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hield S

Volume 27, Issue 4


November 25, 2014

Saint Thom as Aquinas High School



Mr. Brown Returns: 4-5

Fall Sports Recap: 22-25

Eco Club Sparks Initiative Among Students: 6-7

Inside Look at the Aquinas Press Box: 28-29

“It Matters” Campaign: 10


The Best of Social Media: 8-9

Behind the Scenes of the Musical: 12-13 The Science of the Canned Food Drive: 14-15

Survey Says: 11 Canned Food Drive by the Numbers: 16-17 Cap That: 20


Clean Joke of the Month: 21

A Day in the Life of Maddie Desch: 18-19

Tommy Talks: 27

Cover photo by Jordan Eberhardy I The Shield

Mr. Brown fist-bumps Airman First Class Alejandrina Gutierrez after he is welcomed back to Aquinas Oct. 31.



Last Look: 30-31

Countdown 30

Ho urs to iving g s k n a h T Break


Days Days to to C hris Grad tmas uatio n


g hield S Saint Thomas Aquinas High School

11411 Pflumm Road Overland Park, KS 66215 913-319-2460 Co-Editors-in-Chief Janie Bachkora Jordan Eberhardy Centerspread Editor Anthony George Social Media Editor Alex Kinnan

Campus News Editor Katie Bernard

Reporters Jordan Bartz Ellie Heit Alex Kinnan Daniel Petracek Adviser Matt Hallauer

MISSION STATEMENT The Shield is a newspaper sponsored by Saint Thomas Aquinas High School and produced by its students to provide information, entertainment, and open forum, as well as a learning experience for its staff members. The goal of The Shield’s staff is to meet professional journalism standards. Staff members are responsible for the content of the newspaper and strive to report news accurately, objectively, and completely. The Shield is an open forum for student expression and aims to communicate the concerns of the student body as well as the faculty, staff, and Aquinas community. ADVERTISING The Shield sells advertisements to help with publication costs. All ads will be subject to the same scrutiny as stories. The Shield will not print any obscenities or any ads promoting products illegal to those under the age of 18. For advertising, please call (913)

319-2460, send an email to mhallauer@stasaints. net, or visit www. SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscriptions to The Shield are $2 per issue. Subscriptions can be sent to Saint Thomas Aquinas High School c/o Matt Hallauer.

LETTER POLICY Letters may be accepted by The Shield, provided that they are signed and do not contain libelous statements. The Shield reserves the right to edit the letters for grammar, obscenity, or space consideration, and also reserves the right to not print a letter.

Campus News




After nearly seven months in Afghanistan, Mr. Brown returns to the Aquinas community.

By Jordan Eberhardy

An Interview with Mr. Brown: What exactly was your job in Afghanistan? “My job title is First sergeant. I was responsible to a commander of a squadron (generic term for a certain number of people). There were about 550 people in my squadron, and my squadron worked on aircraft mechanics. I reported to squadron commander and my job is to make sure that group of people keep their heads in the game, kind of like a social worker. I would make sure that everything in their life was going ok, everything back home was ok, and that they were getting along with everyone. My job is not the technical side; it’s the personnel side. My focus is on the people and how they are doing. It’s a very humbling job because you are let in on people’s hearts and minds. I am not so much a counselor as much as I just try to see if someone is having a rough time and to make a determination as to what kind of help they need.” In military terms, what was your position and mission? “My rank is Senior Master Sergeant and I was the First Sergeant of the 455th expeditionary aircraft maintenance squadron. Our mission was to fix aircraft to make them combat ready for guys on the ground fighting the Taliban. Weapons loaders (the guys I dealt with most.) loaded bullets and bombs onto planes in case pilots would have to use those. I also worked a lot with Crew Chiefs, who go through all the checks on the aircraft to make sure it’s ready to fly.” What was your daily routine like? “Everyone was on 12 hour shift. I would get up at six am and have a Dr. Pepper for breakfast and I would take

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my Doxycycline so that I wouldn’t get malaria. I would be to work at 7 a.m. and work until 7 p.m. During that time there would be some time for meals and maybe even some workout time, but the schedule was packed full for the most part. 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. was time for yourself. Some days were really slow; some days were really long. It’s a very prison-like existence. Every day you wear the same clothes, see the same people, eat at the same locations, same variety of food. A Monday is a Thursday is a Saturday. The mission at Bagram goes on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After awhile, you lose sense of time.” What was one of your hardest tasks? “One of my jobs was to do Red Cross notifications. If one of my squadron members had a loved one that was sick or near death, we would get called by the Red Cross and they would tell us the situation. We would then sit down with the member and tell them what was going on. This is tough since you are in a stressful environment, you’ve got loved ones who are sick and dying at home, and the question of “am I going to be able to get home?” is a concern. My job as a First Sergeant was to make sure that member is safe (had their head on straight) since you never know what can happen when people and weapons and emotions get mixed up, and to make sure they had everything they needed if they did need to get back home. I had to address about 25 Red Cross notifications while I was there. Only about half ended up being able to go home. One that stands out is I had to tell a young man about 20 years old that his grandpa had died and that he would not be going home. I could see the tears welling up in his eyes and I told him that this just didn’t meet the requirements for going home. We just made sure he was ok and that he stayed focus.”

