Page 1

Played Guitar (Page 31-32)

N Taught (Page 6)

S Sang (Page 2)

Shot an Arrow (Page 18)

The First Time I...

Played Socccer (Page 34)

Found Family (Page 9)

Had a Relationship (Page 11-12)

Broke a Bone (Page 4)

Skateboarded (Page 9-10)

Francis Howell North St. Charles 01.13.16 Vol. 30, Issue 04

Contents 03

Wheels of Wonder Senior Greg Portilla shares what his first experience with his power chair was like


Scoring a Spot on the National Team Senior varsity soccer player Emily Rish talks about her experience playing on a national soccer team


Public Speaking Sophomore Estefania Cruz talks about facing her fear of public speaking after many years


Beating the Clock Senior Dan House speaks about the time he learned about and began speedrunning


For the Good of the Nation Assistant Principal Jeff Blankenship shares his story about joining the ROTC


Performing a Passion Freshman Riley Lawson talks about his first time performing on stage and how it has affected him


“Love ya, Maw Maw” Senior Jenna Rodriguez shares the story behind her tattoo

On the Cover The first time you do something is always difficult. Whether it’s public speaking or getting a tattoo. The illustrations on the cover are to represent the stories behind what caused people to take that first step and try something new.

Letters to the Editor Have an opinion on something in this month’s paper? Send us a letter in 026 or an email to

Distributed for free to FHN by the North Star Staff. Providing an open forum since 1986




Letter from the North Star Editors Nothing is more important than the first time a person does something new. That is the moment a person’s life changes forever. It’s a foundation for the rest of the path of one’s hobby, relationships or memories. But this is what is untold. The star baseball player of the school had to have his first strikeout. His first walk. His first hit. But it goes back even farther than that. It’s that moment when you put on a glove for the first time or watched a favorite Major League Baseball team win the World Series. You don’t think about how a spectacular event affects your life forever. When you have been playing music for years and you play on stage with your band every other weekend, you don’t think about how frustrated you were when you couldn’t perfect the shape of a simple G chord on a guitar with your fingers. When you routinely put on your uniform to go into a job you’ve been at for months for a six-hour shift, you don’t think about how hard it was to learn the ropes after being thrown into the fast-paced environment. When you go to an amusement park and plan out every single thrill-seeking ride that you can go to, you don’t think about how scared you were the first time you rode. It’s the first experience with something that makes us who we are. Imagine what would happen if the young baseball fanatic didn’t get a glove for for his birthday. He may never have had this interest. His path could have taken him in the direction of another sport like hockey and he could have fallen in love with that instead. The first moment is life-altering. It builds our character and redirects our entire lives. Ask anybody what they are passionate about, and you can learn so much. Ask them what they’d do without it and most would say that they wouldn’t be the person they are today.

(Photo by Amanda Eckhard)

That’s why we feel it is our job to tell these stories; Tell how someone came to be. We are the voice of the school. We feel it is time for us to show these stories. In this paper we have stories ranging from something as simple as someone’s first pet to more serious topics, like someone’s first tattoo to commemorate a lost loved one. We are who we are because of what has happened to us, and they all start from the first event. There is a first for everything and that is what makes us.

Bennett Smallwood Co-Editor-in-Chief

Priscilla Joel Co-Editor-in-Chief

Senior Marissa Myers plays the piano in the choir room on Dec 7. Meyers started choir as a freshman. (Photo by Hannah Medlin)

Following Her Passion

Senior recalls the moment when she realized she loved singing the end of the school year, and choir was her only option. After taking a break, she BY DAVID BODDEN

Marissa Meyers steps out onto the stage. She’s in fifth grade, and it’s the Henderson Elementary talent show. She’s nervous. “Lucky,” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat was supposed to be a duet, but her best friend decided to sing solo, leaving Marissa by herself. The music begins to play. She readies herself. And sings. A little while later, her mother’s Facebook exploded with messages telling her how her daughter’s voice had blown them away. “They gave us a little star award after [the talent show,] and I was like, this is so cool, like what if I could win more of these?” Marissa said. After the talent show, Marissa did not immediately begin to pursue singing. She knew she liked singing, but she wasn’t sure she would enjoy singing in a group, like choir. Then, in seventh grade, she needed to transfer out of shop class towards

joined choir again sophomore year and made all-state choir both last year and this year. “When she came into the choir room, she was sort of in the musical theater mindset, but over the past years she has become a very flexible singer, and she can do a variety of styles,” vocal music teacher Lorraine Smith said. Since performing as Gabriella Montez in “High School Musical” her freshman year, Marissa has continued to further her voice and improve her skills. Singing is her passion, and she continues to improve her acting and singing, and plans to become a theater teacher. “I think she’s really looking forward to going to college and trying things out,” Marissa’s mother, Kathleen Meyers, said. “One of the things we noticed at colleges was their amazing programs and the technology. I think she’s really excited to meet the new teachers and new things to learn.”

Prosthetic Makeup

Taylor Wallsmith talks about her experience with prosthetic makeup BY DEIDRE DINKINS

Junior Taylor Wallsmith’s first time working with special effects makeup was with an organization called Teen Community Emergency Response Team (Teen CERT) which holds simulations that teach people of all ages first responding skills and injury assessment in natural disasters. At the simulation, makeup artists created realistic looking injuries on role players who then reenacted natural disasters. Wallsmith designed basic bruises, scrapes and concussions on her role players. “I felt comfortable because they were people that I was used to being around and I was comfortable with what I was doing,” Wallsmith said. “I was pretty calm with it, it came natural.” Wallsmith started doing prosthetics in June, after she had seen pictures of it and thought it would be fun to try. She sat in her bedroom and taught herself how to do

makeup for two months before attending the Teen CERT simulation with friend and recruiter, Taylor Morrison. After the simulation, Morrison asked her to stay and volunteer as an official makeup artist for Teen CERT since the organization was understaffed. “She was really good with her makeup,” Morrison said. “I think [Teen CERT] has given her a different feel of [her passion].” Friend Sean Mora has been a supporter for Wallsmith not only in her first experiences with Teen CERT, but during the learning process as well. “I have seen her do the Teen CERT stuff and I was really just blown away by it,” Mora said. “It’s crazy to see how real she can make the injuries look.” In mid-June, Wallsmith went on a long term trip to Ohio to help the National Guard on their practicals, where she worked as a makeup artist and roleplayer. When she told Mora the news, he was very excited for her. “Why not, if you are doing something you love?” Mora said. “I am glad that she is following her passion.”

Connor Lucas, another make-up artist, has been doing prosthetic make up since he was in fifth grade. “I plan on going to school for it and moving to California to pursue a career out of it.” (Photo by Kristen Pike)





Senior Greg Portilla sits in his old wheelchair outside of the small gym. He later got his new chair, Portilla has now been in his new chair for three months now and moves around more efficiently than his last. (Photo by Kyra Peper)

Wheels of Wonder Senior Greg Portilla can remember when he got his power wheelchair and how it has been a help to him BY KARIS SKAGGS

Special education para educator Colleen Songer sits and waits patiently, holding the tray up on senior Greg Portilla’s wheelchair. In the quiet room, all you can hear is clicking every few seconds as Portilla scrolls through the pre-set options on his iPad to give a response to a question. “I was excited to get my new chair, it had been a long time since I had got my last chair so it made my back hurt when I stayed in it too long,” his communication device reads for him. He presses his head and knee scanner that are set up on his wheelchair in a certain pattern in order to choose different options on the communication




device. It is a lengthy process for him to answer just one question. He wasn’t the only one who had a little to learn when the new device arrived. “I was like ‘oh great,’ another thing to learn, but it is a lot easier to do than the other [wheelchair] because it has two settings; a slower one and a faster one,” Songer said. Portilla has learned an uncommon skill that is necessary for him to be able to get around; he has learned to drive a power chair with his head. In order to go forward, left or right, he leans his head back, left or right on the panels that are on his chair by his head. He got his first power-chair in middle school, but he got his newest one this past September. “I was proud of him to see that he had that ability,” essential skills teacher Juli Smith said. “He was just

learning how, but I would say [I felt] proud that he would take that chance because it was hard. It took a lot of time to learn how to do that, and a lot of crashes.” Smith said that the first time she saw him in his wheelchair, he was joking with her and he tried to run over her. He does enjoy pranking people and Songer said that he makes work more enjoyable. Portilla is really good at steering his chair, and often goes up to people really fast and stops right before them to scare them. “He is a sweet and caring young man, he is always ready to help others as well as ready to prank others,” Songer said. “I think he is a lot of fun to be around.” Not only has Portilla enjoyed his power chair, which has made him more independent, but so have other

Kayla Turner poses for a photo, showing off her cast. (Photo Submitted)

No Pain, No Gain Junior Kayla Turner recounts a long history of injuries BY DAN BORRELLI

Greg Portilla sits comfortably in his old chair. Portilla feels that he is more comfortable in his new chair, rather than his old. (Photos by Kyra Peper)

para-educators. He has been able to get around easier and do more things on his own. It has opened more opportunities for him and he has used it to help others. “He was in his power chair, he drove over to the Early Childhood Center over at Hackmann, and then we set him up and he read stories to the kids over there using his communication device,” Smith said. “I think that was a really good interaction because the students over there were very young and were very interested in his communication device, and his wheelchair. They sat there and listened and afterwards he let them come up and see everything.” While the power chair has made him

more independent, it stopped functioning properly for a while. A charging module in the controller that flashes during use was faulty. Portilla was left to using his manual push wheelchair. “The problem with technology is that I can’t always depend on it,” Portilla’s communication device spoke for him. “You probably noticed I’m not in my new power chair, well that’s because it broke after one month and no one has come out to fix it yet. The error code says it’s a faulting module. I’m really out of the creek when my bluetooth doesn’t work and I can’t use my communication device.” However, the chair was fixed shortly after, and Portilla is now back in his chair.

