Blazer Vol 36 issue 5

Page 1



Gardner Edgerton High School

Vol. 36 — Issue 5 — April 2015

Choir travels to

San Fransisco

Senior earns scholarhsip through Shooting Stars

Seth Pesek State Wrestling Champion and future Tiger

April/May events calendar Are taking advanced classes worth it?

2 Information

Table of Contents April 2015 Vol. 36 — Issue 5

3 4 5 7-9 10 12 13 14-15 16

School Fights Senate Bill 56 Curriculum Breakdown Seth Pesek Shooting Stars Choir Trip KU v K-State Spring Break April/May Calendar


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Blazer Website

Stories, photos, polls and more not available in our print edition can be found online at

Former Superintendent sues school board members. GEHS students prepare for year abroad. Jury for the Boston Bombing is selected. ... and more.


Newspaper Staff

Editors-in-Chief Shelby Simpson Starla Stephens Copy Editor Brooke Boyer Adviser Lindsey Ross

Staff Writers Jaclyn Adamson Brittani Cox Savannah Cox Alex Cross Connor Nuessen Ryan Shirley Jaycee Zeck

2014-2015 Editorial Policies

The Blazer is the official high school publication of Gardner Edgerton High School, printed by Osage Graphics in Burlingame, Kan. This is a student publication and may contain controversial matter. Gardner Edgerton School District No. 231 and its board members, officers, and employees disclaim any responsibility for the content of this student publication; it is not an expression of school district policy. Operating with an open forum, students and editors are solely responsible for the content of this student publication. Editorial opinions represent the views of the individual writer, not the staff as a whole. Letters to the editor are welcome. All submitted letters to the editor must be no longer than 300 words, typed and signed by the author. Letters will be considered and published on a space-available basis. The Blazer staff reserves the right to edit all submitted material for content and libel. For advertising or other information, please call or write: Journalism 425 North Waverly Road Gardner, Kansas 66030 (913) 856.2640

News 3 Jaclyn Adamson Staff Writer




Graphic by: Jaclyn Adamson

According to the administration, If two people are starting to get violent, it is important to try and defuse the situation without getting involved. Try to calmly move them away from each other. “It’s all about perception,” Garcia said, “If you try to break something up, it may look like you’re getting involved and then you could be in trouble.” If a fight has already broken out, students should get an adult as fast as possible. Do not jump in and get implicated. Sophomore Cede Miller did intervene to stop a skirmish in December. “I saw a girl getting her head smashed so I jumped in,” Miller said. “I’m not really glad I did it.” There is a procedure after the fight is broken up. First, the contenders are looked at medically to determine the amount of injury. Then the principals and SRO get involved; they handle the discipline for the fighters and Officer Garcia looks into the possibility of battery charges. The parents are then called and the kids are taken home to start their suspension. They try to get the issue resolved so it does not happen again. Garcia said that most fights he has handled this year at the high school have involved girls. Last semester, two teachers were hit trying to break up one of those altercations and several other teachers have witnessed them. “I know that kids like it when a fight breaks out,” sophomore Lindy Maska

said, “but I don’t think it makes GEHS look very good.” The administration agrees with Maska. “We don’t condone violence at GEHS,” Garcia said, “Why would you promote violence at all?” According to Garcia not all fights are a lunchroom show. Most are just small scuffles in the hallway that never really reach a violent point. People may shove each other a little bit, yet it never escalates to punching and hair pulling. Meyer is adamant that GEHS itself is not the problem. It is the closeness of the students and all the time they spend together. “If there was somewhere else that all these students were together they would probably just fight there,” Meyer said, “It is simply that this is where they all are at the same time.”

Graphic by: Brooke Boyer

This year fights have been happening more regularly at GEHS. There have been fights reported in the lunchroom, hallways, and parking lot. “It’s disappointing to me as a principal,” Mark Meyer said. “Most of the fights happen here because of rumors and hearsay, it’s disappointing.” Fights usually begin with a verbal argument then the fisticuffs start. Students try to stay out of the way and teachers rush over to stop the conflict. However, students are often injured by that time, and sometimes teachers are as well. The fight is broken up and the bystanders go on with their normal day, while the participants are dealt with by the administration. According to, when humans are met with a threat our bodies either prepare to fight or fly from that threat. It seems fight is more often chosen. SRO Anthony Garcia said there seems to have been an increase in the number of fights. Fights were not as prevalent last year. Now, they are reported almost weekly. Garcia stated that social media often plays a role of the popularity of fights. In the past, only the people involved in the fight and those around them would know about it. Now, it can be filmed, tweeted, texted, and gossiped about for days after. Garcia claims that social media is also often the start of fights. Two people verbally insult each other on Twitter and then they end up fighting the following day. “Social media is a hard battle to win,” Meyer said in relation to it’s role in school fights.

