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The Shield January Issue

Aquinas in the Snow

A blanket of snow covers the Aquinas campus. Photo by Andrew Schoonover, The Shield.

Volume 30

Staff Members Adviser I Matt Hallauer Editor-In-Chief I Andrew Schoonover Managing Editor I Annie Patton Managing Editor I Grace Mayer Copy Editor I Delaney Smith Senior Reporter I Briley McGreevy Senior Reporter I Emily Raunig

Vo l u m e 3 0

The Shield Saint Thomas Aquinas high School

Senior Reporter I Rachel Raney Reporter I Deepthi Kailash Reporter I Madison McMillen Reporter I Clare Hernandez Freelancer I Rachael Lawler Freelancer I Maggie Slaven

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Social Media

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MI S S I ON S TA TEMEN T The Shield is the students’ voice of Saint Thomas Aquinas High School. Published by students for the good of the whole Aquinas community, The Shield serves as a source of information and as a spark for productive change. Student reporters learn about the world of journalism while practicing ethical, holistic reporting practices. The Shield staff is responsible for the content published, striving to share information accurately, objectively, and completely for all members of the Saint Thomas Aquinas High School community. A D V ER TI S IN G 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, or visit S UB S C R I P TIO N S Subscriptions to The Shield are $3 per issue. Subscriptions can be sent to Saint Thomas Aquinas High School c/o Matt Hallauer. Digital subscriptions are free and sent via email monthly. Orders can be sent to L ETTER S PO LICY 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.

Volume 30 I January Issue





Raising Our Voices

Hetzel’s 400th Win





Aquinas 2020 Update

Non-Catholics at Aqiunas

Net Neutrality




Clubs at Aquinas

Social Spread

The 30: Johnson County Stereotypes

Photos are courtesy of license-free sources found on Google Images or otherwise cited later in the issue.

The Monday of Months J

Letter from the Editor

anuary is the Monday of months. January is full of diets and fresh starts. Mondays are full of resenting the new week ahead-wanting to hold onto the weekend. Saint Thomas Aquinas has had a busy, exciting, and amazing month (per usual). Snow days, Gillian Flynn, Hetzel’s 400th win, marching for life, and other moments allowed for another month of great memories and successes at Aquinas. This issue of The Shield aims to capture the monumental times we live in, the good times at Aquinas, and other topics that made up this Monday of months. Our cover story investigates sexual assault, beginning a series of stories on the topic. The national trends surrounding this topic have impacted our nation greatly-- the Aquinas community being no exception. Also included is a feature highlighting non-Catholics who are in the Saint Thomas Aquinas community. Although Aquinas is first and foremost a Catholic school, all are welcome into our community regardless of religious beliefs. Despite being welcome, there are still challenges holding


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different beliefs than others around you. Topics such as Net Neutrality and Bitcoin were also investigated for this issue. At the national level, these topics fuel the divisive times happening. Varying viewpoints on these issues are prevalent at Aquinas as well, as found in the stories. The Monday of months, full of organized chaos and good memories, is over.

Andrew Schoonover Editor-in-Chief

Community News Super Bowl Commercial

CYO Showdown

On the March For Life Aquinas students ran into Trump impersonator John Di Domenico and Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. They got to appear in a Super Bowl commercial being made, however it is not confirmed yet whether the section with the Saints will be included. It is only airing in the D.C. area.

StuCo is hosting an Aquinas CYO showdown at Aquinas on Feb 18th, 7:30 in the main gym. Find more out about this tournament and a StuCo update on Page 13.

National News

Flu Frenzy

As of Jan. 6, every part of the continental U.S. showed “widespread” flu activity. The hospitalization rate is at 22.6 people per 100,000 U.S. citizens. The CDC estimates that the vaccine will be effective against roughly 30% of H3 viruses this year. The especially severe H3N2 virus is probably responsible for the 20 deaths that have been reported in connection with the flu this year. (NYT)

Wildlife Trading

Thai police have arrested a man alleged to be the head of Asia’s biggest illegal wildlife trading networks. 40-year-old Boonchai Bach of Vietnamese origin was found on the border of Laos. He faces up to four years in jail for smuggling protected animal parts like rhino horns and elephant ivory. (BBC)

Emily Raunig Senior Reporter

Tide Pod Challenge

The “Tide Pod Challenge” has turned into a deadly game where teenagers are poisioned from biting down on a pod in their mouth. In the first half of January, 39 patients were rushed to the hospital from intentional exposure to detergent packets. Tide Pods are strictly for laundry detergent, since they contain 90 percent chemicals and 10 percent water. (NYT)

A Fireball

Experts say a bright light and what sounded like thunder in the sky above Michigan was a meteor. The American Meteor Society says it received hundreds of reports of a fireball Tuesday night over the state. The meteor also came in from several other states and Ontario, Canada. The reports suggest a space rock penetrated deep into the Earth’s atmosphere before it broke apart. (NBC)

World News

iPhone or Tide Pods? A man bit into an iPhone battery and it blew up in his face. In Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, security tapes show the unidentified man biting into the iPhone battery, presumedly to check its authenticity. Yet the man wasn’t hurt in the explosion. (Huffington Post)


The Philippines raised the alert level at its Mayon volcano on Monday after a loud explosion in the wake of increased activity made a hazardous eruption, prompting authorities to close all schools and urge residents to stay indoors. Mayon is the country’s most active volcano. (Huffington Post)

