March 2017

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Athletic accomplishments prioritized over academic achievements nagel notices no recognition for students’ educations succes

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The Booster Redux Pittsburg High School 1978 E. 4th Street Pittsburg, KS 66762 Vol. 98, Issue 2

Friday, March 31, 2017

district hires new principal Background called into question after discrepancies arise THE BOOSTER REDUX STAFF @PHSStudentPub


Faces of PHS Page 4D

ollowing the hiring of incoming Pit tsburg High School (PHS) pr incipal Dr. Amy Rober tson on March 6, discrepancies arose bet ween Rober tson’s personal accounts of her education and information provided by education institutions she said she at tended. The discrepancies cast doubt on the accreditation of a universit y she said she at tended and the degrees she listed. Rober tson said she cur rently works as the CEO of an education consulting firm known as At ticus I S Consultants in Dubai, and has resided there for over 20 years. According to a Pit tsburg Communit y Schools press release on Thursday, Rober tson “gained leadership and management experience at the inter national equivalence of a building administrator and super intendent. As CEO, she advised global companies on education projects, including wr iting and implementing cur riculum and school policies, developing and executing professional development, and advising on school constr uction and renovation projects.”

Rober tson said she will ar r ive in the US in Apr il and is eager for the new exper ience. “I’m excited about the oppor tunit y,” Rober tson said. “I could easily stay [in Dubai] for another 10 years working in schools as a pr incipal here, but I want to come home. I want to be in the US, and I want to be a par t of a communit y. Pit tsburg is the r ight communit y to put down roots in.” The Booster Redux staff t ypically introduces each new administrator at PHS with a news stor y. Dur ing the inter view process with Rober tson, the Booster staff found inconsistencies in Rober tson’s credentials. The staff presented these concer ns to Pit tsburg Communit y School super intendent Destr y Brown, who encouraged the Booster repor ters to reach out to Rober tson. On March 16, the Booster staff held a conference call with the incoming pr incipal. Booster adviser Emily Smith and Brown were also present. Dur ing the call, Rober tson presented incomplete answers, conf licting dates and inconsistencies in her responses.

After the conference call inter view, the staff conducted fur ther research online and by phone inter view to confirm her credentials. These are the findings.

Educational Background Rober tson said in the conference call inter view she ear ned a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature and a Ph.D. in English from Corllins Universit y. Corllins, however, has been under fire in the national media for its lack of legitimacy. Fur thermore, the Bet ter Business Bureau’s website said, “This business is not BBB accredited.” The posting online in 2010 also stated, “The tr ue physical address of Corllins Universit y is unknown.” Rober tson said during the conference call inter view that the majorit y of her education through this universit y was done online, but that she also occasionally traveled to the onsite campus in Stockton, Calif. “In 1994, I was living in Spain,” Rober tson said during the conference call inter view. “I kept my apar tment in New York at the time.

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new classes offered next year Page 6D

breaking records boys basketball team attends substate for first time in over twenty years

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school board renovates usd25o schools LILY BLACK @Elaine_Black557 On Tuesday, March 14 the community approved a $31 million bond issue that would renovate all six schools in the USD 250 district. This updated bond is less than half the cost of its predecessor. After community feedback on the $67 million bond issue that was rejected last January, Superintendent Destry Brown didn’t give up. “We heard that they wanted us to focus on the things we absolutely needed. We set our priorities and stepped to up them.” Doing his best efforts to avoid stopping school completely, Brown is working on a schedule for construction dates. “A lot of the remodeling will occur during the summers, such as the library,” Brown said. “The additional pieces will go on during school, but not in an area that will interrupt class. The front entry way may become the 600 hallway, because we will have to close this down in order to do the new construction.” The high school will gain four additional classrooms, in addition to renovations to the science classrooms, a new theatrical set building scene room, a new kitchen and cafeteria area, remodeling the old kitchen to be used by the culinary classes, improvements to the band room, updated administration areas, and a secure entry to the school. Walking into the cafeteria, Brown sees an array of cluttered tables and students sitting on the floor while eating. “I’d like it to be more of a cafe look and more of a place where kids enjoy going to eat,” Brown said. “I do not think that that is what we have right now. We should see a big change in the look of that and how you come up to get food and what is served.” Instead of the new culinary arts kitchen only being for PHS students, Brown feels as though it should be open to Pittsburg residents and other high school students. “We’d like to expand the

Crew installing new heating and air systems. PHOTO BY: HAZEL HARPER culinary arts a bit and tie it in with Career and Technical Education Center of Crawford County so that kids from Girard and Southeast could come for culinary classes,” Brown said. In the long run, these modernizations will be useful for years to come. “Future students will have more opportunities,” Horton said. “The culinary arts program could grow significantly with the right space

and equipment.” In the upcoming renovations, the front office will be expanded and all the administrative offices will be moved. “It will be easier to make a secure entrance and to be able to monitor in and out,” Brown said. “The new one will make it so the secretary can look down and see down the walkway so if there is something unusual she will know before it hits the door.”

In addition to these improvements, all schools in the district will be equipped with new storm shelters and safe rooms. Since he was a child, Buck had a fear of storms. With this in mind, he believes that storm shelters are best for the security of the students. “[Coming from] someone who is very afraid of storms, I think it provides a lot safer alternative. When we ran storm drills, I thought it

was insane that we all had to walk several hundred feet to get to a safe area.” Brown believes advancing education is the way to ensure future success. “We are bringing the whole building up into a new century but truly into what education is becoming. If we are serious about preparing every kid to be successful when they leave high school then we need to be working with every kid to develope

a decision turned around: freshmen prom decision reversed JOURNEY JARAMILLO @journeybutcher

A decision originally made in April of 2016 by administration restricted freshmen from attending prom this year. Freshmen were allowed to attend if asked in past years, however, according to the PHS 2016-17 Student Handbook, prom is available to PHS students 10th through 12th grade students only. Admin came to this conclusion after principal Jon Bishop expressed the concerns of past prom attendees and upperclassmen.