At a volleyball open gym six years ago, Kayla Turner played the sport she loved with the same vigor as she would at any other tryout, but little did she know she would end the day with the first of many injuries. “I went up to hit [the volleyball] and when I came down I landed on the side of my ankle. I rolled it pretty bad,” she said with a laugh. Although some people might want to take the day off after receiving an injury like that, Kayla went on to finish tryouts and made the team. It takes about two weeks to overcome a rolled ankle, but Kayla says one can play through it with a brace and pain medication. Some other injuries, like the torn ligament currently in her thumb, can take longer to heal. This one caused Kayla to miss all of this year’s volleyball season. “The hardest thing she’s ever had to do is just sit and watch,” her mother, Donna Turner, said. “But she knows when it’s time she’ll work hard and go back at it.” Since that first rolled ankle, Kayla has received a variety of injuries, some sports-related and some not, including a pulled bicep muscle, a pulled rotator cuff, the group of muscles and tendons that connect the shoulder to the arm, and a colored pencil lodged in her knee. “I’m not really sure how that one happened,” Kayla said. “I was getting into a car and I think there were colored pencils in the cup holder and one got stuck in a nerve in my knee.” Although it may seem like these injuries caused setbacks in her athletics, Donna says Kayla doesn’t let these injuries bring her down. “She’s dedicated to the game and she works really hard at it,” Donna said. “She always makes a comeback after injuries.” Now, Kayla hopes her thumb injury will heal soon, but until then, to prevent further injury, she will have to follow the advice of school nurse Brooke Magilligan. “Wear proper shoes, watch where you’re going, check your surroundings and no horse playing,” Magilligan said. “Messing around is the easiest way to get injured.” Even if there are more injuries to come, Kayla hopes to remain on the volleyball court for as long as she can.





Horsin’ Around Senior Delaney Chapman spends her free time pursuing her favorite activity: horseback riding BY ALY DOTY • @alydoty2

Ever since she was little, senior Delaney Chapman has taken a special interest in horses and horseback riding. “I’ve always been interested in horses because my dad has always ridden them,” Chapman said. “He worked on a horse ranch and we used to own a racehorse, so I kind of just grew up around horses.” Chapman got her start riding horses when she was four-years-old when she went on her first pony ride at an orchard. Instead of being scared like most kids, she was calm and thrilled. When she was twelve-yearsold, Chapman got to ride and control a horse for the first time at Camp Cedarledge, a girl scout camp in Pevely, MO that she has been attending every summer for about six years. “The first time I got to ride a horse by myself, I sat in the saddle and it just felt like home to me,” Chapman said. “I felt really comfortable. It feels like the world just stops for a second when I’m on the horse and I can think clearly and just everything makes sense. I’ve always wanted that feeling because people talk about sports and how much they love it and how much fun it is, and the second I got on a horse I felt that and felt like that’s what I’m meant to be.” At least once a week, Chapman goes to Lake St. Louis Stables to meet with her instructor, Samantha Davis. Their lesson typically consists of grooming, horse care and riding. Davis has been instructing Chapman for about four months and likes working with her because of her determination and drive. “I enjoy how she always wants to learn more about not only the riding aspect but also the training aspect,” Davis said. “It’s really refreshing to have a student who wants to go further in the horse world and become a young professional and is passionate about it. She works really hard at it.” Chapman does not own any horses of her own. However, she plans on owning at least five in the future. Not owning a horse is one of the main reasons she’s only entered one competition. It is difficult to compete in a competition without your own horse. In 2014, Chapman entered a walk and trot show at Camp Cedarledge and got first place. She plans on competing throughout college at William Woods University where she will be studying Equestrian Science. “I first started competing because it shows my skills and what I’ve always been working towards,” Chapman said. “For me, it’s not always about the competition, it’s more about the relationship between the rider and the horse and becoming more skilled and building up that relationship. I do like competing because it’s a nice experience. I don’t play sports and go to games and have fun with my team, I get to go to competitions with my friends and ride and show and have fun. It’s fun to meet a lot of people that have the same interest as you.”




work on a ranch young girl. Chapman’s father used to Delaney Chapman rides a horse as a (Submitted Photo). young was she since horses around she’s been


More Than Just an Equation Math teacher Patty Bartell has been teaching at FHN for the 28 years. She has impacted not only the school but the students who have had her BY RILEY KAMPFF

The year is 1987, this is Patty Bartell’s first day at a brand new school in the district. She has to introduce herself to an all new staff and adjust to a building still under construction, all while teaching variations of algebra. There was so much to think about in that moment, while having the same feelings as the new kid at school. In the end, nothing will stop her from giving all of her effort to the students of FHN. “It was Follow the link overwhelming,” to hear about other teacher’s first Bartell said. “Of times teaching course it was not as big of a school as it is now but it still had lots of new hallways from the construction, so just getting the layout of the building was crazy. The staff was very warm and welcoming when I arrived, I was also just excited to be in a new and welcoming place.” Bartell had attended UMSL for 4 ½ years and received her Bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Postgraduation, she began teaching at FHSD when at the time there was only one high school in the school district. When FHN was built, she had to go through a forced transfer and began teaching North, she had no idea what to expect in this unfamiliar environment. She now currently works in the upstairs Math department teaching classes such as Intermediate Algebra, Algebra 1, and Trigonometry. “She has a sense of humor and a compatible way of teaching her students,” sophomore Declan Carr said.


“I improved in math way far beyond of what I ever expected before. She was able to help students including myself whenever we needed assistance.” For the last 28 years at FHN, Bartell has earned a number of awards. She has been given the honorary title of Teacher of the Year twice, once in 2002 and another time in 2012. She has been the only teacher at FHN to have that rare merit. She also has several certificates for participation on multiple school-related committees recognizing her hard work. For her though, there’s one award that tops them all. “My proudest moments honestly though are when my students come back after I have them and say ‘Thanks, I’m glad I had you as a teacher. You helped me through a lot when I really needed it.’” Bartell said. Bartell has planned to continue teaching at FHN while connecting with students individually for years to come. She has been interested in finding hobbies along with other activities to keep her busy and productive. According to several past students, nothing can stop a person as efficient and passionate as Bartell. “She’s really good at teaching her students, and she always played a little groovy song before taking tests in my class,” senior Ryan Pratt said. “She’s always been a pretty down to earth person because she offered after school tutoring to leave me well prepared for calculus .She’s very understanding and she would never give up on her students.”





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Reunited at Last

Emily Windsor and her mother Kim plan to travel to South Korea to meet their long lost family BY PRISCILLA JOEL • @JCPjchristo

0A few years ago, Kim Windsor, senior Emily Windsor’s mother, opened her mailbox to check her mail as usual. But what she found within, was not very usual at all. A Korean Adoption Agency had addressed a letter to Kim. Kim waited several months before responding to the letter, and a phone call to the agency quickly led her to answers, her birth family was looking for her. 0“The initial thought was that they were strangers,” Kim said. “Probably all the thoughts [going through my head] were thoughts you have when meeting strangers.” 0This was the first time that Kim had heard about or from her birth family since their separation. The Korean Adoption Agency gave Kim three choices. Option one, ignore the letter. Option two, get in contact with her birth family through the agency. Option three, get in contact with her birth family on her own. 0“I was never really curious about them and so I just waited,” Kim said. 0About a year later, Kim decided that she wanted to contact her family. First, Kim had to send DNA samples of her hair to Korea so they could match her DNA with those of her siblings. After months of waiting, the results finally arrived.




0Kim had found her four siblings. Kim was the youngest of five children. She has two older sisters and two older brothers. But getting in contact with her siblings is one thing, talking to them was another. 0While Kim had never voluntarily gone searching for information about her birth family, there was still much that she didn’t know. Kim contacted one of her two brothers through email and has stayed in contact with him. Kim found out that her father had passed away when she was still an infant and that her mother was very ill and unable to take care of her children. 0Kim’s siblings had been searching for her for many years, but were unable to because of strict privacy policies in place at the Korean Adoption Agency. Finally, Kim’s sister decided that she was done waiting. 0“She [Kim’s older sister] had written a letter to the president of Korea to petition to find me,” Kim said. 0After a long exchange of emails, Kim proposed to her daughter, Emily, that they should go to visit their new-found family in Korea over the summer of 2016. Kim’s siblings don’t all live together, but they will all come to see Kim and Emily when they visit Korea. 0“I was really open to it [going to Korea],” Emily said. “I’d like to go out of the country.”

