Page 1


GRIFFIN RITES Winnetonka High School

October 27, 2015

Vol. 46 Issue 2


Contents 4 7 8-9 10 12

editor-in-chief Emily Elliott


Swimming to freedom

online editor-in-chief Jeff Thompson

International intermingling

design editor Emily Noyes editorial editor Mallery Zion

Coming to 48th Street

co-video editor Paige Hale p.8-9

Teenager without borders

co-video editor Brehanna Abraham lead design editor Rachel Adamson arts editor Alyssa Magrone

Taylor Swift

news editor Jocelin Egeland comic strip Marley Kennaley

Action replay

online advice column Abi Hutton

Policies The Griffin Rites staff strongly supports the First Amendment and opposes censorship. Freedom of expression and press are fundamental values in a democratic society. The mission of any institution committed to preparing productive citizens must include teaching students these values, both by example and lesson. We welcome letters to the editor and reserve the right to edit them for grammar and length, but we will not change ideas. Letters may attack policies but not people. They must be signed and submitted to F6 or mailed to Dr. Shannon Rennaker attention at 5815 NE 48th St., Kansas City, Mo. 64119. Advertising space is also available. Please e-mail or call 816-321-5597 for information. Our organization is a member of the Journalism Educators of Metropolitan Kansas City, Journalism Educators Association and the National Scholastic Press Association.

co-copy editor Savannah Moore co-copy editor Amber Murray




On the cover- Junior Alec Bond at the football game on Sept. 11 at the district field. Photo by Amber Murray

2| Table of Contents | Oct. 27 | Winnetonka HS

writers and photographers Amy Chavarin James Palmer Kati McMullen Hayden Weatherman Ciara Arena Angela Sluder Kaitlyn Minet Riley Stephenson Adviser- Dr. Shannon Rennaker

Separate but equal By griffin rites staff


ince the early 1900’s we have been characterized by our ever-changing diverse population known as a melting pot. The term was popularized in the 1977 “School House Rock”. Some time in the last 15 years the metaphor has been referred to as tossed salad, because despite how many religions, cultures and ethnicities America is home to, none have “melted” into one another; they only exist in unison. The FBI defines a hate group as “an organized group or movement that advocates and practices hatred, hostility or violence towards members of a race, ethnicity, nation, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other designated sector of society.” Hate crimes are a common occurrence within our nation, and have become more evident in mainstream media. According to the Washington Post,

the FBI’s most recent annual hate crime analysis revealed that there were 5,928 hate crimes last year. However, the Southern Poverty Law Center claims that there are over 250,000 hate crimes every year, but almost all of them go unreported. The students in the North Kansas City School District know the meaning of “hate crime” all too well. Last year, a Staley High School student was ran over by a man driving an SUV, and his legs were severed. After the incident, he was rushed to Children’s Mercy Hospital where he died later that day. In the following weeks, students from Staley High School began a group known as “Stop the Hate”. Recently, transgender teen Landon Patterson, was voted homecoming queen at Oak Park High School. When the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka heard this, they immediately announced they would be protesting the school as a whole. On Thursday, Oct. 1, Westboro showed up to the school and protested. Westboro did not commit a hate crime against Oak Park or against Landon, however, they did commit a hateful act. They are one of 784 hate groups in America, and Landon, who is only 17, did not deserve to be shamed for being her true self. Even if America has hundreds of hate groups, we have a united community that never fails at coming together when the time is right. Our state, our city, our community knows what hate crimes are all about, and we know how to come together when other people need support.

Griffin Rites | Vol. 46 Issue 2 | Editorial | 3




By Emily Elliott and Jocelin Egeland


efugees Hesham Modamani and Feras Abukhalil swam five miles from the Turkish coastal city of Cesma to Germany to free themselves from the horrors in his home, Syria. During the five mile journey, the two acquaintances created unforgettable memories and gave people back at home hope for a way out. The two men could not afford a boat ticket to leave, but they also could not spend another day in their nightmare, so they decided to jump into the ocean and swim. According to CNN, the trip took nearly 20 days and two months of planning. “I thought it [the plan] was a joke at first,” Modamani said to CNN. “But when I looked at it, I felt I could do this.” The two found it difficult at first to swim miles upon miles at a time, but after a while it became a wonderful experience. “At this moment I looked up and saw a black sky full of stars, and I told Feras this is the most beautiful scene I have ever seen in the world that we must be of the very rare few to live this experience,” Modamani said to CNN. Although they knew this journey would be an exhausting task, they believed the only