4 State News

State Legislature considers law concerning ‘inappropriate’ material Connor Nuessen Staff Writer It is a Monday morning and students wait expectedly by the locked door of a classroom. Finally a substitute arrives and class begins. However, before the end of 1st block rumors are circulating that the missing teacher is in jail - some students even have a mugshot of the teacher on their phone. What crime could this teacher have committed? In Kansas, the answer may soon be surprising. Senate Bill 56, sponsored by Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook, aims to protect students from being exposed to materials that are thought to be harmful or considered inappropriate by parents or community members. If this bill becomes a law, teachers could be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor, resulting in up to six months of jail time or a fine of up to $1,000. SB 56 was created after a parent heard of a sex education poster that was hanging in a Johnson county middle school. The poster was labeled “How do people express their sexual feelings” and listed options like “oral sex” and “anal sex”. The parent was not satisfied with the punishment the teacher received from the school district which resulted in Senator Cook pursuing passage of this bill.

So what is considered harmful material and who gets to decide? “ According to the bill, such material contains a ‘description, exhibition, or presentation … in whatever form …of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse.’” is considered harmful according to One other condition of the bill is that

material that any “reasonable person” believes has no “serious, literary, scientific, educational, artistic, or political value” could also be targeted according to The bill is unclear regarding who gets to decide what is considered “harmful”. The vagueness of this bill is what concerns the bill’s opponents. Opponents are afraid that this bill will also affect classic novels. Some opponents of the bill believe “hiding such material from our children doesn’t protect them; it does the opposite…” according to While proponents of the bill believe that they are protecting children from pornography. “Pornography and obscene materials are becoming more and more prevalent in our society,” Senator Cook said in an artivle on “And it is all too common to hear of cases where children are not being protected from the harm it inflicts.”

What classes in GEHS would be impacted?

Diener does not believe he will change the way he teaches if this bill becomes a law. He suggested that teachers will have to do their research before showing material to students. Diener does see the benefit to the bill, and said he believes that it will hold professionals accountable for what they teach. AP English teacher, Kelly Peterson Miranda, does not believe that this bill should become a law. She believes that the bill opens the term, controversial material, up to individual interpretation. Peterson Miranda teaches a wide variety of books that could all be interpreted to contain controversial material. The single book that could be most controversial is the book Beloved by Toni Morrison. The book Beloved is, “a story about America’s relationship with slavery, but it’s also a story about rebirth and redemption.” as found on If this bill becomes a law the way in which teachers teach, and the way teachers respond to students could be greatly impacted. This law has the potential to take the control out of the administration and staff and give power to students, parents, and other community members.

Any class could be impacted if this bill were to become a law, but the classes that may contain more controversial material could have a higher risk of conflict. Family studies and human growth and development teacher, Shelley Valvero, says at this point she is unsure if she will have to change the way she teaches. The curriculum for her class is set by the state so she is obligated to teach the material. It was suggested that parents and students might have to sign waivers for classes that may contain controversial content like Classes such as Lessie Diener’s health class could be affected by Valvero’s. SB 56. All sophomore students are obligated to take health class Health teacher David in their high school career. Photo By: Connor Nuessen