Having Finn for a Lifetime Finnegan is the first parrot to become a part of the Oleshchuk family, its silly antics and cleverness always makes the family smile BY GARRET GRIFFIN

Junior Jacob Oleshchuk loves to help his sister Abigail take care of a unique pet, a nine-month-old Eclectus parrot named Finnegan. Their family is part Irish so they felt that Finnegan was a strong name for the new family member. Finn can greet people by saying hello or confuse them by saying meow. “When I heard that my sister was getting a parrot I was excited because the aspect of having a bird that would repeat the one word that we didn’t want it to repeat was pretty interesting to me,” Jacob said. Abigail wanted a parrot since she was young. But she knew she needed to find a parrot that could fit her general lifestyle: A bird that wasn’t too big like a Macaw and didn’t scream daily like a Cockatoo. After a few months of research, the Ten Pet Birds to Own Eclectus parrot caught her eye. • Cockatiels She spent three years learning • African Grey Parrot all about the species and how to take care of it. • Budgerigars “Parrots are very sensitive • Cockatoos animals and require specialized • Conures care,” Abigail said. “So I wanted • Macaws to make sure that I knew what • Poicephalus I was getting myself into and • Amazon Parrot that I could provide for him • Quaker Parrot properly.” • Pionus Parrot Finn has to be out of his cage for at least three to four hours each day and he requires a specialized diet. Parrots need new toys each week to keep themselves entertained while they’re caged. “We were a little surprised that she picked something that would live so long, Abigail’s mother Ellen Oleshchuk said. “But we knew she could handle it.” During the school year, Finn lives with Abigail in Columbia. She is currently a student at Mizzou and is going through the veterinary program. But while Abigail is home, Jacob takes care of Finn most days while Abigail is at work. He’ll often refer to Finn as a toddler still growing up. “He does get noisy at times because being a toddler, they throw tantrums,” Jacob said. “So sometimes he’ll scream and that can get annoying but we learned to deal with that because it happens every once in awhile, it’s like caring for a child.” Finn can live to be 40-60 years old. Parrots tend to be very loyal to their owners and grow a type of bond because both the parrot and the owner watch each other grow. Abigail is looking forward to watching Finn grow over the years and always making her laugh. “He is such a joy,” Abigail said. “I didn’t realize when I got him how attached I would become. He makes me laugh with his silly antics, I love taking him on hikes with me and he is so clever. He always brightens my day.” Junior Jacob Oleshchuk’s Eclectus parrot perches on a branch in his sister Abigail’s dorm room. (Photo submitted)




Boy Meets Girl

Sophomore Isaiah stands looking at his girlfriend Maggie Cox. Isaiah has been in this relationship for three years. “I never have to worry about not having anything to do. There’s always someone there to talk to or be with” Isaiah says. (Photo by Ashleigh Barlow)

His Side

Sophomores Isaiah Bryant and Maggie Cox have been dating since they met in band back in seventh grade

BY ERIKA PAAR • @curliegurlie

One note left on a binder can change the course of three years. This one note, left by this one girl, to this one boy, on this one day in seventh grade has changed these two people’s lives. On Oct. 21, 2012, sophomore Maggie Cox left a not-so-anonymous note on sophomore Isaiah Bryant’s binder. A yellow note with pink writing that read “I like you” with a heart underneath. The two have been dating for three years. “She left a note on my binder and I found it after class,” Isaiah said. “ It didn’t say it was from her, but I knew. I asked her out after that but it was because of the note.” The two met in late August of seventh grade. Maggie had just moved from Arizona to Missouri, and they ended up having five classes together, one of which was band. “We played the same instrument,” Isaiah said. “And we started talking because instruments have to collaborate.” Isaiah asked Maggie out after the note passing, and they went on their first date with friends to the movies. “He seemed pretty chill about it, like he wouldn’t know what to expect since it was his first actual date,” Isaiah’s friend Daniel Gordon said.





Through the years, Isaiah and Maggie have grown up together. They have gone from middle to high school, and it has been a happy surprise for Isaiah that they have stayed together for this long. “I wasn’t expecting this,” Isaiah said. “But I’m glad it happened though.” Friends who’ve seen the relationship from the start are just as happy as the couple to see that they’ve stayed together. “I think they are really good together,” friend Caty Arnold said. “They are just a really good fit for each other. Not only do their friends support their relationship, their parents are glad the two are together. Over the past three years the two families have grown close as well as the couple. “Our families are completely for the relationship,” said Isaiah. “ They have become super close.” One note, two people, three years. The littlest things can change a life, and help a relationship grow into something much bigger. “We started to realize that it is more than just a crush,and we can really trust each other more,” Isaiah said.

Girl Meets Boy

Maggie Cox stands looking at her boyfriend isaiah Bryant. Maggie and isaiah have been together for three years. “My favorite part about being in a relationship is that we are so close and comfortable with each other,” Maggie says. (Photo by Riley McCrackin)

Her Side

Sophomore Maggie Cox looks back on her first date with her boyfriend, sophomore Isaiah Bryant, who she has now dated for the past three years


The middle school band room buzzes with chatter as students assemble their instruments. Among the students are new-girl Maggie Cox and french horn player Isaiah Bryant, who met just at the beginning of the school year, but would begin dating that October. Suddenly, seventh grade becomes sophomore year and three years later, they are still together. “He was and is my first real relationship,” Maggie said. After moving from Arizona, Maggie found herself at Barnwell Middle School for the start of seventh grade. Maggie and Isaiah shared multiple classes, but truly met in band where they belonged to the french horn section. “We would talk everyday since we were two of the four people in our section and got to know each other,” Maggie said. During the time they spent getting to know each other in band, Maggie developed feelings for Isaiah. “I wrote him a note saying I liked him but I tried to make him think it wasn’t me who sent it,” Maggie said. According to Maggie, Isaiah assumed it was her who sent the note despite the anonymity and they both admitted that they liked each other. “He never really asked me, but I guess you could say that I technically asked him through the note,” Maggie said. “It was like a mutual agreement that we should

date.” The two met at the movies for their first date after being dropped off by their parents. According to Maggie, she was nervous beforehand, but ended up having fun. They were already dating at the time, but Maggie didn’t tell her mom of their relationship until three months later. “I was a little suspicious because I was wondering why she was on the phone so much,” Jane Cox, Maggie’s mother, said. When Maggie moved to Missouri, she joined the same volleyball team as sophomore Caty Arnold and they became friends throughout the season. Caty was unaware that Maggie liked Isaiah until she revealed that they were dating. Caty is now a mutual friend of Maggie and Isaiah. “I think they’re a really good fit for each other,” Caty said. “They make each other better people.” According to Maggie, a strong relationship is about trusting each other and being friends. Isaiah is her best friend and she describes him as a kind person, which is her favorite quality of his. “I have never seen him be legitimately mean to someone,” Maggie said. Even though they have both quit band, they won’t forget that it is what brought them together. They recently celebrated their third year together this past October. “It’s nice to have someone there for you and I like having him around,” Maggie said.




Caleb Black holds up his personal art work of original pieces he designed. Black uses programs like photoshop and autodesk to create his amazing pieces of art. He also uses more traditional medians such as pencils, oil patels, and pens. (Photo by Abby Temper)

Applications for Animated Artist Senior Caleb Black hopes to turn his lifelong love for art into a career in animation kind of thing an art school will be looking for from an incoming student,” Spectra BY NOAH SLAUGHTER teacher Jon Travis said.

Senior Caleb Black often draws attention because of his constant doodling and animated personality, so it came as no surprise to many friends early in high school when he first expressed interest in attending art school. Since then, he has applied to art programs nationwide, including Rhode Island School of Design and University of Southern California, where he hopes to receive a B.F.A. in animation. “It’s a lot harder than applying to a regular school because on top of essays and filling out the application, you have to worry about the [art] portfolio and make sure it’s good for whatever school you’re trying to get into,” Black said. His art portfolio takes many hours to refine, and a panel of judges at each school must approve his work before he is accepted. “I think the portfolio he comes up with will be plenty diverse and it will be the

Black has been interested in art since kindergarten, but has never taken an art class because he prefers to work on his own creations. Cartoonists such as Gary Larson, Bill Watterson and Genndy Tartakovsky, known for “The Far Side,” “Calvin and Hobbes” and “Dexter’s Laboratory” respectively, have inspired his cartoon style of drawing. “I enjoy seeing it anytime he has a piece for me to see,” Raster said. “It’s pretty neat to look at.” After college, Black hopes to animate for Cartoon Network, which he says offers animators the most room for creativity. “I want to tell stories and I want to let people enjoy themselves, and the best way for me to do that is through animation,” Black said. “I want to tell stories and I want to let people enjoy themselves, and the best way for me to do that is through animation,” Black said.