What did you do in your free time at night? From 7-10 you might hop on the internet, check emails, some would skype. I did a little reading. There were morale centers around the base with big screen TVs for movies. I would work out every once in awhile. For me and my personality, at the end of the day I just wanted to go vedge since I had been doing things all day. I would be in bed by 10 or 10:30 and then wake up the next day and do it all again. What was something in Afghanistan that helped you keep going while you were over there? “One thing that really helped me while I was over there is that there was a chapel on the base. It was called the Enduring Faith Chapel. Catholic mass was offered Sunday nights. And I got to be pretty attached to the people there. There were all kinds of people from all over—navy guys, army guys, ariforce guys. Just having that little piece of normalcy of going to mass was huge. Afterwards they had a little gazebo back patio area where we would go and talk. The priest started something called “Holy Smokes” and they would all go back there and smoke cigars after mass. I never smoked, but I always went for the conversation and it was just a fun time to just relax and be.” What was one of the weirdest aspects of your time in Afghanistan? “One of the stressors that you are dealing with constantly is that everyone is carrying weapons all the time. I carried a standard 9 mm pistol. It’s a standard police pistol. And even though we never had to pull them or use them, just the fact that I was carrying a deadly weapon—everyone was carrying a deadly weapon— added to the intensity of daily life. There are about 4,000 locals that are led onto Bagram every day from the Afghan town and villages to clean and cook and do laundry. Some

of those people are probably friendly to the Taliban cause. For that reason, weapon safety was hugely important. I had never been to mass before where the altar boys are wearing an M16 rifle with ammunition. I would do some of the readings or administer communion, all with my weapon at my side. It was just a weird thing to get used to.” What were some dangerous situations that you encountered? “The Taliban would attack us from time to time and they would send rockets into our base. Thankfully, they were really bad shots and none of our planes got damaged, and more importantly, none of the people were harmed. The alarms would go off and everyone would get down on the ground. That happened a fair number of times. You just deal with those kinds of things. After the attack is over you just go back to work.” What did it mean to you to have so much support from the Aquinas community? “The biggest piece in getting people through an experience like that is love and support from loved ones back home--in my case, the students and staff at Aquinas. It was very emotional (good emotional) for me to see the constant flood of love and support and concern. They had the letters dated and I was very good with reading them on the day I was supposed to. Within about 4.5 minutes, they were like ducks on a pond and everything in the packages (everything from gummy bears to chips) just got scarfed immediately. I am very thankful that I had that experience because it opened a whole new world to me. I heard a line and it has stuck with me that “we are probably more important to people than we realize”. And when I saw the flood of support and love and concern, that idea was just driven into my heart and mind. It was an absolute window into Heaven.”

Photos by Jordan Eberhardy | The Shield

Mr. Brown looks out into the crowd of 900 students who were surprised on the morning of October 31st by his return. He then spoke briefly about his gratitude to the community for everything they did for him while he was overseas.

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Eco Club Returns With A Bang Campus News

The Eco Club of Saint Thomas Aquinas has returned and is already making changes to help the environment. By Ellie Heit

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The Environment Defense League

the good thing and it’s just really something huge doesn’t have to be important. If you can recycle, hard, it starts one bottle at a time!” recycle.” Reusing items can also make a There have been five meetings big change on the environment. has been inactive since about 2010 for the club since they started in “If students bring a bagged and was reactivated by sophomore September and they are always lunch every day, maybe get a Mairenn Mancina. Mancina brought accepting new reusable one,” back the club after a realization at members. Droge said. lunch. Junior He asks for Anyone can do it. “I saw people throwing things Megan students to out at lunch that could be recycled Holzmeister think about and it seemed like a waste,” said TERRY DROGE was one of the what they can Mancina. This gave her the idea Eco Club Moderator first members of do to make the to talk to the former moderator of the club and is world better. the club, social studies teacher passionate about the environment. As another effort to raise Terry Droge.Together they brought “I joined Eco Club because awareness for recycling, the Eco it back, and the group has greatly I was very concerned about the Club is planning a used clothing expanded since its return. environment and I felt that I was drive. The main purpose of the club not doing my part here at STA,” “It’s in the works,” said is to make Saint Thomas Aquinas said Holzmeister. Mancina. students more aware of the The club The club has possible plans for environment has plans to make adding a garden and planting trees around The enviornment several changes around Aquinas. them and around Aquinas in “We want to make recycling is a big deal and to promote hopes of raising as hassle-free as possible,” said recycling. everything we do awareness. One Holzmeister. “It will take small “It’s really project already steps, but I have no doubt that with affects it. important happening is each item recycled, we are doing because the placing bottle our part to help the environment.” environment MAIRENN MANCINA shaped recycling The Eco Club is welcome is a big Class of 2017 bins in the to all students, and everyone is deal and commons. encouraged to do their part to everything “I think having this innovating protect the environment. To join the we do affects it either positively or new recycling bin will make it Environmental Defense League, negatively,” said Mancina. more fun for students to recycle,” contact Mr. Droge or any member Droge also had some insight. said Holzmeister. “Being a part of of the club. “Anyone can do it. That’s

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the best of


social media

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Campus News

Photo by Alex Kinnan | The Shield

It Matters to Kansas Can you put a pricetag on preventing underage substance at Saint Thomas Aquinas? Does $22,500 sound like enough? To the state of Kansas, it does. “Aquinas has never seen a program like this,” Principal of Student Services Michael Sullivan said. It Matters serves a purpose to “get kids to understand any choice you make does make a difference.” As well as “prove that not everyone out there is drinking and doing drugs,” said Sullivan. It Matters allows

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Saint Thomas Aquinas is on a quest to better students lives, with some help from Kansas.