“It came about because a handful of kids who attended prom, seniors and juniors, were dating and they decided they would invite this freshmen and that freshman and join up at prom,” Bishop said. “Some students said they wanted to see [prom] be more of a big deal to them because if they go their freshman year, then it isn’t as special when they go as juniors and seniors.” Although the results of these concerns were already established before this school year, students, such as

freshman McKenna Shaw, brought it to administrative attention that they did not agree with the new policy. “The freshmen are part of the school as well. We’re allowed to attend classes, sporting events and be involved in extracurricular activities, but for some reason we cannot attend prom,” Shaw said. “We have a motto, “One family, one destiny,” but apparently that doesn’t apply on prom night.” Because of the voiced concern against the policy, administration de-

cided to reconsider. “The students who originally brought it up, graduated. So it didn’t affect anyone last year, but now that it is affecting people to a certain degree, they feel we should talk about it,” Bishop said. After re-examining and discussing the policy with the Student Government and school board, administration agreed to allow freshmen to attend this year and years to come, if asked by a junior or senior.

2 news

Friday March 31, 2017 SECTION D

programming a win Robotics team brings home ninth place in competition NICOLE KONOPELKO @nicolekonopelko


uilding a robot from scratch is no easy feat. From blueprinting, programming and problem solving, the process requires time and dedication. “The list of [requirements] and skills needed is so long,” said Andrew Brennon, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) robotics club adviser. Despite these provocations, eight students joined FIRST robotics club and took on the challenge. The club consists of juniors Mattie Hellwig, Kallie McGuire, Elijah Shiverdecker, Evie Shawn and Lance Bandy and sophomores Andrew Riachi, Aidan Harries, Jakob Cupp. After receiving a competition topic at the beginning of the six-week build season, students were tasked with constructing a robot within its guidelines. “Our robot [had] to launch some balls into a hoop and move some gears,” Brennon said. According to Brennon, the robot was built out of aluminum and carpeted plastic. “Although our materials weren’t ultra expensive this year, we still had to do a lot of fundraising,” Brennon said. While the robot was assembled in school, it was operated at the competition. “We couldn’t physically run the robot until we got to the competition,” Brennon said. The competition was held at the Metropolitan Community College (MCC) Business and Technology Campus in Kansas City, Missouri from March 16-18. Out of 80 schools, the team placed ninth. “It was super thrilling and awesome to see our hard work pay off,” club member

Evie Shawn said. “We were the underdog team and we’re very proud of how well we were able to do.” According to club president Elijah Shiverdecker, the robot was built outside of school time. “It was a very [time-consuming] process,” Shiverdecker said. “We had to meet every day after school and on most weekends.” Brennon believes the club, as a whole, taught students skills they will incorporate in their daily lives. “The problems that students experienced [during competition] could easily be translated to the real world,” Brennon said. One of the problems faced by the team, however, did not have to do with the construction of the robot. The day before competition, club member Andrew Riachi became ill and was diagnosed with a collapsed lung. Although Riachi was unable to attend competition, he was still included. From his bed in the Children’s Mercy intensive care unit, he made revisions to the robot’s coding. In between matches, the team updated him of their stance in the competition by phone. The driver of the robot, club member Kallie McGuire, placed a framed picture of Riachi on one of the robot’s stations. “We couldn’t have done it without [Riachi],” club member Aidan Harries said, in a Facebook status he posted after the competition. “Thank you for everything, and get better soon because we miss you.” While Brennon offered guidance to students as needed, students were fully responsible for the construction of the robot.

Sophomore Aidan Harries building a robot in FIRST Robotics Club. PHOTO BY: CALYSTO ROSS

“I [was there] to answer questions and help [the students] when they [ran] into problems, but they built this robot entirely on their own,” Brennon said. Both club members and Brennon hope to continue the program next year. “Even though it was a lot of work, I will hopefully continue the club throughout all of high school,”

Shiverdecker said. Overall, Brennon is immensely proud of his students’ accomplishments and work ethic. “I couldn’t be more proud of the kids,” Brennon said. “A lot of schools have three to four times the amount of kids that we have in our club, but these kids worked hard and did everything they could possibly do [for this] competition.”

Journalism Regional Results GRACE PALMER: 1st Place Advertising 1st Place News Page Design Yearbook Layout Honorable Mention



1st Place Sports Photography 3rd Place Academics:

2nd Place Editorial Writing 2nd Place News Page Design

JORDAN HAWKINS: 3rd Place Advertising

MADDY EMERSON: 1st Place Student Life

Yearbook Layout Honorable Mention

Academics Honorable Mention

BROOOKLYN RHUE: 3rd Place Yearbook Theme and Graphics: GRAPHIC BY: SOPHIE GRAHAM.

district hires new principal I would f ly back and for th [from Spain] to New York and Califor nia all the time.” When asked by Brown if she took classes in Stockton, Calif., during t wo different summers, Rober tson replied that she had. However, a check of the records at the Cit y of Stockton’s Communit y Development Depar tment indicated that no business license or building permit existed for Corllins Universit y, as stated by Cit y of Stockton permit technician Carmen Davila. “If they’re going to do business, then they need to have a business license,” Davila said via phone inter view. “I don’t have any business license under that name. I don’t think we have a [Corllins Universit y] here in the area.” Stockton is located in San Joaquin Count y. The San Joaquin Communit y Development Depar tment records also indicated that no such universit y ever existed in Stockton. “In our business records, we have no such record of Corllins Universit y existing,” Megan Aguir re, an associate planner of the depar tment in San Joaquin Count y, said via phone inter view with the Booster. Corllins is not accredited by the U.S. Depar tment of Education. Accreditation is a status given to colleges and universities deemed valid educational institutions. The depar tment’s online database of both accredited online and traditional colleges and universities retur ned no past or cur rent record of Corllins. When asked if a degree from Corllins Universit y would be