4 | News | Oct. 27 | Winnetonka HS

way to escape would be to jump. The streets of Syria are under a bloody civil war. According to British Broadcasting Corportation (BBC) 20,000 people have died because of the clash between President Assad’s government and the rebels who want him removed. Similar to Modamani and Abukhalil, tens of thousands of refugees are escaping to countries in Europe. Some people do not make it all the way and bodies are found washed up on shores. People are also captured and tortured for trying to leave. “Those who are taken to jail might as well be dead,” Abukhalil said to CNN. “They disappear forever and their families are left without anything.” According to BBC this is one of the largest refugee movements in history with more than eight million of the total population leaving the country, 50 percent being women and children. Although leaving Syria is already a tiring journey, swimming through the ocean left Modamani and Abukhalil with unwanted obstacles. “As we got closer to the first island, I heard birds circling. I thought they were vultures looking for bodies to eat,” Modamani said to CNN.

The student news site of Winnetonka High School Griffin Rites | Vol. 46 Issue 2 | Ads | 5

6| Ads | Oct. 27 | Winnetonka HS

International intermingling

By Mallery Zion ith intent to mesh W exchange students with their new classmates

and vice versa, staff and pupils have organized an International Club. There have always been multiple exchange students integrating into the everyday American teenage life, but sometimes not all native students have the opportunity to intermingle with them. Administrative assistant and International Club sponsor Cynthia Jackson has a great deal of experience with exchange students. “I have hosted a student from Bosnia, Germany and Spain,” Jackson said. Barcelona exchange student Ricard Mestre, is starting his senior year in America and is excited for this opportunities to meet new people and experience a variety of involvement. “I’ve never been in something like it; I think it’s helpful for the exchange students because we have something in common, that is being from abroad and studying in Winnetonka,” Mestre said. Although many students may not know, the

club has been around for awhile. “The International Club has been at Winnetonka for quite some time however, it had basically gone away until I hosted my first student in 2013 and wanted to grow the program in our school,” Jackson said. New host, senior Collin Monsees, is enthusiastic about his new endeavor and what it has in store. “My favorite part about hosting has been learning about a new culture and becoming close with someone I’ve never met before, but now think of as a brother,” Monsees said. Monsees is fully behind Jackson’s determined attitude to organize activities for the exchange students and his fellow peers. “I do plan on being a part of International Club and I think it will benefit Winnetonka by exposing people to new cultures and helping us all become more global citizens,” Monsees said. The club’s mission is to incorporate all students, but especially to get the exchange students talking with each other, since most are from different countries themselves. “We meet once a

month and we do some activities together such as joining the homecoming parade, going to Jefferson City or cooking dishes from our country for the other exchange students,” Mestre said. Jackson highly encourages students to get involved, and parents to host for lasting bonding experiences. “They will have lifelong friends that will always be there for them. I still communicate with an exchange student I was friends with in high school. I feel that with families being hosts, not only do the families and students in the home learn but each person who gets to know the exchange student will be touched in one way or another,” Jackson said. The International Club meets once a month and encourages anyone to come, especially those seeking to broaden these new bonding experiences while starting to culturally enrich their lives. “I would urge anyone who has a class with a foreign exchange student, or sees them at lunch, to talk with them; they’re all really cool,” Monsees said.

Griffin Rites | Vol. 46 Issue 2 | News | 7

Gabriela Behounkova Czech Republic

Hannah Richert Germany Ricard Sadurni Mestre Spain

By Emily Noyes


,537 miles. 4,790 miles. 4,929 miles. 4,930 miles. 6,230 miles. These are the distances eight foreign exchange students have traveled from their home countries to Missouri. “Even if the experience is good or bad it doesn’t matter. It’s still something that you try and it gives you some kind of view of other countries, other cultures and you realize that you can do a lot of things on your own,” senior student from Czech Republic, Gabriela Behounkova said. Although it may seem stressful to open your home for a student from another country, International Club sponsor Cynthia Jackson believes it is not as hard as it seems. “What our families don’t realize at Winnetonka is it doesn’t really cost you anything. These students come with their own money. All we have to provide is a bed, a place for them to store their clothes, a place for them to shower and feed them on weekends,” Jackson said. Each student chose to come to America for a different reason. Some want to improve their English while others want to experience American culture. “America is the center of the world,” senior

8 | Feature | Oct. 27 | Winnetonka HS

Mihnea Mocanasu France

student from Japan, Ekai Hashimoto said. Some students experienced culture shock while adapting to a new country. “I think everything is really huge, the schools are so long and the stores are so big,” senior student Antonia Hubalek said. The American school system also contrasts to the school systems in other countries. “It was a little bit overwhelming on the first school day because I come from a school where we only have 450 students,” Hubalek said.