January Issue




nd this was just 2017. And this was just 2017. These stories forced sexual harassment into the public eye this year, exposing its true extent. They were a wakeup call for women and men, victims and accused. They made people reconsider: “Have I done anything wrong?” But these stories also inspired women and men from every background to courageously tell their own. Now they would be taken seriously. Their claims could not be brushed off, belittled, or discouraged any longer – now their perpetrators would be met with the long overdue consequences. They could have hope. This misogynistic behavior that’s dominated for centuries would perish. The reality is this: harassments and assaults have been kept under wraps by industries, companies, colleges, and high schools for years, the victims shamed into silence or compensated through settlements in the thousands –even millions of dollars. Finally their stories are being exposed beyond the borders of what many news publications have penned the “whisper network.” This term refers to company secret-systems that harbored decades of warnings from women and men who found themselves in compromising situations with industry heads –situations of sexual harassment and assault. Many of them carried out the same way and by the same people, with the events swept into secrecy. Why are victims only now coming forward? Because of fear; because it’s part of the system; because the outcome means losing an inside connection, a promotion, a job. Because sometimes the risk of speaking up creates problems that are worse than the trauma the victim is forever inflicted with


post-assault. Though some brave souls have been disrupting the silence for decades. Actor Ashley Judd is one of these cases. In 1997, she was offered to meet with former head of entertainment company Miramax, Harvey Weinstein –an encounter that turned into an escape from sexual coercion. Walking into his hotel room, she was set up for two options. Option one meant denying his requests, potentially hindering her career as an actress for Weinstein’s company. But option two left her in an even more shameful position: she would have to surrender to his advances. Aware that Weinstein might retaliate if she denied, she managed to escape. When Judd found out she was only one case of thousands kept under wraps as a hushed industry secret, she refused to stay quiet. She started talking about the encounter then, but only now (twenty years later) she is publicly attaching Weinstein’s name to her story. Alongside her statement, the New York Times uncovered and published more allegations against Weinstein extending three decades into the past. Vanity Fair began keeping track of every woman who came forward with personal accounts of Weinstein’s harassment. They’ve collected over 60 names and stories. Go to any news site, and they’ll have their own version of “the list.” The lists of public figures who have come forward with sexual harassment allegations. The lists of men who have been accused of sexual harassment. The lists of men who have accumulated sexual assault claims against them. All continue to grow as 2018 progresses, two of the newest additions being actor and director James Franco and former USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. So began the domino effect: one man fell, then hundreds

fell with him. More supposedly honorable Hollywood men were being accused of sexual harassment daily. “Me Too” launched an international rallying cry that spread to Pakistan and China, calling all women and men who suffered from harassment or assault to share their experiences. Other hashtags such as #ItWasMe and #IWill popped up days after #MeToo surfaces. This time the perpetrators share their stories –feeble attempts at apology, but a start nonetheless. Yet many of the publicly accused (and even more who dodge national exposure by existing outside the spotlight) have not issued their own condolences, due to legal measures or simply denial. These cases are rife with explicitly illegal behavior, yet those who committed the crimes did so for years without harboring guilt or attempting to reform. They fail to realize what they did was unacceptable, their actions the equivalent of abuse. This mindset links to research reported on by NPR News and the New York Times. They looked closer at why men commit sex crimes, specifically, why men rape. No correlations emerged when traditional demographics (race, class, marital status, etc.) were compared. The commonalities that did emerge showed that men who rape begin at young ages, when they’re in high school or starting college. They befriend people who also engage in sexual violence, and they recognize their actions lack consent, though they don’t believe their behavior qualifies as rape. The research concluded that these men don’t consider themselves to be part of “the problem.” They believe, instead, the “other guy” is the rapist. Although the perpetrators share in their ignorance, the motives that drive someone to rape are

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unique for each person. It could be to inflict dominance, narcissis

unique for each person. It could be to inflict dominance, narcissism, or even revenge. Still, what makes someone into a harasser, an assaulter, or a rapist are common factors. The things they are exposed to –heavy drinking and drug use, societal pressures to have sex, “locker-room” talk, and rape myths– have ingrained misogynistic ideas everywhere within everyone. These rape myths misconstrue consent, mistaking an inability to say “no” for “yes.” They promote that the perception of how a victim is dressed signifies they are “asking for it.” They isolate assault by claiming it’s a woman’s problem, and urging that men are not sexually assaulted themselves. Despite these myths, according to the United States Bureau of Justice, one in six men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. For women, it’s one out of every four. These chances increase if a man or woman identifies as gay, bisexual, or transgender. Although most of the accused are in fact male, women do assume the role of abuser in some cases. One of the only reported cases in 2017 with a female harasser involved Kansas congressional candidate Andrea Ramsay. After Ramsay was accused of sexually harassing then firing an employee in 2005, she dropped her campaign. But overall, there’s not a lot of research when it comes to women assaulting men, due to maleoriented stigmas. “Be a real man” is just one example. Men don’t come forward because they feel it strips away their masculinity. This circles back to one of the rape myths –men are never sexually assaulted. People truly believe this, so when being a victim becomes a man’s reality, he is left perplexed: he couldn’t have been assaulted by a woman. Instead, he chooses to believe the opposite. What holds a woman and a man back from speaking out are different reasons, but they both fall in line with traditional gender concepts. For women it’s fear; for men it’s a matter of pride.

Statistics found from Rainn, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

It’s just not that common to hear about female assaulters or rapists. They often aren’t in the authority positions that enable them to commit these crimes with ease. Where men in higher power jobs sink to employees beneath their ranks, it’s usually women who are below these men –not the other way around. By reversing this culture and putting more women in higher authority jobs, cases of sexual harassment and assault wouldn’t be as common. Simply growing up with these ideas thrown at them does not make every man a potential abuser. It’s not their fault, but it is a problem. These are unfortunately normalized ideas that have led to misunderstandings of gender and moral. With every woman and man who comes forward, changes in this mindset, in the media, and in conversations are being adjusted. Clear guidelines that discern what is right and wrong and extend beyond laws still need to be made. Cultural views need to shift too. Right now women victims are at the front leading this cause, but eventually it will spread to people of all ages, races, and genders. Soon the “cultural revolution” will happen for more than just women: women who have been assaulted by men; men who have been assaulted by women; women by women; and men by men. But what really defines sexual harassment? Title VII, the antidiscrimination law enforced at nearly every employable location in the U.S., rules sexual harassment is equal to gender discrimination. Sexual harassment is defined as any “unwelcome” sexual behavior. There is no mention of a certain number of instances that qualifies a case as sexual harassment. It only takes one remark or one physical interaction coated in underlying sexual inclinations for it to equal harassment. Title VII was created to give victims of sexual assault in the workplace the opportunity to sue the establishment they work at, keeping the power of the employers and the