accepted, Pit tsburg State Universit y Registrar Debbie Greve could not find any record of the existence of Corllins. “[Corllins] is not in the book at all, so I would doubt the accreditation of that school,” Greve said. “[If they had ever been accredited], they would be listed in this book. Because if they had ever been accredited, it lists them as accredited and it shows the period of time in which they were accredited. It sounds like they’re tr ying to pass themselves off as accredited but, in fact, they maybe fell shor t of that.” Fur ther research seems to show Corllins Universit y is considered a diploma mill, or a “business that sells fake college degrees,” according to Oregon Live, the website of The Oregonian. The universit y is listed as one of the “top 10 sources of invalid degree repor ts or inquiries” received by the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization. According to its website, Corllins Universit y has t wo accreditation agencies, the Global Accreditation Bureau and the Accreditation Panel for Online Colleges and Universities. However, those accreditation agencies were also listed as fraudulent by retired FBI agent Allen Ezell in his ar ticle, “Recent Developments With Degree Mills” published in the educational jour nal, College and Universit y. Many diploma and accreditation mills, including “Corllins Universit y,” were also listed. The spelling of Corllins listed in the ar ticle does not exactly match the spelling of the universit y provided by

Rober tson. Also, search results on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s (CHEA) database found “Pit tsburg State Universit y” and “Universit y of Kansas.” A search for “Corllins Universit y” retur ned no results. CHEA is used by colleges and universities to ver if y accreditation. “When I went [to Corllins], it was an accredited universit y,” Rober tson said. “Other wise, you can’t get any degree authenticated.” Dur ing the conference call inter view, Brown said, “I think [Corllins Universit y] lost its accreditation at some point.” In an email to the Booster, Rober tson also said she had a teacher cer tification from the Universit y of Cambr idge UK. The Universit y of Cambr idge confirmed that they offer that degree. Also dur ing the conference call inter view, Rober tson said she received a bachelor’s of fine ar ts (BFA) in theater ar ts from the Universit y of Tulsa (UT) in 1991. The Booster continued to fact check Rober tson’s education and contacted UT. According to the registrar’s office, a BFA has never been offered at the institution. The universit y was specific in the degrees offered; only a bachelor of ar ts in theater was available at that time, not a BFA. After the conference call inter view, Brown stated that assistant super intendent Ronda Fincher would ser ve as the pr incipal of record for the 2017-2018 school year because Rober tson cur rently does not hold a Kansas administrator’s

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license. According to Rober tson’s contract approved by the USD 250 school board, “administrator must be licensed in Kansas by August 1, 2018.” Whether she can at tain a teaching or administrator’s license by August 2018 to become an administrator is still in question. According to Brown, she must complete a number of college credit hours to obtain her licensure.

Local Reaction Over the past t wo weeks, the The Mor ning Sun has also covered questions about Rober tson’s hir ing. On March 20, The Mor ning Sun published a stor y about Rober tson’s questioned qualifications inspired by an anonymous let ter sent by “Pit tsburg Citizen X.” PHS band director Cooper Neil responded in The Mor ning Sun Tuesday with a let ter to the editor addressing a lack of evidence in the or iginal ar ticle. Chance Hoener, the original author, published a response on Wednesday apologizing for failing “to br ing closure to… r umors via the facts.” On Thursday, Pit tsburg Communit y Schools Public Relations director Zach Fletcher issued a press release detailing Rober tson’s pr ior professional exper ience. “When talking with previous super visors and Dr. Rober tson, the Board felt she was a great fit for PHS and the future of our students,” Brown, the super intendent, said in the press release. “The high school staff and students who sat in on inter views also felt she was the r ight pick. We are excited to

have her join our team of administrators.” In an inter view with the Booster, French teacher Chris Colyer expressed reser vations regarding Rober tson. “It concer ns me a lot as to how she’s going to take all the classes she needs because she’s going to have a lot of duties as principal, and that’s a full time, and over time, job,” Colyer said. “The fact that she has never taught in a US school does concer n me because our schools are different from what she [found] in Dubai.” Marjorie Giffin teaches histor y and social studies at PHS and ser ved on the inter view commit tee for the new principal. “I thought she inter viewed ver y well,” Giffin said in an inter view with the Booster, in reference to Rober tson’s inter view with the commit tee. “I thought she had all the answers.” Brown held a facult y meeting March 17 to address administrative changes, which ended up raising questions for Giffin. “[The meeting] made me more uneasy after than it had before,” Giffin continued. “The more [Brown] talked about making us feel at ease about the process made me more wor ried because I didn’t know she wasn’t really accredited.” “I want some real leadership and I am hoping she can provide it,” Giffin said. “I want her to be successful because I want [the school] to get back on track.” According to the contract, Rober tson begins work at the district July 1.



Friday, March 31, 2017


Athletic Accomplishments prioritized over Academic Achievements

Nagel notices no recognition for students’ educational success

Madison Nagel @maddiebagel


he last time the Pittsburg High School (PHS) honor roll was published in the Morning Sun was Spring of 2015. We hear about accomplishments of the athletes in the paper, on TV and the LED sign outside of PHS all the time but nothing about the academic proficiency of the students. Surrounding schools are known for their educational victories, but PHS is more prominently known for sports. Though student athletes have been a meme for the past few weeks, they have to work hard at school, and then on the court afterwards. I am just as proud of the athletic victories as the next person, but the scholarly achievements deserve the recognition, too. We even take time out of the school day to hold assemblies for sports, but where is the appreciation for academics? The mission statement of Pittsburg Community Schools states, “the purpose of Pittsburg Community Schools is to provide diverse learning opportunities for all students that inspire them to achieve excellence, both aca-


demically and socially, in order to enjoy success in post-secondary education, the workforce and in life.” Though USD 250 says the entire

purpose of their schooling system is revolving around academics, the athletic achievements are celebrated far more than the scholarly efforts.

