to mine. Created by an unkown person using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin was created as an exchange industry. It allows people to purchase anonymously and can be used for international payments because it is not linked to any specific country or entity for regulation. As the cryptocurrency industry gains strength as a new form of investment, seniors Connor Cahill and Nick Young have put their time and money into what they believe will produce a substantial income for their future of investing. “I have been very deep, maybe obsessed with Bitcoin ever since the beginning of summer,” Cahill said. Since the price of bitcoins is very volatile, the increasing and decreasing value every day creates potential problems for investors and miners. Young said he had success with the volatility, although it could

Many websites are available to check Bitcoin statistics. Senior Nick Young uses (Photo by Gavin Mullin).

prove to be risky in the future. “Since I have gotten involved, a lot of the prices have gone up,” Young said. “There is so much volatility in not just Bitcoins but a lot of the small cryptocurrencies.” Social studies teacher Corby Lange has a different approach to the currency, believing it will have negative outcomes. “There is no way to trace it back to a person,” Lange said. “That also makes it much more likely that a modernized country would want to make it illegal because that makes it more likely that criminals or people doing criminal activity would want to use Bitcoin or any form of

cryptocurrency.” As cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin rise and fall in value, there are many risks included with buying and selling them as opposed to stocks. Because of the nature of Bitcoin, with transactions being irreversible and no reimbursement method, there is vulnerability within a person’s Bitcoin wallet. When a transaction occurs, there is no trace or “receipt” as there would be for a government-backed purchase. Along with Young and Cahill, junior Mason Hochanadel also invests in the Bitcoin industry and has seen the media play a key role in the amounts of investments.

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*According to CNNMoney

NOcentral command Bitcoins can be used to buy merchandise anonymously. Some people just buy bitcoins as an investment.

“A year ago, the media had a huge effect because once it got on the media and once everyone was aware of what was going on, it started that bandwagon,” Hochanadel said. “Everyone was trying to hop on and make some easy money through Bitcoin because it is fairly simple to go ahead and get started.” Since the popularity of bitcoins and cryptocurrencies are increasing, some have begun to question whether government-backed cryptocurrencies will exist in the future. “We are going to evolve, and does that mean at some point the US dollar is going to cease to be in existence?” Lange asked. “At some point, yes. Will the dollar decrease in value? It may. Does that mean we are going to move away from using currency backed by governments? I would highly doubt that anytime soon.” As people throughout the world continue to place money into the volatile Bitcoin, Lange said it does not change his perspective on the cryptocurrency. “Bitcoin, at the end of the day, is not investing and people who call it that shouldn’t,” Lange said. “They’re speculating.” Despite the risks involved with Bitcoin, Cahill said he is still relying heavily on the success of it. “I am pretty much all in,” Cahill said. “I’ll keep it at that.”

Owning Bitcoins Bitcoins are stored in a “digital wallet,” which exists either in the cloud or on a user’s computer. The wallet is a kind of virtual bank account that allows users to send or receive bitcoins, pay for goods or save their money.

bitcoin exchanges $




Many marketplaces called “Bitcoin exchanges” allow people to buy or sell bitcoins using different currencies.

UNCONFIRMED TRANSACTIONS Though each Bitcoin transaction is recorded in a public log, names of buyers and sellers are never revealed, just their wallet IDs.

further questions No one knows what will become of Bitcoin. Governments are concerned about taxation and their lack of control over the currency.


THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • FEBRUary 2018

Smoothie Spots

On a mission to find the best smoothie in Kansas City, editor Sara Rooney visited some smoothie places located around the metro. Each shop was ranked out of five smoothies.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe 12850 W 87th Street Pkwy, Lenexa, KS 66215 Although I wasn’t thrilled about the journey to Tropical Smoothie Cafe, my smoothie was well worth it. The outside of the cafe is decorated with vibrant colored tables and chairs that reminded me of a cute shop you’d find along the beach. Walking through the doors, you’re welcomed by the warm colors and inviting environment with pictures of tropical scenes hanging along the walls. Tropical Smoothie Cafe has a large menu. From smoothies to healthy lunch foods this is the perfect stop if you find yourself in a hurry. I was extremely impressed

with the kindness of the employees throughout my entire visit. With the help of the workers I ordered the Detox Island Green. It was just my luck I ordered during happy hour making my smoothie just around $4. After just my first sip, I was pleased. My smoothie had the perfect taste, with the spinach and kale flavor covered up by the pineapple and banana, not to mention it was a large smoothie for such an affordable price. The great smoothies coupled with the good vibes contributed to an overall pleasing experience. Although Tropical Smoothie Cafe received