I want to learn the culture and meet new people and new places

Julian Niewiadomski Germany

Tamara Woitge Germany Antonia Hubalek Germany

In the Czech Republic, students finish school at the age of 19 or 20. Behounkova is only staying in America until December to insure she does not fall behind on Czech Republic’s curriculum. “When I come back I have to pass some final exams in our country,” Behounkova said, “You have to prove that you have the same knowledge of all the students who stayed in your class during the time you were here.” The extra-curriculars offered here are not always an option in other countries. “It’s more exciting here because you have more extra activities,” senior student from Germany, Tamara Woitge said. In France, senior Mihnea Mocanasu is limited on the amount of extra curricular activities he can participate in. “You have to go outside of school to do that kind of stuff. School is just school,” Mocanasu said. According to Jackson, having a supportive host family is important to the student’s success while studying abroad.

Ekai Hashimoto Japan All photos by Rachel Adamson

“I’m really happy with my family, I think I was very lucky. They support me a lot, I think without a family that really talks with you, it’s harder,” Hubalek said. Woitge and Behounkova are staying with the same host family. “It’s very cool. We love to chat together and we learn each other’s language. At the beginning you have someone who’s new too and you can talk to them,” said Woitge. Students who study abroad are given the ability to widen their horizons. “I want to learn the culture and meet new people and new places,” said Hubalek. Jackson’s goal is for more students to develop friendships with people from different countries. “Our foreign exchange students have expressed to us that sometimes its difficult to get to know people,” Jackson said, “I just want our students to understand that they’re not strangers and that’s been the hardest thing to get across to everybody. I learn something new every day.”

COMING TO 48TH STREET Griffin Rites | Vol. 46 Issue 2 | Feature | 9




Alexandra Mehlhaff and the children in Haiti. Photos submitted

By James Palmer


fter her first mission trip to Haiti, Dominican Republic, senior Alexandra Mehlhaff knew how she wanted to spend the rest of her life. It took Mehlhaff about a year to adjust back to American life after her trip. “I feel very guilty. I worked a job where I had to throw away food and I had flashbacks of all of the kids I would be able to feed, and we [Americans] throw away food because we simply can’t sell it,” Mehlhaff said. Alexandra’s mother, Sheila Mehlhaff, says that the trip humbled Alexandra and changed her for the better. “When we went shopping for school supplies and clothes, she would say, ‘I don’t need that, Mom.’ She was much more compassionate and she wanted to send her money back to Haiti to support children,” Sheila said. Alexandra struggled with letting go of her memories of the children and families being torn apart by famine. “I had a hard time talking about it, I was so mad. I asked myself ‘why am I so privileged with my life when people have nothing?,’” Alexandra said. According to Alexandra, conditions in third world countries can be seen as dirty, uncomfortable and risky.


10 | Focus | Oct. 27 | Winnetonka HS

think people turn a blind eye to these issues of other countries because it is an uncomfortable subject, but I think people need to open their eyes to the hurting world,” Alexandra said. Alexandra believes that she can make a difference in third world countries by becoming a traveling nurse to help people who cannot help themselves. “I want to go for the medical aspect because with the technology we have, we can definitely help. I am not opposed to doing things in our country, I just feel called to go elsewhere,” Alexandra said. Sheila believes there are many different ways to serve other than mission trips. “Not everybody has to go out of the country to do good things, we have people in our schools and our neighborhoods that need to be touched with some form of love. We all have a capacity to serve others,” Sheila said. Alexandra’s English teacher, Yvonne Sexton, also having lived overseas in Saudi Arabia, believes that Americans should be proud of their culture. “We can be downers on America, but we have had people who have gone before us who have worked very hard to build America to the point where we have luxuries. I do think that we have an obligation to make life better for those who come after us,” Sexton said. Although the conditions were rough, Alexandra found enjoyment when she discovered how much she could make a difference. “We were in temperatures over onehundred-and-ten degrees, there was no running water and we were walking through human waste and trash, but I was having the time of my life; I didn’t want it to end,” Alexandra said.