If the main focus of Pittsburg Community Schools is truly the academics, then why has there never been an honor roll posted in both years I have been at PHS? According to the goals stated on USD 250’s website, “USD #250 is committed to high expectations for teaching and student achievement in academics, life skills, 21st Century skills and extra-curricular activities.” The expectations for student achievement are obviously not too high if the honor roll isn’t cared about enough to be published anymore. By not praising the intellectual performance of the students, they are left to feel like their hard work in the classroom isn’t just as valuable as the athlete’s hard work on the field. The honor roll is something that the administration should be proud enough of to broadcast. It should be extolled just as much as the athletic accomplishments are.

America has answers to give Konopelko voices thoughts on terror attack in Olathe nicole konopelko @nicolekonopelko When Indian immigrants Sunayana Dumala and Srinivas Kuchibhotla moved to the U.S. in 2005, they envisioned a loving, accepting and safe country. However, little did they know that 12 years later, this vision would be destroyed. Little did they know safety would be replaced with violence. Little did they know love would be replaced with hate. And little did Dumala know that her husband would soon be dead because of this hate. On Feb. 22, 2017, Kuchibhotla died after he was shot at a bar in Olathe, where he was having a beer with a friend. Kuchibhotla, an innocent immigrant who came to the U.S. to engineer for Garmin, had his life taken from him for nothing. Kuchibhotla’s death is only one example of an ongoing illness recurring in the U.S. — a mix of racism and discrimination. Suddenly, such shootings have become the new norm in 2017. The more we started being insensitive, the more it became okay to be insensitive. The shooter, who is a prime example of this insensitivity, was prejudiced against immigrants, yelling “get out of my country” and “terrorist” before opening fire. But the funny thing is, many average Americans hold the same views as this violent shooter. According to a 2016 poll commissioned by management consulting firm A.T. Kearney in partnership with Market Researcher NPD Group, sixty-one percent of Americans agree that “continued immigration into the country jeopardizes the United States.”

In other words, Americans are blaming the sudden division of our country on immigrants like Kuchibhotla — the people that our very own country was founded upon. Along with a prejudiced view of immigrants, racism is still an issue. An NBC news poll conducted in 2016 found 52 percent of Americans believe racism is an “extremely” serious problem. We do not even need statistics or surveys to comprehend that America has suddenly turned into a divided country — a bystander of racial insensitivity. Our very own leader and elected role model, President Donald J. Trump, became a face of insensitivity after he questioned a supreme court justice’s ability to do his job because of his Mexican heritage. The scariest part of Trump’s insensitivity, however, is his negligence to comment on the Olathe shooting. One life lost, two lives injured and a broken family was not enough for him to speak. It is time for us, as citizens, to take initiative. We cannot continue to spectate every day and not take a stand. Our racial and discriminant actions were what caused the shooter to open fire in the first place. If they do not stop, even more violence will occur. The reality is, our country is diverse. We truly are the melting pot of various cultures and races. During the press conference following her husband’s death, Dumala summed up the overall impact of insensitivity on all races. “I need an answer, I need an answer from the government,” Dumala said. “Not just for my husband… but for everyone, all those people of any race.” How many more shootings are going to occur before our country becomes undivided and we find Dumala’s answer?

Staff Ed:


Students, faculty express concerns over new principal qualifications


After the appointment of Dr. Amy Robertson as principal of PHS, the local media and the community members have expressed both excitement and concern about the new hiring. What initially began as a standard introduction article, quickly transformed into something more controversial. When constructing our story, we hoped to answer some of the questions raised by both ourselves and those in the school and community. While contacting various sources and faculty, many of them are hesitant to vocalize doubts. The front page story came into creation

slowly and laboriously, and the staff contacted all vested stakeholders. As July 1 approaches, the Booster staff and faculty also have concerns of Robertson’s new role as an administrator. According to the PHS registrar, nearly 21 percent of the student body is identified as special education. Robertson’s lack of experience in special education is just one example of the steep learning curve as she transitions to a public school in Kansas. “Over the past twenty-six years I’ve lived and worked in Spain, UAE,

Brunei, Thailand, Mexico, Qatar, China, Indonesia as a teacher, head of department, head of faculty, curriculum coordinator, education consultant, academic director, principal and superintendent,” Robertson said via email. The Booster staff wants to note its concern about the inconsistencies found in Robertson’s credentials. The Booster Redux hopes superintendent Destry Brown and the Board of Education reexamines Robertson’s candidacy as principal. We operate as a source of reporting and news for the high school and

the local community. Throughout this story we have maintained contact with all respective parties involved. It is our journalistic obligation to be accurate, ethical, and accountable in the pursuit of a story. As students, our motivation is rooted, not in the interests of outside bodies, but in the simple quest for truth. Because of this, we feel it is necessary to request official documentation from University of Tulsa, Corllins University, and the University of Cambridge UK. Once all questions are answered and verified, all concerns will be put to rest.

4 feature

Friday, March 31, 2017




McKenzie Vanessa Yaghmour

Wilks & Reese Willis darius Tinsley @dtinsley250


HS has two athletes who have successfully traveled to the University of Arkansas, Missouri Southern, Pitt State and KU for indoor track this year. Juniors McKenzie Wilks and Reese Willis decided to participate in indoor track tournaments and have been training throughout winter to prepare for their respective events. “I started training about two weeks after football in November,” Willis said. “I have been training five or six days a week since then.” Wilks competes in the 800-meter and one-mile events, while Willis throws shot put. The process of participating involves preparing, showing up at the event and competing. “I have a schedule, so I get [to the competition] and weigh my implements,” Willis said. “I go throw [in my events], and then it’s over.” Personal inspiration for Wilks comes from her father, who gave her the nudge to compete. “My dad is a really big track person, and he was a three-time AllAmerican in college,” Wilks said. “He’s the one who really got me into track and, all throughout the winter, he coached me and pushed me to get better.”

