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The Shield Senior Issue

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

The Shield

Social Media

t f i s

stashield aquinasgameday Saint Thomas Aquinas Shield stashield stashield

MI S S I O N S T A 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 I N 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 T IO 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 P O 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 Senior Issue





College Map

Social Spread

Seniors by the Numbers




National Competitions

Alumni Advice

The 30: What Seniors will Miss




Senior Features

Glow Ups

Last Look

Photos are courtesy of copyright-free online sources or credited later in the issue.

Celebrating Together A

Letter from the Editor

s teachers and faculty will tell seniors during preparation for graduation, this time of the year is not about just one person being celebrated. Graduation at Saint Thomas Aquinas is about the senior class as a whole. As the cover shows, this issue aims to celebrate the many amazing accomplishments the seniors this school year have reached ... as a whole. The seniors by the numbers spread highlights just how outstanding this class has been, despite being relatively smaller than other classes. Aquinas alumni, still in college, offer advice in this issue for the Saints preparing to enter college. The College Map offers a chance to see how this class of Saints will be going all over, literally coast to coast. Seniors Maria Schmeer and Devin Diggs are also featured for their embodiment of service and excellence. From national competitors to the best glow ups, this issue serves as proof of what the Class of 2018 is made of. In this issue you will not only find stories that celebrate the past and present, but also stories that look forward to what is next for


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Aquinas. The future of colleges and trends in college choices at Aquinas are also aimed to guide the Aquinas community looking forward. The graduation season offers a time of reflection and of celebration. The seniors, all students, and all teachers and staff should be proud — not just of what has been accomplished individually, but the progress made by the Aquinas community collectively.

Andrew Schoonover Editor-in-Chief

What to Expect Letter from Next Year’s Staff


oodbyes can be difficult, especially when it comes to saying “farewell” to a group of fun young writers who have defined what it means to be devoted to a greater cause. Their ability to turn even the most mundane things into something special is extraordinary; just ask them about pumpkins or what constitutes a sandwich and they’ll both amaze and endear. Bright futures lay ahead for these seven seniors, but the legacies that they have left behind will stay with The Shield forever. This upcoming year will be one of change for our publication, as a new leader and a fresh group of reporters will take over and

begin to shape their own paths. Their new ideas, mixed with the lessons learned from years past, will continue to help The Shield evolve alongside the community. Does this mean that Volume 31 of The Shield will be different than the Volume 30 that you have come to love? Yes. But the essence that makes The Shield what it is will never change. Our commitment to serve by reporting on the issues and topics shaping the school community has continuously guided us from day one, and it will continue to do so for years to come. Everyone here at The Shield is excited for the changes planned for next year, and we hope you are too. Come this August, expect nothing less than what we have always done.

The Shield Staff Volume 31

Senior Issue


The Shield’s Class of 2018

Andr ew S




Plans for next year: University of Arkansas for Business Favorite Story: 100 Banners Favorite Memory: Dog Contest


g Ed n i g a n



e Ma


Plans for next year: Boston College for Business and Journalism Favorite Story: Raising Our Voices Favorite Memory: Trumpkin, Sept 2017 - March 2018


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Editor -in-Ch


ton t a P e Anni

Plans for next year: University of Kansas for Mechanical Engineering/ Premed track Favorite Story: 100 Banners Favorite Memory: Making Trumpkin


ging E


Layout by Andrew Schoonover


Raun ig

Plans for next year: University of Kansas for Journalism Favorite Story: Let Students Do What They Have to Do Favorite Memory: Decorating the Newsroom

rter o p e ior R


Rach e

l Ran


Plans for next year: Kansas State University Favorite Story: Evolution of Memes Favorite Memory: Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar


r Repo





ree G c M

Plans for next year: University of Kansas for Business and Journalism Favorite Story: New Generation of Music Favorite Memory: Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar


r Repo




itor d E y p

Sm y e n la

DePlans for next year:

University of Mississippi for International Studies Favorite Story: Net Neutrality Favorite Memory: Question of the Day

Senior Issue



Layout by Andrew Schoonover, Deepthi Kailash, and Clare Hernandez

Class of 2018 Washington

Seattle Pacific University Emma Lamping University of Washington Celeste Zeng


Central Methodist University Ryan Service Maryville University Riley Ebert Missouri Western State University Tristan Davis Northwest Missouri State University Anna Bright Rockhurst University William Carmosino Ryan Holland Claire L’Esperance Alexandra Moss Saint Louis University Sean Mayer Jerrien O’Dwyer Truman State University Allison Thomas University of Central Missouri Tommy Biddlecombe Alia Clavert Gerry Thomas University of Missouri Dante Javaheri Max Montgomery Michael Muckerman Ashley Owens Grace Platt University of Missouri Kansas City Kayla Navy William Jewel College Olivia Chalabi


Baker University Jacob Cofer Andrew Hicks Benedictine College Matthew Andrews Erica Gahm Nick Whiteside Johnson County Community College Jake Burkhart Alyssa Crites Nicky Govea Noah Hughes Collyne Marsolf Michelle Paule Kansas State University Janelle Augustine


University of Wyoming Wyatt Keena


Lak She



Loyola Marymount University Jack Mayer


Colorado State University Jonathan Brackham Maggie Essmyer Claire Heiman

Creighton University Addison Aley Emma Thurmond University of Nebraska Anthony Gaona Madison Janky Spencer Mogren Regis University Raina Miyake University of Denver Eli Weissend

Undecided Gretchen Beachner Sarah Dooley Chase Elias Jorge Palazuelos Maria Schmeer Quinton Stoecklein

Texas Armed Forces

Texas Christian University Emma Dalinghaus University of Texas San An Gabriella Wernsman

Navy John Warren

Noah Bellerive Mary Claire Bien Natalie Bien Margaret Brekke Hannah Brewer Lauren Chase Andrew Cunningham Adam Davis Thomas Deatherage Camryn Eberhardy Grace Elbrader Isaiah Elsener Kenneth Gavin Margaret Goza Greg Gwynn Mary Clare Halpin Katie Hill E.W. Hulsey Grace Jacobs