The Concert That Started It All

Michael Leistner attended his first concert which sparked a lifelong passion for music from buying magazines. I would buy rock magazines and I BY KYLIE MOSER would read articles about certain bands and who they were

Printmaking teacher Michael Leistner poses with one of his CD’s. (Photo by Madi Graves)




On Aug. 8, 1976 Michael Leistner attended his first concert which was by Jethro Tull. Being only 15, his parents insisted that his two older sisters go along. Leistner brought his friend Mike Herzog, who was also a fan. “My eyes were glued to the stage,” Leistner said. “It was so incredibly exciting because it was my first concert and I was absolutely fanatical about this band.” Leistner was captivated by the amazing show put on by the band as well as the music. “The most memorable thing to me was watching these people on stage and they were extremely animated and theatrical, the way that they moved about the stage, for me it was incredible,” Leistner said. The concert sparked a deeper love for music and he soon began to widen his music taste. He started buying rock magazines and going to record shops and talking with people there to get new music recommendations. “It did get me more interested in other things,” Leistner said. “What I did when I was young, information I had to get

influenced by and then I would go investigate that.” It is clear to most people familiar with Leistner just how passionate he is about music. “He talks about it a lot,” Olivia Williams, one of Leistner’s printmaking students, said. “He kinda talks about different points in his life and references bands he was listening to at that point.” Leistner continues involving himself with music by asking his students what kinds of music they listen to. “He asks more about the jam stuff because he’s not really familiar with it,” Ben Walters, one of Leistner’s students, said. At the age of 15, around the time of his first concert, Leistner started to really get serious about music. “A lot of people, they get up in the morning and they turn on the tv and the tv’s on all day until they go to bed. For me, it was music. I would get up in the morning and start playing music and it would just be playing all day.” While he does not have as much time for music as he used to, his love for music shows no sign of fading away.

Senior Emily Rish stands on the soccer field as a young girl ready to defeat the offending team. Rish kneels with her team Missouri Rush U18 Azul one of the three teams that she plays on. She’s played on the team for eight years.

Emily Rish stands with her trophy from a game. She played on the SCCYSA team for one year. (Submitted Photos)

Nationally Recognized

Senior varsity soccer player Emily Rish discusses her first game and experience on the Missouri Rush National team and the challenges and training leading to it BY ERIN LEVINS • @itsLevins

In the dead of February, senior Emily Rish stands sweating in anticipation of the feat in front of her. The day of her first game on the Missouri Rush National team has arrived. She ties her cleats, straps her goalie gloves on, tucks her jersey and steps onto the pitch. Securing her position in front of the goal, she eyes the ball. Her fingers twitch with adrenaline. With perspiration clinging to her arms and legs, heart beating heavily, the whistle blows. “She had been preparing for her first game for weeks,” Rish’s mother, Ryvanna Hasse said. “I knew she would do well and I’m so proud of her hard work.” It’s a very difficult process to be considered for a nationally ranking soccer team, but because of her talent, the technical director of Missouri Rush Club nominated Rish for the chance to compete for a spot on their national team. It begins with 100 girls chosen per age group and tryouts can last for weeks until 35 girls remain. Then, coaches from all around the country get together to select a few exceptional players for the team. Out of the entire Midwest region, only four girls were chosen; Emily was one of them. She was flown to Phoenix, Arizona in the middle of February to play for Missouri Rush’s national team. “She is notorious amongst the club and high school soccer league as an

incredibly skilled and talented goalkeeper, everyone always knew she was going to go far,” Ryvanna Hasse said. Rish has played soccer for 14 years. Throughout that time, she has played on three teams and has gained experience with all field positions. But even with all of that practice, nothing could’ve prepared her for her first national match. The teams she played against were more challenging than anyone she had ever faced before. All of the players involved had been handpicked from the best of the best. Rish described it as a very heated and competitive atmosphere, but she enjoyed the intensity of the matches and all of the talent she got to witness. “My first game was nerve-racking,” Rish said. “I was super nervous that I would let in a stupid goal but I ended up having one of the best games of my life, and for that tournament we were undefeated.” Overall, Rish enjoys playing for the national team. This is her last year on Missouri Rush but she plans on furthering her dream of playing upper level soccer. Her Missouri Rush coach Diane Monahan is expecting her to receive numerous offers to play on the college level. “I just have to say, how blessed and lucky I have been to be her coach,” Monahan said. “The day she told me she wanted to be goalie, I tried talking her out of it because she was my star forward/defender and I didn’t want to lose that, thank goodness she didn’t listen to me and followed her own dream.”





“All I need is a reindeer!”

1650 Jungermann Rd St. Peters, MO 63304 636-922-9200

Public Speaking Sophomore Ruth Ayalew realizes her true passion for public speaking at a Speech and Debate tournament BY SASHA KAGANOV

Her hands shaking, forehead dripping with sweat. This was the moment. The moment where she would, for the first time in her life, speak in front of an audience. In front of the judges. The feeling was overwhelming and she wanted to make sure that she would not forget everything she had prepared months for. Sitting on the moving bus, repeating her speech over and over again, she began to think. Is it good enough? Will it impress the judges? Will the score be high enough to move on to the final round? “At that moment, I was freaking out,” sophomore Ruth Ayalew said. “I was telling my team how terrified I was because I didn’t know what to do and they really comforted me by giving me advice and even sharing their bad experiences.” She arrives to Brentwood High School, taking deep breaths as she gets off the bus. After setting her rose red and black backpack down, there was an announcement for her event, Public Forum. This was it. This was Ayalew’s time to go upstairs to room 145 and begin her round. Round one of Public Forum begins. Her partner, sophomore Estefania Cruz stands up and presents her speech. After, she sits down, Ayalew begins to slowly stand up. “I was second speaker and that is the speaker that is usually more firm,” Ayalew said. “I was really scared and just shaking the whole time my partner was presenting.” She begins with a quietly, unsure of herself. She fears that at any moment




she will blank out and forget everything she has prepared but somehow continues to present her speech with no flaws. “I was so nervous when I got up to the stand and knew that the only way we would win is if I actually became focused and serious,” said Ayalew. “ What helped as well was being very interested on the topic as well as educated and aware.” She continues to speak. Still trembling, but the farther she goes, the more confident she becomes. After minutes of speaking, but what seems like hours to her, Ayalew thanks her audience and sits back down. She can’t stop smiling. She accomplished what she was once so afraid to do- what she thought she would never do. Hours later, Ayalew received the results. She won the round. After Ayalew public spoke for the first time in October, she realized this was exactly what she wanted to do in the future and that Speech and Debate would ensure and improve her speaking and debating skills. “I want to become a lawyer because I really want to speak up for the people who don’t have voices,” Ayalew said. “I knew I would be able to do this for a living and be satisfied from my job.” Since Ayalew joined the team, she not only won multiple debates but also feels as if she dramatically improved in just her short time of being on the team. “Ruth came in with a lot of self confidence and wasn’t shy in the slightest,” Speech and Debate head coach Joelle Sanders said. “She has a much better understanding of cultures because she has lived internationally and I think if she continues to do Speech and Debate, her language, reasoning and argument skills will dramatically improve.”

A Bow, an Arrow and a Passion

Ever since current senior Matt Vishy got his first bow at the age of 10, he has been doing archery BY ZOE LAWSON • @zkl131

It’s Christmas. Current senior Matt Vishy is 10 years old. It’s pretty much like any other Christmas: he wakes up early, filled with the excitement and anticipation only this day can bring, and rushes down the stairs to the presents waiting underneath the tree. One of his gifts, though, is the most exciting. Matt, like his father, is an archer, and waiting under the tree is a compound bow. “I was excited,” Matt said. “I just felt really happy. It was from my dad, but when I got it, I thought, ‘I can’t handle this. This is too challenging. I can’t do this dad.’ It was the first bow that was mine, and it just felt like a lot of responsibility came with it. I think I’ve overcome that fear since then though.” Matt has been doing archery since he was fifth grade, and has worked since then to get better at it. When Matt first started out, it was immediately obvious to his father, Mike Vishy, that he would need his own bow. “I knew he couldn’t use mine,” Mike said. “He was way too little, and there was no way he would be able to control it. He tried to, but it didn’t work. It was almost funny.” Matt uses two different kinds of bows now: a compound bow and a long bow. A compound bow, according to Matt, makes use of “cams” which help to distribute and hold weight more evenly along the shaft of the bow. Because the bow itself bears more of the weight, it becomes easier to shoot farther, and to aim more accurately. A long bow is more traditional, and requires more force to control and aim it. Matt enjoys doing archery with both kinds of bows, and loves learning how to get better at it. “It’s really all about practice,” Matt said. “I think for me it was a lot about learning not to worry too much. You have to learn to accept that you can’t always aim at the target completely. You have to aim just in the general area you’re going for, and know that you’re actually going to end up hitting your target. It’s really in your head, knowing that you have a whole area to aim for rather than one particular spot. It helps boost confidence, which for me helps a lot.” Matt and his father go hunting together, but also practice by setting up targets to shoot at. Both Matt and Mike appreciate having something they have common that they can do with each other. “It’s something that we do together,” Mike said. “We’ll set up targets and keep score, and see who wins. It’s a little father-son competition. It’s something we’ve been doing forever, or at least is seems like forever, ever since he got his own bow. It’s something we both really enjoy.”

