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North Star THE FAMILY EDITION Francis Howell North St. Charles, MO 03.04.15 Vol. 29, Issue 9



A student’s father has been in the Missouri National Guard for three decades 12


Freshmen triplets talk about their similarities and differences in a Q&A 17-18

ALL THE WAY FROM ANTIGUA Freshman Alexandra Henson was adopted at a young age from Guatemala



A student’s family relocated to STL from Sarajevo, Bosnia after a war 27-28


A sophomore shares her story as a teen mom in high school 30


Some serious and some funny family photos students have

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Have an opinion on something in this month’s paper? Send us a letter about it to room 026 or an email to

ON THE COVER FHN has a variety of families, and to show this variety several photos were chosen to include on cover to get a sense of each families individual style. (cover illustration by ashleigh jenkins and bennett smallwood) Distributed for free to FHN by North Star Staff / Providing an open forum for FHN since 1986



letter from the editor Alright guys, the time has come. At the beginning of the year you were promised two special editions. You’ve already seen the Top 20 edition from November, and here we have it. The big reveal of our final special edition... drum roll please...the topic We all have one. Some of them are large, some of them are small. Some consist of a mom or a dad or both. Maybe you have siblings, or maybe you don’t. But we all have a family. Out of all the things that we could have chosen to talk about, family was something that we thought everyone could relate to. Every family has a story. Family is what makes us who we are, for better or for worse. We wanted to include a wide variety of families, outside what is typically considered normal. But what is “normal”? None of us fit completely into a cookie cutter stereotype. At the end of the day we all have unique circumstances that make us different. The modern family is all of our families, no matter what your family is like, we’re all modern. This issue of the North Star will focus on telling the stories of a few of the families in our school that have a story worth telling. Every family is different and unique, and every family in this school has a story worth telling, however, there was no way to include 2,000 students in 32 pages so instead we chose a few families with some kind of an interesting story. These stories cover a very diverse group of families, including a group of triplets, a father from the military and a teen mom. As you flip through the pages you will probably notice that the photos in this issue don’t look like other photos we’ve had this year. We wanted all of you to be able to look through these stories and really get a sense of who these families are in real life. In order to do this we are using a combination of

(photo by ashleigh jenkins)

submitted photos, shown by the use of a Polaroid frame, and studio shots where we had the families pose with a white frame. Polaroids were used as snapshots of a person’s life. They’re quick little memories that are easy to relive. So, we incorporated those familiar photos so you can live their memories with them and really see who they are. After all, we all go the same school, we are all connected through our clubs and sports and classes, we are a family. So we might as well get to know our family’s family.

Emma Pursley Team Editor

(photo illustration by ashleigh jenkins)

for better or worse

A look at how family has become more complex in America in recent years and the impacts that are associated with transforming this basic unit of society

BY DANIEL BODDEN • @danbodden


he American dream of mom and dad, son and daughter, dog and white picket fence is not a reality for a growing number of families who no longer follow the classic family formula. Many look to “Leave it to Beaver” and “I Love Lucy” as the golden days of the wholesome family, but, according to Dr. Chelsea Garneau, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at Mizzou, this idealized 20th century family portrayed in pop culture is a misconception. “People perpetuate the idea that the ideal family structure always existed and only recently we’ve strayed from the traditional family form,” Garneau said. “We didn’t always live this way. People hold the family of the 1950s on a pedestal, but there is not a specific, ideal family structure.” As the transition to more complex families continues, Dr. Judith Stacey, Professor Emerita of Social and Cultural Analysis and Sociology at New York

University, believes that the “nuclear family,” a couple and their dependent children, is no longer the norm. “The biggest change is that the nuclear family has not been the majority family,” Stacey said. “There is no single majority family. There are many, many different types of families. Families, of course, always have changed over the life course, but now they change a lot more than that.” DIVERGENCE The reasoning behind the change in family structure lies in huge changes in American society in the late 1900s through the present. Stacey believes that the shift began in the 1970s. “The three main things I could identify quickly would be the demand for women to be in the paid labor force -- the normalization of paid employment for women, especially white women who were not expected to work once they had children for much of the 20th century,” Stacey said. “Female employment had a huge impact on changing the expected roles in family life continued on next page >



and marriages. The second major fact, connected to that to some extent, was the steady rise in divorce rates and that meant that you had a lot of recombining families, and stepfamilies, and single parents and stuff of that sort. Connected to that was, of course, the development of reliable birth control and ultimately the legalization of abortion which made it possible to separate sex from reproduction for women. That led to increasing numbers of women who could live outside of marriage and make decisions about having children apart from that.” More recently, changes in the type of lifestyles lived by both adults and children have contributed to changes in the way families interact and behave. According to Carol Love, a clinical coordinator at Kids in the Middle, a local non-profit organization that provides family counseling and education, the advent of social media, increased Internet usage and filled-to-the-brim personal schedules has led to noticeable outcomes in family life. “A lot of times, we don’t have as much time with each other,” Love said. “Everyone is busier and busier, more and more activities, and so I think one of the challenges for the modern family is how you stay connected emotionally and not just talk when things need to be fixed, but how you keep all that kind of positive, knowing each other, and validating each other.” In her work, Love has also noticed a shift in the settings where families spend time together. Rather than sitting down to dinner or gathering in the home, she has seen an increase in the amount of family time spent in organized activities and children’s events. “When I grew up, I ran out of the house at 9 a.m. and came back at five, even though my mom was at home,” Love said. “In high school, it would have been weird for our parents to show up to our sports games. Now, parents are involved a lot more in kids’ activities. The way we spend time together is a lot different. It’s challenging to make sure everyone is staying connected.” DIVORCE Although there is some controversy over the collection and analysis of divorce rates in the U.S., according to the National Center for Health Statistics,

divorce rates have actually been decreasing for more than a decade, a fact that is often overlooked. Divorce can cause some of the largest shifts in family dynamics for children; however, Stacey believes that divorce is sometimes better for the kids than unhappy parents remaining married. “Two committed parents are usually better than one if those parents get along well,” Stacey said. “It depends on the quality of the relationship. A good divorce is better than a bad marriage for most kids, but a bad divorce is pretty bad. High conflict in families is usually negative for children, so it depends a lot on how those things are managed.” At Kids in the Middle, Love sees divorce from both the parental perspective and the child perspective. Love refers to divorce as “an explosion in the road” for kids. Even though one or both parents may be able to see and understand long-term improvement in their personal lives through the divorce, it is often very difficult for children to adapt this perspective. “I think people have more interaction with people of the opposite sex than they might have in generations past, so I think it’s just more common that people may find someone that they prefer over someone else or people are a lot less willing to live a long time being unhappy or with someone who is abusive or has a mental health problem,” Love said. “People see a way out and now people are able to support themselves separately. I don’t think children, however, see it the same way at all because I don’t think they understand that. I think for children, it’s always a loss, not that they can’t get over it, but I don’t think it’s easy for them to see the end result being better.” Along with a decrease in divorces is a decrease in marriages; more households than ever consist of non-married adults. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 48 percent of households today are married couples, down from 76 percent in 1940, and 27 percent of children live with one parent only, up from 9 percent in 1960. “Cohabitation, people who live together without being married, is rising among younger people, and often it’s not intended to be prior to marriage, but instead of marriage,” Garneau said. “Partially because of this trend, there are increasing rates of children born outside of marriage, and those children are


24% 6% 8%

of children live with at least one foreign-born parent.

of people in Missouri speak a language other than English at home, compared with 21 percent nationally. of marriages are interracial, compared with 3.2 percent in 1960.



$53,046 29 & 27 is the U.S. median household income (in 2013 dollars).

Sources: Pew Research, U.S. Census Bureau



were the median ages in 2014 when men and women first married, respectively. This is up from 24 and 21 in 1947.