Is it time for a change

in gun control? By Rachel Adamson

President Barack Obama has spoken 15 times in his presidency about mass shootings. 20 school shootings have occured in 2015 (which resulted in injury or death); Obama is considering bypassing Congress to impose background checks for all guns sales.

School shooting victims from 2001-2015

Gun crime is down by

45 40 35

# of victims



25 20


15 10 5 0 2001

















There have been

school shootings since 2001

75% 70% of K-12 shootings were perpetuated by minors. (as of 2014)

One in every three Americans own a gun

“Keep guns out of the hands of criminals.� Obama said

*updated as of Oct. 18 Sources: ABC News Flashpoint Washington Post

Griffin Rites | Vol. 46 Issue 2 | Etc. | 11

Party like

it is 1989 By Alyssa Magrone


aylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour is a new wave in the music industry that lingers with the audience. The concert kicked off with the opening act Vance Joy, singer of the 2015 hit “Riptide.” While there was a bit of a wait after Joy’s performance, Swift filled the time with videos that revolved around her life, footage of her fans and trivia questions. The stage transformations were magical. At first it appeared to be a regular stage with a basic background, however when Swift arrived on stage, the backdrop lifted away and the elaborate stage was revealed, changing with every transition. One song in particular that stood out was “Clean” in which the screen behind Swift projected images of her, photo-shopped with artistic creativity, provoking emotion within the audience. Throughout the concert, Swift makes an effort to connect with the

audience speaking about the meaning of each song. After one song in particular the crowd applauded and shouted for a continuous five minutes; Swift melted into tears. Swift makes the audience feel like they are at a party with her, as opposed to a concert. She personalizes each concert with a different surprise guest and performs a song that she feels is unique to the crowd. “I like to get to know an audience before I choose what song I want to sing,” Swift said during the concert. “1989” is a concert appropriate for all ages. Compared to other big time pop stars, Swift is able to express her music style while keeping it classy, making it appropriate for all ages to enjoy. Overall, Swift’s 1989 World Tour performance in Kansas City deserves an A. The jumbo tron at the Taylor Swift concert on Sept. 21. Photo by Alyssa Magrone

12 | Entertainment | Oct. 27 | Winnetonka HS

By Amber Murray


ecorating for homecoming in years past has been something that fell solely to the dance team, but this year the art club has decided to help. “I think it is really great because in previous years it has just been the dance team,” senior Alexis Grisham said. “It is cool that people are coming together to make this event happen.” When planning for decorations for the “Night of the Dragon” dance, many options were discussed. “She [dance coach Rachel Allsbury] told me the theme and said that she envisioned having a dragon as part of the assembly and the dance,” art teacher Heather Sulzen said. When the theme supposedly changed because of a miscommunication, creating a

Night of the Dragon dragon became a problem. “I heard students and teachers saying it was ‘Night of the Griffin’ not ‘Night of the Dragon’. So then I became concerned with making the dragon look like a real dragon. So then we compromised and that is why we are doing the griffin parts combined with the dragon, also I think it makes it more unique to Winnetonka,” Sulzen said. Grisham believes that clubs should collaborate more offten. “I think a lot of times Leadership, or one club will do something [like decorating] and I think it is easier when the work is spread out,” Grisham said.

The dragon marching in the Homecoming parade on Oct. 3. Photo by Rachel Adamson

Students of all sizes share the stage

By Kaitlyn Minet


ootball players and elementary students currently have one thing in common: the fall musical. The theater department is performing “The Children of Eden.” The cast consists of more than just the theater students and students who auditioned, which opens up a bigger variety of actors. “I think it’s a good idea because we’re not only getting

the theater kids but everybody’s involved in different places of our school,” junior Kali Holman said. Dr. Sheri Coffman was sharing her idea of the musical with her advisory class when a student, junior Bradley Willis, suggested the football players play the bigger animals in the musical. “I thought it’d be a good way for the football players to be active in something other than football and support their

school,” Willis said. The musical is still a work in progress, but Coffman believes it will be successful. ““Children of Eden” is a beautiful piece of Theater. It explores the love of a Father for his children and examines what happens when they are disobedient. The music is beautiful and the actors are really talented,” Coffman said. The first performance will show Thursday Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.