By Alex Kinnan schools to apply for the program through an application process, Sullivan said. Schools have to meet requirements in order to receive the grant that makes It Matters possible. The campaign is sponsored by the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services and the Kansas Departmentof Transportation. Sullivan said the requirements for schools

are “show that [they] will put the money to good use” as well as “prove [they] have these issues at [their] school and would like to fight it.” It Matters is funded entirely by the Kansas government. The It Matters grant has four levels of funding, ranging from $7,500 to $22,500. The campaign sponsors determine which schools deserve the money based on their application. Aquinas

was able to receive the highest level from the state and all of this money went directly to the campaign. At Aquinas, it is a yearlong program and is partially run by the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). There was an It Matters week early this year and the school is planning on doing another one in the spring. Sullivan said the long-term goal is to see a decrease in issues at Aquinas, from teen drinking to bullying over social media.

Layout by Anthony George

Sur ey Says What is your favorite type of pie?

How many people attend your Thanksgiving dinner?


Pumpkin 7%


20-40 27% 17%

French Silk


25% 1-10



40+ 8%




When should radio stations begin playing Christmas music?

What type of Christmas Tree do you have?

After Thanksgiving 69%


18% After Halloween

10% Never Stop Playing

3% Never


12% Both


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Campus News

Behind the Curtain While the audience watched Children of Eden, much more was happening backstage.

By Katie Bernard

Photo by Elizabeth King | The Medallion Seniors Russell Brown(Adam), Peter Young (Abel) and junior John Viso (Cain) perform in Children of Eden. Children of Eden was Russell and Peter’s last musical at Saint Thomas Aquinas.

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Photo by Elizabeth King | The Medallion

(Left) The cast of Children of Eden pray before the show. (Right) Senior John Kelly works on the sound board. Lights dim, actors take their places, music plays and the curtains rise. For the audience the show is just beginning but for the cast and crew of Children of Eden months of work are coming to an end. The cast began work in August with auditions and casting. As the cast began to learn their lines, music, the show’s crew began their own work. The crew was responsible for the set, sound and lighting for performances. “The show could not go on without the people behind the scenes.” Said Senior Russell Brown The set was designed by the show’s director, Matt McAndrews as well as Mr. Heidish and Mrs. Harrison, it was built and painted by the stagecraft class. The set of Children of Eden took about two months to build. Outside of the stagecraft class the show had seven other crew members working with sound and lighting and the set during the show. There were two workers

“I get an unobstructed on the sound board, two view of the show. I also on spot lights, one on the get to see the show as an light board, one moving audience member and at the set, and one stage the same time problem manager controlling everything. This year’s stage solve at a moments notice.” said stage manager manager was junior Sam Sam Sturd. Sturd. The crew began The crew was able attending rehearsal three to see Children of Eden weeks prior to opening evolve from it’s earliest night to practice their role stages during to the the cast The show could finished dress not go on without prodrehearsuct the als. the people behind audience Like the the scenes. saw cast, when the from show is that RUSSELL BROWN finished. point Class of 2015 on they “I loved seeing the final devoted approximately 20 hours a week working product and seeing how it behind the scenes. They changed from the first day arrived at Aquinas to I showed up to the last prepare for the show 90 show,” said senior Ben minutes before curtains Waldberg. Despite enjoying their rise to set up. Six crew jobs, many members of members that were not the crew felt they didn’t involved in sound and get nearly enough recoglighting helped the cast nition for their hard work. with hair and makeup. “Backstage crew Because of the biblical sometimes gets credit. storyline, the job was There are certain people fairly simple for Children that will acknowledge it of Eden. The crew had a and then there are some unique view of the show. that only concentrate on

the cast. We’re appreciated, of course, but we just don’t get a lot of recognition.” said senior Natalie Gartland. The cast devoted a large part of their lives to Children of Eden starting in August and extending until closing night rehearsals took place nearly every day. Before each show the cast and crew prayed together to St. Cecelia in a circle holding hands, they ‘passed the squeeze’ (squeezed each others hands until it makes its way around the circle) in preparation for the show. Those involved in the show have been largely affected by their time on the Saint Thomas Aquinas stage. “So much of my life has been left on that stage, and it will be hard to part with it. After the final performance of Children of Eden, Peter Young and I sat on the stage looking at the empty, dark theater reminiscing on the time we spent there. Though we may leave, the memories will remain,” said senior Russell Brown.