January Issue



employees in check. This has been the rule-book definition for three decades. The U.S. Supreme Court takes it one step further, splitting sexual harassment into two categories: “quid pro quo” and “hostile environment.” Quid pro quo is similar to the type of harassment Ashley Judd faced. She was set up to either submit to or reject Weinstein’s offers, and her answer risked the state of her career. This is how quid pro quo operates. The employer gives his or her victim options, but warns that their decision can and will affect their employment. Hostile environment harassment maintains aspects of quid pro quo. This is when harassment in the workplace becomes relentless and inescapable. The Supreme Court says actions qualify as hostile environment when the treatment becomes “severe or pervasive,” but the Supreme Court should not hold the power in determining what qualifies something as “severe or pervasive,” when only one sexual derogatory or one physical advance can hinder that victims work ethic. In 2018, what defines sexual harassment and assault has to be updated –broadened beyond the narrow yet complex definition the court still upholds. Clear guidelines of what really equals harassment and assault need to be made. After centuries of women’s claims and accusations of sexual assault in the workplace, they are finally being heard. Their employers are finally taking them and their allegations seriously, to the point where men are being fired within days, even hours. Whether these cases are being thoroughly investigated is not the main priority for companies. At least not right now.


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#TimesUp #NotOkay #MeToo #IWill They feel pressed to fire men on the spot, taking the female accuser’s words for undeniable truth in order to avoid defacing their public reputation. It stops the discrimination for women, but for men who will fight in court, this could strengthen their own arguments for wrongful termination. They will contend: “aren’t some men then being fired just because of their gender?” It is discriminatory for men and women to degrade anyone through comments, gestures, and touch. It is discriminatory for companies to brush off anyone’s sexual harassment accusations. It can even be argued that it is discriminatory for anyone to be fired on the spot without clear evidence that supports the victim’s claims. More often, the only evidence is the victim’s account, as most cases of sexual harassment and assault hide behind the facade of secluded settings. Young girls have been trained to believe the harassment and comments they witnessed in

pop culture, entertainment, and in reality were natural. It was expected. Women were groomed to reconfigure the misogynistic, degrading comments spewed from males as compliments or flattery. It would be surprising to find any girl who hasn’t been sexually harassed and/or assaulted during her life. It’s not enough to know this behavior is situationally inappropriate. It’s misogynistic. It’s humiliating. It’s wrong. It preserves oppressive male supremacy, leaving little elbow room for victims to free themselves and make their stories heard. Change started at the top, but pretty soon these effects will trickle down to workplaces, colleges, and high

encompassed the whole event. It reminded audiences that this movement –this mission– is nowhere near complete. The black attire and biting dialogues at the Golden Globes in early January made sure of that. Nobody can escape the conversations, the hashtags, the news stories –maybe even their own misdoings. #TimesUp. The stories that started it all have shattered barriers, making room for these movements to continue.

schools. They are already starting to.

Rachel Raney

... January 7, 2018 The Golden Globes turned the tide of the topic of sexual harassment to a happier direction. It carried a ceremonial joviality that

Analysis By: Grace Mayer

Managing Editor Senior Reporter

January Issue


A Career High Girls basketball coach Rick Hetzel won his 400th game of his career at Aquinas.

Hetzel instructs the girls basketball team during a timeout. The Saints won their game 58 to 36 against Liberty High School. Photo by Annie Patton.

Fans cheer on the girls basketball team at the Truman High School Tournament. They made signs for Hetzel’s 400th win. Photo by Annie Patton.

Coach Hetzel and Harbour analyze the game. The two have averaged 20 wins a season over their career. Photo by Annie Patton.


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fter twenty years, nine Eastern Kansas League championships and six state championships, girls basketball coach Rick Hetzel has secured his 400th win as a Saint Thomas Aquinas coach. The game against Liberty High School ended with the Saints ahead by 22 points. Hetzel started his career at age 16, coaching eighth grade girls. He then coached as a UMKC men’s grad assistant, an assistant at Archbishop O’Hara High School, then the junior varsity head coach at Notre Dame de Sion High School before coaching at Aquinas. By 1997, Hetzel had moved from Varsity assistant to head coach of the Aquinas girls basketball team. Athletic Director Sarah Burgess had just finished her first year when Hetzel was promoted. “I love watching him coach,” she said. Burgess sits behind the team bench and listens to him talk during timeouts. She said Hetzel is a teacher first and foremost. “He has every situation under control. He is talking to the girls in a calm manner. He has the most respect for the officials. He is not rude. He makes his point. He is respected because he knows what he is talking about,” Burgess said. “I like Rick’s record because he is doing it at the highest level. We were 6A and now 5A. He doesn’t dodge anybody,” Burgess said. “I’m really proud of his accomplishments.” Some of Hetzel’s most memorable moments over the years have been games against rival Bishop Miege. Namely, the first year Hetzel took his team to the state tournament, beating out Miege for the spot. Hetzel remembers the first game he ever coached for Aquinas. The team won in overtime against Lee’s Summit High School. Throughout Hetzel’s career at Aquinas varsity assistant coach Bob Harbour has been by his side. Hetzel told KMBC it doesn’t happen without Harbour. “He keeps me grounded and keeps the kids grounded.” Senior basketball player Sereena Weledji told KMBC, “They are almost like brothers. Sometimes they are butting heads, but usually they are feeding off of each other’s energy.” The coaching duo holds a state record of 22 years straight going to the state tournament. Win number 400 is another milestone to add to the list. However, Hetzel admitted the real reason he coaches is “to see the smiles on the girls’ faces.”

Annie Patton

Managing Editor

StuCo Update W

ith a new year comes new events and new fun. The Saint Thomas Aquinas Student Council is announcing a new type of tournament for students to participate in and to attend. According to Junior Class President Max McElroy, there will be a competition between our very own Catholic Youth Organization basketball teams. The teams from each grade will be competing head to head until the final championship between the

“I feel like this will become a huge event for everyone in the future years.” Max McElroy Junior StuCo Class President

Clare Hernandez

Gillian Flynn B

Tweet is courtsey of @TheGillianFlynn on Twitter.

est-selling author Gillian Flynn visited Saint Thomas Aquinas for a day of honoring English teacher Craig Ewing, Flynn’s former English teacher at Bishop Miege. Junior Maggie Slaven and senior Andrew Schoonover got to kick off a panel discussion, eventually allowing attending students to ask their own questions. Students from high schools as far as Atchison came to have the chance to ask questions to the author.