Opinion 5

Pros & Cons AP, College Now, or Normal? Alex Cross Staff Writer GEHS supports three different curriculums: Advanced Placement (AP), College Now, and the standard high school curriculum. While AP and College Now courses provide opportunities for college credit, they are also more difficult than standard classes. Despite the common notion that one may be harder than the other, AP and College Now are very similar. The main differences are how the course is paid for and how the grading scale functions. AP and College Now representative Melissa McIntire describes how the process works. “For AP, students pay to take a four hour exam in the spring, and receive credit depending on their score,” McIntire said. “For College Now, you pay tuition at the beginning of the semester and receive credit for the grade you get in class.” Both provide an opportunity for college credit, whereas the high school curriculum does not. Therefore, if your ultimate objective is to receive early credit for college, then AP and College Now classes are the best option. Each curriculum provides more or less credit depending on future plans. “Curriculums each give different rewards for completion depending on where you go and what you study,” McIntire said. However, there are many students

who take AP and College Now classes with no intent on earning college credit. Taking these classes provides students with a separate grade point average, using the AP scale. This provides a “weighted” GPA that is often greater than the non-weighted GPA. Traditionally, scholarships as well as college applications ask for both GPAs in order to see how the student is handling AP/Honors courses. However, recently applications have begun to only ask for the non-weighted GPA. This means for the students who are not taking those classes to earn college credit, there is less of an incentive. To students like senior Sarah Woods, who is currently taking three AP classes, there are other reasons for taking the more difficult classes. “These classes prepare you for the workload and responsibility you’ll need,” Woods said. “Going through a college course in a high school setting is a nice and easy way of breaking into the college life.” The merits of AP courses exceed past the GPA. The skills and lessons learned in AP classes better prepare a student for college. Whether or not these classes are worth taking depends on the mindset of the student. If you are willing to work hard and can grow from mistakes, AP courses can provide instruction beyond the curriculum that can be useful in the future. College Now classes work slightly differently. The course can still be taken for college credit, but does not depend on a large test to determine

WEIGTHED GRADE SCALE B A 3.00 Regular 4.00 3.75 Honors/AP 5.00










The AP/Honors grading scale compared to the regular grading scale. (above) A list of both College Now and AP courses. (right) All data taken from 2014-2015 student handbook.

the amount credit received. The grade for students who are taking the class for early credit is based off several factors (homework, tests, participation etc.) just like a high school course. The credit rewarded is based off of the final grade earned. Also, the individual exams are easier than an AP test. The course can still teach important lessons. Whereas the College Now tests may be easier in relation to the AP exam, the day-to-day class work is still more advanced than the normal classes. This means that college credit is still something that has to be earned through hard work. Having taken all three types of classes, I believe that if you are willing to work for it, the advanced classes are worth taking. They not only prepare you for college with the curriculum you can expect, but also with skills like dealing with stress, and thinking creatively, that will be useful even after college.

College Now Courses HonorsFrench IV HonorsPhysics HonorsSpanish IV HNAmericanGovernment HNPre-Calculus

AP Courses AP Biology AP Calculus AB AP Calculus BC AP Chemistry AP English 11 AP English 12 AP European History AP Statistics AP US History

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Feature 9

8 Feature Shelby Simpson Editor-In-Chief


oing into the state championship wrestling match, senior Seth Pesek was filled with confidence, focus and prayers; prayers not to win, but prayers of thanks for being put in the position after all that had happened. Senior year did not go exactly as planned, but with resilience and a positive attitude it all worked out. Pesek’s wrestling journey began at just four years old when he took an interest in the sport. He told his father, who was a wrestling coach for the Olathe South Falcon Wrestling Kids Club that he wanted to start wrestling like the big kids he had watched at the practices he attended. At just five years old Pesek began to compete. That first year Pesek lost every match he played, but he never lost love for wrestling. Pesek continued to wrestle and found more success as he got older. Entering into the high school wrestling room as a tall and lanky freshman, he had very little self-assurance “I had little to no confidence and I didn’t think that I stood a chance at the varsity level,” Pesek said. As a shock to Pesek, he made the varsity wrestling team as a freshman, and ended up going to state. At state Pesek won one out of three matches, although that year, he did not place.