Enjoy Pure Food + Drink As you slip through the door of Enjoy 10573 Mission Rd, Leawood, KS Pure Food + Drink, you’re welcomed 66206 to a modern looking cafe with the

sounds of calming music throughout. With the small dimensions, this restaurant could be considered cozy, yet this would definitely not be the place to have a lengthy catch-up session with a friend. The quietness led me to feel compelled to whisper my order, which was awkward. After glancing at the menu, Enjoy Pure Food + Drink offers healthy food options from breakfast foods to many variations of lunch, as well as juices and smoothies. With their reputation of having a great kale smoothie, I eagerly branched out of my typical smoothie flavors and ordered the Taste Like Kale Ice Cream smoothie. The smoothie totaled up to be a little over $9.00, which is expensive for its average size. Upon my first taste, I realized

BY SARA ROONEY the same ranking as Midwest Nutrition, I encourage one to visit both because of the differences between the two.

I was betrayed. This thick green smoothie tasted like the smell of an essential oil you would find at a yoga studio, definitely not ice cream. With all the nutrition it offered (banana, kale, cashews and dates), I attempted to drink as much as I could. After all, I did spend over $9 on one drink. I didn’t make much of a dent in the drink before throwing it away. Between the interesting, essential oil taste and the chunks of dates squeezed through my straw, I could easily say I will never order a smoothie from there again. Enjoy Pure Food + Drink has the appearance of a promising experience with the healthy choices of foods and drinks and the modern, intimate set up. However, if this reviewer finds herself in Mission Farms again, she’s taking her money to the Asian restaurant next door.

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THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • FEBRUARY 2018

Midwest Nutrition 11964 W 119th St, Overland Park, KS 66213 Tucked behind the allure of the popular restaurants on the corner of 119th Street and Quivira, Midwest Nutrition is a hidden gem. However, with only a simple fitness poster in the window serving as the opening gesture, I was skeptical of what I had gotten myself into. I changed my mind when I saw the pop of lime green paint covering the wall. With high top tables and chairs scattered beside the counter and a colorful large menu, I was unsure of where to begin. My uncertainty quickly subsided with the friendliness of their employees. They enthusiastically explained the variety of their products and the ordering process. To start, you place your order on a laminated slip of paper, giving you

unlimited time for perusal. The first step is to choose a Healthy Meal plan, which includes adding collagen, simple vitamins and/or immune strength to your shake. Next, you pick your shake flavor, and with 35 flavors available, the possibilities are endless. Then, you choose your Aloe Shot and tea flavor and turn your card in. These Healthy Meal plans start at $8, which is impressive for how much you receive. The first item I drank was the chai tea. The tea had a strong, powerful taste that I really enjoyed and I later benefited from the caffeine. Next, I was overtaken by the tart mango flavor in the Aloe Shot.

Although the idea of drinking aloe seems strange, it was my favorite part of my order. The Aloe Shot benefits your immune system and serves as a probiotic, Midwest Nutrition claims. After my tea and Aloe Shot, I was ready for the make or break of my experience: the shake. My chocolate banana shake was phenomenal and it actually tasted like ice cream. I left feeling very satisfied and healthy. Overall, I would definitely recommend visiting Midwest Nutrition. The affordable price along with the quality of the drinks is something that you can’t find at many other places.

Photos by Madi Allen.


THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • FEBRUARY 2018





EXPIRES 3/31/18

EXPIRES 3/31/18

Expires 3/31/18.

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THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018

Dress it up or dress it down


How many times have you walked into your closet, stared aimlessly at all your clothes and thought, “I have nothing to wear?” This edition of Life Styled is aimed at helping readers style clothes you already own. Let’s take a look at what clothes you most likely already have hanging in your closet and give your basic items new life.

Plain white tee Black leggings Bomber Jacket Adidas Keep it cas’ with your basic black leggings and Adidas superstars topped off with this bomber jacket from GAP (on sale right now). This look makes for the perfect go-to outfit to carry you through spring when you're having a clothing crisis.

Plain white tee Velvet Blazer Black Jeans Dress it up with the classic velvet blazer and black jeans. The black and white look coupled with a red lip and the right jewelry turns this everyday tee to an evening look. An added bonus to this ensemble is if you are struggling to find the right outfit because you are feeling less than slim, the all black look elongates and does the trick.

Photos by Madi Allen.