“She was so real and unapologetically herself. It was refreshing,” Slaven said, who got to spend some time with Flynn before they got on stage. “She and Ewing most definitely have a bond. They were very friendly. Ewing is very humble about the whole ordeal, but really we were celebrating not only Flynn’s arrival but Ewing as a teacher. He’s by far the best I have ever had, and it seems as though Gillian agrees.”

March for Life T

his month, over 90 Saint Thomas Aquinas students traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in the 45th D.C. March for Life. The Saints joined their fellow protesters from across the nation to fight for the right to life. The March’s list of rally speakers included special guests like the United States Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Pam Tebow, mother of former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, and President Trump, who became the first U.S. President to address the March for Life over a live video feed.

remaining two. This is the first time something like this has been done, and it may present a new way to gain class competition points, while also supporting CYO and players. StuCo voted to have an informal WPA, but the vote was close enough that they decided next year’s WPA will be formal. The sophomores on StuCo presented six themes, which StuCo narrowed down to three, then decided on Castaway.

This was also the first year that the saints added a tour of the White House to their itinerary. While they did not see President Trump during the tour, they did meet actor John Di Domenico and Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins outside the White House. Di Domenico and Cousins were filming a local super bowl commercial, in which Di Domenico played President Trump and Cousins played himself. The Saints were lucky enough to become extras in one of the shots for the commercial, which may make the final cut. The Washington Post even mentioned the Saints in an article about the commercial.

Clare Hernandez Reporter

The Saints pose outside the White House for a picture with John Di Domenico and Kirk Cousins. Photo courtesy of @STAtfl on Twiiter.

Rachel Raney Senior Reporter

January Issue



tarted back in 2009 by mysterious creator Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin has become the financial world’s newest obsession. Young people and professional investors alike have flocked to claim their stake in cryptocurrencies, attracted by the meteoric rise they have experienced in 2017 alone. This past November marked an especially important moment for Bitcoin, which reached a record high of $20,000 per coin, sparking an even greater amount of investing and media frenzy. But as this craze continues to gain momentum, more and more people have chimed in on the subject. Warren Buffet, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, stated “with almost certainty” that cryptocurrencies will soon end in disaster. Threat of impending doom has not stopped people like Erik Finman and Eddy Zillan though. Once a high schooler who invested in bitcoin during its early days, Finman is now a millionaire business owner thanks to his 403 bitcoins (BTC), valued at approximately five million dollars. Zillan, another teen who invested in bitcoin with leftover bar mitzvah money, now owns his own cryptocurrency consultancy business and has sizeable stakes in other altcoins (Bitcoin alternatives, i.e. Ethereum, Litecoin, etc).


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High schoolers are beginning to invest in cryptocurrencies. Is this really a good idea?

These investors are part of a new wave of young people rolling the dice on digital currency. So prevalent are these young men and women that “How to Buy Bitcoin When You’re Underage” is a featured article on, with over 27,000 views.

Aquinas senior, Michael Muckerman, is one of these teen investors. In July of 2017, Muckerman bought 40 dollars worth of a bitcoin and has already accumulated hundreds in profits. “I had not really heard about it before my friend introduced me to it. He came over to my house one day and asked me if I wanted to invest some money into this thing called Bitcoin,” Muckerman said.

“When we invested, it was worth 1,900 dollars a coin, right now it is at 17 thousand dollars and that is not even the highest it has been,” Muckerman. It has not always been an easy ride. Through virtue of it being a speculative market, its value can rise or drop immensely within a single day. On Dec. 22, Bitcoin lost 30 percent of its value, less than two weeks of it hitting its record peak. “It’s all part of the game though,” Muckerman said.“The thing about cryptocurrencies is that the market is really volatile, one day it can be worth $15,000 and the next $10,000, so you never really have a good gauge for what it’s worth because it’s constantly changing.” Even though at times it can be turbulent and stressful, Muckerman still believes that cryptocurrency is the way of the future. “I can see Bitcoin, five years from now, being worth a million dollars. Newspapers years down the road will say how people were so smart to buy it when it was at 10,000 dollars, just like how people are saying how smart it was to buy it at 100 dollars in 2010. I would definitely say to anyone that has extra money lying around to think about investing it,” Muckerman said. David Shriver, Technology Department Chairman and honors

Photo courtesy of Google Images.

economics teacher, has a different opinion on teens risking their money on cryptocurrency. “I would not do it and I certainly do not think that it is a smart investment for a high schooler to pursue,” Shriver said. “There is a limited amount of bitcoin in existence, approximately 21 million, no more, no less. So since it is a limited commodity, speculators can come in and start to raise the price, which intrigues people to come and buy it, thinking that if they buy it at that price it is going to go up. The problem is though, if you look at what has already happened, the value has already peaked and its tended to consistently drop off.” At the time of this writing, bitcoin has risen in value to around 14,000 U.S. dollars per coin, a 2,000 dollar increase from its 30 percent drop in late December. This does

not mean much to those who hold bitcoin though. As the turbulent nature of the currency has shown, this can change again within hours. “It is extremely speculative for something that doesn’t even exist,” Shriver said. Not only is it a scarce commodity with uncertain value, but the possibility of misplacing the password to your bitcoins has already caused investors to lose out on thousands. According to new research from Chainalysis, a digital forensics firm that studies the Bitcoin blockchain, 3.79 million bitcoins are already lost forever. When bitcoin holders lose the passwords to their digital wallets, there is no way to access those bitcoins again. One man from Wales accidentally threw away an old computer hard drive that contained the key to 7,500 bitcoins-- a 100 million dollar

mistake. Since its meteoric rise last year, people have become much more vigilant at protecting their bitcoin passwords but the possibility of losing it all is still a constant threat. While the world may still be enthralled with this new, futuristic way of buying and trading, it all depends on how much one is willing to risk. Sophomore Anna Praisewater, another bitcoin investor who cashed out earlier this year, gained around $300 in profit. She thinks that cryptocurrency is here to stay but that it is not a game. “It’s like gambling, don’t put in money you’re not willing to lose,” Praisewater said.

Madison McMillen Reporter


From left to right: Ripple, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin. Photos courtesy of Google Images.