16 million 72% children, or about one in five, received food stamp assistance in 2014 compared with the roughly 9 million children, or one in eight, that received this form of assistance prior to the recession.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


of family groups in the U.S. are married couples.

of 30 to 34-year olds have never been married. Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Same Sex

23% 31% $112,576

of married same sex couples have children in the home.

of same sex households in 2013 in Missouri were married couples.

is the average household income of same sex couples, including both married and unmarried couples. Source: 2013 American Community Survey

likely to experience family instability and living in a single-parent family.” DIVERSITY Even as complex families become more commonplace, it doesn’t mean they are always understood and accepted by their peers, especially in high school. According to Love, family offers a new type of diversity students may not always recognize. “I think it’s really hard for us to totally appreciate the challenge of other types of families, the same that it’s sometimes difficult for us to appreciate the challenges of being, for example, a different race or having a disability,” Love said. “I think people know it cognitively; I’m not sure they can always appreciate it otherwise. For example, if you’re in a two parent family, [being able to understand] having a single working mom and what that means in terms of being able to participate in things time-wise and get rides to places and have the money to be on, for example, Select soccer instead of CYC soccer and that kind of stuff.” The nature of high school can also make it difficult for students with nontraditional families or who are in the midst of a family transition or crisis. Guidance Counselor Stephanie Johnson sees a connection between home life and school life in the students she works with. “If they’re having trouble at home and they’re taking on roles like a parent then they come to school, and maybe they’ve been up all night raising their baby sister or they’re having to work all night because they have to help with bills, that definitely affects their schooling,” Johnson said. “I’m not saying that just because there’s a bad family situation means a student can’t be successful, because that’s not the case at all. There are students that fight through daily struggles, and still come to school and do very well.” Johnson believes that the strong diversity in families at FHN is positive and that the support of families is more important than the family structure itself. “I’d say FHN is as diverse as it can be,” Johnson said. “We have parents that have been married forever, there’s split families, there’s some that have not been married. You know, ethnic-wise, there’s diversity, I would say same-sex wise, too. I think it’s a good thing; families are becoming a lot more diverse, in general, not just at Francis Howell North. I feel like our country as a whole is kind of moving, yes there’s room for change, but I think it’s moving in the right direction as far as being able to be an individual and make your own decision, whether that’s who you’re dating or who you marry or having kids. I think that the more diversity in regard to anything, not just family, the better.”



of biological children live with a householder with a graduate or professional degree, compared to 17 percent of adopted children.


of households are singleperson households, up from 13 percent in 1960.


of 18 to 34-year-olds in Missouri live with a parent, compared to the 30.4 percent national average.

Of the 73.7 million children under 18 in the United States in 2014:

10% 79% 15% <1%

live with a grandparent. live with at least one sibling. have a stay-at-home mother. have a stay-at-home father.

7% 56%

of household income was spent on child care in 2011. This amount has been relatively constant since 1986.

John Luley SCC student FHN alum

SCC accepts admissions applications year-round.

Apply now for Summer or Fall 2015. Registration for classes begins April 13.

of children experienced a transition related to a change in family structure, residence or parental employment between 2008 and 2011. Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Long Service, Loving Family The Rohlfing family experiences life with one member serving the country BY BENNETT SMALLWOOD • @bsmallwood20

Sophomore Kyle Rohlfing’s father Alan has been with the Missouri National Guard now for almost 30 years. Alan has been deployed several times during this time frame which left his family by themselves. In his absence, the home life of the Rohlfings has been greatly affected. “It hit me and my family really hard,” Kyle said. “We didn’t expect it. It hit my mom the hardest because she was left with two kids. We had to pick up the responsibilities for her.” Kyle would deal with the simple chores that his parents would do at the house. This included cleaning up around the house, washing the dishes and other things that needed to be done to keep the household up and running. In the absence of his father, Kyle gained a newfound respect for what both of his parents did for Kyle and his brother Luke. “Before he was deployed, I didn’t really realize how much my parents did,” Kyle said. “When he got back I made sure to help the best I could.” Alan was deployed twice during Kyle’s life, but his military career has spanned much longer than that. He first joined the Missouri National Guard in 1986; he went through basic training and ended up being commissioned as a Lieutenant Colonel. After further training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma he was sent on active duty in Fort Riley, Kansas. When he was first deployed, he didn’t have a wife or kids as opposed to when he was in Texas. “It was different, my first deployment,” Alan said. “I didn’t have a wife or kids. I was single and since it was my first deployment, I was excited to go.” When Alan was deployed for Texas, the kids were very young. Kyle was still in kindergarten when he left. “I don’t know if they really understood what was going on when their dad was gone,” Kyle’s mother, Linda, said. “They’re at an impressionable age where they need their dad. It was a trying time but we got through.” After about a year there, he came back and spent some time with his family and wasn’t deployed until three years later. That’s when he was shipped to Kosovo for a peacekeeping job. At the time, Kosovo had just become an independent state and National Guard troops were sent to protect it from outside countries. This time when he came back, he was greeted by his family. “It [the family] strengthened when he got back,” Kyle said. “We spent more time as a family. We would spend time going to the zoo and playing football. Just normal kid things.” Currently, Alan is at the Veteran’s Business Resource Center, working with returning veterans helping them to transition to normal civilian jobs or start their own businesses by hosting workshops. Even though he may be retiring in the next few years, Alan’s military legacy might carry on through his son. According to Alan, Kyle has considered possibly joining the Air Force in the future. “If either one of my sons wants to join the service I’d be proud and support that, but I will let them make their own decisions,” Alan said. But even if Kyle decides against joining the service, his father’s time in the military has taught him about troops across the country and the families that are affected. “I recognized how he protected our country,” Kyle said. “He was away from his kids and wife to serve his country.”



The Psycho Monkey consists of drizzled chocolate and peanut butter topped with bananas and whipped cream making it one of the most popular items. Melt is located at 2712 Cherokee Street in St. Louis. (lauren price)

PRIVATE TO PUBLIC With her mother’s help, Bethany Barr made a swap to a new school while her brother stayed in private school BY BELEN HERRERA

Switching from middle school to high school is a huge step for a lot of people, but along with that transition, senior Bethany Barr made the switch from private school to public school, after finishing her eighth grade year at Zion Lutheran School. Making this decision was one that affected her whole family, especially when her younger brother, Brandon Barr, who was in seventh grade at the time, chose to stay in the private school system. “It’s a big decision, like a really long decision,” Bethany said. “We talked about it for awhile. I think they [students] need help from their parents, because in my case my mother knew public school would be better just so I could branch out more.” According to Samantha Geil, Bethany’s mother, the process in choosing who went where was tough. She had to keep in mind that her kids have different personalities, and putting them into the same school system probably wouldn’t fit their unique needs. She feels that her children are different in the way they learn, the way they interact with people and the different needs they have. For Bethany, public school seemed better suited to her needs. “There were more opportunities for her in the path that she seemed to want to take at that time, and because the school was bigger and she just had more choices in terms of the curriculum and the sports and the things she wanted to do at the time,” Samantha said. Samantha believed that Brandon would fit best staying in private school because of the friendships he had made there. Based on this decision Samantha knew she would have to pay more for Brandon’s education. However, giving the money up for his education was a sacrifice that she was willing to make. “If I didn’t go to a private school, I guess we’d have some more money,” Brandon, currently a sophomore Lutheran High School of St. Charles, said. “It doesn’t put such a huge strain on us. We’re still able to do the things we want to do.” With the schools they are at now, Bethany and Brandon realize that they are the right schools for them and appreciate their mother’s help with this decision. “The bottom line is always where I feel right for them to best grow,” Samantha said. “I put a lot of prayer into that and feel like that is where the best place for them is where God will lead them to go.”