THE EXPRESS • issue 4• February 2018


The Journey to Imperfection By Gavin Mullin


f I saved a million people, I would tell myself I should have saved a million more. No matter what I do, it never feels like it is enough. I am a perfectionist who sets expectations that are impossible to reach. If I am not perfect, I feel like a failure. I always feel like a failure because nothing is perfect. One day, I reached my breaking point. After practicing the same music over and over again for seven months, it was finally my time to audition for the Kansas All-State Honor Band. I went into the audition room, and as soon as I played the first note, I squeaked. The squeak was the peak of my audition, and the rest just came tumbling downhill. Seven agonizing months I spent practicing, and now this one terrible five minute audition determined my ranking among Kansas’ finest musicians. When I walked out of the audition room, I expected myself to crumble into hysterics, but oddly enough, I felt proud of myself instead. While I was not proud of the audition itself, I thought back to my sophomore year, and I realized how far I had come, not only as a musician, but as a person. This five

minute audition proved nothing of my worth, value or talent. For too long, I allowed the idea of perfection to consume my life, and I am tired of living a life where I always feel like a failure. From now on, I am making it my mission in life to learn how to feel good about myself. To begin, I decided to learn why I am unable to accept being imperfect. Local licensed clinical psychologist Melanie Davis said in a phone interview that she believes cognitive dissonance is a major component as to why humans struggle to accept imperfections. Cognitive dissonance refers to the mental discomfort of having conflicting thoughts, attitudes or beliefs. “[These] people have a really hard time feeling good about themselves when they make mistakes, because they don’t know how to handle those conflicting opinions and experiences,” Davis said. If I had fewer goals, I would be more confident, but, ironically, part of being a perfectionist is that I am always setting high goals for myself. Even though not reaching the goals I set causes discomfort, goals are still important because without them,

Nothing needs to be perfect.

I would have nothing to work for. After all, like my All-State audition proved, failure is a necessary component to personal growth. “One of the most important things is we have to normalize failure,” Davis said. “Failure is just a normal part of life.” In order to start feeling good about myself, I realized I do not have to change who I am, I simply have to develop a new perspective on life. I have to start with how I think about everything in life, with the ‘fake it until you make it’ mentality. Like Davis said, “You tell yourself, ‘It’s OK that I made this mistake. I am learning from this now. I know how to try this task again.’ That will then impact your mood, and really color your perception of who you are as a person and how the world is.” As I pursue music education in college, I will always look back to my All-State audition to remind myself that one failure or audition does not determine my worth, value or talent. I hope to use my knowledge and experiences to teach myself how to seek growth rather than perfection. After all, it is not the destination that matters, it is the journey.

But I feel like it should be. Illustration by Eden Kurr.

THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018

2912 •

A couple of windows would be nice, or even a hole in the wall By Kanishka Mehra


n a recent trip to New Delhi, India, I became fascinated with the differences between the Indian education system and our system at BVNW. The most obvious difference between the schools is the layout of the buildings themselves. The corridors in Indian schools lead directly outdoors or into a courtyard, where students can eat lunch or play sports in the middle of the day. Rather than starting in August, their school year begins in April, followed by a six-week-long vacation in May. This allows teachers to assign homework efficiently, as students have already been introduced to their new classes. Additionally, the shortened break ensures that students retain knowledge from the previous school year. The education system itself in India is a streamlined process where students spend their first five school years learning the basics, much like we do in elementary school. The next four years are spent exploring their options and the last three years focus on refining their education in a particular field of their choice or exploring other options. What intrigued me the most was how effective this process was in helping students find their

passion, rather than wasting their time. I mean, honestly, what did we even learn in middle school? In Indian middle schools, students are developing hands-on critical thinking skills much earlier than American students. My cousin’s eighth grade science class in New Delhi is doing the same level of lab work and selfdirected learning that I hadn’t done until AP Biology my junior year. Moreover, their history teachers aren’t afraid to discuss real politics or world issues. I was ashamed at how much more they knew about America from their education than I knew about India from our Americentric view of the world. In comparison, the structure at BVNW lacks a futuristic outlook. Preparing students for real life doesn’t just mean bombarding them with AP classes and making sure they graduate high school. In fact, according to the Kansas State Department of Education, only 50.9 percent of 2015 BVNW graduates were successful in higher education two years after graduation. Our school can start improving by creating a less stressful environment which is more conducive to learning. Unlike schools in New Delhi, almost none of the classrooms here even have sunlight, a vital ingredient for

endorphin production, circadian rhythm regulation and maintenance of the immune system. Many BVNW students arrive at school before sunup and leave after sundown due to extracurriculars, which means there are days they don’t get to see the sun at all. Furthermore, if curious students are given the time and the opportunity to explore their interests, they’ll begin to value their education more. BVNW should place less emphasis on how many points an assignment is worth, and instead offer students more autonomy with their day, allowing all students to take exploratory classes structured like AVID and Gifted Education so they can create a framework for their future. The new district initiative for Project Based Learning is a step in the right direction, since most real-world jobs involve a level of collaboration and criteria-based problem solving. Instead of memorizing facts that we’ll forget in a day, we should spend our free-time reading books and putting effort into finding what we love. It’s time that we move away from the prison-like buildings and create a school where students can leave knowing who they are.


THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018

Staff EDITORIAL A more connected advisory Naviance, let’s say we never touch

there are assemblies or panels all

students are disengaged, on their

In an average advisory class, most

drugs and alcohol, let’s say we never

students are required to attend, but

phones and waiting for the 25-minute

touch any of the stuff that matters, it

getting out of a traditional setting is

period to pass. Many graduate not

should be a point in the day where a

something we would look forward to.

fully knowing the peers they have

kid sees a familiar face,” Smithyman

spent four years with in advisory,


which is not acceptable. Principal Amy Murphy said

But few classrooms are exhibiting

As far as the content of advisory, we recommend scrapping the generic PowerPoints and PEEP-designed

this camaraderie, making the system

class periods, as they can often come

advisory was created to teach

feel broken. We feel there are ways

off as insincere, overgeneralized or

students “soft skills” not typically

to turn advisory into something

rushed. Rather than lectures, we

learned in a traditional class setting,

students feel excited to go to, starting

believe teachers should be given a

after the school got a grant to create

with the groups themselves.

topic with some resource material,

this kind of program around 2004. Although Murphy said some

We feel that the way we assign

like an article or quote to spark

freshmen to advisory classes

discussion, but enough ambiguity for

students may not understand the

should be done differently, to make

individual advisories to take activities

purpose of advisory, it’s intended

connections more attainable. We

in their own directions. There needs

“to create a space where a kid could

propose having both students and

to be more honest talk of important

make a connection with a teacher or

teachers take a personality test,

topics like mental health, alcohol and

an adult in this building,” Murphy

such as the Myers-Briggs or the

substance abuse, college, healthy

said. “That’s critical, for kids to feel

Enneagram, at the beginning of their

relationships and preparing for the

like they’re connected with this

time at Northwest to determine

world after high school. But the


who they would best interact with.

apathetic discussions and slideshows

Personality types are a great way to

we have grown used to are hindering

who also oversees advisory

English teacher Bill Smithyman

arrange groups, as similar groups

us from making connections with

programming mentioned how the

have similar learning styles and

each other to share how we really

connection made in advisory is

motivations, yet do not have to be so


the most important aspect of the

similar that they end up having all

program. Despite the importance

the same opinions.

of district-mandated programming,

During advisory classes, students

If students want to see a more connected and dependable advisory, they have to unite and take action.

such as Naviance training and

need to have more opportunities

Talking to StuGo representatives

drug and alcohol awareness talks,

to take a break from the standard

and the school administration about

Smithyman emphasized how

four walls and go outside, or spend

these ideas is the best way to get the

connections between students and

advisory in the future learning

advisory we need and deserve.

adults is the priority.

spaces, which will be developed in

“Let’s say we never touch

this coming summer. Once in a while,


THE EXPRESS • issue 4 • February 2018

Puzzles “Prib’s Ribs” Word Puzzles submitted by English teacher Rick Pribyl

Co d C N Ensation lsi D i A E F 4. s B R 3. Cash! Pair D 5. RIP u C 6. McIntoshπ couple 2.

Answers 1. Classified information 2. Fish out of water 3. Hush money 4. Mixed doubles 5. Death of a Salesman 6. Apple pie


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The Express is the official high school news publication of Blue Valley Northwest High School, an open forum distributed to all students seven times a year. This is the February issue of Volume 25. Subscription rates are $10. The Express is printed by The Sedalia Democrat, 700 South Massachusetts, Sedalia Mo. 65301.




This is a student publication and may contain controversial matter. Blue Valley Unified School District No. 229 and its board members, officers and employees disclaim any responsibility for the content of this student publication; it is not an expression of School District Policy. Students and editors are solely responsible for the content of this student publication.

Madi Allen Ellen Bruce Kanishka Mehra Gavin Mullin TJ Vore

Eden Kurr


Anna Levine

Kimberly Hillstock



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Sara Rooney


Blue Valley School District #229 Blue Valley Northwest H.S. 15020 Metcalf Avenue Overland Park, KS 66223

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The Express- February 2018  
The Express- February 2018