Pesek wears his first wrestling gold medal. He was 5 years old. Photo Courtesy of Dorene Pesek

Throughout high school Pesek has not only had to balance wrestling and cutting weight, but also football and gaining weight. The polar opposite demands that the sports have, Pesek always worked hard to be best prepared for the season. “In football, the coaches wanted us heavy and strong. In wrestling, it’s better to be toned and quick,” Pesek said. “Having to go back and forth, losing and gaining weight seasonally, my body has definitely taken a toll.” During wrestling Pesek had to transform his diet and daily routine to be the necessary weight where he wrestles, 195 pounds. Pesek would wake up each day and check his weight. He goes about his normal school schedule until lunchtime. “During lunch, I go to the hall outside of the wrestling room to get away from all of the good food,” Pesek said. “I eat a can of tuna with some saltine crackers and 2 literal cups of water.” After school, Pesek goes to wrestling practice. His practice attire consists of a sweatshirt and a hoodie over that along with sweatpants. During the heated practice Pesek limits himself to 5 swallows of water each practice, in hopes of not gaining water weight. At the end of practice Pesek writes his weight on the locker room white board and goes home. “Cutting weight is a pretty tough beast,” Pesek said. “It’s mostly mental, and a battle of will power.” Once Pesek gets home his dinner

usually consists of half a fillet of grilled low fat fish or some chicken with a salad. Before going to bed each night he eats a spoonful of peanut butter. “[The peanut butter] makes your digestive system work harder, in result burns more calories and helps lose weight while sleeping,” Pesek said. Although the alternation between seasons is tough, and could be a quick way for a high school aged person to become burnt out, Pesek never felt that way. He found great success in both sports and never had any problems, until the football game against St. Thomas Aquinas in October of the 2014 season. During the game against the Saints, Pesek’s right leg was pinned against a teammate on the ground and he was pushed from the side, causing his knee to bend left instead of to the front. He tore his MCL and dislocated his kneecap. This injury forced his senior football season to come to an unexpected end. With wrestling season just around the corner, Pesek was in therapy for three months in order to get his knee healthy and ready for wrestling. In January, Pesek was healthy enough to go to practice. After his return back to practice, the night before his first tournament back, everything was going well, his weight was down to where it needed to be and he was feeling strong again. During a wrestling spar during practice Pesek’s partner shot in on his leg, and his foot became caught in his sweatpants. The

During a meet Pesek pins a Lawrence Freestate Firebird with a move called “barb wire”. Photo Courtesy of Dorene Pesek

feeling of the awkward turn his leg took was not foreign to Pesek, although this time it was his left leg. Suffering severe ligament sprains, and dislocation of his kneecap, Pesek’s practice was over for the night. “The next morning my knee was very swollen and it hurt to even walk, but I went to the tournament,” Pesek said. For Pesek, putting weight on his knee to take certain shots from opponents, or quick movements was where issues arose for Pesek during warm ups that would make the tournament more difficult than usual. Both the coaches and Pesek’s father told Pesek it was no problem if he did not wrestle, but Pesek had a plan. He would execute quick pins for the first two opponents, which worked. Until the finals when he was going to face an opponent he had previously faced. “He was a familiar opponent that I had beaten before, but he was no slouch,” Pesek said. With the struggles of his injury, Pesek was beaten. This was his first high school loss since his sophomore year, the end of a 44 match-winning streak. He returned to physical therapy and tried to regain strength for the regional tournament. Pesek said these injuries drained his confidence, but he worked

hard to regain the strength and belief Week and was presented the award at in himself. the school with his teammates, friends, “While struggling with confidence, and coaches. Dustin Williams told me - believe in Pesek had offers to wrestle for yourself, man. Once you do, everything South Dakota State, North Dakota else will fall into place,” Pesek said. State, Nebraska, and Mizzou. Pesek Hard work paid off and he was on his has officially committed to be a Mizzou way to the state competition. His main Tiger and is excited for the future. At goal was to win state, but also enjoy the Mizzou he plans on getting a masters time, Pesek went into the matches with degree in Business Administration. confidence, focus, and prayers. “My goals for wrestling are to be an “I always listen to music before my All American and eventually a national matches along with drinking a bottle of champion,” Pesek said. spark,” Pesek said. “I say a prayer to my grandfather who has passed away and then I step on the mat to compete.” In the final round Pesek faced Zeke Herrera, a sophomore from Garden City High School. He ended up winning the state championship by a score of 6-3. “My first thought after I won was ‘finally’,” Pesek said. “The feeling was surreal and I was almost in a state of disbelief. After the season ended Pesek was also chosen After winning the state championship for the third time Pesek points to his GEHS fan section. Photo Courtesy of Dorene Pesek as Hyvee Athlete of the