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Campus News

The Science of the Canned Food Drive

By Janie Bachkora

Class presidents share their can-collecting strategies, keys to their classes’ success, and their feelings on the end result.

“An individual who consumed one canned item per meal, three meals a day, would open their 158,377th can for lunch on June 29, 2158,” according to speech teacher Steve DuBois. That’s a lot of meals. That’s a lot of cans. That’s what a lot of love from a lot of saints does. Collecting 158,377 cans is no easy task. StuCo spent months planning, canning, asking for donations, and contacting grocery stores. Each grade’s StuCo had a particular strategy to help their class succeed, to help shatter the existing record.


Freshman Class President Devin Diggs said, “We were 1,000 cans away from the freshman record which is something I really take pride in. Even though we didn't beat the sophomores in the competition, I'm still so proud of everyone in the freshman class because we all worked so hard and helped a great and important cause.” Diggs said that being freshmen, his class didn’t really have a strategy and figured out what they were doing as the week went along. Freshman StuCo began planning one month in advance. They organized a class fundraiser at a student’s house and asked their classmates to ask their parents for donations. They were able to raise over $2,000 which they then used to purchase two pallets. The freshman had one pallet of green beans ordered for 2x Tuesday and one pallet of Mac N Cheese for Friday. “Class-wide participation was the key to...success. Everyone brought in cans, not only on 2x Tuesday, but on every single day. Without everyone contributing, we couldn’t have done it,” Diggs said.


Sophomore Class President Elizabeth McCormick said that her class’ strategy was to have everyone bring in their cans on 2x Tuesday because “you never really know what the triple point item will be.” “We raise awareness and try to get as much participation as possible with our class. We collect as many donations as we can and put that money to good use and spend it wisely. We let people do their own thing and just push them to do as much as they can whether that's going canning every day or donating money or going out and buying cans on their own,” said McCormick. McCormick said that their StuCo started thinking of ways to raise money during summer and started seriously planning after Homecoming. Selling class shirts was a big contributor and so was a letter that she sent out the parents to get the word out. She said, “It takes a lot of thinking and preparation in order for it to be successful.” McCormick couldn’t even begin to describe the amount time that she and the other members of StuCo spent on the drive. “The preparation time and getting the word out is the first step. Collecting donations and coming up with a plan for where the money should be spent is the second step. Also, during this time we are already collecting cans by canning and just getting good deals at the store. The week itself is all about cans. Waking up early to start counting cans, skipping class to count cans, and then going straight from school to buy more cans. It’s a lot of work, but it is so worth it. She believes that the key to her class’ success was the way that they spent their money and found the best discounts. They ordered three pallets, one on Wednesday and two on Thursday.


Junior Class President Patrick Lacy said, “The junior class’ strategy involved a combination of donations and canning. Junior StuCo members reached out to the parents of our class for donations, and asked our classmates to go canning. On 2x Tuesday, we brought in all the miscellaneous items that we had collected up to that point and oversaw the delivery of pallets we had ordered several weeks prior. The donations that we received throughout the week were spent on the 3x days and the pallets delivered later in the week.” Lacy and the rest of junior StuCo started planning as soon as school started. They went into the week knowing that they for sure had fifteen pallets coming and used the money that they collected during the week to

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Photo by Michele Gress Senior Class President AJ Meyers is interviewed by KCWE news. Meyers led the senior class to break the record for most cans by a single class.

Photo Michele Gress Juniors Nicole Riggs, Makayla Bossi, and Isabel Kemp unloadi cans during the annual canned food drive. As a whole the school collected 158,377

order more. He said that the key to the juniors‘ success was strong overall participation, the enthusiasm of the class, making it easier for StuCo officers to do their jobs, and generous parent donations. This year, the junior class broke the record for most cans brought in by a junior class. Lacy was tremendously proud of his class. He said, “We made a huge contribution to the school’s record breaking total and set a junior class record. The success of my class has often been overlooked amid the school’s record-breaking totals. We have now set the freshman, sophomore, and junior class Canned Food Drive Records. All three records still stand. I consider this a major accomplishment and a display of the enthusiasm that the Class of 2016 has for helping others. We have made key contributions to the recent national records, and are setting precedent for future generations of saints to follow. One would have to be insane not to be proud of such success.”