Being Hindu

Unlike most American families, the Sontha family practices a religion from South India and believes in not one, but thousands of gods BY KYLEIGH KRISTENSEN & LAUREN PIKE •

Junior Pratyush Sontha’s family practices Southern Indian Hinduism. The main difference between Southern Indian Hinduism and Northern Indian Hinduism are the cultural traditions surrounding the gods depending on the region, though both types believe in the same gods. “They’re Hindus, but because there are so many gods, there are differences in beliefs dependent on where you are,” Pratyush’s mother Prasanna Sontha said. “The culture and beliefs in certain gods varies all over India.” Hinduism focuses on the idea of reincarnation, a continuous cycle of death and rebirth with a final goal of moksha, or eventual liberation from this cycle. Hindus also do not eat beef because cows are considered a sacred animal, but the Sonthas

abstain from any meat, fish, poultry or eggs as a family preference. They also visit the Hindu Temple of St. Louis about every two weeks to find a source of community and spiritual stability. “I know that I’m different, but I don’t feel different,” Pratyush said. “America is like the mixing pot of all religions if you will, so because I’m different, I fit in.” The Sontha family prays twice daily in the prayer room in their house. In this prayer room, there is a mini shrine with images and small sculptures of various gods, a modification of the approximately 20 shrines that they would pray to in the temple. While the Sonthas don’t always pray as a family every day, during festivals, such as Diwali, the family makes time to pray together. “It’s another aspect that we all have in common,” Pratyush said. “We all have different schedules and when we walk into the room, we just all feel like we’re doing the same thing. It just feels good.”




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a lost child lives on

The Mecklenburg family shares their story of their lost brother and son to a syndrome called Trisomy 18. The family must deal with not knowing how their lives would be different if a boy had been added to the all-daughter family BY ALEX ARGER • @lARG3Rthanlife


enior Rachel Mecklenburg looks down on one of the only pictures of her big brother, Jeffrey. As she looks at the photograph, she imagines a life with Jeffrey included. Watching his sports games, listening to his loud bantering with his friends on Xbox Live, helping with homework. As Patty sees Rachel looking at the memory-filled picture, she too ponders the changes Jeffrey could have brought to the family. Less conflicts between the three girls of the Mecklenburg clan, a partner that Rachel’s dad, Mike, could bring to sporting events, a child to carry on the family name. However, due to unfortunate circumstances, the family wouldn’t be able to experience this. Jeffrey was taken from the family abruptly, eight hours after his birth. “We didn’t think that we would take him home; we didn’t know for sure



what would happen,” Patty said. Two years after having their first daughter on April 4, 1993, Audrey, Patty and Mike were ecstatic to learn they were having a son. When Patty was six months pregnant with him, she had an ultrasound. The previous ultrasound showed that the baby was small, but the doctors and she didn’t think much of it. At this ultrasound however, they faced the facts and came to a few realizations. Jeffrey had many abnormalities, including a heart defect and an omphalocele, or a defect in which intestines stick out of the body. The doctors said the ultrasound showed symptoms that could possibly be fixed such as small birth defects, but some looked as though they could be symptoms of some type of syndrome. “The doctors usually say, ’Oh everything looks good,’ but the nurse said, ‘I’ll be right back,’” Patty said. “I didn’t think anything of it. Then it took her like five minutes to get back, and from that minute to three or four minutes, then I knew, and I just started to panic. I had no idea what I was going to panic

about because I had no idea what they were going to say.” After genetic testing and an amniocentesis, they found that Jeffrey had a syndrome called Trisomy 18. This is a condition caused by an error in cell division, known as meiotic disjunction, resulting in the presence of three 18th chromosomes instead of the normal two. According to the Trisomy 18 Foundation, this condition occurs in about one in every 2,500 pregnancies in the United States, and in about one in 6,000 live births. Trisomy 18 carries with it many developmental issues that are associated with life-threatening medical complications. Around 50 percent of babies with this syndrome who are carried to term will be stillborn, with baby boys having higher stillbirth rate than baby girls. Less than 10 percent of babies with Trisomy 18 survive until their first birthday. The doctors told Patty that Jeffrey’s fate wasn’t clear. He could be stillborn. He could die in utero due to a weak heart. He could have been a miscarriage. Patty had Jeffrey at 39 weeks, not knowing how long she would have with her baby boy. “It was horrible,” Patty said. “You expect to have a normal, healthy baby, and everyone should expect that. You don’t expect to be told that your baby is probably going die in utero or right after he was born and that he’s got all these problems if he does live.”

Angie Mason’s son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last year, causing the family to make adjustments


“we would have him and let nature guide us, and see what happened. if he ended up living, we were gonna do what we needed to do.” The doctors told Patty the situation with Jeffrey was a fluke, “one in a million”. Before their oldest daughter Audrey was born, Patty had a miscarriage. Audrey was three years old when Jeffrey was born, and their next child, Rachel, was born a year after Jeffrey. Because Rachel was the baby right after Jeffrey, there was a worry about her health. Patty tried to refrain from the amniocentesis with Rachel; she felt it wouldn’t change anything, so why do anything that wasn’t necessary? However, fear got to Patty at 23 weeks: the milestone at which the ultrasound showing Jeffrey’s poor health took place. Two weeks after the amnio was performed, the doctor called Patty. She was overwhelmed with emotion when she heard the calming words, “the baby is perfect.” The doctor asked Patty if she wanted to know the new, perfect baby’s gender, but it was no surprise to her. “They told me it was a girl, and I said, ‘I knew it’,” Patty said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a boy. I knew this baby wasn’t here to replace Jeffrey.” Rachel was born on Feb. 16, Jeffrey’s due date. The family took this as a sign that he was present and a living memory for them all, a part of the Mecklenburg family forever. With more estrogen than anything else in the family, they often wonder what life would be like if the situation never happened and he was still here, such as the family’s dynamic or the disagreements of the three girls. “I think it would make us not so sensitive,” Audrey said. “We’re all very emotional and get upset over little things. I think a brother would tell us to man up and stop being so dramatic.” The Mecklenburgs keep Jeffrey’s story alive by visiting his gravesite, celebrating his birthday on Feb. 10, and having family night. Although he wasn’t alive very long, the family feels that his impact surpasses his time spent alive. They believe he is here, watching over them, and living through Audrey, Rachel, and the youngest daughter Julianne. “Although I wasn’t here when he was, I still like to think he impacts my life,” Rachel said. “He is and always will be my little angel brother from heaven.”

After school, business teacher Angie Mason checks for the daily email from the nurse at Fairmount concerning her son Will’s blood sugar for the day. Mason helps her oldest son, 10-year-old Will, cope with his diabetes. “We may be at home, and he’s like ‘Mom, I’m feeling just kinda low. I think I need to check.’” Angie said. “So, he checks his blood sugar, and sure enough, he might be a little low.” In March 2014, Will was rushed from one hospital to another. He had thrown up and was having trouble breathing. Bryan, his father, had taken him to Barnes St. Peters because Will wasn’t feeling well. Before that, Will had been losing weight and experiencing extreme thirst. Will and his family found out that he had Type I diabetes, meaning the body can’t make insulin. “When I found out I had diabetes, I kinda felt like ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do because I don’t even know what it is,’” Will said. “I was very scared.” Family gatherings can make determining how much insulin Will needs difficult. Without food labels, Angie and Bryan are left to determine how many carbs Will has eaten. After eating, instead of running off and doing something a kid would do, he takes his insulin shot. “When we go to Thanksgiving, everybody brings different food, so we have to guess what the carbohydrates are, and that can get tough at times,” Will said. “I still enjoy them. When I’m done, I can’t go outside or anything. I just have to do my insulin shot.” Before and after each meal, Will has to check his blood sugar. Most kids don’t think twice before downing two or more pieces of pizza, but a simple piece of pizza could have a big impact on Will’s blood sugar level. “In a way, before, I was just Dad,” Will’s dad Bryan Mason said. “Now, I’m Dad and a medical advisor to him. And, I’m probably more careful with him than I was before just because we can’t let our guard down.” Now, anywhere they go, Will must have his diabetes supplies bag. Angie also keeps the pantry stocked with healthy snacks for a diabetic. “He’s a really good student and a really neat kid,” Bryan said. “He’s doing a really great job with managing Type 1 diabetes as well.”