Senior Matt Vishy poses with his compound bow. Ever since fifth grade, Vishy has been an archer. His father turned him onto the sport after Matt received a bow for Christmas. (photo by Sam Alexander)







Senior Luke Dykes skateboards at Becky-David Elementary school. Dykes has been skateboarding since he was two years old. He looks up to his brother who really got him into skateboarding. Dykes skateboards whenever he can get away from school or work. “My favorite place to skate is downtown St.Louis.” Dykes said, “We usually get a big group of six or eight and meet up at Keener Plaza.” Dykes is also very passionate about art, he has taken seven art classes throughout his school career. (Photos by Madi Graves)

Falling for Four Wheels Senior Luke Dykes has had the hobby of skateboarding since the age of two and is not letting this 15-yearold passion and hobby of his die any time soon

BY JAMIE HETLAGE • @jammnicole


t the age of two, he was handed an old scratched up skateboard. At the age of three he got his own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles skateboard. At the age of four he was running out of the house while his mother yelled at him to wear knee pads. At the age of seven, he landed his first real trick. 15 years after getting his first skateboard, senior Luke Dykes continues to skateboard and does anything to not let his passion die. “Skating for me is the only thing that I’ve done my whole life,” Luke said. “It’s my one outlet I can put all my anger and all of my time and all of my money and all of my happiness, everything of mine is into it. It honestly means the world to me.” Timothy Dykes, Luke’s older brother got him into the hobby of skateboarding from a young age. Tim used to hang out with his friends in front of the house, skating around and having fun as a teenager. Tim handed him an old board that Luke thought was the holy grail. From then on out, he would practice with his brother, hanging out with people 12 years older than himself, gazing in amazement from the tricks they could do. Luke would try and fail time and time again for numerous hours on his skateboard. From then on, Luke has worked hard to be better than his brother was back then. “I think it’s funny he’s trying to better than I was when I was 18,” Tim said. “I guess it’s just a personal goal considering I showed him how to skate when I was about his age. To see how far he’s come is crazy.” The best part of skateboarding to Luke is all the freedom he is given. To him, it’s an individual activity that he can do on his own; his success and failures can only be pinned on him and what he does. This is also a time for him to have fun and relax from the

day, between working at IHOP and finishing high school. He tries to spend as much time as he can skateboarding because it is the one thing that takes up his time that he truly enjoys. “Honestly, if I didn’t skateboard I have no clue what I would do to be brutally honest,” Luke said. “It’s such an aggressive outlet for me and I just push so many emotions out through skateboarding.” Whenever Luke is looking for some inspiration he draws it from other skateboarders. Some of his favorite professionals are Jerry Hsu, Austyn Gillette and Dylan Rieder. Luke looks up to these people because they are so heavily involved with skateboarding, risking their lives doing crazy tricks unlike any other. However, Luke may look up to these people, but some people look up to him and his skill set. “When he puts his mind to a trick he will try for hours,” fellow skateboarder and friend of Luke, Dominic Pusateri said. “It’s [skating] a mental block from the rest of the world, he just wants the trick. His skating is all around pretty solid, he’s even to the standards of people who are really really good. It’s just funny to think about how small he was, riding on a skateboard almost half his size when he was 12. Now, I watch him skate and he genuinely impresses people with his tricks. ” Luke plans to continue to keep on skating for years to come, but because of rigorous tricks Luke’s body cannot fully handle all the blows. He has an aching back and bad knees from trick after trick, but does not let this drag him back from skating. He will continue to skate until he can no longer skate anymore. “I always say jokingly that the day I stop skateboarding will be the day I’m going to die,” Luke said. “I think I’m going to just keep skating until my body cannot physically handle it anymore and I’m in a wheelchair or in crutches because [with skating] there is always something to do. There’s always more progression, there’s always somewhere to go and something else to do.”






DON’T FORGET TO BUY YOUR 2015-16 EXCALIBUR YEARBOOK • Check this link to see if you’ve already ordered: • • The staff will not be ordering extras once the final sale number is set at the end of the year. How do you buy your yearbook? • In room 026 • In the main office • On under the yearbook tab on the top menu

Senior Dan House plays a video game over and over to improve his time. One speed running feat was that someone finished The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 20 minutes. Someone also almost beat Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! blindfolded. (Photos by Aleah Riley)

Beating the Clock Senior Dan House takes playing video games to a new level with speedrunning, drawing inspiration from the online community to complete challenges as fast as possible BY EMILY WILSON

he’s into [speedrunning] because it takes a lot of dedication. It’s something he likes to do, having a goal in mind and striving to achieve it.” Since March of this year, Dan has focused on speedrunning through “Super As senior Dan House sits down in front of his TV to play on his Nintendo Monkey Ball 2”, repeatedly finishing levels to master unconventional strategies to Gamecube, he does what any other player would do. He reaches over and presses reduce his times. the circular power button, listening to the familiar hum of the machine coming “Well, you need a lot of practice, before you can do runs, you have to play levels alive. That’s where the similarities with he and most gamers ends though. Dan over and over and over again to get consistent, and that’s just for Monkey Ball,” takes a different approach to game; he’s a speedrunner. Dan said. “Every speed game is different.” “For normal game play, you usually play a game for maybe 40 Full-time speedrunners can maintain large fan bases with thousands hours and then you’ll put it down forever, well maybe not forever, of followers, playing both new games and older classics, like Super but as far as speedrunning is concerned, you could play a game for Mario 64. thousands and thousands of hours trying to improve yourself,” Dan “It’s a different way to play games that people played in the said. past and it brings back nostalgia,” senior Jake Beckmann, a fellow Speedrunning is a different style of game play where the player speedrunner, said. “It’s hard to understand why it’s so enjoyable, tries to beat a game as quickly as possible. Dan first learned playing a game over and over again, but once you understand, once • Beginner - 5:55 about it a few years ago after his older brother, Ben, showed him you start beating your own times, it’s pretty cool.” • Expert - 19:58 a speedrun on the gaming website, Twitch, where professional Dan hopes to eventually start streaming speedrunning videos on • Master 4:03 gamers can watch run-throughs and interact with viewers. Twitch and gain enough followers to start speedrunning full-time and However, it wasn’t until after seeing more videos from Summer participate in marathons like Summer Games Done Quick. Games Done Quick, a series of speedrunning marathons that raise “It’s learning about why you enjoy games,” Dan said. “It’s a lot of money for charities, that Dan became interested in the intensive game play. learning about who you are and how you’ve grown after playing a game for lots “Dan and I are pretty close, and I thought he might enjoy it,” Ben said. “I think of hours and why you enjoy doing it.”

Dan’s Times to Beat On Monkey Ball 2





Assistant Principal Jeff Blankenship poses for a picture with a young Afghan child while he was stationed in the Afghan capital of Kabul during his deployment. Blankenship left the Army as a captain. (Submitted Photo)

For the Good of the Nation Assistant Principal Jeff Blankenship joined the Missouri National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan BY ANTHONY KRISTENSEN • @anthonyk17slsg

Sept. 11, 2001. Nearly 3,000 people woke up on that regular Tuesday to go provide for their families. They woke up not knowing that this day was their last. Not knowing that when they left home that morning, it’d be the last time that they’d hug and kiss their spouses and children goodbye. Not knowing that on that regular Tuesday, that the events that would transpire would mark a





turning point in American history. This day had a huge impact on many in the U.S., including Assistant Principal Jeff Blankenship. Blankenship, was a college student at Truman State University at the time. After the towers fell, Blankenship began to think about a life of service, which would lead to his first deployment. “After Sept. 11, 2001, after the terrorist attacks, I started feeling like the military was something that interested me,” Blankenship said. “There’s just this sense of a calling.”