Senior Class President AJ Meyers said that the key to his class’ success was knowledge from being a part of three previous canned food drives, donations from individuals and businesses, and his relationship with Ball’s Food Stores. He said, “Our strategy was to go all out of 2x Tuesday. I knew that in the past if you hadn’t won 2x Tuesday then it was really hard to win the whole thing. Last year our class didn’t do well on 2x Tuesday, and it was almost impossible to come back. So this year, we spent 75% of our money on Tuesday to have 15 pallets delivered, totaling 31,000 cans.” The seniors had a total of 19 pallets delivered throughout the week. Meyers said that a huge reason for the seniors’ success was his relationship with Ball’s Food Stores. Meyers’ grandpa previously owned four grocery stores and is a member of the Missouri Grocers Hall of Fame. He worked with Mr. Ball and helped AJ get connected with him. Ball’s Food Stores is a part of Associated Wholesale Grocers which is the second largest grocery provider in the nation. Meyers said, “Six weeks before canned food drive, I met with Mr. Ball, and I talked with him about getting cans at wholesale price. Two weeks later I got the prices for all of them. I did the math for how many points it would be per dollar for each item on the list which was a really good way to figure out which pallets I should order. On Tuesday right when I figured out what the item was for Wednesday, I would call them and tell them how much money I had and they’d tell me how many pallets I could buy and order it, and they’d have it there the next day.” Class participation was also a key factor. Senior StuCo gave people flyers and bags in town hall to put on door steps to collect cans and Meyers sent out inspirational texts each night asking for people to go buy, collect, and donate. StuCo had been planning for the drive for quite awhile. “My garage was partially filled with cans in June,” said Meyers. “Also in June, I printed out official letters to give to businesses to ask for donations. Closer to the start of the Canned Food Drive, I mailed out letters to each senior parent asking for donations and giving information about the drive.” Before the drive, Meyers said he had 10,000 cans in his garage from canning, bags on door steps, and visiting 49 grocery stores in the Kansas City Area. He said, “I went everywhere from 159th and Murlen to 75th and Wornall.” Meyers said, “Our goal going into it was to break the school record, and then by Thursday when I knew that we could do that our goal was to break the senior record of 64,911 cans.”

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Maddie Desch Life in Pictures Junior Maddie Desch has had quite the summer and she is ready to do it again. By Alex Kinnan

February 2014 Maddie and teammates at gymnastics camp which she attends monthly.

Maddie Desch is busy. Maddie has been busy for a long time. She was six when she started gymnastics, and in the fifth grade began leaving school halfway through the day for practices. If you think that is a lot, wait until you hear about the summer she just had. “All summer we had two a day practices, in the morning from 8 to 12 and in the evening from 4 to 7,” said Desch. She had made the World’s team this year. She was training along with her other teammates. Then August 14 came around. As the Saints began a new school year, Desch was on her way to Pittsburg for Nationals. She then made it to International Assignment in Toronto, Canada, where the United States placed first. She accomplished all of this in the first two and a half weeks of school. Desch was then back at Aquinas for a week and a half. She just tries to get as much school work done as possible; she doesn’t have any problems getting caught up. However, finding time to take tests is a challenge. Meeting before school or during seminar is the only chance she has. On September 15, she was off to Texas for selection camp for World’s. By September 22, after making the World’s team, she was off to Nanning, China. “It’s bigger than the Olympics,” said Desch. She and her team competed against 142 countries and were able to bring home a win for the United States. She had missed almost a month of school returning to Aquinas in mid-October. “This is kind of my off season,” said Desch. She still has practice everyday and leaves Aquinas halfway through the day. She also has camps in November and January which is where she and her teammates show the national coach where they are at. When it comes to what’s next for Desch, she is focused on staying healthy and making the Jesolo Trophy again this March. Making the team this year is a very important step in securing her chances of making the Olympic team in 2016.

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March 2014 2014 Jesolo Trophy, an international competition in Italy.

October 2014 World’s Competition in Nanning, China.

“Bigger than the Olympics” Maddie Desch, talking about the World’s competition in China.

June 2014 Maddie and teammates at her summer two a day practices.

October 2014 Celebrating USA’s first place finish in China.

Maddie’s Daily Routine: 6am wake up to finish homework. Then leave for school. 12:30pm leave school. 1:30 to 7:00pm practice. 8:00pm get home. eat dinner. do homework. go to bed. Repeat. All Photos by Maddie Desch | Instagram

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CapThat Last Issue:

Winning Caption: “Lasse I am your father.” Submitted by: Senior Gretchen Cummings

ench r F n a m r e G e Soccer Gam


CapThat is The Shield’s monthly caption writing contest. Submit your best and funniest captions for the above photo to newspaper@ The winning caption will appear in the next issue of The Shield! g page 20


Meda en | The

ny Nguy oto by Tiffa


This Issue:


Photo by M

ichele Gress

Canned Food Drive




What did the digital clock say to the grandfather clock? Look Grandpa, no hands! Submitted by Senior Abby Joerger

Submit your school-appropriate joke to for a chance for your joke to be featured in the next issue of The Shield

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Sports Photo by Liz Conard | The Medallion

Photo by Abby Pope | The Medallion

Season of Champions Photo by Abby Pope | The Medallion

Photo by Rachel Spenner | The Medallion

Aquinas brought home four fall season state championships in class 5A, more than half of the potential titles. Total state title count: 86. By Daniel Petracek


Saints sweep St. James What better way to finish the season than to defeat your archrival, the defending state champs and a national powerhouse, in the state title game? The Aquinas girls volleyball team was able to do just this, avenging last year’s loss to St. James Academy in the 2013 5A state championship game. Winning state had been a

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goal since day one for this team. They understood, though, that they had to be patient to get their revenge. The team set very high standards for itself. Senior Sara Sullivan said, “We wrote down all of our goals at the beginning of the season. It included a lot of little stops along the way, like winning EKL, beating St. James, and going undefeated.”