dance bonds

The Martinez family has formed a close relationship through the sisters’ mutual passion for dancing

BY LAUREN PIKE • @pike_n_ike

Senior Lauren Martinez is the emotional dancer. Her feelings play out across her face and come alive as she moves. For her sister, Kayla, a sophomore, technique is her strength and her youngest sister, 10-year-old Abby, combines both styles in her dancing. Since they were toddlers, each of the Martinez sisters has pursued dance as a way to express themselves. “I just like the idea of dancing and letting everything go,” Kayla said. “When I’m having a bad day, I can dance.” Between competitions and performances, dance has become a key bonding aspect for the Martinez family. During competition season, Lauren, Kayla and Abby rely on their parents Terry and Holly to help keep them sane and on schedule. Both parents have been there to help put rhinestones on costumes and deal with makeup malfunctions. Kayla has described her father as a “dance dad” because of the seriousness he puts into supporting his daughters. “There’s a number of friends and a group of us fathers who are ‘dance dads,’” Terry said. “We are the ones that go to every contest and competition. Any father will do whatever they need to do. I couldn’t imagine being anything different.” Dance wasn’t always the central activity in the lives of the Martinez sisters, however. As children, Lauren, Kayla and Abby all started with soccer and softball, but gradually shifted to dancing. Because Lauren was the first of



the sisters to pursue dance, she played a part in Kayla and Abby’s decision to dance. “Kayla, when she first decided, was on the fence and seeing me do it made her want to try it,” Lauren said. “Abby just loved seeing me on stage and wanted to do it.” While each sister started dancing noncompetitively in a studio, the decision to pursue competition dance was something that Lauren and Kayla decided on together when Lauren was in sixth grade and Kayla was in fourth. Lauren was influenced to make this decision when she saw many of her dance friends having fun through competitive dance, but she needed a little push from Kayla before diving into the glitz and glamour of competition. After seeing her sisters’ passion for competing on stage, Abby joined in at age five. “We spend a lot of time together at competitions and with dance, we can be more honest with each other,” Lauren said. “If something goes wrong, there’s always dance to bring us together.” As the Martinez girls have improved in their dancing abilities, Terry and Holly have enjoyed watching their daughters grow while learning important life lessons. Terry believes that his daughters are more well-rounded individuals because of their appreciation for the arts and he hopes that they will continue to apply the lessons they have learned regardless of if they pursue dance in the future. “I want them to take the confidence, ability to pay attention to detail, teamwork and commitment and I want them to take those aspects and continue them in their lives,” Terry said.

Trinamic Trio

Triple threat

Kira, Grant, and Erin Stock pose with a picture frame. (ashleigh jenkins)

Triplets Kira, Grant and Erin Stock talk about the similarities and differences they share, how having siblings the same age affects them individually and what they like and dislike about being triplets Q: Which one of you is the funniest?

Q: Which one of you is the most responsible?

Q: Which one of you is the most creative?

Erin: “Grant, because he says random stuff all of the time and he’s kind of immature which makes him really funny.” Grant: “Me. I would say because I’m usually random with jokes and stuff so it just makes them laugh.” Kira: “Probably Grant because he’s kind of random, so at home it can be kind of funny.”

Erin: “Kira, because she might not get stuff done the quickest but she always makes sure to get stuff done. She never lets anyone down.” Grant: “I would say Erin because she has all of her homework done on time, she always gets it done when she gets home and she always plans things out ahead of time.” Kira: “Erin, because she gets her work done on time. I turn in my work but I procrastinate.”

Erin: “Probably me because I’ve always been the Spectra child and I always come up with new ideas. Grant and Kira are more analytical thinkers.” Grant: “I would say Erin. I mean she has the best ideas and she made it to Spectra because she was the most creative out of the three of us.” Kira: “Erin because she’s a lot better at coming up with stuff and using her imagination.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?

Q: What do you like to do with friends?

Erin: “I like pop because I probably listen to music the least in my family so I just listen to what is on the radio.” Grant: “Mostly pop, because I don’t really like jazz and classical stuff because it gets boring and hip-hop just annoys me.” Kira: “Pop because they always have catchy beats and rhythms, but I also like songs where you can connect to the music.”

Erin: “We like to play sports and just like talk, have a good time, and laugh.” Grant: “Well I play baseball and I like to just hang out.” Kira: “Me and my friend down the street swim in the pool, walk the dog and watch movies.”

Q: What are your talents? Erin: “I do good in school, I’m really athletic and I’m a good swimmer and runner.” Grant: “I like to play baseball and I mean I don’t really get straight A’s in school like my sisters do, but I get decent grades.” Kira: “I’m better at music. I’m the only one who stayed in band. I play clarinet. I stayed in band because I enjoy listening to music and playing it.”

Q: What are your siblings good at? Erin: “Kira is really good at band, they’re both good at school and Grant is good at baseball.” Grant: “Erin is good at swimming and they’re both really smart and get straight A’s.” Kira: “I think Erin is pretty well rounded. She is good at school and sports.”

Q: What is the worst thing about being triplets? Erin: “Well, since we are the same age so we tend to always compete against each other because each of us want to be the best.” Grant: “I would say we argue sometimes, we don’t really agree sometimes.” Kira: “Since we’re all so different, sometimes it’s hard to agree on everything.”

Q: What is the best thing about being triplets? Erin: “No matter what, you always have someone there to have a laugh or help you with homework or just to have someone to talk to.” Grant: “I would say if I’m stuck on something like in school, I can ask and they can usually help me.” Kira: “Probably that you always have someone to talk to.”



Mother-Daughter Bond: Stronger than their Struggles Sophomore Kiarra Stillman and her mom Shelly share more than just a small age difference. They push each other to work towards their goals; for Kiarra, earning good grades in school and for Shelly, earning her masters degree

BY RISA TAKENAKA • @ricericebaby143


etite, outgoing, energetic. 16 years old. This is how most would describe sophomore Kiarra Stillman. But what most don’t know is that Kiarra lives with someone who could also be described the exact same way, but 17 years older. A very old sister? Although that is possible, no, it isn’t her sister. 32-yearold Shelly Stillman is actually her mother. Their relationship, because of the smaller age difference, may seem different from many mother-daughter bonds; they talk like best friends, fight like sisters, but have mutual respect for one another. “We relate to one another more and I can tell her anything because she’s still young,” said Kiarra. “She understands what it’s like to be young.” Kiarra and Shelly’s bond has been strengthened throughout the years, and they both push each other to be better people. Shelly is always supportive of Kiarra’s education, and wants her to succeed at school and experience



everything about high school that Shelly missed. Kiarra looks up to Shelly as a role model and works hard at school to pursue her dreams. In 1999, during her junior year of high school at FHN, Shelly and her boyfriend at the time, Dustin Stillman, had Kiarra. Although Shelly’s parents were disappointed after first hearing the news, they eventually supported her in raising Kiarra. They also emphasized to Shelly the importance of continuing her education. Just three weeks after having Kiarra in May of her junior year, Shelly went back to school to take her finals. She graduated on time with the rest of her class in 2000. Despite the financial struggles that Dustin and Shelly faced in raising Kiarra, they worked around their problems to support their daughter. Dustin worked night shifts, and then watched Kiarra throughout the day so Shelly could go to school. A close friend came over every day around 11 p.m. each night to watch Kiarra overnight. “Shelly and I’s top priority was supporting Kiarra, and the value Shelly placed on school made me very proud,” Dustin said. When Kiarra was in seventh grade, Shelly and Dustin decided to break up

despite their past together. Shelly became the primary caregiver, and continued to shape her parenting around the importance of education and making smart choices. “I had to grow up so fast and it was really unfortunate, although I wouldn’t change a thing,” Shelly said. “I want Kiarra to be able to do all of the things I couldn’t do.” Years of personal, financial and internal struggles of being a teen mother affected Shelly and her family, but the strong mother-daughter bond between Kiarra and Shelly is a result of the challenges they were able to overcome. “Money was definitely a struggle, I remember living off of VCR’s because we didn’t have cable,” Kiarra said. “But her and my dad always made sure I had what I needed.” Seeing her mom work towards her goals after everything is what inspires Kiarra every day. Her perseverance towards receiving a good education made Kiarra realize the significance of school. After having Kiarra, Shelly went back to school to earn a college degree. In 2006, she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in social work. “The experience has made me very strong to work hard to get what I want,” Shelly said. “I am getting my aster’s degree and am a social worker. One day, I would like to be a therapist and continue helping others.” For Kiarra, her mom is more than just a mom. She’s a living inspiration and a role model. She feels that her mom’s success, despite her struggles, is motivation to work hard at school. “She encourages me to go to college and get a good job then have kids because she wants me to go far in life,” Kiarra said.”But I don’t think my mom knows how much she inspires me; when I watch her I think I can do anything I want in my life because she did even with the hardest obstacles thrown at her.”