The referee raises Pesek’s arm and declares him state champion. His fingers represent the number of state championships he has won. Photo Courtesy of Dorene Pesek

n i g t o S o h tars S

10 Feature

Students selected as finalists in arts competition The Shooting Stars program, founded in 1997, recognizes the artistic talent of 12th grade students living in Johnson County, Kan. This year 20 schools participated with 108 students all together. In order to participate, students must be nominated by an arts faculty member at their high school and then the student must submit an application. After the Arts Council has received all applications and nominations, selected students will become finalists in their respective categories. The winner of each category receives a scholarship for college. This years participants from GEHS included seniors Theron Dake, Caroline Hogue, Carly Graceffa, and Cooper McGuire. Dake has been playing percussion for seven years. Currently, he plays in the Concert Band and the Wind Ensemble for GEHS. Both directed by Will Biggs. “I love [playing], I plan to stay in band all throughout college,” Dake said. Competing in the Theatre

Starla Stephens Copy Editor performance category, Hogue has been acting since elementary school. Hogue has been in multiple musicals at GEHS. “[Shooting Stars taught me] to be thankful for those opportunities that I get in life that not everyone else gets,” Hogue said. Graceffa was nominated for the Art category. Being in multiple art classes throughout high school, she found out that is was her passion. She started using her art abilities freshman year. “[Art] is something I plan to continue with my future,” Graceffa said. “Art is my passion.” Nominated for Voice Classical by Todd Burd, McGuire won and received a $1,400 scholarship. “Singing is most definitely my passion. Words cannot describe how important music is to me, and I want to continue making it for the rest of my life as a career,” McGuire said. McGuire is a part of the Madrigal Choir, directed by Burd, and has been a part of many musicals throughout high school along with band. “In the five years that I have participated in the voice classical division, we have had two first place winners and two second place winners,” Burd said. We are very excited about this.” McGuire receives his results from the Shooting Stars competition. He was the only student to receive a scholarship at GEHS from Shooting Stars this year. Photo Courtesy of: Todd Burd

Shooting Stars participants stand as one whole arts group. McGuire, on far right, held his information about the competition in his hands. McGuire participated in the Voice Classical category. Photo Courtesy of: Todd Burd

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12 Sports and Activites

inging in an Francisco Savannah Cox Staff Writer


The trips are paid for by fundraisers well as watching Newsies the broadway done by the students. To make money show. this year the students were required to “Alcatraz was my favorite because sell chocolate bars, Yankee Candles and of the history involved in it. It was an Butter Braids. The more fundraisers experience rather than just a sight,” the students participated in the more Lassiter said. money they had for plane tickets, food, The choirs are taking the clinicians hotel rooms, etc. advice and applying it while working on “I did most of the fundraisers that solo and ensemble. Their performance were given to us. My parents also set is on Saturday, April 11 and they hope up a GoFundMe account online so I got to see GEHS students attending. some money from my extended family,” Moore said. GoFundMe is an account students can set up on a website used to guide them in fundraisers. Extended family and friends can go online to the site and give money to the student doing the fundraisers. This helped the choir students save money and keep track of all Clinician Dr. David Conte works with the Madrigal choir. He helped them work their form and singing skills. The skills they practiced have been used in their savings while fundraising on performances. Photo Courtesy of: Becky Kunard for the trip. Any select choir student is eligible to attend. They are required to have decent grades and be in good standings with the administrators. If the student missed a concert their eligibility level drops significantly. The group toured the city and went to several different monuments and sites. Over the The Select Choirs pose for a photo outside of a restaurant. They received hats were ready to visit Alcatraz Island. “[At Alcatraz] we went through an audio four days they went to Golden and tour that told us all about the people who lived in the prison,” Lassiter said. Photo Courtesy of: Tori Lafferty Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, as