Bitcoin ATMs

There are 17 ATMs throughout the metro area that allow someone to exchange money for cryptocurrency. Photo by Google Maps.

January Issue



After Spring Break, the library will be outof-commission as it undergoes a complete renovation.

emperatures are dropping and snow is falling, but unlike past years, students do not have to walk outside to reach classes. With the first phase of Aquinas 2020 complete, students and faculty enjoy a new hallway, main entrance, and fitness center. Now, the Saint Thomas Aquinas community is looking forward to more renovations as the school provides a more modern layout, up-to-date technology, and increased convenience. Fundraising for the second phase included a challenge by Aquinas alumni Rita and Lamar Hunt Jr. through the Loretto Foundation. They committed a $500,000 challenge grant, which according to the Aquinas website, was “to encourage parents, alumni and friends to join together in support of the multiyear comprehensive AQUINAS 2020 campaign.” The challenge ended December 31, and the Aquinas community ended up raising $669,875, bringing the total amount of money raised to $1,169,875— all since the challenge was publicly announced last August. Construction is set to begin after Spring Break, and last through the end of the school year. The entire


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project is expected to be finished when students return to school in August. However, from spring break until the end of the year, students will not be allowed in the library, which poses a large problem with the printer. Now, the library is filled before school and during passing periods with students fretting to print off various essays and other papers. To allow students to still be able to print out assignments, Technology Department Chairman David Shriver is connecting students to a wireless printer. “Mr. Shriver has started connecting his kids to different printers. We will gradually get used to using the wireless ones. We’ll put the wireless printer wherever I am after spring break,” librarian Amanda Davis said. This change will last after renovations are finished. In August, all students will be connected to the wireless printer and they will be able to print from the classroom or hallway instead of having to use designated computers. Through this renovation, the library will be transformed into a multimedia learning commons. The plans now include completely new

furniture and the removal of desktop computers. This is to promote not only collaboration, and but also mobility between students. The hope is that if students want to work with other people they can rearrange the tables to suit their needs, but if a student wants to work alone, he/she can do that too. “The way it is now is fixed. You can only do one thing with it,” said Davis. “When you have [furniture] on rollers, you can make spaces into what is functional for what you need. This is a lot more futuristic. It will enable [the library] to grow and change into areas that are needed.” According to Davis, there will be a variety of options for seating. Some soft seat has already been donated. There will be high and normal seating, and, according to Constituent Relations Director Michon Quick, there will be booth seating as well. There will also be conference rooms, so the entire library will not have to close for a meeting, and students can use it for group projects or assignments as well. “With the addition of technology, the way people learn is more in collaboration,”Quick said.

The library is set to receive all new furniture. Students will be able to enjoy a variety of seating options as well. More information can be found at the Aquinas 2020 tab on Photo courtesy of

“Sometimes people want to read alone, but maybe then they want to go over and collaborate with people. The whole idea is convertible spaces. We also need smaller rooms for classes as well as small collaborative groups to gather, but still in some sort of enclosed space, so we will have a couple of glassed-in conference rooms, a larger one and two smaller ones,”Quick said. The new tables will have power outlets in them, allowing many students to conveniently charge their personal devices at the same time. Technology will also be slightly changing. Davis hopes to have laptops replace desktops, again to promote mobility. “[The computers] definitely will not be desktops. I want everything to be flexible,”Davis said. “If I can set up laptops, you can put them in different places. You can sit in soft seating and use them, or you can take them into the conference room.” STA Period could also be affected. Right now, Davis allows a limited number of students to be in the library during STA Period, so it can remain a quiet place to focus. But she is willing to experiment after the changes to see if the library will be

able to accommodate more students without getting excessively loud. Yet, with all the library changes, the library as a whole will remain the same size. And, Davis said she is not getting rid of any books, at least at this point. Instead, she is adding more fiction books.

more efficiently. “The trophy hallway will run all the way down to the new hallway for the auxiliary gym,” said Quick. “You used to have go out one door to get to the restrooms. Now, they took down some walls and there’s a hallway that runs right along side the auxiliary gym.” According to Quick, the locker rooms will generally be in the same space. There will be less shower space, but with individual shower stalls. Also included will be coaching Amanda Davis offices, a referee locker room, and Quick also disputed the rumor of more storage areas. The training a coffee bar. room will be greatly expanded, “There is not a coffee bar,” and the trophy cases will also be Quick said. “On the architect’s redone. drawing, they wrote coffee bar, but it As Aquinas 2020 progresses, is actually just a counter.” students will continue to enjoy new The library is just one on the list features of the school. The learning of renovations in the school. Also commons and new fitness wing soon to come will be the complete along with other plans—like a multirenovation of the physical education purpose activities center and lights in wing. This will include new locker the parking lot—bring a new, modern room areas, coaching offices, and a energy to all aspects of Aquinas. new entrance to the auxiliary gym. Right now, to get to the auxiliary gym, people have to walk through the locker room hallways, which Quick said isn’t efficient. After the renovations, space will be utilized Reporter

“This is a lot more futuristic.”

Deepthi Kailash

January Issue


Non-Catholics at Aquinas The Aquinas community is made up of many different sets of religions and beliefs despite being a Catholic school.


xcept under extreme and unusual circumstances, all teachers should be practicing Roman Catholics,” according to policy number 4000 in the Handbook of Policies and Procedures for Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, This may be surprising to some as Saint Thomas Aquinas has always been a community based on inclusion and cohesion. The Catholic values that drive the school are the same that, at times, can create a taciturn partition between students and teachers that don’t practice the same faith. Even for non-Catholics, going to a Catholic school plays an influential role in their beliefs. From required theology classes to all-school Mass, religion is an ever-present piece of attending Aquinas.

Annie Patton

Managing Editor


The Shield

Noah Fadis (Freshman)

Non-denominational Protestant What is it like going to a Catholic school when you are not Catholic?

“It’s a weird feeling to be surrounded by people who hold similar yet somewhat different beliefs than I do. It’s also weird getting asked which parish I go to and saying that I’m not Catholic.”

How has it impacted you?

“It hasn’t impacted me too much other than how much of a different experience Mass is for me. Instead of the Eucharist, I either receive a blessing or don’t go up at all. It really is a different experience going from public to private school. I have to learn so much more than just who everyone is. I have to learn about a different faith.”