Teenage pregnancy breakdown Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Conference of State Legislatures, Office of Adolescent Health, CDC

10% decrease in births in 2013 to 26.5 for every 1,000 adolescent females compared to 29.4 in 2012.


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, parents were projected to spend $245,340 raising a child born in 2013.

$9.4 billion

of teenage mothers graduate high school, while less than 2 percent graduate college under age 30.

was spent by U.S. taxpayers on teen pregnancy and childbirth costs in 2011



From antigua to stl Freshman Alex Henson, who was adopted from Guatemala at eight months old, grows up in a culture other than her own in a family that welcomed her with open arms


Freshman Alexandra Henson, known to her family as Alex, may not know her biological parents, but that hasn’t affected the way she lives and carries herself. She gets good grades in school and takes part in extracurricular activities like singing and dancing. The topic of not knowing her biological parents doesn’t keep her up at night. Granted, she may be sad at times about the whole subject, but for the most part, it doesn’t affect her day-to-day life. “It makes me kind of sad not knowing whether my biological parents are healthy or even alive,” Alex said. “But I don’t focus on that a lot.” Cheryl and Bob Henson adopted Alex from Antigua, Guatemala, when she was eight and a half months old from an adoption center called Casa Quivira. Because Alexandra was a baby, she remembers nothing of her birth parents besides her mother’s name, Glendy Gonzales De Ajtiun. Although she doesn’t know who her biological parents are, she does know that her adoptive parents love her as their own. “There’s no difference [between our adopted children and our biological children],” Bob said. “I couldn’t love any child with my DNA any more than I love Alex.” After Cheryl and Bob’s other two children left for college, they thought about adoption, and they knew they had three empty bedrooms and a good, loving family. Cheryl was also grateful that the whole extended family wanted to be included in the adoption process. “When you’re pregnant with a baby, the baby moving and kicking is a whole lot more about the mother and the baby,” Cheryl said. “But when you’re adopting a baby, everybody is a part of it. The father, the siblings, the grandparents, the aunts and uncles all feel like they’re going through this journey with you. So, it’s very exciting to finally, after all those months and lots of work, to be able to bring her home and introduce her to her new family.” Cheryl and Bob had to have background checks, home studies



done and multiple letters of recommendation written before they could adopt Alex. “It was a ton of work on our part,” Cheryl said. “But in the end, when you’re holding your beautiful baby daughter in your hands, you realize it was all worth it.” One of the first things that Cheryl and Bob had to do after they were screened was choose the country they wanted to adopt from. For the Hensons, it was Guatemala or Romania. Cheryl and Bob chose Guatemala because they knew that most people would choose Romania over Guatemala because of the white skin complexion. Cheryl and Bob, however, never cared about the skin tone of their child, and Antigua was in a bad place at the time, according to the Hensons. When they finally arrived after their seven hour flight home, all of their family members were waiting for them to arrive wearing shirts saying ‘Welcome Home Alex’ and open arms for their newest family member. “We were very happy to be home,” Bob said. “There were a lot of people waiting whom Alex was important to, so the idea of finally having a meet up with her was pretty exciting.” Alexi s glad she was adopted into a welcoming family, but she occasionally faces challenges. According to Alex, when she tells people about her own adoption, she is often shown unnecessary sympathy. There are some benefits to being adopted. Since Alex was born in Guatemala, she is offered at least $5,300 to specific colleges due to the fact she was born out of the country. The program that will provide the money for her scholarship opportunity is The Western Union Family Foundation’s Scholarship Program which gives scholarships to immigrants and their families. In the future, she plans on becoming an entertainer and sharing her adoption story with her future children. Alex may not know much about her biological parents, but she, Bob and Cheryl still form the same bonds like any other family. “I love the fact that my mom and dad don’t make me feel like I’m different from my other siblings just because I’m adopted,” Alex said. “It feels good to know that at the end of the day they’ll be there for me until the end, through both the good and the bad.”



working in jefferson city Junior Miles Sommer’s mother has been one of the Missouri State Representatives since 2012


Looking outside his car window, junior Miles Sommer spots the usual promotional advertisements. But amidst them all, one name sticks out on a campaigning advertisement: Sommer. Miles’ mother Chrissy Sommer was elected in 2012 as one of the 163 Missouri State Representatives. Chrissy spends five months a year working at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, representing District 106. “The fact that I don’t see her as often is one of the biggest tolls,” Miles said. “It gets really depressing.” While Chrissy is away for work when Congress is in session January through May, she serves on many committees including the Higher Education Committee, and is the Vice-Chairman of the Professional Registration and Licensing Committee. “Being able to help my constituents is one thing,” Chrissy said. “It’s always nice to be able to do that for people.” While Chrissy is away from home for a portion of the year, she still gets the opportunity to visit her family back in St. Charles several times each term. “I kind of have an advantage over some of the reps because I can drive home a lot of times at night if there’s something going on,” Chrissy said. “Some of the reps live five, six hours away so I’m only about an hour and a half.” Miles’ Dad Michael is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), so his work schedule is also restricting. When Miles and his younger sister Danielle were younger, they often stayed with their grandparents during their



parents’ absence. However, as Miles grew older, he began to take on the full responsibility of making priorities for himself and keeping up with school and extracurriculars until his mom returned. While it may seem like Chrissy only has a part-time job, a closer look at her schedule says otherwise. Chrissy must campaign every two years in order to be re-elected into her office. Campaigning often takes up a substantial amount of time within the Sommer household, something Miles is all too familiar with. “It’s a big stressor,” Miles said. “You really can’t do as much [with your family], like go on vacations and stuff. It takes up all your time.” Miles often gets the opportunity to help Chrissy with door-to-door campaigns. Chrissy also campaigns over the radio, on TV commercials, through mailers and postcards and talks to committees such as the Republican Pachyderm, a political organization. When Chrissy isn’t campaigning, she takes part in community service around the St. Charles area. Among these commitments, she has served as the president of the Harvest Ridge PTO and the St. Charles Jaycees. In addition, she also sends letters to students within her district for achievements such as induction into NHS and graduation. “When I first found out that Miles’ mom was a representative, I thought it was cool to know who I was getting my National Honor Society Letters from,” junior Brittany Mathis said. Miles may not see his mother on a daily basis, but he’s glad that when she is away, she doesn’t have to travel very far to come visit. “That’s what I told the kids,” Chrissy said. “I’m going to be gone, but it’s only 80 days, and if you need me home, I can be there in an hour.”