The girls were able to make it through the regular season with only four losses. At the state tournament in Topeka, they defeated Newton, Seaman, Bishop Carroll and Shawnee Heights. They went on to face St. James in a rematch of last year’s championship. “We went into the game planning on playing three sets. We knew they’d put up a good

fight,” Sullivan said. The Saints started the first set strong. Whenever St. James scored a point, the Aquinas girls understood that it was essential to get the next one. They were able to win the first set 25-23. The second set did not begin as well. The Saints faced a 10-4 deficit early on, and were forced to call a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, junior

Christy Rheinberger served seven straight points to give the Saints the lead. Sullivan said, “Reagan Pittman, Carlyle Nusbaum’s back row and Christy’s serves are definitely what brought us back into the game.” After going back and forth for the rest of the set, Aquinas was able to win by a score of 25-21, negating the need for a third set. “Right after the ball hit the floor on that last point, we were on top of each other, crying and smiling. It was amazing,” Sullivan said. The Thunder were a familiar opponent. Aquinas had split four games with them prior to the championship. Sullivan said, “We knew them better than anyone. We knew how to play them.” It was this experience and confidence that allowed the Saints to defeat their rivals, who have reigned at the forefront of Kansas volleyball for so many years. The Saints ended the Thunder’s streak of six consecutive titles, and won their first title since 2007. The Saints won every match of the state tournament in straight sets and finished the season with a dominant 42-4 record. Sophomore Bridget Doherty set the Aquinas record for assists and assist efficiency, and Pittman set the record for kill efficiency.

Photo by Liz Conard | The Medallion

Sophomore Bridget Doherty sets up junior Regan Pittman for the championship-winning point.

Young teams build for 2015 Tennis

The Aquinas girls tennis team saw a promising player develop and qualify for state as only a sophomore. Molly McNeill reached her preseason goal to compete in the state tournament for the first time. “It was exciting. It was really overwhelming,” McNeill said. “I improved a lot from last year. As a team, the girls had much more team spirit and energy than they did a year ago. That was something they really stressed this year.

The girls bonded and connected more, making it much more motivating to win and compete for each other. McNeill said, “Maggie Brown and Caroline Looney really brought us together and helped our team a lot.” Seniors Brown and Looney took it upon themselves to be leaders for the team. Even though they will not return next year, they helped direct the tennis program in the right direction, building for a bright future with McNeill and others.


The Saints went through a “rebuilding year” with three new varsity players but still placed Top 3 at state. The girls headed into the state tournament hoping to build off of a solid regular season that included a number of first place finishes. “(Coach Ryan Best) told us that if we shot a team score of 350, we should be able to win state,” senior Lindsey Huddlestun said. The Saints did reach 350, which is the combined score of four

golfers, and were done for the day. All they had to do was wait for Kapaun Mt. Carmel and St. James to finish. After waiting for nearly two hours, the girls discovered that 350 placed third. They were not at all disappointed, though. Huddlestun said, “Coach told us that anybody who shot under 350 had the right to win. We played our best and reached our goal score.” Huddlestun finished 17th at state and sophomore Tatum King placed seventh.

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Sports Soccer

Saints roll 6-0 to win 16th title

Most athletes would feel pressured to continue a great legacy, like that of the Aquinas soccer program. The 2014 boys team, however, showed no signs of intimidation, winning yet another state championship. The team had high hopes for the season, only losing a few key pieces from last year’s state championship team. They knew they had the opportunity to do something special. Though winning state titles seems almost like a habit for Aquinas soccer, the boys faced their fair share of struggles. In the middle of the season, they lost backto-back games in the Top Dawg tournament to Rockhurst and Blue Valley Northwest. Senior Matthew Brown said, “After those two games, we were a bit worried. We had a lot of injuries during that week, and that’s part of what did it. We changed a lot of things up, especially our warmup to get looser.” The Saints sure did turn it around after that week, not losing another game for the remainder of the season. They headed into the state tournament as the top seed in the east bracket. Aquinas defeated St. James, Seaman, Mill Valley and Bishop Carroll

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Photo by Rachel Spenner | The Medallion

Teammates chase senior Lasse Nilsen as he celebrates a goal just eight minutes into the championship game. Nilsen, a foreign exchange student, scored twice. by scores of 4-0, 2-1, 2-0 and 3-0 to reach the state finals, where they would play Harmon. The goal versus Seaman would be the only goal senior goalkeepers Derek Engel and Matthew McCrave surrendered in the fivegame state tournament. Aquinas jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against Harmon. Senior Lasse Nilsen scored eight minutes into the game and senior Luke Kutey answered within two minutes of that. Harmon appeared to score a goal

before the half, but it was nullified due to a player being offsides. “If they would have allowed that, it would have been a completely different game,” Brown said. “The momentum would have turned, but thankfully they got the call right.” Junior Joe Skevington scored about 10 minutes after halftime, and Kutey netted his second goal just a few minutes later. Nilsen and senior Kevin Feuerborn scored in the closing minutes to make the final score 6-0. Senior

Jay Johnston assisted on three of the six goals. The win marked the 16th state title in program history. Brown said, “Obviously, we thought it would be closer. I don’t think anybody expects a 6-0 win in the state final, but I don’t think the result was too surprising, given the way we defended.” “It’s always been a dream to win state and continue the tradition that is Aquinas soccer. Every year, that’s the ultimate goal and I don’t think a lot of programs can say that.”