Jakaila Morgan (Junior) What is you religious background?

I was baptized in a Baptist church but after I moved here, I started attending an Apostolic church.

What is it like going to a Catholic school?

Sometimes I feel kind of lost if I don’t know a prayer or something, but overall it’s not bad. I’ve learned a lot since freshman year about religion and myself because I chose to attend STA.

Have you considered converting?

I have thought about it but not seriously. I feel like becoming Catholic wouldn’t really change my religious life.

Anne Rahmeier (English

Katrina Nguyen (Senior)

United Methodist

What is your religious background?


What is your religious background?

“My mom is actually a Methodist pastor. I went to an Episcopal grade school. It burned down when I was in fifth grade. Then I went to a Jewish synagogue for two years and had synagogue once a week in addition to chapel. For high school I came to Aquinas, then to St. Louis University for undergrad, Kansas University for law school then Southern Methodist University for my masters in education. So I’ve experienced many different religious affiliations.”

What are the main differences between being a United Methodist and a Catholic? “Because of my exposure to religious backgrounds, I see more the points of connection than the differences. Between Catholicism and United Methodist, a primary distinction is my mom being a pastor. That wouldn’t happen in a Catholic church. It’s just not possible. Their format is different than most Methodist churches as well. A typical sermon there is 40 minutes. They integrate more research and interviews and things like that into the sermon which is a different feel. One thing that I love about Catholicism is the ritual. The other difference in Catholicism is their view of Mary. At my mom’s church they bring that up regularly. We should look to Catholics in the way that she can have a position in our hearts.”

“I am not affiliated with any religion. My mom is Buddhist and my dad is Catholic. They decided to allow me to make the choice for myself when I was older.”

Can you talk about how you have the choice?

“Religion is such an important aspect of someone’s life and my parents are no different. When they had me they knew that fighting about it was only going to push them away, so they decided to let me choose for myself when I was older. Growing up, I remember going to mass with both of my parents, but only my dad went up when it was time for communion. In comparison, when my parents and I went to the temple, my mom was the only one doing something while we were there. Coming to Aquinas was the first time I actually thought about this choice that I had to make.”

What is it like going to a Catholic school when you are not Catholic?

“At first, I was uncomfortable when it came to theology classes because pretty much everyone else has been taking these classes their entire lives and I felt behind or out of place. Over time, I’ve learned to be openminded and not afraid to mention that I was not Catholic when I did not know an obvious answer or something along the lines.”

What are the main differences between teaching at a Catholic and public school?

“The most pervasive is the overall feeling. The thought that everybody has kind of a commitment to a higher calling than just existing and a commitment to each other. Students care for each other at a much deeper level, for the community as a whole and for one another than is possible in a public school I think.”

January Issue


Net Neutrality

Students weigh in on the FCC’s ruling to repeal net neutrality regulations. As you flip through your stack of bills, half of a glance shows you that the white envelope on the bottom is from your internet service provider. Your stomach drops, and an internal moan ratchets up inside. As you carefully open the envelope and then pull out the bill, your heart plummets. How will you ever afford this internet plan? This scene is what is painted by many of those who are opposed to the repeal of net neutrality. They believe that the repeal will affect both themselves and others in a significantly detrimental way – from higher prices for Netflix to having to pay for using apps like Instagram and Snapchat to the possibility of not being able to afford reliable internet, which could negatively affect their work or school performance. Net neutrality is an idea that has been lingering on the edges of social awareness for the last few years. In 2015, the policy was signed into action by the FCC, or Federal Communications Commision, with the intent of making the internet a more even playing field. In order to get their content to internet users, websites go through ISPs, or internet service providers, such as Comcast and Verizon. Certain websites, like popular social media sites and streaming services, create more traffic than others. Before the policy was signed into action, ISPs were allowed to treat these companies differently than less busy ones, meaning they could charge them higher rates for the extra data


The Shield

they used. Net neutrality set rules in place that prohibited ISPs from providing websites with different speeds and prices based on the traffic they create. By forcing ISPs to treat all companies the same, opponents of net neutrality argue that the policy causes the customers to have to pay higher rates in order to cover the cost of the traffic that big companies like Netflix and Google create. Without the regulations that

“I’m sure it will have some effects behind the scenes, I don’t think it will change anything about the internet for regular people”

Carly Moran Senior

net neutrality set in place, some believe that there would be more competition between smaller ISPs, which would drive down the price of internet access for customers. Fans of the policy fear that, without net neutrality, ISPs will hold too much power over the internet, having the ability to slow down certain websites that refuse to pay for faster speeds or even charge customers for access to certain websites. They believe that without the open playing field that net neutrality provides, there will be less room for innovation and growth from smaller websites that cannot afford

to pay up. In December of 2017, the FCC, headed by chairman Ajit Pai, voted to end net neutrality. Although the vote is over, the battle for Net Neutrality has not ended. According to the Congressional Review Act, Congress can overturn a regulation if a majority of senators and representatives oppose it. Net neutrality is a very partisan issue, and, with a Republican majority in Congress, the repeal will likely not be overturned. Since the FCC’s repeal, net neutrality has become a very controversial topic. One student who opposes the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality is sophomore David Willy. “They (supporters) argue that by putting aside net neutrality rules, competition will become more competitive, and smaller businesses will profit from growth within the market. There are many major flaws in this idea,” Willy said, “but the most predominant one is the fact that by repealing net neutrality, it allows the ISPs to control access to these companies... Rather than promote competition, it would allow companies with deeper pockets to establish a monopoly in terms of internet appeal.” In addition, Willy mentioned that he was bothered by the FCC going ahead with the repeal despite the very public outcry over the repeal being passed. Because of the growth of internet usage in recent years, Willy believes that net

What do students think of the repeal of net neutrality?

“I couldn’t care less. That’s how the internet was [when] it started and nothing’s going to change.” Gina Rousselo Senior

“[It] needed to happen. It was just another way the government is regulating things.” “It is unnecessary and Danny Eckerberg only helps big, big Sophomore business.”