5,640 Miles later

Senior Valerie Udovenko and her mother moved to Missouri in 2007 from a small town in Ukraine to start a new journey in their lives

BY SASHA KAGANOV • @sashakag

As senior Valerie Udovenko drives in her blue Toyota Yaris every day to school, she sees the quiet peaceful suburbs with similar homes lined up in her neighborhood. Eight years ago, she would be getting ready to go to school in her small town of Horlivka, Ukraine. Some days, even leaving her home would be a questionable matter because of the homeless who lived in her building’s hallways during the night, making it difficult at times to leave and reenter. All of that changed in September 2007 when she learned that she was moving across the world to start a new life because of her mother’s engagement. “When I left, I didn’t realize how different everything would end up being,” Valerie said. “From the clothes to the food to the atmosphere to the education.” As she passed by the oversized, glowing, golden arches, what she would later learn was McDonalds, she observed the strange attire of everyone around her and suddenly realized she wasn’t in her small hometown of Horlivka, Ukraine. “Things were so different when I arrived to America, I was beyond culture shocked,” Valerie said. Valerie left her town for St. Louis with her mother, to move in with her stepfather, Igor Lazarev. Because of his job, Igor lived in St. Louis Louis since 2000 and had a long distance relationship with Valerie’s mother, Elena. Elena not only wanted to be closer to Igor, but also wanted a better future for her daughter and knew it was the right decision to move to America. Valerie arrived to Missouri in fifth grade, 5,640 miles away from the rest of her family. She quickly adjusted to her new life by meeting new friends and getting used to her surroundings. “At the time, I really didn’t have an opinion on moving,” Valerie said. “I was just going along with everything that was happening to me.” Surprisingly to Valerie, the school system was less strict and demanding from what she was used to. The curriculum in Ukraine required students to learn Russian, Ukrainian and English. School was a total of five hours every day and according to Valerie, the school food resembled a really bad home cooked meal. To Valerie, in the US, the teachers were more accepting, the learning atmosphere was better for students and there was a wider variety of school lunches. Her parents, especially her step father,

felt so strongly about Valerie getting a good education that they even relocated to a new school district when she began middle school. “I believe education is very important,” her stepfather Igor said. “And although it’s not as good as it was in Ukraine, I’m still glad we relocated.” In addition to getting used to the new school system, Valerie also had to get used to the environment outside. In Ukraine, leaving the house meant the danger of passing by the homeless and coming in contact with stray animals. In America, she was very surprised to find out the cleanliness and safety everywhere she went compared to Ukraine. “In the U.S., there is much less crime and it’s much safer,” Elena said. “I’m not worried about my child going outside in America like I was in Ukraine.” Even though it has been almost eight years since her move, Valerie and her parents still miss Horlivka, but enjoy living in Missouri more because of the inseparable friendships they have made, the opportunities they have received the past years they have lived here, and the life they have built for themselves. “Although I liked Ukraine, I actually have a future here in America unlike if I move back to Ukraine, where there are no opportunities for me to succeed,” Valerie said

Then Vs Now: Ukraine compared to Missouri Ukraine

Ukriane is the second largest country in Europe, right behind Russia


Missouri is the 21st largest state in the U.S.

Ukraine’s total population is 45,373,000 people

Missouri’s current population is 6,064,000 million people

According to the International Organization for Migration, Ukraine’s total population is decreasing by an average of 330,000 per year

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 3.9 percent of Missourians were born in a different country

Sources: World Factbook, International Organization for Migration, U.S. Census Bureau




WHAT ONE Family COULD NEVER FORGET The family of junior Mensur Koso tells their story of leaving behind a war-torn Bosnia and Herzegovina BY ANTHONY KRISTENSEN • @anthonyk17slsg



oday, in the life of junior Mensur Koso and his family, Mensur works on his homework or participates in extracurricular activities. His sister, Maida, finishes her homework and goes out to play with her friends. His mother, Nermina, stays at home, while his father, Emin, goes to work. On the weekends, the family visits relatives or goes shopping together. But before they migrated to the U.S., Emin and Nermina lived in a war-torn Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s the early 1990s. Yugoslavia crumbles after the fall of several other communist states across Europe. War rips through the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, leaving Sarajevo, the capital of the territory, in flames. Hundreds of thousands of Bosnian people flee the area to come to the U.S., with the Kosos being three of them. Mensur’s parents were in a dangerous area of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War. They fled the wartorn country after the war to come to the U.S., specifically St. Louis, which, according to Aljazeera America, holds the largest Bosnian population outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina itself. The reason the Kosos fled their homeland was to find better opportunities than what were available in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “I felt pretty sad,” Nermina said, as Mensur translated. “Yes, there were better opportunities, but I was sad to leave everything I had known my entire life.” The reason for the break-up of Yugoslavia was mostly because of the ethnic strife, meaning the country broke up because of ethnicities and religions either wanting independence or wanting to take land from another ethnic or religious group. This not only led to the Bosnian War between the Bosnians, Serbians, and Croatians, but it also led to the founding of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia, which also led to many other armed conflicts. It has also led to the current struggle of Kosovo trying to leave Serbia. Another reason for the break-up was the death of Josip Broz Tito, the Yugoslavian dictator, in May 1980. Tito ruled over Yugoslavia from January 1953 until his death. “That’s the number one reason why it [Yugoslavia] broke up,” Mensur said. “I would say the main reason it broke up was because of all the different people living there. You have to consider Yugoslavia having all these different ethnic groups, Slovenians, Croatians, Bosnians, Serbians, Macedonians, Montenegrins, so on.” Before migrating to Sarajevo, Nermina lived in Rogatica, a small city in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is about 40 miles from the Serbian border. She left because the city was extremely unsafe, especially for the Bosnian population. Just outside the small city, in the towns of Karacici, Vragolovo and Golubovici, was where the killings of 20 Bosnian residents, mainly women, children and the elderly, took place at the hands of Serbian forces. Eight of the people responsible were charged with the killings in September of last year. “[Leaving Rogatica was] very, very dangerous,” Nermina said. “You don’t know if you’re going to end

up alive, or if they [the Serbians] were going to catch you and shoot you. Those are some of the things one could never forget.” Emin is from Sarajevo. He met Nermina in the city, and it is actually where Mensur was born. During the war, Sarajevo was under siege from the Serbians for about three years, which is the longest siege of a capital city in modern warfare, lasting three times as long as the Siege of Stalingrad in World War II. “[Sarajevo during the war was] terrible,” Emin said. “I remembered shooting, explosions, and unarmed people being targeted. People with masks started shooting at people. It was chaos.” At the start of the war, the Serbians would go door to door, and targeted. It was chaos.” At the start of the war, the Serbians would go doorto-door, and ask who was in the house. From time to time, they would pull a family from their home, and shoot them. This is how Nermina lost some of her uncles and brothers. “I was with my nana,” Nermina said. “The aggressors asked who was in the house. That’s when I thought people were going to start being pulled from their houses and were beginning to get killed.” Before arriving in Sarajevo, Nermina and her group from Rogatica had immigrated to a small town named Goražde, which is about 18 miles from Rogatica. Goražde was a safe zone for Bosinians until it was sieged by the Serbians. She and her group spent a few years there before the city was sieged. The group then left on their 45 mile journey to Sarajevo. “My group paid very close attention to our guide,” Nermina said. “When we were guided through the terrain, it took us a few days to get from city to city before we reached Sarajevo.” Nermina and her group first reached Sarajevo about two or three years into the war. When they arrived, they had to go through a tunnel underneath Sarajevo International Airport in order to enter the city. When she entered the city, she was greeted by a pile of rubble. “Everything was destroyed,” Nermina said. “A lot of buildings had collapsed, there was a lot of destruction.” Later on during her tenure in Sarajevo, she had to visit her uncle’s second wedding. Her uncle’s first wife had been shot and killed by the Serbians. When she went to congratulate her uncle, she met Emin, who would eventually be her husband. When the war ended in December 1995, Bosnia and Herzegovina stood as its own country, but the war had taken its toll. Sarajevo was rubble and the whole country was torn apart. Relief efforts were poured into the country to help the rebuilding process. Since the end of the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina has developed into a stronger nation and has rebuilt Sarajevo. “When the war was over, people couldn’t believe it,” Nermina said. “It was still scary. The Red Cross supplied food and supplies to long lines of people.” Two years after the war ended, Mensur was born.