Alexander Ketelle Molly Killilea Katie Lacy AbbyKate LaSala Lauren Lavery Alayna Law Andrew LeBourveau Aidan Lee Grace Lee Fletcher Lewis Maima Lewis Jacob Luchtefeld Katerina Miller Angelo Moore Jack Morrissey Jenna Pommenville Noah Pudenz Rachel Raney Jada Rezac

Gina Rousselo Regan Rudicel Claire Sasenick Jack Seiler Mikey Strong Will Swanson Sophia Swearingen Annie Temple SeanRyan Tyrrell Kelsey Van Buskirk Claire Verbenec Jenna Vickers Sophia Wanamaker Abby Woltering Molly Young Candace Zhang Pittsburgh State University Katherine Bever Joseph Clune


outh Dakota

Carthage College Jack Ney

ke Area Tech eldon Reitz


Iowa Thomas Kennedy Katherine Rise Maddie Seibolt Landon Wirt Ian Woolway Isabel Woolway

Massachusetts New York


Drake University Curtis Whigam Grandview University Andrew Nusbaum Iowa State University Sean Roppe University of Iowa Claire Deschamp

Indiana University Carly Moran University of Notre Dame Devin Diggs Molly Jenkins David McCanna

Colgate University Emily Hazen Fashion Institute of Technology Hannah Presta

Boston College Grace Mayer


University of Pennsylvania Sereena Weledji

Illinois Arkansas

Southern Illinois University Brendan Ryan

Arkansas State Ryan Jurczak University of Arkansas Delaney Henderson Chloe Kallsen Regan Loftus Kristen Malir Nicole McEnroe Andrew Schoonover




Vanderbilt University Camron McMillan

Gap Year



College of Coastal Georgia Cannon Miller

University of Mississippi Delaney Smith


University of Miami Katrina Nguyen Jared Flood Michael Gassel University of Kansas Emily Ascher Rebecca Bacon Mark Biggins Daniel Bollig Julia Budetti Kate Burditt Kelli Byrd Laura Cisper Christopher Commodore Michael Davidson Jenna Dawson Xavier Doering Jimmy Dorlac Mallory English Alex Mann Briley McGreevy

Erica Yatsook

Abigail Monaghan Lauren Nafus Chris Navickas Annie Patton Margaret Pigott Patrick Prange Katherine Pyle Elizabeth Ragan Emily Raunig Jack Regan Sophie Schmidt Andrea Gammill Natalie Golubski Maggie Gould Madison Griffiths Sophia Gurera Julianna Gutierrez Kristin Haeusser Josh Hermes

Mallory Heying Hannah Holbrooks Jake Holbrooks Paige Knoff Kevin Konnesky Sophia Schneller Noah Schnieders Ava Selzer Jack Shaw II Thomas Sheeley Catherine Simmons Taylor Smart Ashley Spell Grant Stoerman Erin Sturd Omar Tapia Morgan Taylor Anthony Vena Connor White

University of Southern Florida Anne Toussaint Valencia College Julian Alfonso Savanna Winterman Samuel Wolff Tommy Zarse Sarah Zingg Washburn University Bailey Zuniga Wichita State University Eddie Brown C.J. Eddy Luke Lee Meagan Sullivan

The future OF


College decisions, tuition, and admissions are changing every year. Here are three of the most prevalent


Tuition Inflation in-state institution tuition has risen tuition, saying that college tuition is 19% (Source: The College Board). The matching the rate of inflation of “the rate of inflation, however, averages at higher education world.” just 3.2%.While these statistics seem dramatic, colleges such as Texas A&M are defending their decisions to raise


According to Forbes, “between 1985 and 2011, average tuition nationwide increased 498 percent— more than four times the rate of general inflation (114 percent).” In Kansas, since 2012, public four year

Years In Kansas In-State public universities, tuition has risen 19%, 16$ higher than the rate of inflation. Source: The College Board.


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Type of Engineering In college, more women are leaving STEM professions than men. In 2016, in architecture and engineering occupations, 14.0 percent of full-time wage and salary workers were women. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics



Early decision applicants are filling more and more of the academic pool each year. Through the early decision application, students will be legally bound to the college if they are accepted, but acceptance rates can be more than 10% higher. The one caveat: students accepted through this program will not be allowed to compare financial aid packages. They have to take the offer from one college, and choose it or, if a student can prove that they can’t pay, break the binding agreement. However, many students are willing to take the risk to have a higher chance of being admitted, especially in colleges such as Dartmouth, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt, where early decision applicants are expected to take up half of the entire freshman class the next fall.

According to Amherst College, this is the most diverse year they’ve had, “with admitted students from 58 foreign countries, 49 states, Washington D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico.” While some colleges are experiencing increased diversity, there are still prevalent issues such as a lack of minorities in sports. According to an article in the Iowa State Daily, only 13% of all head coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level in Division 1 college football are people of color. Another diversity issue is the lack of women in STEM fields. The National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) reports that in 2013, women received 50.3% of science and engineering degrees, but only 17.9% in computer sciences, 19.3% in engineering, 39% in physical

sciences, and 43.1% in mathematics. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported just 14% of full time wage and salary workers were women. According to the NGCP, women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the combined science and engineering workforce.

Deepthi Kailash Reporter

Senior Issue


The Social Spread Briley McGreevy Emily Raunig


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[ a r i chive


Insights on Saints social media

posts around and outside


of Aquinas.

Senior Issue


Class of 2018 Transformation


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Emily Raunig Senior Reporter Photos Courtesy of MIchelle Gress

Senior Issue




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By The Numbers

Rachel Raney Senior Reporter

Data courtesy of Barb Bruns, Sarah Cretors, Margaret Smith, Matt Hallauer, and Sarah Burgess.