“The net neutrality repeal promotes further investment (by Internet providers) in our country’s internet infrastructure.” Brooks Tate Junior

Gregory Stratman Junior “Greedy businesses want our money and ignore public opinion.” Bethany Ham Junior “It stripped away the laws “It will make it harder that made the internet open to access certain websites and free for everyone.” and push me to use sites Dominic Bubien “Pleased, it will free up that have faster service, but not Junior businesses.” necessarily better or more reliable Jacob Mertes content.” Junior Abigail Meyer Junior Quotes are from a January survey from The Shield.

neutrality is vital. But what is perhaps most alarming to Willy is how much money ISPs have spent on lawsuits in recent years to get net neutrality repealed. He believes this is a dire indication that ISPs believe they can make much more money off net neutrality being repealed than not. Another student who weighed in on her opinion of the FCC’s decision is senior Carly Moran. “Most social media type websites like Facebook and Twitter use a lot more data than other smaller websites, so internet service providers could charge them more to get their content across. This repeal is in favor of these large corporations (ISPs), and as I’m sure it will

have some effects behind the scenes, I don’t think it will change anything about the internet for regular people,” said Moran. While she feels that the repeal was not necessary, Moran feels the backlash against the FCC’s decision is over the top. “All these people, who have most likely never heard of the term before the repeal, are screaming out that ‘It’s the end of the Internet as we know it!’ and a bunch of other false information,” said Moran. “It is not about censoring (which pretty much anything you do on most sites is already censored) but it is about money for corporations, so no I do not think this will affect me in any way.”

While many speculations have been made about what this means for the future of the internet, it is impossible to know exactly what changes ISPs will make without the barrier of net neutrality in place and what that will mean for customers.

Rachael Lawler

Freelance Reporter

Delaney Smith Copy Editor

January Issue


Untapped Potential Clubs at Aquinas could offer limitless opportunities.


he Saint Thomas Aquinas website includes a list of 28 clubs and activities offered. Some clubs are alive and well. Some are dead. Also on the website, it is listed that 85 percent of the student body participates in clubs and activities each year. How and why do activities stay alive and keep students involved? Why do some clubs fade away? Regardless of their state, any club has the potential to be that outlet, that memory, or that group of friends that can make or break high school for students. The Scholars Bowl team this year serves as an example of an activity done right. Last year, the team experienced a drop in students. Thanks to the efforts of now senior and now captain Erin Sturd, Scholars Bowl has been transformed into a club that invites all students, is focused on growth as a team, and has

made memories for all involved. Sturd starting working over the summer to make this year better. Transforming a club on the brink to one of great success is a daunting task, but Sturd found Aquinas faculty very helpful. “It was not that hard,” Sturd said. “At the very start of the school year I went to talk to Mrs. Mersman that I really wanted to start it up again. It got way easier with Mersman.” Thanks to Sturd’s enthusiasm and social studies teacher Kathleen Mersman’s guidance, Scholars Bowl has grown in numbers and started competing in tournaments. “The environment has changed a lot. This year it is a lot more focused on getting better,” Sturd said. The experience of the Scholars Bowl team and Sturd are a drop-inthe-bucket example of how clubs at Aquinas have the potential to go

from struggling or simply nothing, to a wonderful experience for students at Aquinas. If students at Aquinas are wanting to put their passions into action like Sturd it is super simple. Athletic and Activities Director Sarah Burgess has witnessed many clubs come and go at Aquinas. Burgess strives to make starting a club at Aquinas a very welcoming experience. From art to technology and everything in between, Burgess wants to see the memories and impacts of clubs and activities come alive at Aquinas to further help students. (Other high schools around Aquinas have different approaches to clubs and activities. The sidebar on the next page explores some of these clubs.) At orientations, Burgess said she often mentions that, “If you are interested in starting a club, come see me. Tell me the purpose, and let’s do it.”

Stellar Opportunities Many activities at Aquinas are vibrant sources of memories and opportunities for students. Other clubs, however, struggle to attract students. Photo by Andrew Schoonover, The Shield.


The Shield

Possible Club Ideas One problem the Aquinas community faces with clubs is keeping them going. In Burgess’s opinion, it takes a mixture of both passionate students and dedicated teachers to keep a club going for the long haul-- qualities Aquinas is full of. Despite the potential, clubs die. “Years ago we had a Ping Pong Club that was dynamite,” Burgess said. “It was a big deal with a school wide tournament. [A student] organized it and a teacher was willing to sponsor. We had a tournament going on during lunch, but when he graduated, it graduated.” The untapped potential, the friendships and memories rooted in students following their passions, cannot be dismissed. Starting at a club at Aquinas does not take much, as shown by the efforts of Sturd and the support of Aquinas faculty. If there are any students or groups of students wanting to champion a cause, help the Aquinas community, or simply get more out of high school, the potential can be tapped at Aquinas.

Andrew Schoonover Editor-in-Chief

Aquinas enjoys clubs that are committed to service, Catholic values, and helping students feel even more at home in the comunity. There is always room for improvement, however, and other schools offer clubs not at Aquinas-- yet. Makenna Ruffalo is a senior at Blue Valley Southwest High School. Here are clubs at her school that could spark passion in Aquinas students:

DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America)

A national chain of clubs, DECA provides students with opportunities in marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality, and marketing sales and service. “Even though I am not planning on doing business, [DECA] taught me valuable problem-solving skills, how to be quick on my feet, and basic professionalism … which are tools anyone would need in college and out in the real world,” Ruffalo said. In a Shield survey done in early January, 92 of the 279 responses shared an interest in DECA or future business club.

Future Medical Professions

Called “Timber Trauma,” at her school, Ruffalo participates in a club committed to scratching the surface of the medical field for students. The Shield survey in January found 93 of 239 responses to be interested in a future medical professions club. Nursing, types of practices, and a wide array of medical topics could be explored to help students hone in on their interests in the medical field. “Timber Trauma helped me realize even more that I’m super passionate about going into the medical field,” Ruffalo said.

Honors Societies

Aquinas is home to a number of honors societies, but even more could further shape students. For students interested in the arts, the sciences, writing, or any other interest, honors societies can help nurture and refine these passions. “The honor societies at our school are really good at keeping students accountable,” Ruffalo said. “I have heard of many students that have had their grade fall or do not follow some of the other rules and get kicked out. I think that has prepared me for college in a way, because you have to do things for yourself and college professors are not just going to let things slide. I think our honors societies do a great job of stressing that you are responsible for yourself and making sure you do everything right to stay in that society because there are not really second chances.”