Knowing that there would be no good job or education opportunities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Emin and Nermina had to look abroad for opportunities, bring them to the U.S. “It feels here in the United States you have all these opportunities set in front of you,” Mensur said. “Over there, in Bosnia [and Herzegovina], you might not be recognized as much for your academic abilities, and with a bad economy, you can’t find a job. So if we would have stayed there, I think the amount of opportunities we would have would have decreased.”

Bosnian Population Breakdown The current population of Bosnia and Herzegovina is nearly 3,824,746 people

= 100,000 people

121,938 31,700 70,000

Bosnian immigrants currently live in the U.S.

Bosnians emigrated to the U.S. during the Bosnian war


Bosnian immigrants currently live in St. Louis

of Bosnian Americans live in the St. Louis metropolitan area

Percent of Bosnian Americans living in St. Louis Percent of Bosnian Americans living elsewhere Sources: World Factbook, U.S. Census Bureau, St. Louis Bosnian Organization, The Atlantic



two more than two

Sophmore Kayla Turner and her mother Donna Turner pose with a picture frame. (ashleigh jenkins)

Sophomore Kayla Turner’s older siblings act as an additional set of parents, and even though they each have their own lives and their age differences, they spend time together to build a bond between them BY LEXI WILKINSON • @loupy0925

More often than not, reports of siblings not getting along seems to be the norm for high school students. However, this isn’t the case for sophomore Kayla Turner, whose older siblings are 28 and 32 years old. Because of the large age gap between the two older Turners and their baby sister, their relationship is more parental than maybe average. “I think she has the best of both worlds,” Donna Turner, Kayla’s mother, said. “Sometimes I think she feels like she’s got two sets of parents, because they like to boss her around, but now that she’s older, they do a lot more with her. They’ll take her out to places, out to eat, just have fun with her.” When her sister, Casey Turner, was in sixth grade and her brother, Austin Turner, was in 10th, their parents made the announcement that they would be adding a fifth member to the Turner clan. At first, they were worried about having to babysit and missing out on things that their friends would do without them, but as soon as Kayla entered their lives, all of that changed. “I got really excited, especially when I found out it was going to be a girl,” Casey said. “I saw a lot of potential. I told all my friends, I was like,



‘I am going to coach her softball team when she gets older,’ and so once she was here, she had her brother and I wrapped around her finger. It’s interesting, now, as an adult to kind of go back and see what it’s like being a teenager again, with it not being your own kid, but somebody you’re equally as close to.” According to their mother, they all have very different personalities; Austin’s very perfectionistic, Casey’s more laid back, and Kayla is a combination of the two. However, one thing that ties them all together is their love of music, since the three Turner children each participated in band at school. Now that Kayla is older, she’s grown closer to her siblings because of some similar interests, and she goes to them for advice, since they’ve been through their teenage years already. “Having my siblings be so much older has helped me out a lot because I know I can go to them for help on homework, or relationships, or anything, because they’ve already been through it,” Kayla said. Though Kayla may have been a surprise to the whole family, Donna feels it was a welcome one, and that she’s completed the Turners. “I can’t imagine not having her,” Donna said. “I can’t imagine what we’d be doing today if we didn’t have her. She’s kept us busy, she’s kept us active, and we’ve just had a blast with her.”

Finding a permanent place to live Junior Brent Nelson moved in with the Jansen family to help improve himself and focus more on academics BY EMMA PURSLEY

Never sitting still, moving constantly from school to school, not having any life stability. This has been the life of junior Brent Nelson, up until last year at least. In December 2013 Brent moved in with his distant relatives, Gary and Jill Jansen. Despite not being close with them previously, he has enjoyed his time with the Jansens and the stability their home provides. “I wasn’t getting along with my mom and it just seemed like the better place to live and this seemed like a good school,” Brent said. “They were just better people to live with.” Technically speaking Brent isn’t even related to the Jansens, but according to Brent’s almost-sister Elizabeth Jansen, Jill knew almost immediately that she wanted Brent to move in. “She is very, very motherly and enjoys being able to help other people,” Elizabeth said. Brent had lived a hectic life, moving from school to school for his dad’s job. But when the Jansens met him in the summer of 2013, they knew him moving in would be helpful for him. They wanted to provide him with a safe environment where he could be a kid, and have normal kid worries. “I don’t have to worry about really anything, besides school,” Brent said. Brent’s girlfriend, senior Sidney Sheridan, has known him since he first started at FHN and she has seen a difference in the way he’s acted, and how the Jansens have influenced him. “They care about his grades and it makes him try harder in school,” Sidney said. Brent grew up living with his father, and the summer before his sophomore year he moved in with grandfather, before being transitioned to his mom’s house that fall. He’d had issues with his parents in the past, so that December it was decided that Gary and Jill would be able to provide a better and more positive home for him. “They’ve been a really good role model for me,” Brent said. “They’ve helped me a lot over the last year to be a better berson and I’ve really appreciated that.” But the transition into the family wasn’t totally simple. It took time for Brent and his newfound siblings to acclimate to living together, especially for Elizabeth, who not only shared a house, but a grade with Brent. “It was of course hard for me to be around him, because I didn’t know him and he is just like this random person that showed up into my life, but now he’s like my best friend and he hangs out with all my best friends,” Elizabeth said. Brent plans on staying with the Jansens and continuing to improve himself. He knows how helpful the Jansens have been, and at the end of the day they were happy to help their new family member. “I’m just happy that he’s here with us,” Elizabeth said.

(photo by ashleigh jenkins)

the diary of a single teen parent in high school

Living and being a teen mom at 16 has become a sudden reality for sophomore Destiny Murphy as she takes care of her 11-month-old daughter Avianna who is smiling and laughing by her side

BY JAMIE HETLAGE • @jammnicole

Waking up at 5:30 a.m. sophomore Destiny Murphy lets her daughter Avianna sleep while she gets ready for the day. When the baby wakes up, Destiny has to change her, feed her and get her ready so she can go to her great grandmother’s house or have Destiny’s mom watch her, all before 6:45 a.m. Destiny became pregnant when she was 15 years old with her 16-year-old boyfriend Chris Robinson’s child. They both were surprised by the news that Destiny received when one day at a regular doctor’s checkup after a urine test. Destiny was told she was pregnant and needed to get an ultrasound. That’s when Destiny’s life changed forever. “I drew a blank,” Destiny said. “I didn’t know how to deal with it. I was upset, but at the same time I was like, ‘Oh, it’s a new life, so I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do for her.’” When Destiny was six months pregnant, she and Chris broke up, leaving her future daughter without a father figure in her life. After that, Destiny was diagnosed with depression and became physically sick all the time. Shortly after Avianna’s birth, Destiny moved to Missouri to be closer to her family, leaving Chicago and Chris behind. While Destiny is a single mother, she remains untroubled with the help of her mom and family. “I can say the stereotype of teenagers with children not amounting to anything is so not true,” Destiny’s mother Alison DuClos said. “You can still be successful raising and having kids on your own at a young age. It’s hard, it’s not easy at all doing it alone but I can’t say it’s arguable if she chooses to be a doctor or lawyer. I believe she can achieve anything that is worth having in life. I believe Destiny has a bright future ahead of her because of the outlook she has on life.” Avianna being born was one moment that Destiny will forever cherish in her life, But one thing she can’t help but think about is what if things could be different, if she had Avianna when she was older. “I don’t regret getting pregnant, but I regret the timing,” Destiny said. “I feel like if I would have waited, she would have had a better life. I’m not saying I couldn’t give her a good life if I was financially stable, but it would have been easier for me.” With Destiny becoming a mother at a young age, she’s had to juggle many things such as school work, money and her time. At the moment, since Destiny does not have a job yet, her