Blankenship then began researching different branches of the military. After researching different branches, it became clear that many of them would require that Blankenship leave school for training. After that, he got a letter from the Truman State University Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Program. Joining the ROTC Program allowed Blankenship to gain military experience and continue his work at school. “I started researching, I looked a little bit into the Marine Corps,” • Currently, the U.S. Blankenship said. “I was already in maintains a presence of college at the time, the Marine Corp about 10,000 troops in was going to require that I at least Afghanistan. miss a semester of college to go to • The wars in Iraq and Marine Corp Boot Camp. [Later on], I Afghanistan will cost the got a letter in the mail from Truman U.S. about $4-6 trillion. State University’s ROTC Program, and • President George W. Bush if I joined ROTC at Truman, I wasn’t put troops in Afghanistan going to have to take any time off of school, I was literally just going to because of the Al Qaeda start taking courses there at Truman attacks in New York on to become an Army officer when I Sept. 11. graduated.” • Afghanistan is the After he graduated college and world’s third most the ROTC Program, Blankenship was unstable country. deployed to New Orleans to assist The Daily Mail with the relief effort after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in August of 2005. Then, in October of 2006, he left home to get additional training with the Army. Then, Blankenship left the U.S. in March of 2007 to start his tour in Kabul, Afghanistan. At the time, the U.S. had been involved in Afghanistan for about four years. Blankenship’s deployment to Afghanistan came after he married his wife, Kelly Blankenship, in January of 2005. Blankenship and Kelly were only allowed to speak to each other via email or phone call once about once a day. Another form of communication between those in the military and their families writing letters, although it takes letters from the U.S. to get to Afghanistan anywhere from seven to 21 days. “It was hard at first,” Kelly said. “We got into a routine where we talked the same time every day. It got easier as it went along, but [at first] it was really hard and I wish we had what we have now, with being able to do FaceTime and Skype, things like that.” While in Kabul, Blankenship never saw any of the fighting, which consisted of the U.S., along with forces from Canada, the U.K., Australia and other allies, against the Taliban forces. Blankenship’s primary role in Kabul was to direct American troops on a daily basis to different areas where situations were occurring, as well as being part of teams that went out to investigate suicide bombings and other occurrences in the area. He was also part of a unit called “Force Protection,” a group that is put in charge of a specific area, keeping it as safe and stable as possible. “There definitely is a level of fear and anxiety, that stays with you always,” Blankenship’s mother, Cindy Blankenship, said. “The good thing is that we did get a lot of communication, usually a couple of times a week, so we always knew that he was okay.” Blankenship came home from Kabul about a year after he was first deployed, returning to American soil in March of 2008. He was part of the Missouri National Guard, which is the primary reserve military force, for eight years, as he served as a lieutenant during his tenure in Afghanistan and left the armed forces as a captain. Blankenship decided to end his tenure in the military after he and Kelly started a family. “Once I started having kids [I decided to leave the armed forces],” Blankenship said. “Just the thought of going overseas for lengthy periods of time, missing things at home [made me want to stay with my family].”

Did You Know

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Performing a Passion Freshman Riley Lawson tells about his first time acting and how it has affected him. He talks about why he joined the production and how he has grown as an actor since BY MCKAYLA BOGDA @mbogda5

The Snobby Golfer, portrayed by Riley Lawson, said, “What is this outrageous sound?” This was the first time he ever performed on stage and he was in the second grade performing in the play for Castlio Elementary School. At the time, he only did it because he was required to. Seven years later, the story is a bit different. He’s a freshman and just coming off a play he chose to be in where he was the lead. “I feel happy [when I perform] because it is a chance to be someone else,” Lawson said. The first time he performed was very stressful, but it was also a lot of fun because he was surrounded with people who he had a lot in common with. Lawson has been in a total of eight plays, and every one of them has been performed in FHN’s auditorium. At the moment, he is thinking of possibly pursuing acting as a career. “[Acting] has made him break out of his shell and be less self conscious, it has let him be • In sixth grade he played who he wants to be,” Zac Cary, Winthrop Paroo in “Music secretary of Drama Club, said. When Lawson first found out Man” he was Mortimer Brewster in • In seventh grade he Arsenic and Old Lace earlier this played Tin Man in “Oz” fall, he thought it was cool, but he didn’t realize it was one of the lead roles. It was not the part he tried out for, but he ended up enjoying it. The judges chose the students who had impressive auditions, looked the part and had good chemistry with the other actors. They had a look and voice in their mind before auditions started. This year a lot of freshmen tried out for the play, so no one really knew who would get what part. The students were all very accepting when Riley got the role because in drama years of experience isn’t what gets them a big role, it is their acting, so they knew he must be good. “I didn’t know Riley, but when he auditioned I remember thinking ‘Oh he’s really good,’” drama teacher Kim Sulzner said. Through drama, Lawson has gained confidence and friends. When he was in elementary school, he used to be afraid of public speaking and now he enjoys it. The skills he has learned in drama now help him with his other activities such as Speech and Debate, Quiz Bowl and StuCo. “Drama is important because it overlaps all classes. There is science, math and most every class involved in it,” Sulzner said. Even though he started acting in second grade, he didn’t start enjoying it until sixth grade. While he may have started out because he was required to do it, he now finds it really fun, even though it is a time commitment. “I will keep acting as long as they keep casting me because when they don’t it makes it rather difficult to act,” Lawson said.

Extra Facts about Riley




Riley Lawson preforms in his first high school play. FHN puts on two plays a year, one in the fall and one in the spring. Arsenic and Old Lace was performed on Nov. 6, 7, 13, and 14 which was different from the usual one weekend that’s performed. (Photo by Alyssa Savage)

Jenna Rodriguez shows off her tattoo, which she got in memory of her grandmother. The ink is designed the way that her grandmother would sign the end of the letters that she sent to Jenna. (Photo by Amanda Eckhard)

Memories in Ink

Senior Jenna Rodriguez keeps the memory of her beloved grandmother alive forever by getting her first tattoo BY MADISON ROLOFF

A tattoo that has become something of a symbol, something that links senior Jenna Rodriguez not only to her family but to her grandma even after she is gone. In 2014, Gloria McMahan, Jenna’s grandma, passed away from breast cancer after putting up a strong fight for a long year. Having wanted tattoos for close to two years now, Jenna decided that after her grandma passed away, she wanted to get a tattoo in her memory. She wanted her first tattoo to mean something special to her forever and thought that this would be the perfect way to do it. “I felt really good about getting this tattoo because it really means something special to me and it’s not just some random thing that I won’t want 10 years from now,” Jenna said. In hopes of keeping a piece of her “Maw Maw” with her at all times, Jenna decided to get her first tattoo on Nov. 11 with her dad, Dean Rodriguez, who also got the same one. Her mom, Laura Rodriguez, and her aunt, Chris, both decided in February of 2014 to get a tattoo in honor of their mom. They came up with the idea




to get a tattoo that reads “Love ya, Maw Maw” in her handwriting from cards that were a pretty usual thing for Gloria to give out on special occasions. “Getting to share this experience with her has been great,” Dean said. “I only get tattoos on my birthday too, so it meant a lot more.” In general, Jenna’s mom’s side of the family has always been very close. Her grandma loved to watch baseball and did just that whenever she could. She lived about three minutes away from Jenna while she was growing up, so she was always present in everyday life for Jenna. The entire family spent holidays together every year and would often get together once a week just to be together as a family and catch up on how their weeks went. “I would not say I was too thrilled about [getting] the tattoo itself but that tattoo is so special to all of us because it’s her Maw Maw’s writing,” Laura said. Waking up on the morning of Nov. 11 was a huge defining moment of truth for Jenna. She had been planning for so long to get this tattoo with her father, and

On a Roll Math teacher Steve Willott has been on some of the world’s tallest and fastest roller coasters, but his love for coasters started small BY CLAIRE BOENITZ

Jenna Rodriguez’s tattoo says “Love ya! Maw Maw.” This tattoo and phrase alike mean a lot to the senior because her grandmother passed away in 2014. (Photos by Amanda Eckhard)

when the day arrived, her nerves seemed to be getting the best of her. Overthinking played a huge role in her morning that day because she has always been extremely afraid of needles, so the thought of having a bunch of needles repeatedly piercing her skin was terrifying to her. Her boyfriend, Devin Hoffman, was there to pick her up in the morning to go with her for support. Jenna joked and mentioned that if he would not have been there to pick her up, she would never have gone through with it. Hoffman wanted to be there to help her through the entire process that day. “I felt buoyant because she finally did something that she has really wanted for a while,” Hoffman said. “I was really proud of her because she was really mature while she was getting it.” When the two arrived at Rockstar Tattoo, Jenna’s dad, Dean Rodriguez, had already finished getting his tattoo done and the team was ready for her turn. According to Jenna, the man who created her tattoo for her was very nice and made her very comfortable because he knew how nervous she was. After what seemed like forever he was finally done with her tattoo. It was an emotional experience for her. She was so happy with how it had turned out and just how beautiful it looked. “I am so happy with how it turned out,” Jenna said. “It looked just like her handwriting and when I saw it for the first time I got pretty emotional because it looked so beautiful.”