Griffin Rites | Vol. 46 Issue 2 | Arts | 13





4 1. Senior Keelon Jimison honoring an injured teammate during a football game at the district field on Sept. 11. Photo by Amber Murray 2. Seniors Andrew Dexter, Dominic Rizzo and Dominic Padillia blocking the ball by forming a wall on Sept. 16 at Northgate Middle School. Photo by Emily Elliott 3. Senior Collin Monsees racing during the conference cross country meet at Jesse James Park on Oct. 10. Photo by Rachel Adamson 4. Junior Maggie Garicia at a tennis match against Belton on Sept. 3. Photo by Riley Stephenson 5. Junior Valenica Galvan cheering on the football team at the district field on Aug. 21. Photo by Alyssa Magrone 6. Seniors Angelica Chavez (left) and Sophia Timmermeyer (right) rooting on the football team at the district field on Aug. 14. Photo by Rachel Adamson 7. Junior Jessi Mizner at swim practice on Sept. 24. Photo by Emily Elliott



14 | Sports | Oct. 27 | Winnetonka HS


Softball is all about that base By Ciara Arena


his year’s junior varsity softball team won their first game in two years. Winnetonka defeated Raytown South by three points leaving the score 11-8 on Aug. 24. Many of the players on the team are noticing the improvement they have made this season. “We’ve improved score wise and winning more games, but we’ve also improved with our bonds and our support system,” junior Tatum Thowe said. Although the junior varsity team has improved, senior Lauren Scott believes they will always have room to advance. “The seniors know what they are talking about, so when they say do something, do it because they would never steer you in the wrong direction,” Scott said. Scott has faith in the team and wants them to remain having positive thoughts. “Something I always tell myself is to control the controllable, and remember if you make an error on the field the next play is coming to you so you better kick some dirt and move on,” Scott said. Head junior varsity softball coach, Lauren McMinn, has also seen growth in the team. “One major improvement on the team that I see from the beginning of the season to now is that the girls know where they need to go with the ball when it is hit to them,” McMinn said. Although the team has not won every game they still focus on the progress and friendships they have made. “What keeps me motivated is I don’t want to let anyone else on the team down. We are all a team and if one loses, we all lose as a team,” Thowe said.

Sophomore Madison Jowett preparing for a pitch on Winnetonka’s softball field on Sept. 24 against Kearney High School. Photo by Savannah Moore

Griffin Rites | Vol. 46 Issue 2 | Sports | 15

B i g b r o t h e r d e f e n d s o n a n d o f f t h e fi e l d By Hayden Weatherman and Emily Elliott


rom soccer to Scholar Bowl, the Rizzo brothers show the epitome of determination. Senior Dominic Rizzo and Freshman Vincent Rizzo share their brotherly compassion for each other on and off the soccer field. “He [Dominic] has inspired me to become a better soccer player and be smarter in everything that I do. He’s just made me better in so many ways,” Vincent said. Like any older brother Dominic shows a great level of protection towards Vincent. “I don’t want to see him get pushed, so until he gets bigger, I have to push people for him,” Dominic said. Even though they have advantages on the soccer team, sometimes this may be a problem towards their characters. “I think its important you treat them individually. We use to call him Baby Rizzo but I try to call him Vincent as much as I can,” assistant soccer coach Luke Young said. According to teamate, senior Itua Ehovoun, both brothers bring in talent on the field and

16 | Sports | Oct. 27 | Winnetonka HS

family bond off the field. “I enjoy both of them; they’re phenomenal players. They bring a lot of good attributes to our team,” Ehovuon said. The two brothers not only share a spot on the varsity team, but on a variety of clubs and other activities. “We enjoy each others company, hang out a lot, and I enjoy being in a lot of clubs with him [Dominic],” Vincent said. Even though Vincent is three years younger than Dominic, Dominic has helped shape Vincent into following in his footsteps. “I push Vinney to be the best possible version he could be,” Dominic said. Soccer, Scholar Bowl, SAGE, Ultimate Frisbee and gaming, the Rizzo brothers share a bond others look up to having. “There are many aspects of the Rizzo brothers’ relationship that people could look up to and emulate. They play competitively and they push each other, but they don’t put themselves over the other person,” Young said. Senior Dominic Rizzo and freshman Vincent Rizzo painted up for the football game against Raytown on Sept. 11. Photo by Amber Murrray

Griffin Rites October digital issue 2015  

Winnetonka High School Kansas City, MO The Griffin Rites- newsmagazine Editor- Emily Elliott Adviser- Dr. Shannon Rennaker

Griffin Rites October digital issue 2015  

Winnetonka High School Kansas City, MO The Griffin Rites- newsmagazine Editor- Emily Elliott Adviser- Dr. Shannon Rennaker