Senior Issue


The Ones that Got Away We caught up with the 20 Saints who left over the past four years.

Falyn Nelson

Maria Kindred

Current School: Notre Dame de Sion College: Dayton University “I miss the lunches, not carrying a backpack to classes, the block scheduling 4 days a week, and Mrs. Hilgers”

Current School: Spring Hill High School College: Johnson County Community College “I miss the school spirit there and the friends I had.”

Grant Geyer

Current School: Olathe Northwest High School College: Kansas State University

Katie Baker

Current School: Louisburg High School College: Johnson County Community College “The cookies.”

Elizabeth Carr Current School: Olathe East High School College: Rickhurst University “I miss the dances.”

Olivia Stoehr


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Current School: Olathe East High School College: University of Missouri-Kansas City “What I miss the most about Aquinas would have to be the sense of community that was created over the years there and of course the great people that went there!”

Colin Innes

Current School: Blue Valley West High School College: University of Kentuckey “I miss the football team and all the energy and humor they brought to the hallways!”

Dylan Franken

Current School: Olathe East High School College: Butler Community College “I miss the track program and the community that came with it.”

Niki Kesovija

Gabby Lord

Current School: Notre Dame de Sion College: University of Miami “I miss the food at Aquinas the most, especially the cookies!!”

Amira Alani

Current School: Notre Dame de Sion College: Saint Louis University “I miss the teachers I had the most.”

Mary Wiber

Current School: St. James Academy College:Undecided “I miss Mr. Lamont and pep assemblies.”

Current School: Archbishop Mitty High School College: Texas Christian University “I miss my friends and the cookies the most at Aquinas.”

Ellie Bodenhamer Chris Farrel Noah Green Madeleine Johnson Tiffany Lam Chloe Maher Ellie Mengel Vamsinivas Seelan AnniePatton Managing Editor

Senior Issue


The Lives of the Senior Class


The Shield

Rachel Raney Senior Reporter

Senior Issue


Next Year's StuCo Five students are vying for a spot on the executive council and they are ready to shake things up.


s summer nears so do class elections, Aquinas’ annual nod to democracy that decides not only the people who organize homecoming week and pick school dance themes, but also the few that get to represent the voices of students at Aquinas. Candidates for this year’s student executive council were junior Greta Bins, junior Max Seibolt, junior Maggie McCabe, sophomore Sanaz Mohammadrabie, and sophomore Gabe Kraft. Along with election speeches come hopes and ideas that the candidates would like to see accomplished if they were to be elected to executive council. Bins, a class representative for the past three years, said that group effort can help us achieve our goals, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing fun. Music during passing periods and lunchtime karaoke were two ideas that she proposed to the sea of classmates in front of her. Maggie McCabe shared a similar viewpoint on the power of a group, arguing that through accepting everyone is how we achieve what we want for our community. One way to do this is through creating more school videos that highlight overlooked activities at Aquinas, McCabe said. Along with videos, McCabe promised she would fight for


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better music at dances and for the revitalization of the legendary Aquinas canned food drive. In sophomore Gabe Kraft’s speech, he presented a new form of candy gram for the students at Aquinas, senior sendaways. Attached to the typical note element of a candy gram is a rose, a new way to say farewell to your favorite seniors, a particularly sensitive topic this time of the year. A schoolwide March Madness bracket competition was another one of Kraft’s hopes for next year if he is elected to executive council. Starting with an introduction said in Farsi, Sanaz Mohammadrabie caught the attention of an impatient crowd and began to describe her hopes for this next year in the Aquinas community. Along with her professed passion for the school, one of Mohammadrabie’s biggest goals was to bring the Aquinas fan section at sports games back to their old glory. One way to do this is by encouraging spectators to come through halftime contests during home games, Mohammadrabie said. Bigger fan sections are a way to show Aquinas spirit to our “haters” spoke the candidate. Last in the lineup was Max Seibolt, a first time candidate for StuCo, who emphasized expanding and supporting the

traditions that make Aquinas unique. One such event was a ping pong tournament in the cafeteria, a once big and exciting community event that slowly faded into obscurity. That, along with making the CYO basketball tournament an Aquinas tradition, formed Seibolt’s platform. Four out of these five candidates will win a position, meaning four passionate students working to make their thoughts into reality. “It’s easy to say, hard to make things actually happen,” Devin Diggs, senior and current StuCo president, said, “It’s not hard to just drop back into a routine and do what StuCo has always done. Pushing out of that routine is the greatest struggle.” The new executives will have to make a commitment like those that have gone before them, to break out of the everyday funk and make 2018-2019 the year they want it to be. Though their goals may be lofty, the passion and commitment that each candidate professed amongst their peers shows not only a love for Aquinas, but a determination to make next year one for the books.

Madison McMillen Reporter

National Championships Both Dance Team and Forensics have excelled in their regular seasons, catapulting them all the way to nationals.

Student Congress T

his year has been an exciting one for Aquinas Forensics, but especially for senior Annie Toussaint. After four years of competing in both debate and forensics, Toussaint is closing out her career with a trip to Washington, D.C. for the National Catholic Forensic League’s (CFL) Grand National Tournament. “When I found out that I placed in the top of the chamber I was so excited! I have been competing in the event for four years and I have often come close but never have qualified...I was not expecting it at all,” Toussaint said.

In Toussaint’s event, Student Congress, 20 or so competitors debate mock pieces of legislation written by the students on topics ranging from hot-button foreign policy to whether or not the U.S. should fund companies that produce synthetic meat. The piece that landed Toussaint her spot at nationals was a proposal to add small amounts of lithium to our water supply in order to reduce the rates of depression and bipolar disorder in Americans. After other competitors speak for or against legislation such as this, the chamber will vote to either pass,

fail, or table the bill that was just debated. Then comes the judging, the final step of the four hour long event. When everyone’s speeches have been read and voted on, a judge then picks the top six speakers and ranks them in order of best to worst. Toussaint scored fourth at the CFL Invitational, cementing her position as a national competitor in Washington D.C. this May.