uring spring break members of the Select Choir, director Todd Burd and accompanist Becky Kunard traveled to San Francisco, Calif. to spend four days in the city. They began their trip on Friday, March 13 arriving at KCI airport at two in the morning where they departed to San Francisco. The choir goes on trips every other year. The last trip the choir took was to Boston, Mass. in 2013. “San Francisco was so much better than Boston because San Francisco was warmer,” senior Madison Lassiter said. “Also, we did so much more than we did in Boston. Most of the Boston Trip was shopping and driving, San Francisco was more involved. We got to do a lot more.” The purpose of the trips is to take the Select Choir students to other areas of the country to show off their skills. They get to work with clinicians and sometimes perform for audiences while staying in the city. Madrigal Choir had a clinic done with composer Dr. David Conte to improve them as a choir. Dr. David Conte is a composer who specializes in helping choirs to improve tone, sound and other aspects of their singing as a group. He was very impressed that they could memorize all the pieces in the short amount of time they had together. “The clinic helped the choir because of Dr. David Conte’s suggestions about the songs. The clinician told us that we needed to understand the literature more because this will help us with accenting and delivering the song Members of the group get together for a photo on the beach. They spent most of their day on the beach. This was one of their last days in San better,” freshman Emily Moore said. Francisco.Photo Courtesy of: Tori Lafferty

Entertainment 13

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An urban setting and a campus size of 1,000 acres, located in Lawrence, KS

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More than 475 student organizations and more than 20

90 majors in the sciences, arts, and humanities and nearly 50 graduate programs are nationally ranked

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Acceptance rate of


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edition of Best Colleges is National Universities,


Offers 65 master’s degrees, 45 doctoral degrees and 22 graduate certificates in multiple disciplines

-4 9 : all ints r : e ov g po ame av r g pe .8 35 Football season (2014)


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Kansas’ Boys Basketball season (2014-15) ranking in the


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overall: 27-9 home: 16-0 away: 5-6

106 20 & 104 Sates and countries represented by KU students

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Entertainment 15

14 Entertainment


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April/May 2015 - GEHS Events Calendar 13


V Golf @ Paola JV Tennis vs. St. James JV/V Soccer @ BVNW



JV Golf - Blazer Invitational V Tennis @ Bonner Springs JV Tennis vs. BVW V Track - Baker Relays

Wednesday 15

V Golf @ BVN JV Baseball @ STA V Baseball vs. STA JV/V Soccer vs. Olathe North

Thursday 16

State League Group Music Fest V Tennis @ Bonner Springs JV Tennis vs. Olathe South


17 V Track - KU Relays


V Track - KU Relays GEHS ACT

JV/V Softball vs. BV JV/V Soccer vs. BV Susan Egan - Perform with a Purpose (7pm)










30 JV Tennis vs. SH



JV/V Golf (EKL) JV Tennis @ SH JV/V Baseball vs. BVN JV Soccer vs. Bonner Spr

NO SCHOOL V Golf @ Louisburg


Teacher Appreciation Week V Golf @ Ottawa V Tennis Meet V Baseball vs. BVN



JV Golf Meet


V Golf Meet

Progress Reports JV Golf @ Osawatomie JV/V Soccer @ Ottawa

JV/V Soccer vs. MV


National Teacher’s Day JV/V Softball vs. Desoto JV/V Soccer @ Lansing V Baseball @ BVNW



JV/V Softball @ BVNW JV/V Soccer @ DeSoto V Baseball @ BVW

GEHS BLOOD DRIVE V Golf @ L. Free State Spring Play Employee night

JV Baseball vs. BVSW V Baseball @ BVSW NHS JV Tennis Meet HOURS Orchestra Concert DUE


JV Golf @ BVN JV Baseball @ BVNW

Senior Honors Night


Graduation Practice

V Softball @ Lawrence V Tennis (Quad) JV/V Soccer @ Piper V Softball @ Olathe N

JV/V Softball vs. Bishop M JV/V Soccer vs. BVSW JV/V Softball vs. Bishop M V Baseball vs. BVSW


JV/V Softball @ BVN V Baseball vs. BVNW JV Track Meet @ GEHS


V Golf Meet

Seniors Worlds of Fun

State Solo/Ensemble V Track Meet Festival JV Baseball vs. BVSW V Softball @ SMN Spring Play Graduation Speech Submissions

Spring Pep Assembly V Track Meet @ GEHS

V Tennis @ BV






Registration Deadline for June ACT JV Baseball @ BVW V Track Meet

V Track Meet

Pops Vocal Concert JV Baseball @ BVW V Tennis Meet



5,7,9 Finals

6,8,10 Finals 1 & 2 Finals

Class of

2015 ation

JV/V Soccer @ St. James







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