Cross Country

Saints reclaim 5A dominance By Janie Bachkora Boys


The girls’ goal this year was to defend their title. They went into the state meet with confidence and competitiveness. Senior captain and individual champion Emily Downey said, “We looked at how successful we were last year and how hard we had worked over the past year and knew that if we believed in ourselves we could do great things.” The team had a very successful regular season. They placed first at every meet, except for Rim Rock where they placed third. Downey said, “We had gone to a lot of meets with big competition and lots of teams, racing people from all over the Midwest. In the postseason our races have a lot less girls and competition compared to those meets so because of our success in the more competitive fields we felt confident and at ease during state.” They went into the meet with a plan, and they were able to execute it. Downey said, “[We] pulled out all the right moves right

After their 2nd place finish last season, the boys cross country team began the 2014 season with one goal: break Bishop Carroll’s streak of five consecutive state championships, and they did just that. Their path to the podium was difficult. Senior Mike Grasing said, “We had injury problems, including our best runner (junior Michael Shanahan) having to sit out for a while. We proved that we had depth to overcome these injuries. Everyone else just stepped up.” The boys had a successful regular season, winning four meets, taking second at the Eastern Kansas League championship and placing third at Rim Rock and the Metro championship. Grasing said, “I knew we were capable of it. Everyone was very Photo by Abby Pope | The Medallion confident, and that is Sophomore Alex Gill edges Carroll senior Hunter Nance extremely important for this by less than a second to place 17th. The rival schools sport.” have won all 14 of the 5A cross country titles since 2007. The state race itself played out just how they when we needed to.” wanted it to. Grasing said, “I felt like we needed to run The final results were Downey in first, freshman to our potential, and we would get the win.” Margaret Pigott in second, sophomore Maggie Sieben They ended up winning by a wide margin. The in fourth, junior Olivia Rode in fifth, sophomore Grayson Saints scored 58 points, beating rivals Blue Valley West Smith in seventh, junior Haley Dietsch in eighth and (81) and Bishop Carroll (107) with depth: Junior Daniel junior Abbey Hopfinger in 17th. Petracek (5th) sophomore Will Cole (11th), senior Mike Downey said, “I have worked for four years for a Grasing (13th), sophomore Alex Gill (17th), and seniors day like that and it's nice to see it all pay off. It was Cole Friedman (24th) Alex Dwyer (35th) and Jackson such an honor and truly amazing to have such great McElroy (40th). support from the Aquinas community.”

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Big changes paying off By Daniel Petracek

The Aquinas football program has reinvented itself in the past year and now the new-look Saints are deep in the playoffs again. A state championship has been the objective for these boys since last year. Despite three losses, their focus has not changed. Now in the playoffs, every game, every play is crucial. The stakes are much higher, as a series of bad plays can send a great team home. Senior Chris Bollig said, “The team’s mindset going into the playoffs is to take it one game at a time and play like there is no tomorrow.” The team has emphasized the importance of maximizing everyone’s potential so that they can play a game on the level that

Photo by Mary K McCanna | The Medallion Quarterback Karter Odermann breaks away from the Bonner Springs defense for a 38-yard gain.

they are capable of playing. The number of healthy bodies

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has been dwindling but the Saints are not discouraged. “The injuries have been tough, of course, but it gives other guys a chance to step up and make plays,” Bollig said. The Saints finished the regular season with a 6-3 record. In their district, they defeated Blue Valley Southwest and Blue Valley West by wide margins then lost to Pittsburg by 10 points. In the first round of the state tournament, they beat Bonner Springs 23-15 to advance to sectionals. Then, the Saints defeated No. 1 seed Leavenworth 27-7. In the semifinals, they will play Shawnee Heights for a spot in the state championship game. Note: The Shield’s deadline was Tuesday, Nov. 18, before the game against Shawnee Heights.

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TommyTalks What’s up Saints Nation! Wow, I’ve always had high expectations for what our student body can achieve, but YOU continue to blow it out of the water! I loved watching my saints take four state titles from all around Northeast Kansas, even if I had to pay some toll money from the highway drives. Starting with boys and girls cross country taking two titles in Lawrence! The volleyball girls taking down the Thunder in Topeka is a vengeful appearance to bring the banner home #Ohana. Lastly, boys soccer defended the ship against JC Harmon in Olathe! Wow four STAte banners. And of course, who could forget the 158,377 cans brought in by you all! The student body’s CANtributions were such an amazing sight, and I loved the effort by everyone. You all CANtinued to be selfless, and broke another NATIONAL record! More importantly, so many people were provided healthy meals for themselves and their families, and I was able to wear my CANstruction gear all week! I was able to go see The Garden of Eden, and the cast blew me away as always with an awesome performance! I’ve loved cheering on the football team in an unbelievable year! Safe to say, I’ve had a great year, and I hope you have too. The action doesn’t stop here. We’ve still got months left of this unbelievable year of RISING up…and I’m so happy because I have the perfect water gun to take down my victims in Senior Assassins! Saints, never change. Keep living up to the high standards I have for you all. Show the world what it means to be a Saint. Amor Vincit Omnia, Tommy

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In The Box The Saints Stadium press box is full of energy on game night.