grace kafka @GraceKafka


s the only girl participant in the Leroy O’Bray, middle school math teacher and powerlifting coach, powerlifting probelieves her asset is the gram, sophomore Vanessa work she puts in. Yaghmour holds her own. “I would say a disadYaghmour enjoys powervantage would be her lifting not only because it age,” O’Bray said. “Some makes her stronger, but of the lifters she [comalso because she likes the petes] against are seniors atmosphere. who have been lifting for “I participate in powfour years, which makes a erlifting because I like to huge difference. I believe workout,” Yaghmour said. her advantage is her work “I also enjoy being around ethic.” other motivated athletes.” Over the course of Yaghmour participates the powerlifting season, in the squat, power clean Yaghmour has attended and bench events. She now three different meets in holds the school record for Basehor Linwood, Horton power clean in the 121and Goddard for state. 130 pound division. She Despite being the only cleaned 125 pounds, beating the record previously Vanessa Yaghmour, 10 PHOTO BY MADDY girl, Yaghmour feels accepted by the other memheld by Chelsea Baker. EMERSON bers. Powerlifting is not a year“The coaches and the athletes don’t treat round activity, but Yaghmour is frequently in me any differently,” Yaghmour said. “We are the weight room improving herself. Despite Yaghmour being a sophomore, all just one big family.”

p H s

Karen Campbell

Elizabeth Graham


katie painter @_katie16katie

maddy robison @maddyrobison19



erforming has been a part of senior Elizabeth Graham’s life since she was 3 years old, and she does not plan on stopping anytime soon. On Feb. 16, Graham signed her letter of intent to sing in the choir program at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina. “I absolutely love performing. I started with dancing and that progressed into singing. I’ve always loved being on stage and I just couldn’t let that go,” Graham said. “I wanted a smaller, more private school and I also wanted to go to a Christian college.” Graham enjoys the atmosphere on campus and the vocal music program. “I’ve had the opportunity to visit the campus,” Graham said. “It’s really laidback and everyone works really well together. I’ve already met some good vocalists there who I’m excited to sing with.” Receiving this opportunity has made Graham rethink what she wants to major in. “Choosing what to do in college has been conflicting because I originally wanted to major in nursing, but now I’m leaning more toward being a music major,” Graham said. “I want to see where music takes me because, if I don’t now, I will regret it later in life.”


Graham hopes her peers will go for a profession they want when going into college. “I want people to know that getting a performing arts scholarship is possible. You can’t say ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’ll never make it,’” Graham said. “No matter how bad you think you are, there’s always a chance that a professor will see something in you that they want in their program.”

eadership comes naturally for senior Karen Campbell, who was chosen in February to be the Southeast Kansas (SEK) Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Athlete of the Month. “I’ve been involved with FCA for three years now,” Campbell said. “I wasn’t a leader my sophomore year, but I have been for the past two years.” Campbell was selected among FCA student leaders in the region to be recognized as one of its most influential members. Her responsibilities as an FCA leader include helping organize events with local youth groups and the middle school FCA, as well as leading devotionals during meetings each Friday morning before school. “To me, FCA means having people I can lean on not only spiritually, but also in everyday struggles,” Campbell said. “I have grown so much as a person because of FCA and my peers. I have learned that life is so much easier when you have people to stand by your side.”

McKenzie Wilks and Reese Willis PHOTO BY MADDY EMERSON

Unique Metals Fabrication 565 E 510th Ave, Pittsburg, KS 66762 (620) 231-4144

2888 Rotary Terrace, Pittsburg, KS 66762 (620) 232-3060

Lane Lord Basketball Camp 104 Huntington Circle, Pittsburg, KS 66762 620-249-7223



Friday, March 31, 2017


Rhonda Willis

Connor balthazor @connor71999 ath teacher Rhonda Willis has been selected to be one of the 43 members of the Kansas State Mathematics Standards Review Committee Team, a committee to rewrite the state’s math standards. Willis was originally persuaded by history teacher Anita White to join the committee. “At first, I was not interested in doing it because I was actually very nervous about it,” Willis said. “The day the application was due, [White] encouraged me to give it a shot.”


allow us to have fewer standards in our Algebra 2 and Geometry classes so we can go deeper and really try to hit a better level of understanding with our students.” Even with her ideas being considered, Willis is just grateful to have the opportunity to be heard. “I feel very fortunate because they have been very open to the ideas I’ve given,” Willis said. “For me personally, it was about having a voice about what we are teaching to students in the state of Kansas.”

Willis’s main motivation for applying for the committee was to take initiative on solving problems. “I don’t want to be that teacher who sits back,” Willis said. “If I’m in disagreement with what the state is saying we ought to be teaching, then I need to be a part of those decisions.” The main idea Willis is wants to pass is a change to the Algebra 2 curriculum. “A lot of the standards that we were teaching in Algebra 2 [would] be considered advanced level standards,” Willis said. “[Changing that] would

Sydnie Schaar


AManda Bourbina @amandabourbina


umping between her mother’s and grandfather’s custody, junior Sydnie Schaar was in the foster care system for four years. Having been out of the system since December of 2015, Schaar is graduating a year early. “I knew a girl that graduated early last year and [heard] about the 21 credits, so I spoke with my counselor and asked what I needed to do to graduate a whole year early,” Schaar said. The 21 credit system is for students in foster care who move from school to school throughout their high school years. It allows them to graduate with a required 21 credits, rather than their current school’s graduation requirements. This system is protected by Senate Bill 23 in the state of Kansas. Schaar moved between her grandfather’s home and her mother’s home over the course of four years. “Being placed with my grandfather, Richard, was quite a

blessing. My mother was addicted to drugs. I became truant, so they took me out of the home. I was lucky for my grandpa to take me in and care for me,” Schaar said. “I ended up working [hard] last semester, and taking online classes to get all the credits that I need. This semester, I was lucky enough that I do not have a full schedule.” In her new spare time, Schaar studies her Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) book while she waits for fifth period to start. After graduation, Schaar plans to attend Labette Community College to complete her general education classes. Then, she will transfer to Missouri Southern State University to get her forensic technician license. “A forensic technician is the same thing as a coroner,” Schaar said. “It’s something that I have wanted to do since I was in the sixth grade.”