It’s no secret to anyone taking AP Statistics or AP Calculus BC that their teacher, Steve Willott, has a love for roller coasters. They’re in practice problems in class notes. They’re on the stickers covering his laptop. Pictures of them hang on the wall. Steve has ridden coasters all over the country, and has been on more than 100 total. The coaster that started it all was Fire in the Hole at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, when he was about six-years-old. “I didn’t know what to expect,” Steve said. “I just remember it was kind of cool. In Fire in the Hole they have all these special effects in there that make it look like the building’s on fire. I wasn’t expecting to just kind of go along and then all of the sudden just drop.” Steve and his daughter, senior Zoe Willott, share a favorite roller coaster: Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Millennium Force is a 308 foot tall coaster that reaches speeds of 93 mph and is, according to both Steve and Zoe, extremely smooth. Steve’s hundredth coaster was the Arkansas Twister at Magic Springs and Crystal Falls in Hot Springs, AR, which, incidentally, was the first to ever break down while he was riding. “Riding coasters together is a good way to bond, I think,” Zoe said. “He’s persuaded me to go on bigger ones. He would take me on smaller ones to kind of build up to the big ones so I wasn’t nervous. He’d get off bigger coasters and say how fun they were, and that I should go with him. And he was right - it is fun.” The Willotts have visited parks all over the country and ridden some of the biggest coasters in the country together. Even though he now loves coasters of all sizes, Steve advises those who may be nervous about coasters to start small, just as he did. According to him, it may open doors to a love for coasters as extensive as his own. “I like them, but not as much as he does,” Steve’s wife Shelley Willott said. “I laugh that it’s the biggest risk the Willotts will take: high speeds, big dips, all while being safely strapped into a seat.”




1 week in level 1 for $10 2 weeks in level 3 plus a spray tan for $39.95 Find us on Facebook for more details. 1104 Jungs Station Road St . Peters, MO 63303 (636)-447-3553

Principal Chris Birch sings into the microphone with his band. Birch’s band had five people total and he was the lead singer. They played at places such as Cicero’s, Parrot’s and Funky’s. (Photo Submitted)

The First Time Playing Live A hectic schedule ends when Assistant Principal Christopher Birch got his doctorate, giving him the opportunity to play a live show. His love for music finally found an outlet through this new band BY BENNETT SMALLWOOD • @bsmallwood20

Months of preparation went into the first show for a new St. Louis band named Juntos, meaning ‘together’ in Spanish. FHN’s Assistant Principal Chris Birch stands in the front as the lead vocalist and front-man. Birch’s friend of 20 years, Ken Spellmeyer, stands beside him shredding on the lead guitar, as well as Birch’s other friend Jeremy Stout sitting behind him on the kit. This is the first time the three have played together on a stage in front of a crowd along with two other musiciains. However this was the first time Birch was ever on a stage at all. “It’s kind of a rush,” Birch said. “I think what’s really great, for people who are really interested in that and pursue that, it really is all about chemistry. It’s





fun. It really is just an enjoyable experience.” The band practiced and got together often over the summer of 2013 to be ready for the final product. It would be their first show. Juntos worked to produce a very bluesy, folksy and progressive style of music. Birch was the front-man and wrote lyrics on top of the music that was crafted. While the band mainly wrote originals, there were many covers they performed as well. One of Birch’s favorites is Hoochie Coochie Man, which was made famous by Muddy Waters; a blues tune that means a lot to him. With the originals written and the covers rehearsed, they were ready to play the three hours worth of music in front of their friends and family at a venue called Shirley’s. “It was really exciting,” Birch said. “I think we all had a little bit of nerves going in, but we really worked our tail off leading up to it. We wanted it to be a solid show and we practiced heavily the week before and I think a lot of people

o oted s . ad dev id t we h r,” Birch sa u b , s rvou ethe ttle ne perform tog li a s I wa le to a show ed to be ab ll layed e we p were all thri m ti t e firs k we nd. “Th well. I thin his ba y ings in played prett s h c ir we sB al Chri g that Princip e practicin tim much submitted) s (Photo

were pleasantly surprised. They didn’t know how we would do and I think we had a lot of support and family [who came] out, friends who came out. It’s a really fun experience and I’m glad I was a part of it.” Juntos came to be because Birch reached out to Spellmeyer who was a longtime friend of his. They were finally able to come together when Birch’s busy schedule ended after he earned his doctorate. “I have played music for years,” Spellmeyer said. “[Birch] said ‘I’ve been working so hard these past couple years and I just wanted to start a band.” Follow the link They continued to play about a dozen shows in the two years they were together. This included places like Cicero’s, to listen to Juntos Parrot’s and Funky’s. But out of all of the venues, Shirley’s was perform live. by far Birch’s favorite. “I think our first show at Shirley’s is the most memorable,” Birch said. “If I had a favorite, that would probably be it. We had worked very, very hard and it was the first time as a group that we were able to reap the benefits of our hard work.” As lead vocalist, Birch had to take charge as the front-man. His stage presence and vocal performance was influenced by the Tool lead singer Maynard James Keenan and Geddy Lee. But he also traces his roots back to other folk and blues. “In terms of vocalists, Maynard James Keenan has always impressed me and


so has Geddy Lee from Rush,” Birch said. “Some of these guys have such an amazing range. But the one who really influenced me in terms of their voice and songwriting ability and song playing would be Neil Young. I love Neil Young.” However, with Birch as the lead vocalist, he sometimes found it hard to contribute musically when many of the other musicians were ‘jam musicians’. They preferred to play where the music took them. But according to Spellmeyer he could find himself in the music with his harmonica. “He worked well with it,” Spellmeyer said. “And in a jam band he would always find a groove with the jam.” Birch has been playing instruments like the harmonica and mandolin for several years, but he never had the chance to play in a band for the longest time due to his determination for his doctorate. And while the band isn’t together anymore, Birch still visits his friends who play shows with other musicians. But he is never reluctant when they call him up to play the first cover “Hoochie Coochie Man” performed by the band. However, Birch still pursues his passion of music by writing his own music in his free time. He also is continuing to place shows on his own at other bars and venues in St. Louis. His most recent gig was a New Years show at Shirley’s. “I enjoy iot and I want to get better at it,” Birch said. “If anything, It’s getting more comfortable. More experience will get me in that place.”





First Job: Working at the Movie Theater

Senior Mackenzie Schlogl and her experience with her first job BY ETHAN SLAUGHTER

Popcorn popping and tickets work. To stay organized between tearing. These are the some of the everything she has going on, she things that senior Mackenzie Schlogl has designated days where she has encountered for the past 8 would focus on one thing and not months while working her first job the other. During the school year, at the Wehrenberg 18 movie theater she works less hours than during in St. Charles. summer in order to help manage her Before Schlogl could get a job, time with everything. she knew that she wanted to work “My favorite part of the job is at Wehrenberg because when the people because they’re from she was younger she different high schools loved to watch movies and different ages,” whenever she could get Mackenzie said. “It’s the chance. When she like another high first turned 16, she was school and I love it.” told that if she wanted There are many a car, then she would different jobs at the have to get a job first, movie theater like • Ride Along 2: Jan. 15 because she would concessions, usher • Norm Of The North: Jan. have to show to her and server. When she parents that she could 15 first began working, • 13 Hours: The Secret be more responsible. she started as a Soldiers Of Benghazi: She got her car after concession host, like Jan. 15 she got her job. most people when “She has learned that they first start. She if she works hard enough that she later moved to the next role and will be rewarded,” Mackenzie’s became an usher where she rips mother Theresa Schlogl said. tickets and cleans the theater once Wehrenberg was the first place the movie is over. She is currently she applied to back in May, but an usher, but Schlogl hopes to they never contacted her back. She become a server this summer once applied to many other places around she has worked there for one year St. Charles and places in the Mid and has turned 18. Rivers Mall, until deciding to apply “We love that she works at the again at Wehrenberg. With the help movies,” Theresa said. “There’s some of her friend, she got the job. nights, where Kenzie and I would When looking for a job, she knew just go and hangout at the movie she would have to balance her theater for a night and we get free time between school work, color movies, popcorn and soda. It’s a fun guard, preparing for college and thing that she can be a part of.”

Movies Coming Out Soon

Mackenzie Schlogl stands in front of Wehrenberg 18 Cine where she is employed for the first time. Schologl has worked there for 8 months and still continues to works there. (Photos by Katie Worsham)




s n o i t a c i l b u P N H F So you’re thinking about joining FHN’s publication staff. You probably have some questions, namely, what it is exactly that you are getting yourself into. Publications is a term applied the amalgamation of several individual staffs that run out of room 026. Depending on your interests, you can join the North Star newspaper staff, Excalibur yearbook staff, FHNtoday TV video staff, FHNtoday or FHNgameday staffs, or photography staff. Each of the different staffs comes with its own responsibilities and its own perks. All, however, tend to foster close bonds amongst their respective staffers. “Publications is a second family to me,” webmaster Chase Meyer said. “I can always rely on everyone to make my day when the rest of my classes just aren’t doing that. I wouldn’t give up my experiences on staff for the world.” Working on publications staffs gives valuable experiences to all involved, and help to teach important skills. “Being on staff not only gets you more involved in the school but it is very much a learning experience that prepares you for the future and what the real world of work and responsibility and leadership is like,” video editor-in-chief Autumn Todd said. The wide variety of staffs means that no matter Some of the publications what it is that you’re interested in, there is staff pose with the awards they something for you. won in November at the JEA/ Newspaper allows students to keep up with NSPA conference at Disney in current events, both in the real world, and around school. Yearbook allows students to Orlando, Florida. chronicle the year in review for the entire school, in terms of club activities, sports, major events, and other student activities. Video allows students to express stories similar in content to newspaper and yearbook, but to do so through the use of videos. Web staff offers a fast-paced, constantly changing environment that combines all different kinds of media. Photo staff works to improve students’ artistic eye, as well as to take photos for all other staffs.