Varsity Spirits


he Spirits traveled to Denton, Texas in March to compete in the American Dance/Drill Team’s national competition. After an entire season of perfecting their routines, they found themselves at the University of North Texas, competing against over 80 other high schools, middle schools and studio dance teams, including international groups from Japan. “The atmosphere in the arena was amazing and it was so exciting getting to compete against Japanese teams. The stakes were definitely higher, but we stayed

focused and kept our confidence up,” junior and dance team member Kaitlyn Woicke said, “It was such a tough competition with many talented teams, but we were proud no matter the outcome.” This March, the outcome was in their favor. The Varsity Spirits were awarded as American Academic Champions, and also took home the Get Poms Giving Back Award, the Texas Mountain Sports Wow Factor award, a first place win in hip-hop, and more. “Th moment they called our name for [hip-hop], the whole team

went crazy. It was a really validating experience, after all the work we had put in,” Alayna Law, senior officer for the dance team, said. Accolades aside, the dance team showed their competition what Aquinas was all about Faith, Excellence, Service, and Community. Oh, and maybe a little Spirit too.

Madison McMillen


Senior Issue


Wise Words from Alumni What do you wish you knew as a senior in high school? “You have to continue working towards what you want to do and not get caught in the drama of everyone else’s dreams. Just keep doing what you want to do. Everyone is going to sound like they have a great idea for what they want to do, but you’re only 18 years old. It takes people years to make a large difference in their field. You won’t be Albert Einstein from day one.”

Keshav Kailash Freshman at Washington University

What don’t we already know? “You have a lot more free time, a lot less homework, but more reading. You’re expected to do a lot of learning/studying on your own since you don’t usually have homework to practice concepts or lessons.” Spencer Smith Grad School at Kansas State University

Finals. Any advice? “Never wait until finals to start studying. I would study about 20 minutes a day a month in advance. You’ll hardly have to study during finals week if you start studying early.” Rebecca Raney Junior at the University of Kansas


Senior Issue

Biggest mistake of your first year? “Definitely staying too far in my comfort zone and not putting myself out there enough. I feel like I’ve held myself back a lot and I regret that and I’m trying to be more confident in putting myself out there.” Grayson Dunst Freshman at Kansas State University What’s it like to live near your family? How often do you visit? “I love living only 30 minutes from JoCo because it was far enough away to have my own space but close enough that I could come home when I wanted to.” Zoe Schmidt Senior at the University of Kansas Are you in greek life? Have you enjoyed it? “Yes, I have loved being in a sorority. Coming from Aquinas, I already knew a good amount of people and greek life helped me branch out from that. I have met so many people through my sorority and even some of my best friends. Freshman year can be scary and intimidating, so it’s nice to have people to go through it with.“

Kennedy McGreevy Sophomore at the University of Kansas

Do you have a budget? “I do have a budget and every student should have one. Most campuses have a free financial center or even a school bank that will help students from any economic background make a budget and plan for their future with little stress.” Josh Smith Sophomore at Kansas State University

Clare Hernandez Junior Reporter

Senior Issue


The Princess Project A new donation drive and retreat is started at Aquinas, aimed at reminding girls they are all princesses.


wo weeks before Aquinas’s prom, clothes racks were positioned on opposite sides of the commons. From March 26th to the 28th these clothes racks amassed over 160 dresses in response to the Saint Thomas Aquinas Princess Project, a two-part project featuring a dress drive and retreat. This is the first year for the STA Princess Project. Junior Maria Sanchez and her mom came up with the name and idea for the dress drive after she attended a parish retreat. “I went to a women’s retreat at Ascension and noticed I was the youngest girl there. The retreat opened my eyes on how God really sees me. I wanted to share my new knowledge with all the amazing girls at Aquinas,” said Sanchez. “My mother and I came up with the name ‘STA Princess Project’.” They decided the title was fitting for a dress drive. Sanchez asked math teacher Cathryn Radiel to help officiate the dress drive. “Mrs. Radiel was also at the conference [at Ascension], and that’s how I was able to get her on board,”


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said Sanchez. The dress drive encouraged all Aquinas students to bring in gentlyused prom dresses which would be given to girls in the Kansas City metro area who couldn’t afford them. Eighteen other girls, mainly juniors and a few sophomores, helped Sanchez promote and encourage girls to donate and sign up for the retreat. Juniors Kourtney Kane and Brynne Franzen were especially involved. “I wanted to participate in this project because I wanted to help girls who are not able to afford prom dresses. I also wanted[ed] to help girls understand their self worth and grow in their relationship with God,” said Kane. Franzen helped advertise and organize the dress donations for the Princess Project. “[I] put up flyers, spread the word, help[ed] collect dresses, bag each dress, and separate them into piles of where they would be delivered,” said Franzen. “We had so many donations we were able to give them to two places: Turner High School and [the] Woods Chapel United Methodist

Church Prom Boutique,” said Sanchez. After the collection ended and the dresses were delivered, the Princess Project still had the second part to complete: the retreat. The retreat portion was organized by Aquinas mom Debra Watson. It was designed specifically for Aquinas female students and their mothers, and teachers and staff. “Debra Watson had the main idea of the retreat [and] I was the teen leader,” said Sanchez. The retreat was held on April 15th in the Aquinas commons and theater. Around 200 women dressed in pajamas attended, the majority being Aquinas students and their mothers. The night started with a dinner for all attendees in the commons, followed by a talk from Sister Susan of the Apostles of the Interior Life (the same woman who spoke at the retreat at Ascension). “Sister Susan’s talk was over the movie Cinderella (the live-action version), and how it’s really a huge symbol of God and His love for us,” said Sanchez. After Sister Susan spoke, another woman talked about her