January Issue


The Social Spread Briley McGreevy Emily Raunig


The Shield


Insights on Saints social media

posts around and outside



of Aquinas.

Want your posts, Snapchats, or Tweets featured in The Shield? Co ntac t @ BrileyMc greevy o r @ ERaunig o n Tw itter. January Issue


The Coffee Grind

Briley McGreevy Senior Reporter

Westport CoffeeHouse

According to the Westport CoffeeHouse website, “before Westport CoffeHouse opened in 1996, our neighborhood needed a change, wanted something a little more interesting, yet grounded. What our little community lacked was an honest neighborhood café where people could meet, have a conversation, and sit down to a stellar cup of coffee.”

Neon Westport CoffeeHouse sign in front of location. Photo by Emily Raunig.

Kaldi’s cOFFEE

Kaldi’s Coffee was packed with people studying and enjoying coffee and pastries. There is a merchandise collection of shirts, hats, coffee mugs, and water bottles with the Kaldi’s logo on them available. The location is perfect for strolling down the Plaza looking for coffee or some quiet studying time with friends.

Sign of Kaldi’s coffee house off of 47th street on the Country Club Plaza. Photo by Briley McGreevy.


The Shield

Aquinas Students dRINKIng Coffee For many students at Aquinas, making or buying coffee in the morning is part of their daily routine. It is rare to walk into school in the morning and not see a staff member or a student with a cup of coffee in hand. The purpose of students drinking coffee varies. From taste to raised energy levels, teenagers have been steadily increasing their coffee intake for years. Young people are now the fastest growing population of coffee drinkers, according to the National Coffee Association. “On an average day, I drink one venti [20 oz.] coffee from Starbucks in the morning on the way to school,” said sophomore Ellie Loe. The rapid growth of teenage coffee drinkers can seem alarming at first. Caffeine is a drug. Although, its effects can be beneficial according to recent studies. Harvard research linked coffee consumption to a possible reduction of heart disease and stroke, lower risk of developing type two diabetes, and a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease. High intakes of coffee daily can cause anxiety, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping. Although, the most extreme side effect is long term for students with a large daily intake. “I would not be able to function without my coffee,” said senior Mallory English. “When I go a day without coffee, I get a severe headache.” Caffeine withdrawals, such as headaches, irritability, and sleepiness, are extremely common when an avid coffee drinker, like English, disrupts the body’s accomodation to a high amount of caffeine every morning. Teenagers hanging out in coffee shops is also a growing trend. It allows young people to be social, creative, and explore new coffee shops on weekends. “I’m not surprised honestly because coffee seems like such a staple to me and many of my friends,” said senior Maggie Essmyer. “I would definitely say my life is centered around it.” Drinking coffee may benefit health and social aspects of a student’s life. However, coffee must be drank in moderation in order not to suffer major side effects. It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that adolescents should not consume more than 100 mg of caffeine a day. A Starbucks venti coffee contains 500 mg of caffeine.

Oddly COrrect coffee bar

Oddly Correct is a warm and rustic workspace vibe. Its friendly staff established an enjoyable, relaxed experience getting coffee on the corner of Main Street and Westport Road. The humble coffee shop acted as a business workspace for many young adults. A merchandise stand was also available with shirts, cups, coffee mugs and sweatshirts.

Barista pouring coffee into a flask. Photo by

January Issue


Rachel Raney Senior Reporter


The Shield

Numbers come from the 278 student responses to The Shield survey sent out on January 7, 2018. Photos coutesy of license-free sources found on Google Images.

January Issue


The 30

Johnson County Stereotypes You are not from JoCo if you have not experienced one of these light-hearted stereotypes. 1. Vine references

Emily Raunig Senior Reporter

12.Adidas is fashion, not athletic wear

2. Acrylic nails 3. Salad for lunch 4. Supreme sweatshirts

21. Coffee shops

22. Every mom drives an 13. You have taken a trip to SUV Destin, Florida 23. Soccer moms with a Louis Vuilton bag talking 14. You have a small dog gossip about her neighbor

5. Ball caps and you’re trendy

15. Guys are on protein

6. Your home needs to be beige (but gray is up-incoming)

16. You played competitive soccer, baseball/softball, volleyball

24. JoCo soccer moms 25. Girls wear leggings 26. Lululemon clothes 25/8

27. Freezing Moo 7. Sunsets, bath bombs, and 17. Layering your computer working out for 20 minutes with stickers 28. KC shirts with the on your story heart 8. Your sprinkler system goes 18. Lawn companies ran by teenage boys off in the rain 9. Your family has relatives on a farm or rural area 10. Everyone classifies each other by neighborhood 11. You also identify with your town (I Like Lenexa, O-Town, Lea-hood)


The Shield

19. Soundcloud rappers

29. Jeeps 30. Referencing the “JoCo Bubble”

20. Going to your friend’s family’s lake house for the 4th of July

This list was inspired from ideas from The Shield survey, The Shield staff, and Emily Raunig.

Last Look January 2018 1. The Saintsations showchoir performs at their preview night on Tuesday, January 16. Photo by Andrew Schoonover, The Shield. 2. Aquinas students recieved Thursday, January 11 and Tuesday, January 16 off of school due to incliment weather. Photo by Andrew Schoonover, The Shield.

12 2 3 3. Gillian Flynn, author of the novel Gone Girl, visited Aquinas on January 12. Flynn participated in a panel discussion in front of Aquinas students and students from other schools in the area. Photo courtesy of Michele Gress. 4. Girls basketball coach Rick Hetzel talks to his team at Truman High School. This game marked Hetzel’s 400th win. Photo by Annie Patton, The Shield.

4 January Issue


The Shield Volume 30

The Students’ Voice of Saint Thomas Aquinas High School-- a catalyst of positive change, inspired by Catholic values applied in a dynamic way.


s stashield i stashield t aquinasgameday Saint Thomas Aquinas Shield


11411 Pflumm Road Overland Park, Kansas 66210 (913) 319-2400

January 2018 issue  
January 2018 issue