Excalibur Yearbook FHNtoday TV Yearbook staff is responsible for capturing a year in the life of FHN for future classes, and for chronicling important events around school.

Video staff lets students play with visual storytelling and editing software, making it an ideal staff for anyone interested in broadcasting.

Members of the Excalibur staff pose at a booth at the JEA/ NSPA conference. Publications staff members generally have two opportunities a year to travel around the country to attend national journalism conferences.

A screencap of an FHNtodayTV video. Video staff work constantly to come up with new ideas for videos and to find new and creative ways to tell stories.

Every year, the Excalibur yearbook staff puts out a yearbook three hundred and twenty pages long, chronicling the events of the previous school year. The yearbook is based around a theme which changes from year to year. This theme serves to unify the direction and focus of stories and of the overall design of the yearbook. Staffers work all year long to ensure they keep up to date with important events going on around FHN and in the community, and to cover the major events of each week, as well as to feature major sporting events, news, and athletes, club photos and rosters, and, of course, school photos. Anyone joining yearbook will have the opportunity to work on a nationally renowned and award-winning staff, and to learn how to use programs like Adobe InDesign, as well as how to write more tightly and more effectively, how to design a page or a spread, how to craft a resume, how to conduct interviews, and how to carefully manage time and meet deadlines. To sign up, visit:

The best part of yearbook is making something you can be proud of, and knowing that all your hard work paid off. We spend so much time together in the room and its like we’re one big family. Joining yearbook was one of the best decisions I ever made. Even if you don’t know for sure if it’s for you, it’s worth it because it gives you the chance to show how much fun and how rewarding hard work can really be.” Madison Roloff, editor-in-chief

Video staff offers a unique blend of a lot of different staffs: the storytelling aspect of newspaper or yearbook, the visual and editing aspects of photo, and the multimedia aspect of web. This combination creates a wholly original media by which students have the opportunity to tell stories. The web team, along with other staff members also work to livestream sporting events, making them available for view on FHNtoday for those who could

I love being behind the camera and shooting videos because it helps me express myslef and it’s what I love to do. My favorite part is piecing videos together and seeing the final product, and knowing all the hard work I put in paid off. If you join staff, there is so much you can be a part of and it’s just a ton of fun and hard work. Video is awesome because you get the chance to tell a story through video, which is unique because you get to make it visual.” -Autumn Todd, editor-in-chief

not otherwise be there. Joining video offers students the chance to learn how to operate DSLR cameras, as well as other camera equipment and accessories, how to edit videos using Adobe Premiere, how to operate WordPress websites, and how to write an effective resume, how to effectively communicate ideas visually and verbally. To sign up, visit:

I think the best part is the work we do and the people. I think it’s cool how we can do stuff we’re doing in a high school setting, where you get realworld experience without the real world pressure.” Brayton Larson, editor


North Star Newspaper

Photo staff lets students express themselves through images and be involved in the design of all publications.

Newspaper staff offers students a chance to report on current events and important news around FHN.

Members of the North Star staff show off their papers on paper day. The paper is generally released once or twice a month, and the day is celebrated by staffers, who come to school early to get them ready to be delivered to classes, eat donuts, and listen to music. Photographers often cover major school events, like the annual Iron Chef competition, pictured above. (Photos by Lauren Price, Ashton Stegman, and Kristen Pike)

Photography is one of the most intergral parts of all of the publications. It is the responsibilities of photographers to take photos of school and community events to correspond with stories or spreads dealing with the same topic. Photo assignments vary anywhere from shooting a football game or swim meet to shooting a school board meeting, to shooting events on Main Street. Photo staffers learn how to use Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, how to edit photos, how to write clearly and concisely, how to manage time well, and what makes a well composed photo.

Lauren Arata stands in a huddle with the rest of the guard as they prepare themselves for their performance. This photo appeared as a part of a photo story on Arata. Photo stories are entire stories, the main ideas of which are punctuated by photos rather than words. (Photo by Amanda Eckhard)

I love that photo staff is like a big family that all loves to take photos. We tell about our weekends during Monday stories, and celebrate birthdays together. We all have the same common goal of taking great photos to make all the publications look great. I also love that the photo staff has a part in all the publications: the newspaper, the website and the yearbook.” -Abby Temper, editor

The North Star staff is responsible for putting out a monthly or bimonthly newspaper covering major current events. The newspaper is distributed to the entire school, as well as to advertisers, district administration and other area schools. Staff members learn how to use Adobe InDesign, how to design a page or a spread, how to write tightly and effectively, how to craft a resume, and how to communicate effectively. To sign up, visit:

Staff is where I found where I belong in high school. Every time you see your name as the author of an article or the designer of a page, it feels like you’ve contributed to something larger than yourself.” Anthony Kristensen, editor

My favorite part of newspaper is probably the environment we get to work in. It’s a really nice balance of seriousness and fun, so work gets done and deadlines are met, but it isn’t quite as stressful because you’re surrounded by people who are social, and positive, and there to help. I would tell someone planning to join newspaper to get ready for a wild ride. There’s a lot of personal responsibility and extra work involved, but don’t let that intimidate you. You meet great people and learn both technical skills, like design, and life skills, like time management. It’s definitley worth it.” Claire Boenitz, staff

I love getting to be the face behind the news of the school, so I can bring important and fun information to students. Also, I love that it is like my second family for me. It’s like my home at school. It can be a lot of work at times but it’s all worth it. The friends you make will be almost like family, and the feeling you get when you see your work published is the greatest.” Erika Paar, editor and

Web staff deals with a combination of all sorts of forms of media, and is a fast-paced, ever-changing publication.

Web staff is ideally suited for those who want to work in the now. Without the deadline cushion other staffs can sometimes have, web strives to be as up to the minute as possible, which is what makes web so uniqulely appealing. Web is the intersection of all of the publications, with members of all of the different staffs contributing to the websites in some way, whether through stories, videos, or photo galleries or stories. FHNgameday focuses on sports news, and keeps a running tally of the results of recent sports games. Today focuses on news and feature stories. To view the websites, go to and To sign up, visit:

I think the best part of being on web staff is the fast pace and high turnover of our stories. We’re on weekly rotations that are never the same and are always producing different content. You should definitely be prepared to think outside the box. We don’t just write stories. We produce many different types of multimedia pieces to suit all of our audiences and we’re always looking for ways to innovate our content.” Chase Meyer, webmaster


My favorite thing about web is the experiences I’ve had. There’s a real sense of cameraderie between us, and we joke around with each other but we still help each other out. If you’re thinking about joining: do it. There’s a wide variety of things you can do. You’re only limited by what you want to do. If you don’t know something, there are always people who can help you learn what to do. There’s a huge opportunity for growth on web team. The sense of community when you’re on staff is just amazing. It makes the time spent in the room more fun.“ Michal Basford, Web Editor

I really enjoy the freedom of it, being able to write about almost anything I want anytime I want. With it being completely student-run, I have a lot of control over my own destiny. I also like all of the different ways we cover sports- livestreaming, previews and recaps, infographics - so the work is always changing. It’s just a lot fun.” Jacob Lintner - FHNgameday Staff

We’re social, are you? Give us a follow. We’ll follow back. TWITTER: @FHNtoday @FHNtodayLive





SNAPCHAT: fhntoday

FACEBOOK: WANT TEXT ANNOUNCEMENTS? Text “Follow FHNtodayNews” to 40404 to receive a handful of daily texts highlighting things going on around FHN.

*These are social media accounts that are part of the FHN Journalism program. They are student accounts, run entirely by students.

Looking for some great classes for next year?

Check these three journalism ones out!

Journalism 1/2 Comm Arts Credit Watch the video here:

Journalism II 1/2 Comm Arts Credit Watch the video here:

Digital Photojournalism 1/2 Practical Arts Credit Watch the video here:


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It’s the class people take if they want to be don’t haveoftotothe take prerequisite. It’sthe the class most people a part newspaper, yearbook, webclass or broadcast teams at North. have take aaprerequisite. It’s people take ifentering they want to be athe part of the newspaper, yearbook, web or broadcast teams at North. FHN media program take. a part of the newspaper, yearbook, web or broadcast teams at North. DIGITAL PHOTOJOURNALISM Comm Arts credit here. JOURNALISM You can get a 1/2 credit of Practical Arts towards what you need DIGITAL PHOTOJOURNALISM NEW! JOURNALISM 2: towards Yougraduate can get aand 1/2 creditbecome of Comm Arts the 4 you and need to to you’ll a photographer, videographer Comm Arts credit here. DIGITAL PHOTOJOURNALISM You can get a 1/2 credit of Practical Arts towards what you need DIGITAL PHOTOJOURNALISM JOURNALISM graduate and you’ll become a better writer and designer. You don’t multimedia creator Writing in the process. 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[SPECIAL EDITION] The First Time I...  

In this special edition of the North Star, the newspaper staff focuses on first time experiences that staff, faculty and students around FHN...

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