STA Princess Project

Many girls were responsible for the success of the Princess Project. They pose in front of the over 160 dresses they collected for the drive. Photo Courtesy of Maria Sanchez Front Row: Gabi Cox, Maria Sanchez, Mckenna Neef. Second Row: Isabella Doyle, Brynne Franzen, Mary Dors, Maddie Charles, Abigail Meyer. Back Row: Katie Kinnan, Kourtney Kane, Hannah Stompoly, Jenny Watson, Chloe Cox, Catriona Baughman, Jesse Paxton, and Cathryn Radiel

Sharing the Love

Junior Hannah Stompoly and her mother enjoy the dinner at the Princess Project retreat, which took place in the commons an April 15. Around 200 women participated in the retreat, many of them Aquinas students and their mothers. Photo by Lily Abadir, The Medallion.

process in becoming a sister, and how she found her calling. The night ended with a viewing of the Cinderella movie. “I was the only one under 25 at the retreat at Ascension, so it was so heartwarming to see so many teenagers there,” said Sanchez. Franzen, and Kane also attended the retreat. “I decided to go because Maria invited me to dinner with two of the sisters from the Apostles of the Interior Life. They had really fascinating ideas about life, happiness, and womanhood and I really wanted to hear more,” said Franzen.

As for plans for next year, Maria has already started collecting more donations. “I am more than happy to take more [dresses]. I already have taken over my hallway closet with dresses for next year,” said Sanchez. Sanchez, Franzen, and Kane all hope even more people get involved next year, especially with dress donations. “I think a competition, either for class points or just for fun, would be a really outstanding way to bring in even more dresses, and get the guys involved with suits, too,” said Franzen. “I think we could possibly make

a club at school and plan events to collect more dresses [and] suits,” said Kane. The roots of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Princess Project ultimately reside in its main goal of spreading the Catholic faith –especially to girls. “[My] goal is to spread God’s love to as many girls as possible, and show them that since God is our Father and the King of heaven then that makes us true princesses,” said Sanchez.

Grace Mayer

Managing Editor

Senior Issue


The First of the 3peat

Freshman Red Carpet

Mr. Brown Comes Home

NOLA Mission Trip

Mother Son Dance 2016 Moses Parts the Red Sea

WIGS Out 2016 Orange Chin Champions


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Canned Food Drive 2016

Senior Red Carpet

Class of 2018 Timeline AnniePatton Managing Editor

Saints in Rome

First Prom

Saints in France

Father Daughter 2017

Boys XC Win Four In-a-Row

Last Prom

Photos courtesy of Michelle Gress, The Medallion, Matt Hallauer, Diane Pyle, and Emily Trader

Senior Issue


The 30

Things Seniors will miss about Aquinas 1. Decorating the hallways for homecoming week

Rachel Raney Senior Reporter

11. Troop Out, Bandage Out, and Pink Out Games versus SJA

2. Friday night football games

12. School Spirit

21. Canned Food Drive 22. Candy grams at Christmas 23. Class competition

3. Wigs Out

13. The Alma Mater

4. Having teachers that care about their students

14. The Lunch Ladies

24. Homecoming skits

15. The school musicals and plays

25. The basement murals

5. Spring Olympics 6. The sense of community 7. Seeing friends in the hallways everyday 8. Safely mosh pitting 9. High School dances 10. The cookies


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16. Pep Rallies 17. Lunch in the courtyard

26. The wurble bell

18. Uniforms 19. Kairos 20. “Keep your lockers locked, devices docked, and have a great day, Saints!”

27. Different clubs at Aquinas 28. Clapping during “Carry Your Candle” at mass 29. Locker partners 30. The class of 2018 as a whole

Pictures by Andrew Schoonover, The Shield

Senior Issue


Senior Advice to Freshman Seniors pass down advice from four years of experience.

“Love hard. Love hard the days that you have here, the games and events you go to, and your classmates. You have much fewer days than you realize and even though you may be dying to get out as soon as you can- I guarantee that there will be a moment at the end and you’ll wish you could just have one more Homecoming, one more dance, one more canned food drive, one more Wiggalo, one more game, and one more moment as a saint doing what you love. Each and every person in your class (even those you wouldn’t expect) have something rough going on in their life. Use every opportunity you have with them to show them how loved and important they are, and don’t wait for senior year to do it. You are also loved by so many more people than you realize and most every person here wants the best for you.” -Mary Clare Halpin


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“Don’t be afraid to get out there. High school is a new place full of new people. Don’t be afraid to come out of your shell. In my case I was afraid to get there because I had bad experiences coming with me from middle school. But, that’s just it, those experiences can be thrown out the door. Aquinas is a clean slate. Be who you wanna be and don’t be afraid of that. It took me 3 years to get out of my shell, don’t be like me. I now have the greatest friends ever and try to talk to everyone whenever I can. I never knew my best friends would be so close all along, and all I had to do was be myself.” -Johnathan Brarchan

“Don’t worry about what people think of you. People will judge you no matter what, so you might as well be yourself.” -Katie Bever

“Don’t get in arguments with teachers because you might have them for all four years.” -Ian Woolway

“Put yourself out there, but don’t try so hard to impress people. Just be yourself.” -Kelli Byrd “When I was a freshman, all of the upperclassmen told me to enjoy high school because it goes by so fast. I didn’t really believe it, but the next thing you know you’re going on a college visit, then you’re experiencing your last homecoming, then you’re participating in your last spring olympics, then, all of the sudden, you’re sitting in seminar with eighteen days left of your senior year. Don’t take a single second for granted.” -Natalie Bien

“Go through the right side of the door.” -Maggie Essmyer

Emily Raunig Senior Reporter

Senior Issue


Faith Excellence Service Community M

aria Schmeer did not believe that she had actually scored a 36 on the ACT until a week later, when an official letter arrived at her doorstep. “I logged in and out of my ACT account like 20 times before I finally decided they were mistaken. I refused to acknowledge it until I got an official letter in the mail,” Schmeer said. A 36 is no easy feat, less than one percent of test takers score this, but Schmeer said she does not fixate on “simple” numbers. Instead, she prioritizes the knowledge she has gained, something that she has always had a passion for. “I always want to have an understanding of the material, never do I wanna just skate by. I want to understand it even if my grade doesn’t reflect that,” Schmeer said. In a culture that is focused on pushing yourself to the limits academically, it is hard to find people that go to school because they love it, not because they have to.