mother and great grandmother are supporting her and Avianna. Since Destiny is still in high school, her school work is done at school; otherwise it has to be done after Avianna goes to sleep around 8:30 p.m. Destiny has little time to do what she wants anymore. “Having time for myself basically is one of the hardest things with her [Avianna],” Destiny said. “I can’t even go to the bathroom without her wanting to be in there with me, I can’t even eat by myself, I have to share everything.” Alison has first-hand experience with what Destiny has been coping with, because the same things have happened to her. Alison had her first child at 17 and had Destiny a month before she turned 18, and their father left Alison and the children shorty afterwards. “Everything that Destiny has gone through or is going through, I’ve gone through,” Alison said. “I’ve been there, done that, and can deal with it from an angle and perspective of knowing what’s going to happen before it even happens. Going through all of that, I’m sure Destiny is thinking mom is psychic, like ‘how did she know she was going to get in the trash can’ or ‘how did she know that this was going to happen when it happened.’” According to Destiny, Alison has been there for her since day one, helping her through everything that’s changed in her life. She has been Destiny’s biggest supporter throughout all that she has been going through not only physically but emotionally as well. Alison understands the pain she went through and helps her with problems she faces. “I talked to her, I listened to her feelings, and tried to get her to understand that in certain situations, you’re going to think about different things as you grow, and made her see that they make us grow in life,” Alison said. “You mourn, you cry, you let that emotion out and move forward, and use that to make you stronger.” Destiny has experienced harsh judgement from others because of her decisions, but she doesn’t let people get to her. She knows that what she did was right for her, because she got Avianna out of it all. “I always get stares,” Destiny said. “People are a lot harsher on me, and it’s difficult, but at the same time, I kind of understood what was going to happen. I kind of ignored it. I knew what I did was not acceptable for society, but I have to do what I have to do.” Even with all the difficulties Destiny has faced, she continues to be positive about her life and Avianna’s as well. She believes that with everything that has happened, she got a beautiful little girl by her side and would not trade her for the world. She plans to go to college and possibly get a profession involved in forensics while raising Avianna. “I’m still a kid, I’m still learning myself, but at the same time, I have to teach her what’s right and wrong and it’s difficult at times,” Destiny said. ”Really, God put babies out here to show a lesson.”



Roaring Tradition Senior Morgan Cupps’ family shares a connection with Mizzou


Ever since she was a child, senior Morgan Cupps has had Mizzou as her top pick for college, as it was almost ingrained in her head by her family. Morgan’s mother, father, stepfather and her two uncles all graduated from Mizzou. According to Morgan and her family, it was purely coincidental but has all touched their lives significantly. “I’ve wanted to go to Mizzou ever since I can remember,” Morgan said. “Since my parents always talked Mizzou up when I was younger, it’s always been one of my top picks for college. It was the only school I applied to.” Morgan’s mother Carrie Hicks knew Mizzou was going to be her one and only choice for college. Carrie graduated high school in Paris, France, as her stepfather worked for IBM and was transferred to Paris. Once Carrie came back to the U.S. for college, her mother would only allow her to apply at one school, Mizzou. According to Carrie, Mizzou was close to home and cheap, so it was an ideal choice for her. “My mom only allowed me to apply at Mizzou,” Carrie said. “It wasn’t that big of a deal though, all my family was here in Missouri. I didn’t want to be overseas alone, so it made sense coming back for college. I came right off the plane from Paris and straight to Mizzou.” According to Morgan, her mother and stepfather have not been as restrictive on her choice for college, but they’ve always hoped for Mizzou. They’ve constantly talked up Mizzou and brought up the idea of going there to Morgan ever since she was a kid. “She’s always had that Mizzou influence around,” Morgan’s stepfather Sloan Hicks said. “But we’ve always accepted the idea of her going to another school. As long as she’s happy with where she wants to go, we support it.” As a result of her parents’ constant support, Morgan has looked at other schools with a good medical program, but only applied to Mizzou. One of her other top choices was SLU, mainly for their medical program, as Morgan would like to be a doctor one day, but Mizzou was always on her mind. “SLU has a better medical program than Mizzou, but Mizzou is what’s always been familiar to me,” Morgan said. “It’s always been around, even my younger siblings run around the house saying they’re going to go to Mizzou. Looking back at it, my family has been a pretty big influence on my decision.”

Stepmother-daughter bond Senior Tabitha Castor and her stepmother Teddi Farmer grow closer during Tabitha’s senior year

BY CHELSI HOSKINS • @chelsi_h98

From cars to college visits, senior Tabitha Castor and her stepmother Teddi Farmer have put a twist on the cliché story of stepmother and stepdaughter. “Teddi came into Tabitha’s life at a crucial time,” Kristina Castor, Tabitha’s mother, said. “She was just entering high school and it was awesome for her to have the extra support from Teddi.” Although Teddi hasn’t been in Tabitha’s life for long, she has taken on the role of a mother-figure. Ever since meeting each other, Tabitha and Teddi have made the transition from cordial friends to a strong relationship by taking things day by day and spending time together. “She makes it easy to be in her life, she’s a good kid,” Teddi said. “She’s involved in many school activities and she’s on the honor roll.” Tabitha helps maintain a good relationship between her dad, Allen Castor, Teddi and Kristina by being honest and



trying to involve all three of them in her personal life. “It’s really easy to co-parent with Allen and Teddi,” Kristina said. “Tabitha is very responsible and we trust her to make most of her decisions for herself because she makes good ones.” Although Teddi doesn’t have any kids of her own, she makes time to spend with Tabitha to continue to build the bond between them. “I think it’s awesome that Teddi and Tabitha have such a great relationship,” Kristina said. “Although we don’t like to, we think about what would happen to our children if anything happened to us. I know that Teddi would guide Tabitha in the right direction and that makes me really happy.” Teddi helped push Tabitha in the right direction with her positive outlook on life and overall support for Tabitha’s goals. “Teddi inspires the way I want to live my life when I’m older and on my own, she’s so positive and she makes me happy when I’m sad,” Tabitha said.

family favorites FHN studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; families share some of their favorite photos commemorating family trips and memorable milestones in their lives Editor in Chief: Daniel Bodden Managing Editor: Lauren Pike Business Manager: Aly Jenkins Business: Brandon Macias Austin Ferguson Team Editors: Emma Pursley Alexis Tainter Design Editors: Maggie Torbeck Nick Wyer Copy Editors: Priscilla Joel Lexi Wilkinson General Staff: Alex Arger Sasha Kaganov Michal Basford Anthony Kristensen Dan Borrelli Kyleigh Kristensen Deidre Dinkins Zoe Lawson Alyssa Doty Joe Luley Mia Elliott Erika Paar Sarai Esparza Sami Schmid Timothy Godfrey Keegan Schuster Bri Gonzalez Alex Shannon Garret Griffin Bennett Smallwood Chelsi Morton-Hoskins Ryan Sparks Belle Herrera Risa Takenaka Jamie Hetlage KJ Wilson Editor in Chief of Photography: Ashleigh Jenkins Photo Editors: Newspaper: Alyssa Savage Photography: Sammie Savala Yearbook: Ariel Kirkpatrick Web: McKenzie Shea Photographers: Samantha Alexander Alex Lane Jessica Allison Hannah Medlin Ashleigh Barlow Lauren Price Yasmeen Belakhoua Ashton Stegman Rachel Creeley Lucas Tabaka Jessie Define Tristan Tainter Amanda Eckhard Abby Temper Emily Floyd Jailan Thomas Madi Graves Ravyn Winter Jillian Strickland Editor In Chief of Digital Media: Jake Chiarelli FHNgameday Editor: Alex Weinstock Video Editor: Sam Skaggs Video Staff: Adam Quigley Alyssa Barber Kyle Cuppy Joseph Samuels Brayton Larson Taylor Sheridan Abby Mills Autumn Todd Ben Moxley Collin Witte Web Staff: Alex Brice Tristan Chenoweth Martin Graves Ryan Jensen Jacob Lintner Chase Meyer Zach Mills Cristina Lanzara Advisers: Jordyn Klackner Aaron Manfull



North Star March 2015 Special Edition  
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