By Jordan Bartz

With the Saints providing so much action on the field, it makes sense that fans rarely turn around and wonder what is happening in the old box behind them. In that box are more than a dozen pepole obsessing over every player on the field, every yard the ball moves and every hand motion of a referee. The windows closest to the student section belong to the visiting coaches and media. In the center are Aquinas employees controlling the stadium’s lights and sounds to explain what is happening on the field. And at the far end are two dark windows with dark figures barely visible from the glow of laptops. That far end is the Saints coaches.

Pete Flood,

Saints defensive coordinator Flood and at least a few other coaches are shoulder-to-shoulder at a desk covered in papers, laptops and equipment for the headsets. Flood said, “The press box is a very focused atmosphere. We are trying to find ways that will help our players succeed on the field. My main job is to watch for new formations that the opposition uses and find ways to counter them.” Flood does not have a single favorite memory of the season but his favorite moments are when the game plan is working.

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Travis Thurston,

Saints offensive coordinator The new offensive coordinator moved with Head Coach Randy Dreiling from Hutchison. Thurston said, “As the offensive coordinator my job is to call the right plays for the situation with Dreiling and to make in-game adjustments.” The press box is full of stress. “That’s just the reality of being up there,” Thurston said. “Your decisions impact the amount of success that the players have on the field so it is always stressful.” The stress is not the only feeling he gets up there. Thurston said, “It’s a really good feeling when we see something on the field, and then make the adjustment, and then see our players make it into a big touchdown play.”

Luke Hall,

Saints video coordinator After the game is over, players and coaches still spend hours obsessing over what happened. Making sure they have great video available is Hall’s job. Hall said, “The video coordinator has a very behind-thescenes job. I make sure that we get good video of games and practices so that we can show our players what they need to know.” “Being up in the box is just as exciting as the field. The coaches are still yelling and pacing up there like they would be on the field.”

Al Miner

stadium audio director Miner is in charge of making sure the announcer is as loud as possible and with playing the music throughout the game. He arrives at 5:15 p.m. and stays until after the game. Miner said, “I am in charge of playing all the warm up, pump up, banner run music while also playing the music for the dance team during their routines.” “I love the atmosphere, it is a really fun time up there. It’s not a burden or anything because we are just watching football with friends on a Friday night.”

Chris Berger,

stadium play clock Berger said, “My biggest job during the game is to watch the white hat to run the play clock during the game. It’s a super fun atmosphere in the press box plus it is a guaranteed seat out of the weather for all the games. If I am going to be at the games I might as well be helping out.”

Joseph Orrick,

stadium scoreboard operator Everything on the scoreboard is controlled by Orrick. Orrick said, “I just really enjoy doing this. It’s a great way for me to stay involved with the school’s activities and see the kids doing what they love. It’s great fun to be there.”

Photo by Jordan Bartz | The Shield

The press box was busy during the Bonner playoff game. From left, coaches Flood and Thurston dictate formations. Miner, Leo Brown (filling in for Ewing, who was at state soccer), Bryan Thrasher (for Hammons), Berger and Orrick react to plays.

Craig Ewing,

stadium announcer Ewing gets to the games about an hour early so he can go over how to pronounce names, the starting lineups, and the basics for announcing the game. Ewing said, “I work with about 4-5 other guys depending on the game, and it’s a really fun environment. I love anything Aquinas; it’s just an added bonus to watch kids that I had in class participate in the things that they love.”

Chuck Hammons,

announcer’s spotter Hammons sits behind Ewing with binoculars, a roster and a scouting report and tells Ewing which players and yard lines to announce. Hammons said, “My main job is to know the information about other teams whether it be how to pronounce their names, which number they are, or just identifying who did what in the course of the game to help out Mr. Ewing.”


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Last Look 2



Photos by Elizabth King | The Medallion


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1) Freshman Molly Killilea dances in the first act of Children of Eden. 2) Sophomore Grace Mitchell puts on make-up backstage as she prepares for the show. 3) Junior Maggie Martin and Senior Russell Brown sing together in the first act of the show. 4) The “Tree of Knowledge� girls tempt Eve (Maggie Martin) with tasting the forbidden fruit.





Photos by Elizabeth King | The Medallion

5) The cast of Children of Eden sing in a group number in act two of the musical. 6) Sophomore Matthew Walberg sings as Noah. 7) Junior Allie Bostwick and Sophomore Yianni Perahoritis sing a duet in act two of the musical. 8) Natalie Gartland works on the sound for the Children of Eden production.

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g hield S Saint Thomas Aquinas High School

Profile for The Shield (Saint Thomas Aquinas High School)

The Shield, 11/25/2014  

The Shield, 11/25/2014