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At a place like Aquinas where anything below a 96 percent can feel like a failure, this may be especially true. Schmeer said that what she prioritizes and her love of learning is what has kept her away from academic burnout. “Feeling confident that I know something better than when I started -- that’s what matters more to me than my actual letter grade,” Schmeer said. For those who are not as passionate about learning as she, Schmeer has some advice: learn to prioritize. “If you accomplish something and immediately ask, ‘Was that really worth the time I put into it?’ Then maybe it wasn’t. That little reflection is how I start new habits or change things,” Schmeer said. Another tip from Schmeer that she has learned on her path to success is accepting failure. “Freshman year, I thought pretty highly of my flute skills, so when my teacher asked me to work on a challenging piece for

districts, I accepted,” Schmeer said. “Looking back on it, I did not put in as much work as was needed. My performance wasn’t as great as I knew it could have been and from that moment on I realized what I’ve been doing so far isn’t going to work.” After her small failure at district competition, she committed herself to her music and eventually worked her way from Districts to State and then finally, to Nationals. “None of that would have happened without my past experience of personal failure,” said Schmeer. Whatever a person’s “36 score“ is, whether that be winning a state championship or getting the part you wanted in the school play, Schmeer said it all comes down to the drive you have to accomplish it. “Don’t be afraid to take those risks. Don’t be afraid of failure because it is some of the most valuable experience. And most of all, don’t stop pushing yourself.”

Faith Excellence Service Community D

evin Diggs, nicknamed by some as Mr. Saint Thomas Aquinas, originally had no intention of running for student council. That is until his cousin, Katelyn Heying, an Aquinas freshman at the time, came up to him in 8th grade and told him that he would be a perfect fit. “You need to run for it, they’re a really good group of people,” Heying said. And from then on Diggs was determined to join, unaware of the knowledge that a few years later he would become the president of StuCo. “There have been moments where I’m extremely overwhelmed and I think I can’t do it but, usually, those are just moments,” Diggs said. Constantly being looked at to be a leader for the entire student body can wear on a student’s psyche, but Diggs says that perspective is what matters. “I think that’s one thing to keep in mind, that if you’re having a moment, know that it’s just a moment. Most the other time it’s survivable. During canned food drive week, I know

I’m going to be extremely stressed out and just tired of it, but I know it’s just one week of the year.” Looking at the big picture is a skill Diggs has fostered after an entire high school career defined by student council. Proposing ideas and accepting the fact that some are unsustainable have been constant hurdles in Diggs attempts to turn Aquinas into the community he knows it can be. Passion had been Digg’s secret weapon in facing these struggles and it has allowed him to become the leader that he is today. The secret? “Always know your “why”. If you can’t answer why you’re doing something then you should really ask yourself if you’re meant to be doing it at all,” Diggs said, “ if you really are passionate about it then let that fuel you and what you’re doing.“ Passion and purpose go hand in hand said Diggs, without them the motivation and work ethic that has made

Diggs’ administration such a success would be nonexistent. “I definitely have an “others” mindset. I think that is what I like about StuCo. It allows me to serve others by trying to make their day to day better, whether that be by organizing a great Catholic Schools Week or supporting new traditions like the CYO basketball tournament,” Diggs said. His deep gratitude to the school has shaped the last four years of his life, teaching Diggs the lessons that have given him success both in his service and everyday life. “Being the person to carry the honor of representing Saint Thomas Aquinas means so much to me. This school is special, it’s been my home.”

Madison McMillen Reporter

Senior Issue


Grace Mayer

Four Years Four Stories

Faculty recall memories they have about the class of 2018.

Managing Editor


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Math teacher Kat Kennedy “In February I had the opportunity to help Matt Andrews train for state swimming, and well, training is always more fun with people. So Will Swanson, Anthony Gaona, Laura Cisper, and Julianna Gutierrez decided to join us. Very quickly they realized that swimming was a tad bit harder than it looked. Matt would finish laps by the time they swam across the pool once. We had a great time full of many relays (those which I believe the guys won, but also cheated [at], so lets say it was a tie) and races all which happened before the sun rose!”

English teacher Craig Ewing “One thing I will remember is all of the seniors I had as juniors coming back to prepare for and help put on the Gillian Flynn panel this past January.”

Perfoming Arts Department Chairwoman Kim Spillman “Slapple finally making [it] into the Spring Olympics, and Greg Gwynn skipping around backstage before the final production of A Diary of Anne Frank singing ‘MacBeth MacBeth MacBeth,’ which is absolutely bad luck in the theater world and he knew it.”

English teacher Phil Farnan “I have fond memories of the class of 2018 when you were freshmen. Honors English was a lot of fun and so many of you improved so much from beginning to conclusion; I was really pleased with students’ diligence in their efforts to improve. Most of those freshmen have been in one of my senior theology courses this year (the ‘odds’ do not favor that possibility) and it gives me great satisfaction to see how so many of you have grown. I am privileged to see you at the beginning and at the end. Many of you have not changed in appearance and yet some of you are hardly recognizable (from freshman year). Both of these phenomena are amazing to me. Character-wise, I have witnessed so much growth [and] improvement. You are ‘stronger,’ wiser and definitely more mature. It has been exhilarating to watch you grow closer (as a class), to grow in your faith and become quiet, yet exemplary leaders by example. Even though you were (and are) a small class in numbers you have been a large and positive influence on Saint Thomas Aquinas and (I hope) on the underclassmen.”