Seussical 2.0 Isaiah Harris madison Nagel @maddiebagel


ver spring break, six students who participated in the school’s production of Seussical the Musical also performed in Immeasurable Productions production of the show in Kansas City. The company put on Seussical over the course of two weeks with a different cast each week. These students participated in the camp’s second week of production. After sending in an audition video and extending $195, the students were cast in the show. Some of the students roles did not vary; such as senior Samuel Jamison who portrayed Horton, junior Maddy Emerson a Wickersham Brother, sophomore Julian Archuleta as the Mayor, and freshman McKenna Shaw as Gertrude McFuzz. Among those who switched roles were juniors Alexis Daniels and Cassie Hurt-McLarty. “I didn’t sing the same Wickersham part as I did at Pittsburg so I had to learn new vocals in some areas,” Emerson said. “The only transition that took some [time] was learning new dance with only a week to learn it.” Shaw and Daniels learned of the show after the director mentioned

they were in need of a larger cast for the second week. They shared her interest with members of their former Seussical cast shortly after the school’s production finished. A few of them got together to make their audition videos together. They were able to bond and make new connections throughout the week as they recognized new experiences and differences between both programs and shows. “We provided our own costumes and we put on a pretty great show after only five days,” Jamison said. “It was a great experience to spend time with a lot of people I didn’t know and being able to be under a director I had never been under before. It was an experience I am glad I got to have.” Following five days of rehearsal and four performances at the Dramatic Impact Theatre, Shaw, who has performed under this company before, believes she would love to repeat the experiences if she could. “It was great. I loved working with new and familiar people,” Shaw said. “It was a great experience and I would gladly do it again.”

& Justin Blythe madison Nagel @maddiebagel

“Work hard and you shall be rewarded.” “[PSU] offered financial practicality that I That is the message Pittsburg State University could not turn down,” Blythe said. (PSU) sends when offering scholarships Blythe foresees himself majoring in nursupon admission into its Honor College and ing or biochemistry, while Harris plans on only a select majoring in psycholfew are ogy. accepted. Harris has advice Seniors for students considerIsaiah Harris ing applying. and Justin “Apply to everyBlythe were thing possible, two of these because you never students. know if you will get Members it or not. I did not of the think I was going to H o n o r s get accepted into the College are Honors College with awarded a a GPA of 3.81. I realscholarship ize that that’s still - ISAIAH HARRIS and offered a high GPA, but more rigorthe average is 3.97,” ous courses. Harris said. “Do not Harris received a scholarship of $40,000 let your grades hold you back, because and Blythe received a scholarship of most colleges will look at involvement in $20,000. school and well-roundedness over grades. In order to apply to the PSU Honors Essentially, do not let yourself get discourCollege, a score of 28 on the ACT and a aged, even if it may seem impossible that GPA of 3.5 or higher are needed. you will get it.” The application process includes filling For those contemplating taking action out a transcript and two letters of recom- to enter the honors college, Blythe offers mendation. guidance. The top 42 applicants are called in for “Put in the effort because in the end, it an interview and the top 30 are offered will pay off and be worth it,” Blythe said. admission. “The application process seems never-endThe Honors College offers scholarships, ing, but you’ll get through it and it will save ranging from $6,000 to $40,000, to the 30 you future financial stress.” students who are admitted.

Sammy Jamison, Julian Archuleta, Cassie Hurt-McLarty, Alexis Daniels, Maddy Emerson, McKenna Shaw pose for a group after the Saturday matinee showing of Seussical the Musical in Kansas City.

Essentially, do not let yourself get discouraged, even if it may seem impossible that you will get it.



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6 Feature

Friday, March 31 2017


bringing business back Administration reinstates business pathway trina paul @trpaul98


Junior Jada Durden making pasta sauce in Culinary. PHOTO BY: OLIVIA REDD

hile the prospect of a career and job remains a distant thought for many high school students, classes like business essentials, career and life planning, and health science all offer students the option to prepare for a future career. The pathway system at PHS gives students the opportunity to pursue their pre-professional interests in a high school setting. Ben Bernhardt, teacher of the business finance pathway and a co-teacher of the web and graphic pathway, feels that many students remain uninformed of the possibilities at PHS. “We talk to the freshmen every year and by the time they’ve visited all the different pathways, they lose interest,” Bern-

hardt said. “When they get older and start thinking about their future career, they forget about those classes.” According to Bernhardt, about 60 percent of the students at PHS seek business-related majors like construction, management or accounting. However, few of those students choose to take any of the accounting or business essentials classes offered. “The business-finance pathway isn’t just for people who want to be an accountant. It’s for people who want to go into management or the accounting field. That’s what the business finance classes teach them about,” Bernhardt said. The pathway system at PHS was meant to encourage students who are both college bound and career

bound after high school. Both Monica Collins, former teacher of the human service pathway, and Jim Foresman, teacher of the health science pathway, see the benefit for all students. “Not every student is four-year bound, but they need training or a set of skills. You need some sort of training for backup,” Collins said. Foresman, who teaches the EMT and CNA certification class, echoed that sentiment. “[The certifications and training] may be an alternative [for non college-bound students]. [The health science classes] are an opportunity for students to explore this route and either end with some sort of certification and/or continue on,” Foresman said.

Cody Morrell took all of the classes in the health science pathway and discovered an interest in a future career, nursing. “When I took Health Science 2, we went to nursing day and that was when I was first interested in nursing,” Morrell said.“I plan on going to the nursing school at PSU now.” Regardless of which classes students take in the pathway system, there is no obligation to pursue that field of study after high school or to take all of the classes. Bernhardt emphasized that students are given flexibility with the pathways. “Pathway systems are flexible. Students can change whenever they want. There’s always ways to do things if you want to do them.”