Who Was Your Freshman Crush? #1


Chase Elias

Drew Hicks

Briley McGreevy Senior Reporter

#3 #4 Sarah Madison Janky Zingg

Couples From Freshman to Senior Year


Annie Temple and E.w. hulsey

Dan Bollig and Kelli Byrd

Senior Issue



The Shield

The Last Dance

Seniors and juniors gather at the end of prom to sing the alma mater. Photo by Maddie Huigens / Medallion staff.

GLOW UPS Kelsey Van buskirk and Grace Lee


Before Johnathan bRACKHAHN

Briley McGreevy Before


Senior Reporter



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dan bollig


after laura cisper and ashley spell

Before jack shaw and mark biggins


before The Shield



“I chose to attend Creighton University mainly because that is where my instincts were pulling me. Their academic and social opportunities highly impressed me. I was especially drawn to their direct entry nursing program I got accepted into. In this program, you start taking nursing classes freshman year instead of waiting till junior year! Overall, I thought Creighton provided me with the most enriched opportunities to continue my academic career. It was a stressful and long thought out process, but I know I chose where I truly belong.”

Addison Aley

“I chose Saint Louis University because of the faith based community and the excellent study abroad program they offer.”

Jerrien O’Dwyer Saint Louis University

Creighton University “I absolutely hate cold weather, so I’ve always wanted to go somewhere warm for college. University of South Florida has a really great broadcast journalism program, and I want to do sports broadcasting after college, so that helped make my decision. I’m only 15 minutes from the closest beach.... however, I’m starting college in June! I’m really excited to be leaving so soon, but it still hasn’t hit that I only have two months before my first day of college.”

Decisions, Decisions... Seniors answer the question, “How did you decide where you are going to college?”

Annie Toussaint

University of South Florida

“It wasn’t until this past December when I thought about pursuing a career in fashion. One day I Googled the ‘best fashion marketing schools in the US’ and the Fashion Institute of Technology was the first one that popped up. I did some research on it and it seemed like such a perfect school for me that was almost made just for me to attend, especially since the campus is located in New York City, which has always been a city I’ve dreamed of living in. I applied without any belief I was going to get in because my major is especially competitive, but I ended up being accepted and I’m so excited to attend!”

Hannah Presta

Fashion Institute of Technology

“I chose the University of Iowa because they have everything I want – not too far, but not too close to home, an amazing music department, and one of the country’s best teaching hospitals.” Claire Deschamp University of Iowa

“I chose Notre Dame based on a number of factors. I wanted to go somewhere with a nice campus and good athletics. I also wanted to go somewhere not to big, but not too small either. When I visited last year, I found out Notre Dame offered many opportunities for research and study abroad programs, which is something I would love to do in college. The most important thing for me, though, was the low student to faculty ratio. I wanted to go somewhere where I could interact one on one with my professors and have a close relationship with them.”

David McCanna

University of Notre Dame


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“They not only have the best veterinary school in the Midwest, but they also give me the best atmosphere to be able to focus on my goals” Jonathan Brackhahn Colorado State University

College Trends

The class of 2018’s future plans stray from established Aquinas trends. Picking a college to attend is not an easy decision. Factors like cost of attendance, choice of major, distance from home, size, and location can make one student’s dream school entirely unappealing to another student. Where a student decides to pursue an education is a very personal and stressful decision that sometimes leaves students guessing on where they will spend the next four years of their life up until national decision day on May 1. While every student’s college decision is an individual process, some clear trends in where Aquinas students choose to continue their education arise and vary year to year. One factor that has made an impact on where students choose to attend college is the rising cost of tuition. This increase is seen across the board, from local junior colleges, to technical schools, to prestigious private universities. According to an article by The Washington Post, the sticker prices of colleges jump an average of three percent every year. One possible effect of rising prices is that less Aquinas students are choosing to go to school out of state than in previous years. Though, despite the fact that private colleges typically carry a heavier price tag than their public counterparts, a larger percentage of the class of 2018 will be attending private colleges than in the class of 2017. Another factor that can influence where students go to school is where their parents and siblings went to college. Kids often grow up a fan of the school that their parent or parents attended, which can lead to a student wanting to follow in their footsteps. Being a “legacy,” having a familial tie to alumni of a certain college, can give students a leg-up in the admissions process and can sometimes lead to scholarships for students. Senior Kathryn Rise will be attending the University of Nebraska, where her mom graduated from, in the fall. “I chose Nebraska because

my parents grew up there, and I am a huge Nebraska fan,” Rise said. Rise is one of eight seniors to be attending the University of Nebraska in the fall, an unexpectedly large number. More students in the class of 2018 are choosing to attend the University of Nebraska than did in the previous three classes combined. While all of these students may not be Nebraska legacies, Nebraska does offer a special scholarship to the children of alumni, which makes the school’s price competitive with in-state schools. Another school that deviates from historical trends is the University of Arkansas. Unlike Nebraska, the University of Arkansas is drawing in less Saints than usual this year. Only six members of the class of 2018 have indicated they will be attending Arkansas in the next school year. In the previous three classes, an average of 13 students committed to attending Arkansas. The University of Missouri is also gaining less Saints than it has in the past. In the class of 2015, twelve students attended Mizzou. Only five seniors from the class of 2018 will be becoming Tigers in the fall. A part of this perceived decline may be attributed to the fact that the class of 2018 is smaller than the classes that came before it, but many seniors also appear to be choosing smaller public and private Missouri universities in Mizzou’s place. The class of 2018 is sending 21 students to 11 different Missouri universities in the next school year. The class of 2018 also deviates from previous classes in that it is sending nearly the same number of students to Kansas University and Kansas State University. The past three classes have each shown a clear favorite, with the school gaining the most Saints having at least 10 more students than the other. The class of 2018 is sending 58 students to KU and 55 students to K-State, a tiny gap compared to its predecessors.

The Stats In State vs Out of State

133 vs 71 Private vs Public

32 vs 172 KU vs K-State

58 vs 55

Delaney Smith Copy Editor

Senior Issue


frDt Dnd sQrQitY lifS Briley McGreevy


reek life in colleges offer incoming freshman an opportunity to be a part of a family right away as they begin their first semester. Similar to the close knit community at Saint Thomas Aquinas, sorority and fraternity life (SFL) is mainly centered around community, brotherhood/sisterhood, academics, leadership, and campus involvement. Many Aquinas alumni are involved in these social communities. At Kansas University, there are currently 47 different fraternities and sororities. At Kansas State University, there are currently 49. Every community has different Greek letters as a sort of formality to portray their name and act as a representation of their image. Every fraternity and sorority is different — with each separating and distinguishing themselves as what they value and portray the most. For example, the first fraternity in North

Senior Reporter America was Pi Beta Kappa founded in 1775 at the College of William and Mary. It was originally based off of excellence in liberal arts and sciences. Now, it is distinguished as one of the most reputable fraternities in the nation. These communities act as student societies, and studies have shown many benefits to being apart of them. Yet, just like any society, there are also current complications with SFL across the nation. In the year 2017, there have been three hazing-related deaths on University campuses. Hazing is a term commonly used to describe “any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule and risks emotional and/ or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate”. One of these hazing-related

deaths was 19-year old Tim Piazza, which occured at a Pennsylvania State University fraternity house party. He was reported to have

“If you have to physically or mentally berate any individual into ‘respect’, perhaps you do not deserve it.” Abigail Blaes fallen down a flight of stairs in Beta Theta Pi noticeably intoxicated while hitting his head several other times in the night, based off of footage from security cameras in the house. Eight of the fraternity brothers were charged with manslaughter and authorities were not contacted

Pi Beta Phi House


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Pi Beta Phi is one of the 13 Panhellenic sororities at Kansas University. Photo courtesy of the KU Pi Beta Phi Facebook page.

for over 12 hours. Piazza suffered a collapsed lung, ruptured spleen, and irreparable brain damage. Hazing, binge drinking, parties, and other scandals are often associated with SFL. Yet, despite these few instances, it is not the responsibility or intentions of the rest of the hundreds of other sororities and fraternities in the nation for tragedies such as these to occur. Hazing prevention is stronger than ever, with several large organizations set in place on each campus to digress this view on social societies in college. A social content platform against hazing, called Odyssey, works to educate and empower millennials to reject any form of hazing and speak up about issues like this. “If you have to physically or mentally berate any individual into ‘respect’, perhaps you do not deserve it,” said Abigail Blaes, Odyssey member. Though hazing can be an intimidating, frightening idea in any incoming high school graduates mind, fraternities and sororities are working to display their core values

and philanthropy, in the process of removing the stigma of hazing, binge drinking, and partying. Elizabeth Armstrong, a sociology professor at the University of Michigan, sees a potential solution to this behavior in “prodding fraternities to selfregulate, involving students in reflecting about the implications of their actions, involving more adults to work with students to figure out how to change their behavior and improve it, and setting clear expectations and consequences for what happens to an organization if its members’ behavior doesn’t meet that level”. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are about 1,800 alcohol related student deaths in college per year. Thus to say, student death by alcohol consumption is not specific to Greek Life. Non-Greek Life students may also take place in binge drinking and partying. In an effort to nationally cover positive aspects of Greek Life, Cassie Montgomery (@Caston_Lea) tweeted,“@USATODAYcollege

why don’t you post stories about the amazing philanthropy efforts of Greek organizations instead [of] mistakes made by one member?” Social events and fundraisers done by SFL are often overlooked. According to the most recent National Panhellenic Council 2013-2014 annual report, over $5.7 million was raised for various sorority philanthropies and nearly 1 million hours of community service were reported in the last academic year alone. $20.7 million was raised by fraternity men for philanthropies as well as 3.8 million hours of community service. That does not include the work of alternative Greek service organizations or multicultural Greek councils, which adds to totals tremendously as well. All in all, “going Greek” for the Class of 2018 is a personal choice. Whether or not a student decides on becoming apart of the community, every college presents challenges revolving hazing and drinking. Every college also presents opportunity and individual growth through Greek Life and other Non-Greek organizations and clubs on campus.

Alpha Tau Omega House

Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Kansas State University. Photo courtesy of

Senior Issue


2017 - 2018 School Year

Last Look

1. Seniors Grace Jacobs and Andrew Cunningham dance at the Homecoming Dance. They were crowned Homecoming king and queen. Photo by Jerrien O’Dwyer, Medallion. 2. Seniors Kristin Haeusser and Kate Burditt carry cans into school. The canned food drive collected 118,238 cans. Photo by Alayna Law, Medallion. 3. Seniors Grace Lee, Claire Verbenec, and Katie Hill watch the eclipse that occurred on August 21. Students were given protective glasses. Photo by Annie Toussaint, Medallion.



3 46

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4. Senior Mary Clare Halpin cuts her sister freshman Maggie Halpin’s hair. Over 120 girls donated their hair. Photo by Lily Abadir, Medallion. 5. The Spirits dance team performs at the Homecoming assembly. The team placed first in hiphop in the ADTS National Championship. Photo by Katerina Miller, Medallion. 6. Sophomores Michael Pierce and Rachel Tritt perform in “The Grinch.” Pierce played the part of the Grinch, and Tritt played Cindy Lou Who. Photo by Katie Kinnan, Medallion.

4 5 6 7 8 7. Junior Cassidy Heidrick wraps a gift during the NHS wrapping party. The gifts collected benefit 39 families in the Kansas City Area. Photo by Kathleen Ayers, Medallion. 8. Senior Mallory English poses with her dogs Beau and Louie. English’s dogs were two of the winners of The Shield dog contest. Photo by Emily Raunig, The Shield. 9. Senior Annie Patton and the varsity girls golf team celebrates winning a state championship. The team won Aquinas’s 100th state championship. Photo by Katie Bousum, Medallion.

9 Senior 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


Portraits on cover courtesy of Cilento Photography

2018 Senior Issue  
2018 Senior Issue