Graduation requirement breakdown Four credits of English: Three credits of Math: English 9 (full year) Algebra I (or its equivalent) English 10 (full year) Math Elective (full year) English 11 (full year) Math Elective (full year) Speech, Theatre, Forensics or Debate (one semester) English Elective (one semester)

Three credits of Science: Physical Science or Biology (full year) Science Elective (full year) Science Elective (full year)

Three credits of Social Science: World Geography (one semester) World History (one semester) American History (one year American Government (one semester) Social Studies Elective (one semester)

One half credit PE One half credit Health One credit Fine Arts 11 credits of Electives 26 TOTAL CREDITs

new classes offered next year Julie Wilson @jlwilson


mplemented in the 2017-2018 school year will be 10 new classes available for enrollment, three of which are being reintroduced from previous school years. Among these new classes is a business career pathway including Business Essentials, Consumer Education, Entrepreneurship, Youth Entrepreneurship and Drafting. Junior James Richey is looking forward to this recently developed business pathway as he hopes to major in business during college. “I think business is certainly an important skill to learn,” Richey said. “I want to [major in business] so I feel like if those classes were offered when I was a freshman, I would be really interested in Freshman Avery Bowman measuring the angle of a rocket in Physical Science. PHOTO BY: [enrolling in them].” Classes added that are not apart of SAVANNAH JONES the business pathway include Honors cillary math class would be highly when you’re in a situation where Chemistry, Environmental Science, beneficial to incoming freshman who you run out of money and can’t pay Earth/Space Science, Applied English, have a difficult time grasping Alge- for anything,” Hellwig said. “That would’ve been [more] useful.” bra one concepts. and Math Foundations. Richey is currently enrolled in Chemis- “[Math Foundations] could certainly According to Richey, the additional try 2 and feels as though he would have help the freshmen that were strug- classes is not what is concerning him, been better prepared for it had he taken gling in middle school and the ones it is the classes that are being revised. that don’t want to go into Algebra “From someone who helps out in Honors Chemistry. “I enjoy chemistry a lot and it is my fa- one, because they don’t feel like they the STAR room, I don’t agree with the decision of cutting down on the vorite class. I feel like chemistry was are ready,” Richey said. just me doing all the [course work] and There will be many changes to the program. We need to have more of helping [other students],” Richey said. STAR and Computer Technology the STAR program going on,” Richey “[I feel like] we didn’t cover it as much classes. Any students who want to said. as we could. I would have had a lot bet- enroll in the STAR class will now Although he doesn’t agree with the ter time in Chemistry 2 if I had taken be required to have approval from a decision made about the STAR procounselor. Not only are classes being gram, Richey believes that incorpoHonors Chemistry.” Richey isn’t the only one looking for- added to the curriculum, but some rating Computer Technology one are being taken away, this includes and two into one year long class will ward to these new classes. be more beneficial to students. “Applied English looks really cool,” Freshman Foundations. sophomore Brooklyn Hellwig said. “It According to Hellwig, Freshman “I do agree with the decision of comis important because we don’t get much Foundations wasn’t very helpful, nor bining Computer Tech one and two into the same class. practice with cover letters and resumes was it necessary. “[Freshman foundations didn’t teach [Speaking] from personal experiexcept once.” Richey believes the development of an- me] how taxes work or what to do ence, [Mrs. Wood] was trying to fit in

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as much [material] as she could into one semester. If we combine them into one class, we can cover more material because she was just kind of going over the basics and I don’t feel I learned as much of Computer Technology as I could with the two classes being combined.” Computer Technology one and two will now be merged into one year long course, as opposed to two separate, half semester courses, now known as Computer Applications. It will also be incorporated into the business career pathway. According to Wood, a computer class is vital for any business occupation. “[A computer class] is still needed in several of the pathways at PHS. The skills learned in this computer class are essential for the success of students in college, as well as in upper management positions,” Wood said. “If you want any career related to business, if you want to be a manager or if you want to own your business, etc., you will definitely need a computer class.” Now that Computer Applications will be one class, Wood feels as though she can educate the students more than she could when it was two classes. “Computer Applications will be two semesters now allowing for mastery of skills as well as allowing students to learn to integrate skills even more. The second semester will focus on different curriculum than the first semester. This has always been the case for the second semester of Computer Technology two class,” Wood said. “In the second semester, we will focus on using introductory graphics in several programs including Photoshop. As with all of Computer Tech, it will be project driven involving graphic capabilities of software and very little traditional evaluation techniques.”

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Friday, Mar. 31, 2017


Staging the effects of drinking and driving, senior Sydnie Schaar and students of the EMT class demonstrate with a mock crash. PHOTO BY: MADDY EMERSON

Under the influence of knowledge Students, local emergency responders participate in mock crash JORDEN JOHNSON



s she is placed in a body bag, senior Sydnie Schaar considers the traumatic effects of drinking and driving. On Mar. 9, the county emergency medical services (EMS), Pittsburg Fire Department, Pittsburg Police Department, Via Christi, Eagle Med and Methods Air helicopter services put on a mock crash demonstration to show the aftermath of buzzed and drunk driving. Kansas has a higher casualty level due to driving while intoxicated. Because of this, Pittsburg State nursing student Sara Stinebaugh developed the idea of a mock crash sight, which involved the emergency medical technician (EMT) class. Seniors Kelsey Fuchs and Gaige Hooper were both involved in the demonstration as injured victims, while Schaar’s role was a fatality. Fuchs was found lying down in the backseat of the vehicle, and when the EMS were examining her, she did not know what was going on around her.

“It was frightening,” Fuchs said. “The only thing I saw were the firefighter’s eyes when they were holding my head.” Schaar had a different view during the demonstration. Since she portrayed a deceased character, she was carried off of the scene in a hearse. “Getting in the hearse was probably the most terrifying because it wasn’t anything like being on a stretcher in an ambulance where you know you are secured and your body is not moving,” Schaar said. “He opened one of the glass doors and [asked me] how it felt to be laying in the same place there were other dead bodies. Once I started to get that in my head [I realized] ‘this is actually happening.” This mock crash demonstration is not the only source of SOMETHING to warn students of possible dangers. Seatbelts Are For Everyone (SAFE) is another program designed to bring awareness to seatbelt and vehicle safety. The high school has had the SAFE Program since 2008 and their

goal is to increase awareness so students consistently wear their seatbelts. Three times a year, school resource officer Dave Petrey and the SAFE students observe drivers entering the school parking lot in the morning to see how many kids and parents are wearing seatbelts. Sophomore Haley Garzone, who joined the SAFE Program as a freshman, understands how essential seatbelts are and only aspires to advert collisions from happening. “The best part is understanding how life-saving seatbelts are,” Garzone said.“We see car accidents every day, and as I want to pursue the medical field, I realize trauma is something that really does happen, so if there is something [I can do] to help prevent trauma.” As of Feb. 22, 91.2 percent of drivers and passengers were wearing their seatbelts. By mid-year, this number increased to 94.9 percent.

Representing the community Youth Council members meet, discuss city, district plans SKYLA WALLACE

@skylawallace15 Pittsburg brings in students from around the community to weigh in on potential projects in town. Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall started the Pittsburg Youth Council in 2016. Hall collaborated with Pittsburg State University (PSU) over the orientation of the council, as PSU has a similar program. PCMS, PHS and St. Mary’s school administrators recommended 12 students to be put on the council. On Nov. 14, the Youth Council held its first meeting. The students meet with community members twice a month to discuss projects Pittsburg might undergo. The two projects they are currently talking about are Block 22 and Mission Clay. The students will be asked how they think these projects will affect the community and what they can do to help. The students in the Pittsburg Youth Council provide input from a teenage point-of-view on projects. The youth get to share their opinions and represent not only their school, but their community. Although the council has only been running for a few months, PHS freshman Carmen Kent believes the council will have a positive effect on the community.

“I feel [the council] is important because they are trying to inform the next generation about problems in the community,” Kent said. “Although it’s only in the beginning stages, this council will affect the community by giving a voice to teenagers.” In agreement with Kent, St. Mary’s freshman student member Colin O’Brien agrees that the council will be a vital part of teenage involvement in the community. “Without the Youth Council, students wouldn’t really get a big say in what goes on around Pittsburg,” O’Brien said. “We haven’t done much yet, but in time I think the community will get better for kids our age.” The council is still in its early stages, but students will learn about government and how it works, as well as how they can be a part of the community. They will be presented with information about situations and taught how to get involved and make a positive change in that situation. The teenage members will help inform city staff of issues and circumstances involving Pittsburg’s students. They will act as student representatives for everyone attending schools in the community. Pittsburg City Clerk Tammy Nagel coordinates meetings and accesses

Members of the Pittsburg Youth Council. PHOTO BY MADDI DAVIS resources to further advance the members’ education. Nagel wants the council to be a learning experience for youth. “The mission of the Pittsburg Youth Council is to provide Pittsburg youth an opportunity to impact the community while learning

about local government and to create active and informed citizens,” Nagel said, “As well as encourage students to make a positive impact on the community through service leadership, strong relationships and positive community involvement.”

8 Sports

Friday, March. 31, 2017


Senior Elijah Harris going in for a lay up shot. PHOTO BY: SHELBY SMITH

breaking records Team wins substate for first time in 20 years MEGHAN BAKER @meghanbaker11


s the final seconds wind down in the four th quar ter of the second substate game, senior Elijah Har r is is emotional knowing that he and his teammates are going to state for the first time in t wo decades. The last time they made it to state was in 1997. They won 85-32 over J.C. Harmon to go to the state tour nament. “I felt a lot of emotions. I was excited, and happy that we did something that we haven’t done in 20 years,” Har r is said. Junior Chase Cur tis is proud of coach Kiley Roelfs. “I felt really good for Coach Roelfs because of all the years he has been here he has not been to state,” Cur tis said. “He has always coached us and it feels really good knowing we were the first team who got him there.” Roelfs was elated that the team ear ned a tr ip to state. “I was ver y happy for our players after we won substate,” Roelfs said. “It was a well deser ved honor that they worked ver y hard for and they were really excited about it.” To Har ris, state was not all about playing basketball. It was also about spending time with the team.

“It was different. These teams were the best of the best,” Harris said. “It was really fun hanging out with my teammates. It was also another time to be ser ious. It was different from our regular season. Coach told us we were doing these things was because we got the oppor tunit y.” They fell to Wichita Heights 72-65 in the first round of state. “Unfor tunately, we did not play one of our bet ter games and Heights did and when that happens at that level, you are usually going to lose,” Roelfs said. “Our guys competed hard and I was proud of them, we just didn’t get it done that day.” At the beginning of the season, some of the players did not believe they would make it to state. “Going into the season at the beginning of the year, I don’t think a lot of us thought it was a realistic goal but as we got to state we realized that we could play with any team,” Cur tis said. “We are looking for ward to next year knowing that we can win state.” State was held in Topeka at the Kansas Expocentre. The team played on March 9th. Their overall record of the season was 20-3.

Senior Elijah Harris cutting the basketball net after the big victory. PHOTO BY:

Junior Ethan Tomasi powerlifting in the weight room. PHOTO BY: SAVANNAH JONES

Weighted determination Athletes compete at weight meets CONNOR BALTHAZOR @connor71999


HS’s powerlifting team has concluded another season under the guidance of Coach Leroy O’Bray O’Bray has seen this powerlifting season as a positive one. “I consider this season a success,” O’Bray said. “I average around 30 lifters everyday who worked extremely hard to improve themselves for their spring sport.”

O’Bray also takes pride in the drive of many of his lifters. “Lifters have to be self motivated to start so I just take that spark and feed the flame.” O’Bray said. Junior Ethan Tomasi has shown motivation through his results in his meets. “At Basehor-Linwood I broke my personal records in all three lifts,” Tomasi said. “At Girard I PR’d in all my lifts and then

at state I PR’d on power clean.” Tomasi was also part of the group of lifters that went to the state powerlifting meet in Goddard, however, he was just glad to be a part of the experience of going to state. “I’m glad that we had all of the people that went because it was a good experience to see what our other lifters could do.” Tomasi said.